Start up: the world in 2045, Apple’s App Store revamp, Magic Leap’s hat show, app downloads pause, and more

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What would you put in a time capsule to remind the future of what it got from us? Photo by marcmoss on Flickr.

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A selection of 11 links for you. Subscription-free (unless you’ve subscribed). I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

The world in 2045, according to DARPA • Tech Insider

Paul Szoldra:

»So what’s going to happen in 2045?

It’s pretty likely that robots and artificial technology are going to transform a bunch of industries, drone aircraft will continue their leap from the military to the civilian market, and self-driving cars will make your commute a lot more bearable.

But DARPA scientists have even bigger ideas. In a video series from October called “Forward to the Future,” three researchers predict what they imagine will be a reality 30 years from now.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and program manager in DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, believes we’ll be at a point where we can control things simply by using our mind.

“Imagine a world where you could just use your thoughts to control your environment,” Sanchez said. “Think about controlling different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain.”

«

I’d really prefer not to do that. Would that be OK?
link to this extract

 


Apple to launch major overhaul of App Store with paid search ads and subscription changes • The Telegraph

Hey, it’s by me:

»The iPhone maker Apple is revamping its App Store, with a surprise move to introduce paid search ads for apps, as well as a new subscription model and faster reviews before approval.

The move to introduce a single paid ad at the top of search results in the App Store, initially in the US, could prove controversial both with developers and users, who told The Telegraph that they would prefer to see better “organic” search results rather than paid ads.

«

Every one of the developers (and users) I contacted ahead of the announcement – without saying Apple had anything planned – told me they wanted “better search”. None said they wanted paid search ads. Is this Apple getting the disquiet out of the way early? (I think that the principal effect will be to pull revenue from other media – though probably not Facebook, because its targeting is better.)
link to this extract

 


Google will offer app developers the same revenue sharing terms Apple just announced — with one big advantage • Recode

Mark Bergen:

»On Wednesday, Apple detailed major shake-ups coming to its powerful app store. Those include a new revenue sharing model that would give developers more money when users subscribe to a service via their apps — instead of keeping 70% of all revenue generated from subscriptions, publishers will be able to keep 85% of revenue, once a subscriber has been paying for a year.

Now Google plans to up the ante at its app store: It will also move from a 70/30 split to 85/15 for subscriptions — but instead of requiring developers to hook a subscriber for 12 months before offering the better split, it will make it available right away.

«

Except it’s not saying when it will bring this in. (Probably soon.) Will this make a big difference to app revenue for developers from Google in real terms? I’d love to know how many subscriptions there are through Google Play. The obvious one would be music services; I doubt there are that many business services.
link to this extract

 


We’ve seen Magic Leap’s device of the future, and it looks like Merlin’s skull cap • The Guardian

Danny Yadron:

»The much-hyped startup Magic Leap – backed by Google, Warner Brothers, JPMorgan Chase and others – recently won a patent for the design of an augmented reality headset. The device, according to a report in Wired, would let users superimpose calendars, kids pictures or jellyfish over day-to-day life. So-called mixed reality or augmented reality is seen by many as consumer technology’s next big wave.

Magic Leap’s design patent, which was granted on Tuesday, could offer the first look at what some say may be the most revolutionary tech gadget in years. It could also illustrate a stubborn problem that’s been holding augmented reality back.

It’s hard to imagine looking cool while wearing the devices.
«

Point of order, Madam Speaker, the author has seen a sketch of the device, not the device itself. But those drawings are usually pretty close – it was for the Segway, for instance. And this does look super-dorky. (The Guardian prevents image embeds.)
link to this extract

 


Hacking the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV hybrid • Pen Test Partners

»What’s really unusual is the method of connecting the mobile app to the car. Most remote control apps for locating the car, flashing the headlights, locking it remotely etc. work using a web service. The web service is hosted by the car manufacturer or their service provider. This then connects to the vehicle using GSM to a module on the car. As a result, one can communicate with the vehicle over mobile data from virtually anywhere.

«

Much fun has ensued, with Mitsubishi po-facedly saying it “takes it very seriously”. Given that people can randomly disable your car alarm, that is good.

This recalls the hacking of the Nissan LEAF back in February, of course. That was more internet-based, but still poor security at its heart.
link to this extract

 


Are you bored with apps? Some of the biggest apps around are seeing downloads plummet • PhoneArena

Stephen S:

»for some reason, there seems to be a widespread trend where growth is seriously slowing down – and in many cases, declining – for all but the very most popular apps.

For big players like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Spotify, and Twitter, app downloads are way down from last year’s figures. Some of those dips are are pushing upwards of 20% declines, representing millions of fewer downloads downloads each month.

Internationally the situation’s not particularly dire, and a good number of these apps are close to holding level, or even showing small growth. But there are definitely signs of a slowdown, especially among the big three of Facebook, Whatsapp, and Messenger – all three are seeing download figures tank.

In the US, however, things are quickly going from bad to worse, with nearly all the biggest apps seeing major growth fallout.

“Nearly,” we say, because there are two big exceptions to this trend: Snapchat and Uber.

Both relatively new and with their stars still on the rise, they’re the only two big apps capturing major growth, both in the US and aboard.

