Microsoft Updates Xbox To Cement Hold On Living Room

first_imgTags:#Microsoft#Xbox markhachman Microsoft’s new Smartglass technology, due Friday, combined with a new update to the Xbox, puts the company clearly in the driver’s seat to control the evolution of the living room.Microsoft said Tuesday that its Smartglass technology, which makes tablets and phones a “second screen” to complement the Xbox game console, will be available on Friday, the same day the company plans to release Windows 8. At the same time, a scheduled Xbox update adds Windows Explorer to the TV screen – along with a key addition: recommended content.“We are bringing the Web to the TV like never before with Internet Explorer, launching a brand new music service, and making it even easier to find the entertainment you love using Kinect and Bing voice search,” said Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division, in a blog post. “This release is the next step in our journey to transform Xbox 360 from a games console to an all-in-one entertainment system.”According to Nielsen’s first-quarter “Cross-Platform Report,” (PDF), Americans spend 1 hour 38minutes per week on gaming devices. But consoles with the power to stream video (now, virtually all of them), the average time spent is 2 hours and 48 minutes a week. The conclusion? Game consoles aren’t just a console, they’re a set-top box, a front-end gateway to entertainment content that the traditional cable or satellite box just doesn’t provide.The same report also notes that DVR viewing continues to increase. With the exception of live sports, viewers are caring less about watching live TV as it happens, instead time-shifting it to when it’s most convenient. That, in turn, blurs the line between the recorded shows available on Netflix, Hulu and other sources of content and the linear streams of content presented on network and cable TV that we can “dip into” with our DVRs.Recommending What To WatchOne of the most important additions to the Xbox update, then, is the release of recommendations. “Recommendations will allow you to discover new movies, TV shows and games, generated based on a number of variables including the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and what is most relevant and popular with our Xbox community,” said Larry Hyrb, Microsoft’s Xbox community spokesman, in a related blog post. “You can now rate content yourself and also see Rotten Tomatoes ratings.”According to ABI Research, the number of videos and TV shows available to watch numbers somewhere north of 100,000, although the total varies widely according to how they’re defined. (Amazon and Google, for example, are suspected to equate a single episode of a TV show as equivalent to a movie, putting South Park on the scale of Captain America.) However you count, though, there’s an overwhelming amount of content out there, and recommendations help narrow it down based on your preferences and what your friends like.There are essentially three methods of rating content:Active or manual ratings, such as what Netflix and Google TV use, allow users to rate The Blues Brothers, for example. The algorithm then determines that, based on your preference for popular, critically acclaimed movies starring Dan Ackroyd, that you might like Ghostbusters(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/).Social recommendations use “likes” and references to promote content.Passive recommendations aren’t based on what you say you want to watch, but what you actually do watch.The latter two are Microsoft’s preferred methods.“Solving the [recommendation] problem for users means solving how users relate to content,” Sam Rosen, an analyst for ABI Research, said in an interview. “How they decide what they want to watch, when they want to watch, and giving them the flexibility to subscribe to certain feeds, to browse based on certain interests, and personalize their recommendations based on who they’re sitting with.”“I think that passive and social [recommendations] are going to catch on more than manual,” Rosen added. “I think that rating for the purpose of rating has worked well for Netflix, based on their timing of when they entered the Web, and their ability to build a certain loyal base. I think as people move away from their PC on their desk, where they’re making the decision about what to put in their queue, as they move to more on-demand rating, I would guess – and I haven’t looked at the question – I would guess that the number of people rating Netflix content is going down over time.”Watching The Web On TVBringing the best of the Web to the set-top box, of course, was the mission statement of Google TV, which launched two years ago. But content providers, leery of losing ad revenue, blocked the nascent platform. Today, Google TV isn’t much more than a front end to services like Netflix and YouTube, with some third-party apps.However, Google TV also offers one capability that other platforms have lacked: the Web. Unfortunately, that meant typing in a search query. With the updated Xbox and Kinect, Xbox users can now verbally ask a query, rather than have to use an awkward on-screen keyboard. Voice also works with the recommendation engine as well.The Xbox update also includes new features like “pinning” favorites to the Start menu, the newly released Xbox Video, and recently watched content. Improvements to Bing will let users say, “Xbox, Bing, action” and receive results for action movies from across Xbox.SmartGlass: Last, And Least InterestingIn some ways, SmartGlass might be the least interesting update to the Xbox. Yes, it will give the Xbox a “second screen,” another way for a user to interact with content on the main display (program notes and minutiae from HBO’s Game of Thrones, for example) and additional control options like pinch and zoom. SmartGlass will be used by games, including Dance Central 3, Forza Horizon, Halo Waypoint and Home Run Stars, among others; entertainment apps such as HBO GO, MSN, and NBC News; plus sports apps like ESPN and the UFC.However, it requires users to own a tablet or phone. Not surprisingly, SmartGlass will be first available with Surface and with Windows Phone 8; additional platforms are coming soon, according to Engadget. That approach hasn’t placated existing Windows Phone 7.5 users, who will be left out in the cold at launch.Microsoft has set itself up to traverse the continuum of tablet, phone and PC. But it hasn’t forgotten about the biggest screen in the house, which in some ways is still the most important of all. Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnoutcenter_img 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe Applast_img read more

