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Updated: 9 sec ago

The rise and rise of developer evangelism in Europe

32 min 12 sec ago

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Martyn Davies, Developer Evangelist at SendGrid.

Up until three years ago, developer evangelists weren’t really on anyone’s radar. Indeed, even a year ago, when tech advocate Courtney Boyd Myers documented the daily lives of developer evangelists in North America, awareness of these hacker-hustlers in Europe was still relatively low.

Fast-forward fourteen months and while developer evangelism is not exactly mass-market in Europe, there has been some serious growth.

At the moment, most developer evangelists in Europe represent US companies. However, the number of European companies with strong developer evangelism cultures, such as Pusher and SoundCloud, is growing rapidly. Companies like Facebook, Stripe, Twilio and many others are all hiring, making the market increasingly competitive. Those of us who are already developer evangelists have seen a substantial increase in the amount of LinkedIn approaches and recruitment emails we receive.

There are a few reasons for this increase in demand:

  1. The cross between developer support and marketing has always been necessary when launching a technical product or service, but it’s just been the “thing you do.” So while technical evangelism has always existed, now it has a name and an increasingly recognisable one at that.
  2. The European startup scene is exploding. More companies, particularly in the SaaS and PaaS space, means a greater need for developer evangelists. It’s as simple as that.
  3. Suddenly being a developer evangelist has a certain cachet. People are waking up to the fact that it’s a highly attractive job that guarantees huge variety and often lots of travel. The jobs are so appealing that we’re even starting to see companies use the job title to hire for roles that aren’t really evangelist ones.
  4. It’s not a job for life. Most developer evangelists go so hard on the road that after around 18 months, they’re ready to take it back a notch and move on, either to other engineering roles in the company or to start their own. Churn is a factor.

But though demand is high, good candidates are hard to find. Developer evangelists need to have a diverse set of skills that include community management, development, engineering, events, tech support and product management. An ideal candidate must also have speaking experience, a flexible travel schedule and a high-energy personality. Not so easy, is it?

What does this mean for companies looking to hire?

All this may have you thinking that you need to hire an evangelist of your own. If your company is developer-focused and is looking for some personal marketing outreach and relationship-building, a developer evangelist will certainly be useful to you. Grassroots marketing through developer evangelism is a great way to test the waters and gather early-stage feedback from the people who matter most: developers.

In fact, some companies think it’s so important that they make their whole team into evangelists. Iron.io in the US is a perfect example. The San Francisco-based startup has publicly stated that everyone in the company is an API evangelist. All team members monitor their public chat and have direct interactions with users so they can better understand the public pain points.

If you do make the decision to hire, there are a couple of good ways to do it, beyond the usual job advert:

  1. The community is pretty small in Europe, so a good reference from any other evangelist in the community will usually be a safe bet given we’re all looking out for the same skills. That said, we’re seeing a lot of new people coming through the ranks and hope to see even more in the future.
  2. Hackathons are a pretty good place to look for evangelist candidates. You can gauge genuine interest and see who is using your APIs or product in a cool way. Inviting possible hires along to one can also serve as a trial run.
This sounds interesting, where do I sign up?

It should be pretty clear by this stage that developer evangelism is a hot space to get into right now if you’re both community-minded and a developer at the core.

As previously stated however, the mix of skills required for a developer evangelist means that the bar has been set pretty high. Brandon West, also at SendGrid, has blogged about the similarities between being an evangelist and being a founder.

However, if you’re a jack of all trades who thinks that a combination of developer / marketing / community / product (and a good bit of travel) sounds appealing, then think about what services you love to work with and see if they’re looking for a developer evangelist.

There is no limit to the amount of networking, travel and knowledge sharing you can experience as a developer evangelist. It’s worth noting that the developer evangelism role, particularly in a new territory, can make you something of a lone wolf at times. Developer evangelists are often the first hire in a new territory for launch or expansion.

With that said, there’s a lot of exciting collaboration. Most of us in the industry know each other and are not competing on product, so partnerships around events and meetups and just general swapping of ideas, tips and support are commonplace. It’s like having a lot of colleagues on your team who all work for other people.

With all of these relationships that you’ll build, you find that it’s helpful to speak fluent “developer.” Getting the message right with a developer audience the first time can make or break a service. You’re not there to sell but to introduce your product, show possibilities, and to get people excited about the technologies. An endless appetite for innovation is also key—the more you tinker and test, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll be able to share with your fellow developers.

So what are you waiting for?

In short, the rise of developer evangelism is a sign of new jobs, new investment and new growth in Europe. There’s a rocket ship taking off here and it’s time to grab a seat – the opportunities are out there.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Categories: Facebook

9 tools to help you measure mobile analytics

3 hours 31 min ago

Measuring your startup’s Web analytics seems complicated enough. But with the rise of mobile-only users and visitors, there’s an added layer of complexity for startups to consider.

To figure out which tools are robust enough to handle both, I asked a panel of 9 successful entrepreneurs the following question:

Are you actively measuring mobile analytics? What tools or resources are helping your company analyze mobile vs. overall analytics?

Their answers are below:

1. Segment.io

We use Segment.io so that we can track analytics in a number of tools: Google Analytics, Mixpanel and KISSmetrics. We only have to implement the tracking of events on time from a development perspective this way. We tend to use Mixpanel to segment out the difference in usage between native mobile and Web browser usage across our user base.

- Danny Boice, Speek

 

2. TestFlight

We use TestFlight’s analytics package to monitor a variety of core mobile behaviors. This varies drastically from what we do on the website.

- Adam Lieb, Duxter

 

3. Google Analytics

With recent improvements to Google Analytics’ filters and segments, we no longer have any reason to use any other analytics program to track where visitors are coming from and what devices they’re using. For instance, you can filter mobile devices or go one step further and see who is using a tablet because Google Analytics now takes screen size into consideration.

Additionally, manufacturer model and marketing names have become available, so you’ll know exactly who is using an iPhone and who prefers Android. Using both filters and segments allows you to compare mobile to overall visitors.

- Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery

 

4. Localytics

There is no substitute for Localytics when trying to turn your mobile data into information that will drive your business.

- Brennan White, Watchtower

 

5. Geckoboard

For a while now, we’ve been using Geckoboard for monitoring a wide variety of analytics. One of our favorites is to monitor sign-up conversion rates from mobile. Although desktop users still sign up three to four times more than those browsing with mobile devices (especially true with smartphones), this trend is changing fast.

By tweaking our mobile experience and monitoring in real time how that affects our conversion rates, we are now able to understand much better which works and which does not.

- Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

 

6. Mixpanel

At DJZ, we use Mixpanel to track all of our mobile analytics. The formulas and segmentation reports afford an incredibly detailed and granular view of the data.

The ‘people’ function allows you to send push notifications to your users based on actions they have taken within the app. Their customer service representatives are not only highly responsive but also incredibly well versed in best practices for Web and mobile metrics. We learned a lot from them!

- Michael Simpson, DJZ

 

7. Mobile App Tracking

The best tool we’ve used to measure mobile marketing efforts is Mobile App Tracking by the HasOffers team. It offers a view of mobile marketing across channels and was the only tool that helped offer a clear end-to-end conversion funnel.

- Eric Koester, DCI

 

8. Contextual Information

Mobile is a top trend in e-commerce, but companies can’t lose sight of how it fits with overall customer engagement. Mobile can be a source of sales or just a first touchpoint. Some companies need a dedicated app. Others require a mobile-optimized version of the main site.

Retailers with a lot of mobile sales should look at transaction conversion rates for mobile versus other segments. If mobile is lower, which aspect of the shopping experience is being lost? If higher, test which aspects of the mobile experience might be effective on more traditional segments.

- Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners

9. Clicky

All website analytics sites have shortcomings. I have found that setting up conversion goals in both Clicky and Google Analytics provides you with a robust set of tools that can bring powerful insights into your mobile versus Web performance. Don’t rely on any one analytics program. A second opinion is almost always necessary prior to acting on any information you discern.

- Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors

 

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched  #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Categories: Facebook

Being a manager doesn’t make you a leader

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 9:50pm

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Ilya Pozin, the founder of Ciplex, and a columnist on entrepreneurship and marketing.

It’s a myth that managers and leaders are the same thing.

While every leader may not be a manager, every manager should be a leader. A manager who lacks effective leadership traits will drive a business into the ground faster than you can count to 10.

Going from manager to leader isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time and energy to improve the way you manage and utilize more leadership characteristics on a daily basis.

Here are some statements to lead by:

Managers give answers, leaders ask questions.

Shouting orders at your staff will turn them against you. Instead, ask your employees this: “What would you do?” or “What do you think of this idea?”

By allowing people to participate in the decision-making process, you’ll transform what could have been an order into something more easily swallowed. This type of questioning will also inspire creativity, motivation, and autonomy in your staff.

Managers criticize mistakes, leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly.

Pointing out your employees’ mistakes directly will only leave them feeling embarrassed and frustrated. Effective leaders give their employees the chance to learn and grow letting them address their mistakes themselves.

For example, say a project was sent to a client and you receive a disgruntled message in return. Calmly ask your employee about the clients’ concern and whether they feel what was provided was on par. This gives them a chance to provide input and understand what needs to be improved for the future.

Managers rarely praise, leaders reward even the smallest improvement.

Praise is a must when it comes to effective leadership. Finding time to recognize your employees for even the smallest accomplishment will only increase their interest in what they do. Providing regular feedback and recognition is certain to show your employees you genuinely appreciate their efforts.

Managers focus on the bad, leaders emphasize the good.

This really comes down to seeing the cup half empty or half full. Only tuning into the flaws of a project or an employee doesn’t leave room for learning or improvement. Become a stronger leader by creating a sandwich effect: Start with some form of praise, follow with the criticism, and end with praise.

Managers want credit, leaders credit their teams.

Poor managers are always the first to take credit for positive praise; effective leaders understand the importance of crediting their team for the big wins. This pays off in the long run by establishing a more positive company culture where employees are driven toward more successes as a team.

Management shouldn’t be approach through force, but rather through influence. Start improving your management style by injecting more leadership into it.

As a manager, do you ask questions instead of giving answers?

Image credit: Thinkstock

Categories: Facebook

Google releases factory images and binaries for new Nexus 7, seemingly ending dispute with Qualcomm

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 7:13pm

Google has finally published the factory images for its new Nexus 7 tablet, just days after the employee responsible for managing the images quit the role over an apparent dispute with chip-maker Qualcomm (which appears to have been resolved.)

Factory images and the accompanying binaries are important resources since they provide a reference to restore Nexus tablets and smartphones to their original (“factory” stage) state. They are used by those who like to tweak the Android software on their devices, and need a back-up when customization goes wrong and a device refuses to boot.

Now owners of the 2013-version of the Nexus 7, which is codenamed ‘razor’ and launched in the US last month, can modify the device to their heart’s content safe in the knowledge that there are resources to fix issues they encounter.

The images are finally available here on the Android developers site — via this Hacker News post – but the release of them was significantly delayed, as Android Police pointed out earlier this week, and that hinted at some issues.

Jean-Baptiste Quéru, the Google staffer who looks after Android factory image software, quit the responsibility earlier this week, as GigaOm reports, due to the delay and what appeared to be some politics behind it.

In a post on Google+, Quéru said:

There’s no point being the maintainer of an Operating System that can’t boot to the home screen on its flagship device for lack of GPU support, especially when I’m getting the blame for something that I don’t have authority to fix myself and that I had anticipated and escalated more than 6 months ahead.

The device in question is (almost certainly) the new Nexus 7, but it is unclear exactly what kind of problems kept Google and Qualcomm, the company that develop’s the GPU for the device, from releasing the images. With the issue attracting press this week, it is good to see a resolution has been found in order to serve Nexus 7 owners.

However, the issue appears to have cost the Android community since Quéru — who is well-respected by developers — will no longer be involved in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

After news of his decision to quit AOSP got out and Android fans began placing the blame on Qualcomm, Quéru expressed his disappointment that many were planning to boycott Qualcomm products in protest.

It’s not clear whether he will return to his AOSP role now that the images are public. His initial post suggested there were some deep issues behind his decision, which would make an about-turn unlikely.

Categories: Facebook

All Apple Developer Center services are now back online

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 5:53pm

Apple began to bring its Developer Center back online late last month following an 8-day outage, and today that three-week process is completed and all of its developer-focused services are back up and running again.

Existing members have had an additional month of access added to their accounts to compensate for the downtime, as 9toMac reports.

Apple initially took the site down without communicating the change, though it eventually notified developers that it was overhauling its systems after an intrusion. A system status tool was introduced as one of the changes, and it shows that all services are now back online.

➤ All Developer Center services back online, members receiving one month extension for downtime [9to5Mac]

Headline image via Justin Sullivan / AFP / Getty Images

Categories: Facebook

The 5 best strategy board games on the iPad

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 3:42pm

When Apple first announced the iPad in 2010, the potential use for digital tabletop gaming was one of the first things that stood out to me. It took developers a couple years to get on board with fulfilling that potential, but many of the most popular games now have excellent iPad version. Here are my five favorites:

Eclipse

When you consider the fact that the physical Eclipse board game costs $64 on Amazon and takes forever to set up, the iPad edition is an incredible deal. Developer Big Daddy’s Creations went the extra mile with the game by creating an intuitive interface and staying consistent with the space theme.

