Apple spent a lot of time at its Worldwide Developers Conference last week getting devs used to the idea that the best way to design app experiences is with size fluidity in mind. Ostensibly, they were discussing best practices for support the iPad’s new split-screen multitasking interface in iOS 9, but you couldn’t help but think about the rumors swirling of a 12-inch iPad Pro at… Read More
HTC is said to be readying the next generation of the HTC One, which will keep the same simple moniker but offer up a larger display and a camera with a so-called “twin-sensor” rear-facing camera, according to Bloomberg (via Verge). The screen will be at least 5-inches diagonally, which is slightly larger than the existing 4.7-inch HTC One, but overall the design will resemble that of its predecessor.
I’m feeling conflicted about this new device: On the one hand, the HTC One is easily one of the top three best Android phones of 2013; on the other, it’s clear that the HTC One didn’t do much to turn around HTC’s flagging fortunes, despite the extremely positive reception it had among press and the few people who did buy one.
Still, maybe a year of positive press and hype associated with the HTC One name will help the Taiwanese company move more units this time around, paired with a bigger screen (which seems to be high on customer want lists) as well as this improved camera, which is said to offer better focus performance, improved depth of field and better image quality overall, according to Bloomberg’s source.
As sad is it to say, HTC doesn’t need another smartphone that appeals to the connoisseur crowd: It needs a runaway mass-market success. They did great work with the HTC One, but sticking close to the original design in this case does mean they run the risk of shipping another beloved but mostly ignored device.
Mobile payments company Square is announcing today the opening of a larger, expanded San Francisco-based headquarters. In addition, the company announced plans for new offices in both New York and Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada — a location that could help the company take advantage of recently laid off employees from beleaguered Waterloo-based company Blackberry which saw massive layoffs just last month.
Square moved into its new corporate headquarters at 1455 Market Street in San Francisco last week, it says, and as of today, the offices are open to visitors. The office is more than 150,000 square feet, which is three times the size of the company’s previous space in the San Francisco Chronicle building. Meanwhile, the number of worldwide employees have doubled year-over-year, going from approximately 300 in 2012 to nearly 600 at present, says Square.
The growth has led Square to seek out new office space outside the Bay Area, in locations that are both strategic for Square’s growth as well as areas where engineering talent can be found. In New York, where the expansion news had leaked out to Buzzfeed in August, the company has signed a lease for an office in the SoHo area, and plans to triple its engineering presence there within one year. The Canadian office – Square’s first permanent office in the country – will open in 2014.
Square also has offices in Atlanta and Tokyo, the company notes.
Square Wanted To Be A New York Company
A few weeks ago, Square CEO Jack Dorsey hosted a roundtable at Columbia University to weigh in on recent developments in smartphone tech, Square’s future, and specifically New York as a suitable spot for startup growth.
At the time, he noted that Square Wallet in particular would play a crucial role in the company’s growth. As with all new payment schemes, however, Dorsey said he believes that ushering in a new sort of consumer behavior will take a broad stretch of time.
“We believe we can shorten that time frame significantly with Square Wallet,” said Dorsey.
He also explained that the direction of Square Wallet is in line with the direction of all technology, in that technology is slowly fading to the background and pushing focus on the people using it. “With Square Wallet, you walk up to the counter and confirm your name and you’re done,” said Dorsey. “You’re paying with who you are, and all you need is you.”
Where outside innovations are concerned, Dorsey said he believes that Apple’s new fingerprint reader is a slight boon to the evolution of payments on mobile. “Anytime there is better protection on the forefront, to even enter the device — people have a lot of sensitive information on their phones — that will help with changing behavior towards payments,” he said.
However, Dorsey doesn’t believe that the implementation of finger-print-level security is squarely focused on payments. Rather, building security into the phone is there to protect the entire package, not just to facilitate or protect a single part of the phone.
Dorsey also pre-announced the NY expansions then, revealing that Square will be growing the New York offices by three times by the end of the year, a plan he calls “aggressive.” He noted also that he felt that Square belongs in New York for a number of reasons.
“We actually tried to start the company in New York almost five years ago, but we weren’t able to hire the engineers and designers we needed to at the time,” said Dorsey.
In his perspective, New York had more of a marketing problem than a talent shortage, as it seemed that engineers and designers weren’t meeting in a single place on a regular basis. In other words, there was a lack of community. Luckily for New York, Dorsey says that isn’t a problem anymore, which is a theme we’ve seen play out elsewhere.
For example, Bonobos moved its team to New York from San Francisco in March.
“This city has something very different from Silicon Valley,” said Dorsey. “New Yorkers are facing different issues, and the people in New York are actually living the problems we are trying to fix.”
Dorsey wasn’t entirely clear on the type of hires he’s looking for to fill out the rapidly expanding SoHo office in New York, but he did mention that the company will be “heavily investing” in bringing more women on board as they offer a “different perspective” for Square.
