Sunday, September 19, 2010

7 new stories on The Next Web today

7 new stories on The Next Web today

Link to The Next Web

Rumor: Facebook Is Forging Its Own Mobile Handset and OS

Posted: 19 Sep 2010 12:35 AM PDT

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is said to be building a mobile handset that will run its own mobile operating system.

Sources say the project has been undertaken to build on the success of the mobile Facebook apps but also to give the company complete control over how Facebook contacts and data is synced with a device.

It is believed that Facebook wil develop the OS whilst it contracts a third-party to build the hardware. This is nothing new, both Apple and Google do the same, although Apple has shifted its strategy lately so that it has more control over the manufacturing process.

A completely walled Facebook garden would allow for deep Facebook services integration throughout the mobile OS, something that is restricted on both iOS and Android.

The developers behind the project are said to be Joe Hewitt, the lead developer behind the original Facebook app, Firefox and Parakey, and Matthew Papakipos, one of the key figures behind the Chrome OS before leaving Google for Facebook.

At the moment, we have to label this as pure speculation. TechCrunch have a good history of nailing mobile developments, they called Google’s development of a new smartphone, the Nexus One, before it was officially confirmed.

Facebook has a fantastic suite of services, meaning a Facebook OS would be perfectly suited for teenagers and social networking addicts.

Think about it, you have a dedicated events calendar that could be synced to your device, friend’s birthdays would be available at a click of a button. Contacts, messages, even games could be synced to a device from the main Facebook website. As long as a potential Facebook phone doesn’t step into KIN territory, it would have a great chance at breaking the Google/Apple smartphone dominance.Image Credit

US School Replaces Textbooks With Kindles, Students Go Crazy

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 02:11 PM PDT

Clearwater High School is doing away with paper books, opting instead to hand out Kindles to the 2,000 students it educates. The pupils are reacting very positively so far to the change, signaling that for younger readers ebooks may be a feasible replacement now, not later.

According to a local news report, students received their Kindles at a assembly and took to them right away. In the hallways calls of “I’m about to go mess around with my Kindle,” and “did you get your Kindle yet” could be heard.

The students have thus far had few problems handling the technological shift: “It’s just like texting,” said one student in regards to note taking on the gadgets, “and everybody knows how to text.” Students also expressed positive remarks over the built in dictionary (helpful in comprehension), and text-to-voice which gives students a new way to consume textbooks.

“It will be a weight off my back literally” one student chimed in, noting that school textbooks can be very uncomfortable to carry in a backpack when more than three are required. At Clearwater High School some students have six hefty books to carry, making Kindle all the more attractive.

And of course, you can’t write in a Kindle spine or doodle cartoons in the index, much to the delight of librarians everywhere. Expect to see more schools pick up this idea in the coming months. Now that Kindles can run for as little as $139 retail, their mass purchase is a real possibility for even the most cash-strapped district.

Where was this when we were in High School?Image Credit, Source

Unofficial Google Voice app, GV Mobile +, officially gets Apple’s approval.

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 01:19 PM PDT

According to a post by Boy Genius Report and confirmed by tweets by the app’s creator, @seankovacs, GV Mobile + has been approved by Apple and is in the app store, ready for your download (not yet available for all according to some).

This is the second such app for Google Voice approved by Apple in as many days, after yesterday’s approval of GV Connect.

What can you expect from GV Mobile +?  According to the creator’s site, the app will feature this “short list” of items:


  • New graphics for the keypad
  • Internal favorites (Apple doesn't provide access to the iPhone Favorites)
  • Copy/Paste into keypad
  • Phone number recognition (when you type a number in your contacts, it shows the name)
  • Tones stay on when key held down
  • Delete button when held down keeps deleting


  • Full landscape support
  • Redesigned Reply/New SMS view
  • Copy SMS messages
  • Contact look-up when entering in name in the New SMS view
  • Action menu for each SMS which allows quick call back and adding person to iPhone contacts
  • Name look-up for SMS messages from a phone number (will cross reference your iPhone contacts for a name)


  • Action menu for each history entry which allows quick call back, SMS, and adding person to iPhone contacts
  • Full landscape support


  • Full landscape support
  • Transcriptions
  • Improved play bar (play/pause, scrubber, transcription toggle)
  • Action menu for each voice mail entry which allows quick call back, SMS, and adding person to iPhone contacts


  • Multiple accounts
  • Offline dialing (initiate a call without using data connection)
  • Data Sync (multiple methods)
  • Default Area Code (since GV requires 10 digit numbers, if set, you can still enter local number without entering the area code)
  • Open to Tab
  • Enable/Disable Do No Disturb
  • Change Call Screening settings
  • Enable/Disable Call Presentation

And more.