Eclipse is a difficult game to learn on one’s own, but the app has a solid tutorial to explain the basics. It’s enough to get you playing, but you’ll want to read up on some strategy if you’re hoping to actually win.

Up to six humans and/or AI can play either locally or online. Finding a game online might be a challenge, though. When I went to create one, there were only three other players online.

➤ Eclipse: App Store ($6.99, 158MB) | Physical version

Caylus

Caylus is another game that I prefer playing on the iPad than in real life. Games tend to go faster on the tablet, and I find the interface makes it easier to keep track of that pesky Provost.

Another bonus is the fact that Caylus is a universal app for iOS, so you can also play on the iPhone. Local games take a combination of five humans and AI players. Technically you should be able to play online, but the app refused to recognize my iPad’s Internet connection.

➤ Caylus: App Store ($4.99, 114MB) | Physical version

Le Havre

Le Havre, also a universal app, has some fun with the French harbor setting. Up to five can play at a time, and online multiplayer is available, but the Game Center integration can be a bit slow updating moves, so it’s better at playing a game out over a few days than in one sitting.

The app includes both the long and short versions of the game and works well in either bite-sized chunks or extended sessions.

The layout of the Le Havre board on the iPad feels a bit cramped, though, so this isn’t an exact substitute for the real thing.

➤ Le Havre: App Store ( $4.99, 153MB) | Physical version

Stone Age

Stone Age actually arrived first on iPhone before going universal earlier this year. This is also a game that I prefer to play on iOS as opposed to in real life, as it moves a lot faster without having to manually roll dice and collect resources.

The game supports two to four human and AI players, and works locally or online. Pass and play is a bit touchy since some of the cards and scoring are kept track of in secret, but you can make it work.

➤ Stone Age: App Store ($6.99, 85.8MB) | Physical version

Catan HD

In the world of board games, Settlers of Catan is a bit old hat, but the iPad version did get back into the game. The Cities and Knights and Seafarers expansions cost $4.99 each, though a simple Lite version is available with the basic game. With the expansion purchases included, Catan HD is one of the more expensive apps on this list.

The game comes with an interesting campaign version that includes various board setups. The story animations get old, but it should keep you occupied for a few hours.

Sadly, Catan has yet to add an online version, but the developer has promised future updates. Don’t hold your breath, though, as the app’s most recent update was August 2012.

➤ Settlers of Catan: App Store ($4.99, 88.8MB) | Physical version

Bonus round: Monopoly

The single most notable thing about the Monopoly iPad app is that it actually plays by the rules. Adding in the rarely used auction rules changes the game significantly by adding new strategic dynamics. For those hoping to recreate their custom childhood versions, the game does allow you to select some house rules, such as starting properties, lower hotel limits and money from free parking.

➤ App Store ($6.99, 221MB) | Physical version

They almost made it

There were a few other games that almost made the list, but I decided to leave them off because they’re either old and haven’t been updated recently or sub-par implementations that don’t match or exceed the physical versions. Here are some of the runners-up: Neuroshima Hex, Puerto Rico, Small World and Ra.

What are your favorite board games on the iPad?

Header image credit: Oli Scarff / Getty Images

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Categories: Facebook

13 ways to master UX testing for your startup

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 12:00pm

Perfecting your product’s user experience (UX) means creating something that people truly enjoy using, be it an app, gadget or multifaceted service.

Look no further than below and you’ll find a list of 13 excellent UX tips from startups like Square, Path, Uber and more.

1) Embrace guerilla usability testing

“Many startups don’t test their product at all or only after release because they fear it would be too expensive and would take too long. The truth is that with guerilla usability testing, it can be done quickly and with minimal costs.

Once you’ve defined which user tasks should be tested, start developing low fidelity paper prototypes. It’s a fantastic way to validate your ideas by using just pen and paper. When you have your paper prototype, step out of your office, find people who are at least similar to your target users and begin testing! Don’t wait too long until your first session; start as soon as you have your first design idea!”

- Nadav Poraz, Founder, WhoSampled

2) Add Google Analytics events everywhere

“One thing that every startup should implement is tracking how customers are using their interface.

By firing events on every action, you can get metrics that track Call-to-Action buttons and compare their performance to find out which one can be optimized.

You can also generate funnels to see customer retention and discover where they exit the website.

I used A/B testing with event tracking with RefurbMe in the beginning. The idea is to set up two different landing pages, show them randomly and find out which one performs better from the analytics.”

- Mohammed Elalj, CEO, Refurb.me

3) Define your product goals first

“One of the most important practices in UX design is actually done before the UX design process even starts. Defining the goals and values of the product that you would like to build is the key driver for a results-driven process.

Naturally, there are different kinds of product goals, e.g.: fulfilling a certain business model, forming a habit, creating a behavioral change or owning an experience.

Writing down goals before the UX process starts will help you set the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), keep your team focused and save lot’s of debate, time and energy.

At Tawkon we’ve developed a culture of precisely articulating our goals for every new product and feature we intend to develop, and apply Lean UX as a working process to get a tangible product and test with the market as quickly as possible.”

- Ori Goshen, Co-Founder & VP R&D, Tawkon

4) Get feedback early on

“Even before determining product market fit, it’s important to get early validation and feedback. Show the website or app to any and everyone.

Craigslist can be a great source of independent, unbiased users. Even approaching people in a bar can give you good perspective. For just the price of a pint, most people will be happy to give your app a whirl. If someone doesn’t grok it after a beer or two, chances are it’s too complicated.

Once an app starts to scale, user research should grow more formal. As usage increases, let user analytics demonstrate problem areas where effort should be focused. Ultimately, while big changes need to come from intuition, optimization of an interface or flow should include a structured experimentation framework.”

- Jamie Davidson, VP of Product, HotelTonight

5) Use tools to monitor user interaction

“UX has been driving purchasing decisions since trades in ancient civilizations all the way through to that café just around the corner. UX is how your customers interact with you, it’s how they perceive you, and it’s what motivates them to refer and return.

At Needle, we use 5 different tools to keep a constant eye on how users interact with our platform. We watch them use it through screen capturing (Inspectlet), we investigate heat maps to identify points of interests (Crazy Egg), we dig deep into individual actions on a per-user level to process usage patterns (Mixpanel), we step back to analyze behaviors on a macro scale (Google Analytics), and A/B test everything we implement (Optimizely).”

