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RIP YouTube iPhone App, 2007-2012 — Why You Won’t Be Missed


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Back when the iPhone first launched, there was a joke about the YouTube app on it. One nerd, or tech reviewer, would describe it as a “dumbed-down YouTube experience.” To which another would shoot back: “is that even possible?”

Well, here we are, five years later. YouTube the service has gotten a whole lot stronger and smarter in so many ways (as well as a whole lot dumber in some of its corners — something which turns out to be exceedingly and eternally possible).

But the iPhone app, even transplanted to the iPad, has stayed exactly as dumb as it always was. It’ll find the YouTube content you want a third of the time, if you’re lucky. They should call it YouRoulette, because you never know what a search might bring.

No wonder iPhone users in the know long ago switched to simply going to on Safari, where a lot more stuff is available. When I heard about that fix, I was mad as hell at myself for all the wasted time on the app.

And from whom did I hear it? From YouTube staffers themselves. Even they didn’t believe in the thing.

So it’s really not such a bummer to hear Monday’s news — Apple has dumped the YouTube app from the next iPhone/iPad operating system, iOS 6. It’s ostensibly because “our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended,” according to an Apple spokesperson.

I’m sure it has, but I’m also sure Apple couldn’t be more relieved about that. This is a company that cares about great design, about stuff that just works, and the YouTube app was never that. It was so hobbled, it reminded me of the awful old WAP mobile web browsers that Apple effectively destroyed with the iPhone.

I’m also sure it’s just a coincidence that Apple is distancing itself from Google in general, for example replacing the Google Maps app in iOS6 with its own (called, confusingly enough, Maps). If you want the Google Maps iPhone app, chances are you’ll have to download it again — though what we don’t know is whether you’ll be able to make it the default for maps.

We do know that Google is working on a new YouTube app, according to the same Apple source. We’re still waiting for confirmation from YouTube.

Regardless, we’ll soon see the end of an app experience so poor, it couldn’t have made the iPhone look worse if the Android team had planted it there.

You’ll notice it’s one of the few original apps you can’t actually delete on your iPhone? Consider it deleted now, and good riddance.

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This App Could Replace Your Train Ticket


Here’s welcome news for any commuter who’s ever been caught cashless at the train station, or sprinted to buy a ticket to avoid the on-train surcharge.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York will soon begin testing smartphone-based ticketing for the Metro-North Railroad.

Well, commuters won’t actually be using it just yet. During the testing phase, railroad employees will download the free app to their iPhone, Android or Blackberry device. Using the app, they’ll be able to buy any type of ticket, one-way, round trip — even their monthly pass.

The electronic ticket shows up as a bar code that the conductor can then scan with a hand held device to verify its validity. The MTA says it’s looking at how quickly the process goes, as well as testing efficacy and anti-fraud measures. If successful, Metro-North will expand the program to its customers, and hopes it will become as successful as the ticket vending machines in the stations.

“Our customers adapted quickly to TVMs and the machines became the preferred way to buy tickets. The latest test is intended to ensure that the newest technology will be equally easy to use, as well as secure and reliable,” Metro-North President Howard Permut said in a statement.

The vending machines are great, unless you’re short on time. As a monthly card holder myself (of a different rail line), I often cringe when I hear someone paying a $5 surcharge to buy a ticket on the train if they didn’t have time to use the vending machine at the station.

The MTA is partnering with Masabi US Ltd to provide the technology. That company has already teamed up with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which is launching a similar smartphone ticketing system this fall. Masabi’s technology also supports a future move to “near-field communications” technology when NFC-enabled handsets become more widely available.

“Smartphones have the potential to transform the public transit systems across the United States. Passengers will be able to quickly and easily find, buy and display tickets on their phones wherever they are without having to worry about carrying cash or waiting in line, thereby providing a better commuter experience,” Giacomo Biggiero, Director of Masabi US Ltd. said in a statement.

Aside from the obvious high tech benefits of this switch to paperless, there’s also the impact on the environment. MTA is clearly on the right track — no more paper tickets to punch holes in and then toss away.

Would you happily trade your paper ticket for an app? Are you comfortable paying for goods and services with your smartphone? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Masabi

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Skype Fixing Bug That Sends Messages to Wrong Person


Skype announced on Tuesday it will be rolling out a fix over the next few days to correct a system bug that is sending private instant messages to the wrong recipients.