Leap Motion has just announced that its 3D gesture controller hardware ship date will be delayed, from May 13 for pre-orders and May 19 for general retail availability to July 27. The delay was caused by a need for more testing from the Leap Motion beta testing community, and an expansion of that group with additional members, according to Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald, who held a press conference today to discuss the missed dates.
This is not good new for a company that has spent a lot of time promoting its product and securing high-level partnerships (with Asus, HP and Best Buy) up until now. The hype that Leap Motion has been able to build only means that users will be more disappointed by any delays in its launch window, and the effect on public perception is certainly one the hardware startup would like to have avoided. Still, some 12,000 developers have received units and already used them to do impressive things, so Leap Motion is hardly in danger of being branded ‘vaporware’ as of yet.
Leap Motion says it wants to make sure that the product they deliver is the best they can offer, and says that there is “nothing catastrophically wrong” with the hardware as of yet. The company believes that it could have shipped by the original date if it had really pushed things, but wanted to make sure that things were ready for prime time. The new July 22 ship date is firmly set, according to Buckwald, and this is “the first and only delay there will be.”
When asked if there was a specific cause, Buckwald said it’s more about beta testing everything in general, but that there will definitely be a focus on getting more input on how customers interact with the product. In general, it sounds like there’s some concern about making sure that user experience is pleasant among not only Leap Motion’s more technical users, but also the general public, too. Buckwald says it has addressed most of the technical issues around gesture tracking, and now the emphasis is squarely on usability testing, and those who are already seeded with early hardware will essentially act more as consumer testers.
“If you’d asked me a year ago what was the biggest challenge, I’d have said it would be the hardware side,” Buckwald said, but went on to explain that the software aspect is now what’s holding things up, and the part that needs more refinement. 600,000 units are in inventory in warehouses ready to ship, he said, but those won’t be going out until the software issues are ironed out. When asked about how that affects their funding situation, he explained that the $ 45 million it has raised so far was designed to help it field unexpected hiccups in the process, and it continues to help with that.
A small number of additional users will be invited to the beta test pool beginning in June, Buckwald explained, but Leap Motion will be reaching out to users specifically to choose those, based on their desire for a more varied beta pool. In other words, you probably can’t petition for early access. The full letter Leap Motion is sending out to pre-order customers follows:
Release Date Update
I wanted to reach out to update you on the status of our ship date. After a lot of consideration, we’ve decided to push back the date and will now be shipping units to pre-order customers on July 22nd.
This is not a decision we take lightly. There are hundreds of thousands of people in over 150 countries who have pre-ordered Leap devices, some as long as a year ago. These people are part of our community and there is nothing more important to us than getting them devices as quickly as possible.
We’ve made a lot of progress. When we first started taking orders back in May we were twelve (very tired) people in a basement. Now we are eighty (although still tired and possibly still in a basement). We’ve manufactured over six hundred thousand devices and delivered twelve thousand Leaps to amazing developers who are building applications that let people do things that just wouldn’t have been possible before. These developers have given us great feedback that we’ve used to make huge improvements to the stability and polish of the product. We’re really proud of Leap as both a company and a product.
The reality is we very likely could have hit the original ship date. But it wouldn’t have left time for comprehensive testing. This will come in the form of a beta test that will start in June. We will give the 12k developers who currently have Leap devices access to the feature complete product including OS interaction (today developers only have access to the SDK). We will also invite some people who are not developers to join the beta test.
Ultimately, the only way we felt 100% confident we could deliver a truly magical product that would do justice to this new form of interaction, was to push the date so we would have more time for a larger, more diverse beta test.
I really appreciate your patience. I know it’s been a long wait. Everyone that works at Leap is working tirelessly to make sure that wait is worth it. Thanks so much for your help and support.
David and I will be participating in an open video Q&A using Google Hangout tomorrow. We’ll send along more specific information on that shortly. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact our support team at[email protected] or my personal email ([email protected]). As always, we will not charge pre-order customer’s credit cards until the devices have actually shipped.
Thanks again. Michael Buckwald
In the blogosphere’s continuing quest to assemble a virtual iPhone 5 before Apple unveils a real one in September, 9to5Mac has published images of what appears to be the next iPhone’s battery. Juicy stuff!
As expected, the battery is a bit larger than the last iPhone, but not by much. It jumps from 1430mAh in the iPhone 4S (up from 1420mAh in the iPhone 4) to a 1440 mAh battery. With the expected inclusion of LTE, plus Apple’s turn-by-turn mapping (which is a huge battery drain, at least in iOS 6 beta), we must simply hope that Apple’s dual-core SoC will use this relatively limited power source efficiently.
According to the label on the battery pack, it was created in June of this year, which is right in line with Apple’s iPhone 5 timing.
So what else can we expect in Apple’s next-gen iPhone? For one, a larger 4-inch display at a resolution of 1,136 x 640, along with a new two-tone back panel. You’ll also see a much smaller connector dock along the bottom, as Apple is allegedly replacing the worn out 30-pin dock Apple’s used for so long in its iThings with a 19-pin mini dock.
Of course, iOS 6 will ship with the device.