Smart idea or a little sexist?

New dating app hides women’s profile photos from potential suitors


Tinder might be all the rage, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a wealth of viable alternatives for those with mobile phones looking for some company. A new service called ‘Siren’ is one of many new dating applications for smartphone users, but it’s one with a slight twist on the traditional premise. In an effort to better “protect” women from, well, the legions of creepy men out there, Siren actually hides all female members’ photos from males. That means no profile photo, no nothing; if you’re a man on Siren, all you’ll have to go by is a few short strings of text a member might provide on their profile.

While I can definitely see the purpose in this – women are targets of sexual harassment on Tinder and other similar services all the time, and it’s undoubtably a huge issue that’s worth trying to solve. But I do wonder if this goes too far in the other direction, if this is perhaps a little sexist against men. After all, women have the ability to search through men’s photos willy nilly; a women could, and in some cases certainly will, choose to deny contact with a man based on appearances alone. But a man can only take a look at a woman’s photos if she’s already deemed him worthy, and something about that doesn’t sit quite right with me.

Perhaps a better alternative would have been to make this a feature of the service for all members. Anyone, man or woman, has their profiles hidden and only revealed once an interested member approves a request. Imagine – a world where we all base our decisions based on personalities alone. What a world that would be!

Via: Engadget

Ok, maybe stylish is a matter of taste

Fitbit brings stylish fitness tracking to Windows Phone


Fitness tracking has long been considering a huge up and coming business in the tech space, with the sheer number of fitness tracking wearable devices probably more than doubling in just the last year or so. But each and every fitness tracker – and there has been a lot of them, at this point – has had one single thing in common: none of them have worked on Microsoft’s platforms. Got a Windows Phone? Tough luck. How about a Windows RT tablet? Nope. So what’s a fitness fanatic with a love for Windows ecosystems to do? Fitbit, one of the leading manufacturers of tracking devices, has finally got you covered as the company has just brought over their Fitbit application to Windows Phone 8.

Fans of Fitbit with other platforms should be right at home here; Fitbit for Windows Phone looks and feels almost exactly like Fitbit running on either iOS or Android. Sure, it’s got a bit of a “modern” flair to it – that weird Windows Phone navbar at the bottom of the application, solid colors with no gradients and really simple typography, but really at the end of the day there’s nothing of any surprise to be seen here.

Also similar to the company’s Fitbit client for iOS and Android, there’s a limited subset of devices that application currently supports due to the requirement of Bluetooth LE both in the hardware and in the phone’s firmware. As of right now 17 existing smartphones are supported, and you’ll need to make sure your device is upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 (the newest version) to get access to all the goodies Fitbit has to offer.

Fitbit for Windows Phone is available on the Windows Store starting today, so if you’re excited to start wearing a computer-like-thing on your risk capable of tracking your every move, hit it up back in the source link. I won’t blame you.

Via: The Verge
SourceWindows Phone Store

No, it's not Poke. Poke was bad.

Facebook takes on Snapchat with their new app, Slingshot

Screenshot of Facebook's Slingshot.

Facebook has already tried to take on the behemoth that has become Snapchat over the last year or so with an application they called “Poke”, but the app never quite measured up. Today the company is back with a spritely new app that they’re calling Slingshot.

The concept is the same – take a photo or a video, edit it with some fun affects or custom drawing, and send it off to all your friends. Just like Snapchat, photos aren’t permanent, and the twist here is you can only unlock a shot after you agree to “Sling something back.” Because if not, this would just be called Snapchat, right?

Slingshot is available now exclusively on the App Store, which you can get to at the source link below. It’s also been developed by the same team that put together the company’s other newest application, Paper, which is absolutely excellent – so this just might be worth checking out.

Edit 05/09/14 @ 5:41 PM EDT: Whoops, looks like Facebook has jumped the gun – the company has confirmed that the application was published onto the App Store in error and that it will be launching “soon” – just not today soon. Sorry about that!

Source: App Store

An anonymous stream of hurt

Yik Yak may be the most offensive app you ever install on your smartphone

When I heard about Yik Yak earlier, I was intrigued. The application, available now and released earlier this year for Apple iOS devices and Android devices, is simple – and familiar – enough: a continuous stream of posts that users of the app can reply to, favorite, or down vote. The twist? It’s entirely anonymous, and posts only show up if you’re within a 1.5 mile radius of the one who made the post. No user names, no profiles, no profile pictures – just a stream of untagged,  completely anonymous – and uncensored – posts.