The Data Doesn’t Lie: iOS Apps Are Better Than Android

first_imgThe horse race between the app stores has become a tedious exercise. Apple says it has 800,000 apps in the App Store. Google Play is about at 800,000 and is likely to hit the million app benchmark before iOS. But, as our readers so dutifully informed us, they do not really care. App store volume has become a non-story.Quantifying the quality of apps between iOS and Android is a different matter altogether.Quality, by its definition, is a subjective thing. Especially when it comes to mobile apps. People’s opinions are shaded by their affinity for one smartphone or another, choice of mobile operating system and varying brand loyalty. When it comes to Apple and Android, fans of each will scream at each other that their apps are better, more numerous and generally awesome. Who is right? The general perception is that iOS apps in Apple’s App Store are of better quality than their Android counterparts in Google Play. There has been really no way to quantify that though the history of the mobile app ecosystem.Until today. We can finally say, through quantifiable data, that iOS apps on aggregate are of better quality than Android. The Data Doesn’t LieWhat is this, you say? You cannot quantify quality? Well, that is true, to a certain extent. Perception of quality is clouded to an individual’s subjectivity. That did not stop application testing company uTest from setting out to answer the question. Today it released Applause, a service that uses an algorithm to crawl all live apps in the App Store and Google Play to aggregate every app’s ranking and user reviews to determine the quality of an individual app.It is some powerful data and the results are fascinating. Applause ranks every app in 10 categories and gives them an Applause Score of 1 to 100 along 1-0 categories. uTest can then look at average scores for app categories (such as games or media etc.) and yes, entire operating systems. By uTest’s metrics, iOS apps have a mean Applause Score of 68.53. Android apps average Applause score is 63.34. The margin of difference between the two is ~8%. That does not necessarily mean that any individual iOS app is going to be better than its equivalent or similar Android app. Each platform offers unique characteristics that can make the experience better or worse. Upon ReadWrite’s request, the team at uTest took a broad level look at some popular app categories and compared them between the Apple App Store and Android Google Play. As you can see with the chart below, Apple generally comes out ahead in most major categories. Note: Apple and Google do not use a common taxonomy for how they categorize apps. uTest had to map equivalent app categories to each other to come up with comparable rankings. Apps can be listed in two separate categories. Amazon Appstore for Android rankings are not included. Exclusive to ReadWriteAs you can see iOS ranks higher in nine of 11 top app categories (eight if you count weather as a virtual push between the two). Android comes out ahead in productivity and medical apps. While these are not straight one-to-one comparisons, the data is deep enough from a categorical level to give us a good understanding that iOS users are ranking app quality higher than Android counterparts. When developing the algorithm for Applause, uTest was looking for two properties.“We look for two things. One, did it have a statically different bearing on the perceived app quality, the level of user satisfaction. Second, did the keywords or key phrases that we are crawling intuitively fit into this bucket. So, for performance for example, there are really clean words like crash or freeze or hang,” uTest’s Matt Johnston said. Case StudiesFor a straighter one-to-one comparison, we asked uTest for a few case studies to highlight the difference in rankings between iOS and Android for the same app. We asked specifically that uTest compare social tablet magazine reader Zite because of its popularity and significant difference between iOS and Android versions. If you are a Zite user on iOS and Android, you know that the two are distinctly different experiences. Zite first came to the iPad before spreading to the iPhone and Android smartphones. The app may serve you the same content across operating systems, but it by no means the same experience. Zite’s iOS ranking was 66. For Android it is 62. For iOS, Zite ranks at or above the mean Applause Score in nearly every category. It ranks high in content (as it should) and well above the average in privacy. Zite’s iOS Applause Score is not surprising given that it is a well-liked app used by millions who are likely to review it kindly.Zite Applause Score for iOSZite Applause Score for AndroidThe Android app is a different story. It ranks below the mean Android Applause Score is six of 10 categories, besting the average in only content, privacy and security. An app that performs better on Android would be CBS Sports Fantasy Baseball. This is an app I use with regularity and, have to admit, it is not terrific on either platforms. Its Android score is a 12 while its iOS score is a six. Neither version hits the mean in any single category, but the Android version does perform better in staple metrics such as usability and performance. CBS Fantasy Baseball Applause Score for AndroidTrusting The Algorithm?The bottom line is that we have to step back and assess whether we trust uTest’s Applause algorithm to determine quality on both the broad and granular levels.Essentially, you are putting your trust in two things: the wisdom of the crowds (the reviewers on Google Play and the Apple App Store) and Applause’s ability to measure the subjective nature of such reviews. On its surface, the Applause algorithm is a fairly simple concept. It crawls and looks for key words that are relevant to certain categories (like “crash” for performance etc.) and has the ability to exclude certain comments in the case of astroturfing or black hat review tactics. Tags:#Android#App Economy#iOS dan rowinski What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Related Posts center_img Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Mavs Rout Woeful Knicks, 107-87

