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Facebook Acquires Parse to Boost Mobile App Development – Deal Reported to be Worth $85 Million

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Facebook has jumped into an entirely new business category with its acquisition of app-support software firm Parse in a deal reportedly worth $85 million.

The deal is expected to close “shortly,” according to a Parse blog post.

The part-cash, part-stock transaction will allow Facebook to offer more mobile services. Once Facebook owns Parse, its scalable cross-platform services and tools for developers will make it easier for mobile apps to be built with Facebook’s platform. For instance, a developer will now be able to design an app that will work on iOS, Android or Windows Smartphones and tablets and that app would work the same way on Facebook.

“By making Parse a part of Facebook Platform, we want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices,” said Facebook’s Douglas Purdy in a post on the network’s Developers blog.

Facebook image

Facebook image

“Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.”

The acquisition is really good news for Facebook because as more and more apps are linked to its database, the more information the social network will be able to amass on its members. The apps will supply far more detailed data than a page ‘like’ can which, in turn, Facebook can use to attract advertisers who want to launch targeted campaigns.

CEO Ilya Sukhar is describing the acquisition as a big and exciting step for Parse.

“Rest assured, Parse is not going away. It’s going to get better,” she said. “Combining forces with a partner like Facebook makes a lot of sense. In a short amount of time, we’ve built up a core technology and a great community of developers.

“Bringing that to Facebook allows us to work with their incredible talent and resources to build the ideal platform for developers. We think this is the right way to accomplish what we set out to do. We’re excited about the future of Parse.”

Sukhar said those who use Parse apps will not be affected by the change. She added that parse apps will not have to use Facebook functionality and all Parse contracts will remain intact.

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Facebook Acquires Parse to Boost Mobile App Development

AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security in 15 U.S. Cities

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AT&T doesn’t just want to be your wireless provider, it wants to protect your home and manage your digital life too.

The wireless carrier today is rolling out AT&T Digital Life, its new security system and monitoring service, in 15 U.S. cities with plans to expand to 50 cities by year’s end.

AT&T’s Digital Life is both a security and automation system. All a homeowner needs to manage his or her home security from afar is a Smartphone, tablet or laptop.

How it Works

Depending on the package, AT&T installs wirelessly-enabled cameras, doors and window sensors, glass break sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, door locks, thermostats, moisture detection and water shut-off and appliance and lighting controls. All elements of the system are hooked up to a home broadband connection and can be accessed from the homeowner’s device of choice no matter where he or she might be.

Digital Life is available on most Web browsers and apps have been released for iOS, Android and Windows Smartphones. The app features a secure log-in each time it is opened.

The system offers round-the-clock professional monitoring courtesy of AT&T-owned and operated, U.S.-based monitoring centers and security professionals respond to problems and alert emergency services.

“We know how important security is to our customers, and this was our top priority when we set out to build Digital Life,” said AT&T Digital Life senior vice-president Kevin Petersen in a statement. “People rely on their mobile devices more than ever, so Digital Life offers an easy and convenient way to secure their homes, protect their families and simplify their lives from virtually anywhere.”

How to Use It

With Digital Life, homeowners can be at work, running errands or even away on vacation and still check in on their children or pets, adjust room temperature, let someone in the front door, or check to see if the garage door is closed simply by using the app on their tablet, Smartphone, or computer.

“We’re offering consumers a new experience in how they try, buy and experience home security and automation,” said Petersen. “Unlike other services in the market, we’ve designed a service that lets the customer customize their experience, from purchase to services selected to controlling these services through the app on the device of their choice.”

Pricing and Packages

Customers can choose from either Simple Security, a basic home security package, or Smart Security with extra security and home automation.

Simple Security includes round-the-clock home monitoring, 24-hour battery backup, a wireless keypad, keychain remote, recessed sensors and an indoor siren. Equipment and installation costs $149.99 and a monthly fee of $29.99 is charged.

Those opting for Smart Security receive the benefits of Simple Security and three additional features. Homeowners can choose from motion sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, glass break sensors, smoke sensors or a takeover kit.  Smart Security begins at $39.99 a month, while equipment and installation come in at $249.99.

Smart Security customers can also add various automation packages such as a camera package, energy package or water control package for an additional fee.

So far, Digital Life is available in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Philadelphia; Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis and select areas of the regions of New York and New Jersey.

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AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security in 15 U.S. Cities

T-Mobile’s ‘No-Contract’ Plan Lands Firm in Trouble With Attorney General – AG Office Investigation Uncovers ‘Deceptive Advertising,’ ‘Hidden Fees’

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If something seems too good to be true, it probably is — and the old adage may very well apply to T-Mobile if allegations of “deceptive advertising” are true.

An investigation by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson discovered that although T-Mobile was touting a no-annual-contract policy, consumers who cancelled their phone plans would be forced to pay a substantial penalty.

Under the court order issued by Ferguson’s office, America’s Un-carrier is obligated to be up-front about the “limitations” of its recently introduced no-contract wireless service plans. The order, which was signed by T-Mobile, allows customers “duped by the deceptive ads” to end their contracts without being subject to termination fees.

The offer applies to anyone who purchased a cellphone between March 26 and April 25 as long as the cancellation follows the terms of the agreement and the customer returns the phone to T-Mobile.

“As Attorney General, my job is to defend consumers, ensure truth in advertising, and make sure all businesses are playing by the rules,” Ferguson said in a statement. “My office identified that T-Mobile was failing to adequately disclose a critical component of their new plan to consumers, and we acted quickly to stop this practice and protect consumers across the country from harm.”

