Posts Tagged ‘disco’

Fake Names On Social Networks, a Fake Problem

August 11th, 2011 08:25 admin View Comments


disco_tracy writes “The leading social networks demand that members use their real names, and they’re not afraid to evict violators. Many Facebook users have quietly complied, despite the problems that rule creates for political dissidents, stalking survivors and others. Much of this discussion has centered around people in physical or financial danger of having their identities revealed. But there are broader reasons for social networks to stop pushing real-name policies.”

Source: Fake Names On Social Networks, a Fake Problem

Military Working On Laser Powered Drones

August 10th, 2011 08:25 admin View Comments


disco_tracy writes “Modern militaries depend on fuel. Nearly 80 percent of the supplies delivered to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan consist of fuel, and it’s no surprise that those military convoys are frequently the targets of insurgents. In the last decade, 1000 soldiers have died delivering gasoline to military operations. A new approach using lasers could provide power to drones in flight or to machines on the ground and remove the need for gas deliveries to army bases.”

Source: Military Working On Laser Powered Drones

Despite Google+ Competition, Disco, Google’s Hushed Messaging App, Continues To Improve

July 9th, 2011 07:03 admin View Comments

It has been over three months since we first broke the news on the existence of Disco, the group messaging app made by the Slide team within Google. Google still refuses to talk about it. But work continues nonetheless. Today brings version 3 of the app — and the app is starting to get really good.

Just a little over a month after Disco was updated to version 2.0 with Push Notifications, today’s update brings a range of key new features. The biggest one is photo sharing, a feature which is now a must-have for all group messaging apps. Also new is 1-to-1 chat capabilities. But the most important additions may be the things Slide/Google is trying to do to help differentiate Disco from the rest of the pack. Namely, they’ve baked in Twitter and Yelp integration.

Yes, it may seem a bit weird for an app built within Google to rely on two rivals, but the features are interesting. Using the new “Star” commands, you can choose to follow any Twitter feed within a Disco group and see all the updates from that account within the app. You can also call up Yelp recommendations and reviews right from within the app with the new feature. Finally, you can also create a poll for everyone in the group using the Star options.

Disco also comes with a nice little bonus. If friends are not yet using Disco, you can still interact with them via SMS within the app. And the app will allow you to do this with up to five friends absolutely free of charge (though I assume they can still get charged for receiving the text).

While Google still won’t talk about Disco, perhaps it is ideal to just let that team do their own thing. Clearly, they are iterating fast minus all the oversight they might normally get as a regular group within Google. In just a few months, the Slide team has brought Disco from yet another group messaging client, into a really good one.

At the same time, the team is also working on other apps, like Pool Party, a group picture sharing app. I’ve been playing around with that for the past week, and it’s also pretty solid. If the slide team combined the two, it could be really interesting.

Of course, I’m also still interested to see how these Slide apps do in the face of Google+, which offers much of the same basic functionality. Google+ for Android has been out for over a week now, and it includes the Huddle group-messaging app. The G+ iPhone app remains in review, but should be out shortly — my guess would be next week.

You can find Disco in the App Store here or in the Android Market here.

Source: Despite Google+ Competition, Disco, Google’s Hushed Messaging App, Continues To Improve

Pool Party: Google Has Their Own Secret Photo-Sharing App Too — Built By Slide

June 30th, 2011 06:11 admin View Comments

Back in March, we first exposed Disco, a group messaging app that the Slide team within Google had built. And that’s not all they’ve been working on. Say hello to Pool Party, another secret project by the same team within Google.

We don’t know much about Pool Party other than it’s a photo-sharing app that the Slide team has built. It is also believed to be Android-only for now (as you can see in the screenshots below). The emphasis is said to be on creating group albums (“pools”) that show new photos in real time.

