Ping- Social Networking

With the launch of Ping this week in the latest update for iTunes, Apple is finally adding social elements to its software. Ping is essentially a social music discovery feature in iTunes. You can friend, follow, or lurk to see what music other people on iTunes—people you know, people you don’t—like, review, or buy.

Ping is very promising if only because of Apple’s reach through iTunes to 160 million music consumers. And it will no doubt get better over time. But at launch, it is riddled with problems which stem from the fact that Apple does not know how to create social software. It is completely out of its element, and it shows.

The biggest problem I have with Ping is that it lives in iTunes. Not only does it live in iTunes, it is isolated there. iTunes is not social. It is not even on the Web. And Ping doesn’t communicate with any other social networks. I can’t see people’s iTunes Pings in Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else. While Ping does make iTunes itself more social, the problem is that I don’t live in iTunes. It is a store. I go in to buy stuff and get out as fast as I can. I am not sure Ping is going to make me want to hang out there more.

Let’s start with when you sign up. There is no easy way to find people you already know on Ping. Facebook Connect was supposed to solve that, but that feature is disabled until Apple and Facebook work out their differences. So what you are left with now is having to type in people’s names and hope they’ve signed up for Ping, or invite them one at a time through email. Hopefully nobody else has claimed their name. (The fight with name squatters and spammers is already beginning. Earlier today I found a dozen “Steve Jobs” accounts, which have since been cleaned up). There is no mechanism for importing your contacts from Gmail or any other email, or bringing in the people you already follow on Twitter or other social networks.

That leaves you with the option of finding one or two early-adopter friends and clicking through their profiles to see who they follow and add the interesting people. The only people I can find right now are bloggers and tech folks I follow elsewhere for different reasons. I have no idea whether they have any taste in music, but I guess I’ll find out soon. Getting up and running should be easier than this But that is not the deal breaker.

Once you start following a few people, you can see all the songs they “like,” rate, review, or buy. It creates a realtime activity stream which gives you social entry points into the iTunes music store. It also works on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

But don’t be confused about Apple’s social ambitions. Ping is all about driving more sales in iTunes. It is completely separate from your existing iTunes library of songs. You can’t like a song while you are listening to your existing collection. If you’ve bought a song or album, Ping assumes you like it (bad assumption), but none of your actual listening activity appears in your stream.

You can only like songs in the iTunes store. And even doing that isn’t easy. There is a big like button for each album, but if you want to like a song, you need to click the drop-down arrow next to the buy button. Be careful not to hit buy, unless you really like the song.

Once you do like a song, that shows up in your stream with a nice big buy button for all your friends to follow suit. Of course, they can’t listen to the whole song before deciding to buy, only a sample. You can’t share playlists. You can’t really do much other than peddle music to your friends.

Ping is just too commercial. It is not fun. There isn’t even aleaderboard or any visible game mechanics. There is no way to see which of the people you follow are the best music recommenders as measured by subsequent purchases from people who follow them, likes or any other measure.

Ping is a promotional vehicle for iTunes and bands. If you follow a band like U2, it seems like they get a special account which allows them to upload videos (and who knows what else). Why can’t I upload photos or videos to my stream? I can’t even add a random comment or status update without first liking, rating, or buying a song or album.

While I am sure Ping will help drive more sales, and is probably something I will check out whenever I am in iTunes to do something else, it is not as compelling as it could be. The most interesting information in iTunes is what your friends are actually listening to and what they think about the songs they know by heart—the ones in their music library. Simply allowing people to like or promote the songs in their existing collections while they are listening to them in iTunes or on their iPods would make Ping a lot better. Sharing playlists is another no-brainer.

Ping could be so much more than it is: isolated, controlling, and a bit boring.

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New iPod Nanos Official!

At the keynote that Steve Jobs held yesterday, there were many new products that Jobs Announced. One of them including a new generation of the iPod Nanos which is the biggest upgrade from the original iPod Nano. Just when you thought the iPod Nano couldn’t get any smaller, the new iPod Nano is 46% smaller! This thing is really tiny. They took away the click wheel, and have made the device into a touch screen. This is perfect for an entire set of people who want something small that they can take with them on the go. One big drawback is that there is no longer a camera on the Nano.

This is a nice idea to create a device around, but for someone who already has an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad this really is not going to be a use to them. You can get and iPod Touch which has a bigger screen and more functions for $70 more, as this device is in my opinion overpriced at $150.

If you are looking in to getting your first iDevice, for music only this may be the device for you.

What are your opinions on the new iPod Nano, and the variety of devices released in Apples September 1st keynote, be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Google Voice Telephone Booths

A Google voice telephone booth may be coming to an airport or college near you. Google has done this to raise awareness of their new cutting edge call technology. These phone booths aren’t just for appearance purposes, they actually have phones in them that actually call. This is not the standard call you get from a phone, the Google Voice phones use VoIP or Voice over IP technology which means the calls are hosted through the internet. Google hasn’t disclosed where the calling stations are located.

Here is someones response after they used the Google Voice Phone “I had a chance to test the phone booth out, and while it can be a bit confusing to operate (Google didn’t have time to update the instructions that appear in the phone booth) and there seems to be a bit of a lag for the dial tone, it does make a decent phone call. Calls from the booth, even international ones, are free of charge.”

Google is going to put more of these telephone booths around America, primarily near or in collages, and airports. Eventually if these booths are working properly they will be international.

