By Tim Shi
Hey everyone and welcome back!
After taking a break for the summer, The Daily’s Tech Blog has returned. This year, we’re adding some new features that we’re really excited about: While the Tech Blog will continue to be your source for breaking news, we will also be adding some regularity to the blog with weekly features like the App Roundup (see below), new product reviews and spotlights on Stanford student start-ups. Additionally we’re expanding the scope of the blog to include news about the goings on of the start-up world and its businesses (a la TechCrunch and Fast Company). As the year goes on we’ll be adding more original content as we work to make the Tech Blog an integral part of The Daily.
If there are features you feel we should write about or stories you’d like to see us cover, we’d love to hear about them. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll write them up!
Here’s to another great year for The Daily and The Valley,
-Tim Shi and Isaac Gateño
The App Roundup
Ever tried to get a group of friends together before going out on a Friday night? Enter GroupMe, a brand new webservice and iPhone app designed to streamline group texting. It’s a simple idea: groups are created with unique phone numbers that instantly become virtual texting chat rooms for up to 25 people. Additionally, any member of the group can call the group number to set up a conference call with every member of the group.
Anyone can create a group by making a free account at GroupMe.com and adding friends to the newly created group. Friends don’t need to have an account, just a phone with texting. The great thing about this service is that texts are sent instantly, it works on any phone and it’s free. For those of you with iPhones, GroupMe also has a nifty app that lets you create and manage groups on the go.
Unlike other services, there are no limits to the number of texts that can be sent and users can easily create multiple groups to text as they see fit. Head on over to GroupMe.com to create an account and start group texting before next weekend.
Instant streaming is arguably the most compelling feature that Netflix offers right now. With its iPad app, Netflix introduced streaming over 3G. Now iPhone users get some of the 3G streaming love as well.
The app is very performance intensive. The first time I downloaded it on my iPhone 3G I could barely use it because it was too slow. Upon upgrading my hardware – for unrelated reasons, I promise – my eyes were opened to a whole new world. If you have an iPhone 4, this app is solid in all respects. The interface is clean and simple. You can view some suggestions, browse for content by genre or search for specific titles. You can also see your Instant Queue and add titles to it for later viewing.
So how does it perform? The streaming over 3G is respectable. I found that pausing the title and allowing it to buffer paid off with reduced interruptions. Your mileage may vary depending on your local AT&T (lack of) coverage. Where this app really shines is on a WiFi network. On campus, the wait for a title to load is barely longer than the wait for the app itself when you first open it. Not to give you any ideas, but for the rest of my career at Stanford I will always be tempted by the enormous library of streamable media right in my pocket.
To review: if you have a Netflix subscription, get this app now.
Solitaire + Awesome = Awesome Solitaire!
Want a recipe for success? Take a classic game, add awesome graphics and animations that take full advantage of your beautiful screen, throw in some clever use of accelerometer and a pinch of ‘none of this distracts from the experience.’ What you get is an app that does one thing and does it right. Enough said.
Oh one more thing: It also keeps track of “time frittered away.” Love it.