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Tech Times

Published:Monday | October 13, 2014 | 10:00 AM
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Written and compiled byKareem LaTouche and Stephanie Lyew

Tech poll of the week

Phone cases are protective and add a sense of flair but can also be bulky accessories. What type of phone case do you prefer for your smartphone?

a) Hard shell cases31%

b) Dual layer (plastic & silicone cases)36%

c) Flip/Wallet cases19%

d) Slipcovers14%


Tech word/term of the week

Multiplatform

A program that is described as multiplatform is usually designed for more than one operating system. The term is used interchangeably with 'cross-platform'. A software program that is cross-platform or multiplatform may be categorised into two types, either created with individual characteristics or codes for each platform that it is promoted for and/or directly built without any specifications. For example, applications that can be downloaded to Apple and Android phones are multiplatform. Video games that are specifically stated 'for Nintendo' are not multiplatform.

Apps this Week for Android, Apple and Bb

PlanGrid for Android

The developers of PlanGrid has described it as the fastest blueprint viewer on Android. It has been updated since September 25 to allow in-app images to be automatically copied to the device, thus eliminating the complications that occur when images cannot be accessed outside of PlanGrid. The application works best on tablets but Android users who have both mobile phones and tablets may synchronise the data to be shared among team members and clients.

Procore Construction Management for Apple (iPhone):

The cloud-based construction management software is a resourceful application for contractors that use Apple iPhone and iPad technologies. Procore allows users to access and create new projects, and manage and share the project details with similar platforms. For each project a contractor acquires, he or she will be able to write notes on the drawings, and additionally create task lists for the work that the project requires. The latest Version 4.0 requires iOS 7 or later. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, as well as iPod Touch and optimised for iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Pitch Gauge for Windows

The Pitch Gauge application is made to assist with roofing calculations, including the pitch and the total amount of material that is required to fix or complete a job. The app works in coordination with the smartphone's camera. Images can be placed within the app or taken while Pitch Gauge is opened to calibrate the device. From there the app is easy to use, to estimate roof length, width and pitch and the correlated number of squares needed. Version 2.1 takes up 4MB of internal phone memory and works well with Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7.5 smartphones with camera.

Facebook closes $21.8-billion deal for WhatsApp

MCT:

Facebook Inc welcomed WhatsApp to its family on Monday as the Silicon Valley social-media company closed its $21.8-billion purchase of the popular chat app.

First announced in February, the deal set a stunning high-water mark for an acquisition of a venture-capital-backed technology startup. Facebook paid about $13.7 billion in stock and $4.59 billion in cash. It's also awarding $3.5 billion in restricted stock to WhatsApp employees, including nearly $2 billion to Chief Executive Jan Koum and $1 billion to co-founder Brian Acton. WhatsApp is set to remain a separate unit from Facebook's core social network.

Koum, who is accepting the same $1 salary as Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, joined Facebook's board of directors last week.

In April, WhatsApp said it had 500 million "regular, active" users with growing numbers from Brazil, Russia, India and Mexico.

WhatsApp charges users $1 a year to use the service after a one-year trial and has pledged to avoid ads and gimmicks.

In February, Zuckerberg called WhatsApp the only popular app to have produced stronger engagement with users than Facebook itself. While future development plans haven't been announced, he recently said it would take years before WhatsApp became a "huge" business for Facebook.

Yahoo to lay off 400 in India, invite some to work in US, report says

MCT:

Marissa Mayer caused an uproar last year when she banned telecommuting for Yahoo employees. Now, it looks like she again wants workers as close to the company as possible.

The online tech company is reportedly cutting about 400 positions at its Bangalore, India, offices according to a Bloomberg report that cited an unnamed source. But in an interesting twist, it's offering more than 40 per cent of the affected workers positions in the United States (US).

Yahoo said in a statement that it will continue to have a presence in India and that Bangalore "remains an important office", but declined to provide specific details.

"As we ensure that Yahoo is on a path of sustainable growth, we're looking at ways to achieve greater efficiency, collaboration and innovation across our business," the Sunnyvale, California, company said. "We're making some changes to the way we operate in Bangalore, leading to consolidation of certain teams into fewer offices."

Bloomberg said about 1,000 Yahoo employees work from Bangalore.

Efficiency

Brooks Holtom, associate professor of management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, said eliminating jobs in India while bringing some of them back to the US could promote greater efficiency and creativity at Yahoo.

"What I'm reading into this is a desire to unite product development," he said. "That collaborative process is easier done face to face."

Mayer, who joined Yahoo as CEO two years ago, has been trying all kinds of initiatives to get the struggling Internet company back on track, including a string of acquisitions.

But a lot of work remains to be done.

When the company released its second-quarter earnings, Mayer said she was "not satisfied" with the results.

For the three months ended June 30, Yahoo reported revenue of $1.08 billion, down four per cent from a year earlier. Profit dropped 19 per cent to $270 million.

Yahoo is struggling with display advertising, a core part of its business. Display revenue was $436 million for the second quarter, down eight per cent from a year earlier. Although the number of ads sold increased about 24 per cent, the price per ad decreased roughly 24 per cent.