Now you can order Domino’s on Samsung Smart TV From Couch

Domino’s already has made ordering its pizza practically as easy as breathing. You can do it from your smartphone, online, inside your Ford using Sync, and on a Pebble or Android smartwatch. But if you’re plopped down right in front of the couch without as much as one personal digital appliance within arm’s reach? Until now you’ve been sunk — or had to rise.

But Domino’s has launched its first ordering app for Samsung Smart TVs, just in time for the final weekend of March Madness, when the brand expects to sell more than 1.7 million pizzas nationwide, and most of them to fans watching the NCAA men’s basketball semifinals and finals on television on Saturday and Monday.

Domino’s said that it now has enabled customers to order via their Samsung Smart TVs, yet the latest extension of the brand’s AnyWare suite of technology that gives customers the ability to order pizza on more devices and in more ways than ever before.

Samsung_SmartTV_Still_3.20.15

Its’ one more way that Domino’s is battling Pizza Hut for supremacy in the digital-ordering arena that has become crucial to the two companies’ sales and efficiency. “The great thing about this is we’re making it as easy as possible for people to keep enjoying whatever experience they’re experiencing, while still ordering pizza,” Dennis Maloney, vice presdient of multi-media marketing for Domino’s, told me. “It’s a major step change in the ordering experience if you don’t have to change anything else.”

Of course, there is some “fine print” involved. Customers who want to order Domino’s via their Samsung smart TV must have one of Domino’s Pizza DPZ -1.95% Profiles from earlier online ordering with a saved recent order — and a 2013 or newer television.

Maloney said that Domino’s is “constantly talking” with all variety of potential tech partners and that this partnership with Samsung arose from such discussions, not a definitive approach from either side to the other. “One nice thing about moving this capability to TVs is that they’re in every household, and a lot of technology is embedded in them,” he said. “We just keep continuing to add to our platform so that anyone can order, anyhow, anywhere.”

Indeed, Domino’s and No. 1 seller Pizza Hut, and to a lesser extent No. 3 Papa John’s, have been absolutely pressing the metal on digital ordering as consumers get used to the convenience of it. The chains love it because it’s more efficient for them, and online orders tend to be significantly larger than phone-in ones anyway.

Contributor: Dale Buss

The changes coming to Facebook

Facebook announced a series of features and updates at its annual F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, and while the news is mostly targeted for developers and app designers right now, it could eventually mean big things for Facebook users.IF

Developers can now add a Messenger button to third-party apps so

Facebook Messenger

Image: Facebook

In the future, for example, a developer could be able to add a Messenger button within a movie ticketing service app, so after a customer makes a purchase, they could share those details and movie times with a friend on Facebook.

For a glimpse at how the first batch of apps will look, click here.

Many of the early partners working with Facebook Messenger are focused on photos and entertainment. Some apps were developed specifically for the platform, while others are building Messenger in as an added feature.

Facebook Messenger Business

messenger business

Facebook unveils Messenger for Business at its F8 conference in San Francisco on March 25, 2015.

Image: Screengrab, Facebook

A noteworthy feature of the growing platform is Messenger Business, which will allow users to communicate with merchants by sending them a direct message or making a reservation and checking shipping information.

People will be able to have personal conversations with companies — specifically, customer service representatives — and be able to make requests, asks questions and get quick responses in an ongoing thread, the company said.

Spherical Videos

Facebook spherical videos

Facebook spent some stage time talking about the future of video on the site. To start, the social network will soon support “spherical videos” — immersive, 360-degree videos that work right in Newsfeed. The videos will run natively in Newsfeed and will be shot with 24 high-resolution cameras.

These videos will also work with virtual reality headsets, like the Samsung Gear VR and, of course, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift. Conference attendees will be able to experience spherical videos in its “Teleportation Stations.”

Embeddable videos, refreshed comments

Facebook is rolling out a new social plugin that lets publishers embed native Facebook videos across the web. This means a video uploaded (and hosted) on Facebook can now be embedded on other websites.

Although you’d think Facebook’s video player would already have the ability to embed videos on other sites, the move is now a part of a larger effort to catch up with YouTube.

Facebook also pushed out another social plugin update to its Comments feature. Users will be able to log into their accounts and comment on a webpage, but now the message will be duplicated on the official Facebook-shared story, too.

Analytics for apps

The company introduced a new Analytics for Apps tool that provides a dashboard of data so developers and marketers can better understand their audience.

