When Google Keep launched, it never got the fanfare it deserved. The people that did review it compared it to all the wrong apps, like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote. That’s a shame, because a surprisingly good note-taking app went under the radar, underrated for coming up short against contenders it wasn’t designed to face. It’s about time to give Google Keep a fair shake, see where it shines and how it fits in with the competition. More »
Browser maker Opera’s first WebKit browser has exited beta. The full launch for the browser previously code-named Ice adds a few additional minor updates to the meaty feature-set demoed at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow back in February.
The new updates in this full launch version of the Android browser are as follows:
- Toggle navigation bar from top to bottom
- Wrap text when you zoom
- View active tabs in full screen
- Search and navigate with a responsive address bar
The Android browser represents a huge shift for Opera as it moves its business from technical development to product-focused development, leaving its Presto framework behind and adopting the de facto standard WebKit engine, plus Chromium — a move Opera confirmed in February. Update: Since then Google has announced it’s forking WebKit as Blink. Opera confirmed to TechCrunch that while the current version of its Android browser is built on WebKit/Chromium 26 it will be moving to Blink once it arrives in the Chromium code (due in Chromium 28, it says).
At the time of its WebKit switch announcement, Opera argued then that ditching Presto and adopting WebKit frees up its engineers to focus on product development in a bid to stand out in the increasingly homogenous smartphone browser space.
The other issue for browser makers is that they are fighting with apps for users’ eyeballs. Research put out by mobile analytics firm Flurry in April found that U.S. Android and iOS owners spend an average of 80% of their time within apps, and just a fifth (20%) within mobile browsers. Moving the needle back in the direction of the browser is Opera’s goal here.
Key features of Opera’s Android browser include a content discovery feed that can be accessed by swiping right from the home screen — a feature clearly designed to encourage users to spend more time inside the browser, and less time using social networks and apps like Twitter which also incorporates a personalised discovery feed to try to keep users within its apps, supplementing its even stickier social content.
Opera has also leveraged its data compression expertise for the Android browser with an “off-road” mode that can be toggled on to reduce data consumption in order to improve browser performance when network coverage is poor, or lower data costs when roaming.
Gestures and a light coloured user interface round out Opera’s offering here. According to Google Play the browser has had between 10 million and 50 million downloads in the past 30 days, and appears to be sustaining users’ interest with no sign of a big drop in interest yet. Its Google Play rating is currently 4.5 stars with close to 350,000 ratings.
TechCrunch » Social
Foursquare Introduces ‘Super-Specific’ Search And Filter Options For iOS And Android To Help You Find New Venues
As Foursquare evolves, it wants to help you find either new places to check out or lead you to places where your friends have already been. Mixed in with that is recommendation technology to show you places that you might be interested in based on where you’ve been before. Today, Foursquare updated its iOS and Android apps with an advanced search option that lets you control how the service seeks out new venues for you.
In its blog post today, Foursquare “dares” you to get “super specific” with your searches. Basically, the company is saying that they have enough data to find any place that you could imagine. One of the example searches is: “A cheap sushi place that’s nearby and open now, but that I haven’t been to yet.” Again, this is a search performed based on all of the data that Foursquare has collected over the years, but its first move into a more conversational search experience. Companies like Google are jumping on this bandwagon as well.
When you perform a search like the one suggested above, you just get results as you’d normally expect. Foursquare is processing these inquiries surprisingly fast, which means that you’re likely to settle on a place quickly:
The interesting part comes with the new filter options, where you can home in on a venue based on whether you or a friend have checked in before, by price, if the venue has a special or if you’ve saved it to check out later:
With these dynamic search and filter options, Foursquare has made the jump to become a true utility that might even cancel out a Google search or a Yelp deep-dive. That’s a pretty bold thought, but when you think about how much data Foursquare has, a lot of things that we haven’t even seen yet are possible.
The filter options make all of this data more manageable and of course, usable, to get you to try out more places. It’s also an incentive for more businesses to adopt Foursquare’s offerings, such as specials. If people start filtering their searches in the way that Foursquare suggests, then it behooves these restaurants and bars to have multiple specials lined up and ready to go. Think of it as a highlighted ad in Google search.
TechCrunch » Social
With Gawker’s campaign over on Indiegogo right now to raise funds to purchase a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack, rewards-based crowdfunding is currently having its Skokie vs. the neo-Nazis moment.
For those of you that aren’t First Amendment lawyers, the case of the National Socialist Party of America, a neo-Nazi group, vs. the Village of Skokie, Illinois was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977. The court held that the racist group’s right to march through a predominately Jewish neighborhood (which was also home to at least one holocaust survivor) with swastikas on full display was protected by the first amendment.
The point is that the court has found time and again that the protections of the First Amendment are quite broad, and must be applied equally, even to groups and speech that the vast majority of Americans find abhorrent. This is why we all know about the Westboro Baptist Church today.
In the crowdfunding world thus far, which is made up almost entirely of privately-held platforms, Indiegogo has been the one major platform that has opted to operate in the spirit of our First Amendment (and also in the spirit of laissez faire economics) with an “anything goes” attitude. There are, of course, some limitations to what can be crowdfunded on Indiegogo — neo-Nazi groups actually couldn’t use the site for anything that promotes hate, for example — but for the most part It has been far more permissive than the other widely recognized platform, Kickstarter.
So far, it’s seemed to me that Kickstarter‘s curated approach and Indiegogo’s policy of openness have complemented each other nicely and helped grow the industry by offering a (potentially) high profile home for projects of all types. If Kickstarter feels too much like the cool kids’ playground, you can always take your project to Indiegogo, and if Indiegogo seems a little too all over the place, you can refine your campaign to be a better fit for Kickstarter. We have our crowdfunding Ying and Yang, and all is well.
At least it was, until Gawker decided to thrust this monstrosity of a campaign into our happy little world via Indiegogo.
No stranger to sensationalism and questionable methods of acquiring a scoop, Nick Denton’s flagship gossip blog is looking to crowdfund $ 200,000 to pay Somali drug dealers for a video of embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine and slurring (in more ways than one) the names of his political adversaries.
A Gawker editor and two Toronto Star reporters have seen the video in person, but its owners say they require the 6-figure amount to hand it over for publication, claiming to want the money to move out to Calgary and start a new life.
No matter how you spin it, Gawker’s Indiegogo campaign is asking for money from the public to give to crack dealers and further humiliate a Canadian politician (who clearly seems to have a problem).
Indiegogo’s Terms of Service do prohibit using the platform to pay drug dealers for drugs, but it’s apparently fine to pay drug dealers for video footage.
And perhaps it should be. Like the protections that America’s First Amendment provides for everyone, even hate-mongers like neo-Nazis and the Westboro Baptist Church, maybe the crowdfunding world needs a platform like Indiegogo that can be a go-to venue for even the most base campaigns, like Gawker’s Crackstarter.
But I sure as hell don’t plan to contribute.
- Eric Mack is Managing Editor for Crowdsourcing.org. He has covered business, technology and politics for more than a decade for major outlets including CNET, CBS, AOL, NPR, Wired, and the New York Times. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter and Google+. Also be sure to follow Crowdsourcing.org on Twitter and join our Crowdsourcing community on Google+.
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