Everything You Wanted to Know About the iPhone 5 But Were Too Afraid to Ask

With the first reviews pouring in today for everyone’s soon to be most bragged about toy, the iPhone 5, it’s time to take a step back and look at everything we know about the new iPhone, to date.

The Look

It’s thinner (the thinnest smartphone in the world according to Apple), it’s taller (a half an inch taller to be exact), it comes in black and white (though that doesn’t matter according to the late Michael Jackson), and of course it’s pretty sleek. Apple has had more than enough time in this business to know what works and what doesn’t and they aren’t messing with the formula now. The iPhone 5 looks like an iPhone, just better.

The Features

For the most part, all of the usual upgrades apply. The sound is better, the video is clearer, and everything is supposed to be faster. Of particular note, though, are the new 4G capabilities and Siri functions. The 4G is supposedly as quick as you need it to be, Siri is better than ever, and can perform an array of new tricks from pulling up apps on request, to providing sports scores. Also, the camera is supposed to work better in lowlight, and the battery life is cited as working up to 12-14 hours in some cases with normal usage, which would mean a great improvement over the previous models.  However, if you’re looking for the real new feature of the iPhone 5, you have to turn to the new iO6.

iO6

The biggest upgrade to i06 is the new Apple Maps features which opposes the popular Google Maps program. Reviews aren’t particularly flattering for the new app, as reviewers cite trouble using it practically in urban environments ,along with being generally behind Google Maps, but with things like Yelp integration, and Siri enabled GPS, a few updates could put the system on the right track. Otherwise, the new operating system is offering up increased Facebook functionality, Facetime compatibility, and a great all in one travelling app called Passbook that also works with some of your payment methods to help create a virtual wallet. Nice.

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Zynga reports disappointing earnings

Facebook has changed our lives, and few companies have benefited from this development more than Zynga, the company that brought you FarmVille. There are tons of people on Facebook playing annoying (to most of us) but addictive (to some of us) games that clog up our timelines, unless you block them of course.

The problem for Zynga is that it’s getting harder and also much more expensive to develop the new addictive games, and that led to disappointing earnings, which then led to its stock getting crushed. That then led to the further decline of Facebook’s stock as well, making this a very tough week for social media companies.

As gadgets keep evolving and as new social media platforms evolve, companies like Zynga can rocket to success, but then it’s hard to keep up that pace. Consumers are incredibly fickle these days. Just ask phone makers like Blackberry and Nokia. You’re on top of the world, and then Steve Jobs puts out the iPhone and soon your high-flying company is staring into the abyss.

Zynga is trying to avoid that fate. One of their latest games might help them, as Zynga Poker was launched for Facebook and has taken off as the #1 poker app on iOS. The key here, however, is that Zynga is looking past casual gaming. As the feds try to sort out online poker regulations, Zynga is one of many companies that want to take on the most popular poker sites. They want a piece of what could be a very large pie when we finally get uniform poker regulations. They’ll have to battle the big casino companies of course, but this could be a much-needed boost for a bruised social media star.

Recipe for Innovation – ZipList Mixed Lightly with Pinterest

I have an odd affection for Pinterest. While I tend to ignore other social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare for regular surfing, I can’t help but love the concept, design and user involvement of the site, and it always feels like every time I visit, I’m really finding something that catches my interest, even if it is just for a moment.

Of the various topic boards on Pinterest, the most continually interesting one has to be the food board. There’s a term out there called “food porn,” and it’s used when there is food that looks so good, and is so appealing to the eyes, that it causes a rush of endorphins that is the equivalent to looking at pornography. Well, the Pinterest food board is basically a hardcore food porn website, as pinners use it to find and share the best looking food on the web. If you’re smart, you’ll also learn to take advantage of the ability to click on the tantalizing food photos and get the recipe from the source site.

And now, thanks to the handy recipe-saving program ZipList’s new Pinterest-friendly features, you have even fewer reasons not to go recipe cruising on Pinterest. It’s as simple as this: You download the ZipList program and drag the “clip it” feature button to your bookmark toolbar. Then, you just find a tantalizing food image on Pinterest like this:

And you click the clip it button to bring up a screen that turns the image into an ingredient list like this:

From there, you can use the site’s mobile app to bring up your saved ingredient list while you’re at the store, so you can shop for exactly what you need to make the recipe. There’s even a notes feature, in case you want to write down the full step by step recipe for future reference.

The word from Pinterest is that 70% of users say that recipes are their most pinned topic. It’s no surprise, either, as the food industry is booming to the point that it’s being compared in some circles to the rock and roll revolution of the ’60s. So now is a great time to turn your solo food porn adventures into some hot, sweaty kitchen action as you use this program to help you take the bold step into the world of cooking for yourself.

