The U.S. Army launched today an iPhone app and mobile website blogging platform aimed at engaging current and potential recruits. Named Army Strong Stories, both the iPhone app and the mobile website offer portable access to site content and allow users to share their own Army Strong story, post comments, and learn more about Army service and career opportunities.
“It is to the great advantage of the U.S. Army to keep current and equip our Soldiers with the latest technology to ensure they continue to share authentic stories about their daily lives in the Army,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general of U.S. Army Accessions Command. “The Army Strong Stories iPhone app and mobile website reinforce the Army’s ongoing commitment to embracing social media and new technology.”
The Army Strong Stories iPhone app and the mobile website features include the ability to upload written content, photos, and videos. More than 600 soldiers currently blog for Army Strong Stories. And with the release of the app and website, it will be even easier for soldiers to stay connected with their units, bases, fellow soldiers, friends, and families while out in the field.
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Pocket-lint posted an interesting story on augmented reality (AR) use in online retail and advertising. The technology that has been deemed a “gimmick” in the past is expected to bring in $1.5 billion in global revenues from AR applications by 2015. Advertising is now using AR to promote things from movies and cars to food and watches. The technology uses cameras and “augments” the user’s reality, whether it be their face or something their holding, and digitally alters it for the purposes of the product or application. See videos of AR in action for advertising and online retail after the cut.
The first Transformers movie used AR in their promotions. When someone ran the program and stepped in front of their web camera, the video would show the user with Optimus Prime’s head superimposed onto their own. Burger King used it as well in a promotion for their $1 burgers. You had to hold a piece of paper with a symbol on it, the program would recognize the symbol through the camera and the piece of paper would turn into a burger. You could move it around and even let you open the bun up to reveal the contents of the burger. Watch-maker, Tissot, did something similar where you print out a piece of paper and wear it like a watch, the program would recognize it and would place a virtual copy of the watch onto your wrist. You could choose whatever model or color watch and it would change instantly on your wrist and as you turned and rotated it.
Augmented Reality gives the user a much more interactive experience. While you aren’t really holding a burger or wearing a watch, it certainly is a closer experience to the real thing than any other form of advertisement can give you. Clothing shop retailers could use it to help customers find the right size or color for a piece of clothing, instead of buying multiple sizes and sending back the ones that don’t fit. This is a way for companies to engage the customers and even if they don’t actually buy the product, the experience of augmented reality will stick with them.
“What we’re trying to do with the worn-on-body applications is enable a real business functionality for it. It engages customers, it enables people to understand the product and therefore it enables them to take a step closer to purchasing the product as well,” says brand manager Lynn Murray at Holition, a creative technology agency responsible for Tissot’s campaign.
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Take a look at Mazda’s entry into the latest Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge. The design was created by Derik Jenkins, Tim Brown, Minyong Lee, Carlos Salaff, Jacques Flynn, Greg Lee, Paul Muzio, Dave Coleman, Julien Montousse. This most recent challenge was all about eco-friendliness and efficiency in a four passenger vehicle that could only weigh in at 1000 pounds. Mazda’s team came through the with a design they named the MX-0. It’s a 999 pound electric automobile that looks like it could cut you.
Mazda ‘s designers started with the frame of the MX-5 Miata. It’s already one of the lightest cars on the consumer market, but they took it a step further and cut weight everywhere weight could be cut. With the 1000 pound limit set in place for the design challenge, they were able to lighten parts throughout the entire design. Once they got the frame light enough, the weight savings cascaded naturally through the rest of the design. They married this lightened chassis to an array of powerful electric motors for the clean and earth-safe drive of tomorrow.
They stripped everything down and introduced cutting-edge composite materials to keep the weight as low as possible without sacrificing safety or style. Carlos Salaff, a senior designer at Mazda, mentioned the Baypreg® F sandwich, using recycled paper as the core. This isn’t a current use of recycled paper fibers, but it highlights a way to make this car even more eco-friendly should it come to showroom floors near you.
Check out the other designs from the LA Auto Show here.
[via Yanko Design]
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Mozilla will change the way they update their browser after the release of Firefox 4 and will take on a more Chrome-like release model. Mozilla has been releasing only major updates over the last six years while Google’s Chrome has already hit version 9 after only two years. With this final major release, Mozilla plans to do smaller, quicker releases as soon as new features are available rather than holding them back for a larger update.
“What we want to do is get the power into users’ hands more quickly,” says Mozilla VP of product, Jay Sullivan. He gives the example of the video tag, which was ready since June but has yet to be released to users and will be part of the Firefox 4 update. “We’re moving on web time now, and we’ve been shipping a little bit on desktop time. It’s not necessary, so we’re undergoing some process changes, and we’ll do smaller bundles more quickly.”
Google’s Chrome has taken up a large market share, pumping out a few key features almost every six weeks. They are already working now on Chrome 10 beta. Should Mozilla adapt this model, we’ll likely be seeing Firefox 5, 6, and 7 within the next year. Firefox 4 is currently on its 12th beta, with the Release Candidate version expected to arrive within a few weeks.
