Facebook aims for video-loving teenagers with new app

Facebook's new iPhone app allows users to make video clips to describe likes, peeves, dance styles, and other aspects of their c

Facebook took direct aim at video-loving adolescents, and Snapchat, with the release of a new iPhone app that allows teens to watch clips about the lives of their classmates.

The app, called Lifestage, was released with no fanfare, and is available for anyone to download on iPhone, although seeing profiles of other users is reserved for those 21 years of age or younger.

The social network allows users to make video clips to describe likes, peeves, dance styles, and other aspects of their character.

Those clips are woven together to serve as public profiles that can be viewed by other Lifestage members, provided they are young enough.

A tool in the app lets users block and report older folks.

“Lifestage makes it easy and fun to share a visual profile of who you are with your school network,” the app’s iTunes store description says.

Once enough students at any given school are on the app, it becomes “unlocked.”

“Once your school is unlocked, you can access the profiles of others in your school community (and all over!) so you can get to know people better in your school and nearby schools,” the description said.

Lifestage users are invited to share video snippets whenever they wish.

The app comes as a challenge to Snapchat, the vanishing message service that became a hit with teenagers and which lets members share pictures and video clips.

Lifestage was seen by some as an effort by Facebook to stay connected to young internet users disinclined to take part in the leading social network.

Facebook did not return an AFP request for comment.

Earlier this month, Instagram put its own spin on a key Snapchat feature by letting users post “Stories” that eventually vanish from the Facebook-owned photo-and video-sharing app.

Instagram Stories encourages people to share ephemeral collages of everyday moments on the app which has built a reputation for allowing people to post highlights from their lives or artistic works.
[Source: Phys.org]

Windows 10 Mobile news recap: Anniversary Update released, PoGo returns, official Facebook app

Welcome back to our weekly Windows 10 Mobile news recap series, where we go over the top stories of the past week in the world of Microsoft’s mobile operating system. Let’s get started.

PoGo’s triumphant return

PoGo, the third party app designed to let Windows 10 Mobile users play Pokemon Go, had a bit of a rocky start. It ran fine for about a week before the folks at Niantic changed up their API, tragically shutting out PoGo users for a while. Earlier this week, however, the dev team behind PoGo brought the app back from the dead. On top of being able to function again, much-requested features including Pokeball-flicking and general quality of life improvements were added. Due to the nature of Niantic’s third party approach, PoGo could go down again at any moment. Beyond that, there’s a very real risk that you can be banned from Pokemon Go by using a third party app. Use PoGo at your own risk!

Windows 10 Anniversary Update begins to roll out to mobile

We had to wait for a few weeks, but Windows 10 Mobile users are finally getting their hands on the anticipated update to Windows 10. Bringing a wide array of features to the OS, this new update should be doing a whole lot to revitalize the Windows 10 Mobile experience that users have been getting used to this past year. Windows 10 Mobile users should look forward to improved battery life in Microsoft Edge, new features in Cortana, and more.

More depressing sales numbers for Windows OS mobile market share

Let’s not mince words – Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile have never been big players. Last year Windows Phone had a minuscule slice of the proverbial pie when it came to market share, having only 2.5% of the mobile market. According to new reports from Gartner, those numbers have only gotten worse. A year after that 2.5% figure was taken, Windows Phone/W10M market share has dropped down to just 0.6%. Ouch.

Facebook releases its own app for Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft’s app gets the boot

We’ve been using Microsoft’s app for Facebook for a while, and while it was perfectly functional it wasn’t exactly amazing. After a long time of waiting, Facebook has finallyreleased a first party application for Windows 10 Mobile users, which should automatically replace the Microsoft app that was on your handset. The new app is a bit sleeker, and actually runs pretty well – there shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the fact that you can’t use the old app anymore.

 

 

[Source: Winbeta]

Vivino ceases all app improvement on home windows platform

Vivino

Vivino is a have to-have app for any wine gourmand that allows you to take a photograph of a bottle to receive pricing, rankings or even food pairing hints. The app itself has been round for a while, however regrettably it appears as although the Vivino improvement team has opted to halt work on the home windows platform.

the subsequent message changed into acquired through a reader while inquiring about the popularity of development:

unfortunately, we’ve got ceased development and aid for the app at the windows platform. The model located on the Microsoft keep is outdated. It seems, that the traction we’ve got seen from the platform does not justify the development attempt. In essence, we sense that a native app would not be capable of supply the pleasant revel in to our users. We know it‘s no longer a great deal help, but at least an explanation from our facet. Your wines and different data isn’t lost when you consider that you can access those through our internet site Vivino.com.”

it’s a shame that Vivino has determined not to preserve improvement efforts due to sluggish traction on the platform. whilst the official app remains available for home windows telephone, we’d advocate in opposition to the usage of an old app. there is, however, usually the authentic internet site.

