SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook on Thursday unveiled a new Instagram version that reveals new private sharing features and the extent of its Snapchat envy.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook announced Instagram Direct, allowing people to send photos and videos among smaller groups. Rival Snapchat, an app that Facebook offered to buy for $3 billion last month, can send photo and video messages that disappear.
"Up until now, you've been able to share beautiful images with all of your followers at once. However, sometimes there are moments that are meant for one person, or a few close friends: an inside joke among friends, or a picture sent to someone you love just to say hello," said Instagram in a blog post.
Instagram Direct enables messages with up to 15 people. It is available today on Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Facebook acquired Instagram, the photo filters and sharing service, last year for $1 billion.
- Martin Edlund: New report finds impressive progress against malaria
- Rate of death among children under 5 has been cut in half, he says
- Edlund says new diagnostic and treatment options are key weapons in the fight
- He says stepped-up American aid, from Bush and Obama, has played a key role
Editor's note: Martin Edlund is a founding member and CEO of Malaria No More, an organization committed to ending deaths from malaria by engaging leaders, rallying the public and delivering lifesaving tools and health education to families across Africa.
(CNN) -- Progress against global diseases is typically slow, incremental and hard-won. But there are moments -- such as Wednesday's release of the World Health Organization's World Malaria Report -- when the cumulative effort of dozens of nations, millions of people and billions of dollars adds up to a true breakthrough.
With the new report, we have turned a corner in the malaria fight. We have reduced the rate of deaths from malaria among children under 5 by 51% from 2000 to 2012 -- halfway to our goal of ending death by mosquito bite. For the first time, the number of children dying from this preventable and treatable disease fell below half a million.
Progress against malaria is responsible for fully 20% of the reduction in child mortality since 2000. Malaria control has saved 3.3 million lives since 2000 -- 3 million of them children under 5.
This progress stands out as one of the great success stories in global health, even in human history. It's especially impressive when you consider that malaria has been with us since the dawn of man and, by some accounts, has killed more people than any other cause in human history: more than war, famine or any other disease.
Despite today's progress, malaria remains one of the biggest impediments to saving lives, improving health and unlocking human potential in much of the developing world. It threatens 3.4 billion people -- roughly half the globe -- and is a leading cause of school and work absenteeism in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria literally sucks the lifeblood (energy, livelihood and productivity) from the African continent.
I often compare the malaria fight to the moonshot. Both are human milestones, measures of our progress as a species and a society. And both were made possible by U.S. vision and leadership. The seeds of today's progress were sown under President George W. Bush with the launch of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2002 and the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative in 2005.
These efforts have accelerated under President Barack Obama, who has expanded the initiative and recently committed to provide $1 to the Global Fund for every $2 contributed by the rest of the world, up to $5 billion by 2016. These investments are paying off, not only in children's lives saved but also in promoting stable, productive nations by keeping children in school, workers at their jobs and families financially secure.
As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said, "fighting malaria is not only the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing."
Much of the progress to date comes from expanded access to simple tools such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and we must maintain high levels of coverage. But how do we end the other 50% of child deaths? How do we ensure that no child dies from a mosquito bite and that we ultimately eradicate this disease from the planet? The answer comes down to three cheap, revolutionary tools.
The first is a rapid diagnostic test, or RDT. Until a few years ago, there was no practical way to get a timely, accurate diagnosis for malaria. If someone thought they might have malaria, they had to travel to a distant clinic that had an expensive microscope -- and a trained lab technician who would examine a drop of blood under a microscope -- and hope the doctor read it right.
Enter the RDT. This simple, 50-cent device tells you in a matter of minutes with 99% accuracy if you have the malaria parasite in your body. There are now 200 million of these tests deployed in Africa each year, and they're transforming the fight against malaria -- driving timely treatment and ensuring people who have other illnesses -- such as pneumonia or respiratory infection -- get the lifesaving care they need.
The second tool is malaria treatment: artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs. It costs less than $1 to deliver a full course of lifesaving treatment to a child in Africa. And the simple fact is: If a child with malaria gets this $1 worth of medicine in time, he or she will not die. At Malaria No More, we're helping to close the testing and treatment gaps in Africa through our new Power of One campaign, where every dollar provides a lifesaving test and treatment.
The third tool may surprise you: a mobile phone. There's a mobile revolution under way in Africa. By 2015, there'll be more than 1 billion mobile phones on the continent. They're not only transforming communication and commerce but also how we fight communicable disease.
