Google Launches New Native Ad Format In Gmail

google logo Google is rolling out a new ad format in Gmail. A few years ago, Google launched a new kind of native ad in Gmail that sat at the top of the inbox and mostly looked like a regular email. For the most part, that was a pretty unobtrusive way of displaying ads (though some people were rather annoyed by them). Starting today, Google is not only making it easier for advertisers to buy these ads,… Read More

Intel launches its Skylake processor to jumpstart PC sales

Chris Walker, vice president and general manager of notebook product group at Intel, shows off a wafer with Skylake chips. There are more than 300 chips on the wafer.

Intel is launching a new family of PC microprocessors code-named Skylake today. The chips represent the world’s biggest chip maker’s hopes for reviving the sagging PC market, just as the Windows 10 operating system represents Microsoft’s aspirations for growth on the software side.

Intel signaled the new chips — now dubbed 6th Gen Intel Core processors — were coming for everything from tablet computers to high-end gaming PCs. Now it is describing how fast the chips are and what they do for overall performance. For instance, the chips can start up a Windows 10 PC up to four times faster than the current PC that most people own. It has double the performance, and triple the battery life compared to past laptops.

Intel said that the new processors and Windows 10 are optimized to work best together, providing better overall experiences, removing computing frustrations, and providing more secure computing. The chips can be used in tiny Intel “compute sticks” all the way up to wide-screen desktops with three monitors.

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Chris Walker, vice president and general manager of the notebook products group at Intel, said humbly in an interview with VentureBeat that the chips are the company’s best processors ever. Besides the compute sticks, these chips will be used used in upcoming 2-in-1 tablet-laptop hybrids, gaming desktops, and mobile workstations. The first systems will show up in Asia in September, and mid-October for the U.S. More than 300 laptops are in the works, and more than 500 desktop designs, Walker said.

“This is one of the biggest embraces by the ecosystem of a new Intel platform,” he said.

Intel said there are more than 500 million computers in use that are five years old or more. They are slow to wake up, their batteries don’t last long, and they can’t take advantage of a lot of new software. Compared to five-year-old PCs, Intel said the Skylake graphics are 30 times faster. Laptops using the chips are half as thick and half the weight of the older ones. Laptop batteries can pretty much last all day now.

Intel Developer Forum

Above: Intel Developer Forum

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Skylake is built on Intel’s 14-nanometer manufacturing process, meaning that the electrical circuits on the chips are 14 billionths of a meter apart. The Skylake processors are the second to be built with Intel’s 14-nanometer process, and that helps make them much more scalable, Walker said.

“This product will scale from 4.5 watts to 91 watts,” he said. “It can go from fanless tablets to two-chip desktop designs. We can take more performance into more and more mobile devices. And we can give you eight hours of battery life.”

Intel is launching new Core m processors —  Intel Core m3, m5 and m7 — to target tablet-like devices and the Intel Compute Stick. It also is launching a mobile “K” SKU that is unlocked to enable overclocking with even more user control, a new quad-core i5 that offers up to 60 percent improved mobile multitasking, and the Intel Xeon E3 processor family now powering mobile workstations.

“The middle tier of our product roadmap now puts much more control in the user’s hands,” Walker said.

The Intel chips provide platform support for improvements such as 4K imagery and the Thunderbolt 3 for USB Type-C, enabling one compact port. And Intel is also launching its RealSense gesture-and-motion-control 3D camera for gaming and image scanning. That will bring on the era of the 3D selfie, and it will let you log into your computer via face recognition.

This iRacing machine uses both Intel's Skylake processor and a RealSense camera.

Above: This iRacing machine uses both Intel’s Skylake processor and a RealSense camera.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

In the coming months, Intel will launch its new Iris Graphics chip set and other processors. All told, Intel will release more than 48 processors in the family in the coming months.

“I think the degree of success for Intel’s SkyLake will set the direction of the PC industry going forward, so I think this is a big deal for the industry,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and head analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy. “While SkyLake has been architected with an immense range from tablets to workstations, I see the biggest leaps in fanless notebooks at 4.5 watts. I think this category will set the pace for where all notebooks will go. These fanless, convertible notebooks are as thin as a tablet and have as much battery life of a tablet, but the performance to run full PC applications with full multitasking.”