The app is currently in invite-only beta testing. And Google was able to secure the domain for it — not quite as sexy as, but it will do.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this is that Slide is building these new apps within Google while other teams at Google work on similar projects. For example, Google+ features both a group messaging component (Huddle) and a mobile photo sharing component (Instant Upload). When I asked the Google+ leads, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, why they weren’t just using Disco inside of Google+, they both said they had no idea what I was talking about — while smiling.

It’s believed that Slide is allowed to work autonomously on their own projects within Google, and both of these apps appear to be very much proof of that. The question is if and when Google will use its own clout to promote these things. Disco is already on version 2 with no Google promotion yet.

Sadly, unlike Facebook’s secret photos app, we were only able to secure two photos of Pool Party. Enjoy.


Source: Pool Party: Google Has Their Own Secret Photo-Sharing App Too — Built By Slide

Disco, Google’s Secret Group Messaging App, Gets Pushy With Version 2.0

May 23rd, 2011 05:03 admin View Comments

Google seems to be going out of their way not to promote Disco, the group messaging app built by Google’s Slide team. When we first revealed the existence of the iPhone app and website (at in March, Google wouldn’t comment on it. A few weeks ago, they released an Android version of the app as well. Was it touted on a Google blog anywhere? Nope. And yesterday brought version 2.0 of the app. Again, nada.

So we’ll do Google’s job for them and tell you that version 2.0 of Disco is a nice upgrade. When we did a first look at the app, we noted that while it looked nice, it was fairly limited because it relied solely on SMS. Version 2.0 adds the ability to move away from SMS as use Push notifications to receive messages.

The move is an important one for Disco to better match its competition. GroupMe (which, coincidentally was born at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon a year ago) added Push capabilities to their app in March. Beluga (which Facebook acquired in March) has been more based around Push notifications from the beginning. The ability to use Push Notifications over data plans saves customers money versus SMS.

Also new in 2.0 is the ability to chat within the app (as opposed to only over SMS). This is another big feature as it makes the app more instantaneous and chat-like (again, more like the competition). And there’s finally the ability to manage groups within the app. Previously, you had to do this on the website.

So, now that Disco is up to speed with regard to competitors, will Google finally start promoting it? We’ll see. Perhaps this is all a part of their we-will-downplay-our-social-strategy-at-all-costs movement. That’s too bad, Disco is definitely worth a look.

You can find Disco for iPhone here and for Android here.

Source: Disco, Google’s Secret Group Messaging App, Gets Pushy With Version 2.0

Let Quantum Physics Officiate Your Wedding

May 12th, 2011 05:52 admin View Comments


disco_tracy writes “Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has come up with the ultimate in a nondenominational wedding ceremony: quantum entanglement. From the article: ‘Keats has designed an entangling apparatus, which, when situated in a sunny window and exposed to the full spectrum of solar radiation, divides pairs of entangled photons and translates them to the bodies of a nearby couple.’ As unusual as it seems, the ceremony is serious business to Keats, who says, ‘The quantum marriage will literally be broken up by skepticism about it.’”

Source: Let Quantum Physics Officiate Your Wedding

One-Way Sound Walls Proven Possible

May 6th, 2011 05:50 admin View Comments


disco_tracy writes “Imagine a room where a band is playing. Neighbors can’t hear the music, but if someone outside the room is talking, the musicians can hear it. The concept — a kind of one-way mirror for sound — seems imaginary, but two Italian scientists recently pushed this kind of sound manipulating technology closer to reality (abstract).”

Source: One-Way Sound Walls Proven Possible

Submarine Tech Reaches For Deep Ocean Record

April 27th, 2011 04:36 admin View Comments


disco_tracy writes “US Submarines CEO Bruce Jones and his team have just announced that they’ve developed new technology for a submersible that could take ocean explorers 36,000 feet deep, to the bottom of the Pacific’s Mariana Trench.”

Source: Submarine Tech Reaches For Deep Ocean Record

Why Would Google Release an iPhone-Only Group Messaging App?

