The two companies didn’t offer many details, only saying that users will be able to see Twitter messages on the homescreens of selected Android-based smartphones sometime next year. The collaboration will initially cover Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Greece and Croatia, the operator said in a statement.
For Twitter the partnership is about increasing its user base, while Deutsche Telekom wants to add value to its devices and remain relevant as subscribers choose to communicate using means other than text messages and phone calls, according to Paolo Pescatore, director at market research company CCS Insight.
As of mid-November there were 230 million Twitter users globally, and 76 percent accessed the service on a mobile device, according to Twitter.
Twitter isn’t the first social networking vendor to work directly with operators and handset makers. Facebook has been the most aggressive, but has struggled to make an impact with smartphones featuring physical Facebook buttons; the most prominent phone integration with Facebook, the HTC First, was not a success.
Pescatore doubts that Twitter will succeed where Facebook struggled. Most users will likely just continue to use existing apps, he said.
Last month, Twitter updated its mobile apps for both Android and Apple’s iOS devices to give users better search tools.
The company also expanded options for marketers, allowing them to choose what smartphone models and OS versions they want to target with advertising.
Deutsche Telekom didn’t comment on plans for working with Twitter on operating systems other than Android.
The Wii U gets a new system update from Nintendo. While details are a bit vague on what all the new system updates actually does, Nintendo says it “improves overall system stability” and also includes minor adjustments “to enhance the user experience”.
The update comes ahead of a planned Nintendo update for the 3DS that is scheduled to arrive next month. The 3DS update will bring the Miiverse to the 3DS as well as adds the ability to combine eShop balances on both the 3DS and Wii U systems. In addition it will add Network IDs to the 3DS to access the eShop. Apparently 3DS owners will not have to take advantage of using a NNID to combine their eShop purchases and will still be allowed to download software from the eShop without a NNID.
Rumors suggest that another system update for the Wii U is just around the corner, but will likely not arrive till early next year, unless Nintendo has a reason to release it sooner. On the software front, the Wii U is still struggling, but the recent sales boost has helped, but Nintendo needs strong sales for the Wii U this holiday season in order to help get published and developers re-engaged in developing for the console. Whispers suggest that Nintendo expects supplies of the Wii U to be plentiful this holiday season and does not foresee shortages like what has plagued the Wii consoles of the past. The problem is however that the lack of software will likely keep many buyers away.
The Google-owned phone maker has launched Project Ara to create a free, open and standardized platform to let people pick and choose the components they want in their phones, Motorola said in a blog post this week.
The goal is to create a standard endoskeleton, or frame, that can hold different modules, like extra-powerful processors, additional batteries or memory chips for storing more music, all based on the customer’s preferences.
“Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it,” Motorola said.
Motorola’s vision of do-it-yourself smartphones builds on parent company Google’s success with its widely used Android smartphone platform, which it offers for free and allows manufacturers to customize. Android also gives people more leeway to tweak the features on their smartphones than Apple’s iOS platform offers to iPhone users.
Motorola said it has been working on Project Ara for over a year and that it recently teamed up with Phonebloks, an open source project that has also been working on creating modular smartphone components that can be easily replaced.
The announcement of Ara follows Motorola’s launch earlier this year of the Moto X smartphone, which lets customers choose the colors of the front and back panels and buttons.
On its website, Phonebloks envisions an online store letting consumers read reviews of smartphone components, shop for new and used parts, and order custom-designed handsets.
Project Ara is also a bit of a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s, when many technology-handy consumers assembled their own desktop PCs using hard drives, power supplies, CPUs and other custom-picked components.
That became less common when laptops, which are more difficult to customize, became widely used, but computer components are still made at standard sizes that can be slotted into most PCs.
Motorola said it will work on the project openly and create experimental modules. It plans to invite developers and recruit “Ara scouts” to help research and shape the project.
“Browsers on tablets were just blown-up mobile browsers, they didn’t feel right and not as they should be on the iPad,” said Huib Kleinhout, the head of Opera’s Coast project.
On Monday, Opera released Coast as a free download on Apple’s U.S. App Store, and said the browser would quickly launch in other markets.
Coast strips out virtually all the “chrome” normally seen in a browser — the elements surrounding the page display, like an address bar, back and forward buttons and menus — and relies exclusively on gestures, primarily swipes, to navigate forward and backward. Pages are represented by small square tiles and sites can be bookmarked by dragging and dropping those tiles.
“Mobile browsers involve too many steps,” contended Kleinhout. “Coast is much more optimized for tablets. It’s everything you expect from touch.”
