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Nexus 5 hands-on: Looks like an impressive Google Android flagship

Gigaom

Google(s goog) launched both the Nexus 5 smartphone and Android 4.4, aka: KitKat, on Thursday morning, and after just a short bit of hands on time with the phone, I’m impressed. Unlike prior Nexus phones, which were often a feature or two away from competing with flagship phones, the Nexus 5 isn’t really lacking on paper. Nor is it — at least so far — in my very limited usage this morning.

Of course, using a phone for an hour is far different from using a phone for a week, so I’ll have a proper review after spending more time with the Nexus 5. For now, here are some first thoughts and impressions on Google’s latest phone.

  • For a phone with 5-inch display, the Nexus 5 is very light. My other go-to phones are an iPhone 5s and Moto X; both of which have smaller screens. The iPhone 5…

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Google launches Kitkat with a big push for emerging markets and in-app search, plus the Nexus 5 we already know so well

Gigaom

There were few surprises left when Google (S GOOG) showed off the Nexus 5, the new version of its Android flagship phone, to journalists at a press event in San Francisco Thursday. Specs, industrial design and even pricing had already been revealed through a series of surprisingly accurate leaks, leaving Google executives with the tedious task of repeating key data points, and spending notably little time talking about the device.

(For anyone keeping track at home, the device has a 5” display, a 1.3MP front-facing as well as an 8MP rear-facing camera, 2 GB of RAM and is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. It’s available for $349 for the 16 GB version and $399 for the 32 GB version, without contract, and launches in ten countries. In the U.S., it’s on sale on Google Play as well as at Best Buy, (S BBUY) Radioshack, Sprint and T-Mobile…

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Announcing the Roadmap after party!

Gigaom

Our experience design conference Roadmap is just a couple days away (next week on November 5th and 6th in San Francisco), and we’re excited to announce that in partnership with design firm Fjord we’ll have an official after party on the night of November 5th a couple blocks from the conference venue. The Roadmap After Party will kick off at 7pm (until 9PM) at the 46 Minna Gallery (the one right next to the secret Blue Bottle stand on Minna), and you’ll need a Roadmap conference badge to get in. Space is limited, so it’s open till it’s full!

If you come, you’ll get to see Om pull this dance move:

dance gif

Also this guy will be there:

dance GIF

Check out the full schedule and speakers at Roadmap, and come join us.

RoadMap 2013

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Microsoft demos 3D scanning mobile app in hopes of making it easier to 3D print

Gigaom

You have a 3D printer, but you don’t want to drop an additional $1,000 on a 3D scanner to start creating digital models of real-life objects. What do you do?

The camera in your phone actually makes for a decent scanner. Microsoft Research debuted an application for mobile phones  this week that builds a digital 3D model from imagery gathered while you pan your phone around an object.

“When people want to fabricate something, determining what kind of (tool to use) is a key problem,” Microsoft Research scientist Jiawei Gu said in a release. “If we can find an easy way for common users to create 3D content by themselves, we can imagine that, in the next five years, everybody will be able to create 3D content.”

The scientists said that as 3D printing becomes more popular, people will not be satisfied working with existing designs that can be downloaded from…

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That needle in the haystack of useful big data may be smaller than we thought

Gigaom

New research analyzing the log data churned out by applications developed on the Heroku(s crm) platform as a service shows just how little of that data is actually useful to developers or devops personnel running those applications.

logentries2Out of 22 billion log events across 6,000 Heroku applications, just 0.18 percent held information that a developer (or a devops pro) would actually need to know to prevent a failure or boost performance, according to Logentries. Taken another way, 99.82 percent of that data is the haystack of non-useful stuff.

Of course, Logentries is publicizing this because it’s in the business of helping people winnow out that 0.18 percent without having to sift through the rest, but still, it’s interesting.

Boston-based Logentries last month netted $10 million in venture funding to take on Splunk and Sumo Logic and make big data understandable to civilians (i.e., non-data scientists.)

Logentries claims that its…

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Student website Chegg wants to raise up to $172.5M in IPO

Gigaom

Chegg, a student-focused website that offers textbook rentals and other tools, is hoping to raise between $142.5 million and $172.5 million in its IPO, according to an SEC filing Thursday.

The IPO would make 15 million shares available, at an expected price between $9.50 and $11.50 per share. That means it could raise as much as $172.5 million as part of this financing. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under the ticker CHGG, as announced this summer.

As my colleague Ki Mae Heussner wrote earlier this year, Chegg has expanded to offer a range of different services since it first launched as a textbook rental site in 2007: Aided by a number of acquisitions, including CourseRank, Zinch and Cramster, it now “offers students homework help, academic social networking and course reviews, among other services.” CEO is Dan Rosensweig, the former COO of Yahoo (s YHOO).