March 27th, 2011 03:39 admin View Comments


Were you tired of free, data-based messaging with apps like Beluga or GroupMe? Were you over quick and easy location sharing? In-line mobile image sharing? Push notifications? Then worry not, because Disco has come along to take away all the frills and leave your group messaging experience without any of the perks of a smartphone with a data plan.

The punchline here is that Slide – the company acquired by Google last summer – has just released an iPhone-only group messaging app that does nothing offered by all of its competition. Even Google doesn’t have much to say on the topic, but maybe that’s because the company behind the fastest growing mobile OS has something up its sleeve.

Over recent months, the group messaging space has been heating up. One app after another has shown up on the scene, offering its own distinct take on what’s important to mobile group communication. GroupMe, for example, offered groups that expired over time and free conference calling, for when messaging became too cumbersome. Beluga offered data messaging, rather than solely SMS, with inline image and location sharing. Both were validated in their efforts, in usage as well as funding: Beluga got bought out by Facebook while GroupMe raised $10.6 million. A number of other apps followed suit, with many of these features constituting the bare minimum. They seemingly set the bar for what users could expect from a group messaging app.

Then, along came Google’s, err, Slide’s entry into the field – Disco. It does none of the cool stuff that the rest of these apps do. It allows people to send and receive SMS in a group format, by creating a single number that everyone in the group can message to reach all other members of that group. There’s no map, no conference calling, no image sharing, no video, no Foursquare integration, no nothing. Sure, the app is in its beta release, but it is effectively months behind every other app out there in terms of features.

Even more appalling, the app is available only on iOS and on the Web. You read that right – the group messaging app effectively put out by Google is not available for Android.

A Google spokesperson described the release as one by a separate team within Google, not by Google itself, saying that “at Google, our focus is on rapid innovation — and the creation of small teams in which people can thrive is an example of that. We’re always looking for ways to give our engineers and entrepreneurs more freedom, ownership and support.”

But This Just Doesn’t Add Up

Sure, we’ve seen Google fumble around in the world of social before. That’s part of the reason it spent $182 million on Slide last August – to help “make Google services socially aware.” But the sticking point here is that a small team at Google just put out a product that doesn’t work on Google products. That would be more than a small misstep. Google can say that Slide is simply acting on its own and finishing up what it started, but that just doesn’t make any sense. What sort of service is Slide providing by releasing a group messaging app for one of its storied arch nemeses? Does this really add up?

Not even a little.

Our best guess is that Slide, and thereby Google, is releasing Disco for iOS and looking at baking it directly in to a future version of Android. Disco, the iPhone app, is just to land something on iOS and ensure cross-platform compatibility. It’s like landing sleeper units on the enemy’s shore, only to awaken when your plan is fully hatched.

Source: Why Would Google Release an iPhone-Only Group Messaging App?

An App By Any Other Name …

March 27th, 2011 03:27 admin View Comments

“One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn’t dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy.”

– Apple exec Jean Louis Gassée on the naming of Apple

Why is Color named “Color”?

“A tribute to Apple’s color logo from the Apple II. This computer changed my life when I was seven (also a reference to another company name I’ve used.)

My dad bought one from ComputerCraft run by Billy Ladin in Houston. He was one of the first computer resellers back in 1977. In an odd twist, I meet him in an elevator 15 years later and worked for him. He introduced me to the Web.

Working at Apple was a dream. Color’s name is a tribute to Apple.”

– Bill Nguyen, Color founder on why he chose the name Color

Reading Semil Shah’s post on group messaging this morning, I was struck by the sheer numbers and diversity of the startup names scattered throughout: Yobongo, Disco, SocialCam, SoundCloud, Beluga, GroupMe, Fast Society, Rabbly, Whatsapp, Kik, textPlus, Convore, SMSGupShup, MessageParty, TextSlide, Bump Technologies, Color Labs and so on, all contenders in the saturated mobile social space. Some like MessageParty or textPlus had names that were actually related to their product, but many like Yobongo, Beluga and Disco had only a tenuous connection.

