While Twitter has been continually updating its desktop apps and desktop browser experience, its mobile site has been sorely lacking - both with regards to design and functionality. Today, however, Twitter announced that it is launching a new HTML5-based version of its mobile site for smartphones and tablets. This new design will roll out slowly. Today, only a select number of users on iPhones, iPod Touches and Android smartphones will see the new site, but Twitter plans to roll this new version out to all users over the next few weeks.
If you use Google’s mobile website for Gmail on your iOS or Android smartphone, Google just launched an update that will make your life a bit easier. You can now undo a number of actions in mobile Gmail, including whenever you archive, move and delete a message or conversation, or when you add a label to an email.
Echoecho is one of the most useful location-based apps on the market today. When you hear the word “location-based app,” chances are you are thinking about services like Foursquare and Gowalla. While these can be fun, their utility is rather limited (unless you really feel the need to collect virtual badges). Echoecho, on the other hand, was built from the ground up to solve a simple problem: finding where your friends are. The service lets you ask your friends where they are and then decide on a place to meet up if you feel like doing so.
The minds behind Lala, the ingenious online music service that Apple bought and immediately shut down, just launched their newest project tonight: Color.
Color is a photo-sharing app for iOS (iTunes link) and Android with $41 million in backing from major venture capital firms. Forbes calls it “a new photo app that could change the way you interact with people,” but leaving aside the question why an app like this needs $41 million, my main problem with the service is that I can’t quite figure out why I would want to use it.
Google just put another nail in the coffin of dedicated GPS units and paid mobile apps. Google Maps Navigation now offers users the ability to route them around traffic jams. Until today, Navigation would simply calculate the most efficient route and send you on your merry way without checking traffic conditions. The new version, however, will look at both current and historical traffic data to calculate the best route to take. According to Google, Navigation users now use the app to drive more than 35 million miles per day.
It’s hard to estimate just exactly how successful (or not) Google Hotpot, the company’s recently launched Yelp competitor, really is. Thanks to its integration with Google Maps and Google Places, it’s likely more popular than Google Buzz, though, and judging from the increase in ratings from Google users we’ve seen on Google Places lately, it’s probably working out well for Google. The company wants more publicity for Hotpot, however. Starting today, Google also lets you syndicate your ratings for local businesses from the Google Maps Android app to Twitter, marking this one of the first times that Google has enlisted Twitter in its tools to not just pull in information but also to syndicate it out.
Last month, Google launched an Android app for Google Translate, which allows users to write or speak a phrase in one language and then read or hear a translation in another. Today, Google also launched a native iPhone version of this tool, which works surprisingly well. The app accepts voice input in 15 languages (including German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese), as well as text inputs in over 50 languages. Spoken translations are available for 23 languages.
Saturday's are usually slow days in the tech news world, but thanks to a new survey (PDF) from online research firm uSamp that argues that 44% of Verizon Android users and 26% of AT&T iPhone users will wait in line to get a Verizon iPhone on the first day it goes on sale, we have something fun to chat about.
Opera, the Norwegian browser developer, just announced a touch-optimized version of its browser. This new browser, which is optimized for tablets and netbooks with touchscreens. In its demo, Opera is showing off a first demo of the software on an Android device.
Augemented reality was one of the most overused buzzwords of the year, but for the most part, the applications we saw weren't really augmenting reality. Instead, like Layar and others, they take a phone's camera picture, GPS coordinates and compass heading and provide users with an overlay of nearby sights and shops. For some apps - especially stargazing apps like Star Walk - this is fine, but for most use cases, it's not really useful. Another type of augmented reality (AR) app that's hot right now uses paper markers and replaces them with 3D animation on your phone's screen - even Hallmark is getting in this business now, but it's more of a gimmick than a useful application of AR. The real promise of AR reaches far beyond this, however.
Most Android phones allow users to protect their phones from unauthorized access by drawing a pattern on their device's touchscreens. According to a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, however, these graphical passwords are actually extremely easy to crack, as "oily residues, or smudges, on the touch screen surface, are one side effect of touches from which frequently used patterns such as a graphical password might be inferred."
If you own an Android phone with the latest Android 2.2 Froyo update, you can now use your voice to control almost all of the most often used features of the phone. With Voice Actions for Android, users can use voice commands to perform actions like sending text messages (" "send text to Allison Miller Running late. I will be home around 9"), play specific songs from their music collection ("listen to the New Pornographers"), go to websites, send email, write a note, search Google and view a map and get directions.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.