Dolphin promises a stripped-down experience with its new “ephemeral” browsing app, Dolphin Zero. Read more »
Hulu had a big 2013, with big increases in revenue and viewership. Read more »
Real-time data public transport planner Moovit has closed a $28 million funding round, led by Sequoia Captial. Read more »
MOOCs have difficulties keeping students engaged in forum discussions, according to new study. Read more »
When Apple posted its year in review on Tuesday, it did something it has never done before: award an education app the top prize. Duolingo, the translation app that was recently updated with more gamified features, was named iPhone App of the Year — beating out VSCO Cam, Endless Alphabet, and other non-gaming apps for the top prize. A rep for the company indicates that this is the first education app that Apple has awarded with the honor, and that the 18-month-old app has more than 16 million users worldwide. The app is available for free on both iPhone and iPad.
Ingress, created by Google’s Niantic Labs, is hard to describe: the real-time, location-based mobile Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game also draws in features from the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) genre to keep users enthralled in a kind of global war, and its beta game culminated in a worldwide party that took place in both San Francisco and Buenos Aires. Now, with that chapter finished, Ingress has exited beta and is now available for free on Google Play. The app already has more than 1 million downloads and boasts players across the globe — just be prepared to lose some serious battery life.
Google’s year-end Zeitgeist showed that we searched for catastrophic events and celebrity deaths the most this year. Read more »
Facebook has announced a limited test of its new video ad system. Read more »
Rumors are rumbling after two Italian newspapers “confirmed” that Amazon is somewhere in the process of acquiring payments startup GoPago, according to the Wall Street Journal. GoPago’s CTO, Vincenzo di Nicola, told those newspapers that his startup has already been acquired, but he’s been mum on the issue since (as has Amazon). The “everything store” hasn’t made an overture into payments, dominated by Square and Paypal, in quite some time, so the quiet acquisition would be an interesting tell as to what the company will do next. But it’s best to wait until the giant speaks up.
Facebook’s latest feature helps non-profits and charities accept donations through the social network. Read more »
BlackBerry has announced the departure of more executives, leaving a long list of who has been jettisoned by the ailing company. Read more »
The 60 Minutes’ report on the NSA last night (available here) promised a hard-hitting look, but many called it a “puff piece,” according to a Storify of reactions from journalists built by Circa’s Anthony De Rosa. Of course, Glenn Greenwald chimed in, wondering why reporter John Miller didn’t ask about how Gen. Keith Alexander “routinely lied to Congress & FISA courts.” Miller said in a CBS piece that he “asked the hardest questions we could ask,” but his discrediting of Snowden as a “20-something-year-old high school dropout” doesn’t do well to assuage accusations of bending to the NSA’s will.
Pop icon Beyonce surprised the world on Friday when her self-titled fifth album dropped in the iTunes store without warning — complete with music videos for each track. Billboard reports that the so-called “visual album” is a major success, selling more than 550,000 copies in three days and landing the diva at the top of the Billboard 200. Bey isn’t the first artist to experiment with new album formats — her husband Jay-Z released his latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for free to Samsung owners earlier this year — but this record’s creative “visual” nature may be the key to digital album success.
Netflix has the research to back up how much users really love binge-watching. Read more »
Oculus VR, creators of the Rift virtual reality (VR) goggles, closed on a $75 million round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz to bring its product to mainstream consumers, according to Venturebeat. Spark Capital, Matrix Partners and Formation|8 also participated, and Oculus VR previously raised more than $2.4 million in 2012 on Kickstarter. The new money, along with the full-time focus of game icon John Carmack, is a big investment in not only bringing consumer VR to market, but also to make it a viable place for games — not just a one-off novelty product.
Educational startup Koru, armed with $4.35 million in Series A funding, wants to help millennials get their first jobs. Read more »
Yahoo’s having a rough week: after barely patching together its email services, Flickr went down for a portion of Thursday. Read more »
The much-hyped SXSW app is back with version 2.0 and a new round of funding. Read more »
Instagram has announced its newest feature: private messaging, called Instagram Direct. Read more »
The stealth company that nabbed $12 million has finally shown off its mysterious product. Read more »
Language-learning app Duolingo has released an entirely new version of its app, which introduces more gamified features to keep users engaged. In addition to its existing lessons, the company unveiled a feature called “The Language Coach” — essentially a software taskmaster (mascot Duo the Owl) to keep users on track for goals. There is also a new in-game currency, called Lingots, that offer “power-ups” to users while they learn. The feature leans heavily on existing freemium methodology, but they aren’t necessary to complete lessons. All in all, the app’s gamification is a clear move to keep users coming back for more.