If that sounds familiar, I’m not surprised – the concept is essentially exactly the same as that of the Google Ventures funded Secret application, which allowed for the same concept with a similar execution. Unlike Secret, however, which didn’t find any degree of success outside of Silicone Valley, Yik Yak is enjoying a huge boom of attention all across America, specifically around – you guessed it – schools. For whatever reason, it appears that if you give college aged students access to a totally anonymous, uncensored stream, it’s pretty likely to turn into an anonymous stream of hurt.


That’s a really tame example of the sort of posts one can find while looking through a local Yik Yak stream, especially when browsing through the application in a college town like the one that I’ve spent the last couple of years around. On top of simply crazy posts above, Yik Yak is home to offensive and hateful posts towards women, homosexuals, teachers, undergraduate students, older individuals, etcetera and so forth – and that’s just from spending twenty minutes browsing through my feed.

And perhaps predictably, the negativity that Yik Yak is shepherding is having an effect – The Boston Globe this week ran an article earlier this week chronicling how Asian American college student Jamie Ciocon downloaded the application only to become “repulsed” by an avalanche of demeaning posts about Asian Americans.1

Yik Yak founders Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll, two college undergraduate students, say that they’ve created Yik Yak as a means to give college students a platform. While it’s important that these sort of applications exist to promote freedom of speech, it’s also important to take a look at how these communities can build a sphere of influence around cyber bullying. Cyber bullying has become a hot topic issue these days as government officials and policy officials have continuously debated the need for anti-cyber bullying laws. Yik Yak, Secret, and other anonymous communities those significant roadblocks to these initiatives as it can be near impossible to find the origin of the posts under certain circumstances.

Taking another cue from third party clients

Twitter now lets you mute the nonsense

twitter-bird-light-bgsTwitter has long had a habit of taking cues from third party clients while looking at how to shape their official products – most notably with the hashtags, @-replies, and retweets in the early days of Twitter, and now that trend is exhibiting itself again as Twitter has officially added the ability to mute users.

Essentially, muting does what it sounds like it is – it allows you to automatically hide tweets from users at any given time under different circumstances without unfollowing or blocking them. Now, finally, you can politely ignore your friends’ inane tweets without the need to complicate your relationships with an awkward unfollow.

Muting is now rolling out on the company’s official iOS and Android applications and will hit all users shortly. Time to celebrate by muting all of your annoying friends!

Source: Twitter

Protogeo Oy is heading to Facebook

Don’t look now, but Facebook is entering the fitness market with “Moves” acquisition


Facebook has been getting their paws on just about anything and everything this days, with one of their most recent – and famous – acquisitions being Oculus, the makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. But what if I told you Facebook isn’t just interested in the world of virtual reality, but also making sure that you’re healthy in actual reality? That’s exactly what’s happening as Protogeo Oy, developers behind the popular “Moves” mobile application on both iOS and Android, has announced that they have been acquired by Facebook for an unannounced sum of money.

Protogeo Oy has also commented on the future of their Moves application, saying:

Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people… for those of you that use the Moves app — the Moves experience will continue to operate as a standalone app, and there are no plans to change that or commingle data with Facebook.

That said, I’m willing to guess Facebook didn’t pay for just the name “Protogeo Oy” alone – though it does have quite a ring to it, doesn’t it?

Via: TechnoBuffalo

Company lays off hardware team

Nike may have just killed the FuelBand


A surprise today as Nike has confirmed to CNET that the company has had amassive layoff of its hardware team, the very team that develops the well known FuelBand fitness band. CNET says that the company has laid off over 50 people in a division that barely homed over 70, leaving it extremely unlikely that the company is planning on bringing any more FuelBand devices to the market.

The FuelBand was one of the first fitness wearables to hit the market, a space that has become largely dominated by the Fitbit Force and Flex. The FuelBand, which syncs to a user’s smartphone like the Fitbit devices, was fairly recently upgraded with the FuelBand+, a new update that brought little new to the playing field.

Nike has become increasingly competitive in the software fitness space, with versions of its Nike+ fitness tracking software having been integrated directly into earlier versions of iOS. The company upkeeps a version of the Nike’s software that relies on the iPhone’s GPS hardware to determine fitness performance. It would seem that the company will continue to focus on this space rather than the hardware space going forward.

Via: The Verge
Source: CNET

Company removing messaging from Facebook app

Facebook is going to make you download Messenger on your phone


If you’re like me and have held out on downloading Messenger for your smartphone considering that messaging functionality built into Facebook’s main app is more than “good enough”, prepare for a bit of a downer. Facebook has just announced that, in the coming weeks, they will be removing the messaging functionality from their primary Facebook application on numerous mobile platforms, including iOS and Android.

