Archive for April 17, 2012

Liberate Your Pics: OpenPhoto Brings Its Killer Photo Sharing Platform To Your iPhone

Screen shot 2012-04-17 at 10.41.10 AM

If you’ve ever scoffed at Flickr, felt that photo sharing and storage websites hold your photos hostage, associated photos on the Web with platform lock-in, then you’ve already started to get a sense of why Jaisen Mathai left Yahoo last year to build OpenPhoto. Appalled by having to watch Yahoo let an awesome startup/service like Flickr go to seed, (“I was extremely frustrated by the lack of product vision,” Mathai said at the time), he took to Kickstarter and raised the $25K he needed to get it off the ground.

That was July of last year. Since then, Mathai joined WebFWD, Mozilla’s Open Innovation program, which gives select entrepreneurs 1:1 mentorship, access to the Mozilla global network, infrastructure support, etc. Today, OpenPhoto has a new, redesigned website, a brand, spanking new iPhone app, and Mathai has recruited an all-star team of designers and engineers, ex-Yahoo, ex-Apple, current Twilio and Mozilla engineers, a principal designer of OStatus protocol, and the organizer of the Scale Linux conference, to name a few, who are all donating their time to the project.

Again, as you might have guessed, the biggest value proposition for OpenPhoto, and something Mathai has become obsessed with, is that it is meant to be immune to a website, service or application dying, paradigm shifts and changings of the guard. The founder believes OpenPhoto is the only photo service where users have more control and access to their photos than the service itself, which means that everything is done on the user’s terms — and that right there is OpenPhoto’s main differentiator from the scores of other photosharing tools out there.

This means that, in terms of how the service works,u users get to select where they’d like to store their photos, whether that be on Dropbox, a personal Amazon S3 bucket, or on a hard drive. Users then have the option to let OpenPhoto scour all of your photos — those already uploaded to Flickr, Picasa, or Facebook. OpenPhoto stores them all in a central spot, which is always backed up and available on your laptop or on your phone.

As to the service’s new iPhone app, the same features apply. Connect OpenPhoto to your Dropbox account, upload photos from your camera roll or take a photo, view, organize and share from the app, post on social networks, crop, add filters, etc. But the biggest part, with the most potential implication is that it’s all completely open sourced on Github.

Mathai says that he hopes that designing OpenPhoto to be open source at its core helps bring longevity, as the history of photo sites is full of those falling out of style, shutting down, or drastic changes in focus. This leaves users in the difficult spot of having to retrieve content or deciding if they like the new service. Being open source, Mathai says, the community keeps the designers honest, and makes users a big part of how the service/UI/UX evolve, even if this means forking off in a new direction, which, when coupled with how the photos themselves are stored, means users can easily switch to a different variant or use both simultaneously.

In terms of storage, Mathai says that this is something that the team is trying to “abstract away” as much as possible, focusing more on Dropbox early on, since that’s what makes since for most consumers. But the service may eventually begin to remove the “select your service” option and assume smart defaults that work for most users, as long as it doesn’t sacrifice one of the top priorities: Portability.

Of course, as many are well-familiar, Dropbox isn’t optimized for sharing or managing photos. And, looking at the startup’s roadmap, its not likely that they will be making a lot of improvements there, as it really lies outside their core competency — storage and syncing at scale. OpenPhoto wants to make it easy to organize and share your Dropbox photos, adding value by way of an awesome set of UIs that lie on top of Dropbox. Check out the photo below for an example.

As to monetization? When I asked Mathai if this were a project developed purely in the name of democratization and open source — mission-driven rather than financially driven, the founder gave a great response: “It’s about the mission but without money it’s moot and will become just another open source project that a bunch of nerds use.” The team plans to build a business model that is, as they say, similar to what Automattic does with WordPress. The hope is that eventually there will be an ecosystem of designers and engineers making money from OpenPhoto.

Next, we raised the question of Instagram’s $1 billion sale to Facebook, to which Mathai said that he thought social (and, really, Facebook and Instagram) represented the only innovation in the photo space over the last five years, making photo sharing natural, effortless, and fun. However, on the flip side, photo management has (at least relatively) been ignored: “I think we’re actually worse off today than we were 30 years ago, in terms of managing and preserving our photos,” Mathai says.

