Snapchat releases major update

Matt Alexander:

Snapchat doesn’t seem to have gained much traction in the core technology community, but, outside of it, I rarely come across a friend who hasn’t used it on a regular basis. From fleeting shots of lunch to videos sharing concert experiences, Snapchat has quickly found its way into my daily life in a truly good  way.

While I disagree with the point about the core technology community not adopting Snapchat – every software engineer my age that I know uses it as does everyone at the Business Insider office – I agree with Matt’s main point: Snapchat is taking the world by storm because it’s just so damn easy to work into your life.

You don’t have to worry about wording your status just right or framing the picture or choosing the right filter because in ten seconds it’ll be gone. Some people don’t like that because they want to be able to look at their chats later. I find it freeing because it lets me stay in the moment.

Realmac Software Teases Analogue Camera for iPhone

Drew Wilson for The Industry:

Realmac Software has just announced their latest iOS app, Analog Camera, due to be released sometime later this month for $0.99. Analog Camera, named after the company’s Analog for Mac, aims to be the fastest and easiest way to take, process and share photos.

The app looks intriguing. Both the app itself and the icon looks beautiful from the teasers. It launches some time later this month. Check it out.

Google Glass Will Add iPhone Text and Navigation functionality

Frederic Lardinois at TechCrunch:

To use text messaging and navigation on Google Glass, users currently have to pair it with an Android phone and install the Glass companion app on their phones. This will change very soon, however, one of the Google representatives in its New York office told me when I picked up my own unit yesterday afternoon. Glass, the Google employee told me, will soon be able to handle these features independent of the device the user has paired it to (and maybe even independent of the Glass companion app).

This means iPhone users will be able to use Glass with their device and keep functionality for texts and navigation. It’s interesting to see that Google continues this platform-agnostic approach. The additional functionality made clear today will be a key selling point for Google, as they look to make Google Glass’ reach as wide as possible.

HTC and Samsung flagships to start at $50 more than iPhone

Today Engadget noted that the HTC One is going to start at $250 at AT&T.

Last week we found out that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will start at the same price on the same network.

I figure that there are three potential reasons for HTC and Samsung to release their flagships at a higher price than Apple’s iPhone 5, which starts at a subsidized price of $199  on most carriers and $99 on T-Mobile:

  1. The carriers won’t give them the same subsidies as they give Apple. Apple has significant leverage with carriers when it comes to subsidies – remember Sprint’s $20 billion deal with Apple to get the iPhone 5? Yeah, that was basically a giant preorder guaranteeing Apple a $500 subsidy per phone.
  2. HTC and Samsung are hoping that by offering bigger screens, more (gimmicky) features, and the general performance enhancements that come with being newer, they can charge more than Apple does and thus make higher margins.
  3. Expecting a bigger and more expensive iPhone later this year, they’re betting that they can raise the price of their flagship devices and still undercut Apple.

Edit: Well, fuck me. Turns out HTC is launching the One for $199.

T-Mobile finally gets the iPhone come April 12th

Instead of pressing customers to sign a two-year agreement, T-Mobile will let iPhone buyers either pay full price for the device at the time of purchase, or spread the cost over 24 months with installment plans. A 16GB iPhone 5 will sell for $99 up front with 24 months of $20 payments — that’s $579 over the two years, $70 less than buying an unlocked iPhone 5 from Apple. Similarly, the iPhone 4S will cost $69.99 down plus $20 per month and the iPhone 4 will cost $14.99 plus a $15 monthly charge. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet on what happens if you cancel your plan or want to buy a new phone before those 24 months are up.

T-Mobile can’t let people buy iPhones for $99 and then decide they no longer want to keep paying. From what I’ve gathered, you’re free to stop playing your phone bill whenever you want, but you’re going to have to keep paying that $20 each month until the 24 months have passed. It’s kind of like having a semi-contract.

Basically, if you get an iPhone 5 at T-Mobile instead of ATT, Verizon, or Sprint, you’ll save about $600 over two years. Certainly not an insignificant amount of money, but not enough to make me give up Verizon’s coverage in NYC and the Bay Area. I’ve had T-Mobile in Berkeley, and it wasn’t even close to a pleasant experience.

What Apple’s latest purchase actually does

WiFiSLAM uses a combination of various methods to get better indoor locations. Obviously, WiFi and cell tower trilateration doesn’t work indoors. Instead, WiFi signals can be measured by any device to get an approximate location. In order for that location to be accurate, though, you have to use WiFi fingerprinting to get an idea of what the materials and construction of a particular building are going to do to WiFi signals. Enough scans in one place and you’ll have an accurate profile of a building that can be used to make a map.

The Next Web’s article goes into greater detail on how the company uses all the sensors in a phone together to not only create detailed maps but also track the routes people take through the building. Amazing stuff.

Apple buys indoor location company WifiSLAM

Apple paid around $20 million for the Silicon Valley-based company, according to a person familiar with the matter who said the deal closed recently.

This is what we call an "acqui-hire." If they were working on something really revolutionary, the price would be way higher because Google would have been looking at them as well.

My bet is that these are some talented people with the potential to do amazing things.

Google to sell X Phone for $199… off-contract?

google motorola x phone

TechCrunch:

What’s more, its modest spec sheet prompted many (myself included) to dismiss its odds of being the fabled X Phone. To wit: it sports one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro systems-on-a-chip, 2GB of RAM, a 4.65-inch display, and a 2,200 mAh battery. In fairness, that’s not a shabby device at all. That’s essentially what the Nexus 4 is working with, but it just didn’t seem flashy enough to be what Motorola and Google have been working on all this time.

But if this new report holds true, that lack of next-gen horsepower could be because Google intends to sell this particular X Phone dirt cheap sans contract — $199 or so.

That would be game-changing. Google would take a lot of market share from Samsung with a move like this, especially with the tech press calling the Galaxy S4 ‘utterly boring’. It also makes some sense – Apple is able to reduce the price of the previous-generation iPhone by $100 each year. If Google uses the same components as the Nexus 4 – perhaps with a less expensive plastic or rubber exterior? – why couldn’t they sell an X Phone for $100 less than last-year’s Nexus?

Apple screwed, iPhone sales increasing by only 33 percent this year

iphone

Noel Randewich for Reuters, “Apple’s iPad to fall behind Android as tablet war grows”:

In the latest criticism from Wall Street, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek on Tuesday compared Apple to Blackberry saying the iPhone is now on the defensive against Samsung’s devices.

“Historically when handset makers fall out of favor (e.g., the Razr, Blackberry, HTC) they fall faster/further than expected,” Misek said.

Oh man, sounds like Apple’s fallen pretty far from its peak, huh?

Now, IDC says Apple may begin losing some its lead on tablets as well, though it remains the top seller among manufacturers.

Oh, so it’s still ahead, but shrinking.

Apple is expected to grow its revenue by $26 billion in its fiscal year ending in September, just over half of the $48 billion increase in revenue it saw the year before, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Wait, what?

Samsung is likely to sell 290 million smartphones this year, up 35 percent from 2012, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple’s smartphone sales are projected to reach 180 million this year, up 33 percent.

So the company that sells the two most popular smartphones in the world is going to sell 33% more phones this year, and it’s going the way of Blackberry? How does Peter Misek have a job as an analyst? Why doesn’t Noel Randewich point out how reality completely flies in the face of the subheading, “IPHONE COULD GO WAY OF BLACKBERRY?”

It’s as if the Wall Street Journal and Reuters are reporting on some bizarro-tech industry where Apple is one month of bad iPhone sales away from being where it was in 1997.