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Just weeks after its successful launch, file-sharing website Mega has a new CEO. Kim Dotcom has brought on the ex-head of InternetNZ, Vikram Kumar, to run the quickly growing Megaupload predecessor. Kumar has been one of Mega's biggest supporters as well as its founder, Kim Dotcom.
InternetNZ, the company Kumar once headed, up describes itself as a "non-profit open membership organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the Internet in New Zealand and fostering a coordinated, cooperative approach to its ongoing development." Kumar's experience and lack of a controversial legal record should bring a new sense of professionalism to Mega.
"MEGA is delighted to welcome Vikram Kumar as its new CEO", said interim-CEO Tony Lentino. "I have assisted MEGA since its inception, putting time and energy into finding investors, setting up support staff and general overview of the company in its initial stage. Now MEGA runs on a day-to-day routine, and I am pleased to hand the role of CEO to Vikram who is an experienced leader in the Internet industry."
Google is hoping to speed up the crowd-sourcing cartography efforts in India by offering a contest with prizes to the top 1000 Map Makers. The contest spans from February 12th to March 25th with prizes including devices and Google branded merchandise.
Google Map Maker lets people who know the area better supply edits to Google Maps, most noticeably in areas where government supplied data and Google's on mapping efforts have failed, or been blocked. Most recently, Google Map Maker efforts have greatly improved the accuracy of North Korea on Google Maps.
The very top participants in the contest will receive a Samsung Galaxy Note 8000, with Samsung Galaxy S II GT smartphones, gift coupons, T-shirts and certificated will be awarded to lower ranking participants.
Google Hangouts is a pretty cool product. A group of users can come together and host group video chats or performances for free. Today, the Google has updated the Hangouts product with a couple of new features. The first is a bandwidth slider. This new adjustment allows you to change how much bandwidth Google Hangouts has available to use.
This can be very useful if you're in a low-bandwidth area, such as on a metered 3G connection or at the local coffee shop. Another feature is the option to send and receive only audio. This will also reduce bandwidth requirements while still allowing a user to stay engaged in the conversation.
Today we're excited to launch two new features that improve the Hangouts experience in areas with low and/or unreliable connectivity:
1) Audio-only mode. Choose this mode to send and receive audio only, and thus, significantly reduce your bandwidth requirements. Other participants will only see your profile picture, but they'll hear you loud and clear.
2) Bandwidth slider. At the top right of every hangout is a new slider that lets you adjust your bandwidth preferences in real-time - from high, all the way to audio-only. This makes it easier to keep hangouts going, even in areas with poor connectivity.
Twitter is pushing search and discovery on the mobile platform. In an update today, Twitter announced updates to their Android and iOS apps, along with mobile.twitter.com. The updates "provide a single stream of content in each tab, so you can better find what's most important to you when you're on the go."
The Discover feed now puts tweets, activity, trends, and account suggestions into a single stream. Search now functions similarly to the Discover feature, meaning that tweets, pictures, and accounts all appear in a single stream. A search button has been added to the iOS app that will allow users to search from anywhere within the app.
Finally, links can now be followed with a single click. Previously, clicking a link would first expand the tweet and then require another click to follow the link. Now, a single click will open up the website. The new apps are available in Google Play and the Apple App Store.
If you like snowboarding down the slopes like I do, Google has you covered. Today, they have added an additional 38 ski resorts with detailed trail maps to Google Maps. The newly added resort maps include important details such as the difficulty level of the runs.
Ski resort maps were originally added into the Maps product back in November 2012. At that time, Google added about 90 ski resorts into its Maps product. The update today brings that number up by about 40 percent and mainly focuses on US-based ski resorts, though a few Canadian mountains were thrown in for good measure.
The maps depict trails as either green, blue, or black lines. The colors correspond to the traditional colors associated with the different difficulties of runs. The all-important lifts are depicted as dotted red lines. The new list of ski resorts can be found on Google's Blog post.
Facebook wants to support its developer base so users have more reason to stay on the site and come back often. Developers create the apps, such as Zynga's Farmville, that help create user interaction and retention. The longer you stay on Facebook's site, the more ads they are able to serve you.
Facebook says that Developers Live will come with content for everyone, including:
- Mobile developers will learn how to go deeper and grow their apps with Facebook
- Game developers will learn how to build better games across web and mobile
- Websites and publishers will learn how to use Facebook to drive traffic
The first Developers Live will feature Doug Purdy. He will be discussing "the top 3 things every mobile developer needs to know in 2013." It appears that registration is needed for the events as Facebook reminds you to "be sure to register for the event." You can find more information and the videos at Facebook's Developers Live site.
If you need a place to prototype your latest website and don't want to pay for a host, Google has your back. Google Drive will allow you to host your website by placing all of the necessary HTML, CSS, and other files on Drive. You then simply share the HTML file publicly and the website will load via the link.
Ironically, Google explains the process on this website that is hosted on Google Drive. The change isn't a big one, and certainly not one we expect users to switch to Drive for, but existing users should certainly like the new feature and it may be enough to keep them on Drive if they had thoughts of leaving.
Google and Mozilla are pushing WebRTC as the future of software-independent video and voice chat. To show off the capabilities, Mozilla called up Google from Firefox to Chrome to demonstrate the cross-browser functionality that is available via WebRTC. Of course, to do this, you'll need the latest builds of both browsers.
Mozilla's blog post talks up the new technology and open source:
Mozilla is excited to announce that we've achieved a major milestone in WebRTC development: WebRTC RTCPeerConnection interoperability between Firefox and Chrome. This effort was made possible because of the close collaboration between the open Web community and engineers from both Mozilla and Google.
Google's blog post is similar:
For the first time, Chrome and Firefox can "talk" to each other via WebRTC. WebRTC is a new set of technologies that brings clear crisp voice, sharp high-definition (HD) video and low-delay communication to the web browser.
Google is trying out a redesigned YouTube channel layout in a limited beta. The new design features cover photos, called "channel art" by Google, and trailers, which allow content creators to promote their channel's content to non-subscribers.
The new design looks strikingly similar to Google+ profiles, which could indicate how closely Google wants to integrate their products. The new design is seen above. You can see that the design doesn't have quite the same fit and finish as the old design.
Soon, however, all users will be able to use the new design. What do you think of it? Let us know!
Everyone thought Apple was going to have a Super Bowl ad, especially after Samsung had their cool ad which we talked about a couple of days ago, but nope - no ad from Apple.
What they did do during the Super Bowl was very quietly unveil their new product during the Star Trek: Into Darkness ad spot. At the end of the Star Trek Super Bowl spot, Paramount very quickly flashed a promotion for their iOS-based app, showing off a new AppStore.com link that takes people directly to it.
Apple already uses something similar with their iTunes links, but this new trick is designed so people can quickly type it into a mobile device, or remember something simple like AppStore.com/StarTrekApp. This means that whatever comes after AppStore.com can be at the developers' wishes, where developers can choose this when submitting an app, or use their company name to promote more than one of their apps.