25 March, 2012



Instagram for Android is almost here: sign up for early access

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 08:25 PM PDT

After revealing that its much-anticipated Android app is coming soon, the hot photo sharing startup Instagram today launched a sign-up page for Android users to be “first in line” to receive the app.

At this point, it’s unclear what being at the front of the line will get you. We’re assuming it’ll be a beta release of the Instagram Android app that will come ahead of the app’s official release on Google Play.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom teased the crowd at the South by Southwest festival with the Android app (he apparently waved it on stage, like a photo app rock star). He also revealed that Instagram had reached 27 million users, a stunning figure given that it only launched about a year and a half ago, and is only available on iOS at the moment.

The company last week announced its first API partnership with Hipstamatic, which will allow the rival photo sharing app to send photos to Instagram (along with other social networks). The deal solidifies Instagram’s presence as a growing social network, and it’ll likely be the first of many such partnerships for the company.

I’ve tried plenty of photo sharing apps myself, but I always end up coming back to Instagram. It’s mostly due to the company’s strong community (if you have friends with iPhones, you’ll definitely find them on it),  but Instagram has also done a great job at honing its core photo sharing functionality. It’s simple — but most importantly, it’s freaking addictive.

Via The Next Web; Picture via Tim Van Damme

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Chevron sponsors green technology at CleanTech Open, invests in renewable energy

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 03:15 PM PDT

The CleanTech Open, a competition that helps launch new green tech companies, held its launch event Friday night at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. The event brought together nine clean tech companies to exhibit their products or clean tech services.

Chevron was a sponsor of the event and vice president of Chevron Technology Ventures, Jeffrey Jacobs, gave a speech. In 30 years, our energy demand will increase by 30 to 40 percent he told the crowd. In order to deal with the increasing demand, Chevron is investing in new energy technology. In the next few decades, renewable forms of energy will play an “extremely important role,” Jacobs said. This is the fourth year Chevron has sponsored the event.

“We need energy of all forms and we want people who have the core capabilities beyond our own to develop new energy solutions,” Jacobs told VentureBeat in an interview after his presentation, “We believe in all forms of energy, no matter where they come from.”

Chevron’s approach is unique for an oil company. While most of its competitors, such as Shell, are focused on oil and natural gas, Chevron is investing money in renewable energy technology. The company is also partnering with NASA to develop energy solutions that can be used on Earth and in space.

Since the CleanTech Open was hosted by NASA, there was a distinctive space theme. One company, called BioFiltro, developed a system that uses worms and microorganisms to turn raw sewage and waste into clean drinking water, technology it feels we’d need if we ever colonized Mars.

NASA also launched its Night Rover competition, asking entrepreneurs to develop technology to keep a lunar rover charged and running during the 14-day pitch black lunar night, when it can’t use solar energy.

Filed under: green, VentureBeat

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Hate the new Apple TV interface? So did Steve Jobs

Posted: 24 Mar 2012 12:25 PM PDT

Apple TV screen

A former Apple TV engineer has revealed that the user interface implemented in the device’s latest update was actually rejected by Steve Jobs five years ago — a potential sign that cracks are beginning to appear in Apple’s design dominance.

Former Apple TV engineer Michael Margolis mentioned yesterday on his Twitter account that “the new [Apple TV] homepage UI makes me cry.” He then went on to reveal the following: “Fun fact — those new designs were tossed out 5 years ago because SJ didn’t like them. Now there is nobody to say “no” to bad design.”

Apple released a software update for its second-generation Apple TV in early March to coincide with the release of a newer and more powerful model that can play 1080p HD video. The new user interface is heavy on glossy icons and has been criticized by Apple TV fanatics  since its release.

Update: Margolis later made it clear that it was the grid design Jobs was specifically referring to — not the glossy icon design.

Since Jobs’ passing, everyone has been looking for signs of missteps. (Our own Jolie O’Dell wrote an impassioned post about the new iPad launch event.) The Apple TV redesign seemed like yet another example of bad design making its way into a normally flawless company. Ultimately though, the design is less of a problem than Apple’s abysmal support of the Apple TV platform (Where are the third-party apps? Why did this upgrade take so long?!).

On Twitter, Margolis made it clear he didn’t think this was a dramatic failure for Apple: “The new Apple TV UI isn’t a sign of a doomed “post-SJ” Apple, it’s a logical next step given their desire to match the iOS home page.” He added that the new interface is particularly exciting since it’s “just begging for apps,” something the original design didn’t support. Margolis also noted that much of the Apple TV design outside of the homepage remains the same, “I think that’s a testament to how good it was,” he said.

Via Macgasm

Filed under: VentureBeat

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