Moorhead said he believes that gaming notebooks will also be in hot demand, particularly as players will now be able to overclock, or run their laptops at faster than factory-specified speeds.

“SkyLake also helps solve some of the most nagging issues consumers have with PCs, securely eliminating older-style passwords and reducing wires with power, USB, and Thunderbolt over one tiny USB-C cable,” he said.

In short, Moorhead said, tablets and smartphones haven’t killed the PC.

Charles King, analyst at IT research firm Pund-IT, said in an email, “Skylake offerings deliver significantly better performance in key areas, including lower power usage and enhanced graphics. Those are both critical issues in computer gaming, mobile workstations and other graphics-intensive markets that new Skylake-based systems will initially target. But Intel noted that Skylake is also the most power-scalable processor it has ever created with SKUs ranging from 4.5W to 45W. That means the new chips will benefit solutions ranging from stick PCs to mini PCs to tablets, convertibles, laptops, desktops and all-in-ones.”

This Skylake gamer PC can drive three 4K monitors playing World of Tanks.

Above: This Skylake gamer PC can drive three 4K monitors playing World of Tanks.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

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How to run a company with offices 10,000 miles apart


This decade has seen the rise of technology hubs taking root in places outside the United States not traditionally known for technology. London, Berlin, and even my native Perth now are becoming startup epicenters. Companies that target consumers eventually face the reality that in order to effectively scale their business, they need to sell in the United States. And before you know it, you’re opening an office in the U.S. and managing people with two distinct cultures and trying to help developers in the original country meet the needs of a market that may not even exist in your home country.

Having founded a company with offices in Australia and Washington, D.C., I would like to share some lessons about managing and selling in offices that are more than 10,000 miles apart (or 18,000 kilometers, as our Aussie team would say).

I founded MOKO Social Media in Australia – I was living there at the time, and it made sense for me to be in the headquarters. But we have always targeted American consumers. Specifically, our community-based apps target American college students – a notoriously difficult group to understand and effectively reach, even for American companies.

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After considerable thought and debate, we decided to open an office in the U.S. and then made that our new headquarters, but we kept our technical R&D, design, and development team back in Western Australia, even after I relocated myself and my family stateside. Why? First, the talent pool in Australia is extremely attractive, in large part due to the country’s high-quality education system and the fact that it has been focused on new media and digital development right from the early days back in the ‘90s. Plus, we have better access to the top talent in Australia because we don’t have to compete with the many well-funded tech giants for U.S. talent. Secondly, communications are a non-issue with Australia because the native language is English – as opposed to companies targeting a U.S. audience from Eastern Europe or Asia.

There are also financial incentives. A critical upside of having the technical center headquartered in Australia is that the government is very favorable to companies like ours, offering tax incentives. The cost of quality, skilled labor is also cheaper in Australia compared to the U.S.

Of course, there have been some challenges. One of the biggest challenges is that our solution caters to a lifestyle specific to a country all the way on the other side of the world. Even though we all speak English, there are many colloquial differences. For example, rankings in a sports league are “standings” to Americans and “ladders” to Aussies. Little hiccups like these can build up quickly into big challenges from both an app design perspective and a marketing perspective.

Opening up offices in the U.S. has enabled us to make immense strides: We’ve launched three apps that have been well-received – and downloaded – by the young American audience we target. Here are a few best practices that have contributed to our success:

1. Set up an advance team. You’ll need a small advance team – even if it’s just 1 or 2 people – to establish the beachhead in the U.S. In our case, they served to ensure the product the overseas team was developing was compatible with American trends. Even if everyone speaks English, what you get from the foreign team may not necessarily align with the exact voice of young Americans or the way that they think through things. Not just that, but simply having people on the ground in the market is key. For example, we learned quickly that the only way to get college students to participate as our campus “founders” was to meet with them face-to-face. And being in similar time zones has obvious benefits.

2. Make key hires in the U.S. To bridge across oceans, you do need to hire experts in the U.S. We hired an American who had previously operated and marketed mobile applications within the college space. Having a hyper-focused American counterpart who can provide insight into the daily life of your target audience is critical to operating as the translator for your foreign team.

