Smart idea or a little sexist?
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!
Ok, maybe stylish is a matter of taste
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.
An anonymous stream of hurt
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.
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.
Company lays off hardware team
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.
Dark, beautiful, and available now
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
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.
It could make sense
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.