Following a series of reports from Skype users that their accounts were misdirecting messages to others on their contact list, the video-chat company will be releasing updated versions of Skype likely later this week.

The Skype versions affected by the bug that will receive an update as follows: Skype 5.10 for Windows, Skype 5.8 for Mac, Skype 4.0 for Linux and Skype 1.2 for Windows Phone.

“The hotfix addresses an issue that occurs only when a user’s Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user,” Skype said in a statement on its company blog. “Although we cannot determine precisely how many users may have been affected by this error, we believe the number is small given the very specific circumstances under which the error occurs.”

Skype also noted that not all versions were affected — users of Skype 5.9 for Windows, Skype 2.8 for Android and Skype 4.0 for IOS have not experienced any issues.

The company has also corrected an issue with File Sending on the desktop versions of Skype, which prevented users from saving files if they used a hard disk drive in FAT32 format.

BONUS: 10 Skype Chat Tricks for Power Users

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Google’s New App Will Take You on a Field Trip


Google Thursday launched an app called Field Trip, “your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.”

Working in the background on your Android phone, the app pops up a card on your handset when it thinks you’re around something interesting. A map view within the app can also help you seek out locations around you on your own.

Field Trip suggests places and experiences that fall under a number of categories: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest around you. Information for the cards comes from trend-setting publications such as Thrillist, Zagat, Songkick and Atlas Obscura.

Ranging from a history lesson about a building you walk by each day, to a recommendation on where to get lunch, information about locations pops up as you walk by rather than you having to seek it out. This way, the app might help you uncover something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

The frequency you receive Field Trip notifications can be selected from three different app modes.

If you have a Bluetooth headset connected to your phone, you can have it read information about locationswhile you’re walking. The app can also detect when you’re driving and audibly tell you about places as you’re passing.

If you find a great new location using Field Trip, you can also share it with friends on social networks such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

The smartphone-optimized app is available now for Android phones, with an iOS version expected in the future.

Check out the video below for a look at Field Trip in action.

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Zuckerberg’s Biggest Mistake? ‘Betting on HTML5’


In his first public interview since Facebook’s IPO, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that making big bets on HTML5 for its mobile apps was a “big mistake.”

Facebook was one of the first major companies to embrace HTML5 — not just as the basis for its mobile web experience, but also for its apps for iOS and Android.

That focus was based on the idea that HTML5 would be an easy way to develop for multiple platforms and screen sizes at one time, and that the overall experience would be similar to a native app. It did not account for stability or speed.

“The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native,” Zuckerberg said in an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt. “It just wasn’t ready,” he added.

Facebook has been focused on HTML5 for the last two years. When questioned about the lack of an official Facebook iPad app back in 2010, Zuckerberg famously responded, “the iPad isn’t mobile” — before clarifying that the company (then) saw HTML5 as a much better solution for delivering the Facebook experience to tablets.

In 2011, Facebook’s CTO Bret Taylor said HTML5 played a critical role in creating a consistent user experience across Facebook’s mobile sites and apps.

But the benefits of cross-platform development weren’t enough to outweigh the downsides of HTML5, which pulls in data much more slowly than native code, and is much less stable.

“It turns out, ‘good enough’ wasn’t good enough,” Zuckerberg said of the company’s HTML5-based mobile apps.

That would be why Facebook completely overhauled its iOS app last month.

Now, Zuckerberg says, Facebook is focused on continuing to improve the native mobile experience on iOS, as well as bringing a native app to Android.

Since the company had to spend so much time building its systems to process data efficiently for mobile apps, Zuckerberg implied that Facebook had lost time it could have spent focusing on bigger and better app developments.

Indeed, the mobile-first nature of Instagram was likely the most valuable aspect of the service, from Facebook’s perspective. Instagram offered one clear vision of what could be built with a native app approach.

This isn’t to say that Facebook won’t continue to do some work with HTML5, especially on its mobile website for non iOS and Android devices. Just don’t expect the company to get on the “write once, run everywhere” bandwagon again.

What do you think of Zuckerberg’s turnaround on HTML5 for mobile? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

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Trick or Tracker App Points Kids Home


In the annual race to score the most candy on Halloween night, kids can easily lose their way. App developer Iconosys has updated its family tracking app to include a safety compass that points children in the direction of home.

Its Trick or Tracker app links a parent’s and child’s phone and uses each phone’s GPS capabilities to monitor locations. If parents leave the house to visit a neighbor, the compass will point in the direction of the parents’ location. Children must have an Android phone, but parents don’t need one. They can use their iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows 7 phone.

