‘Flappy Bird’ Creator: I Might Bring It Back

by Samantha Murphy Kelly

Flappy-bird-4

For those still mourning the loss of the highly addictive Flappy Bird mobile game that was pulled from app stores just last month, creator Dong Nguyen said he’s “considering” bringing it back.

In an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone, Nguyen said there is a chance he could release it once again: “I’m considering it.”

The publication met with the man who mysteriously removed the app, despite it bringing in a reported $55,000 in ad revenue each day. Although the app launched in May 2013, it became an overnight sensation in February as it climbed to the top of Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android.

But the stresses of success had gotten to its creator. There were rumors he might be sued by Nintendo. He received death threats, couldn’t eat and even contemplated suicide. This led him to send a series of tweets on Feb. 8 warning that he was going to remove the app in just 22 hours. Fans pleaded with him to keep it available, but by the next day, the app was no longer in either store.

In response to a question about how he felt after removing the app, Nguyen responded: 

 

“Relief. I can’t go back to my life before, but I’m good now.”

Although Nguyen said he isn’t working on a new version of the game and is turning down offers to sell it, he would bring back the original release but with a specific “warning” to “please take a break.”

Fans of Flappy Bird who downloaded the app before it was pulled are still generating tens of thousands of dollars for him, according to the report. He quit his job and is developing new games, such as a flying game called Kitty Jetpack and a “action chess game” called Checkonaut due out this month.

Some believe Flappy Bird was so popular because it is so frustrating to play. The concept of the game is to keep a bird afloat by tapping it through a series of obstacles. It’s designed to be simple but, in practice, the task is extremely difficult.

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Full Story: http://mashable.com/2014/03/11/flappy-bird-app-coming-back/

Apple has Siri, and Microsoft is about to get Cortana

By Tom Warren

Windows Phone Cortana

Microsoft has been in a state of “shut up and ship” with Windows Phone for more than a year now. While the company has released a few minor updates to Windows Phone 8, its feature set hasn’t changed significantly from when Microsoft first introduced the mobile OS in October 2012. The software giant refuses to discuss or acknowledge an upcoming update, Windows Phone 8.1, but a recent software development kit leak has highlighted the huge number of feature changes that will arrive in the coming months and put Windows Phone more on par with iOS and Android. One of the main feature additions is Cortana, a personal digital assistant named after Microsoft’s Halo game series.

Cortana first emerged after a Microsoft employee lost a phone running Windows Phone 8.1 last year. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Windows Phone work have revealed to The Verge that Cortana will replace the built-in Bing search feature, which is currently launched through a dedicated hardware key, and acts as a digital assistant with a mix of Siri and Google Now functionality. We’re told that Cortana will take the form of a circular animated icon with the hue of your selected Windows Phone accent color, and will have a personality not dissimilar from Apple’s Siri. Cortana will animate when it’s speaking or thinking, and bounce around or frown with “emotion” depending on the queries involved. Cortana will be backed by data from services like Bing, Foursquare, and others to give it some of the contextual power of Google Now.

CORTANA NOTEBOOK IS MICROSOFT’S PRIVACY CONTROL

Central to Microsoft’s vision for Cortana is a Notebook feature that will allow Windows Phone users to control exactly what information is shared with the digital assistant. Notebook will allow the Cortana digital assistant to access information such as location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information. We’re told it’s designed as a privacy feature to ensure Cortana doesn’t freely access information without a level of user control. While Cortana will learn things about users, it won’t store them in the Notebook without asking you, and any information that’s stored can be edited or deleted. Cortana will then use this information to provide answers to search queries by voice or text, and provide suggestions, alerts, and reminders. Cortana could greet you by name and ask if you need help or answer questions, much like Siri.

Through search queries and just general phone usage, Cortana will learn more about a user and offer to store personal data like home and work locations and general interests in its Notebook. Cortana will also react to messages or emails that contain phrases like “let’s meet tomorrow at 8PM” and ask if you’d like to set up reminders or calendar entries. Cortana can also provide guidance on weather, stocks, directions, appointments, and music that’s contextual based on location and other data. As Cortana is a digital assistant, it will also be able to manage a do-not-disturb feature, similar to iOS, that’s designed to mute notifications. An “inner circle” of contacts will allow Cortana to manage notifications and phone calls during “quiet hours” when notifications are muted.

Although the initial Cortana digital assistant that will ship in Windows Phone 8.1 will have a lot of capabilities, Microsoft will need to extend it to third-party apps and its Windows and Xbox devices to improve its functionality in the future. The real test of Cortana will be how well it works with voice commands and its ability to understand natural phrases and questions. Microsoft’s recent voice work with Xbox One is impressive, but it also requires that you follow a strict pattern of commands for it to work successfully. Microsoft will have to ensure Cortana is at least as good as Siri for the company to position this as a full personal digital assistant.

full story: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/20/5430188/microsoft-cortana-personal-digital-assistant-windows-phone-8-1

 

Chromecast SDK now available for iOS developers

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Google announced today a public SDK for Chromecast allowing developers to build support for casting into Android, Chrome, and iOS apps and websites.

If you’re a developer looking to bring your content to the big screen, head on over to the Google Developers Blog for a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of it all. Meanwhile, for everyone else, a current list of apps that work with Chromecast can be found at chromecast.com/apps.

The Chromecast currently supports a number of content streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Pandora, YouTube, and more.

Google introduced support for Plex, Vevo, Songza and more last December shortly after introducing a Chromecast section to the Google Play Store.

Today’s announcement likely means support for a lot more services from networks and independent providers as developers can build in support on Android, Chrome, and iOS apps and websites independently.