Mobile is helping us solve a whole slew of problems in the malaria fight: address health facilities that have a shortage of lifesaving treatments by providing timely updates on stock levels, fight counterfeit drugs by enabling consumers to text a code to confirm a malaria treatment is authentic, expand the reach of health education to ensure people sleep under their mosquito nets and provide the real-time data on malaria cases that is the prerequisite for strategies to eliminate the disease.
These tools are helping us work faster, smarter and more cost effectively. With their help -- and continued investment -- we can write malaria into the history books.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Martin Edlund.
World leaders bowed and prayed Wednesday before the flag-draped casket containing the body of Nelson Mandela, having a final look at the anti-apartheid icon in the amphitheater where he was sworn in 19 years earlier as South Africa's first black president.
Some made the sign of the cross, others simply spent a few moments gazing at Mandela's face through a glass plane atop the coffin at the Union Buildings in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. Leaders like Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma and others passed by the casket in two lines. Four junior naval officers in white uniforms kept watch. Celebrities like singer Bono of the band U2 also paid their respects. So did F.W. de Klerk, the last president of white rule who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for ending the apartheid era.
Mandela 's widow Graca Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other family members also viewed his body.
Some appeared lost for a moment looking down at Mandela. South Sudan's Salva Kiir Mayardit stood for a moment, transfixed, before removing his trademark black cowboy hat and crossing himself.
"I just hope I won't cry," said Paul Letageng, 47, an employee there. "It's amazing to think that 19 years ago he was inaugurated there, and now he's lying there. If he was not here we would not have had peace in South Africa."
Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison under the white racist government in 1990, appealed for forgiveness and reconciliation and became president in 1994 after the country's first all-race democratic elections. He gave his inaugural address from the amphitheater, which Zuma named after him by decree.
Mandela said at his inauguration: "Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud."
On Wednesday morning, motorcycle-riding police officers escorted the hearse from a military hospital outside of Pretoria to the Union Buildings. People lined the streets to watch the procession , singing old songs from the struggle against the apartheid regime and calling out their farewells to Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at the age of 95. Police blocked traffic, backing up cars for several kilometers (miles) on a highway leading into Pretoria.
Army helicopters had been circling overhead but then a sudden quiet fell over the amphitheater as the hearse arrived. Eight warrant officers representing the various services and divisions of the South African National Defense Force carried the casket, led by a military chaplain in a purple stole. The officers set down the coffin and removed the flag.
Officials have banned cameras from the viewing area and asked people to turn off their mobile phones.
Mandela's body will lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings, which the South African government describes as a "modern-day acropolis" atop a hill overlooking Pretoria. The architect who designed it envisioned its two wings, made of half a million cubic feet (14,100 cubic meters) of stone, representing the Afrikaans and English languages spoken in the country — but none of the land's native languages.
Even from its inception, the building long has been considered a symbol of governance in the country — and of apartheid until Mandela took office.
SAN FRANCISCO — After years of drubbings by Google on Android, Microsoft may be finally updating its playbook to borrow a page from the search giant in mobile.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is considering offering free versions of its Windows Phone and Windows RT to device manufacturers, according to a report from The Verge, citing sources familiar with Microsoft's plans.
USA Today was unable confirm the report. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google's free Android software has stormed the world, taking a leading position while pushing Google's services and ads to rope in revenue. Microsoft, which charges device makers for its software, has remained a distant No. 3 on smartphones.
"While monetization through alternative means such as ads and app stores is an industry norm today, within Microsoft this thinking (is) outside the box," says IDC analyst Al Hilwa.
A switch by Microsoft to make its operating system software free to manufacturers would be a competitive pricing move that could help boost its market position.
Microsoft's operating system has 3.6% of the worldwide market compared with market-leading Android at 81.9% and Apple's iOS with 12.1%, according to Gartner. Microsoft in July took a $900 million write down against its lackluster Surface tablets.
Microsoft's option to go free is under consideration by operating system chief Terry Myerson and would involve a plan to transition to advertising and app revenue, according to the report.
"A move like this shows that they get the business changes taking place in the industry and the strategic threat they represent," says Hilwa.
Speculation has mounted for weeks that Microsoft is nearing a choice for its successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement in August.
So you're ready to buy a new smartphone for your loved one. Which do you choose?
Before you do anything, you have to decide whether to buy the phone outright or go the traditional route of buying a carrier-subsidized one with a two-year service contract.
In most cases, you're better off with the contract price, as long as the person you're buying it for plans to keep the phone for two years and doesn't change carriers. Prices vary, but expect to pay $500 to $700 without a contract, or $100 to $300 with one.
