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Latest Rumor: Twitch Will Sell To Amazon, Not Google

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 3:36pm

[Update: Amazon has officially acquired Twitch for $970 million in cash.]

Twitch, the popular video-game livestreaming site, may have spurned a reported $1 billion acquisition offer from Google in favor of a richer proposal from Amazon.

The Wall Street Journal and The Information have both reported that Amazon is nearing a deal to acquire Twitch for more than $1 billion, and that the companies could announce the agreement as soon as today.

Previous reports that Google was acquiring Twitch were fueled by the company’s previous moves in the online video space, particularly its purchase of video streaming site YouTube in 2006. With YouTube’s strong ties to the gaming community, many believed a future partnership with Twitch was highly plausible.

Twitch was introduced by livestreaming site Justin.tv in 2011. Earlier this year, Justin.tv rebranded itself as Twitch due to the success of the video-game network. 

Images courtesy of The World According To Marty, Ducksauce on Twitch.tv

Categories: Technology

LG Cuts Corners: Its Round Smartwatch Is Due Next Week

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 2:58pm

Looks like Moto 360 won’t be the only round smartwatch in Android Wear’s inner circle. LG just pushed out a YouTube video that basically leaks its own plans to introduce a circular model at the IFA 2014 show in Berlin next week. 

LG’s decision to blast the corners off its smartwatch line should come as no surprise. Much of the anticipation surrounding the Moto 360, the third device to support Google’s smartwatch software, stems from its classic and stylish round hardware design. It’s a look that sets it apart from the other Android Wear devices, the rectangular LG G and Samsung Gear Live, neither of which excited critics or consumers following their introduction at the Google I/O developer conference last June. 

A few screenshots we managed to glean from the video: 

The timing appears strategic. LG likely plans to steal the Moto 360’s thunder with its new watch, possibly to be called the LG G Watch R, as it will debut right after the 360 launch. It will also potentially slide in right head of Apple’s reported press event on September 9, where it might—depending on which rumors you believe—introduce its own smartwatch alongside the new iPhone 6.

See also: What Not To (Android) Wear: One Woman's Search For Smartwatch Bliss

Even if LG manages to grab attention, it could have trouble keeping it unless it addresses some major issues with its previous watch. Chief among them are comfort—the LG G feels like a board if your wrist is on the smaller side, thanks to its size and strap placement—and battery life. The current model offers a day to a day and a half of wear before the power cell requires a recharge, which is a pretty miserable scenario for active users on the go.

The changes that do appear to be on board include a side button and several new watchfaces, some of which feature step and distance tracking, a compass and a few analog-style designs. 

To check out the LG's YouTube video for yourself, see below. 

Categories: Technology

Ralph Lauren Aims To Make Fitness Tech Fabulous

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:31pm

When the ball boys hit the court to collect tennis balls during the U.S. Open in New York this week, their t-shirts will be tracking them.

The young men running up and down the court will be testing out Ralph Lauren’s newest wearable technology—shirts that monitor heart rate, breathing and stress levels, the New York Times reports.

See also: OMsignal’s New Smart Shirt Shows The Challenge For Wearables

Produced in collaboration with OMsignal, the biosensing shirts collect and distribute the information to software that can be displayed on a smartphone or computer. The black nylon-polyester blend shirts will feature the signature Ralph Lauren polo-pony logo, and mark a distinct transition for the company known for its expensive and preppy fashion.

“Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers,” David Lauren, the company's vice president for advertising, told the NYT. “We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes.”

OMsignal’s shirts, which start at $200, are expected to hit the market later this year. The shirts track body data by using silver conductive thread and a “black box” that monitors data and transmits it to an application.

It’s unclear when Ralph Lauren’s specialty shirts will be available for purchase, and how, or whether, they'll differ from the OMsignal designs that are now available for pre-order.

Fashion Meets Tech

As wearable technology slowly sheds its geeky stigma, fashion designers and high-profile brands are jumping on board to make smart tech sexy. Good thing, too, because unless wearables look good, fashion-conscious consumers are likely to shun their connected devices.

Ralph Lauren joins designers including Tory Burch, who partnered with FitBit to launch gorgeous wearables women want; DVF, which created desperately needed stylish frames for Google Glass; and Rachel Zoe, who created USB chargers in the form of unisex bracelets.

