Driving While Wearing Glass? University Researcher Tries to Make it Safer (@glassalmanac)

(added the below as a comment while it’s pending moderation on the Glass Almanac site)

I think this is interesting but largely inconclusive. We all know the texting-while-driving statistics are through the roof (6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk, if you go by NHTSA’s data) but while it may be safer to operate Glass than a smartphone, the litmus test ought to be whether or not its still safe to drive with period.

The criteria for the study also matters greatly in terms of activity. Was he simply getting information relayed to him passively through Glass’ text-reading functionality? Or was he actively using the device to cycle through cards or browse e-mails/tweets & other content? The latter isn’t just something that can be noticed peripherally: it requires you to actively look at it. Which of course means you’re looking away from the road.

Perhaps a “Driving Mode” that limits functionality would help alleviate these concerns for people driving. But unless there’s a signaling mechanism by which the device makes this clear to traffic & highway patrol, that doesn’t solve the issue. Which of course goes back to privacy concerns over law enforcement knowing what you’re doing with the device etc. etc.

As usual, Glass is asking questions of society faster than society can answer those already in the queue. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses.

No, Google’s Sundar Pichai Didn’t Say Android’s Openness Makes It Less Insecure (@techcrunch)

From TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm:

A local site quoted Pichai as indicating that Google’s Android operating system was, to quote one reblog of the comments, “not designed to be safe, it was designed to be open.” Naturally, something of that nature caused a stir. Google admitting that Android is inherently insecure due to its core tenet of openness?

Unsurprisingly, that’s not what Pichai actually said. In fact, he made the opposite point, arguing that Android’s openness actually makes it more secure, not less.

An English-transcript from Google follows.

Of course that doesn’t mean Android’s fragmentation doesn’t present issues, particularly with OEMs who ship some new phones with previous versions of the OS. Sounds like the desktop world, doesn’t it?

And finally, Pichai discussed why Android might be a larger target for abuse. Studies have indicated that something akin to 99.8 percent of mobile malware targets Android. This matters as Android now occupies in a great many ways the old market position that Windows held onto for decades, that of being the defacto platform in terms of unit volume.

A Third Of New iOS Games Are Flappy Bird Clones (@cultofmac)

Of the 293 new iOS games, he discovered that 95 (just over 32%) were clones of the recently deceased Flappy Bird. He also notes that — at the time of writing — 4 of the top 5 free iPhone games in the U.S. App Store are Flappy clones, and that all 4 also feature in the top 10 in the UK.

The WhatsApp Architecture Facebook Bought For $19 Billion (@highscal)

A warning here, we don’t know a lot about the WhatsApp over all architecture. Just bits and pieces gathered from various sources. Rick Reed’s main talk is about the optimization process used to get to 2 million connections a server while using Erlang, which is interesting, but it’s not a complete architecture talk.

Paul Graham at the LAUNCH Conference 2014 on How To Grow Startups

Full video is embedded below (PG’s segment is roughly 50 minutes) but an interesting tidbit towards the end for those building apps specifically. Transcript below:

Jason: What do you think the secrets to growing startups are, in terms of techniques?”

PG: You’ve got to start with a small, intense fire. You’ve got to find a small number of people, it’s necessarily going to be a small number of people. It’s impossible to make something that a large number of people want a lot. So you’ve got to find people who want what you’re making a lot. And that’s necessarily going to be a small number. And that’s OK. That’s how these giant things get started. You don’t have to do any better than Apple and Facebook.

Jason: Just get those 500 true fans, 1000 true fans?

PG: Whatever it is, I mean if it’s a mobile app it might not be 500. It might be 5000. But you’ve got to know who those first users are and how you’re going to get them. And then you just sit down and you just have a party with those first few users and you just focus entirely on them and you just make them super, super happy.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to drill down into more specificity on mobile, particularly how YC’s advice has shifted (if at all) to account for development cycles and other issues specific to mobile, e.g. app store review & acceptance process,  user reviews etc. But worth a watch regardless, if you’re a founder or aspiring founder.

c/o LAUNCH Conference

SoftBank Looking to Purchase a Stake in Line, Whose CEO Says Its Not For Sale

Via Bloomberg:

SoftBank Corp. (9984) is seeking to buy a stake in Line Corp., the mobile-messaging service controlled by South Korea’s Naver Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said. Naver shares jumped.

Line has received at least one other offer for all or some of the company, prompting it to slow preparations for an initial public offering, said two of the people, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Tokyo-based Line, which has about 340 million users, may be valued at as much as $14.9 billion, according to BNP Paribas SA estimates.

Selling to a telcom like Softbank strikes me as unusual since a lot of the service’s value is as an alternative to those same telcoms. Anyway, Line is dismissing the report as fiction:

“The report is groundless. We haven’t had any talks with SoftBank,” said an official in Naver’s investor relations team. There’s no reason to sell a stake and no plan to sell.”

