Round the clock, something is happening in the digital sphere and it is my duty to bring every single bit of the current experience to your screen.
Google’s Toontastic storytelling app for kids goes 3D
Two years ago, Google bought Launchpad Toys, the company behind the popular Toontastic kids app for IOS that allows you — whether you are a kid or not — to easily tell your stories through animations.
Google is launching the first major new version of Toontastic since it acquired the company. With this update, Toontastic is going 3D, though not in the first-person shooter kind of way. Both the backgrounds and characters are now 3D objects, but you still move your characters around in what is essentially a 2D space.
Image Courtesy: YOUTUBE
That’s probably for the better, because this keeps things simple. To get started, you simply pick how many acts you want your story to have, either from three presets (which also includes a “science report” option that’s surely more fun than a PowerPoint presentation) or by building your own story arc.
Then it’s off to selecting either a pre-designed setting or drawing your own background. The advantage of the eight pre-made backgrounds is that they include plenty of background animations that you can easily trigger with a simple tap.
Image Courtesy: Daily sun.com
After that, you pick your characters (and you can also draw your own, of course) and start animating your story by moving the characters around and doing the voiceovers as you do so.
One feature that especially stands out in Toontastic 3D —is the addition of expansive and interactive world that kids can set their stories in. If you see anything in the background that you think should be interactive, chances are you can activate it with a tap. Just like the original app, the team plans to add new characters and backgrounds over time.
Opera launches Neon, a new experimental desktop browser
Browsers have gotten boring. After a flurry of innovation, especially around the time Google launched Chrome, things slowed down over the last few years.
We’ve seen a few interesting experiments, mostly from smaller players like Yandex, Brave and Vivaldi, but the largest players have pretty much stuck to their script.
Image Courtesy: page design web
Opera, which was sold to a consortium of Chinese companies last year, is now doing its part to mix things up with the launch of Opera Neon, an experimental desktop browser for Windows and Mac that tries to re-imagine what a modern browser should look like.
The moment you open Neon, you’ll notice that this is not your average browser. There is no task bar or bookmarks bar (though the team kept the concept of the URL bar alive).
Image Courtesy: colabyte
Instead of having tabs at the top, you get round bubbles on the right. It automatically grabs your desktop’s background image and uses that as the background image of your new tabs page.
There is also a sidebar on the left that lets you control audio and video playback (which you can also pop out so you can watch it even while you’re surfing in other tabs). This same sidebar also features a screenshot tool and access to your recent downloads.
Image Courtesy: quora
For those of you with very large and wide screens, Opera Neon also allows you to place two browser tabs side-by-side within the same window similar to the split-screen view on IOS or Android.
Twitter to live stream Trump’s inauguration
Twitter will be streaming Donald Trump’s inauguration for the top political job in the U.S. starting at 11 AM ET on Friday, January 20 in partnership with PBS NewsHour.
The feed will be available on Twitter apps, and at inauguration.twitter.com. Trump’s official office-taking event has been the subject of a lot of attention in the lead-up to the day.
Facebook previews journalism features like digests and subscription trials
Between fake news and publishers struggling to keep a loyal connection to their readers, Facebook’s relationship with the journalism business is a bit strained right now.
Facebook is revealed its road map of upcoming news features that it calls “The Facebook Journalism Project” to make its commitment to the industry clear.
Image Courtesy: Recode
These future launches include digest packages of instant articles to which users can subscribe, free trials for paid subscriptions, hackathons with publishers’ development teams, additional Facebook tutorials for journalists, PSAs to promote news literacy and combat misunderstanding of fake news and more work to prevent hoaxes from spreading.
Facebook is also now giving away access to CrowdTangle, the journalism tool startup it acquired that helps reporters sift through trends, measure their social posts and identify sources and influencers.
Plus, for the first time, journalists who post from their standard user profile will be able to see basic analytics on the videos they share, like a stripped-down version of the insights tool offered to Facebook Pages.
This initiative could assist publishers with fostering lasting relationships with readers outside of Facebook and avoid getting lost in the feeds.
Meanwhile, it could help them build new products and open access to tools that aid their teams, while educating the public on how to be good news readers.
Most importantly, the Facebook Journalism Project could help prevent publishers from being commodities such that all that matters is the content people consume on Facebook, not who wrote it.
Apple is already winning the wireless market with AirPods
Despite delays, Apple’s AirPods had a great holiday season according to a new report on wireless headphone online spending over the past several weeks.
The report from Slice Intelligence–which collects its data from hundreds of millions of anonymized e-receipts–found that the $159 AirPods have accounted for more than a quarter of all online wireless headphones revenue since pre-orders for the product launched on December 13.
Image Courtesy: Digital trend
The report also finds that the AirPods pre-order launch was the biggest day for online headphone sales of the year, outpacing sales on Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
A major part of this is no doubt related to the fact that the headphones had a pretty limited launch in retail stores due to low supply caused by manufacturing delays.
Apple already had a major presence in the wireless headphone market previous to the AirPods launch thanks to various wireless models of the company’s Beats headphones.
Image Courtesy: airpodsshop
The Slice data shows that in 2015 and 2016, around 24 percent (%) of wireless headphones sold online were Beats-branded.
Slice claims that nearly 75% of headphones purchases bought online this holiday season were of the wireless variety. The AirPods are some of the most polished wireless earbud solution currently available and are actually a bit cheaper than most options, though they’re still quite expensive.
Instagram Stories hits 150M daily users in the digital sphere
Instagram Stories now have as many users as the last number announced by Snapchat, the app Instagram copied. And it’s swiftly moving to monetize that massive audience. Along with the new 150 million daily user statistics,
Instagram announced the launch of ads mixed into Stories. The un-clickable five-second photo and 15-second video ads appear between different people’s stories and can be easily skipped.
Image Courtesy: medium
Instagram will also provide business accounts with analytics on the reach, impressions, replies and exits of their Stories.
Stories now have the same user count as Instagram’s feed did when it started showing ads in late 2013. It’s just that it took Instagram, now with 600 million monthly and 300 million daily users, three years to get there.
The new Story ads will eventually roll out globally on all interfaces, but will first be tested over the next few weeks with a group of 30 partners, including Capital One, General Motors, Nike and Netflix.
Image Courtesy: youtube
Just like user posts, ads can be either a photo lasting up to five seconds or a video lasting up to 15. Users either watch the ad to completion before it auto-advances to the next friend’s story, or they can swipe to skip it.
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