Peek is taking its activity booking service to the iPhone, offering users the ability to see nearby trips, meals and activities. The app, called Peek Tours and Activities, offers users a personality quiz to narrow down activities that suit their tastes. Users can also browse all offerings directly by “personality,” subject and an area’s point of interest. The app, of course, works best in an area that is a popular for tourists, so scanning for things to do in a small town may not provide a gratifying experience. But, its curated resources are worth considering while on vacation.
Shopify’s latest funding round will help the startup boost its POS offerings. Read more »
Yahoo’s webmail has been down for as long as 48 hours, and restless users are speaking out. Read more »
While it’s just an average ride sharing app, the value in Trees for Cars lies in its compelling story. Read more »
As smartphones finally begin to boom in Japan, so does the cash spent on apps. According to App Annie, the country has overtaken the U.S. as the top grossing country in overall app spending in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play this year. Japan’s combined iOS and Android monthly app revenue has more than tripled year-over-year, thanks to a boom in smartphone penetration. It’s also a market dominated by domestic app developers, like GungHo Games and Line. But, most importantly, Japan isn’t finished growing — making it a ripe market for app sales in the years to come.
Facebook’s proprietary metric, People Talking About This, might get a boost for media companies seeking detailed sentiment about their content. Read more »
Coursera has finally released an app for iPhone, bringing MOOCs to mobile. Read more »
With a new firmware update, Nintendo has finally righted a wrong for many gamers, creating a cross-platform online ID. Read more »
Do you know about Apple’s “12 Days of Digital Gifts” campaign? American users have been left out of Cupertino’s annual free gift app until now, as it has only been available within select countries. But 9to5Mac reports that this year, the U.S. has been brought in on the fun. iTunes users who download the app will be able to snag a select piece of digital media for free every 24 hours, starting on December 26. The app is available for download now for both iPhone and iPad in the iTunes App Store.
Old News, meet New News: E.W. Scripps has announced that it will acquire video-journalism-for-hire startup Newsy for $35 million, with the deal expected to be finalized by January of next year. Newsy has made a name for itself by producing news videos alongside content for websites like the Huffington Post, Mashable and Microsoft, essentially providing a broadcast news team on commission. That strategy will be used to provide video content for the digital versions of the many daily papers E.W. Scripps still owns across the country, a needed service as local papers struggle to keep up online.
In conjunction with Computer Science Education Week’s “Hour of Code,” Codecademy has released its very first mobile app. Read more »
It’s true: Verizon will be acquiring CDN EdgeCast to bolster its own media delivery capabilities. Read more »
Circuit Stickers light up, sense and even twinkle when placed on conductive material. Read more »
Benchmark, a leading VC firm that has backed several successful startups like Instagram, Snapchat, Uber and Yelp — has recently raised $425 million for a new fund, according to Fortune. The details in an SEC filing reveal that the new money does come with some changes: firm co-founders Kevin Harvey and Bruce Dunlevie are no longer listed as general partners, and there is a chance a new general partner will join the team. Still, it’s another milestone for one of Silicon Valley’s most successful VCs, and the new money will help support the firm’s kingmaking abilities for the immediate future.
Mozilla’s holiday game contest puts the emphasis on HTML5 development. Read more »
After the FDA posted a cease-and-desist, 23andMe has removed healh-related genetic testing from its services. Read more »
The ultimate archive feature has arrived: Google officially announced via blog post that users can now export all of the data from both Gmail and Gcal. The new feature, which is available now for Gcal, will roll-out across all users this month for Gmail and is accessible via the “Download Your Data” tab in the Google settings menu. Now you can keep hoarding your massive email collection without worrying about backing up against Google’s (admittedly massive) data ceiling.
Foursquare has finally released its latest update to the masses, with passive location features pushing relevant notifications to users. Read more »
Jobs portal and HR information platform Glassdoor has announced a $50 million Series E round, which will go towards taking the company to new international heights. Read more »