4.6 million Snapchat phone numbers and usernames leaked

This post is by Rich McCormick from The Verge - All Posts

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

The phone numbers and usernames of more than 4.6 million North American Snapchat users have been leaked online. SnapchatDB, an unofficial site run by an anonymous individual or group, allows open access to two files — one an SQL dump, one CSV text — that show details of the photo-sharing app’s users alongside their location.

The final two digits of phone numbers have been censored “to minimize spam and abuse,” but SnapchatDB says people should “feel free” to contact it for the uncensored database, as it may release it under certain circumstances. Usernames are presented unedited, and SnapchatDB notes that “people tend to use the same username around the web.” Those that download the information, it says, can try to “find phone…

Continue reading…

Google To Close Bump And Flock, Its Recently Acquired File Sharing Apps

This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Bump Hands

Bump and Flock, the file sharing apps Google acquired last fall, will be shut down by the end of this month. Both apps will stop working and be removed from Google Play and the App Store on January 31, Bump confirmed on its blog today.

Google bought Bump Technologies, which make both apps, back in September, and Android Police reports that work on the app appeared to stop shortly after the acquisition.

Bump, which let users tap phones together to share contacts and other files, raised nearly $20 million and enjoyed high download rates, but failed to monetize successfully as other easy, mobile-friendly ways to share information were developed, most notably Apple’s AirDrop for iOS 7. Flock is a collaborative photo-sharing app Bump Technologies released in 2012.

As TechCrunch’s Josh Constine wrote in September, the sale wasn’t an acquihire, but Google might plan to turn Flock into part of Google+ in order to compete with Facebook’s photo sharing and Dropbox’s photo saving services, especially since Google+’s Party Mode, a photo sharing service based around events, failed to gain real traction. The acquisition of Bump Technologies also gave Google access to several mobile communication patents that could help it improve Android and create better alternatives to near-field communication (NFC).

When the startup announced its acquisition by Google, co-founder David Lieb said in a statement that “We strive to create experiences that feel like magic, enabled behind the scene with innovations in math, data processing, and algorithms. So we couldn’t be more thrilled to join Google.” The acquisition price was undisclosed but sources told TechCrunch it was around $35 million, a relatively low amount considering how much funding Bump had raised. Bump’s investors included Y Combinator, Sequoia Captial, Felicis Ventures, SV Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, and many angels.

Snapchat cracked: 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers apparently published

This post is by Dylan Tweney from VentureBeat

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Snapchat cracked: 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers apparently published

Sample of the data offered by Snapchat.db (blurred out by the site’s authors).

Last week, on December 25, an Australian research firm published the details on a major security weakness in Snapchat.

Today, it appears someone has used that exploit to collect 4.6 million usernames, and their associated phone numbers, and publish them on a website.

Snapchat users can breathe easy — for a minute or two. For now, the phone numbers don’t include the last two digits. It’s also not clear how legitimate this data is, although The Next Web reports there is now a web-based Snapchat checker script that can check any username to see if it’s in the database.

Dazzlepod, a site that aims to help people find out if their account information has been compromised in various security leaks, also has published a searchable version of the Snapchat list, so you can look for your username.

The site, Snapchat.db, is pretty straightforward: You can download all 4.6 million records as a SQL dump or as a CSV text file. “For now, we have censored the last two digits of the phone numbers in order to minimize spam and abuse,” the site says. “Feel free to contact us to ask for the uncensored database. Under certain circumstances, we may agree to release it.”

Just below that is information that people can use to send Bitcoin donations or to send a private message to the site’s creators.

Snapchat.db appears to be made possible thanks to a massive Snapchat security hole that Gibson Research published on Christmas day, allowing hackers to use Snapchat’s API to match usernames with phone numbers, and to create bogus accounts en masse. The researchers told ZDNet at the time that hackers could use the exploit to “automatically build profiles about users, which could be sold for a lot of money.”

Gibson Research also noted that Snapchat had known about the vulnerability for four months and alleged that the company could have fixed it with “ten lines of code.”

Snapchat raised $50 million in a funding round led by Coatue Management earlier in December at a valuation rumored to be $2 billion. The company’s founders reportedly rejected a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook, a decision that may have had something to do with the founder’s family wealth.

