Weed Apps Are Dazed And Confused Over Apple’s Unpredictable Policies

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Weed tech companies have an Apple problem. They face uncertain rules when navigating its App Store policies, and now a petition is circulating asking the iPhone maker to lighten up.

These cana-businesses range from digital publications and social apps to investment funds and ad networks, all dedicated to the burgeoning legalized marijuana trade. Many are based in Colorado, where recreational pot is legal, but despite their legitimacy under the law, they're having a hard time getting approval from Apple for their apps. Pot tech entrepreneurs say Apple's restrictions are unpredictable, unfair and threatening the growth of a budding industry.

Apple is notoriously arbitrary in choosing the apps that will grace its digital store, and that store controls a major share of the mobile market and can make or break companies. Last year, it banned a game called Weed Firm, which let people virtually grow and sell pot. Now, apps like MassRoots, an Instagram-style social network centered on pot, say they have been banned because Apple doesn't seem to allow services that connect likeminded marijuana lovers. 

After it was kicked out of the App Store, MassRoots wrote a letter to Apple and began circulating an online petition this month. 

"We're a social network for cannabis that enables people to talk about the plant in ways most people don't feel comfortable on other social networks," said Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots. "I don't want grandma to see me taking bong rips on Facebook."

MassRoots is allowed in Google Play's Android app market, but Apple is far stricter. The app had been in the Apple App Store for 14 months until November, when it was kicked off on Election Day as some states prepared to vote on marijuana laws, following legalization in Colorado and Washington.

"Apple really hurt us and our right to assemble, our right to free speech, and our right to mobilize cannabis consumers like any other constituency," Dietrich said by phone this week. "It's ironic that on the same day Alaska and Oregon voted to legalize marijuana, Apple took the opposite approach."

Apple has not responded to Adweek's requests for comment on this issue.

MassRoots is not just a novelty app. Though relatively small with 120,000 downloads before being booted from iPhones, it has legitimate business prospects of raising investment dollars, though it has no revenue yet, Dietrich said. And it's not alone in attracting investors—weed tech businesses garnered more than $100 million in venture capital last year, according to CB Insights.

MassRoots has ambitious plans for growth, including the goal of going public, Dietrich said. It's in the process of raising more money from investors, who already gave the company more than $600,000, he said.

The sector has attracted big-name investors like Peter Thiel, won the support of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and is bordering on mainstream with apps like Weedmaps gaining traction. In fact, Weedmaps, a Yelp-like service that rates pot dispensaries, was just forced by Apple to change how it promotes recreational pot shops, according to Dietrich.

Though Weedmaps would not comment for this article, sources familiar with the app's status said it now can't give specific information to users telling them which marijuana outlets in legal states are either for medical or recreational purchases.

Other app developers and aspiring pot tech titans say Apple is schizophrenic in its rules. One app called Whaxy—with plans to serve as an Open Table for pot pickups—just won approval this week, and it was built by a company that already had two other pot programs blocked. One of the banned properties calculated the THC content of certain edibles, and the other, called Nuggle, was going to connect pot smokers like Tinder connects daters.

In the case of Nuggle, the social networking component could have been the problem, according to Zachary Marburger, Nuggle founder and CEO of Whaxy.

Marburger said Apple is stifling the business of weed. "The ability for us to even be in the App Store, let alone have the features we want and need for our businesses to be successful, is huge," he said.

He was surprised Whaxy even got the go-ahead and hopes it lasts, because he fears Apple could randomly penalize the app, which lets users reserve pot pickups at dispensaries. "You can place an order at the dispensary and skip the lines, which are usually out the door," Marburger said.

Whaxy had to engineer the app to direct people to its mobile website to complete actions Apple would not allow like finalizing their pot orders, Marburger said.

Marburger supports MassRoots' petition to get Apple to change policies. Only thousands have signed so far, but plenty of pot tech firms are on board, including a digital display ad network called Mantis.

"We are not asking for Apple to endorse cannabis-related applications or their content," a letter from the pot-powered companies to Apple reads. "We are simply requesting that Apple's customers have the right to download marijuana Apps if they so choose."






