Yahoo’s most searched tech in 2015: iPhone 6 and Windows 10

Yahoo Wilson Lam Flickr

Although it’s the beginning of December, it’s that time of year when we all must begin reflecting on what happened during the past year. Not one to be left out of the loop, Yahoo has released its annual “Top” lists, but this time featuring insights from across all its platforms, including its search, Flickr, Tumblr, and its most recent acquisition Polyvore.

The most overall searched term that’s technology-based is the iPhone, which came up in second, while Minecraft placed fifth. However, when you narrow it down by segment, the iPhone 6 placed as the most searched tech this year, followed by Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. Interestingly, the iPhone 7 comes in third which is probably because people weren’t expecting it the newest model to be named the iPhone 6s.

Yahoo said that with memories of the glitches and frustrations around Windows 8, the curiosity and promise of Windows 10 led people to query about the latest Microsoft operating system enough that it propelled that search term to number two on the list.


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The rest of the most searched tech gadget list is made up of mostly the usual suspects: Samsung Galaxy s6, the Apple Watch, iPhone 5, iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Amazon Kindle. No emergence of any drones, smart devices, or anything else.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX gets a special nod in this year’s set of lists. A photo of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida became the “top photo” on Flickr in 2015. No other tech-related photograph placed.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for their fourth official Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the orbiting lab on Sunday, September 21 at 1:52am EDT. Dragon returned to Earth with a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of southern California on October 25. Dragon is the only operational spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments.

Above: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for their fourth official Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the orbiting lab on Sunday, September 21 at 1:52am EDT. Dragon returned to Earth with a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of southern California on October 25. Dragon is the only operational spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments.

Image Credit: SpaceX/Flickr

But besides tech, what were the top overall searches for 2015 according to Yahoo? The number one query was Bobbi Kristina Brown, the late daughter of singer and actress Whitney Houston. The Jenner and Kardashian clan nearly monopolized this list, with Caitlyn Jenner placing third, her daughter Kendall coming in fourth, and Kim Kardashian placing seventh. Thanks to her halftime performance at this year’s Super Bowl (along with a memorable dance performance by a particular “shark”), Katy Perry placed eighth.

As Yahoo is perhaps seeing itself as a barometer of buzz happening around the Internet, thanks to its ownership of Tumblr, the company felt it was its responsibility to tell the world what were the most obsessed moments of the year were: the top one was, of course, Katy Perry and the Left Shark from the Super Bowl halftime show. Coming in second, even with just a few weeks of buzz since the start of the winter season is Starbucks’ holiday cup fiasco. Man buns were also a hot topic of debate on the Internet. And the debate to practically end all debates — what color was that dress? — placed fourth on the buzz list this year.

There were other list sets provided by Yahoo which you can read on its website. But if you’re a tech person, you’ll enjoy this last one, which is centered around bacon: what exactly were the top bacon recipe searches on Yahoo in 2015? The first result was how to make Brussel sprouts with bacon, while the next two respectively were, bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers and German potato salad with bacon.

All of these searches are all based on Yahoo’s numerous online properties, but it’ll be interesting to see how the results stack up against Google if the company opts to release its annual search lists later this month — and what will be the most talked about videos seen on YouTube?

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OnePlus launches $20 sandstone iPhone case to ‘show Apple fans what they’re missing’

OnePlus iPhone Case

China-based Android smartphone maker OnePlus has announced something of a surprise today — it’s launching a case for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S.

The $20 sandstone black cover brings the distinctive rear casing of both the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2, which launched a few months back, to Apple’s smartphone.

The Sandstone rear covers on the OnePlus phones are a little like sandpaper, and are designed to be made easier to hold on to compared to other shinier devices on the market.

OnePlus iPhone Case

Above: OnePlus iPhone Case

Image Credit: OnePlus

Today’s news comes a week after OnePlus began offering refunds for USB Type-C cables following criticism from a Google engineer that they do not meet the required specifications. The day after, OnePlus also launched a new line of $50 “premium” earphones.

