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SXSW: Reading The New York Times on Google Glass

Google gave app developers (and curiosity seekers like us) a first look at how its eagerly awaited (by some) headset computer will serve up breaking news and integrate with popular apps and web services at a packed session at SXSW earlier today.

The demo was designed to get developers excited to create apps to run on the device, expected to be released later this year.

After showing Glass’ ability to snap photos and provide on-demand translation (“Arigato!”) — features that have been well documented in countless promo clips — Google Sr. Developer Advocate Timothy Jordan showed how Glass wearers would be able to scan headlines from the New York Times: Images overlayed with text appear in a timeline — essentially a horizontal scroll of notification “cards” floating in the user’s peripheral vision. Tapping on a card reveals a secondary scroll of additional stories; by tapping the device or, apparently, nodding her head, the user can read a short summary of the story, or have the full text of the story read aloud.

Subsequent demos showed how a wearer could read and dictate responses to Gmail messages and notifications from friends they follow on Path, a social journaling app. Jordan also showed how a wearer could snap a photo and send it to her (Android) tablet, where she could annotate the image Perez Hilton-style using an app called Skitch, then save it to popular notebooking app Evernote.

The demo was a bit of a breakthrough in understanding how the hardware could apply to real life: Up till now, we had a hard time imagining any practical application for Glass (we’re not often struck with the urge to launch a Google Hangout while skydiving). The voice input feature and ability to have incoming messages read aloud were particularly exciting to see.

Others remained unconvinced. Attendees rushed to pack the auditorium at the Austin Convention Center … but they played it cool once inside, refusing to respond to the presenter’s frequent exclamations of “Isn’t that cool!?” During the short Q&A session following the panel, one audience member asked, What can I do with Glass that I can’t already do with my phone? The dwindling audience erupted in the most enthusiastic applause of the entire session.

But the question missed the point. It’s not what Google Glass does that’s innovative; it’s how it does it.

How about you, PopWatchers? Will instant, hands-free access to headlines, tweets, and mail inspire you to try Glass on for size?

SXSW 2013: Five tech trends we can't wait to see

Just a brief look at the South By Southwest interactive schedule can boggle even the most experienced festival-goer’s mind. There are panels and conversations and films and workshops and even a daily 7:30 am run (in cowboy costume!) in case you weren’t getting enough exercise dancing your pants off at one of the many parties. But for everyone not going to the festival, which marks 19 years of interactive and film coverage this year, we have started to make sense of some already-emerging trends and news to look out for as the unofficial “spring break for nerds” kicks off in Austin, Texas.
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Redesigned News Feed will change everything about the way we Facebook now

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This afternoon, Facebook made an announcement so bold, so incredible, so — dare I say? — groundbreaking that the very foundations of the way we stalk our exes and look to see which of our enemies have gained weight may be forever altered.

The basic gist: Pictures on News Feed — wait for it, wait for itare about to get bigger.

Not just a little bigger — a lot bigger. Like, super big, as you can see from the photo above. Additionally, Facebook will be reducing News Feed’s clutter by allowing users to sort which information appears — it’ll soon be possible to view just updates from all of your friends, just photos posted by your friends, just posts from the properties you “like,” and so on — adding little maps to the posts that appear when a user checks into a location, and changing the site’s interface so that it better resembles Facebook’s mobile interface. READ FULL STORY

Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, and other Internet service providers launch Copyright Alert System

Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have joined together into a powerful Coalition of Businesses You Hate But Can’t Live Without, and now they’re taking action against illegal downloading. The Executive Director for the Center for Copyright Information announced in a blog post yesterday that the long-planned Copyright Alert System will go into effect. The system uses a kind of Six-Strikes policy: The Internet service providers will send six electronic warnings to alleged offenders who are downloading content illegally. (By the fifth and sixth strikes, the ISPs will begin implementing “Mitigation Measures,” which include reducing the speed of your Internet — and if there’s one thing your service provider is good at, it’s making your connection incredibly slow. READ FULL STORY

Google Glass video reveals that Google's RoboCop glasses will let you take pictures and skydive and whatever

For generations, the Great Minds of our world asked themselves: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a machine that could take pictures of your inane life, give you up-to-the-second directions so you never need to understand how to read a map again, and show you photos of tiger heads so you can carve an ice block into a tiger head?” And lo, thus it came to pass that — in the first decade of the third millennium A.D. — the market was positively besieged with magical picture-taking, map-replacing, tiger-head-picture-discovering devices. Smartphones. Tablets. Phone tablets. Tabphones. But that was not enough for the Great Minds. (It never is.) READ FULL STORY

Ashton Kutcher gets honest: 'I know exactly what films I've done that f--ing suck donkey'

Say this for Ashton Kutcher: he’s not as dim as the characters he plays.