Hat tip: The Next Web


Confirmed: Snapchat Hack Not A Hoax, 4.6M Usernames And Numbers Published

This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Snapchat hack

A site called SnapchatDB.info has saved usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million accounts and made the information available for download. In a statement to us, SnapchatDB says that it got the information through a recently identified and patched Snapchat exploit and that it is making the data available in an effort to convince the messaging app to beef up its security. We’ve also reached out to Snapchat.

SnapchatDB said:

Our motivation behind the release was to raise the public awareness around the issue, and also put public pressure on Snapchat to get this exploit fixed. It is understandable that tech startups have limited resources but security and privacy should not be a secondary goal. Security matters as much as user experience does.

We used a modified version of gibsonsec’s exploit/method. Snapchat
could have easily avoided that disclosure by replying to Gibsonsec’s private communications, yet they didn’t. Even long after that disclosure, Snapchat was reluctant to taking the necessary steps to secure user data. Once we started scraping on a large scale, they decided to implement very minor obstacles, which were still far from enough. Even now the exploit persists. It is still possible to scrape this data on a large scale. Their latest changes are still not too hard to circumvent.

We wanted to minimize spam and abuse that may arise from this release. Our main goal is to raise public awareness on how reckless many internet companies are with user information. It is a secondary goal for them, and that should not be the case. You wouldn’t want to eat at a restaurant that spends millions on decoration, but barely anything on cleanliness.

Earlier we speculated that SnapchatDB might be a hoax meant to call attention to the app’s security issues but, as it turns out, it’s real–at least one member of our editorial team has been affected. A reader also told us he found his own number, that of several friends and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel in the list. On Hacker News, several people have had trouble downloading the data files (I just got an error message for both of them, but that may be because of high traffic), but a Jailbreak subreddit user who saw the list said that only numbers in some parts of the U.S. have been published so far. If you have not been able to download the list, you can use this site created by developer Robbie Trencheny to see if your username was included.

SnapchatDB said it “censored the last two digits of the phone numbers” in order to “minimize spam and abuse,” but it might still release the unfiltered data, including millions of phone numbers.

The Next Web did a WHOIS lookup on SnapchatDB’s domain and found it was created just yesterday on December 31. The registrant’s name is protected, but its mailing address and contact number are both listed in Panama.

SnapchatDB screenshot 2The site appears to have been created in response to recently identified flaws in Snapchat’s security. Last week, ZDNet published an article on how white-hat Gibson Security researchers had tried to alert Snapchat to ways that hackers would connect usernames to phone numbers for user in stalking, but were ignored. Gibson Security then published the exploit publicly on Christmas Eve.

The firm said that hackers could use two exploits to gain access to users’ personal data, including their real names, usernames and phone numbers, through Snapchat’s Android and iOS API. Snapchat did offer a public statement, but as TechCrunch’s Josh Constine wrote, it wasn’t very satisfactory because it did not offer details on how its countermeasures would work, such as rate limiting, bad IP blocking, or automated systems that scan suspicious activity. Snapchat said:

“Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers that way. Over the past year we’ve implemented various safeguards to make it more difficult to do.”

The Gibson Security report and SnapchatDB are both reminders that even in an ephemeral messaging service, it would be a mistake to be lulled into a sense of security about the information that you do have stored with the app. “People tend to use the same username around the web so you can use this information to find phone number information associated with Facebook and Twitter accounts, or simply to figure out the phone numbers of people you wish to get in touch with,” SnapchatDB stated on the site.

Google-acquired Bump shutting down this month

This post is by Josh Lowensohn from The Verge - All Posts

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Some three months after being acquired by Google, Bump — a company that makes data sharing tools — is calling it quits. In a blog post today Bump CEO and cofounder David Lieb said that Bump and Flock will be shut down on January 31, 2014 given that the team working on it are “now deeply focused on our new projects within Google.” After that date, the apps will be removed from Apple’s App Store, as well as Google Play, Lieb says, but not before users have 30 days to export their data.

