For what seems like months, there have been rumors of the Facebook phone. But up until now, it’s proved as elusive as a jackalope or Bigfoot.

But thanks in part to Android Police and 9to5Google, we now have a lot more information about the device, which Facebook is set to announce at a press event on Thursday. (If you want a better technical understanding of just how Facebook is skinning Android, definitely head over to the Android Police post.)

From what I can gather, Facebook is not creating a new fork of Android, which is what Amazon has done with the Kindle Fire. Instead, like Motorola and others, they are skinning Android specifically for their device. The phone, by HTC, was code-named the Myst. It’s now being released as the “First”, which fits in with HTC’s “The One” product line. The phone will be heavily skinned by Facebook and when you turn it on, Facebook is the first screen you see. The new version of Facebook, for this phone in particular, will rely heavily on Facebook’s social graph.

This will be Facebook’s first real foray into the consumer marketplace. With that comes a need for advertising to the general public, which isn’t something Facebook has ever really done. To compete in the over-saturated mobile market (not to mention the Android market itself), Facebook will have to Buy Viagra really pony up some ad dollars to make an impact in the marketplace – or it will just be another phone.

Personally, I want Facebook to explain to me why I NEED a Facebook phone. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I want to be even more plugged into a social network. In fact, I’ve given serious thought to getting out. Facebook is no longer the go-to place for the younger generation. They’re on Twitter and Instagram, with Dad and Grandma hanging out on Facebook.

Aside from Facebook’s need to market this phone to consumers, there are some other interesting ??? to come out of this development. Facebook is currently a fantastic place to advertise your products (assuming your consumers are on the network) and it’s made a huge impact in how digital advertisers approach campaigns. What effect will a Facebook phone, with deeper integration of the social network, have on mobile marketing, which is still a fledgling effort?

Next, I have to wonder about Google. I love that Google’s Android system is so open, allowing developers to do a lot of what they can’t accomplish with iOS. But will that open-ness backfire on Google if Facebook’s phone can become a serious competitor?

Just some thoughts. We’ll keep you updated on the actual specs, retail info, and pricing of the phone after Thursday’s announcement.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

By Glogger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL

In just a short time, wearable computing has taken off. Several devices are now flooding the market. The first phase seems to be health-related with Nike’s Fuel Band, Jawbone’s Up and Fit Bit all competing for the fitness geeks. What’s driving the craze? Well, it’s a quick convergence of three things:

– Affordable sensors

– Innovation in manufacturing

– “Always-on” connectivity with smartphones

Although it seems like wearable computing is an overnight sensation, it has actually taken a long time for this technology to come to fruition. Over the last five years, patents, manufacturing, and design have evolved so affordable devices could come to market. There’s a lot of high-tech in these devices — they are full-blown computers that are waterproof, hypoallergenic, and built to take the Generic Cialis hits that come from being worn on active bodies.

These devices are indeed complete systems as well: the wearable sensors, the software app for your smartphone, and the data stored in the cloud all combine to provide you information you’re most interested in: calories burned, miles walked/ran, hours slept, etc.

Who’s buying these devices? It seems interest cuts across gender and socioeconomic lines. Everyone is interested in their health, and knowing they can get relevant data on their activity is a major ROI on why people are jumping on the bandwagon. It helps to have the devices priced at less than $200 too.

Face it, wearable computing will go far beyond tracking your treadmill runs… soon, you’ll be wearing devices that offer you what that little computer you hold in your hand all day does… can anyone say Google Glass?

Years ago, I got suckered by a Wine Spectator April Fool’s Joke, where they announced Paris Hilton as the new spokesperson for a high-end French wine. Oops. Ever since then, I’ve been especially wary of the web on April 1. Here are some of the April Fool’s web items I’ve come across today:

Procter & Gamble announced – on Friday – that they’re going to sell bacon-flavored Scope mouthwash. Ewww.

Google, as usual, has gone over the top with Google Nose (a new scentsation in search), Google Maps Treasure Maps, and Google SCHMICK (Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit), which allows you to give your house a lick of fresh paint for free on Street View. Then there is Gmail Blue, which is a blatant knock at Microsoft’s upcoming Blue update and Windows 8.

