With Online Privacy, Youth Finds A Way

Children of every generation have learned to operate under the watchful eyes of their parents and guardians. These days, considering that everyone including their grandparents are online, they’ve adapted to doing the same on the internet. According to recent Pew studies, the younger the internet user, the more likely they are going to use privacy settings on social media.

From turning off location-tracking features to clearing cookies and browser histories, children have caught on that learning how to use these features is part of growing up online. In one survey, Pew found that nearly half of teens turn of location tracking when they download apps, and the number skews much higher for girls.

It’s more evidence that children are going to incredible lengths with some ingenious tactics for staying below the radar and some adults are fumbling with the most basic of privacy settings, if they are aware of them at all. That’s what Ars Technica editor Jacqui Cheng found while teaching at a six-week summer program to expose kids to technology. Cheng observed that young adults in her class had not only learned how to use privacy settings for online browsing but also discovered tricks to doing it, including one where they deleted their Facebook accounts then reactivated it between every session.

“They’re taking advantage of the fact that Facebook actually keeps much of your account information on its servers when you decide to ‘leave’ the service,” Cheng wrote in a piece about her experience. “[It allows] them to stay under the radar from nosy friend, parent, or public searches while they’re not online. Their photos disappear and their status updates go on the down-low “” at least until the next time they log back in by re-activating their accounts.”

Misdeeds by and protection of youth online is now a fixture in US society, and outside of Cheng’s insightful piece we had a couple more reminders this past week. On one side of the country there was California governor Jerry Brown signing a law last week that is being called the “Eraser Bill.” It allows minors to permanently delete posts on social media in an effort to protect them from sharing anything that could compromise future academic and career prospects. On the other side, dozens of teenagers implicated themselves in the ransacking of ex-NFL star Brian Holloway’s upstate New York home. The teens broke into the unoccupied house to throw a massive party and posted pictures on social media highlighting their misdeeds, which included causing $20,000 to Holloway’s home. Holloway’s son alerted his father to the incident as it was happening after coming across posts from the party on Twitter.

Sources: Medium

App Annie: EA Tops In August iOS Downloads

The analytics firm and market intelligence firm App Annie has pulled together numbers for August and revealed some interesting shifts in the top ten publishers and games for both iOS and Android. The top moneymakers continue to be Supercell, King, and GungHo on iOS (1, 2, and 3, respectively) and GungHo, LINE, and CJ E&M on Android (1, 2, and 3, respectively).

The debut of Plants Vs. Zombies 2 drove that app to the top of the iOS App Store, and since the release in mid-August Electronic Arts reported that the game has already exceeded the 25 million lifetime downloads of the first version. The Android version of the game has already been soft-launched in China with a worldwide rollout expected soon.

Meanwhile, Android games continue to be the province of publishers from Asia. “Publishers based in Japan and South Korea continued to dominate the top grossing publisher ranking for Google Play, occupying 7 of the Top 8 positions,” said App Annie’s report. “Puzzle & Dragons helped GungHo Online retain their position at the top of the ranking. The #2 publisher, LINE, had a more diverse group of apps driving its revenue generation, led by LINE Pokopang, LINE WIND runner, LINE POP, and LINE Bubble!”

App Annie noted the prevalence of certain genres within the most-downloaded games. “Of the 16 unique games included in the Top 10 rankings by monthly downloads in the iOS App Store and Google Play, 5 are based on puzzles, 4 are endless runners, and 3 are racing games,” noted the report. “Puzzle game Candy Crush Saga and endless running games Despicable Me: Minion Rush, Temple Run 2, and Subway Surfers appear in both Top 10’s, but each app store also has a unique category driving downloads. The iOS App Store downloads are largely driven by puzzle games like Candy Crush Saga, WeMatch, Where’s My Mickey Free, 4 Pics 1 Song and Bad Piggies.”

As the app market becomes more global, publishers increasingly want their apps to succeed around the world and not just in their home country. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though, and App Annie notes that many publishers are looking for partnerships to help them extend their reach. “Some publishers like GREE have set aside money for equity investments in developers that have already achieved success on a local level and are looking to expand,” said the report. “Some publishers like GungHo Online and Supercell have developed cross-promotions with other major publishers where the publishers use each other’s characters and content to create special features and events. Other publishers like Kabam and Gameloft are partnering with smaller publishers to localize their existing apps so that they are relevant for specific markets and reaching the right distribution channels. As the global app economy evolves and publishers look to expand their audience, we can likely expect more of these partnerships to emerge.”

It’s interesting to note that the correlation between the most-downloaded games and the games that generate the most revenue is not exact by any means. Part of this is due to the newness of some games, where monetization is more likely to occur after players have been playing the game for a while. More can be attributed to the factors of the individual game’s design and the vagaries of different countries. For instance, Puzzle & Dragons generates massive revenues mostly in Japan, and doesn’t appear likely to become as significant in other regions.

