YouTube app for Xbox 360 rolls out to preview program participants

It’s only available to those in the Xbox Live preview program at the moment, but you can officially add the Xbox 360 to the list of platforms that offer access to YouTube videos. Beta participants should be now able to download the app from the console’s new Apps Marketplace, and find all the usual personalized features you’d expect from YouTube, plus the Kinect controls you’d expect from an Xbox app. Still no word about a roll-out to everyone else, nor is there any word on a firm release date for all those other new video services slated to hit the console (they’re still just promised for “later in December”).

[Thanks, Jack]

YouTube app for Xbox 360 rolls out to preview program participants originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 13 Dec 2011 03:28:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft on the hunt for original programming head, eyes ex-NBC execs

It’s not MSNBC, it’s MSex-NBC. Or it very well could be, as Bloomberg reports a second marriage of sorts is purportedly on deck for Microsoft and two former Peacock execs, Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin. Redmond’s already made public plans to expand its Xbox Live streaming platform beyond VOD and into live TV, having announced a trio of content partners at this year’s E3, so news of an in-house original programming push comes as no surprise. While it remains to be seen just what types of series, scripted or otherwise, are in the works, the company appears willing to press pause on the entire initiative should a suitable candidate fail to materialize. That’s all the rumor mill’s wrought for now, folks, but we’ll keep you posted on this as it develops. And no, a certain Ms. Maddow likely won’t be coming soon to an Xbox 360 near you.

Microsoft on the hunt for original programming head, eyes ex-NBC execs originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 12 Dec 2011 21:21:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft replaces Andy Lees as Windows Phone head

Andy Lees

AllThingsD is reporting that Microsoft is replacing Andy Lees as head of its Windows Phone division… sort of. It looks like Terry Myerson, who has headed up engineering efforts for the group, will take over many of Lees’ responsibilities, though, he won’t be inheriting his title. At least not just yet. In a memo seen by AllThingsD, Ballmer announced that Lees would be taking on a new position with the company, though it’s not entirely clear what that might be — describing it only as “time-critical” and “focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8.” (So, it’s safe to assume he’s not becoming a janitor.) The shakeup isn’t terribly surprising, especially considering the CEO’s own admission that Windows Phone 7 was not performing as well as expected in the market.

The division’s interim leader, Myerson, has been with Microsoft since 1997 and previously headed up the team in charge of Exchange. For now he will continue to report to Lees, who will remain the president of the Windows Phone group, even if that is in name only.

Microsoft replaces Andy Lees as Windows Phone head originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 12 Dec 2011 17:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Kinect commercial SDK coming in 2012 (video)

So much for it being a fad. Kinect has evolved from a way to play with Elmo to a key tool in scientific research, delivering interactive presentations and managing your bank account. We’ve always called these non-standard uses of the device “Kinect Hacks” as people find more weird and wonderful ways to use it to their advantage. Unsurprisingly, Redmond has been paying attention and it’s planning a commercial Kinect SDK. It’s teaming up with developers to create the new software and has already received 200 applications from interested parties. It all kicks off early next year, and interested parties should be chatting up the company as we speak. Stuck for inspiration? We’ve got you covered, check out what other clever bods have already achieved with the technology in the video after the break.

Continue reading Kinect commercial SDK coming in 2012 (video)

Kinect commercial SDK coming in 2012 (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:39:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Trio of Microsoft projectors lets you get quasi-physical with AR interaction (video)

You have to hand it to the tireless folks toiling away within Microsoft’s Research department. They’re hard at the task of making tomorrowland today’s province. Perhaps spurred on by the rapturous response to their HoloDesk, the Cambridge gang’s previewing yet another virtual reality, and this time it’s a handheld trio. The palm-friendly devices, split up into camera, room and SLAM models, incorporate pico projectors, coaxial IR cameras, inertial measurement units (IMUs) and the company’s Kinect (for the latter two only) to project augmented visions onto surrounding surfaces. If you’ve been honing your shadow puppetry game over the years, that oft-used skill’s about to get very useful. The environmentally aware (no, not the Go Green! kind) systems allow for shadow- and touch-based interaction with the CG overlays, offering pinch functionality, icon selection and even painting — don’t worry, it’s definitely removable. This neat tech hat trick could one day soon spare you a trip to IKEA, letting you test out potential decorative pieces from the comfort of your home. Unfortunately, we can’t get handsy with the futuristic projectors just yet, so the video after the break will have to suffice.