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Research In Motion just dropped a Beta version of an Analytics package for Blackberry Developers. This new SDK is going to add a number of features, behind-the-scenes. Developers can now analyze how users are actually using their apps statistically. This system allows developers to tailor their apps to their userbase over time based on a range of information collected. The SDK includes a web portal to help developers organize and view the information so they can make their design decisions with the actual user data in mind.
This is a very flexible package for developers. Devs are going to have access to basic analytics such as the number of times the users open and close the application, screen views, carriers, device models, and usage time. All of this is automatically provided in the basic implementation. This basic data gives developers the ability to plan their patches to focus on a real picture of their user base. The SDK gives developers the ability to track data on everything from media playback to custom triggers. With all of this data the developers can specifically track the way that users interact with their software. The SDK gives them a realtime look into the habits of their users.
What does this mean for the users? The Blackberry Apps that we know and love are only going to get better. Get at it Devs! Let’s see what you can do!
Grab more info on how you can participate in the Beta here: DevLog.
[via Inside Blackberry Developers Blog]
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DirecTV’s official iPad app is now available in the iTunes store for free. The app allows users to turn their iPads into a remote control for their DirecTV boxes. They can perform all the normal remote control functions as well as schedule their DVR schedules for recording shows. The app will let users check the listings up to 14 days in advance and schedule recordings without interrupting what they’re currently watching.
DirecTV’s app gives you more detailed information and customization over your programming like the cast names and parental ratings of shows. Or, you can follow your favorite sports teams and their schedules. The app has a customizable home screen with favorite channels and modules. You can select your favorite channels to show up first and see what’s playing, or find out the sports scores and events for your favorite team or league.
The only gripe so far is that the app does not let users stream content to their iPad like you can with the Slingbox. Users also cannot delete shows off the playlist. The app does work with HD DVRS on the home network.
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In an effort to provide pre-paid customers with an experience more similar to that of a postpaid contract customer, T-Mobile is doing away with their FlexPay plans and instituting a deposit system. The aim is to provide customers with poor or little credit to their names with an option that is more straightforward than FlexPay, a system that never really seemed to take off for the magenta carrier.
Depending on the result of a mandatory credit screen, customers will need to plop down a deposit ranging from $50 to $400 dollars. After this, the customer will receive many of the same perks as a postpaid customer, including handset subsidies. After 12 months of good standing, the customer can get their deposit back. Understanding that many customers may not want to run a credit check, T-Mobile will still provide pre-paid options as well.
Motorola’s Sanjay Jha might be gloating about Motorola’s desire to be among the first to offer Gingerbread upgrades and HTC may be dolling out timetables for the update coming to their handsets, but who would have thought that Samsung — the same Samsung that is still in the process of getting Android 2.2 Froyo on many of the Galaxy S handsets — would be the first to show us a leaked build of their official Android 2.3.2 ROM. That is what a thread over at XDA is reporting, anyway.
Along with a link to the ROM and its origina over at a Polish Android forum, the original poster Lorbas is claiming they have confirmation that this leak is the official working build of Gingerbread that will eventually grace the Galaxy S line of phones. We’ve been here before, and there is no telling when Samsung will actually get around to rolling this update out to current S handsets. Fingers crossed they have shaped up their act since Froyo, but we aren’t holding our breath.
[via XDA | Thanks, Andre Luz!]
More from Jha’s Investor Talk: Motorola Will Be Among First to Offer Gingerbread Upgrade, Google One of Moto’s Biggest Enterprise Customers
While news that the Motorola DROID BIONIC and other upcoming high-end devices from the manufacturer will get the same Webtop treatment as the newly released Atrix 4G might have been the juiciest bit of information to emerge from Sanjay Jha’s talk with investors at Stanley Morgan, a few smaller noteworthy points emerged.
The first concerns the path to Gingerbread upgrades for current Motorola handsets. While exact timeframes and specific devices were not discussed, Jha said that last year was an important in helping Moto hone their efforts in getting Android updates out in a timely fashion. He noted that Motorola was among the first to release Froyo upgrades, and plans to be among the first to release Gingerbread. We haven’t seen much news on this front recently, aside from a few pics of the Droid X with Gingerbread on board.
The other point of interest concerns Motorola’s attempts to win over an enterprise audience. While talking to investors about the measures Moto is taking to aid in device security, Jha mentioned some of the larger companies that have bought into Motorola hardware for business use. One of their biggest customers for the Motorola XOOM, he said, was Google. That may or may not mean many Google employees get a free XOOM to go along with their paychecks. Jealous.
If you have been looking into getting a NOOKcolor after all this talk of how easy it is to turn the e-reader into a full-fledged tablet with a bit of software tweaking, then your decision just got $50 easier. Through Barnes & Nobles eBay store, the NOOKcolor is being sold in conjunction with a coupon code that brings the e-reader’s price down from $249.99 to $199.99. Not bad, eh?
All you need to do is quickly make your way over to the eBay listing (before supplies run out or before 8AM PT on March 3rd, whichever comes first) and enter coupon code ‘CBARNESDD’ at checkout to save some strain on your wallet. Shipping is free. Jump on this one immediately.
[via eBay | Thanks, timmyjoe42]