(You're reading all posts by Rob LeFebvre) Rob LeFebvre is a freelance writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. He contributes to online tech, gaming and iOS websites around the net, including Cult of Android, Cult of Mac, 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. He owns and operates GamesAreEvil as well, so it's surprising he finds time to have two amazing kids, a disco band, and (yes) a day job. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter: @roblef
About Rob LeFebvre
In a blog post today, aimed squarely at reports in both the Washington Post and the LA Times, Yelp’s Vice President of Communications Vince Sollitto refutes any claim of wrongdoing or pressure to advertise in exchange for hiding poor user reviews.
Google announced the end of Google Checkout today, slated to go the way of Google Reader and the dinosaurs as of November 20, 2013.
Today, we’re letting web merchants know that in six months, Google Checkout will be retired as we transition to Google Wallet — a platform that enables merchants to meet the demands of a multi-screen world where consumers shop in-stores, at their desks and on their mobile devices.
It seems as this will mostly affect merchants who use Google’s Checkout system, as consumers will really only see a change in the name of the service. With Google Wallet API enhancements announced last week, like the Instant Buy API and the Wallet Objects API, the transition should be smooth for consumers who use Android to purchase goods and services.
It will mean something different to Google Checkout merchants and Android developers, however.
Seriously, have you gotten your tickets, yet? Star Trek: Into Darkness is coming this weekend, and it looks like the entire US is heading tot he theater to see it, en masse.
Fandango is having a good run of it, claiming that 71 percent of the pre-release ticket sales are coming through it’s very convenient service, with 32 percent of that traffic coming via mobile apps.
Further, they just told me that 15 percent of the mobile ticket sales through the Fandango app are coming from iPhone users, while 6 percent are coming from the Android mobile app.
OK, so maybe not a huge surprise, but Google is said to launch a paid, subscription-based music service, like Rdio or Spotify, as soon as this week at the Google I/O conference, reports the Wall Street Journal.
According to “people familiar with the matter,” says the WSJ, the announcement of the new service could happen as soon as tomorrow, when Google hosts it’s annual I/O developer conference. The WSJ says that Google has previewed new music initiatives at I/O in the past, so it might just announce the streaming service there, as well.
According to a report from an early Google Glass owner on Google+, Bryan Liles, the software for Google Glasses has already been updated to version XE5, with a bunch of bug fixes, software optimization, and some other stuff.
Google is adding one change about where and when Glass can upload background data, making sure that the Glasses are connected to a power source and a Wi-Fi network, according to The Verge. In addition, the software will now show G+ notifications for Hangouts, mentions, shares, and comments on the social networking service. Apparently, Glass owners will be able to comment on posts and +1 them using their wearable tech.
In a changelog posted on The Verge and acquired by Phandroid, the changes include faster transcription of user queries and messages. Here’s the changelog:
Change to sync policy: require power + WiFi for background uploads
Incoming G+ notifications (direct shares, comments, +mentions), including ability to comment and +1
Incoming Hangout notifications
Transcription of queries & messages is now wicked-fast
Long-press to search from anywhere in the UI (no longer just from off)
International number dialing + SMS
Hop animation on disallowed swipes in the UI
New On-Head Detection calibration flow
Show device Serial Number on Device Info card
More reliable estimation of battery charge remaining
New recipient-list mosaic
There’s no word on why the new sync policy in place, and it’s a no-brainer that G+ would get integrated quickly. It’s exciting that things are moving so fast, too.
The International Data Corporation (IDC), an firm that analyzes tech trends around the globe, released its quarterly Worldwide Tablet Market Study today, showing that tablet sales show no signs of slowing down any time soon.
The study shows that tablet shipments have increased 142 percent year over year for Q1 2013. Tablet shipments totaled 49.w million units in this first quarter, surging past the entire first two quarters of 2012 combined.
All tablet makers saw huge gains in the tablet space, though Apple’s overall share of the market is decreasing. The iPad is still the world’s largest tablet being sold, with 19.5 million shipping in the last quarter, up from 11.8 in last year’s Q1, an increase of 64 percent.
Really, what the world needs more of are apps that let male users photograph their junk, decorate the photo with a weird variety of stamp art, like moustaches, hats, and neckties, and share these photos around to others.
Honestly, what? I don’t even.
Advertising and mobile analytics company, Flurry, has released some new stats on the reach that mobile apps seem to be enjoying. The take-away here is that the number of people using mobile apps in any given day, at least the apps that Flurry tracks, seems to be growing into a sizable group of people, albeit a bit fragmented across platforms and devices.
Flurry estimates that there were 224 million active mobile users in apps tracked this past February across iOS and Android, which is a bit more than the number of active users (221 million) during the same month on laptop or desktop computers, as measured by comScore, a similar company that tracks computer user data.
Samsung Electronics announced its first quarter revenues of 52.87 trillion won ($47.6 billion) for the quarter ending March 31, 2013. This is a six percent decrease from last quarter. Operating profit was reported at $7.9 billion, a one percent decline quarter-over-quarter from last year’s Q1.
The report, available in a handy PDF, states that the IT and Mobile Communications Division brought in $29.5 billion of that profit, however, which represents a seven percent increase from last quarter.
PlaneQuest Will Combine TableTop Miniatures And Tablets For Something Even Better Than Skylanders [Kickstarter]
When I hear about a game that uses miniature figurines with a videogame, I automatically think of Skylanders, Activision’s hit toy/video game that uses plastic creature figures placed on a special “portal of power” to use the creature’s special abilities in the videogame, on consoles and on iPad.
Sydney, Australia-based TableTop Interactive is going one step further to a fuller interactive experience, with mini-figurines reminiscent of tabletop games like Hero Clix or Warmachine, and gameplay that looks more like an action RPG like Diablo. The Kickstarter project is just getting started, with a £150,000 goal and 42 days left to get to it.