January 17th 2015 Android, apple, iphone, Mobile, Technology

Imint Wants To Bring Real-Time Video Stabilization To Android

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Screenshot 2015-01-09 at 16.48.55 We saw a number of companies launch apps for video stabilization in the last year — including Instagram’s Hyperlapse for iOS — and Apple brought stabilized video to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus camera. Now,  Imint wants to do something similar for Android phones with the launch of Vidhance Mobile. Before you get too excited, though, it’s worth noting that Imint… Read More

January 10th 2015 Android, Mobile

First TVs Powered by Android TV

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Android TV is Google’s second attempt to bring Android to TVs (the first one was Google TV). After Chromecast’s success and the launch of Nexus Player, Google partnered with a few TV manufacturers that will launch Smart TVs powered by Android TV.

“This spring, Sony, Sharp and TP Vision, with its range of Philips TVs, will start shipping televisions powered by Android TV. These have all the goodness of Android TV built in so you won’t need to plug anything extra into your television. You can use a single remote to watch live TV channels and play games, movies or shows from Google Play and your apps. These televisions feature voice search, to help you quickly find what you want, and they’re Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from your phone or tablet to the big screen,” mentions Google.

From The Verge: “Live at CES 2015, Sony’s CEO Kaz Hirai announced that the company’s new smart TVs will run on Google’s new platform for television, Android TV. The remote control for the TV is essentially a giant trackpad, so that you can navigate the Android TV interface more easily. The remote also comes with a microphone, to make searching easier.” According to Sony, “all new 4K and some new Full HD BRAVIA models will come equipped with Android TV.”

Other manufacturers use different operating systems: Samsung uses Tizen, LG uses WebOS, while Panasonic launches Firefox OS Smart TVs. It’s interesting to notice that Samsung and LG use their own operating systems to power smartwatches, smart TVs, smart washing machine, smart vacuum cleaners, cars and more. “The OS of everything – Tizen is the open-source operating system for all device areas,” mentions Tizen’s homepage. Having their own operating system allows them to control their own destiny and launch new devices without relying on software from Google.

January 9th 2015 Android

Google Now Tests Contextual Photos

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Sterling Alvarez, a reader of this blog, noticed a new Google Now background image that shows some buildings from downtime Miami. He’s from Miami, so it’s likely that Google tests a feature that displays photos related to your location. Google Now already shows custom images for cities like London and San Francisco, but they’re background illustrations. The new ones look more realistic and they’re pretty small, since they look pixelated.

Here’s another image that’s displayed in the morning:

{ Thanks, Sterling. }

January 8th 2015 Android

Android Lollipop’s Slow Growth

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I’m running Android Lollipop on my Nexus 5 and I must say that this is a great Android release, the best Android experience on a mobile device. Many reported performance issues and various bugs, so Lollipop still has a way to go until it’s properly optimized.

Google has recently updated the Android platform distribution numbers and it’s interesting to notice that Lollipop still doesn’t show up, 2 months after its release. Google doesn’t display Android “versions with less than 0.1% distribution”, so it’s obvious that less than 0.1% of the Android devices run Lollipop.

Back in June, Google reported that the number of active Android users was 1 billion, while in May 2013, the number of Android devices that were activated was 900 million. It’s hard to estimate the number of Android devices that run Google Play Store (this excludes Amazon devices and Android devices from China), but assuming that the number is still around 1 billion, this means that less than 1 million Android devices run Lollipop.

In January 2014, Android stats looked different: KitKat’s market share was 1.4%, 2 months after its release. “KitKat, which was positioned at 1.1% last month, has eked out an additional 0.3% to reach 1.4%,” reported Android Police back then.

So why is Lollipop’s market share growing so slowly?

* The Lollipop launch devices (Nexus 6 and Nexus 9) were more expensive, more difficult to find and reviews weren’t that great. I’ve checked Google’s Play Store US site and Nexus 6 is still out of stock. Google no longer offers an affordable tablet (Nexus 7), while Nexus 6 is not a phone for everyone: many people think it’s too big.

* A lot of users reported issues after updating to Android 5.0 and some of them downgraded their devices to KitKat. Other users no longer updated their devices, after reading all the news articles about Lollipop issues.

* Google didn’t push Lollipop to all Nexus devices. I have a Nexus 2012 WiFi and there’s no Lollipop OTA update in the settings.

* Some Nexus and Google Play Edition devices started to get the Lollipop update late. Galaxy S4 GPE was the last to get Android 5.0.

Despite all of these issues, Lollipop is available for a lot of devices: Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, Nexus 10, Galaxy S4 GPE, Moto G GPE, One M7 GPE, One M8 GPE, Sony Z Ultra GPE, LG GPad 8.3 GPE (GPE = Google Play Edition). No other Android release was available for so many devices in the first 2 months. Some Android manufacturers already started to release Lollipop updates for phones like Moto X (2014), LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5. HTC promised to update HTC One M7 and M8 this month.