«

There’s a slideshow too, which shows big slowdowns in many apps. But there’s a simple explanation: the number of people new to smartphones is diminishing very rapidly, and those who are joining are the ones who aren’t that interested in downloading apps. (Thanks @elvengrail for the link.)
link to this extract

 


On reading issues of Wired from 1993 to 1995 • The New Yorker

Anna Wiener:

»Today’s future-booster events, like the annual Consumer Electronics Show, tend to prize stories of novelty and innovation—and yet, reading early Wired, it becomes clear that many of the inventions that claim to be new today are simply extensions of what came before. A sidebar on Wacom’s ArtPad, from 1995—“If you’ve ever sketched with a pencil, you’ll be able to use ArtPad”—made me wonder why it took Apple so long to roll out its Pencil stylus for the iPad. A 1994 article on continuous voice recognition—a core component of responsive products, like Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri—effused, “IBM has some mondo hot technology on its hands here.” (Google, Microsoft, and Nuance Communications seem to have caught on since.) Early versions of 3-D printers, endless varieties of virtual-reality headsets, and remote-controlled, camera-laden helicopters abound. Perhaps the heart wants what it wants, and the heart has always wanted V.R., A.I., drones, and entertainment straight to the face.

In “Scenarios,” a special edition from 1995, the guest editor Douglas Coupland took it upon himself to compile a “reverse time capsule,” which he deemed “not a capsule directed to the future, but rather to the citizens of 1975.” What artifacts, he asked, “might surprise them most about the direction taken by the next 20 years?” Included in the capsule—alongside non-tech items such as a chunk of the Berlin Wall, Prozac, and a Japanese luxury sedan—were a laptop (“more power in your lap than MIT’s biggest mainframe”), an Apple MessagePad (“hand-held devices are replacing secretaries”), and a cellular phone. Scanning my apartment, I can spot progeny of all three.

«

link to this extract

 


The web’s creator looks to reinvent it • The New York Times

Quentin Hardy:

»“It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites — that completely undermines the spirit of helping people create.”

So on Tuesday, Mr. Berners-Lee gathered in San Francisco with other top computer scientists — including Brewster Kahle, head of the nonprofit Internet Archive and an internet activist — to discuss a new phase for the web.

Today, the World Wide Web has become a system that is often subject to control by governments and corporations. Countries like China can block certain web pages from their citizens, and cloud services like Amazon Web Services hold powerful sway. So what might happen, the computer scientists posited, if they could harness newer technologies — like the software used for digital currencies, or the technology of peer-to-peer music sharing — to create a more decentralized web with more privacy, less government and corporate control, and a level of permanence and reliability?

«

I feel like I’ve heard this song before; file under “nice idea”. Berners-Lee is a big name, but getting a new technology to proliferate is much easier when there are barely any users of the rivals than when it has been established for decades.
link to this extract

 


Yahoo lines up bids for about 3,000 patents • WSJ

Douglas Macmillan and Dana Mattioli:

»Yahoo Inc. has kicked off an auction for a portfolio of about 3,000 patents expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

In recent weeks, the internet company sent letters to a range of potential buyers for the patents, which date back to Yahoo’s initial public offering in 1996 and include its original search technology, one of the people said.

Yahoo has set a mid-June deadline for preliminary bids, this person said, and hired Black Stone IP, a boutique investment bank that specializes in patent sales, to run the auction.

«

Meanwhile the auction for the core of Yahoo looks like it will go to Verizon for $3bn. Will the last person to leave Yahoo sell the light bulb?
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Fire Phone, two years later: Yes, a few people are still using Amazon’s ill-fated smartphone • GeekWire

Monica Nickelsburg:

»In the summer of 2015, Don Driscoll, an associate professor of physics at Kent State University, was ready to renew his Amazon Prime membership. He noticed Amazon’s Fire Phone was on sale for $130 and included a year of Prime. He decided to purchase the phone — which only cost $30 more than an annual Prime subscription — as a backup.

Later, when his LG Leon screen cracked, he switched to the Fire Phone and has been using it ever since.

“Why am I still using the Fire Phone? I guess I am just a cheapskate,” he said. “My family has stayed with T-Mobile for so long despite numerous coverage issues because it is cheap…The only thing stopping me from getting a new phone is cost.”

«

Neat idea to search out these users. Doesn’t stop it being a brick that gradually heated up, though.
link to this extract

 


The Fiksu acquisition in four words: ‘it’s tough out there’ • AdExchanger

Allison Schiff and Sarah Sluis:

»In early 2015, Fiksu claimed a $100 million run rate for 2014, was reportedly planning to go public and said it was gearing up to nearly double its headcount to 500. But by March 2015 those plans had fizzled. The company scrapped its IPO dreams and announced that it would be laying off 10% of its existing 260-person workforce. (Headcount today stands at 119.)

The borrowed cash seems to have created a problem. As business slowed, the money went toward keeping the company afloat rather than sustaining growth.

In the end, Bridge Bank essentially owned Fiksu’s assets at the time of the sale to Noosphere, which bought Fiksu directly from Bridge Bank. Essentially, the bank had called in its loan and the result was what one source called an “ugly bank takeover.”

Fiksu declined to comment on specifics other than to say that it disputes this version of events.

Fiksu’s acquisition is “a symptom of companies in the space that have raised a lot of money and there is an investor community pressuring them for an exit or next steps,” said Kochava’s Manning.

«

Essentially it seems to be an “incentivised installs” company which ran aground; the app install market is facing a crunch.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

One thought on “Start up: the world in 2045, Apple’s App Store revamp, Magic Leap’s hat show, app downloads pause, and more

  1. “So what might happen, the computer scientists posited, if they could harness newer technologies …”

    As I put it: (sarcasm) This time, for sure!

    I find it extremely disheartening. I don’t want to be arrogant, as these are smart people. But it seems to me there’s far too little deep examination of what went wrong in the net-evangelism dream, versus retreading it for the next cycle of hype. There’s a recursive problem, in that politically, it’s much easier to be a hypester than to do the sort of analysis that doesn’t come to comfortable conclusions.

    Basically, if the only thing that gets rewarded is click-bait, that tends to product click-bait analysis of why it’s all click-bait.

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