But Kleinhout repeatedly steered the conversation away from the under-the-hood technology used by Coast, saying that what powered the browser was unimportant. “Opera and Coast are still closely related, so [the different engines] are not a problem,” he argued. “They’re just different implementations of Web standards. Coast is not about the technology but about the user experience.”
Kleinhout, who has a background in both engineering and user experience (UX) design, started working on Coast over a year-and-a-half ago as a personal project. Eventually, Coast morphed into an Opera-backed skunkworks initiative that involved a team of about 15 developers.
Coast is for the iPad and iPad Mini only, although Kleinhout said that it could “potentially” be offered at a later date for the smaller-screen iPhone.
Bethesda’s Pete Hines had some choice words regarding Nintendo’s third-party strategy, suggesting that the time for getting better software support for the Wii U may have already passed.
In an interview with Game Trailers’ Bonus Round, Bethesda’s vice president of PR and marketing underlined the company’s commitment to making its games available on every platform – as long as those platforms don’t require compromise on the original vision.
As far as Bethesda’s games are concerned, that has led to their absence on Nintendo hardware despite their huge popularity. And Hines intimated that the situation is representative of Nintendo’s approach to third-party developers as a whole.
“The time for convincing publishers and developers to support Wii U has long past. The box is out,” Hine said, while sitting on a panel that also included Borderlands 2 lead writer Anthony Burch.
Hines pointed to Sony and Microsoft’s diligent and long-running efforts to communicate with third parties during the hardware design process as a better strategy for most developers.
“It’s not that every time we met with them we got all the answers we wanted, but they involved us very early on, and talking to folks like Bethesda and Gearbox, they say ‘here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we’re planning, here’s how we think it’s going to work’ to hear what we thought – from our tech guys and from an experience standpoint.
“You have to spend an unbelievable amount of time upfront doing that. If you’re just going, ‘we’re going to make a box and this is how it works and you should make games for it.’ Well, no. No is my answer. I’m going to focus on other ones that better support what it is we’re trying to do.”
This adds colour to comments Hines made in an earlier interview, where he stated that the Wii U was, “not on [Bethesda's] radar.” Nintendo is now attempting to address the Wii U’s less than admirable position by cutting $50 off its price.
YouTube is adding new video-playing functions to its mobile app on iOS and Android devices. Some of the tools are geared towards giving users more control over how they stream video to their television sets using Chromecast, Google’s new video streaming device.
The changes were officially rolled out on Tuesday, Google-owned YouTube announced in a blog post. A smaller rollout among just a small percentage of users on Android took place on Monday, a YouTube spokesman said.
Chief among the changes is a new tool letting users swipe to move a video to the bottom of the device’s screen and reduce its size so they can search for other content while the video still plays. The idea behind the feature is to bring more potential videos to users as they explore within the app, even if the smaller video doesn’t command their full attention.
“You can watch a video about making the perfect fried chicken while searching for homemade salted caramel sauce recipes,” said YouTube software engineers Matias Cudich and Waldemar Baraldi.
The new version of the app includes several other enhancements to change how it displays video and interacts with other devices like Chromecast. The YouTube app already has a “Cast” button to let users send videos from their smartphone or tablet to their TV through Chromecast, Google TV or PlayStation 3 console. With the updated app, there is a preview screen users will see when the app is connected to their TV.
With the preview, users will see a thumbnail of the video on their smartphone or tablet, allowing them to play it on their TV or add it to the queue, without changing the video that is already playing.
Google unveiled its $35 Chromecast device last month, as a cheaper alternative to competitive devices such as the Apple TV set-top box. Chromecast plugs into a television’s HDMI port to let various types of video and music content be pushed to the television from users’ smartphones, tablets or desktop computers.
The new version of the YouTube app also lets users search and browse channels for playlists. Previously, users couldn’t search or watch playlists within the YouTube mobile app, a spokesman said.
Finally, the updated app features a cleaner, simpler look that will be seen in other apps from Google, YouTube said.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has attributed slow sales of the Wii U to the available games, rather than the price of the console, in his most recent interview.
“I understand that the real issue is the lack of software, and the only solution is to provide the mass-market with a number of quality software titles,” he told CVG.
“If the price is actually an issue [with Wii U], then there is some contradiction between the current sales balance between the Basic and Premium versions of the Wii U. The basic version should have sold a lot, but the fact of the matter is that people are buying more of the premium version. So the issue is not there.”
Last week a Nintendo representative confirmed that the Wii U console was still being sold at a loss, making it a price cut in the near future unlikely.
Recent financial results also revealed that in the past three months the machine had only sold 160,000 units worldwide.
