Foursquare, the location-based social networking service, has launched a new feature called Location Layers, where users have the ability to opt-in to specific tips/notes/trips. The introductory Layer is designed by the cable-TV channel IFC. This is a huge opportunity for libraries, if we can convince Foursquare to give us access to this feature.
Amazon was just awarded a very, very interesting patent on specific aspects of eReader devices, and it might have a huge impact on the Nook and others in the market. Among the many pieces of the patent, they were awarded a design patent on:
A handheld electronic device comprising: a housing; an electronic paper display disposed in the housing and having a first surface area; and a liquid crystal display (LCD) disposed in the housing proximate the electronic paper display, the LCD having a second surface area that is smaller than the first surface area of the electronic paper display.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the Nook. It will be very interesting to see whether Amazon uses this patent as a stick (beating B&N with it) or as a carrot, and convincing B&N to work with them in some way.
I expect to see more and more interesting tools using Dropbox now that they have a robust API in place, but this one is a no-brainer for anyone with an iOS device, especially the iPad. Habilis (gethabilis.com) does one very simple thing: it gives you a unique email address, and any file you email to that address is placed in your Dropbox.
For the iPad, this means that any file you create in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote is just one email away from being on all of your computers. Really great service, and I’m surprised that Dropbox itself hadn’t implemented it yet.
After over a year of being invitation-only, Google has finally opened up Voice for signups. If you haven’t heard of or used Google Voice, it’s an interesting service that has a lot potential. The general idea is: you sign up, and Google gives you a new phone number. This number then becomes a sort of relay, forwarding calls to any number of other phones simultaneously. For instance, if someone calls my Google Voice number, it rings my Work phone and my Cell phone at the same time, and I just pick up whichever is more convenient.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though…Voice also gives you a ton of control over how incoming calls are dealt with. It uses your Google Contacts as one source for logical rules, and you can set up things like “If anyone in my Friends list calls me, send that to my Cell phone and don’t go to Voicemail”. On the other hand, you can easily say something like “If anyone on my “Do Not Call” list calls, don’t ring my phone and send them to Voicemail.” Or even block them completely!
Voice also does voicemail speech-to-text transcription, will txt you when you get a voicemail, and integrates seamlessly with Android phones. It’s an incredible service…if you haven’t tried it, and you hate the phone as much as I do, Google Voice will change the way you deal with the phone.
And today, on the heels of the formal announcement of the $150 wifi Nook, and the price drop to $200 for the 3G Nook, Amazon fired a shot across the bow by dropping the price of their Kindle dramatically…all the way to $189. Just yesterday the Kindle was $269!
Both the Nook and Kindle are definitely leaders in this eInk-based eReader space, and for libraries the $150 Nook is especially promising, given that it works with the Overdrive ebook platform. But these price drops just signify what I’ve been saying for a few months now: eInk based devices like these are going to be in a race to the bottom as far as pricing goes for the foreseeable future. Expect these to continue to get cheaper…it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see another small price drop for the holiday season.
Engadget is reporting that a $150 wifi only Nook has shown up in the Barnes & Noble ordering system, again showing an amazing drop in the costs of eInk eReaders. If you’re in the market for one, you might want to sit the week out and see what Wednesday brings.
Today, Wordpress officially launched it’s 3.0 release, bringing tons of new functionality to the long-standing King of the blogging world. This release is named Thelonius (Wordpress names it’s major releases after jazz musicians), and has over a thousand bug-fixed, the long awaited merging of the Wordpress MU and Wordpress codebases, and a brand new default theme.
The most exciting part of 3.0 to me is the merging of the Multi-user codebase into Wordpress proper. This means that not only can you run an amazing blog with Wordpress, but you can, with the exact same install, run hundreds or thousands of blogs. For libraries this can be amazingly powerful for running internal blogs for staff, multiple patron blogs, or even allowing your patrons to use your system to create blogs of their own…WP just made hosting multiple blogs as easy as a few mouse clicks.
Here’s a video that outlines the various new features of the release…if you aren’t using WP for blogging, check it out. And if you are, this upgrade is a complete no-brainer.
Today's WWDC announcements were almost entirely, as expected, focused around the iPhone 4 hardware and the iOS4 software. The software had a few pieces that are interesting for libraries, the largest being that the iBook store is coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch with iOS4, and that it will be updated to handle PDF's natively in the iBook interface. But it was the hardware that was really interesting. Here's the highlights as I see them: