Though the subject of many a punch-line in Silicon Valley, the Yo! app -- the app that lets users send the message, “Yo” -- has been enlisted to help alert Israelis to incoming missile attacks. “What started out as a ‘joke app’ is being marshaled to provide supporters of Israel worldwide with real-time updates on missile attacks,” The Times of Israel reports. Tapping the app is part of a broader effort to alert as many people as possible to potential attacks amid increasing tensions with Palestinian militants in Gaza.
PubNative -- hatched from mobile game-marketing startup AppLift -- is trying to shake up the native ad space with a special focus on mobile ad customization. “PubNative is different from MoPub, TapJoy and other native ad firms … because its platform shuns software development kits (SDKs) in favor of a ‘simple’ API,” VentureBeat reports, citing company execs. “Through PubNative’s API, publishers can customize 21 parameters of their ads, from app name, icon, screenshots and rating to custom images, image sizes and description text.”
Rather than mapping out the most efficient travel directions, Yahoo Labs is working on a service that prioritizes the scenic value of particular paths. As the MIT Technology Review reports: “These guys have worked out how to measure the ‘beauty’ of specific locations within cities and then designed an algorithm that automatically chooses a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it.”
Following the lead of Spotify and other streaming music services, Xbox Music just opened its API to third-party app developers. “We’re inviting developers to dream up ways to make your apps and experiences cool and exciting,” explains a post on Microsoft's MSDN blog. According to Billboard, It's not expected that streaming services will open their APIs, but as more and more have made their internal mechanisms available for creative plundering, it could be considered unwise not to.”
OnGamers, CBS Interactive’s flagship “esports” news site, is reportedly in big trouble. Rod “Slasher” Breslau, the site’s first employee and senior editor, was relieved of his duties for allegedly engaging in "vote manipulation" to achieve more prominent story placement on Reddit -- but not before the popular news sharing platform banned onGamers for an undetermined period of time. That’s a big (and potentially fatal) problem, considering that Reddit accounted for over half of onGamers' total traffic, as Kim Rom, CBSI’s vice president of esports, tells The Daily Dot.
While not entirely excusing Facebook’s secret psychological experiments, The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo considers the benefits such research can bestow. “Studying how we use social media may provide important insights into some of the deepest mysteries of human behavior,” he writes. “Facebook and much of the rest of the Web are thriving petri dishes of social contact, and many social science researchers believe that by analyzing our behavior online, they may be able to figure out why and how ideas spread … and even why and how people fall in love.”
Going head-to-head with all the top tech companies, Microsoft is reportedly readying its own fitness tracker. “Microsoft will this fall release a Samsung Gear Fit-like fitness band that will display smartphone-based notifications, just like the current and rumored watches and other wearables,” Windows blogger and Paul Thurrott reports, citing sources. But, “it's a wristband, not a watch.” Sources also say the gadget “will work with Android, iPhone and Windows Phone.”
Tinder is facing a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit from it former marketing VP Whitney Wolfe. Among other charges, Wolfe accuses heads of the popular dating app of removing her title as co-founder due to her gender. “IAC/InterActiveCorp owns a majority stake in Los Angeles-based Tinder and is also a defendant, along with fellow dating site and IAC portfolio company Match.com,” Reuters reports.
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