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Robert Moore • Author at Mirror Daily

Facebook-owned Instagram took a great step forward last week when it opened up its API, or application programming interface, for ads. With more than 300 million users, the photo and video platform has officially signed its success in the advertising world by virtually putting up a sign that says “open for business.”

News on the move barely reached the mainstream media, but that was expected. Few people outside the tech world are interested in API ads, but it’s actually a big deal: it means that almost anyone with knowledge of online tools that plug directly into Instagram can now use the platform for their own advertising.

Currently boasting ad revenue of $595 million a year, the advertising behemoth is expected to spike to $2.8 billion by 2017, and that’s partly thanks to the new API system. If such predictions become reality, even tech giants like Google and Twitter will be left in the rearview mirror.

Marketers have long coveted Instagram, mostly because of its unstoppable record of attracting new and active users. In this respect, the network is believed to have surpassed Twitter and LinkedIn, having only its parent company, Facebook, to look up to.

More than that, Instagram showed the fastest expansion, at an incredible rate of 50 percent during 2014, a time when both Twitter and Facebook have been lagging behind and plateauing around the same figures.

Instagram also has the benefit of attracting a considerably younger usership, with 44 percent of its users aged between 18-29, compared to Facebook’s 23 percent and Twitter’s 33 percent. And even though the company has been famously cautious about rolling out ads, it turns out that they had no reason to fear.

Ever since the network started testing the platform for ads back in 2013, the response has been nothing but positive, with users reporting 2.8 times higher recall versus the traditional online ad formats.

Instagram’s new API offering that allows third parties to purchase ads on the platform has been called “one of the most anticipated moments in the evolution of advertising.” Think that sounds over-the-top? Imagine the result of the unusual mixture of substance and style: Instagram benefits from Facebook-powered analytics, but it adds great aesthetics.

Considering that more than three-quarters of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile ads, Instagram – which is mobile-only – has just become an even more crucial contributor to the tech giant’s deep pockets. Buckle up, Instagram, and enjoy the ride to becoming a multibillion-dollar ad giant in the years to come.
Image Source: Digital Marketing Suite

Hangouts has finally been adorned with its own standalone website. Google’s communication platform – which was previously accessible via the iOS and Android app, a Chrome extension and Gmail – now offers its users the option of sending messages via desktop as well.

Plenty of other services are available through the official website, such as calling your friends or starting a video conference. And the interface is user friendly, following the previous layout used in other locations, such as Gmail. In a similar way, users can still open more than just one conversation at a time, and also initiate group chats.

To get started on using Hangouts for desktop, users simply have to log in with their Google account on the official website. Next screen will prompt multiple icons to appear on the left side, such as contacts, conversations and phone call log, along with the option of downloading and installing the Hangouts app for iOS, Android or Chrome.

Even if you haven’t been using Hangouts prior to accessing the standalone website, you shouldn’t have problems navigating through the various options available. Clicking on the three dots next to a contact’s name, for example, simply opens a list of three services: pinning that user at the top of the contacts list, starting a video call or hiding them from your list.

In the same straightforward way, the conversations menu contains a list of all previous conversations with contacts and offers the possibility of initiating new conversations either by looking for a new contact through the search bar, or by clicking on a name that’s already in the list. For new calls, access the phone calls menu, where you can reach your friends by typing their name or phone number.

If nothing sounds new for users used to the Hangouts interface, it’s because there are no new features included. The only difference – and the website’s strong suit – is that the standalone version of the communication service offers a much cleaner experience.

Instead of having your conversations within the Gmail inbox frame or on the Chrome extension, try Hangout’s website that will regularly entertain users with changing background images.

The new Hangouts is yet another example of the company’s strategy of unbundling Google+’ features, following the revamping of Google+ Photos into Google Photos – which was also gifted with its website and app. Google+ may not be dead yet, but its services are slowly and surely being transferred to their respective standalone domains.
Image Source: I Think Different

Atlas’ feet managed to cross the uneven surface of wood paths without encountering any difficulties.

