Texas Instruments Video: Explaining How Immersive Spatial Audio Works

  • This 3 1/2 minute video by Texas Instruments clearly and concisely explains the three components of their 3D audio technology: beam steering, crosstalk cancellation, and head related transfer function (HRTF or the psychoacoustic effect).
  • “Laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other multimedia devices offer an impressive visual experience,” suggests the video. “However, the overall experience is hindered by space constrained audio systems that lack clarity and depth — until now.”
  • Texas Instruments explains in the video how its audio technologies convert the “small sound stage” into an enhanced, immersive experience via techniques that manipulate sounds in desired directions in a 3D space.
  • This is a must-view for anyone interested in spatial audio applications for consumer electronics.

Apple iPhone 4S: Recent iOS Update Fails to Fix Battery Problems

  • Apple released an iOS update on Thursday designed to fix the problem that iPhone 4S users running iOS 5 have been experiencing with regards to battery life.
  • However, many iPhone owners have reported the update (iOS 5.0.1) has had no effect in fixing the issue.
  • “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices. We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks,” Apple said in a statement.
  • Based on the language of the statement, especially noting the generic phrase “a few bugs,” Digital Trends suggests the company may not know the cause of the problem.
  • “The recent iOS software update addressed many of the battery issues that some customers experienced on their iOS 5 devices,” said Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller, adding: “We continue to investigate a few remaining issues.”

Study says 80 Percent of Mobile Users Multitask while Watching TV

  • Digital advertising agency Razorfish recently partnered with Yahoo to conduct a study regarding consumer behavior and the simultaneous use of television and mobile devices.
  • “While 80 percent of mobile users multitask in front of TV, 70 percent say they multitask once a week, and 49 percent on a daily basis,” reports Lost Remote. “More than 60 percent check their phones at least ‘once or twice’ during a show with 15 percent active on their devices the entire time.”
  • These multi-taskers are primarily attracted to content related to reality shows, news, comedy, sports and food.
  • The study suggests that 38 percent believe the mobile activity enhances TV broadcasts, while an equal 38 percent find it distracting.
  • Lost Remote reports: “94 percent of mobile multitaskers communicate while watching TV, while 60 percent are looking up content. Of the communicators, the most popular activities in order are: texting, talking, email, social networking and IM.”
  • Razorfish and Yahoo also learned that most of the mobile activity takes place during commercial breaks.

Study: 300 Percent Growth in Mobile App Downloads Expected for 2011

  • Mobile analytics firm Flurry has released new estimates based on iOS and Android app-enabled devices.
  • According to the report, 25 billion apps will be downloaded in 2011, marking 300 percent growth from last year’s six billion.
  • Five billion Apple and Android apps are expected to be downloaded in December alone, based on the surge typically associated with mobile shopping and people on break looking for entertainment.
  • Revenue from the U.S. market will reach $2.5 billion, compared with 2010’s $1 billion.
  • The increase in app catalogs has helped the increase. iOS offers about 500,000 apps and Android is around 350,000.
  • ReadWriteWeb also points out that only 43 percent of U.S. consumers currently have smartphones, but the number is expected to reach 50 percent by Q3 2012, which will also fuel app downloads.

Warner Bros. Flixster App adds iPad and iPhone to UltraViolet Offerings

  • The new “Harry Potter” Blu-ray disc will include an UltraViolet download from Flixster, now that Warner Bros. has added a new feature to the UV service.
  • “Today, the updated Flixster app enables users to not only stream movies available on UltraViolet, but also download them to iPads and iPhones, a feature that was missing from Warner’s initial movie releases on UltraViolet,” reports CNET.
  • When fans purchase the three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” they’ll also have access to a copy they can maintain in the Flixster cloud.
  • Warner Bros. became the first studio to adopt UltraViolet, with its release of “Horrible Bosses” last month. “Warner boasts 21 percent of the DVD market, the largest share of any of the major studios,” indicates the article.

Amazon Purchasing Yap: Possible Siri Rival for the Kindle Fire?