Continue reading…

Snapchat hacked: 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers lifted

This post is by Lauren Hockenson from Gigaom

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Three days ago, ephemeral communication app Snapchat released a statement on its website responding to a group of security professionals at Gibson Security who posted what they claimed to be numerous exploits of the app’s API. The hot startup waved those claims away in the post:

Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers that way. Over the past year we’ve implemented various safeguards to make it more difficult to do.

But apparently those safeguards weren’t secure enough, as a team of hackers posted 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers of Snapchat users as a downloadable database just before midnight on Tuesday.

Right now, the database is censored, blurring the last two digits of each user’s phone number. But the hackers, who are currently anonymous, hinted that they might be willing to turn over the raw data to the right party.

“The company was too reluctant at patching the exploit until they knew it was too late and companies that we trust with our information should be more careful when dealing with it,” the website says.

That’s an inauspicious start to 2014 for one of 2013′s hottest apps.

Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.

Here’s the only list you need: All the tech, people, and products that mattered in 2013

This post is by J. O'Dell from VentureBeat

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Here’s the only list you need: All the tech, people, and products that mattered in 2013
Michael O’Donnell/@Photo

We’re not quite ready to say goodbye to 2013, but the time has come anyhow.

Before it’s time for “Auld Lang Syne,” here’s a look back about the companies, products, people, and reporting we loved most in 2013.

Inspirations and aspirations

26 companies to watch in 2014: You might be forgiven for thinking 2013 was a year of redundant, me-too startups flailing around trying to come up with the best way to gamify wage slavery, deliver butt wipes to your door, or make a buck off the badly misnamed “sharing economy.”

But we’re not here to tell you about all that.

We’re here to tell you about the real innovation that’s been going on this year. In fact, a lot of startups — consumer, enterprise, hardware, and health-tech — got us non-ironically excited in 2013.

Our goals for 2014:

In 2014, we’ll be backing up everything, changing all our passwords, updating all our software, learning to code, and even running our own apps and building our own hardware.

That is, if we can stick to our resolutions.

Development and design

The best new typefaces of 2013: Once again, it’s time for our (and your) favorite end-of-year roundup: The typefaces!

And holy moly, what a whirl of typefaces this year has been. Thanks to the magic of CSS (specifically, @font-face kits and kit generators), there’s pretty much no such thing as a print-only font anymore, unless you’re talking about hot metal and heavy machinery.

This web-scale liberation has fueled an explosion of amazing typography (and some really, really bad uses of otherwise good typefaces) all around the Internet in its many forms. As the fonts rolled out month after month, we kept tabs on our favorites and how we liked to see designer use them.

The 10 best design trends of 2013: This year renewed our hope in the future of web and mobile design. A handful of services, apps, individuals, and trends showed us a more beautiful, elegant digital world than we’ve ever seen before, and we’re actually looking forward to highlighting them.

Last year was completely mixed, full of good (grid layouts), bad (cartoony mascots), and downright indefensible (unnecessary navigational bullcrap).

This year, while we’re totally barfing over a small group of standout horror shows, we’re largely impressed. Designers took the best of last year’s trends — full-bleed images, truly excellent typography, magazine-worthy interfaces — and extrapolated them to new heights.

Facebook’s best hacks: Facebook still loves its Hacker Way. In an engineering blog post today, the company showed off a few of the products it has built-in Hackathons this year. They might not be as huge as other features Facebookers have built during hacking events in previous years, but they’re still cool.

5 lessons we learned about data science in 2013: Most people know what marketing executives do every day. They try to catch people’s attention through email, ads, tweets, and press releases. As for data scientists, well, their work is not nearly as well understood.

That’s been slowly changing this year as companies slowly loosen up about letting their hard-won data scientists talk about their work.

This year, VentureBeat has learned a lot about these fawned-over specimens. But our knowledge isn’t always delivered at once. That’s why we’ve brought together some of the lessons we’ve picked up in 2013.


3D printing: If 2012 was the year that 3D printing expanded and found its dark side, 2013 was the year that it found its sugar daddy.

Between big-bill acquisitions, surging stock prices, and major interest from investors, this was a year of financial success for the industry. Newbies entered the market, big companies got bigger, and some of the word’s biggest brands finally got interested.

