MediaFile

Home is where the phone is

It hasn’t yet been six years since the start of the smartphone revolution and we’ve already become an “always on” culture. At least, that’s the temptation. Those who submit can be called The Immersives: checking e-mail, keeping tabs on Facebook “friends,” debating on Twitter, snapping photos of food for Instagram. It would be rare if any of us didn’t have at least one toe dipped in the stream.

We are all Immersives sometime: We bury our faces in the small screen while we walk, or come dangerously close to driving blindly into traffic. We can’t get through a meal without virtually leaving the table. We keep our phones on permanent silent to conceal the depth of our addiction. If we even momentarily lose track of our phone, we are as anxious as new parents whose toddler has dipped out of sight.

Immersives are the target audience for Facebook Home, a new version of the social network’s app that was announced this week. Home lives on the front side of the lockscreen — it’s the first thing you see when you pick up the phone. It’s a major release that reveals the extent to which Facebook needs us to stay Immersives to help it meet its bottom line. This decade’s major technological question is:  Who’s in control — our phones, or us?

Facebook is the flagbearer of the former. In a press event Thursday to unveil Home, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to position this app as a breakthrough for “us.” Smartphones, he said, are designed around apps and not people. This is clever messaging: A smartphone’s customization is all in its apps. We have little control, on any platform, of what our phone serves up for us the moment we pull it out of our pockets.

Facebook Home is perhaps the first of what Wired’s Steven Levy has already coined as the  ”super apps” — always on, always current, and the first thing you see. Super apps come with an easy sell:  If you are immersed in one thing more than others — Zuckerberg says we spend almost a quarter of our time on smartphones on Facebook — why shouldn’t your phone give you the option to put that app on a virtual pedestal. 

Twist – a new app for the punctuality-challenged

The minds of Silicon Valley have yet to find the cure for tardiness, but they have figured out a way to make being late less rude.

A new app call Twist notifies friends and colleagues when you’re running late, calculating the estimated time of arrival to your destination on-the-fly and zipping off text messages to the people waiting for you.

The free app, available on Wednesday for iOS devices, can be used for trips by car, bike, foot and public transportation in most major U.S. cities. In development for the past year, the app’s algorithms crunch through various data streams, such as the average speed you travel and real-time traffic patterns, to calculate ETAs that co-founder Mike Belshe says are 98 percent accurate.

Tech wrap: Sony suffers as TV picture dims

Sony warned of a fourth straight year of losses, with its television unit alone set to lose $2.2 billion on tumbling demand and a surging yen, sinking its U.S. shares and raising concerns about the viability of its high-profile TV business. Investors had expected Sony to reduce its profit forecast, but not flag a swing to massive losses.

The maker of Bravia TVs, Vaio computers and PlayStation game consoles cut its sales forecast for TVs, cameras and DVD players and said it may report a 90 billion yen ($1.1 billion) net loss for the current financial year, scrapping its earlier net profit estimate of 60 billion yen.Sony’s U.S. listed shares closed down nearly 6 percent.

A small Spanish tablet maker won a patent infringement battle with Apple in a rare victory against the tech giant in its global defense of markets for its iPads, a court document showed. Spain’s Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala (NT-K) successfully appealed a 2010 injunction from a local court to ban the import of its tablet computer — manufactured in China — to Spain. NT-K, from the Valencia region of Spain, is demanding compensation from Apple for losses during the ban of its product and is suing the U.S. giant for alleged anticompetitive behavior.

Bye bye BlackBerry?

As Research In Motion deals with the fallout from service disruptions that have affected millions of BlackBerry users around the world this week, a survey by Aite Group shows that out of 402 financial advisers polled, 45 percent say they would choose an Apple iPhone or iPad, while 14 percent would pick a BlackBerry.

Which mobile platform is best able to meet your business needs?

    I want to switch to an iPhone or iPad from a BlackBerry I already made the change to an iPhone or iPad from a BlackBerry I don't plan on abandoning BlackBerry Forget Apple and RIM, I'm siding with Android

View Results Loading ... Loading ...

Apple’s iPhone 4 Launch – The Nuts and Bolts

Sure, you already peeped the next version of the iPhone months ago, thanks to that hapless Apple engineer’s fateful beer-haus outing.

But Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs filled in many blanks about the gadget on Monday during a nearly two-hour on-stage unveiling of the iPhone 4 in San Francisco at the Apple developers’ conference.JobsiPhone4

Herewith, the key features of Apple’s latest smartphone, as well as some of the other noteworthy nuggets that Jobs ticked off at a rapid-fire pace during his presentation.