The real difference between the two apps from what we can decipher quickly, is the starting price, GV Connect and GV Mobile + are $2.99 regularly.  According to a tweet from the creator of GV Mobile +, the app will be free for users, for one night only, based on the occurrence of the following condition:

So, get your #gvmobile hashtags going and let’s get this app for free! Pick up the app here, again if not available for you now, it soon will be, or wait for it to reach free status, and let us know what you look forward to most with GV Mobile +.

Friday Night Lights: Foursquare had its biggest night ever last night

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 09:29 AM PDT

For all of those that thought that Facebook Places would kill every check-in startup out there – it ain’t happening, at least yet. In a tweet from the Foursquare Twitter account, this particular check-in startup announced that last night (a Friday night) was its biggest and most active night ever:

We’ve tweeted back at the NYC startup to see if they’ll provide some numbers, but most likely a lot of it has to do with the back-to-college set. Again, good move by Foursquare to go after that super-important demographic.

Is Sprint the sleeping giant in the race for best US mobile carrier?

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 09:28 AM PDT

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with some really great Android devices from both Verizon and Sprint. Before that, our own @jffcrmr had his own turn with a Samsung Galaxy S phone on AT&T’s network. In having nearly identical phones, side by side, we’ve been given a unique opportunity to really look in depth at the US mobile carriers and to see what’s going on.

Of course, any time that you talk about mobile carriers in the US, you’re going to raise some eyebrows. People are fiercely dedicated or staunchly uncaring about who they pay their monthly bill to. In the US, often times, it becomes a “lesser of two evils” decision that nobody wants to make but everybody seems required to do.

You’ll notice, of course, that I didn’t include T-Mobile into this article. The reason being? Despite my own numerous attempts to review T-Mobile devices, nobody from the company has so much as lifted a finger to get in touch with us. So there’s your shot, T-Mo. You can reach our Mobile editor, Matt, by emailing

While this doesn’t involve the phones themselves, it also does in a roundabout way. In order to talk about the networks, you have to talk about the devices that run on them. However, for the most part, this is a few minutes that we’ll spend talking about the state of wireless in the US.


Verizon loves to talk about its network, and truth be told, it is widely recognized as the largest-spreading 3G network in the United States. There is simply no denying that. The problem, however, is exactly that. It is the widest-spread 3G network and 3G CDMA is a dying breed of limited bandwidth both here and in the rest of the world.

At present, there are only rumors and a couple of choice pieces of information about Verizon rolling out an LTE/4G network, and we can’t seem to pry much information out of them. Does Verizon need an immediate rollout of LTE in order to survive? No. But in order to set the pace for the rest of the carriers in the US, it absolutely has to do something and it has to be done quickly.


Facing facts, if AT&T didn’t play home to the iPhone, the carrier would likely be struggling to stay in business. Stories of their absymal service and poor customer care abound. However, let’s bear in mind that old blue is still one of only two GSM carriers in the US and as such holds a fair amount of power to sway the industry moving forward.

With Windows Phone 7 just around the corner, and initially only rolling out to GSM providers, that leaves only T-Mobile as a carrier choice in the US. It will be interesting to see how much muscle Apple will flex in order to keep a Microsoft-branded product off of the network with the iPhone, but AT&T itself doesn’t have a lot of bargaining power in this particular case.


I have to admit to being more than pleasantly surprised by Sprint – I was actually floored. When their communications people reached out to TNW and offered to let us take a look at their new 4G Galaxy S phone, that was great. When it hit my doorstep and I was told that I should enable 4G on the phone as it was being tested in my backyard, I was blown away.