If you are not passionate about artificial intelligence, you probably won’t care that Google’s Atlas humanoid robot took his first walk in the woods on Monday. For the rest of the world, however, this is incredibly good news.

Sure, the humanoid bot may look like a dancing monkey or a helpless old man trying to make his way to the nearest toilet in the night, but scientists have great expectations, nonetheless. After months of indoor experiments, the robot was finally tested on the uneven surface of the woods and it did remarkably well.

For the current test, MIT researchers, who are working with Boston Dynamics and Google for their new prototype, have used a power tether to ensure the stability of the robot. The video that was published on their official YouTube channel shows the bot tilting from one leg to another, yet maintain its balance on the hard wood paths.

The tasks grew gradually difficult as researchers also programmed the machinery to climb on small hills. The machine remained stable at all times and no problems have been encountered during the experiments.

MIT engineers will use the recent material to determine what improvements should be operated on the robot in order to become more flexible and, as a consequence, more reliable. So far, engineers have agreed that they will have to work on the mobility of the robot.

Previous indoor tests have helped scientists perform various upgrades on Atlas at the beginning of the year. Based on their description, the robot has been foreseen with lighter materials and improved actuators, so it can easily stand up after falls.

The humanoid machine is just as functional as a human being, mainly due to its flexible wrists. The bot can grab doorknobs and rotate them without using its entire arm – a very important feature for artificial intelligence prototypes.

Researchers plan to perfect artificial intelligence to the point where it can completely replace human beings. By doing so, robots can be programmed to carry out dangerous tasks and missions that are currently operated by human workers.

As surreal as this scenario may seem, engineers think scientists will soon be able to use robots to rescue people from disaster areas or to defuse bombs. For that, machineries will have to be endowed with sufficient independence to be able to move around and act without additional help.

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By visiting NameExoWorlds, you can place your vote.

Here’s a chance to take part in creativity, as a public announcement from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has stated that astronomers want your help in naming planets. The issue has been officially opened for public voting, where anyone can scoot on over and aid in naming 20 planetary systems, that imply 15 stars and 32 exoplanets.

Not all planets or stars have interesting names, with some suffering from a simple addition of ‘b’ at the end or just given a number that, admittedly, has meaning, but it’s tough to remember and it’s not precisely catchy to use. However, for the first time in history, the public is being asked to help in finding more proper names.

IAU is the authority held accountable and responsible for naming celestial bodies found throughout space. Traditionally, their namesakes are often founders, but at least for a good number of them, that particular habit will be altering.

It won’t be entirely up to the public though. In order to avoid ridiculous entries and highly inappropriate options, they had limited the official entries to astronomy clubs and other parties from 45 countries. They submitted a number of 247 proposals, which the public can now vote on at the NameExoWorlds website.

It’s in multiple choice form, where you will be allowed to vote just once from one device, without a need to register. Just a quick visit to the website and clicking on your choices will do the trick.

There are numerous amounts of significant or amusing combinations of names for stars and their planets. They can range from amusing anecdotes to significant personalities in our histories, animals, gods, folk characters to just overall interesting-sounding words. Most would feature a personal note that will also give out an explanation for some of the more confusing ones.

The combination of 51 Pegasi and 51 Pegasi b, for example, could be given a more interesting name. There are 11 possibilities currently available, including “Starry Bunnies” and “Tortoise” (after the tortoise and the hare relation), “Carl” and “Dot” (after Carl Sagan after describing our planet as a “blue dot”), or the more widely known “Apollonis” and “Neil” (named after astronaut Neil Armstrong and his famous excursion on the moon via Apollo 11 spacecraft).

As stated by a spokesperson when inquired why this decision has been shifted to the public, which may include questionable choices, there could be a new meaning to everything once given an official name. “Jupiter” was just a sound the Romans used for a deity before it became the name of a planet.

Those interested in taking part in naming the stars and planets will be able to do so until October 13th, so you are encouraged to head on over and make your choice. Your vote matters.

