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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dating apps on the rise



So, a lady walks into a bar...Wait, scratch that. A lady takes out her phone. With a left swipe of her finger she dismisses Alex, 25 and Robert, 48. She swipes right when a photo of James, 24, pops up. It's a match. James had swiped right too. They chat, and make plans to meet. They're only three miles apart, after all.

Welcome to the new world of dating. As the near—constant use of smartphones proliferates and as people grow more comfortable with disclosing their location, a new class of mobile dating applications is emerging that spans a range as broad as human desire itself. Millennials, busy with school, jobs and social lives, say the apps save time and let users filter out the undesirables, based on a few photos, words and Facebook connections. Unlike the dating websites of yore, with endless profiles to browse and lengthy messages to compose, newer apps offer a sense of immediacy and simplicity that in many ways harkens back to the good old days of just walking up to a pretty stranger and making small talk.

As with potential mates, there's an array to choose from.

ChristianMingle will "find God's match for you." Hinge's promise hinges on its ability to hook you up with friends of friends. Coffee Meets Bagel, meanwhile, will present you with just one potential mate at noon every day. Dattch, with a Pinterest—like interface, is for women seeking women. For men looking for men, there's Grindr, Jack'd, Scruff, Boyahoy and many more. Revealer will let you hear a person's voice and only show photos if you're both interested.

The darling dating app du jour is Tinder, helped by its simple interface, a host of celebrity users and a popularity boost from Sochi Olympic athletes who used it to hook up during the Winter Games.

Tinder, like many dating apps, requires people to log in using their Facebook profiles, which users say adds a certain level of trust. Facebook, after all, is built on knowing people's real identities. Your Tinder photos are your Facebook photos. Users can reject or accept potential mates with a left or right swipe of their finger. If both people swipe right on Tinder, the app flashes "It's a match!" and the pair can exchange messages.

Because messages can only come from a person you've "right—swiped," unwanted advances are filtered out. The system avoids one of the more vexing problems of older—generation dating websites, where users, especially women, can become inundated with messages from unwelcome suitors. They also offer a generation raised on Google and social media a chance to do background checks on potential mates.

"If you are in a bar and a guy comes to talk to you, you are immediately going to be freaked out and you don't want to talk to them because they are drunk," says Melissa Ellard, 23, who uses Hinge and says she wouldn't have gone on a date in the past six months were it not for the app. "When you are using the app, you get to look at their picture and see background information. You get to decide whether you want to continue it or not. When I meet someone, I want to know everything about them before I go on a date with them."

While they are still new, dating apps — used for anything from one—night—stands to serious dating, and even finding new friends while traveling — are emerging as the use of older dating websites is moving into the mainstream. A recent Pew study found that some 9% of US adults say they've used dating sites or mobile dating apps, up from 3% in 2008. Of those who are "single and looking," the number jumps to 38%, according to the 2013 survey. The crowd trends slightly younger, with the largest group of users between 25 and 44. Clearly, many people have grown comfortable with online dating just as they have with shopping, banking and booking travel over the Internet.

Cue the cries of "the lost art of courtship" and the "rise of hookup culture" from older generations, who harbor selective memories of the more analog hookup culture of their youth.

"There is a general digital fear," says Glenn Platt, professor of interactive media studies at Miami University. "People are happy to giggle and watch Barney in 'How I Met Your Mother" hook up with people based on looks. But somehow taking that same behavior and placing it in a digital context has a stigma attached to it. Even though in that context you are more likely to get a better match, more information, a person's real name."

Even Facebook is getting in on the action, from a more platonic angle. Last month, the world's biggest online social network launched a feature called "nearby friends," which lets users see which of their Facebook friends are near them at any given moment.

Despite the growing acceptance, the online and app—based dating markethttp://cdncache-a.akamaihd.net/items/it/img/arrow-10x10.png is small. Research firm IBIS World estimates that the dating services industry will hit $2.2 billion in revenue this year. Internet conglomerate IAC/InteractiveCorp has the biggest chunk of the market with a 27% share. The New York company owns traditional dating sites such as OKCupid, Match.com and Chemistry.com, as well as Tinder. IAC has a market value of just $5.2 billion, less than a third of Twitter's.

Jared Fliesler, general partner at the venture capital fund Matrix Partners, believes companies have only just begun to tap into people's willingness to "pay" to find love, a phenomenon that extends well beyond dating apps. After all, he points out, singles already spend lots of moneyhttp://cdncache-a.akamaihd.net/items/it/img/arrow-10x10.png on texts, calls, drinks, food, gifts and everything else associated with the dating game.

"Despite it being a slightly difficult category in which to raise venture fundinghttp://cdncache-a.akamaihd.net/items/it/img/arrow-10x10.png, consumers spend more time, money, and mental energy on trying to find love than pretty much anything in life, and the desire to be loved is universal," says Fliesler. "So there will always be demand."