Microsoft isn’t just sitting back and taking Google’s jabs though. If you go to Bing.com and type Google into the search field, a Google-style Bing page appears. Small boxes on the page take further playful (sort of) pokes at Google and the I’m confused button Buy Levitra takes you to the Bing blog.

Bing April Fool's Prank

YouTube, owned by Google and therefore pranksters themselves, has announced that the last 7 years were just a big contest for “best video” and as of tomorrow, they’re shutting down any new video submissions to the site.

Richard Branson has announced, via the Virgin blog, that Virgin Atlantic is introducing a glass-bottomed plane. While I know it’s a joke, the concept scares me a little.

Sony has introduced Animalia products, which include Cans for Cats (headphones) and home entertainment systems for your hamster.

Toshiba is proud to announce the Toshiba TubeTop - an inflatable innertube + laptop that comes in an array of colors.

But perhaps my absolute favorite is from BMW, who announces the PRAM (Post Natal Royal Automobile). With the coming royal baby, BMW just thought they’d get into strollers.

BMW PRAM for April Fool's Day

If you come across any other April Fool’s jokes on the web, be sure to share them in the comments.

 

 

There’s a seemingly never-ending sea of new apps to explore at SXSW. You find out about them from marketing tricks including pop-up demonstrations when people gather around, roving folks in bright shirts bribing people with free food and drink, kiosks with flashy animations, tons of flyers left lying around, posters taped to every blank spot on every pole in town, overhearing conversations, and of course, bumping into friends. There doesn’t seem to be a “breakout app” that has captured the conversation, but I’ve discovered a few that I’d like to mention:

LevelUp

LevelUp is (yet another) payment app — but with a twist: it’s really easy to install, configure and use. I was standing in line to buy an over-priced slice of pizza and a cup of $10 bad wine when I saw a poster inviting me to “LevelUp and save $5 on my next purchase”. So, as I stood in line, I downloaded the app. There were only 2 people in front of me, so the test was to see if could get the app downloaded and configured to buy my pizza in just a few minutes. The download went swiftly, the app asked me if it could “scan” my credit card and then requested that I confirm a few security details. I then connected it to Facebook for login, and I was ready to go. Right as I finished the configuration, it was my turn to order. LevelUp displays a QR code, which is scanned by a device connected to the market’s cash register (kinda like the Starbucks app). I scanned, and was ready to go in seconds. For using it, I got an instant $5 off my order, which resulted in free pizza for me (although I had to fork over a lot for bad wine). The app is available for iOS and Android right now.

 

Highlight

Highlight is not a new app for SXSW, but is getting a lot of buzz here right now. Highlight senses the area you’re in and alerts you if your friends are nearby. The idea is to take social networking to a hyper-local level. The app is simple to configure: it will search your Facebook friends and ask you to choose the ones you want it to scan for. It will also search your phone’s contacts. Highlight is available on iOS and Android.

 

GonnaBe

GonnaBe is an app that lets you make plans to hookup with friends. You can quickly create “events” and invite your friends to join you. Say you just grabbed a 4-seat table in a hot bar and you want to alert your friends who are nearby to join you, you no longer have to text them individually. Just create your plan, and then share it to your followers or social channels in seconds. Scan your feed to see the plans of the friends you follow or see the feed of the hgh helpful for low thyroid public plans around you if you’re feeling spontaneous. GonnaBe is available now for iOS and soon for Android.

 

Twist

The Twist app is a convenient way to let people know when you’re going to arrive at an event. Their thinking is that people are constantly late, and Twist will make life easier by eliminating the stress and headaches caused by uncertain wait times and travel delays. Twist monitors your calendar and email and will automatically let people know when you’re going to arrive based on your location. Twist can automatically send an update to the parties that are waiting on you to let them know when you’ll be there. So no more fumbling in the car, endangering your life (and others) trying to peck out a text explaining you’re stuck in traffic… while you’re in traffic! Twist is available for iOS.