Sonos says no to a Windows 10 Universal app

Inquisitive Windows users got an answer today from Sonos that put a bit of a damper on the future of a dedicated Windows apps for the multi-room speaker system.According to a forum post on the Sonos Community blog, a representative confirmed that the company has no plans to build a Windows Phone 8 app or entertain the idea of a Universal Windows 10 app.

Some of you have been asking about a native Windows Phone controller app for Sonos, and we’ve been slow to provide a clear answer. We’re sorry about that. The truth of the matter is that up until now we’ve been unclear internally on this very question. In fact, it’s been the source of many passionate debates because we recognize that some Sonos owners are also Windows Phone users. In the end, however, we’ve made a decision that Sonos is not going to build a Windows Phone 8 app nor are we planning to build a Windows 10 “universal” app. We’ll, of course, continue to support the Windows desktop controller. We’re big fans of the work Microsoft is doing across many areas, including mobile, voice control, AI, VR and of course the Groove music service, available on Sonos. We know this is super frustrating for Windows Phone owners anxious for more native apps on the platform, but like other companies we’ve had to place our bets. Our focus right now is on Voice and Paid Streaming Services, and we’re exploring quite a few innovative ways to experience and control your music – on your device and off. We’ll be sure to keep this group informed of our progress. Thanks, Kenneth.”

The seemingly harsh confirmation finally puts to rest a three-year-old request from Windows users for Sonos to support Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 with a dedicated app, while also muting any further fantasies of Windows 10 app in the process.

Understandably, a Windows 8, RT and Windows Phone 8 app don’t make a whole lot of sense for the company in light of Windows 10 adoption. However, from the outside, it seems rather odd to not support the 270 million people who have upgraded to Windows 10.

 

 
[Source:- Winbeta]

Microsoft’s app strategy is finally heading in the right direction

Microsoft’s app strategy has been picking up steam recently. The latest development came at Facebook’s F8 conference, which was held this week, and will allow developers to build apps for Windows with greater ease.

Up until last week, the strategy could have been described as a shambles and had created problems for Microsoft right across the board. The biggest one, or at least the one that has gotten the most attention, was Windows Phone — now Windows 10 Mobile — which struggled to get popular apps, like Snapchat, onto the platform.

Versions of Windows Phone barely had any popular apps, like Instagram, which lead to a community that regularly had to rely on third-party alternatives, which were usually developed on a shoe-string budget. These apps, while good, would often get shut down or the developer would run out of money.

It’s unfair to say that Windows Phone failed entirely because of this problem, but it was definitely a contributory factor. People tried all three operating systems — Windows, iOS, and Android — but found that only two had the apps they wanted (or needed, in some cases).

The app problem lead to a sales problem which, in turn, lead to the problem of fewer apps. No developer, especially an indie developer, was going to spend time making an app for a platform that had, at times, less than 2% global marketshare and, thanks to low-end phones, users that were less likely to spend money than iOS.

Microsoft evidently thought long and hard about this problem and came up with a solution: One app for all platforms. These platforms include PC, Xbox (which, naturally, brings in big-name games), Internet of Things devices, and phones. Now, developers have a different choice: Instead of having to build a separate app for Windows phones, they just build one for Windows 10.

This was, and still is, a big boost for Microsoft’s phones and offers something that no other platform can offer developers. While Apple has been working on building phone features into the desktop — things like Launchpad, for example — it has never presented a unified app strategy, much to the annoyance of developers.

Google, too, has never worked that hard at letting Android apps work on Chrome OS and, besides, the operating system has never been as popular as Windows (or OS X), except in schools, which mainly rely on the browser or a word processor.

Microsoft had, in one move, created a unique selling point for its platform, which it calls the Universal Windows Platform, and has been rolling with it ever since.

However, it’s still unclear if the strategy will work, but there are signs that it could be. The latest one, as I said, coming from Facebook.

Essentially, what Facebook has done is expand its set of tools, which it calls React Native, to Windows 10. This means that over 250,000 developers will now be able to easily port apps to Windows 10 which, thanks to the Universal Windows Platform, means that PCs, the Xbox, Windows phones, and even your IoT-powered fridge can benefit from them.

This coincides with a big push from other developers, like Uber, into the Windows world. While there are few people who would choose Windows because of Uber, it does demonstrate the advantage that a universal platform brings Microsoft. The app works on your desktop, which is perfect for ordering a taxi from your home, just as well as it works from a phone.

As I have argued before, Microsoft’s best chance of making something out of Windows 10 Mobile, and its assorted devices, would be to focus on its enterprise customers, pitching it as a cheaper (and easier) alternative to managing iPhones and Android phones from a system administrators point of view.