It’s not entirely clear whether iPhone users will be willing to spend $20 to buy a case from a company that’s synonymous with high-spec, low-cost Android phones, but the company seems to think that there will be some demand for it in the U.S., Europe, and India, where it can be purchased online now (free shipping, too).

The company also hopes that, given we’re coming up to Christmas, some ardent OnePlus fans may buy these covers as cheeky little gifts for their iPhone-toting friends. It said:

“For us and for many of you, Sandstone represents something bigger. Maybe you know someone who just went out and bought the latest iPhone. Maybe you were this close to getting them to see your side of things. This is your chance to leave your exasperation at the door and just show them what they’re missing.”

In an interview with VentureBeat last month, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei revealed he was an iPhone-user prior to starting his current company, and he was complimentary of Apple’s products. And now, he’s trying to tempt other iPhone users over to the “dark side” by letting them experience what it’s like to hold a OnePlus phone in their hands.










Why an iPhone 7 without a headphone jack should not surprise you

apple_earpods

The latest Apple rumor is a fun one: The next iPhone reportedly won’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, iPhone owners will have to use an all-in-one Lightning connector, according to a “reliable source” cited by Japanese website Mac Otakara (via Macrumors).

As far as iPhone rumors go, this one doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Mark my words: Apple is working on replacing the headphone jack with Lightning.

The report claims the new same-sized Lightning connector will support Lightning-equipped headphones, and have digital-to-audio (DAC) converter for backwards compatibility with wired headphones using standard 3.5mm stereo jacks. In other words, you’ll have to buy a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter, which Apple will happily sell you, if you want to use wired headphones, earbuds, or even Apple’s current EarPods (pictured above).


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And that’s the first thing that jumps out at me regarding this rumor: Apple introduced its EarPods in September 2012, first shipping them with the iPhone 5 (they are sold independently for $29). A refresh is long overdue. When the next iPhone lineup arrives, it will have been four years since the EarPods were released.

What has Apple done in those four years to suggest a new set of headphones to accompany its products is on the way? Oh, not that much. The company only acquired Beats Electronics, launched Apple Music (including on Android), and opened up its MFi (Made For) licensing program to include headphones which use its proprietary Lightning port.

apple_beats_headphones

That’s right: As of June 2014, third-party manufacturers have been able to create headphones that connect to iOS devices via a Lightning cable. Aside from Philips, not many have jumped on this bandwagon. Once Apple removes the headphone jack, that will change very quickly.

And of course, the rumor also says Apple is planning to release its own Lightning-equipped EarPods, which would likely ship with the iPhone 7 (and presumably be sold separately as well). Eventually, Apple would phase out its current EarPods, once all other iOS devices lose the headphone jack as well.

But I’m going to go further and say Apple will also release Beats-branded headphones that use the Lightning port. Maybe they won’t be ready for the iPhone 7, but it would be silly for the company not to offer more premium (and expensive) headphones that work with the latest iPhone.

If you still think this is unlikely, let me remind you that Apple has done this before. Again, in 2012 with the release of the iPhone 5, the company retired its proprietary 30-pin dock connector in favor of the smaller Lightning connector.

There was naturally a lot of controversy surrounding this, but Apple did it to make its device slimmer (and the story with the iPhone 7 will be the same). The removal of the headphone jack, which will mean the Lightning connector is used for charging as well as audio output, will be arguably more controversial since the 3.5mm jack is standard in all audio products. Apple’s 30-pin connector was already proprietary.

So iPhone fans will be doubly angry. Not only will none of their existing Apple headphones no longer work with the new iPhone, but almost no existing headphones will work.

And yet, this won’t stop Apple. Maybe it won’t happen with the iPhone 7, or even the iPhone 7s, but Apple is definitely experimenting with killing the headphone jack. There is precedence for such a move, and it lines up perfectly with the company’s style of removing ports and simplifying its devices. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens with the iPhone 7.

Apple will kill the 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s inevitable.

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Vine launches on the Apple Watch

tumblr_inline_nyarmyhDhr1r9ap0j_1280

Vine today updated its iOS app to add support for the Apple Watch. The updated app, version 4.4.0, is available for download from the App Store.

In a move that seems like a natural fit for the bite-sized, Twitter-owned video platform, Watch owners will be able to access the service’s six-second clips via two distinct feeds, Favorites and Featured. As their names suggest, Favorites include Vines from creators whom a user follows, while Featured is a curated, hand-selected collection of videos from several topical categories (comedy, music, and sports are the given examples).

In addition to bringing its content to the smallest of small screens, Vine has also endowed the watchOS app with its own loop-counting complication. This widget is a simple readout of a Vine creator’s total views across all clips, updated in real time. While the complication may not be of interest to the average viewer, it will certainly be appealing to the type of content producer whose brain fires off tiny dopamine hits when stimulated by engagement data.

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The app update also brings another pair of new features to iOS: Audio Remix and Swipe for Similar. The former allows one to tap on any Vine and create a new Vine “using the audio from that post,” while the latter is a UX enhancement that enables new content discovery with a simple left swipe on the current post.










Apple may be developing an app to help you avoid the Genius Bar

Apple yanks Genius Bar commercials

Leaked screenshots hint at a new app from Apple that would help iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch owners get devices repaired without having to hit the Genius Bar.

Images of the app first appeared on a blog called uSwitch.com. Screenshots indicate that users will be able to report a problem and coordinate support through a live chat feature and by sending a device in to be repaired.

Customers will also have access to a support hotline and be able to schedule an appointment with the Genius Bar through the app, according to the report. In addition to providing customers with tools for contacting support, the app may host instructions for how device owners can fix more minor issues themselves.

The app (a serious upgrade from Apple’s existing support options) is no doubt an attempt to alleviate the strain on Apple’s Genius Bar and to raise overall customer satisfaction.

Check out the photos from uSwitch below:

Apple App unnamed (2)Apple unnamed-6unnamed-2










The Pope wants you to put away your goddamn iPhone during dinner

Pope Francis

Put away your phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, TVs, etc. — at least while you eat. Amen.

“Sadly the family meal, this great symbol of togetherness, is disappearing in some societies,” and we have technology to blame, said Pope Francis earlier this week to pilgrims from all over the world at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

The Catholic church leader often takes a surprisingly liberal position on topics, but one modern thing he cannot stand is your habit of texting-and-dining. He called on the congregation to shut down tech devices that prevent them from spending quality time with their families at the dinner table, the Catholic News Agency reported.

“A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family,” he added. “When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family, this is a pensioner!”

On that note, since you are probably reading this while stuffing a breakfast sandwich into your mouth, put down your phone, smile, and go tell someone “good morning.”

Editor’s note: Then get back to reading VentureBeat.










How Boku’s deal with Apple for carrier billing drove competitor Bango’s stock up 50%

Boku

This week the world of tech saw two fierce competitors in an emerging space experience a strange twist of fate in which a victory for one turned into a windfall for the other.

The companies in question are part of an important battle happening quietly behind the scenes to be the winners that provide a service called “carrier billing.” This is the service that lets users pay for purchases like apps on their phone bill, rather than a credit card.

It’s a critical service in emerging economies, and even in many developed ones where credit cards are still not commonly used.

In one corner, we have Boku, a San Francisco, California-based startup that has raised about $75 million in venture capital from a bunch of nobody funds you’ve probably never heard of: Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Benchmark Capital. The firm has snagged deals with a lot of gaming companies and Facebook.

In the other corner, we have Bango, a British company that is publicly traded. Bango was founded in 1999 and gradually evolved its service successfully. In recent years, Bango has landed partnerships to provide carrier billing for the app stores for Google, Amazon, Samsung, BlackBerry, Firefox, and Microsoft.

Not bad. A recent research report from Progressive Equity Research estimates that Bango has 40 percent market share in this space.

“Bango was an early entrant into the mobile payment space,” according to the Progressive report. “Over the past sixteen years it has made significant investments in both its platform and product set. The benefit of this historic investment appears to be apparent — it has almost half the market.”

But with all the momentum behind enabling carrier billing, there’s been one holdout, and it’s a big one: Apple.

The company dominates app sales and services, and so its reticence to adopt carrier billing has left many players in this arena a tad, well, impatient.