Even with the $15 monthly discount that AT&T and Sprint offer to those who bring their own phone, you or your loved one will be paying $27-a-month installments for a high-end device. The discounts are great if you want to upgrade phones frequently or find a used or cheaper phone. And with T-Mobile, you must buy or bring your own device, but its service fees for voice, text and data have been reduced for everyone.
Next, you need to decide on an operating system. Here's a guide to that, along with some of the devices available. Keep in mind some phones are limited to certain wireless carriers.
— Apple's iOS:
Although hardcore users might find the software behind iPhones irksome because Apple limits how much you can customize it, the iPhone is an excellent choice for people simply needing a well-rounded phone. What makes iOS especially powerful: the thousands of apps available for it. Many leading apps come to iOS first or have more features for it.
Resist the temptation for a free iPhone 4S with a two-year contract. It's a 2-year-old phone that will be 4 years old by the next upgrade.
Your best choice is the iPhone 5S ($649 without contract, $199 with contract). A sensor lets you use your fingerprint to bypass the phone's four-digit security passcode. I find the phone's camera among the best for everyday shots, and improvements in the 5S make it better for low-light shots, too. For $100 less, you can get an iPhone 5C without the fingerprint sensor or the improved camera.
— Google's Android:
Android addresses a major shortcoming with iPhones: choice.
Sure, there are three iPhone models, but their screens are no larger than 4 inches diagonally, and none is in high definition. Although the iPhone has a great camera, images are limited to 8 megapixels.
Android is also adaptable. Phone makers can tweak Google's operating system to offer a variety of useful features, though in doing so, they also add confusion and make it difficult for app developers to keep up. That's one reason some apps are slower to reach Android. By contrast, Apple pushes the latest iOS updates as they come out.
If you've settled on Android, you must decide on the right mix of features:
— Looking for cheap? Consider Motorola's Moto G ($179) or Google's Nexus 5 ($349). Both are good at the basics, with few frills. Moto G won't run on the faster, 4G LTE cellular networks, while the Nexus has shorter battery life than many phones tested.
— Looking for big? HTC's 5.9-inch One Max is a larger version of the 4.7-inch HTC One. The Max also has a fingerprint sensor, though not a reliable one. Samsung's 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 is much more than a step up from the 5-inch Galaxy S4. It has a stylus and several note-taking features. If you want even larger, Samsung's Galaxy Mega is 6.3 inches, but is weak on display quality and other specs.
Unsure where to begin improving your smartphone website? Wondering how to prioritize all the advice? We just published a checklist to help provide an efficient approach to mobile website improvement. Several topics in the checklist link to a relevant business case or study, other topics include a video explaining how to make data from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools actionable during the improvement process. Copied below are shortened sections of the full checklist. Please let us know if there’s more you’d like to see, or if you have additional topics for us to include.
Step 1: Stop frustrating your customers
- Remove cumbersome extra windows from all mobile user-agents | Google recommendation, Article
- Overlays, especially to download apps (instead consider a banner such as iOS 6+ Smart App Banners or equivalent, side navigation, email marketing, etc.).
- Survey requests prior to task completion.
- Provide device-appropriate functionality
- Remove features that require plugins or videos not available on a user's device (e.g., Adobe Flash isn't playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher). | Business case
- Serve tablet users the desktop version (or if available, the tablet version). | Study
- Check that full desktop experience is accessible on mobile phones, and if selected, remains in full desktop version for duration of the session (i.e., user isn't required to select "desktop version" after every page load). | Study
- Correct high traffic, poor user-experience mobile pages
How to correct high-traffic, poor user-experience mobile pages with data from Google Analytics bounce rate and events (slides)
- Make quick fixes in performance (and continue if behind competition) | Business case
How to make quick fixes in mobile site performance and compare your site to the competition (slides)
To see all topics in “Stop frustrating your customers,” please see the full Checklist for mobile website improvement.
Step 2: Facilitate task completion
- Optimize crawling, indexing, and the searcher experience | Business case
- Implement search-engine best practices given your mobile implementation:
- Optimize popular mobile persona workflows for your site
How to optimize popular mobile workflows using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics (slides)
- Consider search integration points with mobile apps | Announcement, Information
- Brainstorm new ways to provide value
Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Leadandroid, Android Smart Phone, ATT, camera phone, cell phone, cell phone plans, cell phone provider, cell phones, cellular, Metro pcs, mobile, no contract wireless, prepaid wireless, smart phone, sprint, T-mobile, Team Mobile, Verizon, Wireless, wireless provider, wireless services
NEW YORK — What does it say that so many people are fascinated by smart watches even as they're disappointed that the high-tech timepieces aren't as smart as they'd like them to be? That encapsulates my own view of a product category that has garnered attention as part of the burgeoning wearable computing trend.
