Google's Chrome team have announced Google Translate support for Emoji built directly into Chrome for Android and iOS. You can now read all your favorite web content using efficient and emotive illustrations on your phone and tablet.
Dubbed the Zipcar of personal spaces, Breather is offering commercially decorated rooms for rent on an hourly basis via its mobile app. Jeanne Yurman reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Ever need to take a break in a busy city like New York, yet stopping at home isn't an option? There's an app for that. It's called Breather and has been dubbed the Zipcar of personal spaces. With this app, users simply search for an available spot to work, meet or relax for $25 U.S. an hour, explains Breather's New York City Manager Packy Mccormick. PACKY MCCORMICK, NYC CITY MANAGER OF BREATHER: "We love people having meetings. We love people coming to take a nap. We love people coming to do their homework. All that you can do. Use your imagination for what you can do within the limits of the law and within moral limits." REPORTER: Breather rooms are professionally decorated commercial spaces with free wifi, a couch and a table. Guests unlock rooms with a unique passcode which is sent to them once their booking is confirmed. Erica Genereux Smith sighs a breath of relief having Breather as an option for a short term place to hang out. ERICA GENEREUX SMITH, NEW YORKER AND BREATHER USER: "I have different things to do in different parts of town, different appointments and I can't always go home in between. And I don't necessarily want to go to a coffee shop, or just hang out. So, I would definitely use it sort of if I had an awkward amount of time." REPORTER: Demand for these temp spaces has been growing. So far Breather is offered in Montreal and New York but is expanding to San Francisco with the aim of being offered nationwide.
LANGUAGE 1. A breather is a short pause for rest or to relax. • Tell me when you need a breather. • I need to take a breather. 2. Breathe (rhymes with 'seethe') is a verb. Breath (rhymes with 'death') is a noun.
COMMENT "Use your imagination for what you can do within the limits of the law and within moral limits" - that gives a lot of leeway!
DESCRIPTION Flikkt is a language learning app for iPad and iPhone that allows users to read eBooks and learn English with immediate, human-applied, context-sensitive translations of difficult words into their native language, and definitions in English. Get synonyms, pronunciation, parts of speech and other useful information. The personal glossary, or Flikktionary, allows users to save words for practice. Users can also keep track of reading and learning progress via language exercises and the ability to make comments about the words they need to learn or the books they are reading. They can aslo share their learning experience with friends via Facebook or email.
REVIEW There is one free book available (The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde), which enables you to try out the system. If you want more books, you'll have to pay anything from one to six euros. At the moment, there are some English classics and some easy-reader books from Cambridge University Press. As well as the iPad version, there is also a Web-based version of Flikkt. This has added classroom functionality for teachers to track their students’ reading and language learning. The good thing about the translations and definitions in Flikkt is that they are not machine-generated, but done by language experts and translators. So when you read a book in Flikkt, you learn the correct words in context.
VERDICT The offer is currently rather limited (only 10 books), but this is definitely an app worth checking out if you want to read for pleasure while improving your vocabulary.
Account information for 4.6 million users of the Snapchat app compromised in a security breach. Linda So reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Snapchat is a popular app among teens that allows users to share photos and videos that self-destruct within seconds. But the social sharing app was hacked on New Year's Eve compromising millions of user accounts. An anonymous group called Snapchat DB posted the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat users, including that of Lauren Montes. SNAPCHAT HACKING VICTIM LAUREN MONTES: "I'm going to delete my account and probably never have a Snapchat again." REPORTER: The hacker group says it wanted to raise awareness about security holes in the app. Snapchat is promising to update its app following the massive security breach. SNAPCHAT HACKING VICTIM LAUREN MONTES: "I guess I'll just text people now." REPORTER: Security experts say if your information was compromised, you should delete your Snapchat account immediately.