With so many popular devices getting updates, Lollipop’s market share will grow much faster in the coming months.

January 8th 2015 Android

OnePlus Joins The Forked Android Club With Its Own Version Of Google’s Mobile OS

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oneplus android Smartphone maker OnePlus pledged to develop its own software after partner Cyanogen did the dirty on it with an exclusive distribution with Micromax in India, and it began the year releasing its own forked version of Android. Read More

January 2nd 2015 Android, Mobile

Amazon Is Giving Away These Android Apps

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Last week, Amazon made $220 worth of Android apps available for free through the Amazon Appstore. Now, they’re giving away more apps, which will typically cost you.

There are 33 paid apps available for today only, so act fast if any of the following titles sound appealing to you.

Monopoly
Angry Birds Star Wars
Stack the States
Fruit Ninja
Riptide GP 2
Kingdom Rush Frontiers
Table Top Racing
Sparkle 2 Evo
Alarm Clock Xtreme
Lyne
Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink
République
AVG Antivirus PRO Android Security
Pho.to Lab PRO
Calculator Plus
Thomas Was Alone
Alice Trapped in Wonderland
Food Diary and Calorie Tracker
JEFIT Pro
Townsmen Premium
Might and Magic Clash of Heroes
Patchworkz (Full)
Garfield’s Escape
Mini Piano
Bills Reminder
Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past
Deep Sleep With Andrew Johnson
Orrery
BuildCalc
Buttons and Scissors Pro
Azkend 2: The World Beneath
Xtralogic Remote Desktop Client
Distant Suns: Unleash Your Inner Astronaut

Earlier this month, there was some turbulence between Google and Amazon, which saw the Appstore removed from Android.

Via MobileBurn

January 1st 2015 Android, Technology

New Google Account Switcher in Chrome for Android

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I noticed something strange in Chrome for Android. I was already logged in to one of my Google accounts and I visited Google’s homepage to log in to a different Google account. The account switching interface had a new feature called “go incognito” and the “manage accounts” link opened Chrome’s account settings sections.

“You’re signed in to the following Google Accounts. Add or remove accounts in Android settings,” explained Google. There’s also an option to “go incognito to browse privately or sign in temporarily”.  So now I have to add the account to my device if I want to sign in to a Google account in a mobile browser.

When tapping “add account”, you’re sent to a different section that lets you sign in to your account and enable various syncing options.

Chrome is just a browser, Google is just a site. Why would you add a Google account to your device when you only want to log in to that account in a browser?

To log in to a different account you can either open a new incognito tab or go to Chrome’s settings, disable all accounts and dismiss the warnings. Or you can install a different browser. Why make things so complicated?

January 1st 2015 Android

Save Bandwidth When Playing YouTube Music Videos

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I’ve checked to see what happens when you play a YouTube music video in the background when using the YouTube app for Android, while YouTube Music Key is enabled (it’s bundled with the Play Music All Access subscription). I played U2′s Beautiful Day on my Nexus 5 and opened the app data usage section to see how much data is used by the YouTube app.

When playing the video in the background, the YouTube app used about 4MB.

When playing the same video in the foreground, the YouTube app used about 24MB.

By default, YouTube selected the highest video quality that was available for this video: 480p.

This means that you can save bandwidth by playing music videos in the background. YouTube uses separate chunked streams for audio and video, so it can download only audio files when playing videos in the background.

December 19th 2014 Android, YouTube

This Beautifully Simple Site Makes It Easy to Create the Right Digital Color Palette

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For the most talented designers, creating a palette of complementary colors comes easy. For the rest of us, not so much.

Enter Material Palette, a site launched this week by European coder Matt Aussaguel to help Android app designers find the right color options within Google's new Material Design language. What's especially nice is that the clean, user-friendly resource is actually helpful for anyone who ever finds themselves in need of a quick array of colors for a digital design (or a kitchen remodel, in my case).

There are lots of color palette creators out there, but most involve sliders and rainbow wheels and all manner of intricacy I'd rather not deal with. With Material Palette, you click two colors you want to use, and boom—you get eight colors that work and play well together. (See example below.) The colors use traditional hex codes, too, so you can use them just about anywhere, from Photoshop to your site's CSS.

Try it for yourself here.

Hat tip to Google Design's Twitter feed for spotting and sharing this one.






December 19th 2014 Android, Design, Google, Technology