  • In a quiet acquisition deal, Amazon is purchasing Yap, a speech-to-text startup that may find its voice recognition technology in future Kindle products.
  • “Yap is truly a leader in freeform speech recognition and driving innovation in the mobile user experience,” says Paul Grim of SunBridge Partners, which funded Yap in 2008.
  • “Yap’s technology may give Amazon the ability to add voice controls to its tablets capable of understanding far more than the rudimentary commands currently supported by Android software, potentially allowing the company to erode Apple’s dominance,” reports Forbes.
  • Apple has yet to make a move toward installing Siri on its iPad, so Amazon could get a jump start. “If Amazon puts Yap’s technology to good use and releases tablets with intuitive voice recognition in the near future, it may give Android-powered tablets a stronger handhold in the market,” suggests the article.

Tablet Users Lead the Charge in Viewing Video, Prefer iPads over Android

  • According to a new report from analytics service provider Ooyala: “On average, tablet viewers watched videos nearly 30 percent longer than when watching on their desktop.”
  • Additionally, tablet users are twice as likely to watch their videos to the end. “Videos 10 minutes or longer accounted for 56 percent of the time played on tablets and 84 percent played on connected TV devices and game consoles,” indicates the report.
  • ReadWriteWeb adds, “non-traditional TV watching devices such as cord-cutting boxes like Boxee and video game consoles tripled the amount of videos they played during the last quarter, although they still have a minute market share.”
  • And according to results featured on Ooyala’s blog, Apple continues to dominate in this space: “iPads crushed Android tablets in terms of total audience size. iPads accounted for 97 percent of all tablet video plays.”
  • Ooyala’s “VideoMind Video Index” report is available for download from the company’s blog.

Adobe Announces Aggressive Focus on HTML5, Abandons Mobile Flash

  • Adobe will no longer continue to develop its Flash Player for mobile devices. Instead, it will focus its resources on HTML5, according to the company’s blog.
  • “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively,” writes Danny Winokur, VP and GM, Adobe Interactive Development. “This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.”
  • Future efforts for Flash on mobile devices will focus on creating native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores.
  • “Did Apple ensure mobile Flash’s demise by preventing it from competing properly? Or did Adobe’s insistence on keeping the format proprietary, complicated by Flash’s alleged performance issues, tie Cupertino’s hands?” asks TIME. “Whatever the case, with Adobe’s mobile development switching to HTML5, all eyes are on the desktop version of Flash, and whether after nearly a decade-and-a-half of use, Adobe will eventually opt to retire it, too.”

Giving Presentations: Seven Ways to Impress the Tech-Savvy Crowd

  • Fast Company presents seven new guidelines for public speaking in the era of social media, especially for execs who deliver presentations to tech-savvy audiences.
  • Don’t assume attendees have drifted off if they’re pecking away at their iPads, suggests the article. They’re most likely tweeting your comments, fact-checking in real time or even trying to start a conversation with you.
  • “It’s fun to respond to a tweet when I am on stage, and it personalizes the interaction with the audience,” Citibank exec Frank Eliason says.
  • Common ground for today’s best speakers: “First, none of them depend on word-laden PowerPoint presentations. Second, most are good storytellers and use humor, often self-deprecating, to connect with their audiences. Finally, each of them manages to keep their presentations short enough to allow time for a healthy Q&A.”

Wii Surpasses PS3 as Top Video Game Brand for Young Consumers

  • Nintendo Wii is the most popular video game console with young Americans (ages 8-to-24), according to a new Harris Interactive survey.
  • Nearly 6,000 young consumers participated in the study conducted in August 2011.
  • The poll also lists Apple as the top brand among the 13-to-24 demographic for computers, mobile phones and tablets.
  • “It’s interesting that the Nintendo Wii rated so highly given that it’s been the lowest selling console for the last year,” reports IndustryGamers. “This shows that Nintendo still has plenty of brand equity among consumers, and with the right products and marketing there is no reason they can’t be the #1 selling console again. The dangers are also clear in this study, as Apple leads in mobile phones and tablets, where games are one of the top categories that seem to be having an effect on handheld console sales.”