The Internet of Things

Facebook introduced a software developer kit (SDK) to support the growing influx of web-connected devices for the home, like smart garage door openers and refrigerators. The company will be opening its mobile app building suite, Parse, to web-connected devices to support the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things refers to products — and, well, things — that are connected to the web. This includes everything from smart thermostats and garage doors to toothbrushes, tennis racquets and even your bed. They collect data about your usage patterns and habits, and typically connect to an app that offers feedback to improve your lifestyle (or your racquet swing, for example).

It’s unclear as of now how exactly Facebook will incorporate Internet of Things technology into its platform, but perhaps dimming the lights at night or opening your garage door could one day all be possible from directly within the social network.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.“`

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Locate your phone on Android Wear

google, android, android device manager, android wear, find my phone

Google is always looking at ways to expand upon the functionality in Android Wear, which explains why the company has recently launched a new feature that will help you locate your phone in the event that it goes missing.

The functionality is provided through the Android Device Manager, which helps users secure and also locate their smartphones. Previously, users would have to use a computer or another smartphone to access the find my phone feature, but an update to Android Wear is making the whole process much easier.

By saying “Ok, Google. Start. Find my phone” to your Android Wear device, or by tapping on the Find My Phone option in the launcher, your phone will begin ringing at full volume. As it will begin ringing even if your phone is set to silent mode, you’ll be able to locate it if you’re reasonably close by.

Google says that the feature will be rolling out to all Android Wear devices over the next few weeks, and it won’t require you to download an app or enable anything in the settings menu.

Unfortunately Google hasn’t been able to harness Bluetooth signal strength to pinpoint the location of your phone without ringing it. Having a virtual radar on your wrist would be cool, but for now we’ll have to make do with Google’s audio-based find my phone solution.

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Amazon ‘Unlocked’ Will Give Away Paid Apps For Free

Amazon has been working hard to build up the popularity of its Android-based Appstore with consumers and developers — borrowing from the well-thumbed Amazon playbook of deep discounts to drive usage. Now, a new feature it wants to launch looks like it could be its biggest disruptive storefront promotion yet. The company has been working on a new section called “Unlocked” that will offer users a whole range of paid apps, along with those that utilize in-app purchases, free of charge.

Think of it as Amazon Prime for apps.

“Introducing Amazon Unlocked for Apps & Games,” the company notes in one promotional spot. “Paid apps and in-app purchasing now completely FREE from Amazon.”

amazon unlocked appsApp developers whose apps are highlighted in the deck include biggies like Sega America, whose Sonic Dash game features prominently in the presentation; as well as notable independents like UsTwo, whose Monument Valley game is also flagged as an “Unlocked” app.

Other non-gaming apps listed in the deck include OfficeSuite 8 + PDF Converter — one of the more popular apps for reading and editing Microsoft Office apps on Android devices; and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords.

The first of these is a free app with in-app purchases, while the latter is a paid app with additional items that can be purchased in the app. Under the Unlocked promotion, everything in and around these apps would be free.

Details such as when Unlocked is expected to launch, or the full list of actual participating apps, is not noted in the presentation. We’ve reached out to Amazon spokespeople for comment and will update when and if they respond. Developers we have contacted have told us they are under NDA and cannot discuss anything.

But the basics are outlined simply enough in the presentation, which uses the code names “Gretzky” and “Snuffy” to respectively describe the new feature and user flow around it.

(Why Gretzky and Snuffy? I don’t know but my guess is hockey — Wayne Gretzky and Carl “Snuffy” Liscombe being two of the greats of the game. And hockey is a pretty good metaphor for how quickly users shoot and bounce from one app to another.)

In a preamble to the presentation, the company sets out its objectives: the program needs to be clearly identifiable to users; the selected apps need to be obvious to users; and the apps are “conveyed as high value provided by Amazon.” There are also some interesting attempts at a less cluttered experience: “Customers should not feel overwhelmed by thousands of apps, but can get them if they need to,” the presentation notes. “Gretzky Gateway should operate primarily on algorithms rather than human touch.”

To that end, Unlocked will get promoted prominently in Amazon’s own flagship app, and there are plans to use social networks and other platforms to promote Unlocked. The new feature is there not just to drive more downloads from the Appstore, but also more downloads of the Amazon app, which users need in order to access the Unlocked selection of apps.

amazon unlocked social flow

Once users download the Amazon app, and then the Unlocked version of a selected app, they will be presented with further Unlocked branding each time that an in-app purchase has been waived, along with more options to share the experience with others. “Gretzky apps are easy to share and focus on app not Appstore when shared,” the company notes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.08.21

For those browsing the Appstore in the Amazon app, they will have the option to filter searches to look only for Unlocked apps, or to see them in a mix with other offerings. As with other Amazon e-commerce experiences, users are given recommendations based on what they have downloaded already and other parameters.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.19.22

 The wider context of Unlocked is interesting on a couple of fronts.