Chegg’s…

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The missing link in mobile

Gigaom

More and more, we rely on our mobile devices, with much of our lives revolving around our smartphones and tablets. But there’s one area that no one has been able to solve: handwriting.

“Our research indicates that more than 60% of tablet and smartphone owners primarily use pen and paper to take notes. Yet, the majority of them want access to those notes on their devices,” says Gilles Bouchard, the CEO of Livescribe. “People are trying other ways to achieve that, but they are coming to the same conclusion that we have — nothing beats pen and paper.”

It’s not just Livescribe that is coming to this conclusion. According to research from the University of Texas, taking notes on paper can be twice as fast as typing on a laptop. Writing or typing directly on tablets and smartphones have even greater challenges. Writing on paper is faster, more accurate and…

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The mobile shopping apps consumers value most

Gigaom

While independent developers have led innovation in mobile shopping apps, retailers, brands, and local businesses are facing an imperative — integrate high-value mobile shopping capabilities into their customers’ experiences or risk disintermediation.

Table of Contents

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Android KitKat said to focus on TV, wearables and lower-end phones

Gigaom

Google(s goog) is likely gearing up to launch Android 4.4 KitKat at some point tomorrow, but before then some interesting new leaks have surfaced via former Wall Street Journal reporter Amir Efrati. Efrati claims to have reviewed a document that Google shared with companies to explain KitKat’s most important new features, and among them is a focus on TV, wearables and low-end phones.

It’s no secret that Android fragmentation is a major issue, and Efrati claims that Google is looking to remedy this by making the next version of Android run better on lower-end devices. According to the document Efrati reviewed, “KitKat ‘optimizes memory use in every major component’ and provides ‘tools to help developers create memory-efficient applications’ for ‘entry-level devices,’ such as those that have 512 megabytes of memory.”

This would make it possible to install the new version of Android on older phones, though there’s still no…

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New airplane mode: Personal device use OK during all flight phases, says FAA

Gigaom

After reviewing recent studies and recommendations, the Federal Aviation Association says the airline industry can allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PEDs) in all flight phases.

The agency statement was published on Thursday with a timeline of “before year end” for carriers to prove safety for such use so airlines can rework their policies on PEDs. New rules could vary by airline, however, so passengers will still have to tune in for specific procedures.

With so many types of mobile devices these days, it could appear tricky as to what qualifies under any new rules but the FAA statement did a good job in explaining:

“Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual…

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Flipboard lands a whale as it signs a deal to add Time Inc. magazines to its platform

Gigaom

Flipboard has been under some pressure recently, based on complaints from publishers like Talking Points Memo that the company’s magazine-style aggregation app uses their content but doesn’t provide them with enough of a return. But those concerns don’t seem to have stopped others from adopting the platform: according to AdWeek magazine, Time Inc. has signed a deal with Flipboard to add its titles to the service, starting with People magazine and InStyle.

A Time Inc. spokesperson told AdWeek that with 90 million users, Flipboard now has the scale to be an attractive platform, and also offers the opportunity to reach a younger and/or more mobile audience than Time currently reaches. Less than 10 percent of Time’s web audience uses an iPad, the company said, and People was the most searched for media brand on Flipboard.

“Their audience has grown exponentially, so they actually have scale,” said Fran Hauser, president…

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Apple files patent for slim solar-powered technology

Gigaom

According to PatentlyApple, Apple has filed yet another solar panel patent. While this is the eighth patent for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company in an effort to make proprietary solar technology, the “Power Management for a system having non-volatile memory” has eliminated the need for a power converter to turn the solar power into electronic energy. In practical applications, this means that a solar panel could be attached directly to the Magsafe port of a computer or onto the back of a phone.  It’s just a concept now, but it could mean that solar power won’t come at the cost of slimness and style.

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Teradata: Hadoop, big data technologies ‘small factor’ in our slowdown

Gigaom

http://www.zdnet.com/teradata-hadoop-big-data-technologies-small-factor-in-our-slowdown-7000022667/

Teradata’s CEO addressed the impact of Hadoop on its earnings call and, according to this report from ZDNet, downplayed its effect. In fact, he said only 4 to 8 percent of Teradata workloads might ever move to Hadoop. Even if that’s true for workloads, what about the data itself? It might not need to live in those pricey appliances.

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Timescape visualizes data in space, time and relationship

Gigaom

Data visualization is essentially an alternative way to tell a story. A new platform called Timescape aims to extend the ways in which we can visualize our stories by allowing organizations to sift through information on a map.