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A recent update was brought by Mozilla on their Firefox Developer Edition and on Firefox Aurora, and the changes are worth noticing. According to fresh reviews, the company has transferred some of the features that were previously not available on these pre-beta versions of Firefox.

One of the products that received the spotlight through advertising is Electrolysis – Firefox’s upcoming multi-process platform – users of Firefox Dev will soon receive a notification about its existence, and enabling it isn’t rocket science.

If you’re wondering what Electrolysis is up to, it’s easy and efficient: Mozilla engineers have worked on a feature that can improve the browser’s responsiveness and takes security to the next level. You might want to consider, however, that plenty of add-ons are yet to be made compatible with Electrolysis.

According to a list published on Are We e10s Yet website, there are currently 117 broken and 568 untested add-ons, and some of the most popular extensions are included, such as Ghostery, Adblock Plus or Lightbeam for Firefox.

From the general user’s perfective, the most exciting new feature is the upgraded private browsing mode. The option in itself has been around for a while and it can be enabled by either using the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-P or via the menu (File > New Private Window).

But the novelty comes with the private browsing’s interface, which now sports a list with all the data and information that Firefox pledges to ‘forget’ and which will be saved after the user exists the incognito mode.

Mozilla didn’t stop there; Tracking Protection is in fact the feature that takes home the prize. When using private browsing mode in Firefox, this tool actively and automatically blocks all known trackers, a feature that improves privacy in incognito mode, on one hand, but also adds the benefit of making the pages load faster, on the other.

The update automatically enables Tracking Protection, which developers warn is not an ad-blocker, as it has nothing to do with blocking ads, but with cutting off a selection of known tracking servers. For those who don’t want it, the feature can be disabled from the private browsing start page.

Firefox has also taken a stand against malicious add-ons by enforcing the signing of add-ons in the Firefox Dev version. The fate of unsigned installed add-ons is automatic disabling, as goes with installing unsigned as well. Even though some editions will offer an override switch for this feature, Beta and Stable versions won’t support it.
Image Source: Mozilla Firefox

Apple Watch is now setting its aim toward business uses.

It’s the never-ending story of what was supposed to be a successful gadget, but failed, and the company is not giving up as they introduce 20 new business apps for Apple Watch, courtesy of Salesforce. Sales for the high-tech and high-end luxury wrist accessory have been going down and it’s reportedly considered a failure for the company.

And all that is in spite of the fact that Apple reported their Apple Watch to have seen a better release day than their iPad and it’s still beating out its competition in spite of a quite steep price. The next generation of the gadget is now on its way, and it’s promising to feature more functionality for enterprises.

The twenty new apps have been developed by third party companies, all partners of Salesforce, that have been pulling in their resources to create beneficial, profitable and time-saving pieces of software to be added to the Apple Watch. It seems like an unfavorable idea to conduct business on the tiny screen instead of using your phone, but a quick glance at your wrist will certainly be quicker. And hands-free.

On August 11th, three of the twenty new apps have been unveiled for the public’s viewing by three different third party companies interested in developing applications for the future generation of Apple Watch.

ClickSoftware has shown an app that could be used by on-field technicians to quickly announce when certain repairmen are done with one task and when they’re headed to the next location with just one tap on the screen. It would cut down the time spent communicating through calls or texts.

BracketLabs focused on the importance of task management, by allowing a manager to see a list of tasks to be done, to ascertain their status or know when they’re overdue  and completed by one single tap on the Apple Watch screen, though it does require the company to be in use of Salesforce cloud accounts.

Vlocity has provided a demo in which their app was used to notify customers or potential clients waiting in the lobby that the meeting may start, to check status of sales or send customers their bills, all nicely color-coded for an easier use.

It could be a more convenient option for those who are constantly moving and on-the-go, who wish to keep their hands unoccupied while conducting business. The new apps will be performing the small tasks that may just not be worth keeping on your phone and would be much more suitable to the littlest screen of your gadgets.