The first is that this is one more example of how Amazon is turning to price-busting moves to boost activity on its platform.

Amazon is no stranger to offering deep discounts — or free items — to users to drive more business to its products and services, whether it’s on pricing for books, or shipping and video content through Prime, or enterprise services through AWS.

The move puts pressure on competitors that struggle to match the prices that Amazon offers — and Amazon wins by playing up the volume-based game of aggregating lots of revenues on thin margins, through economies of scale, and simply making their platform more sticky for users to come back for more.

The Appstore is no different. The company regularly offers a free daily app to users, and to mark the Amazon Appstore’s fourth birthday, the e-commerce giant is currently promoting a larger free bundle of 34 apps that usually cost between $0.99 and $9.95.

Some of its free moves have been controversial. As one outspoken developer pointed out back in 2011 when the Appstore first launched, for all the glory of 100k+ downloads, he didn’t see a penny of income from it. However, from what we understand this is not entirely true and there is some compensation in certain cases.

“How popular the game is changes how much compensation you get,” one person says. “Amazon uses these free deals to lure people who use Android onto their store, so are more than happy to pay for these deals.”

And if there are some who aren’t happy with “free” promotions, that hasn’t stopped the service from remaining a popular way to boost users. Indeed, another developer I spoke to about Unlocked was very clear to ask to remain anonymous. “I like the free app promotion and hope to be included one day,” he said.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 16.07.14That may be what Amazon may be trying to address here. You see, Unlocked has a bit of a twist to it: When developers leave the Unlocked program, the extras become paid again.

This effectively means that developers who get nothing to begin with as the barrier to entry is lowered for new downloads, can hope to convert those users to paying customers when the wall comes back up.

The other area where the Unlocked promotion is interesting is simply in terms of the effort that Amazon is making to boost the Appstore. The company today is approaching 400,000 apps in its catalogue, but this still pales when compared to the 1.2 million apiece on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Beyond the numbers game, the company has faced other hurdles for its app business. Sales of devices like its own Fire Phone have been low, and that is reportedly driving developers away from Amazon’s ecosystem.

And it has faced challenges as an alternative to Google Play for other Android owners, too. Last year, Google delisted Amazon’s flagship app from the Play store after Amazon quietly integrated its Appstore, and so now, those who want to access it directly from their devices have to navigate to a download from the web and then specifically tweak security settings in order to permit it to work.

Will Unlocked unlock an app store jackpot for Amazon? It’s anyone’s guess, but as the company continues to look for ways to be relevant in the mobile economy, it will be one more way to try in what is likely to be a much wider, longer-term strategy.

After all, as Mike George, Amazon’s VP of apps and games said back in February, “We have patience and we take a long view of all these things that we’re doing, and we really do start with our customers…And if we don’t get it the first time, we keep iterating and inventing until we do.”

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Better Alternatives To Your Phone’s Lousy Default Apps

SwiftKey (free, iOS and Android)

14 Better Alternatives To Your Phone's Lousy Default Apps

Type without lifting a finger. It’s perfect for times when you’re clinging onto the bus for dear life in one hand and texting with the other.

The app also learns how you type and makes creepily accurate autocorrect suggestions based off of that information. An optional feature called SwiftKey Cloud analyzes your writing style from social media accounts like Facebook and Evernote.

Sleep Cycle ($1, iOS and Android)

giphy.com

The app uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect movement while you sleep. Sleep Cycle can then determine when you’re in a deep or light sleep state. It’ll ring in the “lightest” part of your sleep phase, so you feel awake and refreshed in the morning.

Not a morning person? Need something more intense? Try Spin Me ($2, iOS and Android), an app that will continue to ring until you get up and spin your phone around twice.

Captio ($2)

 Type something up and with one tap, the app lets you send an email to yourself. It’s quick, efficient, and especially useful if you spend all of your time on email anyway.

Wunderlist (free, iOS and Android)

This app is a must if you cohabitate. Wunderlist is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and extension. Lists are synced across all of your devices, and if you share a list with say, a significant other, your collaborative list updates in real time too.

If you want something simpler, try the very beautiful and gesture-friendly Clear ($5, iOS).