Here’s the fact – at present, Sprint is the only 4G carrier in the US. Sure, Verizon plans on LTE (which is a different animal than 4G, mind you), but so far all we have are rumored date “ranges” of fall 2010…and not a word about devices yet.

Then let’s talk price. Data on Sprint’s 4G phones will run a $10/month premium, on top of your monthly data plan, but even with that it’s still cheaper than anything Verizon or AT&T has managed to do. Sprint’s unlimited (as long as you’re calling mobile devices) talk, text and data plan will run you $70/month, with an additional $10/month for a 4G device. The only cap? 5GB/month of transfer over 3G.

Oh yes, and then there’s the fact that 4G data is truly unlimited. Yes, I mean you can download terabytes of information style unlimited.

I’m told that the speed test results that I experienced from my house are on the high end of the spectrum, as I easily pushed past 6mbit/sec. on almost every test. However, even if you’re only getting the low end average of 3mbit/sec., it’s still a game-changing experience on a mobile device.

Who Wins?

The question of who wins still comes down, primarily, to what you want. If you want an iPhone in the United States, then AT&T is your only (non-jailbroken) choice. If you want an Android device, you can shop any carrier. If you want 4G, then Sprint is the clear winner. If you’re holding out for Windows Phone 7…then you probably shouldn’t have bothered reading this.

Now, before I get called a Sprint fanboy, mind you that I’m a happy Verizon customer, with a Motorola Droid that I love. But even I can see the forest through the trees. Verizon has a rough road ahead of it when it comes to LTE, and big red continues to make really poor choices regarding the software on its Android phones.

So there’s the wrap-up. If you want the current best service in the US, you need to see if Sprint 4G is available in your area. If it is, you will not be disappointed. If you want the best 3G coverage, then Verizon is still your hands-down winner…but the market is shifting faster than VZW wants to move.

GeekStyle: No Answer is Also an Answer

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 09:16 AM PDT


Welcome to GeekStyle, a column that discusses the ins and outs of geek fashion. (Also read the previous GeekStyle) We are here to help you answer your style questions and provide you with some practical tips on what’s hip (and What is Not), for geeks.

First up, The Tip of the Week:

This weeks tip is about hats. Once upon a time no gentlemen could do without. You owned a suit, smoked cigarettes and wore hats. Those were the days that girls were still gals or dols and men were tough. Somewhere along the line we lost the necessity to wear hats. What happened? Why did we once needed hats and can now generally do without? Is it raining less? Does hairgel have anything to do with it? It is as much a mystery to us as it is to you. Fact is: wearing a hat these days puts you in the minority and that means any hat is also a statement: I wear a hat and I don’t care about your opinion!

So, as the stubborn and egotistical geeks we are it is perfectly fine to wear a hat. You can either go for the basebal cap adorned with buttons (don’t wear it backwards though!) or the comfortable fishing hat. Don’t wear a branded hat that says ‘Got it for free at a conference’ but invest in something high quality.

Don’t use it to mask your balding head! If you are balding just get it over with and shave the head.

Got no hair at all? Wear any hat you want!

Now, onto readers questions.

Our first question is by Ernst-Jan Pfauth who recently published his first book and is now bombarded with fanmail. He asks us “How do you deal with all those emails from people wanting to have lunch of coffee with you?”

You know what your inbox really is don’t you? It is a todo list that other people can fill. And they will. Relentlessly. Everybody expects you to reply to your email, and within a few hours too. You could do that, but it will drive you crazy.

My advice: learn to say no. Saying no is hard so consider this: imagine if you would email Bill Gates or Steve Jobs today with a request for lunch together. “Hey Steve/Bill, how about we get together for lunch next week to see how we can work together. I’m sure we can find something that will be beneficial to both of us”.

What will happen you think? Right, you won’t ever hear back from either of them, and thats fine. No answer is also an answer.

So remember this; if someone asks you a questions you can’t answer, or ask you for a favor you don’t want to fulfill, or suggest a meeting you don’t want to attend, feel free to just ignore it. Sure, some people will think you are arrogant and some others will assume an error on your part and email again. But over time they too will understand that No Answer is also An Answer.

