Hobbit prop’s blueprint available for 3D printing

The Verge reports that fans can download the 3D blueprint of the Key of Erebor, an artefact from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and make a replica using a 3D printer.

While the ads offer standard fare like links to buy tickets and check out movie trailers, there’s one particularly clever component to the campaign — viewers will be able to download 3D-printing blueprints for the Key of Erebor, a prop that should feature prominently in the second part of the Hobbit film trilogy.

Instagram blocks competitor Mobli from its API

Mobli, which is similar to Instagram, got on everybody’s radar thanks to its interesting partnership with Latin America’s largest wireless carrier, America Movil. If you aren’t familiar with America Movil, it’s controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, who regularly trades places with Bill Gates as the richest person in the world.

With about 5 million active users and the America Movil partnership, Instagram might begin to view the app as a threat, which explains why it cut Mobli off from the Instagram API. Before this, Mobli users were able to easily share their content from Instagram to their feeds. Such a move shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as we’ve previously seen Facebook cut Vine (owned by Twitter) off from its API. Twitter has also cut Instagram off from its API too.

The API access that was revoked by Facebook and Twitter are all related to finding friends, which could be viewed as a way to lure users off the platform. While the current issue between Mobli and Instagram isn’t related to finding your friends, it could still be viewed as a tool to lure users away. So Instagram’s response isn’t surprising.

In Instagram’s own words

Instagram’s API guidelines make it clear that an application that replicates or attempts to replace the essential user experience violates our terms of use. We have a team dedicated to reviewing apps and enforcing our policies.

It’s also worth noting that Mobli is no saint either, as the company has previously run a campaign with the specific goal of having Instagram users move to it’s platform, along with monetary incentives.

Snapchat snags Instagram business lead as its COO

If turning down the previous acquisition offers of $3 billion (or $4 billion, depending on the source) didn’t convince you that Snapchat is becoming a force to be reckoned with, this next move will. It wasn’t too long ago that Emily White moved from Facebook to Instagram, and now she’s heading over to Snapchat to be second-in-command to CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel. Considering that Mark Zuckerberg tried to buy Snapchat recently, it’s going to sting to have a key person from Instagram (owned by Facebook) make such a move.

White has a lot of experience in the online advertising space, initially at Google, then at Facebook and Instagram, being instrumental in bringing ads to the latter.

Without a doubt, she’ll help Snapchat continue on it’s path taking on the mobile messaging scene. It’ll also be interesting to see if she grows into a high-profile COO like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

Instagram Business Lead Emily White to Be Named COO of Snapchat

“It happened really quickly, but to have an actual COO role in one of many companies that is disrupting the communications arena is one I could not pass up,” she said. “I have always been captivated by the creativity that has gone into the product … and I think that Evan has been looking for someone who can help him grow and scale what is already something that has changed a lot of the way people think about the mobile experience.”

“Instagram has great leadership in place and this is not me walking away from anything but an A+ management team,” said White. “But I am about to learn a lot about the way communication is happening right now and am excited to help grow it into a big business.”

The good news is that she seems to have left Instagram on good terms.

Said Systrom of her departure in a statement: “I cannot thank Emily enough for her contributions to Instagram. She was tasked with getting the first ads products out the door — and she did that beautifully. Instagram is in an even better place today because of her efforts and we thank her.”

Apple bought Topsy for search?

Business Insider reports that Apple has bought Topsy, a Twitter analytics company.

Topsy is one of the companies paying for access to Twitter’s firehose of data. It analyzes tweets looking for trends.

It is possible that Apple is looking to use Topsy to improve its services to make them more suitable for social engagements. It could also help Apple to provide better, more social search results.

Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch speculates Apple could use it to improve App Store recommendations/rankings.

UPS looking into using delivery drones

The Verge reports that UPS is testing and evaluating using drones to delivery parcels.

UPS has a number of different ways it might utilize drones. It could offer something similar to Amazon’s Prime Air, or it might use them to help move packages around its own warehouses. Calo was skeptical of the video offered up by Amazon, where a drone drops off a package in a family’s suburban driveway. “I think from both a tech and a policy perspective, delivering to consumers in residential areas is going to be tough thing to accomplish any time soon,” says Calo. “But a company like UPS could use drones to bring packages quickly and cheaply from a major airport or city to pick-up centers in more remote locations, speeding up delivery for a lot of customers.”

Should we expect FedEx and DHL to jump on the bandwagon soon?

China already testing drone delivery

Since the demo of Amazon Prime Air, the debate about drone delivery has been raging in the US. Meanwhile, China is already testing parcel delivery using drones.

Legalisation would merely be a formality since businesses in China are already allowed to use drones as long as they apply for approval to do so.

VSCO Cam finally comes to Android

Visual Supply Co (VSCO) has announced that its smartphone camera app VSCO Cam is coming to Android.

Finally. VSCO Cam is my favourite app for editing my iPhone photos. Android photographers will be delighted to finally be able to add this awesome app to their arsenal.

Users will also be able to access VSCO Grid, an online gallery for users to showcase their works.

FaceCrypt uses facial recognition to encrypt your data

PetaPixel writes about FaceCrypt, an iOS app that locks your encrypted data using a selfie.

Instead of using your standard password, all of your info — be it passwords, photos, credit card numbers, passport data or that note reminding you where you hid the kids Christmas presents — is locked inside of a vault that can only be opened using biometric face recognition and a selfie… although we suggest you keep a straight face since duck lips might throw the system off.

What if someone tries to bypass the system using a picture of you?

To keep things even safer, individual ‘drawers’ in the vault can be locked with additional security measures; and the app can be set to prompt the user to blink so that someone with a picture of you can’t access the app by holding up your mug shot.

Find My Mac helped track down two murder suspects

Detroit Free Press reports that the Find My Mac app on a stolen MacBook helped police track down two murder suspects.

It had been more than two months since a popular University of Michigan medical student was shot to death, and police seemingly had few leads.

But on Oct. 3 — 45 miles from where student Paul DeWolf was killed in his Ann Arbor fraternity — a man in Detroit attempted to log onto a computer he’d just purchased through Craigslist. The man didn’t know it, but the Mac laptop had been stolen from DeWolf’s next-door neighbor around the time he was killed.

That computer had an app that would lead police directly to it, and to the two suspects now charged in DeWolf’s killing.

Android users buy 40% of Black Friday iPads

InfoScout reports that 40% of the iPads sold on Black Friday were purchased by Android users.

The analytics company also reports that the iPads are dominating the Black Friday sales in Walmart and in Target.