Thanks to UWP, Microsoft can get all of the apps it needs — boosted, in part, by the high adoption rate of Windows 10 — and then pitch phone customers off the back of that.

This strategy is very long tail — businesses tend to adopt technologies at a far slower pace than consumers — but it may eventually be a big bonus for Windows, and Microsoft, as developers start building apps for the platform.

The support for Facebook, which was initially sceptical about Windows, is an especially big deal. According to an analysis of user’s habits, people initially download many apps but then only use about five regularly and one of those is Facebook. (Others, like Snapchat, are not available on Windows phones.)

The developers behind The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, Netflix, Shazam, and more, are all bringing apps out on Windows 10, which are then available on Windows phones, and can be used to attract users.

Beyond this, Microsoft has also been working on making apps that are currently available on iOS and Android available on Windows. Xamarin, the company Microsoft bought earlier this year, offers developers the ability to build cross-platform apps and the company announced at Build that its software is now open source.

The “bridge” projects have also been moving forward — except the Android version — and could lead to more developers bringing iPhone-ready apps to Windows, although it’s not yet clear how successful this plan will be.

All in all, it seems like one of Microsoft’s biggest problems — a lack of apps on Windows, across all device classes — may be slowly coming to an end. The excitement around Windows 10, which now has almost 300 million users, is palpable and Microsoft has never been in a better position, both strategically and directionally, to realise its objectives.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]

Spoken-language app makes meal logging easier, could aid weight loss

Spoken-language app makes meal logging easier, could aid weight loss

For people struggling with obesity, logging calorie counts and other nutritional information at every meal is a proven way to lose weight. The technique does require consistency and accuracy, however, and when it fails, it’s usually because people don’t have the time to find and record all the information they need.

A few years ago, a team of nutritionists from Tufts University who had been experimenting with mobile-phone apps for recording caloric intake approached members of the Spoken Language Systems Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), with the idea of a spoken-language application that would make meal logging even easier.

This week, at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing in Shanghai, the MIT researchers are presenting a Web-based prototype of their speech-controlled nutrition-logging system.

With it, the user verbally describes the contents of a meal, and the system parses the description and automatically retrieves the pertinent nutritional data from an online database maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The data is displayed together with images of the corresponding foods and pull-down menus that allow the user to refine their descriptions—selecting, for instance, precise quantities of food. But those refinements can also be made verbally. A user who begins by saying, “For breakfast, I had a bowl of oatmeal, bananas, and a glass of orange juice” can then make the amendment, “I had half a banana,” and the system will update the data it displays about bananas while leaving the rest unchanged.

“What [the Tufts nutritionists] have experienced is that the apps that were out there to help people try to log meals tended to be a little tedious, and therefore people didn’t keep up with them,” says James Glass, a senior research scientist at CSAIL, who leads the Spoken Language Systems Group. “So they were looking for ways that were accurate and easy to input information.”

The first author on the new paper is Mandy Korpusik, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science. She’s joined by Glass, who’s her thesis advisor; her fellow graduate student Michael Price; and by Calvin Huang, an undergraduate researcher in Glass’s group.

Context sensitivity

In the paper, the researchers report the results of experiments with a speech-recognition system that they developed specifically to handle food-related terminology. But that wasn’t the main focus of their work; indeed, an online demo of their meal-logging system instead uses Google’s free speech-recognition app.

Their research concentrated on two other problems. One is identifying words’ functional role: The system needs to recognize that if the user records the phrase “bowl of oatmeal,” nutritional information on oatmeal is pertinent, but if the phrase is “oatmeal cookie,” it’s not.

The other problem is reconciling the user’s phrasing with the entries in the USDA database. For instance, the USDA data on oatmeal is recorded under the heading “oats”; the word “oatmeal” shows up nowhere in the entry.

To address the first problem, the researchers used machine learning. Through the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, they recruited workers who simply described what they’d eaten at recent meals, then labeled the pertinent words in the description as names of foods, quantities, brand names, or modifiers of the food names. In “bowl of oatmeal,” “bowl” is a quantity and “oatmeal” is a food, but in “oatmeal cookie,” oatmeal is a modifier.

Once they had roughly 10,000 labeled meal descriptions, the researchers used machine-learning algorithms to find patterns in the syntactic relationships between words that would identify their functional roles.

Semantic matching

To translate between users’ descriptions and the labels in the USDA database, the researchers used an open-source database called Freebase, which has entries on more than 8,000 common food items, many of which include synonyms. Where synonyms were lacking, they again recruited Mechanical Turk workers to supply them.

