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HTTP/2, the first update to HTTP in 16 years, has been finalized (Owen Williams/The Next Web)

Today, the next major version of HTTP took a big step toward becoming a reality; it’s been officially finalized and now moves towards being fully standardized. According to a blog by Mark Nottingham , the chair of the IETF HTTP Working Group , the standard was completed today and is on its way to the RFC Editor to go through editorial processes before being published as a standard. HTTP/2 is a huge deal; it’s the next big version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, marking the largest change since 1999 when HTTP 1.1 was adopted. The new standard brings a number of benefits to one of the Web’s core technologies, such as faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push. HTTP/2 uses the same HTTP APIs that developers are familiar with, but offers a number of new features they can adopt. One notable change is that HTTP requests will be ‘cheaper’ to make. The Web community has often told developers to avoid adding too many HTTP requests to their pages, which lead to optimization techniques like code inlining or concatenation to reduce the requests. With HTTP/2, a new multiplexing feature allows lots of requests to be delivered at the same time, so the page load isn’t blocked. HTTP/2 also uses significantly fewer connections, hopefully resulting in lower load for servers and networks. Nottingham previously published a number of other improvements coming to the standard on his blog . The new HTTP standard was based on Google’s SPDY protocol , which is used today by some technologies to manipulate traffic which helps improve latency and security, delivering faster page load times. Google announced just a few days ago that it plans to switch fully to HTTP/2 in Chrome. Developers wishing to test HTTP/2 before it becomes official can already do so in Firefox and Chrome and are able to download servers to try improvements for themselves; more information is available in the HTTP/2 FAQ . It should be a relatively short time before the standard is passed through the Request-For-Comments Editor and is published for use in its final form. ➤  HTTP/2 is Done mnot’s blog

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Google launches the Chinese language Developer Channel on YouTube (Bill Luan/Google Developers Blog)

Posted by Bill Luan, Greater China Regional Lead, Google Developer Relations Today, the Google Developer Platform team is launching a Chinese language and captioned YouTube channel , aiming to make it easier for the developers in China to learn more about Google services and technologies around mobile, web and the cloud. The channel includes original content in Chinese (Mandarin speaking), and curates content from the English version of the Google Developers channel with Simplified Chinese captions. A special thank you to the volunteers in Google Developers Group community in the city of Nanyang ( Nanyang GDG ) in China, for their effort and contribution in adding the Chinese language translations to the English language Google Developer Channel videos on YouTube. Over time, we will produce more Chinese language original content, as well as continue leveraging GDG volunteers in China to add more Chinese captioned English videos from Google Developer Channel, to serve the learning needs from developers.

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Senate renews plan to ban internet taxes forever (Jeff John Roberts/Gigaom)

Do you ever look at your phone bill and wonder, “what the heck are all those fees?” While it’s a natural impulse to blame the mendacity of the phone company, most of those items are there because various governments put them there. The good news is that federal law bans tax on internet service — meaning that most of us don’t see something like this on our broadband bill: Well, for now, at least. Due to a quirk in Congress, the current relief from internet taxes is based on a temporary measure that keeps expiring and getting renewed on a short-term basis. But as The Hill reported Tuesday, a bipartisan group in the Senate, led by John Thune (R-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-Or), wants to change that by passing a law called the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act. Those who follow these things may say we’ve seen this movie before, and that Congress has tried and failed to make the internet tax permanent in the past – most recently last December . This time is likely to be different, however, as the bill appears to be finally decoupled from a more contentious proposal known as the  Marketplace Fairness Act , which would have required online retailers to collect state sales tax. While both measures are broadly related to taxes and the internet, they are are in fact separate issues: one is about taxing ISP connections, and the other is about how state sales tax should apply to online retailers. But in the past, supporters of the latter have tried to tie the two issues together when it came to voting in Congress. Now that the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act appears to be up for debate on its own, however, its chances of success seem high given that it enjoys broad bipartisan support. The measure could, however, get tangled up in the hot button issue of the FCC’s proposal net neutrality, which Republicans want to portray as tax grab. As I’ve explained in the past, such claims — including a “study” claiming a $17 billion tax hit — appear utterly specious but, well, that won’t stop certain grandstanders from touting them anyways. Finally, it remains to be seen how a permanent ban on ISP taxes would affect seven states (Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin) that imposed internet taxes prior to October 1, 1998, and have been allowed to skirt the temporary ban because of a grandfather clause.