Most smart watches function as pricey second-screen devices for the smartphone in your pocket. That's so with two of the three devices that I checked out for this column, the Sony SmartWatch 2 and the Qualcomm Toq.
The third, called FiLIP, works with an app on your phone, too. But it's a wearable locator designed for kids that lets him or her make calls from the wrist — to Mom, Dad or other designated grownups.
A closer look:
• Sony SmartWatch 2. I was down on the last Sony SmartWatch I reviewed. Among other flaws, it didn't constantly display the time — most of us still glance at our wrists to find out what time it is, after all. That's been fixed, and its successor represents a big step forward. There are more apps now, too — more than 200, Sony says, though not all are free or worthwhile. Apps range from a Blackjack game to a fitness tracker.
The battery life that had been short-lived on the last Sony watch seems to live up to Sony's promise of 3 to 4 days of "normal usage" on the new model.
Normal use for me was peeking at the watch to view incoming Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and missed-call notifications. You can reject incoming calls from the watch but cannot accept them.
The squarish 1.6-inch touch display is viewable outdoors. Below the screen are navigational touch icons similar to icons on Android phones.
You can pair SmartWatch 2 with most Android smartphones (4.0 or later), not just Sony's own Xperia models. If your phone is capable, you can pair using NFC (near field communication), by touching one device to the other.
Though you charge the watch through a micro USB, I had one heck of a hard time removing the lid protecting the port. There's a reason for that firm seal, though; the watch is water resistant down to three feet of fresh water for a half hour.
SmartWatch 2 costs $199.99 for a version with the black rubbery wristband like the one I tested and is also available with a metal band.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch that I previously reviewed, the Sony watch lacks a camera (though I had issues with Samsung's watch, as well).
Qualcomm's Toq.(Photo: Qualcomm)
• Qualcomm Toq. The chipmaker doesn't typically peddle products directly to consumers anymore — I owned a Qualcomm-branded cellphone back in the day — and even now comes across as a reluctant seller. Qualcomm is using Toq to showcase such technologies as the always-on low-power Mirasol color display on the watch face and for wireless charging (in a special dock).
Despite impressive capabilities, I don't expect Toq to go mainstream, certainly not at a rather imposing $349.99. Qualcomm is selling the watch in limited quantities, anyway, and expects to collaborate with its more traditional ecosystem partners.
The Mirasol display employs microscopic mirrors to reflect light rather than emit it, resulting in a screen that you can make out even in bright sun. Added benefit: The display sips power rather than sucks it up. Qualcomm claims the display can last for days between charges. I never had an issue.
In dim settings, you can summon a front light by lightly double-tapping the watchband above the display, a rather clever way to interact.
By tapping the strap below the screen, you can activate the 1.55-inch touch display, letting you browse preloaded applets: AccuWeather forecasts, E-Trade stocks; doubleTwist with Magic Radio music. The watch is large but attractive.
You pair Toq with an Android smartphone (version 4.03 or later) via Bluetooth, and customize what's on the screen through the Toq app you download onto your phone. Through the app, you get to choose which other Android applications on your handset can send notifications to the watch, change watch face styles, and more.
From the Toq itself, you can tap to make or receive a call, but you must still talk through the phone itself, since there is no independent speaker. If you can't take a call, you can send a pre-configured text reply from the watch. Qualcomm says stereo Bluetooth speakers that sit outside the ear canal are coming in early 2014.
Major hassle: You must size the Toq watchband to your wrist before using it, surgery that requires scissors and spring bars. It, too, lacks a camera.
The FiLIP watch.(Photo: FiLIP)
• FiLIP. It's up to you whether you think FiLIP represents responsible parenting or an invasion of your kid's privacy. It may also be the first "phone" you feel comfortable giving your child (target ages 5 to 11). Whether the kid wants to wear this colorful contraption is another matter.The price is $199.99, plus $10 a month for service with AT&T, so it isn't cheap.
By pressing the only two buttons on the kid-size locator, Junior can make a call to any one of five phone numbers that you, the parent, set up from within the FiLIP app, a free download for iPhone or Android. There's no actual dialer on the watch. A parent can call the FiLIP, but only from inside the FiLIP app on their own phones. That safeguard prevents someone from accidentally dialing your kid.
Parents can also send a text (from within the app) to the device, so long as the message is 16 characters or less. Kids can't text back from FiLIP.
You can also track and display the whereabouts of the child wearing the watch on a map.The watch relies on GPS, cell tower location and Wi-Fi. By default, the watch checks location every half-hour, but you can have it check more often, potentially at the expense of battery life, which the company says can go two days between charges. If the battery dies, the FiLIP reports the last known location.