Pew Research Asks: Are Consumers Really Using Their Apps?

  • The Pew Internet Research Center found that about one-third of adults (18+ with tablets and/or app-enabled phones) use 3 to 5 apps at least once a week.
  • The new study examines the percentage of consumers who use their downloaded apps on a regular basis and suggests there is a significant range of adoption varying amongst different age groups.
  • Pew discovered that only 17 percent of phone users and 7 percent of tablet owners indicate they choose not to use apps at all.
  • “The share of adult cell phone owners who have downloaded an app nearly doubled in the past two years,” reports Lost Remote, “rising from 22 percent in September 2009 to 38 percent in August 2011.”
  • The most popularly downloaded apps were those that provided updates on news, weather, sports or stocks; helped communication with friends/family; and enabled learning about something users found personally interesting.
  • “And 43 percent say they’re using apps to watch TV and movies, which is likely dominated by Netflix and Hulu,” indicates the article.

Nippon Electric Wants to Kill Glare Dead with Invisible Glass

  • Nippon Electric Glass Co. Ltd. is developing an “Invisible Glass” film with the intent of combatting reflection and glare issues often so problematic with electronic devices.
  • The concept, recently demonstrated at the FPD International conference, is placed on the front and back sides of the glass substrate to minimize reflections from various light sources.
  • “Usually, glass will allow 92 percent of light to pass through it and reflect 8 percent back to the viewer,” reports Gizmodo. “The Invisible Glass film allows 99.5 percent of light to pass through it and reflects only .5 percent back at the viewer.”
  • According to Tech-On: “For the two anti-reflection films, the company used a total of 30 or more layers. And the thickness of each layer is controlled in increments of nanometers.”
  • No word on how close this concept may be to commercial release.

New Apple Store App Enables Online Orders and Self Check-Out

  • Apple’s new retail store app for iOS is expected to launch today, and will include two major features: 1) Online ordering with retail store pick-up, and 2) Self check-out at retail locations.
  • The new services have already started at a number of Apple locations in California and New York City.
  • A customer will be able to order an in-stock product online and pick it up approximately 12 minutes later — skipping lines and registers, then simply picking up and signing for the product.
  • If customers order an item that is not in-stock, they’ll be a given a pick-up date right after the online purchase is completed. All products sent to an Apple store will include free shipping.
  • With self check-out, customers are encouraged to launch the Apple Store app on an iOS device to purchase in-store items. “You scan the product with the camera on your device in the app, click purchase, and it will charge whatever credit card is associated to your Apple ID,” reports BGR.
  • The company expects the new program will generate a 30 percent increase in sales.

Shall I Buy Enables Social Shopping: Foodspotting for Everything Else

  • Shall I Buy is a free iPhone app with the goal of combining instant social feedback for shoppers to make better purchasing decisions and possibly combat buyer’s remorse.
  • A shopper can share a video, picture, price and location to engage potential followers and incite comments, and allows sharing of links through Facebook and Twitter.
  • “The app is done simply, taking heavy styling cues from Instagram, but in doing so it’s effective and easy to use,” reports TheNextWeb.
  • The post cites two potential downsides: 1) By default, users receive a great number of push notifications, and 2) It would be helpful to have “a way to configure notifications inside of the app itself,” rather than going to the website.
  • Robert Scoble equates it to “Foodspotting for everything else.”

Apple May Take iOS Maps to the Next Level with Help of C3 Technologies

  • Apple now owns C3 Technologies, a company that “creates incredibly high-quality and detailed 3D maps with virtually no input from humans,” reports 9to5Mac.
  • The acquisition is likely a step towards creating a 3D-enhanced version of iOS Maps, eventually moving away from Google entirely. Apple may also be looking to include traffic data.
  • The update would probably not come for some time as Apple and Google signed a deal to extend the use of Google Maps. “We’re not expecting anything big in the immediate future but we’d be surprised to see the same old Maps program in iOS 6,” suggests the article. “Expect something much much bigger.”
  • The post includes some interesting video demonstrations of C3’s impressive capabilities.

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