Back in July I reviewed iStudyEnglishOnline, a website for English learners which was created by Sançar Sahin, an English teacher based in Barcelona. I also did an interview with Sançar. At the time, I mentioned iUnderstandEnglish, the iOS app which Sançar had created with his business partner Andrew Cox, but didn't go into any detail. So, I thought it would be interesting to ask Andrew a few questions to get some insights into how the app was created and what's happened since it was launched. Here's the result.
THE ENGLISH BLOG: Can you give us a brief overview of the app? ANDREW COX: We consider it a companion app for learning English and general English comprehension. It features 50 real-world conversations between native British English speakers and includes audio along with text transcriptions. In addition, for each conversation there are 2 levels of difficulty, making 100 conversations in total. We used a total of 12 different accents in the app, covering all of the main accents within Britain. It is not aimed at total beginners of the language, but rather students that already have a grasp of the language and want to improve their comprehension skills. We feel that by listening to these conversations, our users can be immersed in the language and culture of Britain and familiarise themselves with the nuances of accents and pronunciation of words, preparing them for interaction with native speakers in real-world situations.
THE ENGLISH BLOG: Can you tell us a bit about your background? ANDREW COX: Sure. I was born in Oxford and have lived here for most of my life. I graduated from the University of Southampton in 2005, specialising in digital media and design. Since leaving University I spent several years working as a web and graphic designer before moving into the publishing industry. I was working in a department that produced educational reference material for children and it was there that I developed an interest in language and language technology. When I'm not working, I'm very much into all things design related, photography, music and travel. THE ENGLISH BLOG: What gave you the idea for the app? ANDREW COX: The idea actually came from Sançar initially. After teaching English for several years in Spain, he realised that a big thing his students were struggling with was comprehension of native accents. The voices that they had been exposed to in a lot of educational material previously were the standard "Queen's English" type of voice, which they felt didn't offer much help when interacting with real people in real-world situations - especially given the diversity of English accents and the ways in which different words are pronounced by different people. In discussing this with me, and from doing a little market research, we agreed there was a gap in the market for a product that would help students with this particular problem and we settled on a smart-phone application as the most convenient platform to realise this. THE ENGLISH BLOG: How long did it take to develop the app? ANDREW COX: Both Sançar and I were working full time when we began development so it's difficult to say exactly. The most time-consuming part of the process was the creation of the content for the app - i.e. the editorial process of writing the scripts, sourcing people to cover all the accents we wanted to include, and the studio time required to actually record all the audio. There were also the technical hurdles to overcome since neither of us had made an app before. All-in-all, I would say this whole process took around 6 months. THE ENGLISH BLOG: Where did you find the native speakers? ANDREW COX: We posted a series of online advertisements in our local cities, requesting voice samples. Thankfully we were able to cover all the accents we needed by doing this, which meant we could get everyone together in the same studio, which certainly cut down on our initial expenses. THE ENGLISH BLOG: What sort of reaction have you had to the app? ANDREW COX: So far, very positive. We've been particularly pleased with how far-reaching it has become; some of our top markets are China, Thailand and Mexico - though we've had sales from almost every continent. Our main feedback has been that although the app isn't a complete solution for learning English, it's certainly a useful addition to the toolbelt - which is exactly what we created it to be so that makes us happy :) THE ENGLISH BLOG: How many apps have you sold so far? ANDREW COX:So far we've had around 4000 downloads. However, we're working on releasing an Android version (it's currently only available on iOS), which we hope expands our reach a bit. THE ENGLISH BLOG: Do you have any other app projects in the pipeline? ANDREW COX: Both Sançar and I are already working on a more complete application for learning English. It will be web-based initially but we will certainly be looking at offering a companion app down-the-line. Additionally, pretty much every time we get together and start talking you'll hear "that would make an awesome app, you know". So watch this space! THE ENGLISH BLOG: Thanks Andrew, we look forward to seeing the results.
I'm pleased to announce that the EM Normandie is now present on iTunes U. I've been working on this project for over two years, so I'm glad it's finally seen the light of day! Although most of the resources are in French, my Learn English With Photos collection and course are proving very popular (nearly 250,000 downloads before the official launch!).