- Michael Cheng, Cofounder, Needle

6) Use a 3-step approach for your qualitative user interview

  1. Recruit: Find a low-barrier way of recruiting users so that you can habitually conduct interviews and usability tests. At Coursera, we ask students to sign up if they want to be contacted for feedback — and the response has been great.
  2. Connect and Document: Choose a method to conduct interviews that is most comfortable for the user. For remote interviews, use Skype or Google Hangouts, or set them up with software like Quicktime or Camtasia if they’d rather give feedback on their own time. Make sure to capture not only their screen, but also their voice and face. All of this will be helpful for drawing insights later.
  3. Synthesize: Be open to surprises! Proactively interpret the user’s behavior and comments, rather than mechanically react to every suggestion. After all, you are the one that holds the vision for your product.

- Minjeong Kim, Product Designer, Coursera

7) Simplify

“When it comes to UX testing, we learned to start with the idea of a user in your worst case scenario — someone who knows nothing about your product, is distracted when they onboard, has bad cell reception, etc. By watching that person use and fumble through your product (or even just imagining them using it), you can quickly identify areas where the app is not simple, clear or fast enough.

With Rithm, we made a commitment to make simplicity our top priority from day 1, and filtered every wireframe and piece of copy through these questions: Is it simple enough? and Is there anything we could do to make it simpler?”

- Jesse Dallal, Cofounder, Rithm

8) Get your app into a usable state

“The most important thing for any of our apps is to get them into a usable state as quickly as possible. With Clear, we had a basic prototype built and in use by the Realmac team in the space of a few weeks. This wasn’t just a prototype that we used in the office — we used it every day with live data around supermarkets, etc., to see how things actually worked. E.g.: was the swipe threshold too strict or loose, how did the app work when used single-handedly?

The same process applied for our newest app on the Mac: Ember. You only start finding gripes with user-flows and interactions by using an app all-day, everyday.

Getting to the point at which you can start using it all-day obviously takes a little more work that a basic idea-validation-prototype, but once you find that point with each product, that’s when you can really get to work refining things.”

- Nik Fletcher, Product Manager, Realmac Software

9) Test early, test often

“Do it early and often. When we are building products at Uber, usability and visual design helps shape the product’s story. Testing at different stages helps us refine the story by uncovering user motivations, behaviors, as well as validating the assumptions we make during the creation process.

User testing doesn’t have to be lengthy, complicated or formal. The important thing to remember is to stop, validate and refine. When we were re-imagining the Uber app, we performed a lot of informal testing by asking family, friends, colleagues to perform specific tasks for key scenarios. From signing up and requesting a car to adding/removing a credit card, we were able to surface user motivations and behaviors by asking them to talk through what they saw and expected as they navigated through the experience.”

- Shalin Amin, Head of Experience Design, Uber

10) Don’t make your designs static

“Iterate. The beauty of the web is that it changes; it’s not static. So our designs shouldn’t be static. The best testing is when you solve a problem to the best of your ability, ship it, gather feedback and watch how it’s used, and then iterate accordingly.”

- Jason VanLue, Lead Designer of Codeschool, Envy Labs

11) Stay focused and trust your intuition

“Having a tight feedback loop while building your product is key to iterating and moving quickly. For most startups, including Path, one of the most efficient and practical ways to get feedback is by testing rapidly amongst close friends, family and employees.

We treat user testing as one of many signals for making decisions. When building, it’s important to remember what specific problem you’re setting out to solve. Trust your intuition: early on, it’s especially important when larger decisions are so fragile and easily swayed. Remember that you can’t build something that pleases everyone: trying to do so normally results in a weaker, confusing release. Stay focused on the use-case you want to nail and be merciless on getting it right. The smallest details can be the difference between a product that delights and one that confuses.”

- Danny Trinh, Product Designer, Path

12) Use lean UX principles

“Here at Hailo we’re lucky enough to have the expertise (and desire) to utilize truly ‘lean’ product principles. That means connecting with your users early with features and ideas to learn — quickly — if you’re likely to add true customer and business value, before you’ve invested dramatic amounts of time and money in development. Implicit in that is an acceptance that you often launch with a minimum viable product that isn’t feature-rich. It takes time (and some guts) to adopt this process, but the rewards are immediate. I’m consistently amazed how few companies truly practice this process.

Hailo is undergoing pretty dramatic growth right now (we’ve launched in three new cities in almost as many weeks), with many more to come in the coming months, and some truly ambitious goals for 2014. That obviously brings complexity as we need to understand the needs of a growing number of customers globally. The only way we can do this is to ensure we’re consistently interacting with our users, testing and learning so we’re laser focused on an approach that combines a rapid speed to market with testing and learning. Success really is about understanding what works, and what doesn’t, as quickly as possible.

What does that mean practically? It means iterating designs via a series of prototypes, numerous times a week in numerous locations, before moving the result of those tests into a series of MVPs via an AB testing framework. We ‘kill or continue’ on the basis of those results. It’s a process of continuous improvement and we’ll iterate the process as necessary. But it works for us and we’re pretty happy with the results.”

- Jonathan Moore, Head of Product, Hailo

13) Test every possible scenario on a new build

“When releasing a new product or update, every detail matters. You must have rigorous, detail-oriented testing processes across teams to test every possible scenario on a new build. At Square, we recreate the merchant and consumer experience internally by using Square Register and accepting Square Wallet at the Square Coffee Bar and Square Kitchen. Almost daily, these locations are receiving a new beta build.”

- The Square Team

Have more advice to share? Please let us know in the comments!

 

Categories: Facebook

Elysium Space will launch your loved ones’ ashes into orbit for $2,000

Sat, 10/08/2013 - 2:20am

An ex-NASA engineer has launched Elysium Space, a new startup with the goal of sending spacecraft into orbit with the ashes of the deceased. Loved ones back on Planet Earth will then be able to monitor the location of the ashes from an app.

A spot on the first “memorial spaceflight”, which is expected to take off next summer, costs $1,990. Customers receive a kit with a metal capsule for storing the ashes and can attend the launch if so desired. The Elysium Space app is currently available on Google Play and an iPhone version is coming soon.

This isn’t the first such service – Celestis has been offering the service for over a decade. However, Elysium Space founder Thomas Civeit is putting his NASA experience to work at making it more affordable. By comparison, Celestis’s Earth orbit service costs at least $4,995, though the company does offer a $995 flight that goes up into zero-gravity and comes back down.

The timing of Elysium Space’s public launch is curious, as it coincides with the theatrical release of the unrelated film Elysium. Civeit asserts that’s a coincidence, as he chose the name two years ago as a reference to the Greek afterlife.

So far, the space burial industry has appealed mostly to public figures, such as astronaut Gordon Cooper, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and actor James Doohan (“Scotty” from the original Star Trek). For his part, Civeit says the market research he’s done suggests strong consumer demand for the service.

Time will tell whether said demand translates into actual capsule sales, but if it does, the sky’s the limit for this startup.

➤ Elysium Space

Image credit: iStockphoto

Categories: Facebook

The Pirate Bay turns 10 years old: ‘We really didn’t think we’d make it this far’

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 11:15pm

The Pirate Bay, arguably the most resilient file sharing website, was first founded on August 9, 2003, although it didn’t launch until September 15, 2003. Nevertheless, the group considers the former date to be its start, so today The Pirate Bay is 10 years old.

When it first arrived on the scene (pun not intended), The Pirate Bay was powered by just four Linux servers. Since then, it has fought back against multiple raids, legal problems, service issues, DDoS attacks, ISP blocks, domain seizures, and has thus moved its servers all over the world.

In January 2008, Swedish prosecutors filed charges against the four founders for facilitating illegal downloading of copyrighted material. In February 2009, they were put on trial and in April 2009, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundströmwere were found guilty by the court, which sentenced them to a year in prison with a fine of 30 million SEK (approximately $3.5 million that year).

All four appealed the verdict, and in November 2010 the court shortened the prison sentences, but increased damages. In February 2012, the Supreme Court of Sweden refused to hear an appeal in the case.

As a result of the court case, ISPs have been ordered by governments around the world to block access to The Pirate Bay. Unsurprisingly, proxies have been to provide access to the site regardless.

Here’s the group’s triumphant blog post, typos and all:

Oh look, we made it.

A decade of agression, repression and lulz.

We really didn’t think we’d make it this far. Not because of cops, mafiaa or corrupt politicians. But because we thought that we’d eventually be to old for this shit. But hey, running this ship makes us feel young.

And we’re gonna stay young til we die.

Thank you for everything. We would not be anything without you.

Tomorrow, The Pirate Bay plans to throw a party in Stockholm to celebrate its decade-long existence.

See also – You can now download the whole of The Pirate Bay in one 90MB file and Canadian government accidentally sponsors The Pirate Bay, blames Yahoo for the mistake

Top Image Credit: RAWKU5

Categories: Facebook

Apple wins import ban against Samsung in final ITC ruling

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 10:27pm

Apple has succeeded in winning an import ban against Samsung after the US International Trade Commission issued a final ruling that found Samsung to have infringed on two patents, as noted by FOSS Patents.

The final ruling was originally scheduled to arrive last week, but it was pushed back to August 9th. The patents in question are a software interface patent, which Apple refers to as the “Steve Jobs patent”, and a hardware patent for detecting when a headset is plugged in.

The ruling will undergo a 60-day presidential review before taking effect. Earlier this week, President Obama vetoed an ITC ban that Samsung had won against Apple. Samsung has already prepared workarounds for the technologies in question, but there’s no guarantee that the steps it took will prove sufficient once the injunction is active.

Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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The next Xbox 360 system update will replace Microsoft Points with local currency

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 10:16pm

Microsoft today announced the next Xbox 360 update will feature local currency. That’s right: Microsoft Points are finally going away.

The move has been a long time coming. While gamers have been hoping for the move for months, if not years, Microsoft finally confirmed the change during its E3 press conference in June, more than seven years after the console launched.

“This change was a direct result of customer feedback,” Marc Whitten, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer for Xbox, said in a statement. “You told us you want to be able to buy things using money instead of points, and we listened.”

Yet the company wouldn’t say when exactly local currency options would arrive, and technically it still hasn’t. All we know is that whenever you update your Xbox 360 next (probably sometime this fall), Microsoft Points will be gone.

After the update, when you go to buy something or want to redeem Microsoft Points, you will receive an amount of currency “equal to or greater than the Xbox Marketplace value of your Microsoft Points.” The same goes for Points earned through Xbox Live Rewards: those will remain in your Xbox Live account and transition to local currency automatically.

Item prices will be expressed in your local currency, meaning you don’t need to calculate what an item costs, and you’ll be able to directly purchase content from Xbox stores using any current form of payment available in their region, including credit cards.

Starting in “late 2013,” you’ll also be able to buy new Xbox Gift Cards (also denominated in your local currency) through Microsoft’s online retailers and in local retail stores, which can in turn be added to Microsoft accounts. As for Microsoft Points Cards and codes, the company says it will continue to accept them “until further notice.”

Xbox One consoles will of course ship with local currency out-of-the-box.

See also – Microsoft’s Xbox 360 holds onto its US console sales crown for 30 consecutive months, moving 140k units in June and Microsoft finally gets specific about Xbox One’s internet connection, used games policy and Kinect privacy

Top Image Credit: Microsoft

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Obama reveals new spy reforms: better oversight of secret courts, adds independent review committee

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 8:24pm

US President Barack Obama held a press conference on Friday to talk about sweeping reforms to be made following revelations of the National Security Agency’s Prism surveillance program. These new measures are intended to “increase transparency and restore public trust” in the government’s activities.

Four new measures

The president says that while as commander-in-chief, he has a duty to protect the security of the country. But it’s not enough for him to have confidence in the security program, the public must as well. In light of recent public leaks of the government’s programs, he has consulted with his national security team and others to reform the system. With that, he has unveiled four new steps to reform the system:

Work with Congress on the part of the Patriot Act on how they collect phone numbers

Having a dialogue with Congress and civil liberty advocates, he wants additional safeguards such as greater oversight, transparency, and constraints on the government’s surveillance authority.

Work with Congress to improve public confidence in the oversight of FISC

To build greater confidence, he wants reforms in how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts approves wiretapping and spy requests from the Obama administration, saying that sometimes the judges hear just one side of the story, focused on security, but not liberty and privacy. He also wants to take steps to ensure that civil liberties are protected and that government’s authority is challenged.

Greater transparency

President Obama ordered the Justice Department to be more public about its activities and release information about oversight. An internal NSA position will be created to focus on privacy to help ensure that Americans aren’t being spied on.

The intelligence community will also create a website to further this goal of educating the public on what the agencies are doing — set to be launched next week.

Forming group of outside experts to review entire program

Technology has given the government, and others unprecedented ability to track people and he is bringing on board an independent committee to review how surveillance technologies are being used, how to better protect civil liberties, and more. An interim report is expected to be released in the next 60 days and a final report by the end of the year.

Given the history of abuse by governments, it’s right to ask questions about surveillance by governments, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspects of our lives,

Nine weeks ago, Booz Allen Hamilton employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden was the one who pulled back the shroud of secrecy around the program. President Obama defended the use by the government agency saying that it didn’t spy on any American citizens and that the public hasn’t been given the “complete story” behind what’s going on.

During the question and answer part of his press conference, President Obama said that Snowden is “not a patriot” and also said that there was other avenues for people whose conscience “questioned the government’s actions”. Prior to the leak, the president says he had signed an executive order granting protection to whistleblowers.

Following its disclosure, it was also revealed that many technology companies allegedly participated in providing the NSA access to customer data. The suspected parties include Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, AOL, Dropbox, Yahoo, and others — all have denied direct involvement in the strongest words.

Whether this will have any sway in how the public thinks of its government and agencies remains to be seen. In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last month, more than half of Americans surveyed believe that even though Obama claims the NSA won’t violate people’s privacy, the country is most likely going to drive off the deep end.

See related: PRISM: Here’s what you need to know about the US Internet monitoring scandal

Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Categories: Facebook

Ranker founder Clark Benson on building a list empire

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 7:03pm

If you were to create a list of hot stuff on the Internet right now, lists themselves would earn a place on it. Ranker got its start with crowdsourced lists in 2009 and has since grown to monthly traffic figures of over 76 million page views from 7.7 million unique visitors.

Founder Clark Benson built Ranker with the proceeds from an earlier exit from Ecrush, the teen social networking site he helped found. Traffic grew steadily over the past few years, and Ranker has placed near the top 500 for traffic in the US and among the top 100 for US mobile websites, according to Quantcast.

Ranker appeals to that deep human need to weigh in with our opinions on even the most trivial matters. The site’s lists cover a broad range of topics, and visitors can either upvote and downvote existing lists or and create “reranks”, custom versions of lists that are weighted more heavily than anonymous votes.

“Our goal is to be the Yelp of everything else,” Benson said in an interview, adding that Ranker isn’t particularly interested in competing with the likes of Yelp in the local and travel SEO.

Benson said that the original idea for Ranker was to base the site on user-generated lists, but things didn’t really take off until the team added in the anonymous voting button. By combining the two in one algorithm, Ranker struck a balance between passionate fans with mainstream folks.

Numerous answer and opinion sites have surfaced over the years, with Quora leading the current pack, but Benson views Ranker as answering the kinds of questions that have data-centric answers and can produce “meaty long lists that you can nerd out on.”

“The real thing that’s the secret sauce for Ranker is – unlike a lot of the other opinion [startups] I’ve seen where they tend to be a yes/no question with a single answer – if you’re into a topic, there likely isn’t only one answer for that topic,” Benson said. “What we do has more depth…People that like to rank things tend to have more hardcore nerdom,” he said.

According to Benson, the company recently had a profitable month, but it’s still in a growth phase and is actively hiring. Ranker completed a $2 million venture round from Lowercase Capital and Bullpen Capital in June, bringing its total capital raised to $5.1 million.

As you’d expect from a company that’s amassing large amounts of consumer preferences, Ranker’s data could be highly valuable to marketers and brands. The startup hasn’t aggressively pursued the option yet, but it has been posting insights from its data to its blog and could gear up to leverage it as a revenue generator as early as next year.

Since Ranker users tend to vote across a variety of topics, the site has the ability to make connections between brands. For instance, it could show a cereal brand which TV shows its customers prefer to help it decide where to advertise.

Ranker’s current monetization efforts come mainly through third-party advertising and affiliate ecommerce revenue from lead generation in specific verticals.

Power users on the site comprise about 20 percent of the community. The average visitor votes on about 12 items per list and over 15 items per session, while hardcore users have ranked as many as 7,000 items overall.

The rise in prominence that Ranker has enjoyed has brought with it manipulators trying to game the rankings. Benson said the problem only became a major one this year. The company has added functionality to control for bias, agenda pushing and self-promotion.

Ranker’s lists tend to settle in to mainstream tastes, rather than those of experts or aficionados or connoisseurs.

Search engines are moving toward building their own opinion graphs. Google bought Zagat, for example. In that light, Ranker, with the millions of customer opinions it has collect, is bound to make the top of marketers’ lists in the near future.

Categories: Facebook

Google open-sources 2 cool Chrome Web Lab experiments as its year-long London exhibition ends

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 6:39pm

Google has turned to GitHub to take two of its most popular Chrome experiments to the Open Source development community.

If you recall last July, London’s Science Museum entered into a year-long collaboration with Google called Web Lab, a collaborative project featuring a range of interactive Chrome experiments designed to bring the inner workings of the Web to life.

Visitors to the free exhibition, which will close this Sunday, were given five separate experiments to get involved with.

Simultaneously, online participants could also ‘visit’ from around the world to interact with the same installations. Each Web Lab experiment tapped a modern Web technology to explore a specific idea that’s relevant to computer science.

Even if you couldn’t tell a WebSocket from a wall socket, Web Lab demonstrated the power – and potential – of the Internet to in-museum and online visitors. You can read more about the exhibition here.

Now that it’s come to an end, Google is looking to keep parts of the project going, with Orchestra and Sketchbots now available to build upon and host by anyone.

The lowdown

Sketchbots was one of our favorites from the original exhibition, and it’s certainly the most immediately awe-inspiring of the five.

Sketchbots are basically custom-built robots that snap a photo of you, and then sketch them in sand. This image is one taken of me, and it does look reasonably accurate.

Until fairly recently, drawing images in a standard Web browser wasn’t easy to achieve without additional software. But Sketchbot helps illustrate the latest version of HTML, which includes Canvas. It means you can draw whatever you like, including dynamically-rendered 3D graphics as you see in computer games.

Universal Orchestra, on the other hand, is an Internet-powered eight-piece robotic orchestra creating harmonious music. It encourages people from around the world (including visitors to the museum) to play music together, using real instruments live in the museum or virtual versions online.

You can choose from a selection of drums, temple blocks, vibraphones, marimbas and more.

The purpose of this experiment was to illustrate the power of WebSockets to enable real-time collaboration. The browser intervenes by taking the streams of notes played by everyone to transform them into pleasant music. So you don’t have to try and stay in-time with others all on your own.

Web Lab lives on. Sort of.

Back in January, we asked Dave Patten, Head of New Media at London Science Museum, what the future would hold for Web Lab, and he said that while it hadn’t been decided, it definitely wouldn’t continue in London.

“We’re beginning to talk to Google about what they want to do with it at the end of the year-long phase,” he said.

“It won’t stay here, as we have something else lined up to replace it. It may go somewhere else, possibly in a modified form, or it might become something completely different,” continued Patten. “Or, it could be a one-off, and you’ll never get a chance to see this again. I’m not averse to that happening, there’s something quite nice about an exhibition that doesn’t go past its sell-by date, and either you got to see it or you didn’t. There’s some additional value sometimes if you can do that.”