Evaluating UI/UX expertise is also a critical element to consider when organizing a foreign team. In our case, the products we design and build are highly bespoke. We tailor the apps for individual colleges, so the infrastructure demands a very specific type of user interface. Thus, we needed to bring in UI/UX consultants in the U.S. who understood the American audience and had experience building mobile applications specifically for the millennial generation.

Part of hiring the right consultants meant finding folks who could sync up the development iterations of our app with our marketing and customer support. Obviously, to deliver a quality app with an agile model, it is crucial for your developers to understand all aspects of the product. Bringing in field experts ensured there was someone focused on meeting American expectations and standards.

We had the American consultants apply their insights and suggestions throughout our development process, which helped bring out some amazing ideas that would have never been conceived otherwise.

3. Focus on communications. Morning is night and night is morning time differences are about as bad as it gets between the U.S. and Australia, which can wreak havoc on critical communications. One time we had the Australian team working on a project that had already been finished the previous day by the American team – but in their hurry to meet the deadline, the Americans failed to let anyone know, and since they’re in the office at opposite times of day there was no one to ask. So it’s imperative to share results and ideas on a daily basis – whether it’s having five-minute Skype sessions when the Americans get into the office, or working from collaborative platforms like Slack or Google Drive. Results and ideas must be shared. Today’s technology makes this incredibly easy.

4. Match the tempo of U.S. releases. One important change we made after opening our U.S. offices was altering our marketing and customer support timelines to mimic the sprints (or iterations) of our app. Instead of waiting six months for one big “waterfall” release, which is more common abroad, we embraced shorter sprints with more frequent rollouts.

5. But don’t forget to keep harnessing ideas from your original team. Lastly, we made sure to be open to the insights of our Australian team members. It’s amazing how much insight on features of applications servicing the Australian Sports Community we were able to apply to the UX of our app. The ability to boast about scores from intramural games on our app came from the Australians’ deeply competitive spirit, for example. Ultimately, exposure to different user experiences and mobile applications in your particular vertical across two countries will give you a wider range of ideas from which to inform your decisions and best practices.

As CEOs, we’re all trying to keep costs low while delivering a truly excellent product. Operating offices with such distances between them can be seen as a double edged sword, but with the right processes, plans, and staff in place, it can actually lead to fresh ideas, new perspectives, and ultimately an even more successful workplace.

Ian Rodwell is CEO of MOKO Social Media.

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Lessons From A TechCrunch Disrupt Launch

disrupt sf 2014 startup alley May 26, 2010, was the most stressful and exciting day of my life to date. I’ve called it the most horrible and most wonderful, too. I didn’t sleep the night before. I woke up to pages of notes in my BlackBerry (it was 2010, and I was an ex-consultant), timestamped in 15-minute intervals over several hours, proof that I had woken up, typed an idea rapidly into my phone, laid back… Read More

Google Introduces Uncomplicated Pay-As-You-Go Model For Its Maps API

TechCrunch Google Maps The Google Maps API has been a mess when it comes to pricing. The company is making moves to clean that up with a newly announced pay-as-you-go model. Here’s what the team said today about it: In this new purchasing structure, the Google Maps Geocoding, Directions, Distance Matrix, Roads, Geolocation, Elevation, and Time Zone APIs remain free of charge for the first 2,500 requests per… Read More

Google Introduces Uncomplicated Pay-As-You-Go Model For Its Maps API

TechCrunch Google Maps The Google Maps API has been a mess when it comes to pricing. The company is making moves to clean that up with a newly announced pay-as-you-go model. Here’s what the team said today about it: In this new purchasing structure, the Google Maps Geocoding, Directions, Distance Matrix, Roads, Geolocation, Elevation, and Time Zone APIs remain free of charge for the first 2,500 requests per… Read More

MoPub now supports video ads that rewards you for watching

MoPub homepage screenshot

MoPub has added new support for rewarded video ads. Starting today, publishers can manage this ad format from Unity Ads, AdColony, Vungle, and Chartboost.

If you’re not familiar with rewarded video ads, these are formats that encourage users to deal with the ads in order to receive an in-app reward. MoPub says that publishers can use this this ad type to “balance their user experience with additional sources of revenue.”