The EM Normandie is present on iTunes U, the free service on Apple’s iTunes Store which offers the world’s largest online catalogue of free educational content from top schools and universities.
The EM Normandie iTunes U site features classes, lectures and conferences, as well as interviews and research materials. Also available are testimonials from EM Normandie alumni, and information about the school. The content is available in the form of videos, audio podcasts, or PDF files, and can be viewed or downloaded using a computer, iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod Touch®. New content will be added to the site on a regular basis.
The resources, in French or in English, cover a wide variety of topics including territorial development, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship, economic and strategic intelligence, services marketing, languages and business law.
Earlier in the week I posted a review of iStudyEnglishOnline, a new free website for learners of English. I was particularly impressed by the site's clean design and overall appearance. The site was created by Sançar Sahin, and he kindly agreed to answer my questions ...
ENGLISH BLOG: Can you tell us a bit about your background? You're from the UK originally. How did you end up in Spain?
SANCAR SAHIN: I was born and raised in Oxford, but have grown up with a mixture of cultures, as I'm half-Turkish (from my father's side). However, living all my life in England and having an English mother, my English side is definitely the prominent one. As English as I consider myself, ever since I was young I've always been clear that I want to live somewhere palm trees can grow. The Mediterranean lifestyle has always appealed to me and Spain, more specifically Barcelona where I am now, seemed (and still seems) like the perfect place. The move also gave me the opportunity to learn Spanish, a language that has fascinated me for some time now.
SANCAR SAHIN: Working as an English teacher, I was often asked by students to recommend a good resource website for learning English. There are some good ones out there, but the majority are old-fashioned, complicated to navigate and, quite frankly, a bit haphazard. As I'm also a professional online marketer, I wanted to draw upon my experience to bring both user experience and good-quality, educational content together. Educators aren't exactly famous for embracing new technologies and clean, user-friendly designs (just look at any major university website) and this is a trend I wanted to buck.
ENGLISH BLOG: When did you launch the site, and what sort of reaction have you had from students or teachers?
SANCAR SAHIN: The site was launched in early 2013. However, it's changed somewhat from its original form and has gradually expanded into new areas of the English language (we started with just vocabulary worksheets). The reaction from students and teachers has been fantastic and we have been very encouraged by some of the positive feedback we have received.
ENGLISH BLOG: How many visitors do you get?
SANCAR SAHIN: We're still quite new and have yet to become established. We see a couple of thousand visitors each month but we're growing everyday and have a high percentage of return visitors, which tells us we're doing something right.
ENGLISH BLOG: Do you plan to develop the site further?
SANCAR SAHIN: Absolutely! One of our objectives is to publish posts in our English language blog more often. More importantly, we want to make sure we are writing about the things people care about and that we are tackling real questions asked by real students. On top of this we will be constantly adding to our idioms database and verb conjugator.
ENGLISH BLOG: The site must have cost quite a bit to create, but it's free, and you don't have any ads. Do you have any plans to monetize the site?
SANCAR SAHIN: As well as being an English teacher, I also work in web marketing. This has given me the skills needed to create the site from the comfort of my own home, which has been good as I have been able to make it exactly how I want it. We don't think that students should have to pay for access to good-quality learning resources, but we may add a few non-invasive adverts in the future, to keep the bailiffs from the door.
ENGLISH BLOG: Have you got any other projects in the pipeline?
SANCAR SAHIN: We're always thinking of ways we can help students to learn English in new, innovative ways. The company's co-founder, Andrew Cox, and myself have recently launched an iOS (soon to be available on Android) application for learning English, specifically concentrating on the comprehension of the many, diverse British accents. Additionally, we also run an English vocabulary YouTube channel.
ENGLISH BLOG: Thanks Sançar, and good luck with all your projects.
Got a tech idea and want to make a fortune before you're out of your teens? Just do it, is the advice of London schoolboy Nick D'Aloisio who's just sold his smartphone news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million. Hayley Platt reports.