Indeed, last year after two carriers establish workarounds for customers to pay for iTunes purchases indirectly, Bango tried to nudge Apple to go all the way:

“It should encourage Apple to take the big step and integrate carrier billing directly into the iTunes store,” Bango execs wrote in a blog post. “The evidence from all other content ecosystems is that when carrier billing is embedded into the store experience on the smartphone itself, it yields a big uplift in content sales.”

Fast-forward to this week. O2 and its parent company, Telefonica, announced that Apple would begin offering carrier billing to iTunes customers in Germany. Though it’s a small start, it’s a significant one that could have big ramifications for the carrier building startups.

Here’s where things get weird.

This being Apple, no one was apparently allowed to publicly confirm their involvement in the deal. But there was a big assumption by many that Bango had won the deal.

Many investors certainly believed that to be the case. And so starting yesterday and continuing today, trading in Bango stock spiked and the share price rose 50 percent on the London Stock Exchange at one point (though it fell a bit at the end of trading today).

Bango's stock this week

Above: Bango’s stock this week

Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch was early on the news yesterday and also initially reported that it was Bango that won. But later, she updated her story with sources suggesting it might be Boku, which had received some investment from O2 previously.

A separate source in the telecom industry familiar with the deal has confirmed today to VentureBeat that it was Boku’s deal, not Bango.

Boku did not respond to our request for comment.

A Bango spokesmen reached by phone today said the company couldn’t comment on the deal. But he pointed to a vague blog post the company apparently felt compelled to write this week that left open the question of whether it had won the deal or not.

Bango wrote: “We cannot comment on Apple’s expansion of support for carrier billing, other than to say we are delighted that Apple is extending the use of direct carrier billing following last year’s support for iTunes voucher sales.”

Ultimately, if Boku continues to expand its relationship with Apple, none of this may matter. But at least for the first couple of days, to the victor did not go the spoils.

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Nintendo delays the launch of Miitomo, its first smartphone game

Kimishima (center) will lead the company alongside Miyamoto (left) and Takeda (right) into mobile gaming.

The House of Mario is laying out its plans for making the leap to iPhone and Android, but it’s going to need more time.

During a meeting with investors in Kyoto, the publisher revealed it will not have a new smartphone game before the end of this calendar year (via Wall Street Journal). Instead, it will launch the app, called Miitomo, by March 2016 — and it hopes to make that a global release. It’s a free-to-play game with microtransactions.

The mobile market has been eagerly awaiting more news on Nintendo’s plans. It has struggled with the stumble of its flagship Wii U console, but it could disrupt the $30 billion mobile market thanks to the quality of its games and a devoted following in Japan, one of the biggest regions for spending on smartphones and tablets.

Nintendo chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima explained that the concept behind Miitomo is to facilitate communication between people using Miis. Your Mii avatar, which represents you on the Wii U home console’s and 3DS handheld’s online networks, will even go and communicate with others while you are not actively playing. It sounds like a mobile version of the 3DS surprise hit Tomodachi Life, which you can read more about here in our review.

This is just the first of five games coming to mobile from Nintendo by March 2017. The publisher is developing the apps in partnership with Japanese publisher DeNA, which is handling the back-end tools. Of these first five games, Nintendo has also confirmed that it will not try to port its existing controller games to a touchscreen. So expect new ideas and mechanics combined with established characters.

Kimishima also said that Nintendo has a slate of unannounced games for this holiday for the Wii U and 3DS.

Nintendo is turning to mobile games as a way to give its revenues a boost. It has seen its income and profits shrivel over the last half decade as both its home and portable hardware and software fail to catch on with consumers. That’s because gamers are more frequently choosing to spend time with their smartphones, especially in the company’s home market in Japan.

In March, former Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata, who died in July, announced that he would guide the company into the mobile-gaming market. At the same time, Iwata promised to stay with the hardware business with a new platform code named the NX.

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Nintendo delays the launch of Miitomo, its first smartphone game

Kimishima (center) will lead the company alongside Miyamoto (left) and Takeda (right) into mobile gaming.