So you might say this was a pretty successful year for 3D printing — not just as a technology but also as a bona fide, near-mainstream industry. Here are a few of the bigger financial highlights.

The best and worst of smartphones in 2013: When it comes to smartphones, 2013 was all about what comes next.

Just look at how long each of the major players have been on the market: Six years for Apple’s iPhone, five years for Android, and three years for Windows Phone. Smartphones are mainstream — gone is the luster of carrying a powerful computer in your pocket. It’s simply something most of us expect now in our everyday lives.

But now that both the tech world and consumers have finally gotten a handle on what smartphones are and how we live with them, all eyes are on the next major mobile innovation.


The game of the year: The GamesBeat staff is full of masochists. For the second year in a row, we’ve chosen a video game that ripped our hearts out and stomped on it repeatedly until we were just hollow shells of our former selves.

So why did the PlayStation 3 exclusive horror-shooter The Last of Us win our staff-voted overall Game of the Year and not [insert favorite game here]? It has a lot to do with developer Naughty Dog’s masterful approach to storytelling. The studio did a complete 180 from its happy-go-lucky Uncharted series to create the depressing and morally ambiguous world of The Last of Us, where civilization falls prey to a highly contagious fungal infection that turns its victims into terrifying zombie-like creatures.

Gaming in 2013 by the numbers: No year-end retrospective would be complete without an article full of facts and figures about the video games and business of the past 12 months. It’s interesting to see which home consoles and games sold the most or the fastest or got the best reviews. But we won’t have those numbers until next month (it still is 2013, you know!), so here are some other (hopefully) interesting statistics from this year as it winds down.

Best games of the year, staff picks: The Last of Us. BioShock: Infinite. Tomb Raider. These are a handful of the best-reviewed and highest-rated video games of 2013. But you won’t find all of them — or just those — on this list.

Nope. We’re doing things a little differently here at GamesBeat. We’re running down the staff’s picks for our Games of the Year. That means anything’s fair game — even Aliens: Colonial Marines. (Spoiler: Nobody chose Aliens: Colonial Marines.)

You’ll see our individual selections for 2013′s Game of the Year below, but we had everyone write up different games, sometimes from their runners-up lists (honestly, this was mainly because you don’t need to read five different writers tell you how awesome The Last of Us is).

The business of tech

Enterprise superstars of 2013: This was the year that business software became “sexy.” It wasn’t just the sheer dollars that poured into the sector but also the people and ideas that transformed the way we do business.

Young and energetic chief executives, such as Box’s Aaron Levie and Dropbox’s Drew Houston made cloud storage seem accessible. Fast-growing startup RelateIQ got us thinking about what’s next for customer relationship management (CRM). And “big data” companies like Quid, Kaggle, and Metamarkets rose to prominence by forming online communities of data scientists.

It’s about time that enterprise startups got their share of attention — and not just consumer apps. So VentureBeat’s enterprise team interviewed our network and compiled a list of the vendors and visionaries that impressed us most this year.

The 5 most talked-about CEOs this year: CEOs are Silicon Valley’s version of celebrities. We watch their every move and soak up their every word, hoping for pearls of wisdom that will lead to glory and riches.

News aggregator News360 took a look at which of these illustrious personas attracted the most media coverage this year. The company analyzed more than 400,000 news sources between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, indexing stories where the CEO’s name made the headline.

Topping the list is Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose 3,555 headlines comprised nearly one-third of all the media attention devoted to the top five CEOs combined.

Facebook’s 2013 shows how it will take over the rest of the world in 2014: The writing is on the wall. If we take any time at all to observe the recent past for Facebook, we can easily see its near future.

And it’s rosy as all get-out, with a few important exceptions.

This year, Facebook committed to mobile technologies with a fervor unprecedented in the industry. For a network that existed before mobile apps were even a thing, it made a remarkable pivot into a mobile-best position.

In the shaky year following its IPO, it posted astounding revenue numbers quarter after quarter — again making its biggest slam dunks in mobile revenue. It proved an engineering-driven company can change the world. And it showed that the social web still has the power to delight us.