There are seventeen more apps to be unveiled by Salesforce that seem to attempt a revival of the Apple Watch and perhaps allow it to gain a better image in the eye of critics and users, even though the company seems to insist that their product is not doing as bad as some report.

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Your perspective is set to change once experiencing space through the SpaceVR.

You won’t need to become an astronaut anymore to get a glimpse of Earth from outer space, as Kickstarter SpaceVR will take you off-planet right from your living room. Many dream of the opportunity to travel beyond the atmosphere of our planet, but only a mere insignificant fraction have achieved that widely-spread dream.

Out of the 7 billion people on Earth, only 536 humans have seen the wonders of outer space and admired the bright blue planet among the darkness. SpaceVR is setting itself upon the path of amending the tragic fact that the majority of people who would want to travel that far, never will.

The Kickstarted campaign aims at gathering $500,000 from private donors, in order to fund the project that would send anyone with a virtual reality headset in space from the comfort of their living room. With the use of their Overview One 3D and 360 degrees camera, they will be able to catch stunning footage from miles above the planet.

Due to their partnership with Made in Space, the high-end and high performing camera will be constructed on Earth and finalized through 3D printing on the International Space Station (ISS). An astronaut will then launch it into space by the end of this year, which will record videos and photographs of the everyday view of space travelers.

The chance of a lifetime will be transformed into an opportunity for many to see, explore and experience the same thrilling feeling and humbling sensation of seeing Earth through VR devices to be released in the following years. Ranging from Samsung’s GearVR to HTC Vive (to be released in the fall), Oculus Rift (early 2016) or Google Cardboard, space will be brought down to our planet.

If the campaign proves itself successful, plans have already been unveiled of future ambitions. The SpaceVR intends on expanding its space travel itinerary, by being sent to the moon in 2017, attached to an asteroid in 2022 and even go as far as Mars by 2026.

According to the company’s CEO Ryan Holmes, this will allow us to experience the Overview Effect that changes the perspective of astronauts upon seeing Earth for the first time from space. The dazzling sight of our blue planet is a reminder of its fragility, a little dot among a vast galaxy that is still largely unexplored.

Borders no longer exists. Humanity stands together from up there, all united in just one tiny place of the universe, and international wars or issues no longer seem as significant. No difference should divide us, not gender, race, religion or nation, for we are all together, a small speck of life among the bright stars and floating into the pitch black.

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The new iOS update for Google Maps will let drive all night.

Google Maps spices up nightlife with this iOS update. For real, the San Francisco tech giant has now brought in a feature for its popular navigation app that is sure to encourage all those taxi drivers to go out on the streets at night looking for clients.

Truly, this new feature is bound to make nightlife more enjoyable, either for you, driving your friends home as the designated driver, or for the cab driver you just happened to call for provided you’ve had a bit too much to drink.

Have you ever been in the dark and squirmed your eyes at the screen of your phone if the device did not adapt its luminosity to the darkness? Well, imagine drivers in traffic doing that. Then the lights are off, your eyes gradually adapt to the lighting (or lack thereof) and so you start to see well even if you’re in complete darkness. This is of course, unless someone decides to shine a flashlight right in your eyes.

That is exactly what Google thinks happens to drivers who look at the map when they are driving. So that’s why they have introduced the new Night Mode. And it’s simple and effective. Once it gets dark outside it automatically changes its colors so that it is easy to see and does not obstruct your vision.

While the standard version boasted a white and bright map, with high contrasts between streets and your car, the Night Mode has a dark blue-grey map, with dark grey streets, and a highly contrasting blue direction indicator. They have gone for the obvious choice, many are saying, since there are few colors that contrast so well with black without causing discomfort.

And it’s not going to get confused and slow your device: it uses a combination of the phone’s light sensor (the thing that makes your screen adapt when it’s too sunny or too dark) and of the actual time in the area where you are from. So, if it’s too dark and it’s actually day (say you put your phone in your pocket) – the Night Mode will not turn on, and the off when you get it out. Obviously the same goes the other way around – if it’s light outside and it’s night (let’s assume it), your screen will not go dark.