Mathai thinks, and I tend to agree, that personal clouds will eventually win out, but this is a paradigm shift, and most companies and developers don’t think in terms of how and where that data is stored. Companies have a lot to lose by allowing users to take their content elsewhere, but it will happen, and those who stand in the way, leave a trail of unhappy ex-users as they go.

So, beyond being able to install OpenPhoto yourself, or sign up for a hosted account, the platform offers developers a set of APIs which they can use to make cool apps for the platform, and help steer it forward.

While the startup’s iPhone app is live, the team is still working out the kinks, and wants to get the app to a point where it really sings before it focuses full-time on releasing its Android version. But Mathai said he hopes to launch on Android within the next two months, with the help of his mobile lead, Patrick Santana, who joined OpenPhoto full-time at the beginning of this year.

All in all, OpenPhoto has come a long way since Mathai posted his project on Kickstarter last summer, and it’s been fun to watch its evolution. There’s still a long way to go, but in the wake of Instagram’s acquisition, a lot of people are looking around for the right photo sharing, photo management solution, and considering OpenPhoto gives you more control and more options than any of its kind, it stands to gain. The technology is there, and it’s improving, though it will be essential for OpenPhoto to balance its geek cred with killer consumer application. It’s definitely on the way.

And, hey, Instagram and OpenPhoto are both powered by Ubuntu, but OpenPhoto lets you manage photos with much more control, and make your Dropbox photos look sexy. And what’s better than that?

You can check out OpenPhoto on Github here, and tinker away. Or you can check out openphoto.me for the hosted version, the iPhone app here, and the project here.

Let us know what you think.


  • OPENPHOTO
  • JAISEN MATHAI

OpenPhoto is an open source photo sharing platform which gives users complete ownership and portability of their photos. Users’ photos, tags and comments are seamlessly stored into personally owned cloud services. Whatever they want to do or wherever they want to go their photos are free to go with them.

Similar to WordPress, users can install the software themselves or sign up for a hosted version at http://openphoto.me.

Learn more

Jaisen Mathai is currently working on a bootstrapped open source photo service called OpenPhoto that successfully raised funding on Kickstarter. Mathai was an engineering tech lead and software engineer at Yahoo from 2007 to May of 2011, when he left to pursue his OpenPhoto project.

While at Yahoo, Mathai worked on various projects including ones which were used by Mail and Frontpage, and hacked on a side project, Melts My Heart which was a mobile photo sharing application targeted towards…

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Meet the mobile patent kings: Samsung and Nokia

Google, Apple and Samsung get all of the attention in the mobile patent wars, but it turns out only one of them is true powerhouse in terms of mobile intellectual property. Samsung and fellow handset maker Nokia lead the overall mobile patent portfolio rankings, followed by infrastructure makers Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent and software giant Microsoft, according to a new study from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

Apple and Google, who have come to dominate the mobile landscape in recent years, don’t even make Sharma’s list, which is based on an analysis of 7 million patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office over the last two decades.

Only when Sharma breaks those patents into categories do Apple and Google make an appearance, showing up eighth and ninth respectively in the list of mobile platform patent strength. Their operating systems may dominate the smartphone market, but when it comes to the intellectual property behind smartphone operating systems, old school players like Samsung, Microsoft and IBM still rule.

Nokia still anchors the list of patents related to making handsets and devices, while surprisingly Samsung is king in mobile network infrastructure. Commercially Samsung is relatively small player in the global 2G, 3G and LTE markets, but in terms of intellectual goods it still ranks ahead of Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, two of the industry’s biggest equipment makers, and even Qualcomm, the inventor of the CDMA technologies that power most of globe’s mobile data networks. One item to note is that Motorola is strong in the device sphere, ranking fifth, which will give Google considerable patent heft in the smartphone arena once it closes its acquisition.