See Also: What Not To (Android) Wear: One Woman’s Search For Smartwatch Bliss

Startups, too, are putting fashion first when developing wearable devices. Ringly, a minimalist device, vibrates whenever the wearer receives a notification—and you can hardly tell it’s a “wearable” because it looks exactly like jewelry you might find in a department store.

Hardware manufacturers should pay close attention to the designers that are flooding the market. While Google’s partnership with DVF underscores the importance of making Google Glass look good, smartwatch makers using Android Wear have created manly smartwatches that leave much to be desired for those of us who wear watches for style, not purpose.

As my colleague Adriana Lee wrote when Google unveiled Android Wear earlier this year, smartwatches like the LG G watch just aren’t what women want. It makes sense for brands to start with function over fashion, but unless smartwatches can become something pretty, they’ll forever remain a techie tool.

Instead of launching at a tech conference, Ralph Lauren is showing off its new wearable fashion at one of the biggest sporting events of the year—one at which many spectators may well be wearing styles from the company’s previous collections. We'll see the ball boys doubling as fashion models for the new biometric shirts can make fitness technology fabulous. 

Lead image by OMsignal; U.S. Open image by Steven Pisano

Categories: Technology

Is The Age Of Software Over? Not Even Close

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:16pm

San Francisco is about to take a beating. At least, if you believe noted technology pundit Michael S. Malone. 

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Malone, who has covered technology for over 30 years, posits the end of "the gestalt of the programmer," citing an impending "Era of Devices" that "will be led by builders" that are "older, with a family, suburban and pragmatic." 

The only problem with this argument is that it's wrong. Completely wrong.

The Rise Of The Machines

Well,`maybe not "completely." Malone is spot on when he argues that hardware is relevant again. Not necessarily big hardware, in the shape of servers or data centers, but rather lots of itty-bitty devices stitched together to form the Internet of Things. That sensor on your tractor. The FitBit you wear to bed. 

All these devices matter. 

It's not surprising, therefore, that Malone gets confused by these bright and shiny objects, totaling billions of new devices: 

For nearly two decades since the beginning of the dot-com boom, the Valley has been dominated by software. We have lived in the Era of Code—and with it the gestalt of the programmer. This person is young, single, urban, visionary and utopian: the frat boy turned tycoon. But that era is ending, as a cycle of hardware begins to assert itself in the form of watches, wearables, mobile health, autonomous cars, drones, 3-D printing and a revolution in sensors—all tied together by the cloudlike Internet of Things.

We are entering the Era of Devices. This will be led by builders: older, with a family, suburban and pragmatic. This will undoubtedly result in a Valley more like that of the calculator and PC eras in its style, people and attitudes, and a break from the increasingly protested-against titans of social networking.

This is a great vision for old fogies like me (I am, after all, 41). And there is some reason to believe in the transcendence of hardware and its shift to the Valley, away from San Francisco: Google's Glass and self-driving cars; Tesla's electric vehicles and Apple's beautiful iStuff.

Such visions, however, miss the software-defined forest for the hardware-defined trees. 

Connecting The Machines With Software

None of the hardware mentioned matters very much without compelling software. Apple's iRise wasn't fueled by pretty devices so much as iTunes. Google's Glass is both cool and obnoxious because of the software services enabling it through the Internet. And so on.

As Red Hat's Krishnan Subramanian told me:

I disagree with any argument that role of software will be reduced in the IoT world. If anything, it opens up more surface area for more advanced software to be created. I agree it opens up newer devices market but not at the cost of software.

After all, that Internet of Things? It's not so much a matter of hardware as it is the software-defined services that pull it together. As I've written, we're going to need millions of developers to build out IoT, and most of those developers are software developers. 

Is there money to be made in hardware? Sure. But the smart hardware companies—companies like Bosch—will push for standardization so they can capitalize on services revenue. As I've noted, companies that see themselves as pure hardware manufacturers are likely doomed. But those that see beyond the "things" to instead focus on the services built on the "Internet," the future is very bright.

Are we entering a golden age of hardware? Absolutely. But why is it golden? Because it's colored by a golden era of software. Or, as Pivotal's Andrew Clay Shafer suggests, "bet long on software."

Lead image by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

Categories: Technology

Airbnb Hands Over 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:57am

As part of Airbnb's ongoing tussle with New York state, the company said it will provide the names and addresses of a select 124 hosts—and anonymous information on an additional 16,000—to the New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

In a Friday blog post, the apartment-rental service said the disclosure is part of an earlier agreement to provide the attorney general with a profile of the New York Airbnb community.

