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Apple set to buy Kinect technology for £185m

xBox Kinect

Microsoft xBox 360 – Kinect

Apple is set to drop £185m on Kinect-style technology, according to new reports.

Calcalist reports Apple is prepared to fork out $280 (£185) million for the company behind the sensor technology in the motion-detecting Kinect gaming accessory for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and forthcoming Xbox One.

Probably the most likely candidate in the Apple portfolio to be Kinect-ed up is Apple TV — or rather Apple’s long-rumoured reinvention of the humble telly. Inevitably — but problematically, at least in the UK — dubbed iTV, the hotly-anticipated Apple take on TV could be controlled by hand gestures if the buy goes ahead.

Israel-based company PrimeSense is involved in the sensor technology that powers the arm-flailing Kinect, which reads your movements and translates it into movement or control in the game you’re playing.

Microsoft was happy to license the technology from PrimeSense for Kinect, but Apple is having none of that carry-on. With a mountain of cash in the iVaults, Apple is set to fork out for the whole kit and caboodle instead.

If Apple does assimilate PrimeSense into the fruit-flavoured Cupertino collective, it’s unclear what that’ll mean for other companies licensing PrimeSense tech, such as Asus, iRobot and many more.

Source: CNET UK

Game: Google Brings Skeeball to Your Browser

Image courtesy of Google, Inc

Image courtesy of Google, Inc

Just in time for summer, Google is rolling out a modern twist on the classic boardwalk game Skeeball.

The game, called “Roll It,” can be played directly in your Chrome browser — and if you don’t already have Chrome, this is as good as an incentive as any to download it now.

To play, Chrome must be running on your computer or smartphone (any device which can access the browser should do actually). Visit Google Roll It on your desktop and g.co/rollit on your phone. Enter the code provided to sync the two. You’ll have the option of playing against yourself or others, and then can set the ball up to roll in any direction you choose.

Then the fun part starts: Stand up, wind back your arm and align your smartphone up with the computer screen. As though the mobile device is the ball, swing it toward the direction of the browser, just like you would in real-life skeeball. This will ultimately release a virtual ball on the desktop version and you’ll rack up points based on which bucket it lands in. So long, productivity. It’s been nice knowin’ ya.

Best viewed on Google Chrome for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Image courtesy of Google – Story by Mashable

Twitter Introduces Two-Step Authentication

Twitter has finally introduced two-factor authentication to more securely protect accounts, the company announced Wednesday.

The move comes after a number of hacks of high-profile Twitter accounts, including The Onion, the Associated Press and E! Online. Jim O’Leary from Twitter’s product security team announced the new feature via a blog post, saying it is in response to accounts “occasionally” being compromised by phishing schemes or password breaches on other sites.

Twitter is calling the new feature “login verification.” It works similarly to other two-factor authentication systems, especially Google’s: After the account holder logs into an account, Twitter will send a special code to the user via SMS text message that the person must enter to gain access to the account.

Users can enable login verification via their Twitter settings page. You’ll need both a confirmed email address and a verified phone number on your account to use the feature, and the system will send a test message to finish the activation.

Importantly, apps that you’ve linked to Twitter will continue to work “without disruption,” O’Leary wrote. For apps other than a browser that require you to log into Twitter, you’ll need a one-time password, available on Twitter’s application page (this is also similar to how Google two-factor authentication works).

Twitter built login verification out of its Twitter for SMS feature, which has been around almost since the service debuted. O’Leary says the work the company put into the new feature will enable more security enhancements in the future.

Calls for Twitter to introduce some kind of two-step verification service grew louder after account hacks became a frequent occurrence. Besides the companies mentioned earlier, the BBC, the Financial Times, Burger King and Donald Trump have all experienced Twitter hacks in recent months.

Currently it’s not available in UK/France

Update 25-May-13 10:54PM: This feature is now available in the United Kingdom, you will need to add a phone to your Twitter account to enable this feature.

YouTube introduces ultra-low bandwidth 144p video quality

YouTube videos are buffering all the time and you can only watch them a couple of seconds before they stop to buffer again? Or maybe the buffering takes ages and there is no apparent reason for that? This is usually the case when an Internet connection is not the most reliable one, or not fast at all but can also be because an Internet service provider is throttling the YouTube bandwidth artificially. Sometimes, it may also be because your ISP started to throttle your account, maybe because you passed a certain traffic threshold or because of other reasons.

YouTube introduced a new ultra-low bandwidth viewing option for select videos on the video hosting site. Up until now, videos were offered in qualities between 240p and 4k on the video hosting site with 320p being available on the site since the beginning.

If you have opened YouTube’s video quality menu recently you may have spotted a new 144p video quality option. Seen below from TheEllenShow.

144p (c) TheEllenShow - Shift It, Shift It in Forward

144p (c) TheEllenShow – Shift It, Shift It in Forward

The new quality level is not available for all videos and it is unclear if it will be made available for all, or if Google uses an algorithm of sorts to determine when to make it available. It is for instance possible that it is only enabled on videos that are requested by mobile users or low bandwidth users a lot. There has not been an official announcement of the feature so this is all guesswork right now.

The quality is not that great as you can imagine and only suitable if you are watching the video on a small screen, if you are only interested in the audio, or if you want to view the video no matter what and can’t get the other quality levels to play properly on the site.

It may be an option for the desktop as well because of this but make sure you play it in a player window that is appropriately sized as you will end up with an image quality level that is not the greatest. Still, the new option may be worth a shot for YouTube users who often experience playback issues on the site.

Google Is Retiring Its Meebo Bar On June 6 To Focus On Google+

Meebo's homepage as of December 2011.

Meebo’s homepage as of December 2011.

Google will retire the website widget service Meebo Bar just one year after buying the company that built it. Google bought Meebo on 4 June 2012 reportedly for $100m (£643k), before proceeding to strip away much of its functionality.

The advertising giant confirmed this in an early email this morning to all publishers saying it reason for scrapping the tool is to focus on its Google+ plugins.

It started as an instant-messaging service compatible with other web chat programs. It then evolved into the Meebo bar, which could be installed by webmasters along the tops of their sites and allowed visitors to easily share links with friends. It also slurped up data about people and used that to hit them with advertising.

Before Meebo’s demise, Google stripped away all its features until it only consisted of the Meebo bar with added Google+ capabilities.

It will be retired on 6 June, a few weeks before Google Reader is due to be scrapped, here is the email the advertising giant (Google) sent out this morning:

Dear Meebo Bar Publisher,

Five years ago, we launched the Meebo Bar to bring community, engagement, and revenue to publisher sites.

As part of the Google team, this continues to be our focus, but we want to best serve mobile and desktop publishers moving forward. Therefore, we have decided to focus our resources on initiatives like the recently launched Google+Sign-In (which includes interactive posts and over-the-air app installs) and the Google+ plug-ins.

This means we will retire the Meebo Bar, effective June 6, 2013.

Thank you for being a Meebo Bar publisher. We have truly appreciated the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,
Sandy, Seth, and the Meebo Team

Is it unclear what will happen to the “Sandy, Seth, and the Meebo Team”, who signed the statement, although it is possible they will be taken on by the advertising giant to create new features for It’s Google+ servicew.

Before Google bought Meebo, it was used by 100 million people a month, apparently.

Source: Email / https://www.meebo.com

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