Parents can set a boundary or geo-fence by specifying an acceptable radius around the home on the app’s map. If a child wanders out of range, the parent will receive a text message alert. Also, curfews can be enforced through Trick or Tracker. A “latchkey kid” feature sends an alert to the parent’s phone when children arrive at the door.

On a lighter note, the child’s app has a flashlight for illuminating dark pathways or finding that special treat at the bottom of a full pillowcase of loot. Kids can choose from white, glow-stick neon colors or other holiday hues.

Trick or Tracker 3.0 is available for download from or from the Amazon App Store. The app costs $5 for a lifetime license. And though the app has a Halloween theme, its useful safety features won’t disappear at the stroke of midnight — it works all year long.

Extra treat: Wondering which neighborhoods are the best for trick-or-treating? Zillow, a real estate app developer, recently released its fourth annual Trick-or-Treat Index. Results reveal the top 20 cities in terms of providing the most candy and the safest environment.

Image courtesy of Flickr, stevendepolo

This article originally published at TechNewsDaily

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In-Store App Smartly Syncs Shoppers And Sales Staff


The Spark of Genius Series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. Each post highlights a unique feature of a startup. If you’d like your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Signature

Quick Pitch: iPhone app connects customers with sales associates 24/7.

Genius Idea: Leveraging mobile to provide an unprecedented level of customer service.

Though online shopping has undergone multiple transformations over the past two decades, the same can not be said for brick-and-mortar retail. Shoppers are still brought in using approximately the same marketing tactics (think direct mail catalogs, window displays, seasonal sales). Product is still refreshed at the same rates and customers still line up and check out, with few exceptions, at cash registers.

Signature, a mobile app company that bills itself as the “ultimate personal shopping assistant,” is looking to reengineer the way consumers shop in stores — namely, the stores of upscale clothing retailers. The San Francisco-based startup has partnered with Neiman Marcus to develop a custom iPhone app to better facilitate communications between stores and customers.

The app, called NM Service, is currently being piloted at four Neiman Marcus locations: San Francisco, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Neiman Marcus’s flagship store in Dallas, Texas.

It has two interfaces: one for shoppers and one for sales associates. Shoppers are able to able to browse event schedules, new arrivals and promotions. As they browse, they can favorite products and even arrange for them to be placed in a dressing room ahead of arrival, Signature CEO David Hegarty tells Mashable. They can also make appointments and leave messages for associates, and see which ones are on the floor. A built-in QR code reader lets them scan signage for trend and product information displayed in-store.

Sales associates’ version of the app has tools designed to help them provide better service. They can view a shoppers’ online and in-store purchase history, helping them better understand their preferences and suggest items that might compliment previous purchases. They can also see which products a customer has favorited. They will be notified when a preferred customer arrives in-store, accompanied by a Facebook photograph.

All sales associates have been provided with iPhones and app training, Ginger Reeder, VP of corporate communications at Neiman Marcus, tells Mashable. Customers can learn about the app by picking up booklet instructions in kiosks around the store, and by speaking to their regular sales associates.

Hegarty says that future iterations of the app will be more personalized. Users will receive notifications about new merchandise based on their previous purchase history, and have the option to list not just favorite products but also favorite designers.

Beyond the custom app he and his team have developed for Neiman Marcus, Signature also has a general platform app which works with two Seven for all Mankind locations: one at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif., and another in the Flatiron district of New York City. A few more retail partners will be onboarded later this year, and an Android version of the app should also arrive in time for the holidays, he says.

Signature currently has eight employees and has raised $1.1 million in angel funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Triangle Peak Partners, Amicus Capital, Don Hutchison and Dave Pell.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

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Mashable Weekend Recap: 62 Stories You Might Have Missed


The weekend was dominated by the shocking story of a man who decided to kill a crowd of people in cold blood. As hard as that is to fathom, we pressed on here at Mashable, still searching for news and views of the tragedy that dwarfed all other stories.

Beyond that, we found all kinds of stories about a variety of topics — and we noticed one genre did particularly well: humor. So as you try to make sense of the senseless things that happened last week, take a look at this Weekend Recap, where you’ll see that there were plenty of good things going on at the same time.