[Thanks, Pradeep]

Continue reading Trio of Microsoft projectors lets you get quasi-physical with AR interaction (video)

Trio of Microsoft projectors lets you get quasi-physical with AR interaction (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:08:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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CNET details the death of Microsoft’s Courier and Bill Gates’ ‘allergic reaction’

For those that follow the twists and turns of the technology news business, the Microsoft Courier has practically become the stuff of legend. First leaked on Gizmodo in the fall of 2009, the device was never even officially confirmed by Microsoft until it axed the project in April of last year. And while we wound up learning quite a bit about the dual-screen tablet despite that lack of official information, we never really got the full story of its rise and fall within the company. Now CNET’s Jay Greene has published an extensive look at the device’s short history, which he says was “pieced together through interviews with 18 current and former Microsoft executives, as well as contractors and partners who worked on the project.” The story, as you might expect, is fascinating — read on for some of the details.

Continue reading CNET details the death of Microsoft’s Courier and Bill Gates’ ‘allergic reaction’

CNET details the death of Microsoft’s Courier and Bill Gates’ ‘allergic reaction’ originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Upcoming Kinect Development Kit Could Change In-Store Shopping

The Xbox Kinect is Microsoft’s big push into motion-controlled gaming. You don’t even need a controller to play. Just move your hands and feet with gestures that the Kinect understands, and — voilà! — you’re kicking footballs, competing in dance challenges, and shooting down bad guys.

But now, one year since its launch, the Kinect has gone way beyond video games. It could change our retail buying experiences, and reinvent the way we shop.

A commercial version of the Kinect software development kit will be made available in early 2012, Microsoft announced on Monday, opening the door for businesses to create new applications for the popular platform.

“With the Kinect for Windows commercial program, Microsoft hopes that visionaries all over the globe will continue to transform the way we do things with new Kinect-enabled tools,” a Microsoft spokesperson told in a statement. Microsoft is currently running a pilot program with more than 200 businesses across more than 20 countries, including partners like Toyota, textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and digital advertising agency Razorfish.

If all goes as planned, we could see Kinect-based interactions show up at retailers, banks, automotive dealers and other commercial environments. Razorfish, for example, is looking at building kiosks in which customers’ bodies would be scanned in order to try on digital outfits without needing to take off any clothes — so said Razorfish VP of emerging tech Jonathan Hull in an interview with Kotaku. Other applications could include simpler tasks, such as waving one’s hands to navigate an ATM’s menu screens.

Microsoft previously released a non-commercial version of its Kinect SDK in June, encouraging hackers and open software enthusiasts to create off-beat, innovative applications that take advantage of the platform’s motion-sensing capabilities. From gimmicky motion controls for banking software to NSF grant-backed medical research, the non-commercial SDK spurred creative uses of the platform beyond what Microsoft expected.

Kinect first debuted in November of 2010 to much fanfare. The system eschews the traditional button-and-joystick controller scheme, and instead lets users navigate and play games via hands-free motion capture. The system was an instant hit, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer device ever in the first few days after its release. In March, Microsoft announced it had sold more than 10 million Kinect devices.

Though the hands-free controller has been a fun novelty for gaming enthusiasts, the Kinect’s utility for hardware-modding enthusiasts has been more compelling. The Xbox peripheral is packed with a bevy of sophisticated motion-capturing instruments, including an infrared light emitter to capture the surfaces of items in a room, and a depth camera that builds a 3D model of all the objects captured by infrared.

The Kinect’s relatively low $150 price tag has been even more attractive for budding DIY-ers. Willow Garage — the Silicon Valley robotics outfit known for its robot control operating system — now offers a $500 open-source robotics kit that incorporates the Kinect. The company’s previous version (also pre-Kinect) cost $280,000.

The initial forays into Kinect modification began with the homebrew modding community, spurring a wave of creative software hacks that ranged from Street Fighter games to the intricacies of “boob physics.” (Yes, really.)

Instead of taking action against the hackers or trying to bar hardware nerds from further Kinect mods, Microsoft encouraged development, promising to eventually release SDKs to new segments of would-be Kinect hackers. “Kinect represents the first incarnation of the next big thing in computing — a world where computing is becoming more natural and intuitive,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Bloomberg Businessweek in a statement.

Kinect’s natural progression is to move into the commercial realm. Much like app developers for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the release of the commercial SDK allows third parties to use Microsoft’s technology in bolstering their own brands and services. Partners, however, would use Microsoft’s hardware to augment their own businesses — this rather than providing content to a centralized store. In return, Microsoft would open itself up to untold numbers of potential new hardware purchasing partners.

David Dennis, group program manager of Microsoft’s Xbox team, told Kotaku that Kinect devices could be sold in bulk numbers — the “tens of thousands” — to partner businesses.

Microsoft hasn’t released any hard details on the commercial SDK’s release date beyond “early next year.” So don’t expect to start waving on digital fashion accessories right away.