REPORTER: He's just 17 and lives with his parents. But Nick D'Aloisio has just become a multimillionaire after selling his news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million. NICK D'ALOISIO, FOUNDER SUMMLY APP: "I didn't anticipate any of this happening. I think when we launched the product in November we had high hopes for user response but to get the industry and companies like Yahoo so interested has been awesome." REPORTER: Summly edits news items making them user friendly for a mobile phone screen. Nick taught himself how to code at 12 and developed his first app aged just 15. It's attracted some pretty impressive investors, among them actor Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono and British broadcaster Stephen Fry. It's an investment that's paid off. But apart from a new pair of trainers, Nick says he more interested in business than money. NICK D'ALOISIO: "It's been put in a trust fund and will be invested in due course, but, you know, beyond that side of things the thing that's really excited me about this deal is going to join Yahoo and working with Marissa Mayer the new CEO and the team over there. It's going to be really exciting." REPORTER: Nick will become Yahoo's youngest employee. NICK D'ALOISIO: "I've seen everything I've done with Summly and prior apps as like a hobby and I like maintaining that mindset because it means that I'm just very much focussed on the quality of the creative output." REPORTER: Despite his pay packet Nick's not giving up on his studies. He'll combine school work with a job at Yahoo's London offices.
Tech savvy punters now have an app to track the latest news from the Vatican and the newly elected Pope Francis. Elly Park reports.
REPORTER: While the age-old catholic church procedure of white smoke announced the election of a new pope, tech-savvy Catholics could follow the events at Vatican City in real time on their mobile devices. "The Pope App" released last month by the Pontifical Council on Social Communications allows users to keep tabs on the pope's latest activities. Peter Williams of the UK's Catholic Voices is a fan. PETER WILLIAMS: "I hope it will build excitement simply because it will allow people to see what's going on with the papacy what the pope's saying, where he's going, what he's doing and also just to see what kind of things the papacy does. I think it's sort of an institution shrouded in mystery for many people, so perhaps this will allow them to see exactly what goes on." REPORTER: In London, the first reactions to the app were mixed. NICK ELLIOTT: "I think it's fantastic, I think it's a step forward, definitely. ADAM SKEET: "Well at the end of the day, everyone is using apps and things to promote what they want these days, so I suppose it's a clever way to go forwards." HELEN NICHOLSON: "I think it's sort of getting too modernized. They haven't updated their ideas and stuff yet, but they're willing to sort of use technology and stuff, so..." REPORTER: This push towards modern technology was initiated by the previous pontiff who had his own twitter feed. And now it's up to freshly elected Pope Francis to expand the church's presence on social media.
Catholics outside the Vatican and papal aides alike reacted with surprise Monday to Pope Benedict's announcement that he will step down from the papacy. Mana Rabiee reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: The announcement was a total surprise. Even his aides were caught off guard. POPE BENEDICT: "Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church." REPORTER: Pope Benedict announced Monday he will resign from the Papacy because of deteriorating health, becoming the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to take such a step. Reaction outside the Vatican was disbelief. SICILIAN TOURIST, SERGIO CALABRESE: "Obviously for us Catholics it has shocked us, it must be because of his health because if not it is inexplicable." PORTUGUESE TOURIST, RICARDO RODRIGUEZ: "I am just really surprised. I hope the next pope can be better than this one and doing the best for the world and for the Catholics." REPORTER: A Vatican spokesman was quick to embrace the Pope's right to make such a decision. VATICAN SPOKESMAN FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI: "He says this with great freedom and clarity and we admire his totally (sic) freedom in renouncing to (sic) his service." REPORTER: Now the important business of selecting a new Pope. Among the top candidates -- Canadian Marc Ouellet and Peter Turkson,from Ghana. If either man were elected, he would be the first non-European ever to lead the Roman Catholic Church.