New Website Maybe Wants to Help You with Life’s Tough Decisions

There’s no denying the power of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest over modern society. Together, they help represent the core of the social networking society we live in, and the potential for one good idea to take over the world. Because of their success, thousands of sites are pitched and launched all the time with the hope of joining the internet elite and reaping the rewards that come with that.

Newcomer Maybe is one such site, and is based around the simple idea that in a world of potentially unlimited knowledge and information, there’s also too many decisions to make. Maybe combines elements of Pinterest, Facebook and good old Google to allow users to pose a question (current examples include: help choosing wedding shoes, what to do on vacation, and which work of fiction to read next), and use a combination of pictures and polls to let the rest of the world help them decide the answer.

Besides an interesting concept, Maybe also boasts a strong pedigree. Site founder Omar Hamoui made his big break in the online world with the promotional aid website AdMob, which was purchased by Google in 2009 for a princely $750 million. A year later, Hamoui left AdMob to start up Churn Labs, which was treading the waters of the App market until a new idea was birthed by Hamoui while helping his wife shop for a new coffee table. Hamoui says that as he was clicking link after link his wife sent him, he quickly became lost in all of the information and was having a hard time separating one products features and prices from another in order to reach a purchase decision. From there, Maybe was a result of the timeless statement, “There has to be an easier way.”

Maybe is in a preview build right now and sports a pretty simple design and straightforward purpose. However, Hamoui and his team have pledged to expand the website to its full potential, including adding a mobile app where the team feels that Maybe will truly shine. Personally, I feel the site is a great idea, as I count myself among the indecisive masses of the world who often debate over judgments ranging from what movie to watch, to where to go on vacation. If Maybe is able to acquire and maintain an active community of users, we could all be facing a glorious future where we never have to think for ourselves again.

Roqbot Promises to be the Jukebox Reborn

In many ways, the jukebox hasn’t been a relevant or practical item for quite a few years now. Even before the advent of the iPod, many establishments that once used them prominently suddenly started preferring TV sets and house music to stand in for the old nickelodeon. Yet even though time has diminished the prominence of the jukebox, it has only added to the machine’s mystique. When imagining any good old time diner or gin joint, the jukebox is sure to spring to mind in its home right in the corner, as some classic tune frames another undisputed image of Americana.

It was only a matter of time, though, before the idea of a musical public centerpiece entered the digital age in full effect, and now it appears that thanks to a smartphone app called Roqbot, that time has come.

The idea is that a restaurant, bar or other type of patron establishment will register themselves as a Roqbot location and install a corresponding system. You can even help your favorite local joint become a member by recommending them on the Facebook campaign, “Jukebox Reborn,” Then, you can use your smartphone to check in to the affiliated location and see what’s playing, help create set lists, recommend the music, and even check out specials and other information about the place, thus allowing customers to truly set the music selection of their favorite hangouts like never before.

It’s an idea that’s time has come, and depending on the participation of venues and users, is one that could become popular fast. But I can’t help but lament that this is a clear sign the days of jukeboxes are truly done. Yes, their selection is very limited, and they’re extremely bulky and prone to break down, but besides the romantic aspect of seeing one, there is the fun of flipping through the sheets and finding that perfect song, or just knowing the number of your favorite by heart.

Also, the limited selection of a jukebox helps to truly define a good bar. I take comfort in knowing a little hole in the wall whose jukebox is loaded with Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Eric Clapton because I know that for the cost of some quarters, I have found a safe haven from club beats and dance music, and am around common souls whose heads start to nod and feet start to tap as the music fills the room, letting me know it was a good selection. I don’t know if an unlimited public playlist selection can offer that same kind of community.

But hey, maybe I’m just an old fashioned.

Even if the Roqbot is the wave of the future, though, I’m still going to go down to my favorite dives and give a quarter of tribute to one of the most pure fun inventions of all time.

Ford’s Looking to Make Driving Music Social With “Just Play”

Living in New York, I’ve made the increasingly necessary decision to never, ever own a car while in the city. As such I rely on walking and public transportation to get around. It’s certainly an ok option, but I miss driving around on a quiet night with some good friends and just listening to music. While an iPod is nice to have during my commute, there is no music listening experience (outside of a good concert of course) that can recreate how much fun it is to listen to music in the car.

Well unfortunately for lowly pedestrians like me, Ford is now looking to make that experience even better. They call the feature “Just Play” and it was created during the 24 hour “hackathon” at the Facebook campus. Just Play works with Ford’s voice activated Sync feature, and allows you to connect with your smartphone and Facebook app to share music with your friends. So whatever they are listening to, you can listen to as well and vice versa. Ford themselves acknowledge that it’s a “simple idea”, but there is some potential for this to incorporate other applications like Spotify and Pandora to create a driving music community experience that hasn’t really been around since the hey-day of rock on the radio.