Still, people and app reviewers have been critical of this update, saying that it has come much too late as it has been available for two whole years on Android, and that the Night Mode only works when turn-by-turn is on, which may not be to everyone’s liking.

There is a wide range of smartphones that will receive Windows 10 Mobile.

In a recent press release, Microsoft announces first Lumia smartphones to receive Windows 10. The announcement has been long awaited by fans, who were wondering whether their phones will be the lucky models that will receive a system upgrade or not.

The complete list of the upgraded smartphones has been posted on the company’s official website. To make the long story short and to spare you of the agony of reading this article, the Lumia smartphones that will feature Windows 10 Mobile are: Lumia 435, Lumia 430, Lumia 532, Lumia 535, Lumia 640, Lumia 540, Lumia 640 XL, Lumia 735, Lumia 830, as well as Lumia 930.

Microsoft’s decision to add their most recent operating system on so many models proves that the company wants to meet the needs of all its customers, be they in the lower or the upper social strata. As tech experts have noticed, the announced models belong to different categories and collections, some of them being low-end models, while other high-end prototypes.

The decision may also come from the company’s intention to test the new system on various models featuring different tech specifications, but the developing giant did not provide any additional explanations.

There aren’t any fees or conditions that customers must fulfill in order to be able to download Windows 10 Mobile. However, the company has stated that users have to have the most recent Lumia Denim update installed on their mobile devices in order for the upgrade to work.

The good news may not be so good for the rest of Microsoft’s customers, who do not own a Lumia phone. So far, the list does not include any non-Lumia models, but the company may surprise these customers, too, once Windows 10 Mobile becomes popular and reliable enough.

Although the list of the lucky Lumia models has been provided, Microsoft has not yet revealed the official launching date of its smartphone OS. The system will most likely be available in November, judging by the estimates that market analysts have made.

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2D stanene could replace 3D graphene because it increases the production of electricity without wasting energy or heating up computer components.

Scientists have created the super 2D stanene – the best semiconductor of electricity, which has all the abilities to replace graphene. The experiments have been conducted by researchers at four Universities in China under the surveillance of Shou-Cheng Zhang, an expert from Stanford University.

Based on the report that scientists have published in the journal of Nature, their experiment has led to the creation of the first tin mesh that is just one atom thick. Scientists said two years ago that a similar creation was possible and now it has been finally made.

The 2D stanene is related to graphene, but it is, nonetheless, much more efficient when it comes to conducting electricity, as researchers have noticed during their recent experiments. The mesh is made out of carbon atoms that are disposed in a honeycomb structure, unlike graphene which follows a hexagonal pattern.

Physicists have placed the 2D stanene mesh at room temperature and observed the movements and the trajectory of the electrons on the thin tin layer. Registered images have shown that electrons moved at all times without colliding into other atoms or electrons, thus, improving the conductivity of electricity. Energy is no longer wasted due to electrons’ ability to travel fast and precise.

According to scientists, 2D stanene is better than graphene because electrons no longer travel through the center of its honeycomb structure, but rather on the edges allowing the electrons to preserve the same speed at all times.

There are many uses that researchers could find for the 2D stanene. First of all, it could make computers much faster using the same power specifications. Second of all, the honeycomb pattern of the 2D stanene could soon replace microprocessors’ wirings to reduce power consumption and to prevent the heat up of computer components.

In spite of the promises that scientists make, Stanford researchers are not sure that the new material they have created is indeed the topological insulator, 2D stanene. They have created the current mesh by vaporizing tin and enabling the atoms to arrange themselves on the respective surface, but many material could be created this way.

Scientists plan to conduct many more researchers to determine whether the newly created material is indeed 2D stanene. For that, they will carry out deeper measurements on the crystal arrangements within the material. However, the honeycombed surface of the material is a strong indicator of 2D stanene, Zhang and his colleagues have concluded.

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