first_imgNEW YORK — Tyson Chandler started training two weeks after last season, searching for a better result next time when he stepped on the floor at Madison Square Garden. He got it. This time, he was on the right end of a Knicks loss.Chandler had three dunks during Dallas’ sizzling start to his return to New York, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points to help the Mavericks beat the Knicks 107-87 on Dec. 16.Chandler thought he would be back with the Knicks this season and started working out earlier than usual so he could help them rebound from the sour taste of their 37-45 finish. Instead, new President Phil Jackson dealt Chandler to Dallas in his first big move, and left even the respected center wondering if he was the target after the Hall of Famer said the move was in part to address some of the team’s chemistry problems.“I wouldn’t say there was any vindication, my whole thing is just I want to have a successful year,” Chandler said. “I feel like I’ve got a great opportunity with this team and I want to help lead this team to something special.”Chandler played a key role in the NBA’s highest-scoring team putting together a nearly unstoppable start that gave it the lead for good. Monta Ellis added 14 points, and Chandler Parsons had 13 after missing a game with a sore lower back.Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points for the Knicks. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 but was 5 for 17 in another poor shooting effort.“They were ready to play from the start. We weren’t,” Anthony said. “We kind of got backed up on our heels and then we decided to come out and play and pick it up after that.”Shortly after hearing mostly cheers during introductions, Chandler dunked a lob pass for the game’s opening basket. He threw down another alley-oop that gave Dallas 10 baskets in its first 11 shots.Knicks coach Derek Fisher yanked all five starters at once soon after but the Mavs kept rolling, opening a 34-15 lead while sinking 13 of their first 16 attempts.“I thought the start was not the right way to start a professional basketball game,” Fisher said. “Those guys that were in there to start the game, that was a disappointment to their teammates.”The Knicks then answered with a 17-2 run that carried over into the second quarter and cut it to 36-32. But the Mavericks regained a double-digit lead by halftime and gradually expanded their advantage during the second half.Chandler came to New York a few months after the Mavs’ 2011 NBA championship, and won a Defensive Player of the Year award while helping the Knicks to a division title and two playoff appearances.But he had a disappointing season along with the team in 2013-14 and was dealt back to Dallas on the eve of the draft along with Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin.Calderon and Dalembert have struggled for the lowly Knicks (5-22), while Chandler came in shooting 68.2 percent from the field. He went 4 of 5 for eight points with 14 rebounds. “Biggest thing that he wanted to do is just win and I’m glad that we could beat them twice for him,” Parsons said.(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Stena Line to Place Fourth Ferry on GdyniaKarlskrona Route