Plus it just sound like fun.

Can Facebook’s Buffy “Stake” Its Claim In The Smartphone Market?

I swear, that’s my last bad “Buffy” pun.

Various news outlets from The New York Times to the BBC are reporting that Facebook is reconsidering an entry into the smartphone market.

For some time now, the social media giant has teased the idea of launching a phone of their own. However, early reports indicated that the project started and stopped several times until it was ultimately determined that the actual complete process of making a phone from concept to manufacturing was harder than anticipated, and the idea was scrapped.

Now though the project seems to be back in earnest. Codenamed “Buffy” (which is odd considering Buffy was a TV character that slayed things that were better off left dead), the smartphone’s hardware is reportedly going to be worked on by HTC Corp, while Facebook will internally handle the software development, which could include an independent operating system. To help get the phone out by its alleged 2013 target date, reports are that Facebook is looking for former Apple and other high end smartphone developers to add to the team, of which they may have already hired almost half a dozen.

Everything revealed so far has suggested that Facebook is taking this project very seriously. The word around the company is that Mark Zuckerberg is worried that if Facebook doesn’t make a play to start its own phone service, that it will become just another mobile app and get lost in the shuffle of the new world order of smartphone superiority. Not to mention that Facebook could lose out on advertising revenue if it starts being accessed primarily through a third party device.

Facebook still carries a lot of name value, and its internal app market could potentially be very popular if kept exclusive to its new phone, but I still think this sound like a case of overreaching. If the initial conclusion was that smartphone development was going to be too complex just a year ago, I don’t know what could have changed their minds in the meantime. Well, besides that slightly embarrassing public offering fiasco of course.  But if this is all an effort to extend Facebook’s reach enough for them to wipe some egg off of their face, things could turn ugly.

Picture This: An Instagram Camera

Tech developer ADR Studios has revealed a new concept design, that is sure to make the many Instagram users in the world gather their pitchforks and torches (or just start a cause on Kickstarter) and plead for someone to make this a mass produced reality.

Meet the Instagram camera.

That is a digital handheld camera that can print an instant photo from the model, complete with all of the features the Instagram app allows. What strikes me right away about this project is:

A. That’s a beautiful camera. Not just “hipster cool” but genuinely well designed.

B. This is an incredible marriage of times gone by charm (the polaroid this whole thing is based off of) and new technology (Instagram, obviously), that wouldn’t look out of place in a 50′s sci-fi where a vague idea of what future technology might hold, was paired with a current product to create something that’s just kind of out there.

C. Far from a novelty, this thing could actually make a practical investment considering its’ list of features.

• 16 GB mass storage.
• Wifi and Bluetooth.
• 4:3 touchscreen.
• 2 main lens, first for main capture, second for 3D filters, webcam applications and QR Code capturing.
• Optical zoom.
• LED Flash.
• Internal printer to make your Instagram photos real.
• Paper cartridge with Instagram Paper Sheets.
• Dedicated 4 colors ink tanks.
• InstaOs 1.0, which put together Facebook and Instagram App feature.

Now again, this is still a concept and as of now, no one has plans to make this thing on a retail level. Still though, with the mass popularity of the Instagram app, and the many social networking friendly features this thing has, someone with the ability to make this would be a fool not to considering it’s almost literally a license to print money.

Facebook’s new policy for celebrities

Facebook is moving to verified accounts for celebrities, and they will be able to create other accounts with fake names.

Google launches Google+

Google+

It’s been a long time coming, but Google has finally made a serious entry into the social media market. It took three attempts – you remember Wave and Buzz right? No? That’s okay, no one does – but it looks like Google may finally have a winner on its hands.

Still, Google+ has a long way to go. The service has launched to a relatively small group of users and continue to be limited by invites, but that could provide the kind of hype Google wants for a new service. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote about the service for Bullz-Eye:

One of the coolest parts of Google+ is Hangout, which allows users to jump into text and video chat rooms with customizable accessibility. It’s a product that could easily punch a hole in Skype and become an amazing productivity tool. That’s especially true for the companies that have made the transition to Google’s online products.

Sparks, on the other hand, is the service’s big flop. It’s meant to be some sort of social news feed, but it’s cumbersome instead of sleek, slow instead of fast, and skimpy where it should be overflowing with information. Sparks actually surprises me in its shortcomings. Google has mountains of information about me. I’m always signed in to its email service, I use the search engine exclusively, I have an Android phone, I use Google Reader on a daily basis, and I’m writing this article in Google Docs. Why is it so hard for me to get a decent feed on Sparks?

For the rest of the article, head over to the Bullz-Eye Gadgets channel.