Read the previous GeekStyle if you can’t get enough!

Yes, we do questions every week! Have a geek style question you want to have answered? Don’t want to bother your mother? Or maybe you have ‘a friend’ with an issue that needs answering? Just email GeekStyle or leave a comment.

Illustrations by Kiersten Essenpreis from for Feel free to display the images on your own websites and blogs but please do link back to this post.

In Shock Move, Google Starts Advertising On Facebook

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 06:36 AM PDT

We all know about the impending social war that is brewing up between Facebook and Google but today it has taken an interesting turn with Google starting to pay Facebook for advertising space on their platform to advertise their browser Google Chrome.

It’s clear that Google are on a massive push to acquire users for it’s browser in it’s battle with Firefox, Safari and IE and although I have seen adverts for Chrome in all sorts of innovative places the last place in the world I expected to see them was on Facebook. I wonder how Microsoft (an investor in Facebook with a strategic partnership) feels about these ads given they would be one of the main competitors in the browser wars.

I’d have to think that this is a bit of a PR blunder from Google and I’m also surprised that the ads were approved by Facebook but I guess the only way of looking at it is that Facebook reckons Google’s money is any good as anybody’s. I guess the logic from Google’s point of view is that they want to target a whole new audience and like the fact that they can target these ads by region and demographic which is why Facebook is as attractive a proposition as it is. If you can’t beat em join em!

Social gaming sensation Moshi Monsters breaks into the real world

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 04:46 AM PDT

Moshi Monsters, children’s social gaming brainchild of London-based Mind Candy‘s Michael Acton Smith, made some major announcements this week.

Moshi Monsters has until now been completely online, allowing kids to nuture their monster and build them a home. Though anyone can join (and around 1/3 of children in the UK between 6 and 12 have created a Moshi monster), they need to pay to unlock features of the site and to buy virtual goods. Though Mind Candy is very careful about the environment for children, one major flaw is that parents still need to supply credit card details in order to unlock the extra features.

Moshi went commercial in Jan 2009 and have been growing ever since (now they’re achieving 20% month on month growth). As of this Wednesday, they had 27 million players worldwide, with 32% in the US, 30% in the UK and the rest of the world accounting for 38%. Mind Candy says is is signing someone up every second of every day.

Moshi enters the real world

Mind Candy is launching a range of Moshi Monsters products in the real world to complement its on-line presence, though the first new product is still digital.

Moshi Mouth.Off: An iPhone app that allows the user to select one of six monsters. The app displays the mouth of the monster and when the user holds the iPhone in front of their face and talks, the monster lip-syncs. It’s being released on Sept 24th.

Moshi Bandz: Moshi are joining the Silly Bandz craze which has taken the US by storm and releasing Moshi Bandz. There are 56 styles in 11 colours (when not worn, they form into the outline of a Moshi Monster). There will also be rare ‘silver bandz’ and even rarer ‘gold bandz’. They’ll be available on Oct 30th.

Moshi Gift Pack: These are being released on Nov 12th in US, UK and Australia and will cost £19.99 / $29.99 and contain a 3 month membership for the purchaser, a plush Moshi Monster toy, Moshi Bandz, postcards and stickers and the clever bit, “friendship cards” which buyers can give to their friends and they get 3 days free membership to the on-line Moshi world. Now your kids push Moshi to their friends. Also since these are available in retail outlets, credit cards aren’t required to purchase, so hard-earned pocket money can now go to Mind Candy directly.

Monstar: This is a Moshi Monster magazine which will be released towards the end of the year. It’s print-on-demand, so a user orders it online and it will be delivered to their door anywhere in the world.

Moshi Video Game: Another in-house development from Moshi expected to be available for Nintendo DS/3DS in Q4 2011, it will work stand-alone and online.

These products complement Mind Candy’s existing relationship with Penguin, who are set to publish a range of Moshi books. Most of the above products are being financed and developed in-house, but the rewards are potentially huge as the children’s market is massive.

Mind Candy is poised to become a big worldwide player, successfully winning both the online and retail markets with each feeding the other.

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