As things stand, the exhibition does indeed look to have been a one-off, but at least elements of it will live on for developers to build on.

In the GitHub notes, Paul Kinlan, a Developer Advocate for Google Chrome who was involved in the Web Lab roll-out, says that Google “fundamentally believe that what we have learnt building and developing this project should be available for everyone to learn from and be inspired to build upon.” He adds that many new technologies were used for the project.

While some of the original code has been removed from what has now been made publicly available – parts that “detract from the core-experience” – the bulk of it is in there.

So this now means that developers can build hardware and the associated controllers – similar to what was on display at London Science Museum – on the original code-base. Anything could come of this really, and it Google’s taken the liberty to add extra elements to the Open Source version of the project, with Orchestra getting WebRTC.

For the uninitiated, WebRTC is an open source project for developers to let Internet users communicate in real-time with voice and video, simply by using a Real-Time Communications (RTC) compatible browser.

Google first started trialing WebRTC for Chrome almost two years ago, and it’s now at a stage to enable pretty flawless real-time communications. Firefox is also currently in the process of implementing the technology.

“WebRTC is starting to become ubiquitous in the browser,” says Kinlan. “With the Open Source project we wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to use and deploy WebRTC in real projects.”

Potential projects

Now that it’s open to the development community, how does Google envisage the Web Lab code being used?

“The two experiments are very visceral and offer many possibilities for tinkering and experimentation,” says Kinlan. “While I was getting the project ready for launch, I discovered a company in London that makes a thermal printer, called Little Printer. I decided to buy one, and within a couple of hours I could send an outline of my face from the SketchBot to the printer. There are lots of ‘Maker’ projects like the PolarGraph or Lego MindStorm that could be hooked up quite easily.”

“The Orchestra is especially interesting to me because it was an area that I had no skills in before we started this project – it’s actually pretty easy to build your own instruments and hook them in to it,” continues Kinlan. “I was inspired recently by some artists in Liverpool (England), who hooked up lights to a MIDI controller and produced an amazing visual experience. It’s entirely possible to create something as amazing with the Orchestra experiment – you just have to build it!”

You can access the Open Source ChromeWebLab code on GitHub now.

➤ ChromeWebLab | GitHub

Update: This post was corrected to state that the lab is open until Sunday from originally stating it had closed last month.

Categories: Facebook

Twitter #Music for iOS gets new ways to discover music, artist suggestions based on your device’s library

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 6:29pm

Twitter today released the second update to its Twitter #Music app for iOS. You can grab the new version now directly from Apple’s App Store.

Unsurprisingly, this update is completely centered on the discovery of music. You can now listen to an artist’s top tracks, check out similar artists, and “the artists that your favorite artist follows on Twitter.”

That last one is of course where things get interesting; many artists like to support each other with a simple public display on the social network. Now, there’s a greater potential the gesture will translate into more fans.

On the other side of the recommendation engine, the app now scans the music library on your device (Twitter specifically says iPhone, but there’s no reason why this shouldn’t also work on an iPod touch or iPad) and also keeps track of artists that you’ve tweeted about. Again, the idea is to bring Twitter and Twitter #Music ever closer together.

Here’s the full Twitter #Music 1.2 for iOS changelog:

We’ve added a bunch of new ways of discovering music. Listen to artist’s top tracks, similar artists, and the artists that your favorite artist follows on Twitter.

We also scan your iPhone’s music library now to suggest more relevant artists to you. And we show you the artists that you’ve Tweeted about so you can always get back to them.

Finally, we’ve localized #music into all of your favorite languages. If you’re one of those good looking people living in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland then we’ve got you covered!

That last part is a total of 12 new countries, all of which are in Europe. Twitter is slowly but surely ramping up the app to support all the languages the social network does.

As we said when the last update was released, there still doesn’t appear to be a Twitter #Music app for Android. We’ll let know when that starts to change.

See also – Twitter unveils its new #Music app for the Web and iOS, integrates with Rdio, Spotify and iTunes and Twitter #music iPhone app falls down the App Store charts, dropping to 126th overall

Top Image Credit: iStockphoto

Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service.

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How long does it take for viral content to get from Reddit to your mom and beyond

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 6:27pm

Anyone that spends any significant amount of their day online (and particularly on social media) will see new viral content and memes as they emerge from their embryonic state, but eventually many of them make it to the wider mainstream media.

But how long does that process take? And where does it catch first?

Well, Meg Pickard, former head of digital engagement at the Guardian has put together a tongue-in-cheek diagram to show exactly how quickly and where exactly it spreads. Shortly after posting the tweet, Pickard got in to a little bit of a Twitter scuffle over the provenance of the ideas (bearing, as it does, a close resemblance to this one, in French).

Fear not, it all seemed to end amicably enough.

 

 

Categories: Facebook

Guardian: The NSA can search for US citizens’ calls and emails without a warrant

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 6:01pm

According to the Guardian, a loophole in National Security Agency (NSA) rules in the US allows for the spy agency to carry out searches for US citizens’ email and phone call details without the need for a warrant.

The NSA, whose surveillance activities (along with the UK and Germany) came to light following disclosures of classified material by former NSA agent Edward Snowden earlier in the year, can reportedly carry out ”warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”, according to comments from Senator Ron Wyden included in the report.

While the surveillance of foreign nationals looks to have been widespread, authorities were thought to have been unable to try and trace US individuals without a corresponding warrant under  Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA). These disclosures would seem to challenge that belief.

➤ Guardian

Featured Image Credit – Getty Images

 

 

Categories: Facebook

The iPhoneographer’s toolkit: 9 essential iOS apps for shooting, editing and sharing

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 5:48pm

At this point, there’s no need for me to explain the popularity of smartphone photography or how it has changed the way we share our daily lives. Apple’s competitors continue to release handsets that offer new and improved camera sensors – the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom being the most recent – but the iPhone has always been the device to beat.

iOS photography apps are released and updated every week, so keeping track of them all can be pretty tough (not to mention a little daunting). For our money, these are the essential apps to keep installed on your iPhone.

Shooting

Forget vintage filters, post-processing and the plethora of social networks waiting to be filled up with your awe-inspiring images. The act of capturing a photo is arguably the most important part of the entire process, so picking a decent camera app should be top of the list.

➤ Camera+

Knowledge is power, and Camera+ offers it in abundance. The app is one of a limited group that display the exact shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed and focal length. It’s not possible to change these settings – no iOS app can, for reasons unknown – but it’s still incredibly useful to have them on-screen.