The former model who has made a career out of playing lovable dummies (with a penchant for taking their clothes off) knows that some of his movies haven’t exactly been the greatest. In an Esquire profile, Kutcher told the magazine, “I know exactly what films I’ve done that f—ing suck donkey. And I know the ones that are good, that people like. And I know it not because of the box office, because the box office is not going to tell you the truth. I know it because I have friends that don’t hold back. They don’t depend on me for money or employment. They’re just friends. Friends tell the truth.”

While he doesn’t call out any movies specifically, the writer of the profile says the only good movie Kutcher has ever made – sorry, fans of No Strings Attached —  is Dude, Where’s My Car? But while his track record may not be great, Kutcher does seem excited about his upcoming film project, the Steve Jobs biopic jOBS that is being released April 19 after premiering at Sundance last month. “I think it turned out really well,” he told the magazine. READ FULL STORY

Vote for the Streamys Audience Choice Awards!

Vote early, and vote often. The polls are open for the 3rd Annual Streamys Audience Choice Awards for the categories of Personality of the Year and Series of the Year, and you can go to the site to vote for your favorite show and personality once a day until February 11.

But now comes the tricky part: deciding who to vote for. The finalists are all over the place, ranging the very sincere to the very silly. Some are dramatic, some are just for laughs, and some…are actually pretty explicit. If you’re not a devoted follower of any web series, this is actually a pretty good and diverse primer on some of the current options out there. Take a look at the finalists after the jump, and then head over to streamys.org to vote.

Winners will be announced during the Chris Hardwick-hosted ceremony, scheduled to be broadcast live online, Sunday, February 17 starting at 6 p.m. EST.

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Facebook introduces reusable gift cards: Do you like?

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Remember that goofy “gift shop” Facebook introduced in 2007, which allowed users to pay real money for tiny virtual icons of pizza slices and toilet paper? The social networking giant shut down that initiative in 2010, only to add a new service called Gifts late last year. This revamped store enables users to buy physical presents for their friends via Facebook — and starting today, the site’s members can also purchase renewable gift cards for use at retailers including Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target.

Once a user buys a card, the gift’s recipient will be notified immediately; shortly thereafter, a physical gift card (bearing Facebook’s logo) will arrive in the mail. The coolest part of this initiative is that each card can hold multiple gift balances for different stores or restauraunts; users can see their gift balances on Facebook itself, under their account settings. Those balances are updated in real time as amounts are added or spent.

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CES 2013: The World's Most Interesting Windows 8 Tablet

One of the clearer messages coming from CES this year relates to Windows 8. Namely, that despite billions of dollars and endless man-hours of design, engineering and marketing, no one has been able to figure out what the right form is for a Windows 8 device. There are hybrid tablet/laptops with slide-out keyboards, there are Ultrabooks with touchscreens, there are tablets with styluses, and ones with optional click-on keyboards. Our favorite, though, is one we played with from Lenovo, an over-sized tablet so bold and crazy it just might work.

The IdeaCentre Horizon is a 27-inch tablet — yes, about triple the diagonal display dimension of a conventional iPad — that has a full suite of inputs and all the functionality of a desktop Windows 8 device, including a front-facing camera, microphone and speakers. When you flip it on its back, however, it clicks into a mode Lenovo calls Aura, and the interface and functionality completely changes to become a multimedia and gaming table. READ FULL STORY

New Disney Park wristband could mean the end of lines

It’s more magical than a flying carpet!

Well, not really, but big tech changes are coming to Disney Parks. A new wristband, called the MagicBand, will replace paper tickets and is set to be rolled out over the next several months. The band is part of a new system called MyMagic+, which will include a web site and app, allowing guests to reserve time at a ride in advance, according to a press release. The project could completely revolutionize how we think about amusement parks… and the long, sometimes discouraging lines. The MagicBand would essentially act as a credit card, allowing everything from ride entry to food payment to be taken care of with a simple swipe. READ FULL STORY

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