Windows 8 desktop interface swaps classic theme for Metro, gets with the times

Microsoft’s Windows 8 developer preview greeted us with an interface steeped in Redmond’s new Metro style — its tile-centric start screen is sleek, fresh, and downright pretty. Imagine our surprise then, when the preview’s desktop default view punted us straight back to the contemporary “Aero” dressing of Windows 7. It’s not an ugly interface by any means, but shiny, translucent window frames are so last generation. Where’s the style? In the big M’s latest Building Windows 8 preview, of course. The MSDN blog’s latest Task Manager update shows the familiar feature in a clean Metro suit. Although Aero is still the OS’ default look, the Windows 7 basic theme has been substituted for a style heavily inspired by Metro’s clean tiles. The post doesn’t say much on the matter (nothing at all, in fact), but it’s nice to see the classic interface getting a facelift to match Microsoft’s new look. Want to see more? Hit the source link below, it’s got all the Metro window frames you could ask for.

Update: This post originally misstated that the updated Basic theme was a new style, but in fact, it is already available in the Windows 8 developer preview.

Windows 8 desktop interface swaps classic theme for Metro, gets with the times originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:54:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Refresh Roundup: week of October 24, 2011

Your smartphone and / or tablet is just begging to get updated. From time to time, these mobile devices are blessed with maintenance refreshes, bug fixes, custom ROMs and anything in between, and so many of them are floating around that it’s easy for a sizable chunk to get lost in the mix. To make sure they don’t escape without notice, we’ve gathered every possible update, hack, and other miscellaneous tomfoolery from the last week and crammed them into one convenient roundup. If you find something available for your device, please give us a shout attips at engadget dawt com and let us know. Enjoy!

Official Android updates

  • Guess which phone’s finally getting Gingerbread: the HTC Thunderbolt. Yes, we’re being serious. [Thanks to everyone who sent this in, and thanks Eddie for the image!]
  • Gingerbread is now rolling out to the Motorola Droid Pro and Droid 2 Global. [PhoneScoop]
  • The HTC EVO Design 4G wasn’t out for very long before it was ready for a maintenance release. It’s called version 1.19.651.0, and no change log was found right away.
  • More HTC stuff: the EVO 3D also offers a small bug fix in the form of a security update under the name of version 2.08.651.3. [AndroidCentral]
  • The LG Revolution on Verizon’s also officially gaining Android 2.3. [Pocketnow]
  • In the UK, HTC Desire S owners are now finding themselves beneficiaries of the Android 2.3.5 firmware update as well as Sense 3.0. [AndroidCentral]
  • How about a couple for the little guys? CSpire, formerly known as Cellular South, is pushing Gingerbread to its Samsung Galaxy S and Motorola Milestone X. [AndroidCentral(1) and (2)]
  • Sony Ericsson announced this week that Android 2.3.4 is rolling out to the 2011 Xperia lineup around the world. Additional enhancements include 16x video zoom, WiFi DLNA, screen capture capability, ability to attach USB peripherals to Sony Ericsson LiveDock and more.

Unofficial Android updates, custom ROMs and misc. hackery

  • The Samsung Stratosphere on Verizon has been successfully rooted. [AndroidCommunity]
  • HTC devices receiving the official Gingerbread kernel source from HTCDev this week: The Evo Shift 4G, the Thunderbolt and Droid Incredible. [AndroidCentral]
  • When it rains, it pours — the Thunderbolt, on top of receiving Gingerbread and its accompanying kernel source, has also found itself on the receiving end of an Ice Cream Sandwich SDK port. As can be expected, it’s still in prealpha stages and has a few bugs to work out. [AndroidCommunity]
  • If you’re a CM7 user, there’s now a file available that will turn your lock screen into one that resembles Ice Cream Sandwich’s style. [Droid-Life]

Other platforms

  • Microsoft’s pushing a firmware upgrade to the LG Optimus 7 Windows Phone which seems to grace the device with WiFi tethering and the ability to locate hidden WiFi networks. [WMPowerUser]
  • It’s not a BlackBerry firmware update, but many people still have a soft spot for BBM and will be interested to know that RIM is putting out version 6.0.1 with a few enhancements. Head to the source to check it out. [MobileTechReview]

Refreshes we covered this week

Refresh Roundup: week of October 24, 2011 originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 30 Oct 2011 11:41:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nokia World 2011 wrap-up

Nokia had something to prove at its annual event, and an eight-month turnaround of its smartphone arm is certainly nothing to be sniffed at. While Nokia’s first Windows Phone devices were undoubtably the stars of the two-day expo, there was plenty more to investigate — Nokia’s legion of development labs certainly didn’t let us down. Check out a veritable world of coverage neatly arranged below the break for everything Nokia World had to show us, and few more tidbits we found for ourselves.

Continue reading Nokia World 2011 wrap-up

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Nokia World 2011 wrap-up originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 29 Oct 2011 15:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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