Sharma points out that the total number of patents that a company holds isn’t everything. The quality of intellectual property is just as important and litigation often revolves around a few key patents, but he added a big patent portfolio can’t be dismissed:

“The total number of patents granted while not critically important in assessing the value of the portfolio does play an important role in determining the importance of the portfolio. The breadth of patent coverage determines how much a company has invested and Patent Office’s view of that investment. The quantity also comes into play during the MA or licensing transactions. The bigger the portfolio, typically, higher the valuation. Of course, the valuation is dependent on the quality, prior art, fundamental and essential technology patents, citations, relevance to the standards, relevance to the technology in use, and other factors but the size of the portfolio also plays an important role in the discussion and the eventual valuation of the patent portfolio or the company itself.”

Sharma also points out that patent landscape is changing drastically just as the mobile industry is. Given the 20-year timeline of Sharma’s investigation, it makes sense that the long-established vendors have racked up the most intellectual property. Still in 2011, Samsung was still the biggest patent earner, and other entrenched vendors dominated the top ten. But as industry becomes data and application centric, patent activity has shifted from mobile’s traditional hotbed, Europe, to Silicon Valley, Sharma found. Google, Apple and Amazon may have only recently begun worshipping at the mobile altar, but in the last five years they’ve been plenty active in racking up their share of new patents.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Why Every Company Should Adopt Twitter’s Internet Patent Agreement

The IPA published today by Twitter (on GitHub, no less) should ensure that Twitter can amass a defensive collection of software patents without giving its developers cause for alarm.

If you’re wondering how developers feel about software patents, Andy Baio’s take is instructive. Baio, a former Yahoo, helped Yahoo file several patents and has lived to regret it. “Yahoo’s lawsuit against Facebook is an insult to the talented engineers who filed patents with the understanding they wouldn’t be used for evil. Betraying that trust won’t be forgotten, but I doubt it matters anymore. Nobody I know wants to work for a company like that.”

Pragmatism Meets Idealism

As much as many developers would like to see software patents abolished altogether, it’s unlikely that’s going to happen. It’s certainly not likely enough that a company like Twitter can ignore the possibility that it will be a target for software patent suits.

Twitter can’t simply sit out the patent arms race, as much as it might like to. But what it can do is strike a policy that both protects the company and assures developers their inventions and cooperation won’t be used against them. Thus, the IPA.

A defensive patent portfolio, that developers can be assured will be used only to defend against software patent assaults or with their permission, strikes the perfect balance. The company doesn’t have to antagonize its employees, and it doesn’t have to be left totally vulnerable to lawsuits.

As Yahoo has shown, an assurance that patents will be used defensively has to be put down in writing. Management changes, sometimes very rapidly. A company’s position on software patents can flip overnight – so developers can’t rely on verbal assurances that software patents won’t be used offensively.

Why Every Company Should Adopt the IPA

The agreement put forth by Twitter, or something very much like it, should become industry standard for a number of reasons:

1. Companies that adopt the IPA are going to have a competitive edge over companies that do not. If a developer has the option to work on two interesting projects, with similar pay and perks, the knowledge that their work won’t be used against them in the future is likely to be a persuasive tie-breaker.

2. Companies that adopt the IPA are less likely to need incentive plans to convince developers to file for patents. As Baio wrote, Yahoo helped amass its arsenal with a “patent incentive program” that awarded “sizable bonuses to everyone who took the time to apply.” With an IPA in place, employers can make a much stronger case to employees that they should help with patent applications.

3. It could ultimately reduce the number of pure-play patent trolls that buy up software patents from failing and desperate companies. What’s the only thing worse than a competitor with a patent portfolio? A litigation company with no products but patent suits and every incentive to file nuisance actions, with little downside for failure.

4. The IPA can act as a poison pill for the patent portfolios of companies that don’t succeed. They can still sell off patents for companies that wish to have a defensive portfolio – but the patents couldn’t be used offensively without the inventor’s permission.

The Next Step

Twitter’s IPA is a good step, but the company should go one step further. Not long ago, a group of companies that were involved in Linux development created the Open Invention Network (OIN). The idea is simple: Form a patent pool that lets any company attacked use the patents for defense, but the companies in the pool cannot sue another for patent infringement.

A larger patent pool is in order, and Twitter could get the ball rolling. Any company that offers the IPA to its employees for all current and future patents should be able to join the patent pool. Assuming Twitter gets some traction with the IPA, it could start a trend that helps curtail the systemic abuse of software patents.

Ultimately, that’s good for Twitter – and for any company that looks to make its money by innovation rather than litigation. And that’s good for the entire industry.