Back in May, New York state filed multiple subpoenas for Airbnb user data in order to determine if users were violating a state law that bars landlords from renting out apartments for fewer than 30 days while the resident isn’t also present. In that case, these apartments would be operating as hotels, which normally pay a 15% tax in New York. Schneiderman claims that since Airbnb users don’t pay it, the state is missing out on millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

See also: Airbnb's New Logo Prompts A Vagina Dialogue

Airbnb is especially popular in New York and particularly New York City. The region has become Airbnb's largest market. It's no wonder the company has put lots of time and money into convincing New Yorkers that Airbnb is good for them. The company has an advocacy website, a slew of commercials featuring happy Airbnb hosts, a wide-scale subway campaign, and was a sponsor of the New York City Marathon. However, the efforts are an uphill battle against landlords, hoteliers, and lawmakers, who all argue that Airbnb is harmful to their businesses or taxation opportunities in one way or another. 

Airbnb found the initial subpoenas too broad, and said that after some “legal wrangling” was able to expose only 124 hosts’ data, less than 1% of the New York Airbnb community. The company noted that each host has been individually contacted, so if you are a New York Airbnb user who has not been contacted, you can be assured the attorney general does not have your personal data, although you may still be one of the 16,000 hosts to have your information turned over while still preserving your anonymity. 

David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of public policy, wrote in the blog post that the “vast majority” of these 124 hosts no longer operate with Airbnb. While he stated that it’s difficult to tell why the attorney general has targeted these particular hosts, he said that Airbnb is complying because the company has become “increasingly confident” that Schneiderman seeks only to eliminate “bad actors” rather than the sporadic hosts that make up the majority of the community.

“The vast majority of our hosts are simply renting out their own homes on an occasional basis,” he wrote. “The law was never meant to target them, and we now believe the Attorney General did not mean to target regular New Yorkers either.”

Airbnb plans to hold an online seminar Monday afternoon for New York hosts to ask questions about the ongoing investigation.

Screencap of Airbnb CEO and founder Brian Chesky on the Colbert Report

Categories: Technology

The Most Hilarious Tech Confessions On The Web

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:01am
<em>Editor's note: This post was originally published by our partners at <a href="http://www.popsugar.com/tech/Funny-Secret-App-Messages-35480817#photo-35480823">PopSugar Tech</a>.</em>

If you've never spent time on the Secret app, you should know it's pretty addictive. It's where people anonymously post thoughts they'd never admit out loud—from the serious to the hilarious. And you often find yourself nodding along because you feel that way, too. That's especially true when you read the ones that would only come up in the 21st century ... thoughts about the iPhone, Facebook, YouTube, texting, and more. The following 22 examples are waiting for you.

File that under texting problems.

Time for a digital detox?

Sounds like a sign you're addicted to Netflix.

Try this battery fix ASAP.

At least it's not as bad as this Tinder date.

We love Reddit, too.

Ugh, and that your summer wasn't memorable unless it involved all of this.

We take Missed Connections seriously around here, and that's just cruel.

Probably talking about the Kim Kardashian game, aren't you?

But at least you can always hide them without them ever knowing?

Yeah, we've done that.

No more rEaLlY cOoL AIM names.

OK, that's actually a genius tech hack.

That wouldn't be a bad idea.

At least it wasn't a person with a tiger.

De-friending happens when you're one of these annoying people on Facebook.

As long as it's not like Entourage.

File under: Tinder problems.

And you all know the types of employees at every startup.

Poor Windows users.

Women of tech, let's make ourselves heard!

But are you wearing space shoes?

More stories from PopSugar Tech:

How To Explore The World Through Instagram8 Photography Tips From Instagram Superstars3 Pet-Friendly Gadgets To Keep Furry Friends HealthyHow To Get HBO Without A Cable Subscription20 Solutions To The Most Obnoxious Tech Problems 

Lead image by Henry Burrows

Categories: Technology

New Lingerie Collection Showcases Some Real Women Of Tech

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 9:01am

Apparel brand Dear Kate last week launched its newest lingerie collection, The Ada, complete with a lookbook featuring a few of New York City’s women in tech.

The brand’s collection is named after 19th century mathematician and revolutionary computer programmer Ada Lovelace. Although now that I think about it, Lovelace would also be a killer name for lingerie.

In the lookbook, six women—including the founder of Geek Girl Web, the creator of Style It, and the engineering lead at Refinery29—model the loungey underwear range all while strategizing over laptops, organizing boards, and holding team meetings.