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Apple Has 93% of Mobile Profits; 650M Users by 2018, Says Canaccord (Tiernan Ray/Tech Trader Daily)

By Tiernan Ray Canaccord Genuity ’s Mike Walkley this morning raises his price target on shares of Apple ( AAPL ) to $145 from $135, writing that his review of market data suggests continued strength for the iPhone 6 upgrade cycle. Walkley writes that his assessment of vendor data in smartphones suggests, whose shares he rates a Buy, captured 93% of industry profits in Q4. Apple may have one third of all users of smartphones by the end of 2018, he reckons: We believe the strong iPhone 6 replacement sales should continue during C’15, as we estimate only 15% of the current estimated 404M iPhone installed base has upgraded to the new devices. We also anticipate continued strong share gains for the larger screen iPhones from high-tier Android smartphones during C’15 driving strong growth in the iPhone installed base and model the iPhone installed base growing to 487M subscribers exiting C’15 up 20% Y/Y. Longer term, we anticipate a gradually moderating rate of growth for the installed base from C’16 through C’18 and estimate 650M iPhone users exiting C’18. We note this base would only represent 1/3rd of an estimated 1.82B global premium smartphone subscribers anticipated by C’18. Finally, we anticipate steady long-term iPhone replacement sales within this growing iPhone installed base, and we believe this combined with our modest installed base growth expectations position Apple for steady sales of roughly 210M-215M iPhone units annually between C2015 to C2018. Walkley offers the following infographic to show Apple scooping up the vast majority of profit in mobile in Q4, while Samsung Electronics ( 005930KS ) has a minority of profit and all others operate at no profit or at a negative margin (click on the image to see it larger): Apple stock is off 14 cents at $118.79.

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Sling TV opens the floodgates, accepts sign-ups without invites (Janko Roettgers/Gigaom)

Sling TV , the online TV streaming service from Dish Networks, is now available to everyone: The service ended its invitation-only soft launch late Sunday night and began to accept sign-ups from everyone on its website. Sling offers consumers live access to a total of 15 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CNN, HGTV, Cartoon Network and others for $20 a month. New to this basic package are Galavision, El Rey Network and a channel for Maker Studios content, which had been previously announced but initially wasn’t part of the invite-only beta test. Sling subscribers can elect to add more channels through three different add-on packages that cost $5 each. These include a news and information package, a kids and family package and a sports add-on package that offers access to additional ESPN channels and a few other sports networks. Sling TV is catering to cord cutters and what the company calls “cord haters,” meaning people who would love to get rid of cable but haven’t been able to in the past, primarily because of sports. Sling wants to win over this audience by offering them a lower-priced package without some of the strings that are usually attached with a traditional pay TV service. For example, Sling TV customers will be able to cancel any time, and don’t need commit to year-long contracts. However, Sling TV couldn’t completely do away with the limitations of its industry. Some of the most advanced features of the service, which include the ability to rewind and fast forward in a current show or go back to any show that has aired within the last 72 hours, aren’t available on most networks due to contractual restrictions. In addition, Sling TV is only available on one single device at a time. Check this video for a first look at Sling TV:

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Hands on with Apple’s new Photos app for OS X Yosemite – Mashable

Mashable Hands on with Apple's new Photos app for OS X Yosemite Mashable The crop tool will look familiar to iOS 8 users because it has a similar look at feel as the tools on the iPhone and iPad . This makes cropping and straightening photos extremely easy. The auto-straighten tool can find the horizon in a background and ... and more »

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Nest to replace old Dropcams for free before they go dark April 15 (Kif Leswing/Gigaom)

One downside of having products that require cloud services in order to work is that the physical objects can suddenly become obsolete. Over the weekend, Dropcam announced a “ legacy camera replacement program ,” which means that older Dropcams will stop connecting to the Dropcam service on April 15 — rendering them mostly useless, which is a bummer for those who bought them. However, Dropcam is offering a free Dropcam Pro — the current model  which retails for $200 — to anyone who has a Dropcam that’s going dark. In a statement provided to Droid-Life , Dropcam said that eligible users will be contacted directly and offered the replacement. The two affected products are Dropcam — at the time, sold as Dropcam HD — which was launched in 2012, and the Dropcam Echo, which came out in 2010. Both were launched way before Dropcam was purchased by Nest (which, in turn, is owned by Google.) Users receiving the free, forced upgrade will find the Dropcam Pro is a big upgrade to their aging hardware: It sports an improved six-element, all-glass lens , as well as a larger light sensor. According to Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy, it’s twice the size of the sensor in the iPhone 5S . However, hardware has never been Dropcam’s focus. The company started out producing software for hardware from other companies, and has always focused more on the cloud and making raw footage useful. Dropcam’s main features include a cloud-archiving and video-management service, in addition to a machine vision feature called activity recognition , which uses machine learning to recognize what activities the Dropcam is recording. Duffy told Gigaom in 2013 that “Dropcam at its core is a cloud services company that happens to make hardware.” Dropcam hasn’t explained why it was sunsetting its older products, only  saying that “some features won’t work with our older Dropcam models. As we improve Dropcam, we’ll no longer be able to give Original Dropcam and Dropcam Echo owners an experience that meets our standards. So we decided to stop supporting these products and offer owners a free replacement Dropcam HD camera.” Even for early adopters, Dropcam declaring end-of-life on its early products isn’t the biggest problem considering the free camera upgrade. That’s one benefit to a startup being purchased by a deep-pocketed giant like Google.