Parents can also establish up to five "SafeZones," (home, school, etc.), and trigger push notifications if your child enters or leaves the designated area.
In a true emergency, the kid can hold down a red button on the watch for three seconds. FiLIP immediately transmits its location to the smartphone app, and uses its built-in microphone to start recording. It also calls your emergency telephone numbers, starting with your primary number, until someone answers.
Founder Sten Kirkbak named FiLIP after his then three-year-old son, who who went missing for a while in shopping mall.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Sony SmartWatch 2
Pro. Watch improves battery life, adds apps, water-resistant, NFC pairing.
Con. Still not a compelling buy. Hard to get at USB port. Pricey.
Pro. Impressive display technology. Strong battery life. Cool way to interact by touching watch band.
Con. Not a compelling consumer offering, especially given its extremely high price. Hassle adjusting watch band.
$199.99, plus $10 a month for AT&T service, myfilip.com
Pro. A "safe" wearable phone for kids that lets your child call five designated numbers. Reports kids location. SafeZones.
Con. Expensive. Sometimes slow to respond. Frequent location checks can curtail battery.
The Linux Foundation announced this week the formation of a cross-industry alliance devoted to facilitating the Internet of Things (IoT) through standardized connectivity and open-source software development. Analysts hope this collaborative effort will break down one of the most substantial barriers to full-scale home and infrastructural automation.
The AllSeen Alliance, as it's called, includes some big names in network and appliance technology: LG, Qualcomm, Panasonic, Cisco, Sharp, HTC, LIFX, Lite-on, Moxtreme, Musaic, and Sears, among others. At the center of the initiative is an open-source project called AllJoyn, developed by a subsidiary of Qualcomm.
As a cross-platform framework for product development, AllJoyn allows various applications, devices, and services to communicate—even without internet access—over different channels, including WiFi, power lines, and Ethernet. AllJoyn’s source code has been contributed to the AllSeen Alliance and is now available to all developers for evaluation.
The purpose of this openness is to advance the IoT, which has thus far been inhibited more so by a lack of standardization than insufficient technology. The use of open-source conventions also ensures that no single company has an unfair advantage in the development of products and services.
“Open-source software and collaborative development have been proven to accelerate technology innovation in markets where major transformation is underway,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, in a statement. “Nowhere is this more evident today than in the consumer, industrial and embedded industries where connected devices, systems and services are generating a new level of intelligence in the way we and our systems interact.”
The use of open source conventions ensures that no single company has an unfair advantage.Home automation is just one of the possibilities afforded by the Internet of Things—the term used to describe the phenomenon of mass connectivity. Increasingly, mobile, wireless, and sensor technologies are allowing manufacturers to connect formerly unconnected devices—everything from light switches to heating systems. Users can then control these “things” remotely via a mobile device, or hand them over to automated processes; this could allow people to monitor open city parking spaces, for example, or to preheat their ovens from work.
Gartner has predicted the overall Internet of Things will add some $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020. Meanwhile, an estimated 50 billion “things” will be connected to the internet over the same period, up from 12.5 billion in 2010, according to a recent report by Cisco.
Cisco provides a scenario for what this might mean for the average person: Your morning meeting is pushed back 45 minutes… You car knows it requires about five minutes to fill up the gas tank… An accident on your traffic route will force a 15 minute detour… And your train is running 20 minutes behind schedule.
The overall Internet of Things will add some $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020.
All of this information is automatically communicated to your alarm clock, which calculates that you can afford an extra 5 minutes of sleep. It also signals your car to start five minutes before you leave, and your coffee maker to begin brewing while you're in the shower. It's like something out of The Jetsons.
But not everyone is psyched about this prospect. Technologist Evgeny Morozov is the most vocal opponent to the ethos of “technological solutionism” displayed by many in Silicon Valley, especially when it comes to the IoT.
“On many important issues, civilization only destroys itself by extending the number of important operations that we can perform without thinking about them,” Morozov wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. “On many issues, we want more thinking, not less.”
Forrester Research analyst Andrew Rose voiced a similar stance in a Wired op-ed—this one more specifically addressed to the burgeoning IoT market.
“As technology becomes more entwined with the physical world, the consequences of security failures escalate. Like a game of chess – where simple rules can lead to almost limitless possibilities – the complexity of IoT interconnections rapidly outstrips our ability to unravel them.”
Of course, no one will force you to automate your home and connect your dumb devices. But even if you're a luddite, you should prepare yourself for some major infrastructural changes.