T-Mobile, which is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., announced last month that it was doing away with subsidized pricing plans and contracts in favor of pre-paid plans and was offering the most popular Smartphones for what it described as the lowest up-front cost.

“These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club,” said T-Mobile USA president and CEO John Legere in a statement during last month’s launch of its new model. “This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts, limits on how much data you can use or when you can upgrade, and monthly bills that make little sense. As America’s Un-carrier, we are changing all of that and bringing common sense to wireless.”

Ferguson’s office, however, said T-Mobile’s claims of “no restrictions” and “no annual contract” are misleading because, to qualify for that plan, customers must provide their own cellphones.

Customers who get a phone from T-Mobile must either pay a monthly rate for 24 months or pay for the phone up front. Any customer who tries to leave before the two years are up must pay the full balance owed on the device, a statement from the Attorney General’s Office revealed. Depending on how early a customer, canceled, he could even be hit with termination fees that exceed those of other wireless carriers.

T-Mobile is maintaining that it has done nothing wrong, but will follow the attorney general’s orders.

“As America’s Un-carrier, our goal is to increase transparency with our customers, unleashing them from restrictive long-term service contracts —this kind of simple, straight-forward approach is core to the new company we are building,” T-Mobile said in a statement. “While we believe our advertising was truthful and appropriate, we voluntarily agreed to this arrangement with the Washington AG in this spirit.”

The company has also been ordered to pay the $26,000 legal bill incurred by the Attorney General’s Office.

The conditions T-Mobile must meet under the Assurance of Discontinuance document, as written by the Attorney General’s Office, are:

The company agrees not to misrepresent consumers’ obligations under its contracts, including those contracts that have not restrictions or limitations;  and

The company agrees not to fail to adequately disclose that customers who terminate their T-Mobile wireless service before their device is paid off will have to pay the balance due on the phone at the time of cancellation.

The company also agrees that it will not misrepresent customers’ true obligations under the terms of its contracts for the sale of service or equipment;

The company also agrees that it will make clear the consequences of cancelling T-Mobile service, including restrictions or limitations on cancellation; fees and costs; and early termination fees;

The company also agrees that it will more clearly state in all advertisements the true cost of telephone equipment, including the requirement the customer carry a wireless service agreement for the life of the 24-month financing plan;

The company also agrees that it will instruct representatives to fully disclose obligations under the terms of its contracts, including developing a “Frequently Asked Questions” page; and

The company also agrees that it will train customer service representatives to comply with the settlement within 21 days of signing.

 

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T-Mobile’s ‘No-Contract’ Plan Lands Firm in Trouble With Attorney General

Technology News Briefs — April 26, 2013

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

LinkedIn Launches Relationship Management App

LinkedIn is making it easier to keep in touch with colleagues and business acquaintance with its new Web and iOS Contacts app.

LinkedIn Contacts is “a smarter way to stay in touch with your most important relationships,” says software engineer Sachin Rekhi in a blog post.

“With this new product, we bring all your contacts from your address books, e-mail accounts, and calendars together with the power of your LinkedIn network. From these sources, we’ll automatically pull in the details of your past conversations and meetings, and bring these details directly onto your contact’s profile.”

The app also sends alerts about events such as job changes or birthdays to users’ networks, to help keep them in the loop and stay in touch. Users can also program in reminders and add notes so they can stay on top of what is happening daily.

LinkedIn plans to send out invitations to try Contacts to a small number of U.S. members in the coming weeks.

Click here to join LinkedIn’s waiting-list.

BlackBerry Adds Skype, WhatsApp Apps to Roster

BlackBerry has finally added Skype and WhatsApp to BlackBerry World, its app store, three months after the Z10 launched in Canada and the U.K.

Although BlackBerry 10 launched Jan. 30 with a healthy app library, it was still significantly smaller than those sported by Android and Apple Smartphones. BlackBerry has rapidly been adding to its app tally ever since and now offers all the most popular social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare and a number of popular gaming apps such as Angry Birds.

With the addition of Skype and WhatsApp, BlackBerry 10 now offers the two most widely-used messaging apps as well.

Skype, reportedly, is a bit slow, but that is expected to change once it is out of preview mode.

Skype can be downloaded for free. WhatsApp is free only for the first year after which there is a 99-cent charge.

ATP Tour, Cut the Rope and Viber will all be available on the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 in the coming weeks.

Leap Motion Delays Release of 3D Motion Controller

Leap Motion has pushed back the shipment date of its 3D gesture control device from May 13 to July 22 to give the company more time to test the device.

CEO Michael Buckwald, in a letter to pre-order customers, said although the firm could have met its original shipping date, it would not have “left time for comprehensive testing” to ensure customers receive a high-quality product.

Since the firm began taking orders for the device last May, 600,000 devices have been manufactured, 12,000 of which are currently in developer’s hands. The developers, who are working to build apps for the gadget, have offered feedback, which the firm has used to “make huge improvements to the stability and polish of the product.”

The changes necessitate more testing —beta tests will begin in June with developers and a small group of consumers.

“Ultimately, the only way we felt 100 percent 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,” Buckwald said.

The Leap 3D motion control system — which is 200 times more sensitive than existing motion-control technology — allows users to navigate and interact with computer applications using natural hand and finger movements.

Those interested in pre-ordering the device can do so here.

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Technology News Briefs — April 26, 2013