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Oh, You Don’t Have A Galaxy Nexus Yet? Because Woz Does.

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 02:18 PM PST


Woz Spotting. It’s something of a tradition amongst tech circles — or, at least, amongst my particularly geeky tech circle. Any time someone spots Woz wozzin’ his way around the Valley, it feels weird not to tell everyone you know. It’s like spotting Kanye West, except instead of Kanye West it’s someone that people actually like.

While Woz spottings rarely bubble up to the pages of TechCrunch, today’s sighting is particularly neat: he was on the Google campus. Better yet, he apparently left with a phone that pretty much no one else in the US has yet: the Galaxy Nexus.

The photos, posted by Android UI Engineer Kirill Grouchnikov , show Wozniak holdin’ his Galaxy Nexus and what is said to be an Ice Cream Sandwich-themed shirt.

So, how’d Woz pull it off? All it took (besides, you know, helping to invent the modern personal computer) was a tweet. From yesterday:

Wozniak’s shiny new Nexus isn’t exactly a world exclusive — they started shipping in the UK about 24 hours ago. In the US, however, the Nexus is still limited to Googlers/Samsungers and a handful of lucky press folk (yes, including one of our own). There’s still no concrete word of a local release date.

Now, if someone could tell me where to get one of those ICS shirts…

TCTV: The TechCrunch Gadgets Webcast

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 01:22 PM PST

Welcome to another exciting episode of the TechCrunch Gadgets Webcast. This week we talk about the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet, the Nexus, and SOPA. Plus, we have a special surprise for all those who prefer sound to moving pictures.

This is the first week I’ve extracted the audio from the video webcast and saved it to a downloadable MP3 podcast that you can subscribe to via RSS or iTunes. Hopefully you enjoy this version as well.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Financial Times Hits 1M Users On HTML5 Site That Dodges Apple’s Tax

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:51 AM PST

Financial Times Mobile Web App Stats

The newspaper industry is struggling to make ends meet. Mobile could be the solution, but the Apple App Store comes with a 30% tax on the subscriptions that established news outlets depend on. To buck Apple’s tax, London paper Financial Times decided to launch as a HTML5 mobile web app rather than a native app. Now it has proven the HTML5 model can work for news. Today Financial Times announced it has hit 1 million registered users who account for 20% of the outlet’s online page views, and 15% of new digital consumer subscriptions.

HTML5 works great for news publishers because they predominantly transmit text and don’t require the processing power and deep hardware integrations afforded by native mobile apps. Instead, since HTML5 is accessible across device types and it doesn’t roadblock new users with a download, it helps publishers gain readers and sell more subscriptions without paying a platform fee.

Despite grim projections about the future of paid news, FT found that users who register on mobile devices are 2.5 more likely to subscribe. Thanks to an aggressive set of in-app prompts, 45% of the 1 million registered users add the web app to their home screen, which can vastly increase return visits.

Mobile is also changing when people consume the Financial Times. While the desktop site is most popular during mid-day, the mobile site sees a huge spike between 7 and 8am, presumably from people reading when they first wake up or on their commute.

Other news outlets should see these figures and think critically about whether HTML5 might serve them better than a native app. Getting users to subscribe is tough enough without paying 30% for unnecessary functionality and a barrier to new readers.

Sony Ericsson’s Vscreens Moves Your Mobile Content To The Big Screen

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:36 AM PST


Getting content from your Android device onto a bigger screen has never been terribly hard, but Sony Ericsson’s Vscreens service makes it an absolute cakewalk. There’s no fiddling with DLNA settings or fumbling with cables here — just QR codes.

Once you’ve downloaded the Vscreens app from the Android Market (which works on any Android device running 2.1 later, not just SE handsets), point your browser at and scan that QR code. Your device and the website will forge a connection, and allow you to quickly throw photos up onto a bigger screen. Scrolling back and forth between photos was fairly smooth, and to my surprise, pinch-to-zoom worked nicely as well.

I tested it on my work-issued laptop with great success, and Sony Ericsson says the service should work on any screen with an internet connection and a browser (and yes, that includes iPads). The truly daring can even share videos, though it requires both devices to be on the same WiFi network. Sadly, it had a rough time working with the episode of Doctor Who I always have on my phone, but shorter videos worked just fine.

Oh, and did I mention that the Vscreens is free? Sony Ericsson’s got it labelled as a beta product, and it occasionally shows: some pictures came up pixelated (though it’s probably more the camera’s fault), and buffering some videos took longer than I was willing to wait. Still, it’s an impressive little service to play around with, and with any luck it won’t die when Sony and Ericsson part ways.