Nintendo’s battle for Wii U support from third-party publishers isn’t just about the installed user base. It’s also about the system’s horsepower, according to Bethesda Softworks. Speaking with Joystiq at QuakeCon, Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines explained the company’s absence from the system.
“It’s largely a hardware thing,” Hines said, adding that Bethesda’s plan is to “make the games that we want to make, on whatever platforms will support them as developed.”
The company’s slate of upcoming games includes The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and The Evil Within. While Elder Scrolls Online is only being developed for the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, the other two games are also coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Hines wouldn’t rule out Bethesda eventually working on Nintendo’s console, but it’s clearly not a priority for the company.
“None of the game’s we’ve announced are being developed for the Wii U, so it’s guaranteed that none of those games are coming to Wii U,” Hines said. “Will any future ones come out? I can’t say for sure, in our near-term focus it’s not on our radar.”
Let’s get this out of the way up front. Yes, you never, ever count Nintendo out of the game.
That’s the go-to response for pretty much anyone in this industry when asked if the company will be able to dig itself out of the hole the Wii U has created – and it’s usually a valid one. (Think back to the GameCube days and things were just as dire as they seem today – but it managed to turn things around.)
But as we head into the Wii U’s second holiday season, the pessimism about the system is starting to crest. And despite Nintendo’s push of first party software coming in the next year, there’s nothing to suggest that a turnaround of any sort is imminent.
Third party partners are, in a word, disappointed with Nintendo. And while you’ll still hear the usual refrain about not giving up on the company at some point, you’re more likely to hear dissatisfaction when you speak with executives.
Yves Guillemot, Chairman and CEO of Ubisoft, is typically one of the biggest proponents of new systems, but betting big on the Wii U didn’t work out well for the company. ZombiU, one of the most popular launch titles for the system with players, was not profitable, he says. Not even close. As such, he says, there are no plans (or even desire) for a sequel.
“It seems like a box that’s out of sync with the future of EA – which is one that gives a real social feel to our games. The Wii U feels like an offline experience right now”
It was, in fact, because of that game’s performance that Ubisoft decided to make Rayman Legends a multiplatform game.
“We must find a way to ensure the creativity of those games could have a big enough audience,” he says. “We hope it will take off. At the moment, we’ve said ‘let’s do through Christmas and see where we are from there.’”
Activision, also, was a notable launch partner for the Wii U, but like Ubisoft, the results haven’t been strong enough to justify a notable further investment in the system.
“We came to the table with a robust slate,” says Eric Hirshberg, president and CEO of Activision Publishing, at E3. “But we have no announcements now.”
No one, however, is more direct than EA’s Peter Moore. EA, at present, has no games in development for the Wii U – and its AAA game engine isn’t compatible with the system.
“We were there with four games for them [at launch],” he says. “It’s been a disappointment when you look at sell-through and, as a company, we have to be very judicious where we deploy our resources.”
For EA, at least, it’s the system’s lack of a rich multiplayer environment that’s one of the big concerns – especially for sports titles. (That’s part of the reason Madden won’t appear on the system this year.)
“The lack of online engagement that we see on Wii U [is troubling],” says Moore. “It’s so integral to what we do. They’re so small it’s hardly worth running the servers. It seems like a box that’s out of sync with the future of EA – which is one that gives a real social feel to our games. The Wii U feels like an offline experience right now.”
Nintendo systems have always been led by the rich slate of first party titles, but the company isn’t an island – and knows it can’t remain competitive without the cooperation of third party publishers. And while some, like Capcom, are sticking with the Wii U, even Nintendo admits it needs to woo back its publishing partners by boosting sales.
Rather than focusing on the negativity surrounding the platform, Nintendo itself says it’s making software development its primary focus. With no price cuts on the horizon (something global CEO Satoru Iwata has been very insistent about), it realizes that the only way to boost hardware sales is to come up with a must-have game. And while the company is counting on Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. to do their part, it realizes that those alone won’t convince people to invest in the system.
“We have been unsuccessful in coming up with one single software with which people can understand ‘OK, this is really different’ and I can understand the real value of that as soon as I saw that,” says Iwata. “Because there’s no software that’s simple and obvious for people as ‘Wii Sports’ for the Wii, potential consumers do not even feel like trying to touch the Wii U. Our challenge today is with the software lineup we are introducing now; we have to encourage them to want to experience the Wii U in the first place.”
The problem is: That game’s not coming out this holiday, based on what the company showed at E3. And if the Wii U tanks for a second holiday in a row, it’s going to be that much harder to get publishers back on board.