Yahoo CEO: We’re "Only Doing a Few Things Really Well"

CEO Scott Thompson greets Yahoos at Sunnyvale HQ

Yahoo Chief Executive Scott Thompson plans to bring the Web portal to its former glory by doing away with everything that does not contribute to its core business of profit-driving ads and e-commerce. On Tuesday, Thompson, who left eBay’s division of PayPal to become CEO and president in January, held his first earnings call with Wall Street analysts after the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company reported fairly positive first quarter results. More important than how the company did was what Thompson planned to do to raise profits, reverse a sales slump and bring back users who have left for Google and Facebook.

The problem, as Thompson sees it, was in Yahoo’s size.

Report: Wearable Computing Will Soon Intensify The Platform Wars

proejct_glass_350

Google made quite a splash with its Project Glass video earlier this month. While Google’s vision of wearable computing still looks a bit like science fiction today, a new report by Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps argues that “in three years, wearables will matter to every product strategist” and that smart developers should start experimenting with applications for wearables on the “big five” platforms (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook) today.

In Rotman Epps’ vision of wearable computing in the near future, one of these major platforms will have to back the concept for it to go mainstream.

Specifically, she notes that Apple, with its “polished marketing, channel, and brand,” could use its vast developer ecosystem to incubate many of these projects by giving even it’s more low-end products (like the iPod nano) support for more sensors, WiFi and Bluetooth.

Google, says Rotman Epps, could become a major player due to the open nature of its Android platform. Android, after all, is already being uses by basic wearable devices like the Sony SmartWatch and the Wimm One. She also warns, though, that Google’s “diffuse attention and lack of channel” will make it hard for the company to actually turn those ideas into products.

Microsoft, with its operating systems that are optimized for mobile and its Kinect sensor, as well as Amazon with its vast product catalog and Facebook with its rich social data could also play a major role in making wearable computing mainstream.

Indeed, Forrester’s analysts think wearables will follow a similar path to that of the smartphone market: In the first phase, Apple will create an early app and accessory ecosystem for wearable computing. Google’s open platform, however, will give developers more freedom and broader wearable experimentation. Microsoft, thanks to its recent shift toward open web standards, will then be able to offer something akin to an “anti-platform” platform for a future operating system for wearables that could be even more flexible than Apple’s and Google’s offerings.

In Forrester’s view, then, smart developers and product strategists should start to cultivate partnerships with apparel companies like Nike and Adidas now and those companies should also start to reach out to the developer community and the big five platforms.

IKEA Just Beat Apple To A Slick Web-Connected TV

Here’s your must-watch furniture/gadget promotional video of the day.

IKEA is getting into the smart TV business, with its upcoming “Uppleva” connected television set. (Uppleva means “experience” in Swedish. We looked it up).

The video is pretty quirky and charming. Let’s just hope the TV isn’t made out of particle board like a lot of IKEA stuff. The clip comes to us via Twitter from Fortune’s Miguel Helft.

Don’t miss all the juicy Apple TV rumors you need to know about

Watch:

Setster Gives All Daily Deal Companies Their Own Groupon Scheduler

setster_logo_square

For those unfamiliar, Setster has been operating in the somewhat unsexy scheduling software space since 2008, with the goal of bringing doctors, lawyers, therapists, stylists, and everyone in between, a platform that makes it easy to manage appointment scheduling. Setster wants to be anywhere service providers make appointments with clients — enterprise or SMB. As the daily deal space has become increasingly crowded over the last two years, local merchants increasingly feel pressured to run deals, but for many reasons, they end up overwhelmed by the prospect of managing those deals from start to finish, and the big deals players are failing to help them.

So, Setster has essentially decided to do what LivingSocial, Woot, Gilt, and other big players are either too lazy or distracted to do, today launching an API that allows daily deal providers to offer integrated scheduling packages to local merchants using their platforms. As Setster wrote in its blog post today, daily deal companies are doing an abysmal job of helping merchants close the loop “on the mile of the transaction where [they] have been touching the client.”

Setster believes (and they aren’t alone) that there a few fundamental flaws to the daily deal ecosystem established by the LivingSocials and Groupons, including the fact that deal providers should be enable service booking immediately after customers buy a promotion, for the simple reason that, the more time customers are given to close the loop (book), the less likely the are to actually use the merchant’s service.