Tech IPOs of 2013: Last year, we estimated that 80 percent of the tech startups likely to go public in 2013 sold their software to businesses, not consumers.

Our prediction proved accurate, with enterprise companies dominating the markets this year. Business-to-business (B2B) companies don’t capture the same attention as their consumer counterparts, but investors perceive them as a safer bet.

Google in 2013: In one of the company’s fastest-paced years to date, Google churned products and moved with puma-like speed and agility to keep up with a legion of starving startups.

The 11 blockbuster funding rounds of 2013 These 11 tech companies have collectively raised $2.8 billion this year. That’s quite a number.

Five companies raised rounds of $200 million or more in 2013, as compared to the three last year, and six more made the $150 million club. Rounds of this magnitude generally go to companies that have already proved their idea and market, and now require mountains of money to scale the business, refine the business model, and fuel international growth.

Interestingly, the largest funding round of the year went to an under-the-radar networking solutions provider called Genband. Box, Fab, and Pinterest made this list two years in a row. About half of the biggest deals were for companies based outside of Silicon Valley. For one, this marked its first round of funding, and four raised not one, but two nine-figure rounds this year.


5 memorable moments that shaped health-tech in 2013: It was a remarkable year for digital health.

Health technology was one of the hottest sectors in Silicon Valley in 2013, with investors pouring $1.5 billion into the space by the end of the third quarter. Entrepreneurs jumped into health care to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) and other health reforms. And in 2013, doctors proved far more willing than ever before to adopt digital technologies, partly thanks to federal cash incentives: Under the government’s “Meaningful Use” guidelines, doctors who shift from paper-based records to electronic health records are eligible to receive large checks in the mail.

Awful buzzwords that will rule in 2014: Every year, Silicon Valley creates new buzzwords to make its startup founders, corporate spokespeople, and “thought leaders” feel like they’re doing something important.

According to linguists, jargon proliferates in Silicon Valley’s tech scene faster than almost anywhere else.

15 thought-provoking VB guest posts you probably missed in 2013: With the year coming to a close, we wanted to pull out some of the awesome, thought-provoking guest posts written by investors, founders, and entrepreneurs for VentureBeat in 2013. Make sure you check these out before the year comes to a close.


Tech in China 2013: VCs are chasing online education, finance, and mobile

This post is by Tracey Xiang, TechNode from VentureBeat

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

After social, e-commerce, group-buying, and the like, venture capitalists had new categories of tech startups to chase in China in 2013.

The new hot verticals are online education, online finance, travel, among others. Mobile, of course, counts. But the businesses on mobile that have been funded are pretty similar those proven ones on desktop; for instance, gaming, advertising, and solutions for developers or enterprises.

While big Chinese Internet companies poured a ton of money into acquisitions and investments, this year was more about complementing their core businesses or strategies. Chinese venture capitalists are on the lookout for new markets or games changers.


There is a revolution in education underway in China — moving to private education and moving online. A wave of education startups raised fundings in the first half of 2013. Some of them, such as 51Talk raised big money in 2013. 51Talk’s take was a $12 million Series B round later in the year.

What’s perceived as good education in China, especially among Chinese young parents, is pretty much about good schools, from kindergarten to universities overseas. The business opportunities entrepreneurs see are in K-12 and preparing kids for studying abroad. Gong Haiyan, founder of dating site Jiayuan, decided to enter the education market starting with an online English-learning site but shifted to a K-12 e-learning platform.

Others that have been funded include education app developers and services with Western models in online education. As for  online teaching platform, it seems this trend will continue to flourish in 2014.


Big names like Sequoia China and IDG Capital Partners laid eyes on Internet-based finance early on. In 2013, VCs showed interest in personal finance apps (WacaiTongbanjie), credit card management apps (Kaniu51zhangdan), online financial product aggregation & search (Rong36091jinrong), and financial social media (Snowball Finance), among others.

One example is Bitcoin Trading Platform BTC China, which  raised $5 million  this past year.