MoPub rewarded video ads

Initially, developers are probably only leveraging mobile app install ads and just standard display ads. But users are no longer really noticing them and so publishers and developers are looking for new ways to make a few bucks while keeping users on their app. Rewarding video ads are certainly the next attempt to make things engaging without having the user feel that they’re seeing an ad. Think about if you’re playing Candy Crush: you can get extra lives or bonus items if you simply watch a short video from an advertiser. And it doesn’t have to be with games.

But in order to tap into this new found revenue stream, publishers will have to also deal with advertising sources as well. This can be an daunting task for any one and MoPub recognizes this. That’s why it has invested in a mediation solution that should filter all the requests from advertisers into a single interface so publishers won’t have to constantly manage inquiries and campaigns from multiple sources.

Although MoPub is starting off with four network partners, the company says that new ones will be added in the coming weeks.

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Cortana can now translate words, phrases, and sentences in almost 40 languages

Cortana in Windows 10 can now handle instant translations -- like this one.

Microsoft today announced that its Cortana personal digital assistant can make instant translations in nearly 40 languages in Windows 10 in the U.S. and China. The capability to translate words and even entire sentences comes courtesy of the Microsoft Translator app.

Support for the native translation in Cortana in Windows 10 will arrive in other countries “in the near future,” the Microsoft Translator team wrote in a blog post on the news.

This is an interesting way for Microsoft to make Cortana even more compelling as an alternative to, say, Apple’s Siri, which currently only works on smartphones, not on desktop. Cortana is one of the biggest new features in Windows 10. Rich translation, then, is just another feature with which Microsoft can pitch Windows 10.

You can get Cortana to translate by first saying, “Hey Cortana,” then saying the words you want her to translate and your target language. For example, you can say, “Hey Cortana, translate ‘Where is the nearest bookstore?’ into French.” Alternatively, you can type into the search box, “Translate where is the nearest bookstore into French.” Cortana will then show you a translation onscreen (and say it loud, too) or, if she’s unable to do it, run a web search with your query.

Here’s the full list of languages that are currently supported: Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Klingon (pIqaD), Korean, Latvian, Malay, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Welsh.

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Under Attack, Jeb Bush Releases Vid…

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the frequent recipient of attacks from Donald Trump, is out with a new video compilation of the New York businessman taking liberal positions in past interviews. { "position1" : { "type" : "show", "id" : 20697774, "name" : "24/7 News: Politics", "description" : "The latest political news from 24/7 News."

PlayStation 4 gets YouTube livestreaming, extra cloud storage, and more in system update 3.0

YouTube Gaming livestreaming support comes to PS4.

The PlayStation 4 is getting a substantial update that will introduce a number of new features, and Sony is trying them out today with a beta test.

PS4’s system firmware version 3 (officially 3.00) is coming in the near future, and it is bringing with it deep support for YouTube Gaming (which you can read more about right here). That is Google’s new gaming-specific version of its video site that surfaces Let’s Plays and video reviews for popular PlayStation 4, Xbox, and PC releases. This is also YouTube’s big move to compete with Twitch in livestreaming, and the PS4 update brings native support for YouTube broadcasting.

Of course, Sony wants to see how everything works before it rolls it out for everyone, so it is launching a beta version today for select PS4 owners. Those people will get to put the YouTube streaming and several other key new capabilities to the test.

Here’s a full list of new features, but you can also read more about them on Sony’s PlayStation blog:

  • YouTube Gaming livestream support will join Twitch and UStream as a native broadcasting solution on the PS4. Just hit the Share button to start things up.
  • Online storage is getting a boost from 1GB to 10GB for PS Plus subscribers. This means you can keep a lot more saves in the cloud.
  • Usage meter for online storage.
  • A new Events hub for social activities happening in your favorite game.
  • Favorite Groups to let you put your friends in special lists that are easier to keep track of.
  • Communities to help you find people with similar interests.
  • Gamers can now share up to 10-second video clips to Twitter.
  • Stickers in messages.
  • A more robust Now Playing screen.
  • An improved Live from PlayStation app to make it easier to view livestreams from PlayStation 4.
  • Players can now request to watch a friend play a game.
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