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Kodak PlayTouch

This Kodak Playtouch Might Be the Flip-Like Camcorder You Were Looking For

The Kodak Play Touch at first glance may just look like the Kodak Zi8, this is a new camcorder for Kodak named the “PlayTouch.” The PlayTouch comes with more features. It has a 3″ capacitive touch screen. The PlayTouch Features 1080p HD Video, and takes clear 5MP pictures. With the built in USB arm, you can connect it directly to your computer without the hassle of un-tangling your USB Cable. There is an HDMI input so you can hook it up to your HDTV.

The Kodak Play Touch will retail for $229.99 when it’s released this fall. It will be available in Black, Orange, Teal, Chrome, and Magenta.

Kodak PlayTouch Video Camera Features:

  • Share Button for easy video upload to YOUTUBE and FACEBOOK sites, and email
  • 3-inch capacitive touchscreen LCD optimized for reviewing in landscape mode for the ultimate 1080p HD video sharing experience
  • On-camera editing features to trim and extract still pictures from video
  • 5 MP HD still pictures
  • Sharper videos and less blur with built-in digital image stabilization
  • Built-in USB arm for easy sharing, charging, and transferring
  • Smart face tracking technology
  • LCD glare shield feature
  • External stereo microphone jack to add high-quality sound to videos or to plug in headphones for discreet playback*
  • 4 capture effects, including B&W, sepia, high saturation, and ‘70s film look
  • HDMI output (HDMI cable included)
  • Up to 10 hours of HD video** with expandable SD/SDHC card slot (up to 32 GB)
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery with in-camera charging
  • PC and MAC iLIFE product compatibility

Product Accessories:

  • New KODAK Floating Wrist Strap for the KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera
  • New KODAK Gripping Tripods available this fall
  • KODAK SDHC Memory Cards, available in 4, 8 and 16 GB customized for optimal video capture
  • KODAK Adventure Mount for helmet, handlebars and more
  • KODAK Cases, Bags and Neck Straps
  • Remote control
  • KODAK Li-Ion Rechargeable Digital Camera Battery KLIC-7004
  • Battery charger options including KODAK Li-Ion Universal Battery Charger K7700-C, KODAK Solar Charger KS100-C+2, KODAK Portable Charger KP100-C+2

The Kodak Playtouch is a Pocket Full HD Camcroder Jam Packed with brand new features.

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Lenovo IdeaPad

Lenovo IdeaPadEver wanted a tablet? There is the iPad, and various other tablets, but they sacrifice two things, a full operating system, and a physical keyboard. The Lenovo IdeaPad gives you the functions of a tablet, and a net book. With a simple twist of the screen, you can actually hold the IdeaPad like a net book, or a tablet. Since the operating system is windows 7 you get the complete functionalities of a regular net book, even while using this device in tablet form.

This IdeaPad features a 10.1″ multi-touch screen. This device uses the Intel Atom N450 processor clocked in at 1.66GHz. The IdeaPad has 1GB of DDR2 Ram with a 250GB HardDrive. The screen on this tablet runs at 1024×600 which is not HD. Since the screen is supposed to swivel around, items are located in different locations. For example, the webcam is located towards the right side of the IdeaPad. Since there isn’t a gyroscope or accelerometer in the IdeaPad there is a button to rotate the screen.

The IdeaPad has the same inputs as a regular net book. Two USB ports, one VGA Port, and Ethernet Port, A charging port, and a microphone and headphone port. There is also a built in Card Reader.

Weighing in at 2.76 lbs and with a battery life about 4 hours, this tablet includes features which other tablets exclude, including a fully functional operating system, as well as a keyboard. If you don’t want to give up your windows applications nor want to type on a virtual keyboard, the Lenovo IdeaPad is the device for you.

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Samsung FlashCam SMX-F30

In this video TuTube105 reviews the Samsung Flash Cam F30

The Samsung Flashcam SMX-F30 is a point and shoot pocket camcorder for your everyday family video’s or really, any amateur videos. This camera features great in video auto focus, which you can change to manual focus, or face-detection focus. This camcorder can also take pictures at a press of a button. This camcorder weighs less than 2 pounds. There is no internal storage with this camcorder. There is no touch screen.

This camcorder is available in Black, Red, and Blue. There is not much of a color choice as you are limited to the three colors listed above. When getting the Black version keep in mind that it has a glossy finish, which will sustain finger prints.

This camera records in 720×480 MPEG4 video, which is not HD by any means. It features a 42x intelligent zoom; however you can use the 32x optical or the 128x digital zoom in alteration. The camcorder handle is a swivel handle making recording low shots a breeze.

In camera fading (in or out) with a function which you can use to combine movies together with; and even put songs behind automatically created slideshow makes video editing a thing of the past.

Pixels may appear in recorded video due to poor lighting, however if you play around with the white balance a bit, it should be okay.

Overall for the price of $179.99 this camera is a definite buy. Clear 720×480 video, great JPEG pictures, 42x intelligent zoom swappable with a 32x optical zoom or a 128x Digital zoom through presses of a few buttons make this an amazing product. If you are in the market for a decent SD Camcorder, the Samsung FlashCam SMX-F30 is the camera for you.

Be sure to check this camera out by clicking here.

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Google Chrome 5.0 Beta

The newest chrome browser from google is a fascinating web browser. It impresses me with its ability to load webpages extremely quickly, it starts up almost instantaneously while other browsers, as shown in the video, take a much longer time range to start up. This web browser also excelled the Acid 3 test as shown in the video.

Use Google Chrome as your Browser today!

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