 

Vendly

Tired of those sites that promise to sell your gadget for you and earn you tons of dough? They’re great, but they sure do take a fat percentage. Well, here comes Vendly — a free marketplace for you and your friends to sell and buy anything from each other. No middleman, sort of. Vendly is easy to use, simply snap a picture with your phone, add a description, share it via email, Twitter or Facebook and then wait for your networks to see and buy! Vendly is available on iOS and Android.

 

Foodzy

Foodzy promises to turn getting healthy into a game! Foodzy is yet another “personal food journal” but one with a twist. Instead of just entering everything you eat from a never-ending list of ridiculous food databases, with Foodzy you turn what you eat into an activity stream with a real-time dashboard giving you a picture of how your “food day” went. You can also connect your gadgets like a FitBit to let Foodzy know how much you’ve exercised. Foodzy translates your calories into its own “Bits” point scale and awards you badges and extra points for engaging in healthier activities. It’s available on iOS and Android.

 

Kismet

Kismet is another “social planning” app in what’s seemingly becoming a crowded field. Kismet promises to simplify your social life by connecting you to nearby friends and letting you make plans together. When you send out an invite to friends, they can RSVP (even without the app). Everyone you invite to the event you’re planning are placed into a closed “group” where you can message each other to work out the details. Kismet is available on iOS.

 

Yiftee

Yiftee lets you send small gifts (usually $20 or less) from your phone or the web for any reason: birthdays, thank-you’s, or get well wishes. Yiftee works with local businesses to fulfill the gifts. Giftees receive them on Facebook, email or text and stop by a local merchant to pick them up. Yiftee is available on iOS.

 

After the culture shock of Day 2,  I adapted fairly quickly and thrived on the following two days. Much like CES though, it’s easy to get information overload. I’m definitely suffering from Festival Fatigue, but in a good way.

I chose a couple key items on Saturday and managed to get into those sessions without a problem. I started with the Tim Berners-Lee talk. This is the guy who changed everything. For all practical purposes, he “invented” the Internet. Sometimes it’s great to hear a big thinker. When he says, “I haven’t yet accomplished world peace,” I believe he has that on his to-do list. He’s the kind of guy who can affect change. His key takeaways for us? Create a platform, device and OS independent. He advocates open web standards and open platforms. More importantly, he asked us to be part of the solution. Create things that will make a difference.

Admittedly, I sat through the Elon Musk keynote, but it was streamed into the conference room for my next session. Elon Musk is impressive, with PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX under his belt at the age of 41 …. at the same time, I sort of felt like I was watching a rich, white guy answer interview questions with not that much personality. Personal opinion only, of course.

My real goal was to sit through UX Designer and author Russ Unger’s session on the similarities between Jim Henson’s works and processes to modern day UX design. It was a creative session that I thoroughly enjoyed. Of penis enlargement without pills course, at different points, the entire audience was singing Fraggle Rock and Rainbow Connection, and I think everyone in the room was born in the 1970s. But the session inspired some creativity in me and that’s why I’m here.

Sunday, we took a different tact and avoided sessions altogether. We went outside the session to what was happening outside the convention center. Samsung painted an empty building and turned it into their own pseudo-bar and restaurant, showcasing their latest tech. Rackspace an Salesforce both co-opted existing bars. Mashable has a tent that even includes Grumpy Cat as a special guest.

"beam" your drink and food choices to the kitchen at Samsung

And then there was the trade show. While not as large as CES, it was definitely reminiscent. iPhone cases and apps and web sites. Hosting companies, marketing tools, and tools for effective design. It’s all there. Can I say anything really blew me away? Not really. Over the next few days, I’ll blog about a couple of the apps and companies that seemed  a little more special.  But will you hear from those companies in a year? Not sure.

Not Quite Larger Than Life Trade Show

Tomorrow is Monday and I head back to San Francisco from the wonderfully weird Austin. SXSW has been a blast and I’m pretty sure, now knowing how to navigate it, I’ll be back again next year. Coming later this week – the best and worst marketing ploys of SXSWi 2013.