UK startup firm Touchnote has launched a new application for Apple and Android devices that allows people to create personalized Christmas cards using a novel Facebook integration. Hayley Platt reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It's a tradition which began in Britain in the 1840's. However in recent years many have chosen to send e cards instead. Now a new app which combines technology and printing could help reverse the declining trend. Mike and Linda Thomson are using Touchnote to send family abroad a photo card - made of real paper. Within seconds of taking a snap it's re-designed as a greeting card. The following day it's printed and sent on its way. MIKE THOMSON, TOUCHNOTE CUSTOMER: "It shows that you care a bit more, it's just a bit more personable. It's something that family members will stick up on their firesides, put up on the wall and refer back to and appreciate rather than something that's stuck away on a laptop that they never see or never open." REPORTER: A recent survey by Royal Mail showed that 80 percent of people prefer traditional cards to e cards. And 25 percent said they would be making a bigger effort to send them this Christmas. Touchnote hopes to sell a record number of cards this year - Raam Thakrar is its co-founder. RAAM THAKRAR: "We communicate in a very digital way but the problem with that is there's a slight lack of substance to it. We don't have things that we can hold, we don't have things that last forever. What we're doing is bringing something back that does last forever." REPORTER: Each greeting costs £1.49 and you don't even have to provide an address. Using Facebook, the App will notify your friends that you wish to send them a card and prompts them for their address. With more and more people complaining social media is isolating them rather than uniting them, Touchnote believes there'll be signficant demand for this new take on a time-honoured tradition.
Multi-channel shopping is big this holiday season, with consumers using apps while in stores to get what they want- at the best price they can get. Bobbi Rebell reports.
TRANSCRIPT BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS REPORTER: From bricks and mortar to click and order, the lines are blurring as the nations top retailers' in-store apps finally catch on with consumers. According to Nielsen, 40 percent of mobile shoppers use lists on their smartphone while shopping. 39 percent use mobile coupons. 63 percent check prices and 26 percent use them to pay. Forrester Research's Julie Ask: JULIE ASK, ANALYST, FORRESTER RESEARCH: "The first thing that the retailers are chasing is the influence of the in store purchase because that's the bigger opportunity. The internet influences the majority of sales in a retail environment. and so having the opportunity to engage with that consumer at the point or at the moment that they are making a decision has phenomenal potential for the retailer." REPORTER: Target, Apple, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart are all using apps to leverage the in-store experience. Wal-Mart's mobile head Gibu Thomas: GIBU THOMAS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF MOBILE AND DIGITAL, WAL-MART STORES: "We found within 2 weeks of launching this experience over 60% of our customers were opting in to use store mode which is really encouraging, and since then the numbers have been going up. The second piece that we found was that over 12 percent of online sales through our apps happen when a customer is in store mode. " REPORTER: That store mode immediately senses when customers enter a Wal-Mart. It puts aisle locators on their mobile shopping lists, prompts them to look at roll backs and local ads, and allows them to check prices. At Wal-Mart, it's all about capturing the sale using the app while the customer is in the store. So let's say I want buy some Furbys. The good news is there's one on the shelf but I want to buy some more. I can take the one that I found I can scan it. The app recognizes it and searches for whether its available on line and, if it is, I can then buy it and have it delivered to the store to pick up later. Wal-Mart customer, Oviae Campanioni, used the price match feature. OVIAE CAMPANIONI, WAL-MART SHOPPER: "I went on my smartphone and I went to the Wal-Mart app, I went to the register and I got price compare and I paid cheaper than I thought I was going to pay and that's why I'm happy. " REPORTER: J.C. Penney has iPads with their app for customers to use while they are shopping. At Target, consumers can scan and buy an item in the store on their mobile phone and have it shipped free. At Apple no registers needed to pay—just the app. So let's say I need to pick up a new power cord for my iPhone 5. All I do is pick it up off the shelf. The app from the Apple store already knows that I'm in the store. I don't need to find any customer service helpers because I can use the easy pay feature to just scan the device and I'm good to go. While the apps are a hit with consumers, its still too early to tell how much impact all the clicking will have on retailers' bottom lines.
