Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

Quip, a company founded by Google vets Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, recently released its mobile creation and collaboration tool for desktop computers. The toolset enables users to connect desktops and mobile devices to the cloud for a version of distributed computing, usually the purview of large data centers. Part of an emerging trend to use as much computing as possible, Quip’s solution has similarities to Amazon’s Silk browser in the Kindle, which has features of local and cloud computing. Continue reading Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

3D-Printed Dresses Look and Feel Like They’re Made of Fabric

New software called Kinematics, developed by design studio Nervous System, has successfully been used to create 3D-printed dresses that fit, move and sway like dresses made of traditional fabrics. Unlike existing 3D-printed garments, Nervous System’s dresses use material that adapts to body movements so its fits and feels like a normal dress. While the current cost of each dress is about $3,000, Nervous System hopes to reduce that amount to make it more appealing to the general public. Continue reading 3D-Printed Dresses Look and Feel Like They’re Made of Fabric

NYT Launches HTML5-Based Web App with Print-Like Design

The New York Times has launched a responsive Web app for its daily print edition, designed for tablets and computers. “Today’s Paper,” built with HTML5, offers the content of the daily edition in a layout that is similar to the paper’s iPad app in Newsstand. It is delivered on a regular daily schedule and structured similarly to the print version, for those frustrated by segmented apps and digital offerings. Interaction on a tablet offers swiping and gestures rather than clicking and scrolling. Continue reading NYT Launches HTML5-Based Web App with Print-Like Design

Mobile: Amazon Turns to the Cloud for Streaming Flash Video

Amazon has been quietly testing what it hopes will be an improved means of viewing Flash video content on mobile devices. For the past six months, some Kindle Fire users have been provided with an “experimental streaming viewer” option when they attempt to access video clips on sites including CBS.com, Fox.com and NBC.com. The Silk browser for Kindle Fire enables the streaming by splitting the workload between the mobile devices and Amazon cloud servers. Continue reading Mobile: Amazon Turns to the Cloud for Streaming Flash Video

Editorial on Kindle Fire and Silk: Forget iPad Killer, Amazon is Targeting Google

  • Chris Espinosa, a longtime Apple employee, gives his impression of Amazon’s Silk and Kindle Fire announcements.
  • “Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet,” Espinosa writes in his blog. “People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here.”
  • “Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web,” he adds. “In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.”
  • “They use a back-revved version of Android, not Honeycomb; they don’t use Google’s Web browser; they can intermediate user click-through on Google search results so Google doesn’t see the actual user behavior. Google’s whole play of promoting Android in order to aggregate user behavior patterns to sell to advertisers is completely subverted by Amazon’s intermediation. Fire isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google. This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.”

Are There Implications to Consider Regarding the Silk Web Browser?

  • As part of its New York press event yesterday that unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet and three new Kindle e-readers, Amazon announced Silk, a new Web browser powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available exclusively on its new tablet.
  • Amazon Silk is an important part of the Kindle Fire pitch, and as a “split browser” exclusive to the tablet it “gets the heavy lifting done on its EC2 cloud servers and promises faster access as a result,” reports Engadget. “Dubbed Silk to represent an ‘invisible, yet incredibly strong connection,’ it takes advantage of Amazon’s existing speedy connections, and that so many sites are already hosted on its servers to speed up Web access.”
  • Amazon’s cloud-accelerated browser may have some technical implications. First, Amazon may release a Silk desktop browser. It’s reliance on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure may cut off access to the Web for customers during outages. That said, if Amazon succeeds, it may push other browser developer such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to follow. Mozilla may have a difficult time doing the same.
  • From a privacy perspective, Amazon talks about learning from “aggregate traffic patterns,” but in reality each Kindle has its own Amazon ID. Thus, Amazon will be able to track your personal Web habits, buying patterns and media preferences in detail.
  • “Until the Kindle Fire ships, there are more questions than answers,” suggests ReadWriteWeb. “I’m eager to get hands on a Fire so I can test out Silk and see for myself how it works. I’m not yet concerned about the privacy issues, but I do think they bear watching. What do you think? Is the Silk model something you’re excited about, or is Amazon a middle-man you’d rather do without when browsing the Web?”