Dear Kate is known for choosing “everyday” women to model their lookbooks, with a variety of body types and skin colors to fill the pages and to combat the very singular look of the women usually highlighted on runways and magazine covers.

This body democracy also extends into different job descriptions, and if you read between the lines of this campaign, you could argue that Dear Kate is telling us that the everywoman can also do any job. Or, if you prefer: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like—you too can pursue a career in technology.

The Issue Underlying The Underthings

With Silicon Valley starting to discuss the idea of brogrammer style and the significance of how men dress in tech, it’s nice to see someone shine a spotlight on some techie ladies as well. 

But the age-old question begs to be asked, do successful women in tech need to be modeling underwear? Is this just another example of the capitalization on women’s bodies?

I don’t think so. I find that Dear Kate’s lookbook expresses more empowerment than exploitation. Embracing one’s physical self and being an intelligent person are not mutually exclusive things. 

It's easy to forget about the agency and choice behind the actual women in photoshoots like these, focusing instead on bigger questions about how such photos might affect the attitudes of those who see them. More unfiltered exposure of the real life variety of women’s bodies can break down expectations about the limited types of bodies that “should” be seen and celebrated.

What do you think? Is the underwear campaign completely off-base by profiling these women of tech, or do you find it a refreshing change for lingerie ads? Let us know your thoughts in comments.

All images courtesy of Dear Kate

Categories: Technology

Facebook Learns People Hate Clickbait; You Won't Believe What Happened Next

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 5:14am

Three months after Facebook product head Mike Hudack's infamous rage against the media landscape his company helped create, the world's largest social network is taking a stand against "clickbait"—stories with misleading, incomplete or sensational headlines that don't stand up to the actual content. 

"It's hard to tell who's to blame," Hudack wrote on Facebook, the media portal from which one in three Americans gets the news (according to the Pew Research Center). "But someone should fix this sh-t." 

Facebook to the rescue! 

On Monday, the company announced on its newsroom page that it would now ...

... help people find the posts and links from publishers that are most interesting and relevant, and to continue to weed out stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and they don't want to see.

Facebook vs. Clickbait

Will this cure the ills diagnosed by Hudack and suffered by CNN, the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Vice, all of which Hudack called out by name? What of Ezra Klein and his new website, Vox, for which the Facebook employee reserved his most toxic vitriol?

"Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism," Hudack wrote of Vox. "And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them."

One wonders how Facebook might actually remedy the clickbait plague. Consider this response to Hudack's post by The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal, which cites Hudack's boss, Mark Zuckerberg:

My perception is that Facebook is the major factor in almost every trend you identified. I'm not saying this as a hater, but if you asked most people in media why we do these stories, they'd say, "They work on Facebook." And your own CEO has even provided an explanation for the phenomenon with his famed quote, "A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa." This is not to say we (the (digital) media) don't have our own pathologies, but Google and Facebook's social and algorithmic influence dominate the ecology of our world.

If anything, the clickbait nature of the news Hudack raged against three months ago is rapidly heading toward peak clickbaititude. You don't need to look any further than the Saved You A Click account on Twitter or The Onion's recently-launched BuzzFeed satire, Click Hole.

"Saving you from clickbait and adding context since 2014," according to its Twitter bio, Saved You A Click queers the pitch on countless spammy headlines via cut-to-the-chase retweets that put the answer before the headline. The account's 148,000 followers testify that the service is much appreciated. 

Click Hole, meanwhile, features content so ridiculous, it's occasionally indistinguishable from its for-realsies analogue. Some examples:

Facebook, in its anti-clickbait post, says its users don't care for high-calorie, low-nutrition content:

Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through

Clickbait Is The Disease; Data Is The Cure

Facebook will attempt to protect users from such stories with ... analytics! Specifically, the social network won't punish Upworthy-style headlines in which "you won't believe what happened next," or other open questions. Instead, it will check how much time users spend on a link they've click and/or spent discussing it. (This new clickbait protection does not apply to sponsored posts and advertising, however.)

Facebook explains it this way:

If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.

No doubt this will come as a shock to the media outlets Facebook has so aggressively pursued in the last few years to make the social network its portal to more traffic.

Of course, if it doesn't work, then Zuckerberg and Hudack will know who to blame. That'd be us, the clickbait-loving users. 

Update 3:26 p.m.: Updated to include sponsored stories will not be affected by the clickbait crackdown.

Lead image by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing - Northern VA

Categories: Technology