A Facebook spokesperson told Recode, “We’ve found that people get replies 20 percent faster on Messenger than on Facebook,” and wants to push those who rely on Facebook’s messaging service over to what they consider to be a better experience. This also means that Facebook will likely have no just one, but two main spots on your smartphone’s home screen – one app to check out your News Feed, and one to cut with your friends.

The changes should be rolling out to users in both Europe and the United States within just a couple of weeks. No word yet on whether or not this will effect users of Facebook’s “Paper” mobile application on iOS, which also contains both the News Feed and messaging. However we have contacted Facebook for more information and will report back as soon as we know more.

Source: Recode

Dark, beautiful, and available now

Spotify grows up, redesigns on the Web, Mobile, and Desktop

Spotify, the free music streaming library that we all know and (mostly) love, is now rolling out a huge redesign that effects its entire portfolio of products, including Spotify on the Web, Spotify for Mobile, and the desktop Spotify client. The new design, which is the first major redesign since the service initially launched in 2008, is both familiar and entirely new.


Spotify has really emphasized the imagery of the music industry in this update, removing plenty of white space in order to make album artwork the real star of the show. Artwork is prominently displayed in big, beautiful blocks of icons, while the design uses a new dark underlying design to really put emphasis on the artwork and make it “pop”. Whereas the old version of Spotify relied on columns of text to get context on whatever it was the user was looking for, now the new design really makes that a visual experience, something that should make finding just the right song a whole lot easier.


The new Spotify design also fits right in with Apple’s latest and greatest mobile operating system, iOS 7, making use of transparency, blurring effects, and minimal, white buttons for playback controls and symbolism. The design is arguably most beautiful here, on Apples platform (seen above), because of how well it really fits in – Spotify now feels almost integrated into the inherent design of iOS, rather than an exception to the rule – and the result is quite stunning. Apple could really learn a lesson or two here from Spotify on any potential iTunes redesign.

The new Spotify design should be now available for your Mac, PC, iOS, Android, and on the Web. No word yet on whether or not other platforms, such as Linux, will be seeing an update.

The real thing

Microsoft officially announces Office for iPad

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 1.16.06 PM

Well, the rumors are true – Microsoft has today, at long last, officially announced the real the real deal – Microsoft Office is coming to iPad. Office general manager Julia White officially revealed a fully featured version of Microsoft Office completely native to the iPad.

Office for iPad will require Office 365 in order to be fully functional, and will include Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. While the apps themselves will be free on the App Store, they will only be able to read documents rather than create and edit them – only paying Office 365 customers will get to take full advantage of the Microsoft Office experience on iPad.

Office for iPad will be available on the App Store today at 2 PM EST / 11 AM PST.

Twitter improves image integration

Twitter rolls out image tagging and support for embedding multiple images


Twitter has just announced that they have significantly improved support for images on Twitter. While images have always been treated pretty basically on the largely text based social network, the company is now rolling out two pretty significant improvements, currently exclusive to Twitter for Mobile.

First, Twitter users will now be able to tag users in images, a feature found in and often used on Facebook and Instagram. It works pretty much the same – just tap on a photo and type in the user that’s represented in it, who will then have their profile linked to on the image. This is available on both Twitter for iOS and Android starting today.

The next big change is users will now be able to upload and embed up to four images in a single tweet, seemingly by integrating the separate images into a single file uploaded to the server in a sort of collage. At the moment this feature is only available to Twitter for iOS starting today, however it will be brought to Twitter for Android at some point in the future.

The popular social network has long been rumored to be focusing on reframing itself as an image based network, even going so far as pushing out a radically redesigned test version of an image-centric version of the site to a select number of users.

Source: Twitter

It could make sense

Apple may bring iTunes Store to Android phones and tablets


Here’s one out of left field – according to a new report by Billboard, Apple may considering bringing the iTunes Store to the chief competitor of the company’s iPhone and iPad, Google’s Android platform. Android is, of course, the platform used on some of the world’s most popular and best selling smartphone and tablet lineups, including the Samsung Galaxy and the HTC One.

iTunes Store on Android would likely be very much like what Apple did all the way back in 2003 when the company brought iTunes onto Windows. The move allowed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users to purchase music (and later movies, television shows, books, and podcasts) legally without the need to switch to an Apple device. Likewise, iTunes Store on Android move would allow Android to purchase and store media directly on the smartphone or tablet they likely already have without the need to switch to an iPhone or an iPad.

Steve Jobs was infamously quoted in 2011 saying that Apple would “never” bring iTunes to Android. That said, Steve Jobs also said the company would never release an iPod that could plat videos, a tablet computer, and then later a small form factor tablet – all of which the company went on to do.

Source: Billboard