Merchants also need a way to optimize their calendars so that they can book deal customers during off-peak hours. The very nature of deal customers makes them less profitable clients for merchants, so merchants need a way to fit deal clippers into their calendar in such a way as to prevent them from displacing regular, full-paying customers during peak business hours.

Furthermore, promotions and deals require further data entry into calendars, managing reminders, cancellations, and rescheduling for merchants, so giving them a way to manage the influx of new business by automating the booking process within their calendars is imperative. And, lastly, as Setster points out, merchants want more granular feedback on the success of their deal and promotional campaigns, like booked appointments, up-sells, additional revenues, etc. Not just one-dimensional sales analytics.

Ironically, as much grief as Groupon gets and is vilified, they were way ahead of the game in this regard. After buying OpenCal in December, Groupon turned it into Scheduler, a service that makes it easy for merchants to quickly close the loop between offer, booking, and scheduling — which it began rolling out to SMBs last month.

With Scheduler, Groupon solved the mismanagement problem for its customers, giving merchants a free way to accept booking 24/7, add a “Book Now” button to their websites, and made it available to all merchants looking for online booking, whether offering Groupon deals or not. Plus, Scheduler offers client lists and business dashboards, which show realtime stats on total appointments, new customers, allow them to track redemption and view the percentage of bookable time filled.

Again, as Setster points out, this represented serious innovation for the industry, and is unusual in the sense that, for once, it came from the top, rather than from a scrappy startup. However, Groupon is basically alone in offering this kind of functionality, as the other big deal players basically stand around and pick their noses.

For those deal providers who can’t afford (or have forgotten) to buy their own OpenCal, Setster’s API provide an affordable (pricing info here), comprehensive, white label solution for daily deal companies. The company’s API is open and designed for use by any deal provider, across marketing channels, allowing them to integrate the scheduling solution both on their own websites as well as their merchant sites.

Deal providers can add booking features inside mobile apps, directories, daily deal, group, and promotional coupons, so that end users can book directly from those offerings. By adding a booking feature inside mobile apps, directories, daily deal, group and promotional coupons, your end users now book directly from your offering. After buying, customers are immediately directed to schedule an appointment, which are pre-set by merchants with the times they want to accept deal customers and the service providers they want to use for the particular deal.

Daily deal sites can re-sell the service through their own white label options, even offering it for free to their merchants as incentive to adopt or through available wholesale prices. Setster believes that its solution allows deal providers to offer easy scheduling options and increase the likelihood that vouchers are redeemed, converting sales for their merchants into repeat customers and up-selling more services.

The big daily deal players aren’t doing all they can to close the loop between merchants and their buyers. Daily deal sites seem to forget that merchants are really what they’re selling, and it’s their job to give them all the tools they need to encourage repeat business. The happier merchants are, the more they use deals and promotions, the more revenue deal providers see as a result. Setster has given every daily deal site not named Groupon the ability to offer full-service scheduling, booking, and performance measurement tools. It’s not clear if local marketing companies, cough, daily deal companies, are listening, but it seems Setster’s APIs could have big implications for the space.

What do you think?

For more on Setster, visit them at home here. Developers can download the Industry API white paper and sign up for private beta here.


  • SETSTER
  • GROUPON
  • LIVINGSOCIAL

Setster is a web-based application that gives service providers and teams of professionals the ability to accept appointments online using a widget that can be embedded on any website. Service providers can manage their online calendars and appointment books in a very simple and intuitive user interface, while allowing their clients access to their availability.

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Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 565 cities around the world. By promising businesses a minimum number of customers, Groupon can offer deals that aren’t available elsewhere.

Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way that offers the consumer an unbeatable deal, and businesses a large number of new customers. To date, it has saved consumers more than $300 million and claims it…

Learn more

LivingSocial is the social commerce leader behind LivingSocial Deals, a group buying program that invites people and their friends to save up to 90 percent each day at their favorite restaurants, spas, sporting events, hotels and other local attractions in major cities.