The version of the system presented at the conference is intended chiefly to demonstrate the viability of its approach to natural-language processing; it reports calorie counts but doesn’t yet total them automatically. A version that does is in the works, however, and when it’s complete, the Tufts researchers plan to conduct a user study to determine whether it indeed makes nutrition logging easier.

“I think logging is enormously helpful for many people,” says Susan Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Lab at Tufts’ USDA-sponsored Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “It makes people more self-aware about the junk they are eating and how little they actually enjoy it, and the shock of huge portions, et cetera. But currently, it is really tedious to log your food. There are any number of programs like MyFitnessPal where you can manually enter it by hand, but even with shortcuts it is tedious and not as user friendly as it needs to be for millions of people to use it really regularly.”

“A spoken-language system that you can use with your phone would allow people to log food wherever they are eating it, with less work,” she adds. “As I see it, we need to come up with something that really isn’t much work, so it isn’t an extra burden in life.”

[Source:- Phys.org]

Download the Desktop App Converter (Project Centennial) preview

During Build 2016, Microsoft unveiled a cool app converter that turns desktop applications into Universal Windows 10 apps. Essentially, the Desktop App Converterserves as a bridging tool between Win32 apps and Universal Windows Apps, in much the same way that Project Islandwood does for iOS apps. Run a Win32 app through the Converter, test it, plug in the additional UWP features and functions, and then push to the Windows Store. Here’s how Microsoft describes the tool:

Desktop App Converter allows developers to bring their desktop apps to UWP. It converts a desktop Windows installer such as MSI or exe to an AppX package that can be deployed to a Windows 10 desktop. The software may collect information about you and your use of the software and send that to Microsoft.

Microsoft has rolled out a preview version of the tool and you can download it from this link right here.  Give it a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.You can head over here to read more about the tool. Before you download the tool, note that you will need to be running Windows 10 Enterprise Edition Anniversary Update (Redstone) build 14316 or newer. Thanks Tony for the tip!\

 

[Source:- Winbeta]

Mediafire now has a Universal Windows 10 app

MediaFire is the latest Universal Windows 10 app now available in the Windows Store. MediaFire lets you access your files, photos, videos, music, or documents from any Windows 10 device. MediaFire offers users file hosting, file synchronization, and cloud storage.

MediaFire offers users a number of features including:

  • Automatically backup all your photos and videos
  • 10 GB of space – free!
  • Earn up to 50 GB of free space
  • Sync your Windows Phone photos to your computer
  • Stream and play music and videos
  • Keep all your important files at your fingertips
  • View docs, spreadsheets, presentations, video, and listen to audio
  • Create and manage folders and files
  • Share files on the go via email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, or copy and paste links
  • Quickly search all your files and folders

MediaFire works in the same way as other services like MegaUpload and Microsoft’s OneDrive. If you are interested in signing up for MediaFire, download their Universal Windows 10 app for free to get started.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]

Spotify no longer supporting Windows Phone app [updated]

Update: Spotify has responded by stated they are not ceasing support for Windows Phone. A new update to the app is expected later today. More on that here. Original story follows.

Spotify, for those that did not know, is one of the biggest and most popular music services out there. When the official Spotify app first launched on Windows Phone, it was buggy and needed attention — but people were glad it was available on Windows Phone. After quite a long time, Spotify finally rolled out an update to their app, changing the interface to match its Android and iOS counterparts which were miles ahead in terms of functionality. After that big update, we saw a minor update here and there.

This brought up a question by a loyal Spotify user on Windows Phone. When can we expect another update? According to a comment by a Spotify Customer Support rep, Windows Phone is no longer supported. This means if you have the Spotify app on Windows Phone, don’t expect any more bug fixes. When asked about a Windows 10 app, the rep had nothing revealing to share.

Hi there,

Thank you for dropping us a message. We are happy to hear that you found the Spotify Community helpful. Let us try and shed some light on our possible upcoming updates.

We can confirm Windows Phone 8.x is no longer supported. You can still use our Spotify application on the associated devices but it will no longer receive any further updates and download the application. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Regarding Windows 10, we can’t say at the moment if or when any specific release will be out, but as soon as there is something new, you will receive a notification on your device that an update is available and prompted to download it.

Hope this information has been helpful. If you have something else on your mind, just drop us a line.

Have a great day,
Tsvetan
Spotify Customer Support

Another Spotify rep confirmed that they received links to Microsoft’s Project Islandwood project (a toolkit to port an iOS app to Windows 10) and this information was forwarded to Spotify’s technical team for evaluation.

We’ve reached out to Spotify to confirm this and we’ll update this story if we hear back. How do you feel about this? There’s a chance they are already working on a newer app to take advantage of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, but we’ll see — hopefully it won’t take a year before it gets released.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]