Facebook Ends Creative Labs Initiative and Shuts Down Slingshot, Rooms and Riff

Facebook today ended its Creative Labs project, which was designed to allow its engineers to come up with unique and innovative smartphone and tablet apps. With the shuttering of Creative Labs, several of the apps that came out of the program are being shut down and removed from the App Store.

Slingshot, Rooms, and Riff, all apps that were released across 2014 and 2015, are no longer available in the App Store. Slingshot, announced in June of 2014, was an ephemeral messaging app modeled after Snapchat, but with a slight twist. Before viewing a message or a photo, the recipient was required to send a message back.

Rooms, launched in October of 2014, allowed users to create anonymous invite-only chat rooms based around specific themes, while Riff, announced in April 2015, was designed to let users create collaborative video mashups with their friends.

Despite being backed by Facebook, none of the now-defunct apps managed to catch on with users and thus received a limited number of updates from the company. Riff, for example, was never updated since it was released in April, and Slingshot and Rooms were last updated in March and July of 2015, respectively.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the end of Creative Labs in a statement to CNET, noting none of the apps had been updated for some time and many of the features have been added into the company’s primary apps. „Since their launches, we’ve incorporated elements of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps.“

While none of the apps are available for download, Slingshot continues to be functional for existing users for the time being, while Rooms will be available until it’s closed on December 23.

Paper, the first and most successful app to come out of Facebook’s Creative Labs effort, remains available in the App Store.

Tag: Facebook
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Think same? HTC’s new One A9 ad is another Apple ripoff

Before he made The Martian, Ridley Scott directed the most iconic Apple ad in history with the classic 1984 Macintosh commercial. So what better way to set yourself apart from Apple as a rival smartphone maker than to… completely rip off ideas Apple was circulating thirty-odd years ago? Yeah, we don’t get it either. Check […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup Perceptio

Apple has purchased Perceptio, a small startup focused on artificial intelligence, reports Bloomberg. Founded by Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, Perceptio was developing technology that would let smartphone companies create advanced artificial intelligence systems „without needing to share as much user data“ in the cloud.

Perceptio’s goals were to develop techniques to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones, without having to draw from large external repositories of data. That fits Apple’s strategy of trying to minimize its usage of customer data and do as much processing as possible on the device.

According to Bloomberg, both Stone and Pinto are established artificial intelligence researchers who specialize in creating image-recognition systems using deep learning. There’s little information available about Perceptio, but Re/code profiled the company last year.

The duo were working on privacy-based artificial intelligence, figuring out how to run complex neural network algorithms on smartphones. Before being acquired by Apple, they were working on facial recognition technology and had released an unrelated video sharing app called Smoothie.

Apple confirmed the purchase with its standard acquisition statement: „Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.“

Apple’s Siri personal assistant has lagged behind competing services like Google Now and Microsoft Cortana because of Apple’s strict privacy policies and its reluctance to collect and utilize user data. It’s possible the purchase of Perceptio will allow Apple to improve Siri without compromising on its dedication to user privacy.

Perceptio is the second Siri-related purchase Apple has made within the last few weeks. Apple also recently acquired VocalIQ, a UK-based startup that created a natural language API to allow computers and people to have a more natural dialogue.



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How to Update Apple Watch’s watchOS Software

watchOS is the operating system that runs on the Apple Watch, powering its fitness tracking capabilities, apps, communication features, time-keeping abilities, and more. Apple plans to push regular updates to fix watchOS bugs, refine performance, and introduce new features, and the release of watchOS 2 alongside iOS 9 later today is a major uprade for the platform.

watchOS updates are installed in a unique way that differs from how we install iPhone and Mac updates, so we’ve crafted a quick tutorial to remind users how to get the latest version of watchOS on their Apple Watches so they’re ready for watchOS 2.

Before You Start

Before you try to download and install the new version of watchOS, make sure of the following:

  1. Your iPhone has been updated to iOS 9.
  2. Your iPhone and Apple Watch are within range of each other.
  3. Your Apple Watch has at least a 50 percent charge.
  4. Your Apple Watch is connected to its charger.

The last two requirements are important. You will be able to download the new version of watchOS without a 50 percent charge or Apple Watch resting on its charger, but you won’t be able to install it. During the installation step, you will instead see a message that the installation is paused and won’t continue until Apple Watch is connected to the charger with at least a 50 percent charge.

Downloading and Installing the Update

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select the My Watch tab if necessary.
  2. Tap General, then tap Software Update.
  3. Tap Download and Install to begin the process.
  4. Enter your four-digit passcode on Apple Watch when prompted.
  5. The Apple logo and progress bar will appear when the software is installing. When finished, Apple Watch will restart.

If Something Goes Wrong

If, for some reason, the download freezes up or you can’t get the software to install on Apple Watch, you can try restarting the device.

Restarting

  1. Hold down the Side button until the Power Off slider appears.
  2. Slide the bar to shut off Apple Watch.
  3. Hold down the Side button until the Apple logo appears.
  4. Wait for Apple Watch to restart.
  5. Enter your passcode when prompted.

Hard Reset
If powering down Apple Watch does not work, you can also try a hard reset. This forces the device to shut off. It usually takes a bit longer to restart Apple Watch when you perform a hard reset.

  1. Hold both the Side button and Digital Crown down at the same time.
  2. The screen will go blank, and then the Apple logo will appear.
  3. Wait for Apple Watch to restart.
  4. Enter your passcode when prompted.

Apple is rapidly iterating on watchOS, so don’t be surprised if we continue to see frequent updates. watchOS arrives just five months after the Apple Watch’s debut and brings a host of new features including native third-party apps, so most Apple Watch owners will want to upgrade as soon as possible and begin exploring what’s new.