The Big Bag Week Giveaway: An HP OfficeJet Printer, An HP Laptop, And, Obviously, A Bag

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:14 AM PST


So I promised that Bag Week 2011 would be worth it. There were the naysayers, the no-no-never Nancies, the nattering nabobs of negativism, and the like but you stuck through Bag Week 2011 and now it’s nearly over. But before we go, we want to offer one final parting gift to you all – everyone except Adrian Scott, that is. Mr. Scott wrote, and I quote:

Worst. Techcrunch. Coverage/Idea. Ever… Please put this on another site… What’s next, soda reviews? Or how about articles about rare medical conditions and asbestos (for the adsense revenue).

While I admit we only do this for the millions it brings us in Adsense revenue (bag makers are rich, FYI), we also do this because people who use computers and read this site like to put those computers into bags when they transport them. Rather than pepper the site with bag reviews, we picked some of our favorites and wrote them up. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right, Mr. Scott.

Anyway, here’s what everyone except Adrian Scott (unless he apologizes publicly) can win from Office Depot, the folks generously donating this final prize:

That’s right: essentially a whole home office/Bernie Madoff kit for you and yours. In addition to the bag, Office Depot is throwing in a brand new OfficeJet printer, a really nice laptop, and a shredder. Why a shredder? Heck if I know.

They wanted us to talk up the printer so here you go:

· Printing from mobile devices via HP ePrint, which allows the user to print from virtually anywhere using any email enabled device
· Printing, faxing, scanning, copying and web functionalities
· Built-in wireless
· A color touchscreen display
· Web-connected printing with business apps
· Automatic two-siding printing

Amazing, no? To win, comment below describing your ultimate bag, sac, purse, murse, rucksack, or container. Be descriptive. I’ll pick a winner randomly on Monday and, provided you’re not Adrian Scott, happy Bag Week 2011 and to all a good night.

Google Filed Patents For Android Pattern Unlock And Gesture-Based Controls

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 08:57 AM PST


Back in the early days of Android, people ooh-ed and aah-ed over every little thing, even the seemingly-innocuous pattern unlock feature. It appears that Google has bigger plans for that lockscreen, as recently published patent applications cover both the pattern unlock method and a way to control applications with definable touch gestures.

For those who haven’t taken a peek at patent applications before, I’d suggest you start with this one. The pattern unlock concept is simple enough that you could explain to friends with just a few sentences, but Google had considerably more to say on the subject. They, for example, describe pattern unlock thusly:

A lock screen view is displayed on the mobile device to prevent unauthorized and inadvertent access to the mobile device's data. While the mobile device is locked, a touch gesture having a pre-defined shape is detected on a touch screen of the mobile device independently of the initial position of the touch gesture on the touch screen.

But that’s not all! The filing goes on to say that certain patterns can be connected to applications, so defining and drawing a “M” could automatically fire up your Gmail app. HTC’s new ubiquitous Sense UI does something similar now, with users dragging a magnifying ring over their function of choice. Their solution is arguably easier, but it’s still interesting to see Google’s take on the issue.

Interestingly, Google’s other new patents tread on similar territory but with a bit of a twist. The idea, as laid out in “Automatic Derivation of Analogous Touch Gestures From A User-Defined Gesture,” involves setting a specific pattern that gets tied to an application action. Once that pattern is drawn on the screen, it executes the action — fair enough, but here’s where it gets interesting. If you then draw a variation of that same pattern on the screen, that application will perform an actionsthat’s “different from but related to” the original.

It’s a little abstract, I know, but imagine this: you’re walking down the street listening to music and you’d like to change tracks. Instead of unlocking the phone, opening the music app, and hitting the button to change tracks, you could draw a small arrow pointing to the right on your screen to do the same thing. Want to jump to the next album? Draw a big version of that same arrow. Want to return to the previous track? Draw a small arrow pointing left, and so on.

Google’s been having more than a little fun with devising neat ways to unlock your device (Face Unlock, anyone?), so it’s possible we’ll see something like this in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps in Android 4.1?

Chumkee Launches New App For Social Photo & Video Conversations

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 08:32 AM PST


An odd but interesting new photo-and-video sharing iPhone app called Chumkee is officially announcing its public launch today. I know, I know. Another photo-and-video sharing app – just what you need. But Chumkee is doing something a little different here with its concept, user interface and design. This app isn’t about simply “sharing photos with your friends.” It’s about sharing publicly, in an almost Twitter-like format, complete with @usernames and a “reply” feature. In other words, social conversations based around photos and videos.

But that’s not all. The app also ditches the traditional Twitter timeline-esque view for a photo pile design that allows you to move pictures and videos around on the screen or drag them off the side of the screen when you’re done.