Apple introduces a smaller, cheaper version of its popular iPad, the iPad mini, hoping to fend off creeping competition in the tablet market. Jeanne Yurman reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Apple is launching a smaller, cheaper iPad - the iPad mini. It clocks in at 7.9 inches-a screen that's almost two less than the existing iPad and half the weight. All at a starting price of $329. But analysts say that price, while $70 less than the current iPad, is too high. Apple's stock sold off with fears that its first foray into the smaller tablet market won't be able to compete with rivals Google and Amazon, which sell their tablets in the one to two hundred dollar range. Maggie Reardon, CNET Networks: MAGGIE REARDON, SENIOR WRITER, CNET NETWORKS: "When you're above the $300 price point you're not really comparing apples to apples anymore. And I think if this is a product that people are going to buy for their kids or they're going to get as gifts for people or something you know that they just want to be able to toss in a bag and take on the subway or on a trip, this, I think, is a little too expensive." REPORTER: The "mini" is apt to appeal to Apple lovers who have been asking for a gadget somewhere in size between an iPad and an iPod Touch or to those who are willing to pay up for the "mini's" flashier design and more expensive materials. But if Apple cannot successfully upsell the "mini", Ryan Block of gdgt.com, says pricing may change. RYAN BLOCK, CO-FOUNDER, GDGT.COM: "I wouldn't be too surprised if the iPad mini undergoes a price drop at some point in the next year to year and a half." REPORTER: Another market where the "mini" may make inroads is education. RYAN BLOCK, CO-FOUNDER, GDGT.COM: "With the new version of iBooks that they released today you'll be able to update your textbooks over the air the same way you update an app and I think that that's just an amazing move forward for the digital textbook market." REPORTER: Apple also announced upgraded MacBook computers and a next generation iPad 4 that took some by surprise after it released a new iPad only six months ago. The "mini" comes just in time for the holiday shopping season with Apple taking orders starting Friday. The months ahead will tell whether the tablet goliath is able to compete in this smaller, growing market.
Celebrated music producer Brian Eno explains why his newest release 'Scape', which comes in the form of an iPad app, will change the way people make and listen to music. Matt Cowan reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Brian Eno is one of the world's most sought after music producers. He's helped to craft some of the most successful and influential albums of modern times with acts such as U2, Coldplay, Talking Heads and David Bowie. But his newest release Scape - which comes in the form of an app for the iPad goes beyond anything he's done before. BRIAN ENO: "In the Scape app, there are two things inside it, one is an album that we made using the app itself, so someone could just listen to this as an album but it wouldn't be the same as a normal album because it doesn't play the same time each time you listen to it. On the other hand, there is the capacity to use the same technology we use to make your own version of an album. That could be quite different than what we made. It might be quite similar too." REPORTER: The Scape app is the latest result of a collaboration that started with the videogame Spore. That title by the creator of The Sims, Will Wright put game players in charge of creating their own worlds, beginning with the origins of life. The game needed a soundtrack that could evolve along with the world in the game. It was then that Eno was first introduced to Peter Chilvers, a musician and software engineer. In the app, listeners are presented with a visual palette. Each shape, or background represents a sound, some with additional and unpredictable characteristics. PETER CHILVERS: "And there's quite a large range of sounds here. In fact there's such a large range of sounds we had to make them unlock very slowly. We borrowed an idea that games had been using for a very long-time in fact. Computer games typically if they've got a lot of features they will drip feed these to you, so you'll get one level at a time, one new weapon if it's that kind of game. We found that was very useful in Scape because initially it was just overwhelming." BRIAN ENO: "Instead of it being a piece of architecture, it's like a packet of seeds. So you're a gardener rather than an architect. Your planting something and seeing how it grows rather than trying to completely constrain it and know every detail of it." REPORTER: Exactly what Scape will sound like in the hands of listeners is impossible to predict, but of course that's precisely the point. Matt Cowan, Reuters.