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Microsoft Launches ‘Outlook’ App for Apple Watch

Microsoft this morning launched an official Apple Watch app for its email client Outlook, offering users of the service the ability to read emails and even respond to messages on their Apple Watch. Before today’s app, Outlook users with an Apple Watch received basic notification messages on the wearable device with no real way for interactivity, but now notification pop-ups will show more of the email body and let users jump directly into the app from the Apple Watch’s notification center.

Once in the app, users will be able to read their emails and even respond thanks to a few quick reply messages and the ability to dictate their response in a speech-to-text option. The Outlook app also comes with its own glance for quick looks at new emails in an inbox and upcoming calendar appointments. The watch app is out now for users with the iOS app already installed, and should download instantly for those with the Apple Watch’s automatic download feature turned on. Those interested who have yet to download the Microsoft Outlook iOS app from the App Store can do so for free [Direct Link].



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Google Improving Chrome for OS X Performance to Better Rival Safari [Mac Blog]

Google senior software engineer Peter Kasting this week announced that his team has been working to address Chrome for OS X battery hog complaints by improving the performance of the browser on Mac, especially in areas where Safari appears to do better (via iPhoneHacks).

Chrome for OS X has received multiple under the hood improvements that should result in faster performance and longer battery life while browsing. The browser, for example, now requires significantly less CPU usage when loading the Google search results page and various other websites.

The other technical changes to Chrome for OS X are outlined as follows:

„The team has been working on addressing this; here are some cases that have recently been improved on trunk:

http://crbug.com/460102

Before: Renderers for background tabs had the same priority as for foreground tabs.
Now: Renderers for background tabs get a lower priority, reducing idle wakeups on various perf test, in some cases by significant amounts (e.g. 50% on one test).

http://crbug.com/485371

Before: On a Google search results page, using Safari’s user agent to get the same content that Safari would, Chrome incurs ~390 wakes over 30s and 0.3% CPU usage vs. Safari’s 120 wakes over 30s and 0.1% CPU usage.
Now: 66% reduction in both timer firings and CPU use. Chrome is now incurring ~120 wakes over 30s and 0.1% CPU use, on par with Safari.

http://crbug.com/489936

Before: On capitalone.com, Chromium incurs ~1010 wakeups over 30s vs. Safari’s ~490 wakes.
Now: ~30% reduction in timer firings. Chrome is now incurring ~721 wakeups over 30s.

http://crbug.com/493350

Before: On amazon.com, Chromium incurs 768 wakups over 30s and consumes ~0.7% CPU vs. Safari’s 312 wakes over 30s and ~0.1% CPU.
Now: ~59% reduction in timer firings and ~70% reduction in CPU use. Chrome is now incurring ~316 wakeups over 30s, and 0.2% CPU use, on par with Safari at 312 wakes, and 0.1% CPU use.“

The changes should first appear in Chromium before going live on Chrome for OS X.





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Apple Merges iOS, WatchOS and Mac Developer Programs [Mac Blog]

Apple today announced that it is merging all of its developer programs into a single developer program, letting developers pay one fee to access both Mac and iOS developer tools. Before today, Apple offered a Mac developer program and an iOS developer program, accessible with separate $100 fees.

The new Apple Developer Program combines everything you need to develop, distribute, and manage your apps on all Apple platforms into one single program, making it easier than ever to bring your creativity to over a billion customers around the world. Get your apps ready for the App Store on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, by enrolling in the Apple Developer Program today.

It now costs $99 to access all SDKs and betas of iOS 9, OS X, and the company’s newest software platform, watchOS. Apple has created a support document to explain the changes and walk developers through the process of transitioning to the new membership program.

All individual and organization developer accounts have been upgraded to the new program and can access the tools for iOS and OS X. Membership expiration dates and Technical Support Incidents have not been changed. For those who had memberships to both former programs, the new single account has an extended expiration date that includes the sum of days that remained in each program.





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Samsung Compares Galaxy S6 Edge to iPhone 6 in New ‘6 > 6’ Campaign

Over the years, one of Samsung’s major advertising tactics has involved comparing its devices to Apple’s iPhones, attempting to point out shortcomings and feature flaws. As of today, Samsung’s published two new videos that pit its Galaxy S6 Edge against the iPhone 6, highlighting the device’s camera, wireless charging, and curved display.

In the first video, Samsung shows off the dual curved edge of the S6 Edge, which can be used to display information like incoming calls and notifications. „Oooh, check out the edge of the Galaxy S6 Edge,“ says the voiceover. „It displays colors when your top five contacts call. The edge of the iPhone 6 displays nothing. But it has a vibrate function.“

The second video focuses on the Galaxy S6 Edge’s ability to charge wirelessly when placed on an included inductive charging mat, and it compares the S6 camera to the camera in the iPhone 6. The S6 and S6 Edge come with a front-facing camera that has a 120-degree wide-angle field of view.

Check it out, the S6 takes wider selfies that fit everybody. The iPhone 6… just cut off nana. Nana? When you do the math, it’s clear. 6 is greater than 6.

Each of the videos follows up with Samsung’s new tagline,“ 6 > 6,“ and they both end with the line „Not all smartphones are created equal.“ Samsung has a long history of mocking Apple products and Apple fans in its advertisements and commercials, so these newest anti-iPhone ads come as no surprise.

Since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Samsung has seen a significant profit drop in its mobile division as some customers opted to switch from Samsung devices to larger-screened Apple devices. Before the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, large screen size was one of the major differentiating factors between the iPhone and the Galaxy line of smartphones, but now Samsung must distinguish its products in other ways.

According to Samsung, demand for the Galaxy S6 Edge has been high, and it expects its profits to increase now that its newest devices have been on the market for a few months.





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