The result is a geo-temporal relationship map. That means, one can plot the events of, say, the Arab Spring as locations on a map and see how they relate to each other both in causation and in time. The ability to visually parse the data in these multiple ways illuminates alternative narratives surrounding those events, allowing people to see which events precipitated others and where they fit in with each other in space and time.

Timescape visualizations appears as orbs on a rotatable globe, with dashed lines connecting relationships and colors connecting types of events. You can also easily search through other nodes like country, actors, political campaigns, et cetera — all of which…

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Salesforce.com customers get an AppExchange of their own

Gigaom

Large companies beset by on the consumerization of IT conundrum want a way to let employees find and download approved applications in an easy-peasy way. The alternative is that people will just do what they want and chaos ensues — at least from an centralized IT perspective.

That’s why Salesforce.com(s crm) is now offering Private AppExchange, a version of its public app store that lets CIOs (or whoever’s allegedly in charge) pick and choose available mobile, desktop and web applications that employees can download easily and which will be centrally billed.

It’s a tough problem. Users want the same easy experience they have on the consumer side, but IT wants to have at least some idea what apps employees use and — perhaps more importantly — make sure they’re getting volume pricing if applicable.

sfcom1People at work “want to be able to look for apps, read the reviews, install…

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Snowden gets a job — but the employer remains a mystery

Gigaom

NSA leaker Edward Snowden will start a job in tech support in November, his lawyer reportedly said. The employer is a “large Russian website”, but we don’t know who, because of security concerns. A representative for web giant Yandex told me on Thursday that it wasn’t them.

We do know that social network VK invited Snowden to join its security team earlier this year, at least partly as a publicity stunt. Snowden is stuck in Russia for now under one-year temporary asylum, since the U.S. cancelled his passport in June.

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Hyperloop company forms, plans to demo prototype in 2015

Gigaom

JumpStartFund, a crowdfunding site that has taken it upon itself to make Elon Musk’s ultrafast hyperloop transit system a reality, has formed a now-operating company around the project called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. JumpStartFund released a timeline of planned milestones the company has set, including demoing hyperloop technology in early 2015. JumpStartFund announced last month that former SpaceX director of operations Marco Villa and former American Society of Civil Engineers president Patricia Galloway would lead the company.

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Amazon will test 2 new dramas, by X-Files screenwriter Chris Carter and author Michael Connelly

Gigaom

Amazon (s AMZN) Studios is considering its first hour-long original dramas, and has greenlighted two pilots for testing by Amazon users. If the pilots get positive viewer feedback, Amazon will produce full seasons that will be available on Prime Instant Video and Lovefilm in early 2014.

The first pilot, The After, is written by X-Files screenwriter Chris Carter. The second, Bosch, is based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling Harry Bosch series and is co-written by Connelly and Eric Overmyer, who’s also written for The WireTreme and Law & Order, among other shows.

Amazon followed the same testing model with half-hour comedies and kids’ shows and chose to go forward with five this year. Two comedies — Alpha House, a political comedy written by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau and starring John Goodman, and Betas, a show about a group of friends trying to make it…

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iPad mini with retina display tipped for November 21 release date

Gigaom

When Apple(s aapl) announced the iPad mini with retina display, it didn’t set a firm release date, stating only that the tablet would become available at some point in November. Now, on the eve of the iPad Air’s release, MacRumors has noted that a product listing on Target’s(s tgt) website shows a release date for the new iPad mini of November 21.

It’s possible that November 21 is just an educated estimate on Target’s part. But it also makes sense for Apple to release the tablet a week before Thanksgiving and the big Black Friday holiday shopping rush. The only thing I question is that November 21 is a Thursday, and Apple typically releases its new products on Friday. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the tablet appear on either November 21 or the day after.

Apple has reportedly held back the release date for the new iPad mini…

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Google launches accessory store for Glass Explorers

Gigaom

Google(s goog) has quietly launched an accessory store for Glass Explorers. The store went live last night, though you can only access it if you’re already a Glass-carrying member of Google’s Explorer program. Marketing Land snagged the photo of the store below.

Right now the store is only home to a few items, including an extra mono earbud, a clear shield, an extra cable and charger, and an extra pouch. But aside from the clear shield, the site lists the other three items as being out of stock. Google also mentions a sunglass accessory from Maui Jim and Zeal Optics on its help site, but it isn’t yet available in the accessory store.

Glass store full

The prices are quite high for what is listed: $50 for the micro-fiber Glass pouch strikes me as particularly egregious. Then again, it already cost $1,500 to become an explorer, so what’s $50 for an extra…

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