Creators of some of the more ambitious apps say they have their sights set beyond romantic matchmaking to what they call "social discovery," helping people meet business connections, new friends while traveling or moving to a new city. Tinder's co—founder, Justin Mateen, insists that his creation is not a hookup app and wasn't created to facilitate one—night stands.

Just don't tell that to Tinder users.

"I used Tinder before I found out about Hinge and it was creep central, it was just weird," says Ellard, who lives outside Boston, runs a startup, works in jewelry sales and has a fashion radio segment. "I used it for a few months but instead of looking for someone it was more like a funny joke," she says.

For some, though, Tinder can be liberating. Platt says the app "equalizes gender power," and notes that he hears as many of his female students talk about it as male ones.

"Everyone has the same finger and ability to click," he says. "It's not like the guy buys the drink."

Jenny Lewin, 21, a student of Platt's who's an intern at San Francisco—based Coffee Meets Bagel, thinks it's inevitable that as dating apps enter the mainstream, they will become more accepted and people will be more open about using them.

"I think a lot of people say that our generation doesn't know how to talk to people face to face, that we don't know how to communicate, which I totally disagree with," says Lewin. "I would be much more likely to click a 'heart' on Tinder or a 'like' on Coffee Meets Bagel to say I am interested in a guy than to walk up to him and say I am interested."

Apple may introduce ARM-based Mac models soon



The rumour of Apple launching ARM processor-based Macs is back. According to a news report by French website MacBidouille, the Cupertino giant is testing ARM-powered Mac hardware which will also feature a Magic trackpad built into the keyboard of the device. Apple is also said to be working with an ARM-compatible version of OS X, its desktop operating system.

The report, citing sources familiar with the development, claims that the company is working on three new machines including an iMac and Mac mini and a 13-inch MacBook, most likely a MacBook Air.

It mentions that iMac and notebook will both have "4 or 8" quad-core Arm 64 processors, while the Mac mini will have 4 ARM 64 processor with four cores.

The report suggests that the devices are almost ready but Apple is keeping them under wraps because it fears the transition of architecture may have a negative effect.

Apple uses its own ARM processors for the iPhone and iPad devices with its iOS operating system but making the switch to ARM-based computers may involve changes to its desktop OS or use of an emulation layer.

It's not the first time that Apple desktops will switch to chips of a different architecture. In 2005, Apple had switched from its proprietary PowerPC processors to Intel's x86 chips. As a result, users had to rely on emulation layer Rosetta to enable PowerPC apps/programmes to run on Intel-based Mac computers till developers introduced native Intel versions of their programmes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Apple sends invite for 'iPad mini launch

Apple has sent out invites for an event next Tuesday, where it's expected to announce the release of a smaller iPad.

The invite, sent to reporters Tuesday, doesn't hint at what will be revealed, beyond saying that "We've got a little more to show you." The event will be held in San Jose, California.

Media and analysts have said for months that Apple has an " iPad mini" in the works. The tablet is thought to be about half the size of the regular iPad and to start at $249 or $299. The regular iPad starts at $499 for the most recent models.

Apple founder Steve Jobs derided the idea of a smaller tablet two years ago, but Amazon.com has had some success with its Kindle Fire, which is about half the size of the iPad and starts at $159. Analysts believe Apple wants to tackle that competition with its own similarly sized tablet.

Reports suggest that the smaller iPad would have a screen that's 7.8 inches on the diagonal, a bit more than the Kindle Fire or Google's Nexus, with their 7-inch screens. The full-size iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, giving it about twice the display area as the 7-inch units.

Apple typically starts selling a new phone or iPad a week or two after announcing it. But it could treat the new iPad as a minor product update, in which case it could start selling it right after the announcement.

Apple shares rose $14.02, or 2.2 per cent, to $648.78 in midday trading Tuesday. The shares are off their all-time high of $705.07, hit September 21 when the iPhone 5 went on sale in stores.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

QR Code-based app to scan and pay for goods 

Sainsbury's supermarket is testing a new app that allows shoppers to use their mobile phone to scan and pay for your goods without having to unload your trolley.

The new Scan 'n' Go app is being tested at stores in Tadley, Hants, Clerkenwell in central London and Bethnal Green, East London.

It allows users to bag their shopping up as they walk around the store and pay for them at a self-checkout counter without having to unload, the Daily Mail reported.

The innovative programme even directs customers around the store according to the items on their shopping list potentially saving even more time.

The customer logs in by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code, when they arrive.

They then scan the QR codes on packaging or on the shelf next to the price information.

Loose items like fruit and vegetables are weighed on scales, and a QR code is printed out which can be scanned by the app.

A learning function monitors spending habits and flashes up special offers depending on the shopper's whereabouts in the store.

Critics suggest the system will enable supermarkets to cut back on staff and effectively spy on their customers by monitoring their spending habits.

But Sainbury's describes the system as a third option and insist they are not planning to phase out manned or self-service tills.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samsung launching Galaxy S III Mini on Oct 11?