Developer-facing services pocketed a lot of funding in this year. That includes mobile data analysis (TalkingData raised a Series A round, while its direct competitor Umeng was acquired by Alibaba), mobile advertising (Youmi announced RMB100 million in new financing), mobile app security (Bangcle raised a Series B), SDK/API developers (social sharing SDK seveloper ShareSDK, voice recognition service YunzhishengFace recognition solution Face++, indoor map Palmap+), and mobile payment (Mobile game payment service Mo9).

As game developers found that it wasn’t so hard to make money from mobile games, it’s no wonder there were so many acquisitions and investments in this sector. Mobile game developer Chukong raised $50 million in a Series DGame publisher Yodo1 raised $11 million in a Series BHTML5 game developer UZwan received a Series AEjoy secured 100 million Yuan financing; and mobile social game developer Hortor Soft raised a Series A.

Crazy buys in both mobile gaming and web-based gaming include Zhongqingbao, which acquired stakes in two mobile game companies for 440 million Yuan.

Also, Alpha Animation acquired 51 Pocket and 5agame for 692 million Yuan;  Ourpalm acquired Playcrab and Shanggame for 2.55 billion yuan and web game developer Dovo.


It is believed that there’s still a big opportunity in travel markets in and outside China. Startups that have received funds in this year include B2B tourism service 8trip, outbound tourism service Shijiebang, social travel service Mafengwo, travel guide service Tuniu, and hotel app Economy Hotel Manager.

Online to offline lifestyle services

Funded startups in this category are working on housekeeping (Ayibang), online food ordering (EtaoshiEle.me), food delivery (Daojia), movie tickets and info (GewaraMtime), pet owners (Petta), weddings (591wed), and maternal needs (Spice Moms).

Yes, there are many investments in taxi apps and car rentals, thanks to Uber. Also Airbnb-style services are not dying in China but evolving with new fundings (MayiTujia).

What will be hot in 2014? Some venture capitalists see enterprise-facing services will be and have taken hold in China (enterprise social service Mingdaosoftware provider Facishare)

This story originally appeared on TechNode.


The Best iOS And Android Apps Of 2013

This post is by Greg Kumparak from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post


Congratulations, Planet Earth! We made it another 365 days without crashing into the sun. Go team!

It’s the end of the year, and that means three things: booze, ridiculous sunglasses with numbers on them, and lists. Lots and lots of lists. You’ve seen our list of best/worst gadgets of the year. Up next? The Best Mobile Apps Of 2013.

Now, to be clear: there’s not a lot of science here. If we were going by the raw numbers, some Angry Birds spin-off would be the top app every year for the rest of eternity. Instead, these are the favorites picked by a bunch of geeks who write about this stuff all day, every day. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the terrible — and after some heated debate, these apps emerged as the year’s champs.

We tried to stick with apps that launched in 2013, or, in some cases, the tail end of 2012. While many of the apps are cross-platform and we considered that a massively positive bulletpoint, we didn’t eliminate any of our top picks just because they were only on one platform or the other. Some are iOS only. Some are Android only. That’s just the way it goes.

Think we missed something? Got a favorite? Let us know down in the comments.

In no particular order:

coverCover (Android only):

Cover is the lockscreen we always wanted without even knowing it. It figures out what apps you use most and when, and automatically pushes shortcuts for those apps straight to your phone’s lockscreen at the right time. Use Gmail and LinkedIn a lot at work? It’ll catch on and have those apps at-the-ready as soon as you walk in the office. Driving? It’ll queue up Waze, or Pandora, or whatever it thinks you’ll need most.

Seene (iOS only):

Poor Lytro! The oddly-shaped camera got its fair share of buzz when it launched back in 2011, with its special sensor that allowed for all sorts of neat tricks (like being able to “shift” the perspective of a photo a bit after you’ve already snapped it.)

Alas, like the landfill’s worth of standalone pocket cameras that fell before it, the Lytro’s functionality has largely been replicated by mobile apps. One of our favorite apps in that group is Seene. Seene lets you take super trippy “3D” photos with just your iPhone. It actually takes a bunch of photos as you move your phone around an object, then intelligently stitches them together using all sorts of computer vision voodoo.

Newsblur (iOS, Android)

When Google Reader died on July 1st of 2013, a million hopeful replacements sprung up around its grave. While there’s no one-size-fits-all alternative, NewsBlur is a very, very solid option. It’s fast, cross-platform, and super pretty.