Sunrise (free, iOS and Android)

Sunrise (free, iOS and Android)

Sync your Google Calendar, iCloud, or Exchange info with the most beautiful calendar experience around. The desktop version of Sunrise is just as nifty. Being able to set multiple reminders for one event is great for forgetful folk. I personally like the built-in weather forecasts.

PhotoMath (free, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone)

14 Better Alternatives To Your Phone's Lousy Default Apps

It reads and solves mathematical equations using your phone’s camera. THIS IS THE FUTURE.

Camera Plus With Airsnap ($2, iOS)

Camera Plus With Airsnap ($2, iOS)

Between filters, different focus modes, and a private folder that locks photos away from public view, this app has all kinds of bells and whistles.

But the killer feature is Airsnap, which enables another iOS device (like your iPad) to trigger the camera shutter on your iPhone (or vice versa). Very selfie friendly.

If you’re more of a video person, Hyperlapse (free, iOS) by Instagram is your best bet. Shoot clear, stable, cinematic mini movies that can be turned into timelapses of varying speeds.

Waze (free, iOS and Android)

Waze

Google Maps

Bike Maps by Maplet

For driving, opt for Google-owned Waze, which uses data from other drivers to make sure you avoid heavy traffic areas. User-reported police alerts help drivers slow down in speed trap areas.

Google Maps, duh! (free, iOS and Android) — The best biking and public transit directions around.

Bike Maps by Maplets ($1, iOS) — If you’re a cycling urban warrior, this app has high-resolution elevation maps for most metropolitan areas. Color-coded streets help bikers avoid those steep hills! Maps can also be downloaded and navigated offline.

Overcast (free but $4 for premium, iOS)

Fuel your Serial addiction with this clutter-free podcast manager. The free version gives listeners everything they need — playlists, podcast search, seek controls — but the premium version unlocks a treasure trove of interesting features like a sleep timer and Smart Speed, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.

VSCO Cam (free, iOS and Android)

Even professional photographers love this app because photos come out looking art gallery-ready every time. Carefully crafted filters that can be adjusted with precision and VSCO’s robust editing tools will score you those double taps.

DarkSky ($4, iOS)

DarkSky ($4, iOS)

Because weather patterns change so frequently, daily forecasts aren’t enough. This app offers minute-by-minute information. It knows how long you have until it starts pouring or snowing next.

Word Lens (free, iOS and Android)

Word Lens (free, iOS and Android)

It translates Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish signs IN REAL TIME using your phone’s camera. Pure wizardry.

UPDATE: Google acquired the company that made Word Lens, and its technology is now a part of Google Translate.

Cord (free, iOS and Android coming soon)

OK, JK. Nothing can replace your phone app. But Cord’s Snapchat-style press-and-record app just for audio might be the best new thing. Faster than a phone call or a text for sure.

Humin (free, iOS and Android)

Humin is a more intelligent address book. Search contacts by when you met them, by where they work, who they’re friends with, or where you met them. It also merges duplicates and can ask contacts to update their info on your behalf.

Google in your Dashboard

android-auto-pioneer

Android users can download Android Auto on Google Play starting today.  To celebrate the occasion, Pioneer has introduced a long-awaited new line of receivers called Network Entertainment eXperience (NEX) that are compatible with Google’s new software.

Previewed last January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the NEX receivers are designed to work with all smartphones that run Android’s 5.0 (Lollipop) operating system or one of the newer software released since. After downloading a handful of Android Auto-specific applications, the driver is able to control nearly every function of his or her smartphone without touching the screen by using a microphone built into the receiver.

A 7.0-inch high-resolution touch screen displays relevant information on cards, a look inspired by the popular Google Now application. A purpose-designed version of Google Maps provides live traffic information, navigation and alternate route suggestions, while the driver can liven up his or her commute by switching to the AppRadio mode and launching a number of applications including Pandora and Google Play Music

Overall, Pioneer believes that its NEX receivers can make driving a lot safer by greatly reducing distractions.

Want Google in your dashboard? The Pioneer NEX starts at $700 for a more basic AVH-4100NEX model and tops out at $1,400 for the range-topping AVH-8100NEX unit. All models regardless of price come standard with a long list of features including advanced Bluetooth connectivity, FLAC audio playback and SiriusXM-Ready.

Pioneer is not the only company interested in integrating Android Auto into its products. General Motors, Volvo, Honda, Hyundai and Audi are among the 28 automakers that have voiced an interest in incorporating the technology in future models, so we suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about Android Auto in the coming months.