Samsung Germany has sent invites for an upcoming device being launched on October 11, 2012. The invite says "So big can be small and so small can be big" and "Get ready for a little sensation" in German, with the characteristic 'S' of its flagship Galaxy S series in the background.

This hints that the South Korean manufacturer will probably launch a small device at the event. Speculation is rife that the company will roll out a smaller version of its current flagship, the Galaxy S III, currently being called the Galaxy S III Mini. Rumours say that the smartphone will be powered by Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with Samsung's TouchWiz UI and will feature a 4-inch touchscreen and a dual-core processor.

If such a phone is, in fact, launched, it will be a decent alternative for those who want a smartphone with a 4-inch screen (same as the new iPhone 5). Considering that Samsung's current 4-inch Android smartphone, the Galaxy S Advance, has not been updated to Ice Cream Sandwich, it is possible that the Galaxy S III Mini will take its place, though there is no confirmation yet.

The Samsung event follows the launch of iPhone 5 and the device to be launched there is expected to go on sale before the beginning of the holiday season. This strategy will help the company lap up sales during the crucial holiday season.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gets $70 million pay package

New Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's compensation package could total more than $70 million in salary, bonuses, restricted stock and stock options over five years, according to a regulatory filing made by the company Thursday.

Mayer's pay package is made up of $1 million in annual salary, as much as $2 million in an annual bonus, and $42 million in stock options and other awards, as well as $14 million in "make whole restricted options" for forfeiture of compensation from Google.

Also, by including some stock grants, Mayer could earn up to a total of $20 million a year, or up to $100 million over five years, a Yahoo spokeswoman told Reuters.

As the first female Google engineer and one of its earliest employees, Mayer's net worth is already estimated to be as much as $300 million.

Yahoo's hiring of Mayer as CEO from Google earlier this week caught analysts and investors by surprise. Mayer, 37, edged out presumed front-runner and acting CEO Ross Levinsohn to become Yahoo's third CEO in a year.

Industry observers believe Mayer's selection over Levinsohn is a signal that Yahoo is likely to renew its focus on Web technology and products rather than beefing up online content.

Her appointment caps a tumultuous year at Yahoo. In May, Scott Thompson resigned as CEO after less than 6 months in the job after a controversy over his academic credentials. Thompson replaced the controversial Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to revitalize Yahoo.

Thompson's total compensation at hire was valued at $27 million. He got no severance but was able to keep the $7 million in compensation he got for leaving Paypal. Bartz got more than $10 million in severance when she was fired last year.

New broom
A self-described "geek" with a master's degree in computer science from Stanford, Mayer started as CEO on Tuesday, the same day Yahoo announced weak financial results, with flat net revenue and a slight decline in second-quarter profit.

Although she was on the company's sprawling Sunnyvale, Calif, campus, she did not participate in its earnings call. Levinsohn was also absent from the call, which was led by Yahoo's Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse.

Mayer joins Yahoo as something of a celebrity, having already established herself as one of Silicon Valley's leading women, both inside and outside of the office. She is known for her love of fashion and regularly appears on the society pages for hosting parties.

In 2009 she married real estate investor Zachary Bogue --Mayer tweeted that the couple expects their first child, a boy, in October.

Despite its leadership upheaval, Yahoo remains one of the world's most popular websites, with more than 700 million monthly visitors, according to the company.

But revenue growth has stalled amid an industry wide decline in online display advertising prices and competition from Facebook and Google.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Samsung allowed to sell Galaxy Tab in US after court lifts ban


A US court removed a temporary sales ban against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy Tab 10.1 won by Apple Inc in a patent dispute, allowing the South Korean company to sell the product in the United States.

While the Galaxy 10.1 is an older model, the lifting of the ban could still help Samsung in the run-up to the pivotal holiday shopping season.

"We are pleased with the court's action today, which vindicates our position that there was no infringement of Apple's design patent and that an injunction was not called for," Samsung said in a statement.

Separately, Samsung filed a motion against Apple saying the iPhone 5 had infringed on some of the company's patents.

The world's top two smartphone makers are locked in patent disputes in 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative market.

The legal fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in multiple countries, and Samsung countersued.

The injunction on the Galaxy tablet had been put in place ahead of a month-long trial that pitted the iPhone maker against Samsung in a closely watched legal battle that ended in August with a victory for Apple on many of its patent violation claims.

However, the jury found that Samsung had not violated the patent that was the basis for the tablet injunction and Samsung argued the sales ban should be lifted.

The sole basis for the preliminary injunction no longer exists since the jury found that Samsung's Galaxy Tab had not violated Apple's D'889 patent.

"The court does not agree with Apple that Samsung's motion for dissolution of the June 26 preliminary injunction cannot be fairly decided without resolving Apple's post-trial motions," Judge Lucy Koh said in her ruling.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular US business hours.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.