QuizUp (iOS only):
Right around the middle of the year, Icelandic games studio Plain Vanilla shifted their focus from one-off, licensed quiz titles to an all-in-one quiz game with topics for everyone — and man, did it pay off. With an ever-growing library of 200,000+ questions, a super-clever multiplayer mode that makes games feel realtime when they’re not, and a gorgeous interface, QuizUp is one of the all-around best mobile games of the year.

Cycloramic (iOS only):


Sit your phone down. Push a button. A few seconds later, you’ve got a full 360° panoramic of the room.

How? Magic. And by magic, I mean an insanely clever hack that uses the iPhone 5S’ vibration motor to propel the phone around on a smooth surface. Does it work every time? Nope. But when it does, everyone’s head explodes.

BillGuard (iOS only for now, Android “coming soon”):

BillGuard’s CEO says they’re building “what Mint should have been“, and they’re already doing a damned good job of it (aided, of course, by Mint having gone pretty stale in the years since its 2009 Intuit acquisition). BillGuard tracks your spending, provides a beautiful analytics interface, and quickly highlights any charges that seem fraudulent or that might be hidden fees in disguise. Oh, and it learns where you shop most and automatically finds coupons for you to use next time you go.

Oyster (iOS only):
My New Years Resolution for 2014 is to remember what the hell my New Years Resolution for 2013 was. But if your resolution is to read more, Oyster is for you. Think Netflix, but for reading. $10 a month gets you all-you-can-read access to about 100,000 titles.



HeyDay (iOS only):
Everyone has that one thing that they’ve always wanted to build, only to find out that someone has already made it really, really well. HeyDay is that thing for me. HeyDay is what the company calls an “effortless journal”, automatically pulling your photos, videos, and GPS locations into individual, timestamped journal entries. At the end of the day, you just go back through and add little notes to fill in the gaps.

TimeHop (iOS only):
TimeHop scans your myriad social networking accounts to remind you of all the awesome things you were doing on this same day a year (or two) ago. It’s like a personal time capsule, or a “This Day In History” list for your life. Get ready to drown in endless waves of nostalgia.



Clumsy Ninja (iOS only):
Clumsy Ninja is kind of like a Tamagotchi, if the Tamagotchi was a lil’ drunk dude in a ninja costume. You play games with your ninja to teach him new skills; where at first he can hardly walk without tripping over his own feet, you’ll quickly have him doing backflips and karate chopping dodgeballs out of the air. Sure, it’s a bit silly — and sure, it’s a classic time-killer/grinding game. But it’s also truly remarkable to see something like this running on a phone. The animation blending/ragdoll system alone is mindblowing.

Agent (Android only):
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.47.10 PM
Agent is one of those Android apps that could pretty much never exist on iOS, unless Apple either makes some big ol’ policy changes or builds it themselves. Agent makes your smartphone smarter in lots of little ways. Battery dying? It’ll dim the screen and turn off Bluetooth. Sleeping? It’ll silence your phone, but offer up callers/texters a way to ring through in case of an emergency. Driving? It’ll reply to texts to let people know you can’t respond right now, AND remember where you parked.

Tinder (iOS, Android):
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.42.32 PM

Tinder is dating boiled down to an almost absurd level of simplicity: a single swipe. Like someone? Swipe right. If they’re not quite for you? Swipe left. If they’ve seen your photo and liked what they saw enough to swipe you to the right, Tinder matches you up.

It ain’t my kind of thing (read: my girlfriend would punch me right in the schnoz), but the single folks at TC all swear by it.

Digg (iOS, Android):
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.44.00 PM
Surprise! After a rebirth under a new owner in 2012, Digg actually started sending a decent amount of traffic around the web again in 2013. Bigger surprise: they built a mobile app and it’s actually pretty damned good. The editor-curated content provides a quick glance as to what’s popular on the Internet at any given time, while the built-in news reader is another super solid alternative to the late great Google Reader.