LivingSocial has an extensive user base of more than 85 million, and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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Verizon’s 4G LTE Network available to over 2/3 of U.S. population after April 19th expansion

Verizon Wireless has been pumping out the press releases this morning, informing the media that it is going full bore on LTE expansion, with a ton of expansions and new markets coming on April 19th.

This will result, says Verizon, in its LTE service being available to over 2/3 of the U.S. population beginning April 19th as the network comes online in 27 new markets and expands in 44 markets.

New areas

Auburn and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Pine Bluff, Siloam Springs and Van Buren, Ark.; Visalia/Porterville, Calif.; Fort Walton Beach and Ocala, Fla.; Brunswick, LaGrange and Macon/Warner Robins, Ga.; Peoria, Ill.; Kokomo/Logansport and Marion, Ind.; Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend and Hays, Kan.; Salisbury, Md.; Cattaraugus/Allegany, N.Y.; Sandusky, Ohio; Ardmore and Ponca City, Okla.; Salem/Albany/Corvallis, Ore.; Pierre, S.D.; and Big Springs and Tyler, Texas.

Expanding areas

Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Sacramento, Salinas/Monterey, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Stockton, Calif.; Colorado Springs and Fort Collins/Loveland, Colo.; Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.; Boise/Nampa, Idaho; Carbondale/Marion and Rockford, Ill.; Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa; Boston and Worcester, Mass.; Detroit, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Manchester/Nashua, N.H.; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.; Buffalo/Niagara Falls and New York, N.Y.; Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Providence/Pawtucket, R.I.; Nashville, Tenn.; El Paso, Texas; Provo/Orem and Salt Lake City/Ogden, Utah; and Olympia/Centralia and Spokane, Wash.

More to follow.

YouTube now lets you direct annotations to Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects

With all of the record breaking projects going on over at Kickstarter, it seems like everyone wants in on the crowdfunding action these days.

Since a lot of people are using YouTube to promote their projects and raise money, YouTube has announced today that it is now officially supporting the linking of annotation pages to both Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects.

Here’s what the YouTube team had to say about it today:

Over the past year, crowdsourced fundraising has exploded as great way to raise money for creative projects. We’ve seen lots of you using platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund projects, and we want to make it easier for even more of you to use these tools. We’ve teamed up with these platforms so you can now link directly to project pages on Kickstarter or Indiegogo through annotations.

We’ve been inspired by creators who have funded projects through these platforms, like Freddie Wong’s Video Game High School and James Rolfe’s Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, and we hope this helps many more of you launch the projects you’ve been dreaming about. To use the feature, go to your Video Manager, click “Edit” and select Annotations. You’ll see the following screen, with an option to link to any existing Kickstarter or Indiegogo project page

annotations screenshot 520x446 YouTube now lets you direct annotations to Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects

Up until now, video creators and project owners had to stick their Kickstarter and Indiegogo links into the description of the video, which is easily skipped over. With annotations, static text and links can be placed on top of the video, which is absolutely impossible to miss.

This is great news for those who are raising money for their awesome projects, as direct clicks from videos are a great way to raise more funds. It’s too bad that Kickstarter and Indiegogo can’t work out a direct deal with YouTube to embed widgets that allow you to participate by giving money right from the YouTube video page.

In fact, the embedding of anything outside of YouTube is a feature that is sorely missing. Imagine if you could donate to a charity like LIVESTRONG right from one of its promotional videos. Until then, the annotation feature will definitely do the job.

Google Rolls Out A New Bike! (GOOG)

In addition to virtual reality glasses, self-driving cars, and the long-rumored GDrive cloud storage service, Google is rolling out a brand new bicycle!

The catch: it’s only for employees on the company’s Mountain View campus.

If you ever visit, you’ll see tons of these tri-colored beauties in front of every building. Google’s campus is the perfect size for them — too big to walk, too small to drive around — and employees really do use them to shuttle between meetings and visit friends in other groups.

But as CNET reports, the old bike’s small 20-inch wheels made it uncomfortable for taller riders, so Google held an employee competition to design a new one.  It had to be easy to build, affordable, comfortable, and secure. More than 30 employees submitted designs, and the winning team got a $500 gift certificate.

Here’s the winning design:

Winning GBike design

Google

Here are the old ones. Note the smaller wheels.

Google old bikes

Google

 

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