Chromecast SDK is now open to all developers, look forward to all the new apps coming


(@sundarpichai) February 03, 2014

full story: http://9to5mac.com/2014/02/03/chromecast-sdk-now-available-for-ios-developers/

Apple reportedly testing inductive, solar and motion charging for its unannounced smartwatch

BY MAT SMITH

We’ve heard that when Apple reveals its first smartwatch product, there’s going to be a heavy focus on health and fitness, but There might also be a way to charge the wearable without plugging it in, according to a report from the New York Times. Inductive charging came in a wave of smartphones last year, including Google’s Nexus 4 and Nokia’s Lumia 920 range, although we don’t often see it in anything smaller than a phone (or camera) form-factor. Apple, however, is looking into cramming the same technology into its iWatch, or whatever it eventually calls its debut wearable.

It works like this: electromagnetic fields are generated from a charging base, which are then picked up by metal coils and transformed into for-real electricity that charges your device. The Cupertino company is experimenting with other new charging methods too, although these are apparently years away from consumer products. Sources close to the matter also mentioned the inclusion of a solar layer beneath the device’s display, while the company has also looked into kinetically charging its wearables — something that is already used in many modern (non-smart) timepieces.

SOURCE: New York Times

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/02/apple-wearable-inductive-charging/

Apple reports $57.6B revenue for Q1 2014: 51M iPhones, 26m iPads, 4.8m Macs, 6m iPods

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0919-tim-cook-iphone-630x420

As expected, Apple just announced its fiscal year 2014 first quarter results for the all-important holiday quarter. It’s Q3 report only included less than a month of sales for the new iPhone 5s, 5c and revamped MacBooks, making today’s report the first to include a full three-month period of sales for the new devices on top of the expected boost in revenue leading into the holidays. It’s also the first report since Apple shipped the new Retina iPad miniiPad Air, and Mac Pro.

Apple reported record quarterly revenue of $57.6 billion, which lands between its guidance for the quarter of $55-$58B and estimates by analysts averaging approximately $58.1B. It also reported net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $14.50 per diluted share. Those numbers compare to the revenue of $54.5 billion and net profit of $13.1 billion reported in the same quarter last year.

Break down of device sales for Q1 2014 include 51 million iPhones, 26 million iPads (both all-time quarterly highs), 6 million iPods and 4.8 million Macs. Prior to today’s report the consensus from an average of analyst estimates predicted Apple would sell approximately 55M iPhones25M iPads, and4.6M Macs.

“We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

Apple’s press release also notes that the board has decided on a dividend of $3.05 per share payable to shareholders on February 13, 2014. “We generated $22.7 billion in cash flow from operations and returned an additional $7.7 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the December quarter, bringing cumulative payments under our capital return program to over $43 billion,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

 

Apple is providing guidance of $42 – $44 billion for next quarter. Apple executives will be holding a conference all at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST to discuss the results of its FY14 first quarter report and likely take questions from press.

 

Apple Reports First Quarter Results

iPhone and iPad Sales Drive Record Revenue and Operating Profit

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 first quarter ended December 28, 2013. The Company posted record quarterly revenue of $57.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion, or $14.50 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $54.5 billion and net profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 37.9 percent compared to 38.6 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 63 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

The Company sold 51 million iPhones, an all-time quarterly record, compared to 47.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold 26 million iPads during the quarter, also an all-time quarterly record, compared to 22.9 million in the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4.8 million Macs, compared to 4.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s Board of Directors has declared a cash dividend of $3.05 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on February 13, 2014, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 10, 2014.

“We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

“We generated $22.7 billion in cash flow from operations and returned an additional $7.7 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the December quarter, bringing cumulative payments under our capital return program to over $43 billion,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

Apple is providing the following guidance for its fiscal 2014 second quarter:

• revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion

• gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent

• operating expenses between $4.3 billion and $4.4 billion

• other income/(expense) of $200 million

• tax rate of 26.2 percent

Apple will provide live streaming of its Q1 2014 financial results conference call beginning at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 27, 2014 at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/earningsq114. This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.

iPhone Replaces Hotel Room Keys in New Pilot Program

by Juli Clover

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is implementing a new pilot program that will see two key hotel locations in Manhattan and Silicon Valley allowing guests to enter their rooms with their smartphones, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After installing the Starwood Preferred Guest (SGP) App, guests will receive a virtual key on their iPhone, which can then be used to unlock a door with a tap using Bluetooth 4.0. The newer Bluetooth specification, first introduced with the iPhone 4s, has been used in a similar way for many home locking products like the Lockitron and the August Smart Lock, but this is the first time it’s being used on a larger scale.

Starwood officials are betting that the technology will become the standard for hotels in the future, replacing traditional hotel check-in methods.

“We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel,” says Frits van Paasschen, Starwood’s CEO. “It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel.”

Bluetooth 4.0 (or Bluetooth LE) is being utilized in a number of innovative ways. In addition to being installed in multiple different home locking products, it has also been used toreplace traditional password logins on Macs through the Knock app and to deliver car diagnostics in the Automatic connected car device. Bluetooth 4.0 is also the driving technology behind Apple’s iBeacons, which are rapidly being implemented in retail storesand other locations across the world to deliver location-based notifications.

Two Starwood Aloft hotels, in Harlem, New York and Cupertino, California, will be updated with the Bluetooth 4.0 technology during the first quarter of 2014. Starwood has plans to roll out the system at all of its locations by the end of 2015 should the pilot program be successful.

full story: http://www.macrumors.com/2014/01/27/iphone-hotel-program/