Duolingo (iOS, Android):

You’d be hardpressed to find anyone saying anything bad about Duolingo – it’s this year’s Internet golden child, and rightly so. It’s one of the best tools I’ve ever seen for learning/brushing up on a language… and it’s completely free. As part of your training, you translate bits of real world text from sites like CNN and BuzzFeed (which is how Duolingo makes any money.)

Sunrise (iOS):
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.43.46 PM
Hate what Apple did with the calendar in iOS 7? Me too! Fortunately, a couple of folks from Foursquare broke away to remind us that calendars can be pretty and easy to use. Looking for another calendar, but not feelin’ Sunrise? Honorable mentions to Fantastical (iOS), Tempo (iOS), and Any.do Cal (Android)

Vine (iOS, Android):
Acquired months before it even launched, Vine is one of the stranger tales of 2013. Focused entirely around sharing 6 second looping video clips, many a pundit predicted Vine’s death upon the launch of Instagram Video — and yet, Vine continues to be where most of the Internet’s funniest short videos end up.

5 features desktop 3D printer companies should focus on in 2014

This post is by Signe Brewster from Gigaom

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

The year 2013 is over. Everyone has heard of a 3D printer, and maybe even seen one at a friend’s house or the mall. The next 365 days are a huge opportunity for 3D printer companies to capitalize on that newfound awareness and convince the average person it is a machine they want. Here’s what the companies gunning to put a printer in every home should focus on.


The best 3D printer is the least involved. The new wave of users doesn’t want to have to tweak temperature settings and babysit a printer through a print job. So far, MakerBot has done the most visible job of building a printer that works intuitively, but it still requires an intermediate knowledge of the technology. Its printers still break down more than the average appliance and require regular hardware maintenance.

Makerware 3D printing screenshot

MakerBot’s Makerware software

A wave of printers set to hit the market next year promise that you’ll just have to hit print and then leave the rest to the 3D printer. If that’s the case, perfect. If not, I won’t be surprised. Either way, we need a machine that has simple, easy software and handles the technical aspects of 3D printing automatically.

Faster printing

Beside their current complexity, the most annoying part of using a 3D printer is how long it takes to print anything. An object the size of an espresso cup can take 45 minutes. Printing larger objects takes hours. It’s a huge blow to the usefulness of a 3D printer, as it’s usually faster to run out to the store and buy something instead of printing it yourself.

There is some hope. Printers like the Robox and Lionhead Bunny represent a very cool trend: more print heads. When you have more print heads, you can extrude more material at once, speeding up the time it takes to print an object. The Robox comes with the bonus of a nozzle made to extrude larger amounts of material, while the second is reserved for finer details. Features like these will be big selling points.

Robox 3D printer

Alternatives to FDM

But why limit ourselves to printing in melted plastic? There are alternatives to fused deposition modeling, as it is called, that already offer faster methods to print. Stereolithography is already making its way into homes via printers like the Formlabs Form 1, which uses a laser to cure liquid resin layer-by-layer. The Pegasus Touch Laser is another, cheaper, option that just hit Kickstarter. Both are fast and capable of putting out high-quality prints that would be tough to build with an FDM machine.


The Form 1 3D Printer. Photo courtesy of Formlabs.

I’m not sure selective laser sintering will ever be safe enough for the home, but the point is that there is more than one way to 3D print. We soon may find ourselves abandoning FDM in favor of faster, better technologies.

More materials

3D printing filament

Right now, ABS and PLA plastic dominate the available materials for 3D printers. That’s slowly changing as the materials science evolves and manufacturers catch on that people don’t only want to print in rigid plastic. On professional 3D printers, it’s possible right now to print in multiple materials, both rigid and soft, in a single print job. That makes it possible to print hinges and wearable items like shoes.

Hobbyists have long tinkered with materials like nylon and even liquid-like foods to see how far they can push their printers. I’ve witnessed the same experimentation going on in the offices of several 3D printer companies. MakerBot just released a flexible filament. It’s not crazy to ask that by the end of 2014 that ABS and PLA be just two options of many.

Lower cost

Finally, to totally dream, it would be great to see all of this happen for less than $1,000. There are plenty of sub-$1,000 printers out there already, but none have met all of these qualifications.

Here’s to another exciting year in the fast-changing world of 3D printing.

Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.