It’s now pretty clear the app ecosystem has gone mainstream: People talk about apps the way they used to talk about music or drugs (“Omg have you guys tried COLOR. Omg you have to try it. Omg we’re on it right now”). And naming your startup has become like naming your band — An intricate dance between a multitude of contributing metaphoric and literal factors. So which approach, picking something random or actually related to what you do, makes more sense?

Chrys Bader@chrysb
Chrys Bader

You can tell it’s a bubble because startups are raising so much money they can actually afford vowels in their domain names.

about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhoneRetweetReply

Two notable app launches this week highlighted how exactly an app’s name plays into public perception. The most visible instance of this was the launch of Color, an ubiquitous noun/verb name picked by Bill Nguyen and Peter Pham for their photosharing app with a hefty $41 million in funding.

While initial complaints held that the app was unsearchable in both the Android and iPhone App Store and on Google because of its common name, that problem now seems to have been solved on Google. Perhaps all the inbound links from news and other sites are responsible for the fact that the service is now the eighth result for the word “color”? Color also somehow went from being invisible to being the first app to appear in the Apple App Store under the “color” search term (I’m hearing Android is still having issues).

Color’s name, while initially striking some people as slightly off if only for all its other connotations, is valid in that it accurately describes a core function of the Color Labs product, namely the fact that people are sharing images (a collection of colored pixels) through the app.

The Color guys tell me (and Quora above) that they first came up with the name Color in a tribute to Apple’s original reverse-color logo and then bought the domain name for $350K.  In order to appeal to English speakers in other regions, they also bought the domain name and redirected it to And yes, this did not stave off complaints.

Alison Tan@alisontan
Alison Tan

The ‘Color’ app isn’t spelt the way I like it… #COLOUR

about 3 hours ago via Twitter for iPhoneRetweetReply

Contrast Color’s name with that of the other hot five-letter app of the moment, Disco. Currently it’s unclear whether Google made the $255K purchase of the domain for a Slide-related purpose, or just to have on hand (Google has not given me a straight answer in any of my emails). If the latter is the case then it wouldn’t be the first time Google stockpiled domains ( anyone?) for future use.

Whether purposefully acquired or not, the name Disco seems to have a less of a direct relation to its core product than Color. While a disco (nightclub) does bring people together in a sense, the noun has absolutely nothing to do with group messaging, and I think users have already picked up on this distinction.

“This one fits to the product #color, This one doesn’t fit at all #disco,” tweeted Berrehili Réda. “I don’t know, when I first heard about google’s product #disco, I thought they had finally released their music streaming service…”

While it’s possible that the name Disco was already on the drawing board at Slide pre-Google acquisition, if Disco’s makers first chose a vague name and then built out a product for release, then they wouldn’t be alone. Private photo-sharing service Path still called itself Path (at back when it was a list-making tool. Guess they thought the Path designation still held after the photo-sharing pivot.

In a seminal post on the subject, VC Rich Barton holds in that making up a new word (like Kleenex or Yobongo) is much more powerful than trying to appropriate a already existing literal word like Color or Disco. But if you’d have to go with an existing word, I’d go with the one that has a strong tie-in to the actual product.

Then again there’s always exceptions. No matter which apocryphal origin story you believe, the word Apple has nothing to do with computers. “If somebody had told me in 1970 that Apple would be the name of the top tech company, I would have laughed to death,” said VC Dani Nofal.

Yes, and if someone had told me in 1990 that someone would name their company Color in homage to that top computer company Apple, I too would have chuckled. Color probably hopes it’ll be laughing all the way to a featured slot in the App Store.

Alexia Tsotsis@alexia
Alexia Tsotsis

Are you there Steve? It’s me, Color.

48 minutes ago via Seesmic DesktopRetweetReply

Source: An App By Any Other Name …