Editor’s Picks

This Stunning Timelapse Space Video Will Astonish You

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Broadcast Your Tweets From Space With SkyCube [VIDEO]

Jack Daniel’s Sends the Most Polite Cease-and-Desist Letter Ever

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

6 Apps You Don’t Want To Miss

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Google Stops Taking Orders for 16GB Nexus 7

Kodak Loses Patent Case to Apple and RIM

Afghanistan Activists Urge Use of Social Media to Fight Politics

Hulu Reveals Sleeker, More Advanced Player [VIDEO]

‘Permanent’ SIM Unlock For AT&T iPhones is Now Available

ChargeCard Means You’ll Never Again Be Stranded With a Dead iPhone [VIDEO]

Video of Alleged Theater Shooter Emerges Online

OUYA: Android Game Console’s Secrets Raise Questions

Japan Launches Robotic Supply Ship to Space Station

‘Will you visit me in prison?’ Asks James Holmes on Adult Sex Profile

Aurora Police Confirm via Twitter: Controlled Detonation a Success

What’s Next For Google’s Nexus Brand Of Devices?

Alleged Killer Effortlessly Bought 6,000 Rounds of Ammo Online [VIDEO]

Internet Urges Batman to Visit Victims of ‘Dark Knight’ Shooting

Google Puts Social Twist on Ramadan Traditions

Instagram May Soon Move to the Web [REPORT]

‘Lucky’ to Launch Pinterest-Like Aggregator for Style Content

University of Kentucky Football Tweets Become Billboards [VIDEO]

Man Finds Long-Lost Son, Ex-Wife via Facebook

Kickstarter Project Attempts To Bring Public Transit Maps Back to iPhone

Why Aren’t We Downloading Health Apps?

ArduSat Reaches Funding Goal, Prepares to Launch Satellite July 2013 [VIDEO]

Beirut Social Media Class a Hot Spot for Senior Citizens

Rising Number of Drones Dangerous for U.S.

‘Dark Knight’ Director Nolan Calls Shootings a ‘Senseless Tragedy’

Warner Bros. Pulls ‘Gangster Squad’ Trailer from Internet After Shootings

Zuckerberg’s Facebook Picture Hints at Walmart Partnership

Vermont Follows @Sweden’s Lead With @ThisIsVT

Kim Dotcom Compares Himself to MLK in New Song [VIDEO]

Weekend Leisure

Watch the First Teaser For the ‘Man Of Steel’ Superman Reboot

This Robot Will Out Dance You [VIDEO]

Are These the Best Etsy Shops in the World?

Is This the Electric Bicycle of Your Dreams? [VIDEO]

Munster Does the Doggy Paddle, Kind of [VIDEO]

Don’t Block These 10 Hilarious Twitter Bots

Never Miss a Notification With This Flashing iPhone Case [VIDEO]

NFL Team Enhances Season Tickets With Augmented Reality

EarTop Flow Makes Almost Any Audio Device Wireless [VIDEO]

Internet Flowchart Explains Why You Never Get Anything Done [COMIC]

10 Sharp Accessories That Celebrate the #Hashtag

World’s Worst Movie Gets a Retro iPhone Game

Epic ‘Indiana Jones’ Cover Will Knock Your Fedora Off [VIDEO]

12 Small Touches That Will Make ‘Borderlands 2′ a Big Hit

10 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Watch Online

Popular Personalities Send Fans Video Texts with Audingo

10 Weirdest Things for Sale on eBay

The Future of Feet: Biometric Shoe Insoles Revolutionizing Security [VIDEO]

10 Unforgettable Olympic Moments to Get You Pumped for London 2012 [VIDEOS]

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Helpful Resources

3 Reasons to Recruit via Talent Communities

40 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

5 Best Reasons to Recruit With Facebook Ads

Clothes Horse Wants to Help You Find Clothes That Fit

4 Ways to Manage Your Teen’s Texting

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‘Halo’ for Windows 8 Surprises With Great Gameplay


Halo has transformed from a first-person shooter to a top-down mobile title for a Windows 8-exclusive release. Thankfully, however, nothing fans love about the series gets lost in translation.

Halo Spartan Assault, currently available for Windows 8 devices, forgoes the perspective inside Master Chief’s head, instead giving you a bird’s-eye view of the world as you use two virtual joysticks to move your character and fire weapons.

You play a new character, Spartan IV Sarah Palmer, as she fights the Covenant in a time period set somewhere between Halo 3 and Halo 4. The game has 25 bite-size missions that make you fight Halo regulars like Grunts and Elites as you complete objectives.