Mobile Is From Mars, Facebook Is From Venus, And WhatsApp Is Ephemeral (@TechCrunch)

Facebook has, through this acquisition, made the transformation from a web-based social network into a production studio and holding company for a portfolio of in-house productions like Paper and Messenger, combined with some outsourced efforts like Instagram and WhatsApp. When Facebook launched Facebook Home, it tried to change mobile into a Facebook world. But Facebook has not changed mobile. Mobile has changed Facebook.

Samsung Galaxy S5 to Include Home Button with Integrated Fingerprint Sensor (@macrumors)

Samsung’s upcoming flagship device, the Galaxy S5, will indeed ship with a fingerprint sensor, reports Samsung-focused blog SamMobile. Contrary to earlier reports which hinted at a fingerprint sensor embedded into the display, however, this latest report claims the Galaxy S5 will adopt Apple’s model by integrating the sensor into the home button.

Requires a swipe as opposed to Apple’s TouchID but essentially the same use case.

Innovation in Snapchat Time (@strictlyvc)

Bonatsos also pointed to mobile phone apps, noting that more than half the top 100 Android and iOS apps today didn’t exist just a year ago, and that the lists are almost entirely different than two and three years ago.

“Unlike 10 years ago, when we still had product life cycles, today, [users migrate to a new technology] as more of an impulse, and there isn’t a lot of time to act if your product isn’t perfect. People will just migrate to the next form factor, the next paradigm.”


Candy Crush creator King files for IPO (@thenextweb)

Not a fan of this company, particularly in light of its copyright antics, cloning games and then suing other, smaller games companies for unwittingly stepping on their trademark. Cash in, cash out before the public markets realize you’re another Zynga.

Press Release from MarketWatch

h/t HackerNews

Pew: Emerging nations catching up to U.S. on mobile technology adoption

A new Pew Research Center report provides a fascinating snapshot of how, within a remarkably short time, some developing nations are catching up – especially when it comes to mobile devices and social media.

More than half of Americans (55%) have a smartphone, 34% have a feature phone, and 9% have no phone. Elsewhere in the world, a smartphone is less common. However, significant minorities in countries such as Lebanon (45%) and China (37%) own a smartphone and the future looks bright for the technology. In every country polled, there is a significant age gap on smartphone ownership, with people under 30 more likely to own the devices. For instance, 69% of 18- 29 year-olds in China have a smartphone, making it the predominant technological choice for future generations.

Jawbone Said to Be Raising $300 Million at $3 Billion Valuation

Via Bloomberg:

Jawbone, the maker of wearable Web-connected devices, is raising $300 million at a valuation of about $3 billion, two people with knowledge of the deal said. Rizvi Traverse Management LLC, one of the biggest investors in Twitter Inc. (TWTR), will probably lead the financing, which is oversubscribed, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the round hasn’t closed.

Apple met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring, to partner in battery ‘Gigafactory’? (@9to5mac)

Seth Weintraub:

Tesla is set to announce a US battery ‘Gigafactory’ in the coming days that will more than double world-wide lithium-ion battery production. Apple obviously has a huge interest here, as it uses the batteries in all of its products. Musk has announced that there will be several high-profile partners in the green US plant, likely including Panasonic and possibly Solar City. Apple has been investing in big green US factories recently, including its Mesa AZ Sapphire venture.

Hunter Walk & Steven Sinofsky on Push Notifications

Couple of good posts on the effectiveness of push notifications from VCs Hunter Walk & Steven Sinofsky. First, the former, on the subject of whether platforms should limit the amount of notifications sent:

I’m not sure a hard limit makes sense given the diversity of use cases, so replied “two hopes. 1) smarter personalized notifications via urban airship type tools 2) disable notifications = neg app store ranking signal.”


There’s a general UX principle that is worth considering, which is anytime you push some feature on your customer you really want it to be right (correct, useful, helpful) for him/her 100% of the time. If not, chances are your customer will recall the negatives of the feature far more than the positives. This applies to notifications, autocorrect, form completion, and more. If you find yourself putting a lot of design energy into how your customer can undo or dismiss your best guess at what was intended, then you’re probably being too aggressive.

This is what I was getting at in a post last year on the trend of vague, undefined messages that seemed like they were just put in place to disrupt you and try to pull you away from what you were doing, back into their app. It applies too to those apps that over-push, the litmus test on that being moving goalposts depending on what the app is used for, what time it is and all sorts of other questions.

Sinofsky also points out that they can often times be just redundant:

For example, with just a few friends Facebook always has something new to see so why notify you of the obvious. For many, Twitter is essentially a notification engine. Mail certainly is a constant stream, arguably of decreasing importance. In other words, it isn’t even clear what makes sense to notify you about when the natural behavior is to periodically launch apps to see what’s new within the app context and apps are generating new information all the time.