The firm admitted that it might take a while, but insisted that the benefits of its latest churn of the Windows operating system will eventually win over businesses that have been ignoring it.
Sysaid Technologies, a provider of IT Service Management (ITSM) tools, claimed that its IT Benchmark data shows that only 0.53 percent of enterprise computers running Windows are on Windows 8. The firm said that this contrasts with the uptake of Windows 7, which was installed on 11.3 percent of enterprise PCs six months after launch.
Brad Anderson, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division told The INQUIRER that he could not comment on the figures because he had not seen them, but said he is confident that Windows 8 eventually will be accepted.
“With Windows 8, we’ve sold over 100 million licenses and we showed how big customers like Emirates Airlines are using the tablets and Windows 8 in their environment. It offers a significant overhaul in the experience, built with touch in mind,” said Anderson, who was speaking at the Microsoft TechEd conference in New Orleans.
Anderson said that with Windows 8, Microsoft is offering consistency across its operating systems with the Modern user interface (UI), although this is one aspect of Windows 8 that has divided users.
“The interface that is in Windows 8 is also on Windows Phone and Xbox, it’s a consistent experience across all of the things that we’re building at Microsoft, and I think people are getting more comfortable with it,” he said.
Anderson said consumer power will help to drive uptake of Windows 8, as pressure from employees will galvanise IT departments into adopting the software that their users are bringing into the workplace as part of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
“Consumers are pushing IT to embrace technology and enable them to do things that IT would have taken a lot longer to do. I think as more Windows tablets and Windows Phones are sold around the world, that will help to push IT to embrace these things at a quicker pace,” he said.
At TechEd, Microsoft showed features that are still to come in the Windows 8.1 service pack that it will release later this year, and also showcased some devices that are likely to ship with it.
Microsoft Corp is bringing back the Windows “start” button, offering a trimmed down version among a slew of improvements aimed at winning over tablet users and placating PC customers alienated by Windows 8.
The world’s largest software company is looking to re-energize sales of its latest Windows version, which has not made the splash with computer users it was hoping for. Executives say the plan is now to update Windows periodically, rather than waiting three years or so between big releases.
Although Microsoft has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses since October, broadly in line with Windows 7 three years ago, the company must tackle a dwindling PC user base and its inability to make a mark in the exploding tablet market.
Shipments of traditional PCs – the most reliable gauge of Windows’ popularity – are expected to fall almost 8 percent this year, while Microsoft’s Surface has taken less than 2 percent of the tablet market.
Windows 8 was designed to be used both on touch-screen tablets and traditional PCs. But while touch-screen users tend to like the new “tile”-based interface, many mouse and keyboard users complained that the new design was confusing.
Confirming speculation, Microsoft said the Windows 8.1 update will have a button in the bottom left corner of the screen that acts like the “start” button in previous versions of Windows. Although it will not be labeled “start”, it features the Windows logo and takes the user straight to a grid of applications.
“The work you are seeing us do here is continuing to advance the modern (interface), while really taking into account some of the things we’ve learned from people who still want to use the desktop, to make the transition easier,” Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of the Windows unit, said in an advance briefing on the Windows 8.1 update last week.
Microsoft is only making features of the new software public on Thursday.
A day that SEGA fans thought would never come has arrived: SEGA has entered into a deal with Nintendo where Nintendo consoles will get the next three Sonic the Hedgehog titles as platform exclusives. The once bitter rivals are calling this a “worldwide partnership,” which despite being a bit short on details apparently leads us to believe that SEGA will be developing additional new software for the Wii U and 3DS consoles going forward.
The next three Sonic titles will include Sonic: Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and a third unannounced title that the company is expected to officially announce at E3. The reason for the Sonic exclusive deal has to do with the past performance of Sonic titles on Nintendo consoles, and since they have proven to be good sellers, the deal does seem to make a lot of sense for both companies.
What is more interesting, however, is the other aspects of the partnership that will see additional titles developed for the Wii U. Nintendo needs all of the software support it can get for the Wii U, and just getting SEGA to continue to release new titles for the Wii U is a good thing. Sources tell us that SEGA has some new Wii U titles planned for announcement at E3, but it isn’t known exactly what SEGA might be cooking up.
While a big deal with Activision or Take-Two is really what Wii U owners might want, at least getting SEGA to continue producing Wii U titles is a positive news thing. It does remain to be seen, however, if SEGA can deliver the kinds of titles that will be successful sellers on the Wii U when so many owners are looking for the big titles from some of the other publishers.
Users should watch their email for an invitation from Pinterest to check out the changes, according to the company. The social pinboard site, which opened its doors to the public last August, is giving users bigger images, or pins, more information and better navigation tools.