The top iOS publishers list by downloads looks quite different when you examine the top publishers by revenue, and the same is true for the Google Play listings. Interestingly, it seems like it’s not so much about having a large number of games, but having just the right game. The listing shows the number of apps each publisher has, but in most cases one app is responsible for the majority of the revenue for a publisher.

Looking at the top games by downloads and by revenue reveals similar disparities. On iOS, Supercell continues to grab the #1 spot for game revenue with Clash of Clans, and its Hay Day game has the #4 slot as well. This makes them the only publisher with two games in the top ten for revenue generation. When Supercell finally releases Android versions of these games (now known to be in the works), it will be interesting to see how these games impact the Google Play top ten.


AOL Adds New Ad Units, Swipe-Enabled Mobile Ads

AOL’s now three-year old Project Devil initiative to help advertising “make the web a more beautiful, useful place” has led to the launch of a few more beautiful and hopefully more useful ad units for the site and its affiliates.

AOL recently introduced four new ad formats. They include an interactive takeover unit, a multi-screen compatible HTML 5 unit, a rich media “loft” banner that stays above the fold even as a user scrolls, and touch and swipe-enabled banner ads for mobile devices. According to Adweek, the lattermost unit is AOL’s own version of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s newest mobile ads introduced after this year’s “Mobile Rising Stars” contest, which are now part of the bureau’s standard mobile ad portfolio.

Kraft and Lexus are already taking advantage of the new units.  Both are launch sponsors of AOL’s initiative.

AOL launched Project Devil in 2010. One of the first ad units introduced as part of the initiative was a multi-layered interactive banner that won the 2011 IAB Rising Stars Competition.

Source: Adweek

From ‘Mega Man’ To ‘Mighty No. 9’

2 Player Productions has released the first video chronicling the development of Mighty No. 9, the latest game from Keiji Inafune. This video shows much of the pre-production that went into the game prior to the Kickstarter announcement and really shows Inafune’s hands-on style of game development.

Old School Consoles, New Age Music

Director James Houston teamed up with musician Julian Corrie to perform an original song in a swimming pool, where the sounds are generated by a vintage console and computer parts. The use of old floppy drives, a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis to Americans), an Atari 2600, and CRT televisions gives the video a nostalgic feel.

Valve’s Steam Controller

As part of its trio of big announcements last week – which included SteamOS and Steam Machines – Valve has revealed an innovative new game controller called the Steam Controller, one that could very well change the way you play games.

Unlike more popular controller designs, the Steam Controller doesn’t utilize any sort of analog sticks. Instead, it uses a pair of dual trackpads, which sense your movement via touch. “Driven by the player’s thumbs, each one has a high-resolution trackpad as its base. It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button. The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers. Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse,” said the announcement.

The controller also comes with a touch-screen between the trackpads, as well as built-in haptics, buttons and the ability to use shared configurations, depending on the game you’re playing. The official announcement includes a sample layout for Valve’s popular Portal 2, and how the configuration would work for it. The price, release date and other details of the controller have not yet been set.

Source: Valve

Xbox One Goes On Tour

There’s nothing like direct experience with a game — or a gaming console — to convince someone they have to have it. That’s what Microsoft is banking on by launching tours featuring Xbox One-equipped trucks designed to give customers a ‘Test Drive.’ The OneTour web site proclaims, “Meet us at a Test Drive stop in one of the cities below and we’ll put a controller in your hands, a game on the screen, and a spring in your step that’ll carry you through to launch.” The tours are hitting dozens of cities in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

Besides the trucks, Microsoft is also staging Area One parties with live music, live gameplay, and more. These events are for age 18 and over only, so Microsoft wants to make sure you bring ID to get in. Entry is on a first come, first served basis, and you might get asked to return at a later time or day.

Head to the OneTour website to find out where and when to catch these events between now and the Xbox One launch on November 22.

App Connects Phones To Screens

Google Research has been hard at work on a new project that would allow people with Android devices to work together on big screens in real time without cumbersome file sharing. Even though cloud storage makes this process a little easier than in the past, Google feels that “there are not enough ways to easily move tasks across devices that are as intuitive as drag-and-drop in a graphical user interface.”

The company is hard at work on the Open Project, which is a framework that allows native mobile apps to be projected onto a screen. It works a little bit like Apple’s AirPlay, but in a much different way.

Open Project allows for display with a QR code, with a simple point at the app you want to use with it. From there, the code is scanned and the app displays on the screen. You can still interact with it, as you would with a touch device. The video shows users collaborating and even playing a game on a big screen using their phones, with no additional hardware or complicated processes.

Google isn’t sure when this technology would be a reality, but considering its effectiveness, one would think it isn’t too far off.

Source: TechCrunch