first_imgzoom Swedish ferry operator Stena Line revealed plans to add a fourth vessel to the route between Gdynia, Poland, and Karlskrona, Sweden, starting from August 28.As disclosed by the company, the decision is based on a continuously strong growth within the freight business. In 2016, the number of freight units on the route increased significantly and in the first five months of 2017, the growth continued.“Our route between Poland and Sweden is strategically important to us and an integral part of the infrastructure linking the Central part of Europe with Scandinavia. Over these last few years, we have experienced extremely positive volume development and we believe this will continue,” Marek Kiersnowski, Trade Director who is responsible for Stena Line’s operation between Poland and Sweden, explained.The vessel that will be introduced on the route is M/V Gute – a time-chartered ship from Gotland Rederi. The 7,616 gross ton roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) ship will complement Stena Vision, Stena Spirit and Stena Baltica with the major focus on Stena Line’s freight operation.The introduction of the 1979-built Gute, which has a freight capacity of 865 lane meters, will add eight trips a week to the route, according to Stena Line.“Securing additional space for freight customers during the peak travel season, when most of the ferry routes are very busy, a decision has been taken to increase the frequency with four additional trips from the end of June to the end of August. After these changes, the weekly frequency on the route will increase from 36 trips in spring to 40 trips in summer season and 44 trips after the introduction of M/V Gute,” Stena Line further said.last_img read more

La Loche school shooter convicted of killing 4 injuring 7 to appeal

first_imgREGINA – The mother of a teacher’s aide who died in a shooting at a northern Saskatchewan school says she’s disappointed her daughter’s killer is filing an appeal.The young man who killed four people and injured seven others in La Loche was sentenced in May as an adult to life in prison with no chance at parole for 10 years. His lawyer filed an appeal of the sentence Tuesday.“I don’t want him to get an appeal,” said Jackie Janvier, whose daughter, Marie Janvier, was one of those killed. “That’s one thing I don’t want, because I’ve been through enough as it is already and yet have to start all over again.”The shooter was weeks away from his 18th birthday in January 2016 when he killed teenage brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine at their home before he fatally shot Janvier and teacher Adam Wood at the high school.Although he was sentenced as an adult, he can’t be named because of his appeal.The shooter’s defence lawyer, Aaron Fox, said Tuesday that he will ask for the order that directs his client to be sentenced as an adult to be set aside.“There’s really not much else I can say at this time,” Fox said. “That’s the issue: should he have been sentenced as a youth or an adult. We’re arguing that he should have been sentenced as a youth.”Fox wouldn’t say why he didn’t appeal the decision immediately after the judge made the ruling in February. He said his office filed the notice of appeal within 30 days of sentencing, as allowed by the rules of the court.Crown prosecutor Pouria Tabrizi-Reardigan referred all questions for the case to the Ministry of Justice.“The Crown argued the teen should be sentenced as an adult given the seriousness of the crime and the offender’s circumstances. That is what happened,” a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Justice said in an email.No date has been set for the hearing. A court communications officer indicated it is unlikely to be scheduled before the Court of Appeal’s fall sittings.“The parties each have to file a written argument. The court will then set a date for the hearing of the appeal,” Fox said.Janvier travelled from her home in La Loche to every court appearance since the shooting and said the appeal will be no different.“I just want justice to be done,” she said.The young man had been imprisoned at a provincial correctional centre, but was to serve his sentence in a federal penitentiary. Fox wouldn’t say where his client has been serving his sentence.The shooter pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.During the sentencing in May, Judge Janet McIvor called the shootings “senseless” and “coldly horrific.”“These school shootings were planned and calculated to inflict as much damage as possible,” she told court.Court heard the shooter began formulating a plan as early as September 2015. He researched different kinds of guns and the damage they could do to people.The night before the shootings, he did an online search asking, “What does it feel like to kill someone?”McIvor said the shootings have had a lasting impact on the northern community. Fewer teachers are willing to work there and there has been an increase in substance abuse and suicides, the judge said.Students in the community aren’t receiving the support they need and are being revictimized, she added.The shooter told court he can’t undo what he’s done, but he would if he could.His motive for the shooting is still unclear. Fox has said his client told him: “I ask myself that every day.”last_img read more