“In January, we asked a small group of pinners to test a new look designed to make discovering things on Pinterest easier,” wrote Jason Wilson, lead product designer with Pinterest, in a blog post. “Since then, we’ve talked to some of these folks, analyzed their feedback, and made a few changes. Today, we’re thrilled to start sharing the new look with everyone.”
The redesign includes new features for close-up views of pins that are designed to help users find new things on the site, Wilson said. For instance, users now can explore an entire board without leaving the page they were on. It’s also easier to find pins from the same website and from the same person.
The feature that makes it easier to find other pins from the same person is expected to be added to the mobile apps for the Android and iOS platforms.
“We also responded to some feedback from pinners who told us they hated losing their place while browsing,” wrote Wilson. “Now, when you scroll through pins and click on something that interests you, the back button lands you right back where you were no matter how far you’ve gone.”
He also noted that people will see bigger pins and what he calls “subtle” changes to the site.
“We wanted to make things simpler and cleaner, without requiring you to learn anything new,” said Wilson.
Pinterest is like a shareable online scrapbook or a collection of collections. Users can create pages of interest by pulling in images from around the Web. If someone spots an image – of a inspirational saying, a stylish outfit or a beautiful cake, for example — she can use a plugin to grab it and add it to her board.
People who follow the user can see her pinboards, repin their favorite images and comment on them.
The site offers a look into the people forming the collections as much as it does into the worlds of religion, fashion, gardening, cooking and travel.
The latest rumors on the Wii U making the rounds say that Nintendo has decided to only offer 8GB of internal flash storage. It was thought that Nintendo would be pushing for more digital distribution and because of this the unit would come with more built-in storage.
Nintendo has apparently decided that it will count on SD flash cards up to 2GB and SDHC flash cards up to 32GB, as well as hard drives connected to the system via the USB 2.0 interface, to allow owners to grow the storage capacity based on their needs.
The decision to only go with 8GB could end up being a deal breaker for many, but it does save money that will allow Nintendo to pass the saving on to users. While some wild rumors do suggest that Nintendo has room for an internal hard drive within the unit, we can’t actually final anyone that will confirm or deny this.
We will don’t have long to wait, as Nintendo is expected to pull the curtain back on the Wii U today and we expect that they will confirm both the hardware in the unit as well what the pricing is going to look like for the North American market. The company is also expected to announce their plans for Europe today.
While there are NDAs in force, is seems some in the development community have confirmed what Nintendo has yet to confirm: the final specifications for the Wii U. While we expect Nintendo to officially confirm these specs in their upcoming press conference on September 13th, we have the majority of the low-down for those who don’t want to wait.
As we have mostly known all along, the Wii U will be powered by the IBM Power PC using a three-core variety that we are told is similar to the CPU in the Xbox 360, but a bit different. We still do not know at what speed this CPU is operating, but we hear whispers that it is clocked slower than the processor in the Xbox 360 (which we suspect is partly because they wanted to stay away from potential heat issues). The CPU choice is also good for Nintendo because IBM is likely giving them a very good deal on the CPU in this configuration; it is previous generation, only 3 cores, clocked slower than the Xbox 360 CPU, but we do suspect that it is using a reliable process for the die, which will produce good yields as well as low heat.
As we have told you previously, the graphics will be powered by an AMD/ATI 7 series GPU that has some customization done on it for Nintendo. It does feature a significant advantage in architecture over the current competing GPUs in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We expect a conservative clock speed for the GPU to avoid heat issues, but we hear that it has type 4 shader support with a DirectX 10 feature set that includes embedded eDRAM. The Wii U will sport 1GB of RAM, which is about double what the Xbox 360 has; which is a clear advantage and something developers have been asking for.
So, there you have it. It is pretty much what we told you way back when we first started. The decisions make a lot of sense for Nintendo, as they want performance, but also need to hit a price point. Our crystal ball says the Wii U is still going to be a bit expensive, but that is not a real surprise to anyone at this point because of the second screen and other technology. We think you will see a price point right at $300, or a little less, but those hopeful for a $250 or $200 price tag are going to be disappointed. We would still like to know the actual clock speeds; but it is clear that it will have some graphics performance advantages over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which means the potential does exist for some titles to look a bit better. We will have to wait and see how it shakes out, because September 13th isn’t that far off.
In a strange twist, Nintendo has still made no announcement about the Japanese launch details for the unit, and as far as we know has yet to schedule a press conference for Japan. The press conference on the 13th will likely only release the launch details for the North American launch of the unit, which could mean that supplies will remain tight till after the 1st of the year.