Facebook announces Skype video chat integration, other changes to social networking site

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:11
Category: News, Software

If there’s a major tech news story of the day, this might be it.

Per Electronista, Facebook at its special event Wednesday brought out Skype-based video chat. The approach lets Facebook members hold one-to-one video calls between each other without having to load a separate app; complete newcomers should be talking in 30 seconds, Facebook says. The platform should also work tightly with an updated desktop app and, eventually, mobile versions.

Skype 5.3 on Windows already lets users bring in a Facebook news feed, post status updates, and make calls directly to Facebook users from Skype. A 5.5 beta release also builds in Facebook chat with live status as an option. Mac versions are expected to come in the future.

Text chat got its own update at the event. Ad-hoc group chats are now possible and don’t need users to jump into a group chat. Regular chat also has a new, simplified design that adapts to the browser size and rolls in a sidebar that allows almost immediate text chat. The reworking is also intended to accommodate “future announcements,” Facebook hinted.

Facebook was shy on whether its own mobile apps would get video chat or whether group video chat was coming. The social network and Skype did cast the video chat as a starting point and hinted groups might come along in the future.

No mention has been made of Facebook’s native iPad app. Some had anticipated it coming with the Facebook event, but it’s now seen as more likely coming in the next several weeks. In the nearer future, Facebook is also expected to show Project Spartan and bring HTML5-native, Flash-free games to iOS and Android devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Review: Adonit Writer2

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:28
Category: Accessory, Hardware, iPad, Review

By Pierce Case

For over a year now, iPad users have wanted an alternative to their virtual keyboard.

Now there is because Adonit just announced the release of the new Writer 2 for the iPad 2. The Adonit, an idea brought to reality by two guys who were from Apple and Microsoft, was presented to the venture capital gurus at Kickstarter.com, who provided the funds to make this idea a reality.

Now all those people who have wanted such a option (and do a lot of writing for blogs) can breathe a sigh of relief — the Writer2 for the iPad 2 is now available.

The only difference between Adonit’s Writer and the Writer 2 is in its size. Still, I’ve been testing for the last three days and there are some great things about it. The keyboard is amazing to type on and the device is easy enough to set up (users must configure their iPad 2 to use the wireless Bluetooth). Simply throw in three triple AAA batteries (you need to insert them in the top right hand side by unscrewing the special bolt, tighten it up with a penny or nickel, press the top left hand round button and you’re ready to go.

During the testing period I got to really admire the time these guys put into designing this. There is a custom lever to raise the keyboard up and down so your typing needs can be met. I brought the Writer2 out to a restaurant to test it out and people were just blown away with it. You basically now have the ability to really get some serious work done with the Writer 2.

A slew of keyboard shortcuts allow you to get what you want out of your apps. A square button on the top left of the keyboard allows you to use the virtual keyboard if you want. I was also impressed with the comfort and design of this Writer 2 which also wins brownie points for being made out of environmentally responsible material.

The Writer 2 retails for US$99.00 and from my firsthand experiences, has turned out to be an amazing product that many iPad2 users out there will enjoy.

Its time has come.

In fact, this review was done on the Adonit Writer2. Now that is what I
call amazing.

Pros:
- Keyboard can be adjusted to the way you type. This translates to a
better experience for each person.

- Smart pad cover built into it protects the front screen.

- Goes to sleep automatically if you close it completely.

- Keyboard shortcuts allow you to get in and out of your apps.

- Well made enough to feel comfortable carrying it around, despite its light weight.

Cons:
- Runs on AAA batteries but lasted for three days of testing given off-and-on use.

- Ran into problems with locking the battery port, but eventually got the hang of
it.

- If you don’t completely cover the case the screen will stay on.

Verizon to kill unlimited data calling plans on Thursday, offers alternatives

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News

verizonlogo.jpg

It was nifty while it lasted.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon, will not allow customers, including those who buy an iPhone, to be able to purchase the carrier’s unlimited data plan.

This Thursday, July 7, is when Verizon will begin offering its “usage-based” billing for mobile customers, spokeswoman Debra Lewis said. The change will not affect current smartphone customers of Verizon.

In addition, current smartphone customers who are upgrade-eligible will be allowed to move to another smartphone and retain their plan. But new customers or current customers who do not have a smartphone plan will only be able to buy a “usage-based” plan, Lewis told AppleInsider on Tuesday.

“We have lots of different ways for customers who may not be accustomed to this kind of stuff to check their usage in terms of data alerts, online tools, data calculators, things like that to help people decide what is the right plan for them,” she said.

New smartphone customers will be able to choose from four different capped monthly data plans: US$10 for 75MB, US$30 for 2GB, US$50 for 5GB, and US$80 for 10GB. Users who go over their monthly allotment will be charged US$10 per gigabyte, or US$10 per 75MB on the entry-level plan.

Users will also be able to add the “Mobile Hotspot” tethering feature to an iPhone or other compatible smartphone for US$20 per month. That plan will also net them an additional 2GB of data.

Tuesday’s news confirms an earlier leak that Verizon would switch to a usage-based model starting on July 7. Current smartphone customers can buy an unlimited plan from Verizon for US$29.99 per month.

Verizon’s transition comes more than a year after AT&T implemented its own tiered data plans, which retails for US$25 per month for 2GB, or US$15 a month for 200MB. AT&T customers and iPhone users also have the option of a tethering plan that offers 4GB total for US$45 per month. AT&T charges an overage of US$10 per gigabyte.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to version 5.2.0.1523, offers assorted bug fixes

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 03:47
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

On Wednesday, version 5.2.0.1523 of the Skype VoIP application went public. The new version, a 20.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improved Multi-tasking

- Group Screen Sharing

- Sidebar enhancement

- Support for Mac’s built-in HD and Logitech’s B910 HD cameras

- Minor bug fixes

Skype 5.2.0.1523 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.