Facebook says that nearly 3,000 Timeline apps have launched in the two months since the giant social network unveiled the new interface for Facebook pages.
And during the SXSW conference, Facebook and its partners unleashed a new crop of Timeline apps with entries from Foursquare, Nike, The Onion, Vevo, Fandango, Viddy, Endomondo, RootMusic, Foodspotting, Pose and Votizen.
You can now, for example, put your Foursquare "check-ins" on your Timeline page. On Vevo the Timeline shows video playlists created automatically from artists you've indicated you "like" within Facebook.
The new RootMusic Timeline app lets people mark their favorite songs and bands and the concerts they plan on attending from the Facebook pages of the performers. Click "favorite" or "going to go" and your intentions are posted on Timeline.
On the new Fandango app, movie fans can add clips of movies they've watched to Timeline and rate them. "Movies are inherently social and so now (Timeline) amplifies behavior people have always done," says Nicholas Lehman, president of Digital Entertainment & Digital Networks at NBCUniversal, which owns Fandango.
The Endomondo fitness app enables runners and bikers to post workout progress (calories burned, distance, etc.) on Timeline in real time as they exercise, with live maps of where they're going. "If one of my friends is on my Timeline and sees, 'Hey, he's out running,' he can send me a pep talk that's read live into my headset," says Mads Mikkelsen, Endomondo's vice president for business development. "Those type of tools are available to make sports more fun and more social."
Alexa Andrzejewski, co-founder of the Foodspotting app, says that before Timeline, people with the app could only share pictures of favorite food. Now they can indicate that they tried a certain food, and that will appear on Timeline as well.
A 4G Chevy Volt
If the new iPad can tap into the fastest 4G cellular networks, why shouldn't your car?
Parked on a sidewalk outside the Austin Convention Center is a Chevy Volt that is General Motors' "second-generation connected research vehicle." GM's OnStar subsidiary and Verizon Wireless had the car on display during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, but advances have been made since then on the extended-range electric vehicle.
Inside the car are two modified Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets, each capable of showing wireless streaming movies. Lots of cars these days have DVD players. But the ability to stream movies and other content gives rear-seat passengers a lot more entertainment and informational choices, theoretically from the likes of Netflix or Hulu, or even from material you've recorded on your DVR at home.
OnStar's Nick Pudar, vice president of strategy, says he's met with several dozen developers at SXSW to discuss a cloud-connected car and related initiatives. Some developers want to put apps in the actual car that are aimed at the driver and/or at passengers. Some want to produce apps that will interact with the vehicle wherever you are. Others will leverage both.
There are several roadblocks before a 4G car is commercially viable. For starters, the core driver of this is the availability of 4G data/voice packages for a car; equally important is having a constant connection to the network. If you drive out of an area with 4G access -- 4G networks aren't available in many places -- you'll need fallback solutions.
Streamed movies would have to be cached, or stored, in the car's system.
"The first step would be to get 4G in the car," says Vijay Iyer, also an OnStar vice president. "The next step would be to replace connected radios and in-vehicle navigation. The last piece is policymaking: What does (the government) allow you to do?"
Iyer was reluctant to say when consumers would actually be able to drive 4G cars. "A few years" was as specific as he would get.
Among other OnStar initiatives, Volt owners will be able to remotely check the charge status of the electric vehicle, find out where they can charge the car and make reservations, and handle vehicle diagnostics from afar.
Rdio's human approach
Like its rivals in what has become a very crowded space, the Rdio digital music service provides subscribers with access to a huge global catalog of music in the cloud -- 15 million tracks in Rdio's case.
But all that music creates a challenge for the user: How do you figure out what to listen to, and how do you discover new music? "We don't think machines" can help you figure out the problem, says Rdio's Malthe Sigurdsson, vice president of product design.
Rdio's more human approach is represented by the handsome new look and feel that Sigurdsson unveiled during a SXSW event at the Austin Museum of Art.
In one of the main views, album art is prominently highlighted inside a "Heavy Rotation" section based not just on the overall popularity of the material, but on your listening habits and the habits of those you follow. Down the right side of the screen is a panel showing the people whose opinions you rely on -- friends, artists, influencers. Hover over an album cover in the "Heavy Rotation" section of the screen and "social indicators" reveal who in your network has listened to that song.
Other additions: You can drag entire albums to playlists, which the company says was one of the features most requested by users. You can also easily share music on Facebook, Twitter or via e-mail. Rdio's display automatically adapts to the size of your display.
Rdio offers three pricing options: A plan with unlimited Web and mobile streaming and the ability to listen offline costs $9.99 a month. A $4.99 monthly plan gives you unlimited Web streaming on a PC or Mac or through desktop apps. There's also an unlimited family plan that costs $17.99 or $22.99 a month, depending on whether you have an account for two or three people. "This is another way for us to differentiate ourselves from others," said Sigurdsson, who expects consolidation in a crowded field.
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