The Microsoft’s $70 Windows Phone

microsoft, windows phone, entry-level, lumia 430

What sort of smartphone can you buy for just $70? Well you’re about to find out, as Microsoft just launched the Lumia 430, their latest budget handset that features surprisingly okay specifications for a very low price tag.

Of course the Lumia 430 isn’t going to be a performance powerhouse at its price tag, but it does feature hardware that has been reserved for more pricey entry-level smartphones in the past. You get 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage to complement the Snapdragon 200 SoC, as well as cameras on both the front and back.

The cameras aren’t going to be the greatest – the rear sensor is 2-megapixels and fixed focus, while the front camera is merely VGA – but you will be able to send the occasional selfie. There’s also a 4.0-inch 800 x 480 LCD display, a 1,500 mAh removable battery, a microSD card slot, and support for HSPA networks on the 900 and 2100 MHz bands.

microsoft lumia windows phone microsoft entry-level lumia 430

Microsoft also says that the Lumia 430 will be updated to Windows 10 (from Windows Phone 8.1) when the OS is released this summer, which is great to see. Many budget Android devices in this price bracket never see updates, so Microsoft is certainly beating its rivals in this regard.

The dual-SIM Lumia 430 launches in several emerging markets, including India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia Pacific, this April.

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Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 Will Arrive This Summer

Microsoft confirmed today that Windows 10 will launch this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. Frustratingly, though, the company isn’t dishing an actual launch date for its hotly-anticipated new platform, but an interesting new nugget of information was let out today.

The company previously voiced its intention to offer free upgrades to “millions” of customers on Windows 7 or earlier, and China — a market synonymous with piracy — is a key focus of that initiative. Speaking at an event in Shenzhen, China, Terry Myerson — Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems — revealed that the Redmond firm will work with three of China’s most prominent software companies — Lenovo, Tencent and Qihoo 360 — to offer free upgrades to their collective customer base. That doubtless spans a huge number of potential users.

But, there’s more, Microsoft is also working Xiaomi — yes, the fast-growing Android phone company — in a partnership that will give selected owners of its Mi 4 the chance to “help test Windows 10 and contribute to its future release later this year.”

Xiaomi has a strong community of users — the company pushes software updates weekly and actively solicits user feedback —  and Microsoft is tapping into that to seed a Windows 10 Technical Preview for initial feedback.

A Xiaomi spokesperson told us that this is “an experimental program entirely led by Microsoft,” and we are trying to ascertain more information about the nature of this partnership. It sucks, but Microsoft and Xiaomi are being vague on this alliance, which, though thrown into today’s announcement as a low-key tidbit, could provide a fascinating indication of the future plans for Windows 10 on mobile.

St. Patrick’s Day – Free App Giveaway! (Limited Time)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means you need to find more ways to get in the spirit of the holiday. Instead of simply just going to a bar and drinking green beer, maybe you could also play and enjoy Lep’s World 3.

Lep’s World 3: The platformer sequel that’s like Super Mario with leprechauns

Lep’s World 3
(4.5 stars with 2040 Ratings)
Universal App
$0.99 Free for a limited time

Lep’s World 3 is a platform game that is sort of like Super Mario, but with leprechauns and Irish details. You’ll run, jump, smash, and blow your way through and over a number of obstacles and enemy types, all while on your mission to retrieve your gold and rescue your friends from the evil trolls. The game comes with 120 levels of nonstop action, all filled with gorgeous elements designed to create an engaging environment that keeps you finding new things around every corner.

There are 18 items and abilities you can acquire, each one focused on helping you in specific situations. Even further, there are 4 different playable characters, rankings to see which of you and your friends is the best, and intuitive controls. Download Lep’s World 3, get your friends to do the same, and party on St. Patrick’s Day a little differently.

[ Gone Free ] Lep’s World 3: The platformer sequel that’s like Super Mario with leprechauns

lepsworld3

Lep’s World 3
(4.5 stars with 2040 Ratings)
Universal App
$0.99 Free for a limited time

Lep’s World 3 is a platform game that is sort of like Super Mario, but with leprechauns and Irish details. You’ll run, jump, smash, and blow your way through and over a number of obstacles and enemy types, all while on your mission to retrieve your gold and rescue your friends from the evil trolls. The game comes with 120 levels of nonstop action, all filled with gorgeous elements designed to create an engaging environment that keeps you finding new things around every corner.

There are 18 items and abilities you can acquire, each one focused on helping you in specific situations. Even further, there are 4 different playable characters, rankings to see which of you and your friends is the best, and intuitive controls. Download Lep’s World 3, get your friends to do the same, and party on St. Patrick’s Day a little differently.

App Screenshots

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