The digital zoom and flash options are shown at all times, but there’s also a trio of additional shooting modes that aren’t supported in the default iOS camera app. These are the timer mode, which can be set to a 5, 15 or 30 second countdown, burst mode and a stabilizer mode. All are pretty competent and worth utilizing when out in the field.

➤ Camera app (default)

That’s right, the camera app that comes installed on every single iPhone is also one of the best. It’s fast, lightweight and incredibly simple to use, which is part of the reason why so many photographers simply never look for an alternative.

It’s also the best choice for capturing those one time only, spur of the moment images that occur when you least expect it. The default camera app is available from the lock screen – you can’t switch it out for any other app – which ensures that it’s always the fastest way to fire off a single shot.

➤ Moment Camera

While there are plenty of camera apps offering specialized shooting modes, most of them look downright ugly. The interface is cluttered, or the creators have tried to emulate a traditional DSLR and ended up with a child’s play toy.

Moment is beautiful. Six tiny circles line up on one edge of the screen, providing one-tap access to the flash, on-screen grid, burst mode, timer and more. The only notable omission is being able to set the focus and exposure point independently – a useful feature also covered by Camera+.

Editing

Post-processing can sometimes save a terrible photo, as well as turn a pretty good image into something jaw-dropping. Emulating a piece of professional desktop software such as Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop is far from easy, but these app developers have nailed it.

➤ Snapseed

It’s not hard to see why Nik Software, creators of Snapseed, were acquired by Google in September 2012. The app is like nothing else, giving users the ability to make ever so precise tweaks to the brightness, ambience, contrast, saturation, white balance and more.

The interface is refreshing and intuitive. Users tap and slide their finger vertically on the screen to switch between different editing tools. Once selected, swiping from left to right changes the intensity of the effect. It’s a little jarring at first, but within half an hour you’ll find it hard to use anything else.

➤ Aviary

Some of the biggest companies such as Yahoo, Polaroid and Squarespace have partnered with Aviary to leverage their professional editing features.

The company’s own iOS app is a delight though, offering an expansive blend of filters, frames and light-hearted stickers. For the more serious photographer, there are also numerous options for altering the depth of field, brightness, warmth and saturation. It does it all, no questions asked.

➤ Adobe Photoshop Touch

Some photographers will swear by the Adobe Creative Suite – or the Creative Cloud, as it will be known moving forward – so luckily there’s a mobile friendly version of Photoshop too.

It’s the most advanced on our shortlist, but also the trickiest to use. Similar to the deskop version, users can choose from a dizzying number of selection options, as well as the clone stamp, blur and smudge tools. Color balance, shadows and highlights, brightness and contrast, temperature and noise tweaks – it’s all here.

If you have some time to burn, this app will produce the best results.

Sharing

The beauty of smartphone photography is that everyone can see your work immediately. One tap and they’re uploaded to the Internet, where anyone can comment, ‘like’ and share them with their peers.

Sometimes we just want our close friends to see our photos on Facebook, Path or Twitter, but if you’re looking for some constructive criticism these are our top apps to check out.

➤ Flickr

The platform has dropped in and out of popularity in recent years, but Flickr remains one of the best photography communities on the Web. Yahoo gave its iOS app a major overhaul in December last year, followed by a similar revamp for its Android app and website.

Users can review the most recent photos uploaded by other photographers and groups, as well as shoot a new image and apply some filters (supplied by Aviary). Best of all, photos can be added to an existing ‘set’ or group with geo-location data, tags and the like.

If you’re still uploading photos to Flickr from a traditional DSLR camera, this is a fantastic way of keeping everything together.

➤ Instagram

Instagram has a huge userbase and perhaps more importantly, people are opening the app and reviewing their feed on a regular basis. Instagram’s ease of use and uncluttered interface almost guarantees that your images will be noticed. Feedback, whether it’s a quick ‘like’ or comment, can be near-instantaneous and incredibly gratifying.

The square-crop requirement can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but that’s partly why Instagram has been such a massive success. Throw in the hipster analog-inspired filters, hashtags and people tagging, and its a difficult service to ignore. Instagram is here to stay, and rightly so.

➤ Google+

Google’s homegrown social network is yet to find the mainstream success enjoyed by Facebook or Twitter, but it’s quickly grown into one of the most engaging platforms for sharing and enjoying photography.

Images look fantastic on Google+. Files are stored in their original resolution and the galleries and individual photo pages are beautiful to browse. The iOS app can be set to upload all of the images in your Camera Roll automatically – and it’s also incredibly easy to share a batch of photos both publicly and to specific circles.

Notable mentions

We’ve stuck to three apps for each category, but a few others deserve mentioning:

➤ ProCamera
➤ Hipstamatic/Oggl
➤ Frontback
➤ 500px
➤ Impossible Project
➤ Analog Camera

Have we missed anything? As always, sound off in the comments below!

Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service

Image Credit: ANA AREVALO/AFP/GettyImages

Categories: Facebook

Check out Apple’s OS X, reimagined in the style of iOS 7

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 5:15pm

A design graduate from Coventry University has caused a bit of a stir with Apple fans by mocking up an imagined version of the OS X operating system that takes design cues from the company’s iOS 7 platform for the iPhone and iPad.

Obviously, the concept designs (called OS X Ivericks) are just his thoughts and not a reflection of any known Apple plans but perhaps they should be, judging from how quickly the mock-ups are spreading across the Web.

The designs include small tweaks to the home screen, a redesigned Finder, Contacts, Calculator, Notes, Notification Center, a mini iTunes player and more. Check out the shots below, or his post for more.

➤ Studoesdesign

 

Featured Image Credit - Kim White/Getty Images

 

Categories: Facebook

How do I switch it off? Virgin Atlantic Little Red passengers to get live in-flight comedy and music

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 3:04pm

Virgin Atlantic is going to start providing passengers on some of its Little Red flights with live in-flight comedy acts and other entertainment, beginning this month for people travelling between Heathrow and Edinburgh.

Starting soon, comedians on their way to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival will get a last-minute chance to hone their material and give it a final live run through before reaching the festival gigs, and passengers on board will get a chance to a sneak peek of some material.

According to The Telegraph, the full line-up of acts will be revealed through Virgin Atlantic’s social media channels. Virgin is also planning to offer live music acts on some flights from September, including those travelling between Heathrow and Manchester in a bid to help its freshly launched Little Red service win customers from rival airlines. Quite what you do if you have no interest in seeing comedians or other entertainment on board is another question, though.

Check out the video below to see Rhys from Flight of the Conchords recanting his “worst gig ever”.

➤ Travel Weekly

Featured Image Credit – Getty Images

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