The House of Mario is laying out its plans for making the leap to iPhone and Android, but it’s going to need more time.

During a meeting with investors in Kyoto, the publisher revealed it will not have a new smartphone game before the end of this calendar year (via Wall Street Journal). Instead, it will launch the app, called Miitomo, by March 2016 — and it hopes to make that a global release. It’s a free-to-play game with microtransactions.

The mobile market has been eagerly awaiting more news on Nintendo’s plans. It has struggled with the stumble of its flagship Wii U console, but it could disrupt the $30 billion mobile market thanks to the quality of its games and a devoted following in Japan, one of the biggest regions for spending on smartphones and tablets.

Nintendo chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima explained that the concept behind Miitomo is to facilitate communication between people using Miis. Your Mii avatar, which represents you on the Wii U home console’s and 3DS handheld’s online networks, will even go and communicate with others while you are not actively playing. It sounds like a mobile version of the 3DS surprise hit Tomodachi Life, which you can read more about here in our review.

This is just the first of five games coming to mobile from Nintendo by March 2017. The publisher is developing the apps in partnership with Japanese publisher DeNA, which is handling the back-end tools. Of these first five games, Nintendo has also confirmed that it will not try to port its existing controller games to a touchscreen. So expect new ideas and mechanics combined with established characters.

Kimishima also said that Nintendo has a slate of unannounced games for this holiday for the Wii U and 3DS.

Nintendo is turning to mobile games as a way to give its revenues a boost. It has seen its income and profits shrivel over the last half decade as both its home and portable hardware and software fail to catch on with consumers. That’s because gamers are more frequently choosing to spend time with their smartphones, especially in the company’s home market in Japan.

In March, former Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata, who died in July, announced that he would guide the company into the mobile-gaming market. At the same time, Iwata promised to stay with the hardware business with a new platform code named the NX.

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Apple sees iPhone sales grow 22.1% to 48M in Q4 2015, but iPad sales declined 19.5%

iphone-6s-apple

As part of the company’s latest quarterly earnings announcement, Apple revealed today that it sold 48 million iPhones, 9.9 million iPads, and 5.7 million Macs during its fiscal fourth quarter of 2015. These are mixed results, which should come as no surprise for those who watch the company’s numbers closely.

In Q4 2014, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones, 12.3 million iPads, and 5.5 million Macs. This means that year-over-year, iPhone sales were up 22.1 percent, iPad sales were down 19.5 percent, and Mac sales were up 3.6 percent. In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook said on the earnings call that the Mac sales were “an all-time record.”

Q4 2015 industry estimates ranged between 48.56 million and 49.39 million for iPhones, between 10.04 million and 10.37 million for iPads, and between 5.67 million and 5.68 million for Macs. Apple thus failed to beat estimates for iPhones and iPads, but beat them for Macs.

More specifically, while Apple saw massive growth for the iPhone, it did not manage to beat the institutional consensus nor the independent one when it comes to its hottest gadget — its tablets did poorly in both cases. Given that the company’s iPhone business is much more important than its iPad one, this is still good news for Cupertino overall and explains why the company’s stock is up in after-hours trading, but only slightly.

These results aren’t too surprising, given that Apple previously shared it had sold 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units in the first weekend. Some were disappointed with the new iPhone 6s iPhone 6s Plus, but these numbers prove people still want the latest and greatest from Apple, even if Wall Street was expecting slightly higher numbers.

Those considering buying iPads, however, were likely trying to figure out if they want the new iPad Pro or even the iPad mini 4. Tablet sales in general haven’t been doing well, a trend that Apple has not been able to counter with the iPad. In fact, iPad sales have been falling for more than a year now, and this is the first quarter Apple has sold under 10 million iPads since Q4 2011.

The current quarter is traditionally the most important for Apple, and many will be looking to see how the new iPhones fare. “We are heading into the holidays with our strongest product lineup yet, including iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple Watch with an expanded lineup of cases and bands, the new iPad Pro, and the all-new Apple TV which begins shipping this week,” Cook said in a statement.

Because the company always breaks records in Q1, expectations will be high.

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