Top digital lifestyle news
This week was dominated by the D: All Things Digital conference, which saw a number of big announcements from Microsoft, Apple, Palm, and RealNetworks.
Even before the conference kicked off we reported rumors that Bill Gates was going to unviel Microsoft’s answer to the iPhone. Called Surface, the actual product turned out to be much larger (30-inch display!) and converts an ordinary tabletop into a interactive surface where different forms of digital content can be manipulated through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. By the end of the year Microsoft says the technology should find its way into hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
The second big announcement on opening day was a new mobile computing platform called Livescribe. Taking the shape of an ordinary ball-point pen, the device can digitize notes written on special miniature-dotted paper, as well as record and playback audio. Then comes the clever bit — double tap on a word you’ve written and the smart-pen will replay a portion of audio at the exact point the notes were taken, so for example, a few keyword notes can be tied to a place in a recorded lecture or interview. Later on the synced data can then be downloaded to a PC where it can be “replayed, saved, searched or sent”.
Not to be undone by Microsoft, Apple CEO Steve Jobs also had an announcement of his own. AppleTV (which he described as the company’s hobby, compared to its other three businesses of computers, music, and cell phones) would soon be able to stream videos directly from YouTube. In a post titled ‘YouTube to re-encode videos for AppleTV (and iPhone?)‘ we reported that as part of the arrangement the Google-owned video sharing site will covert its back catalogue into the higher quality H.264 video format to deliver a better viewing experience on the AppleTV, and possibly in the future, the iPhone.
Palm unvieled its much anticipated new product called Foleo — which the company’s founder Jeff Hawkins talked up as a new product category in itself. Sporting a 10inch screen and full-size keyboard the device is essentially a note-pad-sized laptop, designed specifically to dynamically sync with and compliment the computing power of a smart-phone. The problem that Palm is attempting to solve is that no matter how powerful cell phones have become, there are times when a larger screen and proper keyboard makes more sense — such as composing emails, editing a spreadsheet, or using web apps.
On day two of the D: All Things Digital conference, the big announcement was RealNetwork’s update to its streaming media player ‘RealPlayer’, which is aiming to be like ‘TiVo’ for the web. The new software will enable users to download or ‘record’ video on any website where the content isn’t copy protected, and then burn that content onto CD or DVD. We noted that this new functionality could lead Real into legal problems, as downloading and storing video from sites like YouTube may actually break their Terms of Service.
More digital lifestyle news:
- DRM-free iTunes now open for business
- iTunes hides account details in DRM-free downloads
- Hacking the AppleTV just got easier
- YouTube player gets new look and feel
The big feature this week was a post titled ‘Will ISPs spoil the online video party?‘, which looked at the limits Internet Services Providers place on users’ bandwidth, and how they discriminate against peer-to-peer traffic.
Our second feature this week was a preview of Babelgum, a competitor to the peer-to-peer video service Joost.
That’s a wrap for the week! Enjoy the weekend.