Gamers may be a little nervous about the franchise’s experimentation with mobile, but the time and effort behind the game — 18 months’ worth — suggest that it’s not just a cash-grabbing spinoff. Even the small details are captured in the new format.

The controls are handled by two virtual joysticks in the bottom corners of the screen. Most other actions are handled by taps — double-tap your character to activate its equipped power, double-tap a spot on the screen to make it a target for a grenade. The “interact” button, next to the thumbstick responsible for firing a weapon, allows you to pick up new weapons, enter a vehicle or turret or even perform a melee strike to a nearby enemy. While the controls take a while to get used to, the tutorial mode greatly helped to prepare me for my first mission.

A wide variety of weapons are available to pick up and carry, and the silhouettes will be familiar to Halo fans. You can change your load-out — the weapons you start each mission with — each time, and purchase new weapons with experience points or as in-app purchases. At the start of each mission, you can select Halo‘s famous skulls, which make missions more difficult with the payout of more experience and achievements.

Since it’s a Windows 8 game, all the achievements tie into your Xbox Live account, which boosts your Gamerscore. Social leaderboards also compare your scores with your friends.

Each mission in the game was clearly designed to be consumable in under 15 minutes, a huge nod to the time considerations of mobile games. While traditional shooters may expect players to dive in for hours at a time, it’s obvious that shorter missions are necessary on a platform that could potentially be set down at a moment’s notice.

While Windows 8 devices don’t have the plethora of exclusive games available on iOS or Android, launching a franchise so near and dear to gamers could be a definitive move for Microsoft as it tries to expand its mobile platform. Halo Spartan Assault is well executed, though it’s yet to be decided whether this alone is enough to move Windows 8 units.

The game is available for Windows 8 phones and tablets and as a separate purchase from the Windows 8 store for PC. The PC version offers mouse and keyboard support, with Xbox 360 controller support on its way, according to a Microsoft representative. The mobile and PC downloads come with $6.99 price tags, though cloud saves can sync content between both.

The Lowdown

What’s Good

  • True to the Halo universe, with lots of small touches fans will love.

  • Missions are fun and challenging, but don’t take too long for the platform.

  • Controls take getting used to, but it’s a huge improvement in the virtual joystick format.

  • What’s Bad

    • It’s really only worth playing on a tablet, as the phone version runs on the small side.

    • While the PC and mobile version share cloud saves, there isn’t a discount for buying both.

    Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier

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    Spy App Can Turn Smartphones Against You


    The smartphone in your hands could get hijacked and used as an accessory to virtual burglary. U.S. military researchers have created a mobile app that creates 3D maps of a phone’s immediate surroundings, possibly allowing spies or criminals to steal personal information and “download” the physical space to prepare for a break-in.

    Such a troubling scenario comes from the “PlaceRaider” app that could disguise itself as an ordinary camera app for Android phones, according to researchers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind. and Indiana University in Bloomington.

    The app sneakily uses the phone camera to take new images, while also collecting orientation data from the phone’s accelerometer, the device that flips your screen horizontally. PlaceRaider can then upload the information to a central computer that combines the best images into a 3D virtual map of a person’s house or office.

    “We develop and demonstrate a tool that allows an attacker to visualize and navigate a victim’s space in 3D, allowing them to quickly hone in on areas that likely contain sensitive or private information and then retrieve targeted, high-resolution images,” said Robert Templeman, an engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., and colleagues in an arXiv paper submitted on Sept. 26.

    The computer experts explained how PlaceRaider would permit hackers to zoom in on sensitive information scattered around a room, such as financial statements, phone numbers, personal checks or a wall calendar showing travel plans.

    PlaceRaider also showed how its 3D map, reconstructed from sneaky images, could give spies or criminals tools to plan for physical reconnaissance or burglary. The U.S. military’s Special Forces might also find such a tool useful for scouting ahead of dangerous missions.

    This example of a Trojan horse app uses the smartphone’s own computing system to screen for only the most useful images and avoid transmitting blurry or dark photos. It then uploads the selected information to a command-and-control computer that can perform the actual 3D-map reconstruction.

    Past hacking demonstrations have shown how to hijack smartphone microphones to “hear” sensitive conversations, or to harness a phone’s accelerometer to “feel” vibrations from a computer keyboard and deduce keystrokes. But PlaceRaider’s ability to create a 3D map of the physical space potentially makes smartphones even more effective tools for spying — for better and for worse.

    This article originally published at TechNewsDaily

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