Exactly this. For an app that I’m already engaging with on a regular basis, it feels like overkill to be bombarded via push notification to check @replies, likes, comments, e-mails that I was going to check anyway. A potential solution could be to stagger notifications based on engagement metrics like how many times i’ve opened the app or average time spent in app. If my average is above a pre-defined threshold, the app leaves me alone and lets me check content at my leisure. If however my engagement with the app falls below that same standard, that’s when a push notification is sent out to remind me that I have the app in the first place and that there’s content waiting for me.

Office for iPad Reportedly Coming Before July (@theverge)

Microsoft is still working on Office for iPad, and it could debut before July, reports ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.

The new timeline on Office for iPad reportedly may have it released even before Microsoft ships its first version of a touch-centric Office for Windows 8, reportsZDNet. It sounds as though Microsoft was hesitant to approve Office for iPad ahead of a touch-based Office for Windows 8 — a glaring absence and a highly desired option — but executives apparently changed their mind late last year.

It’s not just cable: Comcast-Time Warner would create a Wi-Fi powerhouse (@gigaom)

Comcast and Time Warner are the two biggest contributors to that network, which would instantly give them one of the largest hotspot networks in the country. But Comcast has gone one step further. It has begun using its customers’ residential broadband gateways as hotspots as well. Its new home router essentially hosts two separate Wi-Fi networks, one that any Comcast customer can access and another private network for the home. A merger would extend that home hotspot network to Time Warner’s territory as well. The end result would be one hell of a wireless network, covering commercial areas with high-powered access points and residential areas with a dense network of home routers.

Secret Ties in Google’s “Open” Android (@bgedelman)

Not quite as open as you may have been lead to believe.

“Devices may only be distributed if all Google Applications [listed elsewhere in the agreement] … are pre-installed on the Device.” See MADA section 2.1.

The phone manufacturer must “preload all Google Applications approved in the applicable Territory … on each device.” See MADA section 3.4(1).

The phone manufacturer must place “Google’s Search and the Android Market Client icon [Google Play] … at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen,” with “all other Google Applications … no more than one level below the Phone Top.” SeeMADA Section 3.4(2)-(3).

The phone manufacturer must set “Google Search … as the default search provider for all Web search access points.” See MADA Section 3.4(4).

Google’s Network Location Provider service must be preloaded and the default. See MADA Section 3.8(c).

In other words, apps are bundled together and Android OEMs (and in turn, consumers) have no choice but to accept the entire bundle, the way Google wants it presented on the screen or they lose all of Google’s services.

Gee, that wouldn’t sound just like the cable companies foisting bundles of channels nobody wants on consumers, right? Nah.

Edit: Kevin Tofel of GigaOM wrote this piece as a retort:

Much as Google licenses its mobile apps, Microsoft licenses Windows and Windows Phone. Companies pay Microsoft to put this software on their devices. And Microsoft has minimum requirements for each, just as Google does.

Why does Microsoft do this? For the same general reason that Google does: To create a minimum common hardware denominator that guarantees a certain user experience. If Microsoft were to let budget handset makers put Windows Phone on junk hardware, it would make Windows Phone itself look like junk.

Hardware standardization is one thing. Forcing the entire Google app bundle (the way they want, with preferential screen real estate) as a condition for running Android or ANY of Google services is a little bit different. It’s been done before, of course. But nobody could realistically argue that it’s preferential for the consumer.

How Apple Protects Your iPhone from Your Employer (@TidBITS)

With the release of iOS 7, Apple now divides the world into two categories. There is BYOD, and there are enterprise-owned devices, with nearly completely different security and management models for each, as defined by the owner of the device.

Great primer on Apple’s current options for enterprise-level IT with iOS7. I have a feeling I know which option most employees would prefer, although it’s remarkable that enterprises still think they can avoid data leakage with draconian restrictions, particularly as it relates to e-mail. For example, the restrictions on folder movement can’t prohibit someone from simply forwarding sensitive information off to a Gmail address. Any enterprise (or startup for that matter) should be prepared for the inevitability of data loss, given the amount of devices someone can use that can access particular information.

Forget roses — use Uber to order skywriting on Valentine’s Day (@cnet)

This, the kitten delivery thing they did last year — all trial balloons for Uber’s inevitable fight with Amazon for on-demand delivery of anything. Founder Travis Kalanick at last year’s LeWeb:

“We’re in the business of delivering cars in five minutes. And once you can deliver cars in five minutes, there’s a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes,”

Apple rejects app for being “too simple” (@huemanapp)

This is fundamentally insane to me. From their e-mail reply to the Hueman founders:

We understand that there are no hard and fast rules to define useful but Apple and Apple customers expect apps to provide a really great user experience.

Yet you’re rejecting an app based on what you’ve defined as a hard and fast rule for usefulness.

Sort of ironic for Apple, a company that prides itself on a UI defined by its minimalism and ease of use, to encourage app developers to build things into their app just for the sake of building them. I imagine they’re going to appeal it.

h/t HackerNews