When you first load Chumkee, you’re presented with the “everyone” view which is a heaping stack of photos and videos. The videos have live thumbnails, though, which gives the app a sort of “real-time” feel. It seems like all those people are chatting live now, even though that’s not the case.

Although the app supports photos, the majority of the thumbnails I saw upon first launch were videos. You can move these thumbnails around on the screen to discover the ones hidden underneath or you can flick them off the screen when you’re done. While this is not a design that allows you to consume a large amount of media at a glance, it’s actually kind of fun to use. There’s a goofiness and playfulness to Chumkee that so many of today’s apps are lacking.

That said, if photo piles are not your thing, a monkey holding a joystick at the bottom of the screen (yes, I told you it was goofy) lets you switch to a tiled layout.

When you find a video (or photo) you want to see, you just tap it, then tap “zoom” and watch. You can also “like” the item or follow its creator by tapping the included “follow” button. The app’s users are given @usernames, like on Twitter. To see just the people you’re following, tap the drop-down box at the top of the screen to switch between “Everybody,” “Following,” “My Profile,” and “Search.”

As on YouTube, the app supports video replies to prompt conversations between users. This is done via the “Cam Reply” button at the bottom of each item. (Test replies are also supported).

Even though it’s not built around live chatting, Chumkee has that same sort of random, serendipitous and voyeuristic vibe that Chatroulette once offered before things went bad. It would be great if, at some point in the future, you could “go live” and have real-time chats, too. Of course, then it would face that same Chatroulette porn problem. In the meantime, it’s less likely you’ll see the naughtiness of Chatroulette (prior to its cleanup) here now, but there is a “flag” button if you do encounter something odd.

Chumkee is the creation of New York-based C-Vibes, Ltd. It was previously soft-launched for beta-testing purposes, gaining 15,000 users worldwide, 85% of which now engage daily. The app was built by David Aumoier and Thomas Prevot, whose backgrounds are in creative, design and investing. Currently, Chumkee is boot-strapped with support from a few angels.

You can grab the app in iTunes here.

Pushpins Relaunches As Full-Featured Grocery Shopping App

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 07:14 AM PST


Today, Pushpins, the mobile app for saving on groceries, is relaunching as Pushpins 2.0, now a fully featured grocery shopping assistant. Previously, the app was focused only on delivering savings in the form of digital coupons and rewards to users who scanned UPC barcodes at the grocery store. With the update, the app offers everything a grocery shopper needs, including digital shopping lists, coupons, nutritional information and even access to your shopping history.

Pushpins plays in a crowded but popular, space: mobile shopping lists. I’ve personally tried several of these apps myself, in hopes of finding a favorite. Grocery IQ, ZipList, AisleMapper, Cozi and many others have all spent time on my homescreen over the years.

Although I can’t personally benefit from it (thanks a lot, Publix), one of Pushpins’ best features is its integration with the store savings cards from many brand-name grocery store chains like Foodtown, Giant Eagle, Harps, Lowes Foods, MainStreet Market, Marsh, Shop 'n Save and ShopRite. When you clip the digital coupons using the app, those savings are instantly loaded onto your grocery store loyalty card for use at checkout.

In the new app, Pushpins also offers a smart shopping list that can intelligently suggest coupons for the items on your list. For example, if you add “Chex Cereal,” the app won’t just tell you if the cereal is on sale – it can tell you if there’s a coupon for milk, too. In addition, you can sort products by aisle, view nutritional info and access a history of your past purchases and savings via the shopping history feature which can be printed out as a digital receipt.

The updated app is out now in iTunes here.

4.3-Inch Nokia Lumia 900 Gets Leaked By Nokia (Video)

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 06:47 AM PST


It’s only been a couple weeks since Nokia debuted their first Windows Phones, but today we’re getting something a little less official. The Nokia Lumia 900 has found its way to YouTube thanks to none other than Nokia themselves. Apparently the Finnish phone maker posted a video to court developers, promising them the combination of “Nokia’s stunning hardware” and “a dynamic Microsoft OS.”

The video has since been pulled (as expected), but the folks over at All About Phones were clever enough to download and re-upload the video to YouTube for all to enjoy.

We’re just a tad short on specs, but we do know this will be a 4.3-inch monster — about the same size as Samsung’s Windows-powered Focus S. On the design front, however, it seems Nokia is pulling more from their own Lumia design dress with a hint of Xperia Play mixed in there.

When we’ll actually see the phone in any official sense is still a bit of a mystery. There are two probable options: The Lumia 900 (codenamed Ace) will either show its face at CES in early January, or at Mobile World Congress in February. We’ll be at both events with our eyes peeled so stay tuned if this has piqued your interest.