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Cablevision to launch Wi-Fi-only mobile phone service Freewheel; $9.95/month if bundled with home internet, $29.95 for other customers (Janko…

Cablevision is getting ready to pick a fight with your mobile phone company.  Next month, the cable operator is going to introduce a low-cost mobile phone service dubbed Freewheel that’s based entirely on Wi-Fi connectivity. Freewheel will offer existing Cablevision internet service subscribers unlimited talk, text and data for a mere $9.95 per month. Consumers who don’t use Cablevision’s internet service can sign on for $29.95 per month. At launch, Freewheel is only working with one handset: Cablevision will sell Motorola’s Moto G for $99.95, and the phone will come preloaded with apps that automatically authenticate with any of the company’s hotspots. Cablevision started building out its own Optimum Wi-Fi network in 2007, and now has more than 1.1 million hotspots in the New York tri-state area. The company adopted Fon-like Wi-Fi sharing last year , essentially turning its customers’ Wi-Fi routers into public hotspots by adding a second, separate network that can be accessed by any Optimum customer, and now by any Freewheel subscriber as well. In addition to that, Freewheel customers have access to some 300,000 hotspots across the country, courtesy of the CableWiFi initiative that brings together Wi-Fi access points from big cable companies like Comcast , Cox and Time Warner Cable. And of course, the device will also work with any other Wi-Fi network a user has access to, whether it’s at home or at their office. However, Freewheel users may have a harder time staying connected on their commute: The service doesn’t include any fall-back option to connect to mobile networks when Wi-Fi is unavailable, which means that users won’t be able to make calls or access data services when they’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network. That’s why the company is primarily targeting users who are in what it calls “Wi-Fi-rich environments” like college campuses and urban areas with a high density of mobile hotspots. Cablevision has also in the past made a point of highlighting how big of a hit Wi-Fi already is with its customers. Each Cablevision internet household already has 2.88 devices accessing Wi-Fi on average, and customers have used Optimum Wi-Fi nearly one billion times during Q4 of 2014, consuming 19 petabytes of data, according to statistics shared by the company. Cablevision isn’t the first company to use Wi-Fi as an alternative to traditional mobile networks.

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What 1,000 attendees at Product Hunt’s happy hour show about tech culture and the company’s future (Carmel DeAmicis/Gigaom)

Product Hunt’s happy hour starts in 20 minutes, and the line stretches far down the street. As I stroll through Geary, blocks from the bar, I’m convinced the crowds must be gathering for a Diplo concert or something. There’s no way this many people showed up for drinks with the young, Andreessen-Horowitz backed tech company. But I am wrong. The public Facebook event invite reached 312,000 news feeds, 16,000 people viewed the event page and 3,700 RSVPed. The bar only fits 1,200 people. Half an hour before the start time, hundreds of people have showed up early to Product Hunt’s fifth official Happy Hour, trying to make sure they get in. The line outside Product Hunt’s happy hour, 20 minutes before the event begins, wraps around the corner and down the street For the unfamiliar,  Product Hunt is a Reddit-like app for early tech product adopters. The community upvotes and downvotes cutting-edge new products, which range from GIF keyboards to musical pants  to the new version of Foursquare , and the founders surface frequently to answer questions. Product Hunt  raised $6.1 million from Andreessen Horowitz in September, and with fewer than twenty employees it’s still pretty small by tech standards. That hasn’t stopped it from exploding in popularity. It’s the place where Yo and Ship Your Enemies Glitter were discovered, and it’s regularly surfed by early-stage investors and journalists looking for the next buzzy companies. The overrun happy hour Thursday further solidified the company’s status as hot new tech community. But it also raised the question: Have we reached peak Product Hunt? The people in line may be there to bask in Product Hunt’s limelight, but they’re not too pleased about the wait

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Users of 3rd-party WhatsApp clients reportedly being banned from the service for 24 hours (Stephen Hall/9to5Google)

WhatsApp is one of the most-used messaging apps in existence, and today countless users of the service have taken to Google+ and Twitter to report that they’re being banned from the service for 24 hours. The common denominator between those reporting the ban seems to be the use of third-party WhatsApp clients on Android, specifically a popular one called WhatsApp+. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has only one official client available, but there have long been a variety of third-party clients available through non-official means. Some of these are fairly popular, like WhatsApp+, which has a community on Google+ of more than 700,000 members. Users of other clients, like WhatsAppMD, are also reporting that they’ve been banned from the messaging app for 24 hours. WhatsApp has posted an article on their FAQ website in an attempt to clear up why this is happening, but it doesn’t do much more than recommend that users uninstall the third-party client and reinstall the official one. The company is apparently cracking down on this as a breach of the terms of service, and is justifying their actions under the premise of protecting user safety. WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorized by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization. Please uninstall your application and install an authorized version of WhatsApp from our website or Google Play. Then, you will be able to use WhatsApp. Dr. Mounib Al Rifai, the owner of the official WhatsApp+ Google+ community, had this to say: Guys if you are getting this error don’t panic we are working hard to find a fix for the issue as soon as possible in the mean time you can use the normal whatsapp till a fix is found.

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Chrome 40 for iOS arrives with Material Design, Handoff support to your default browser on OS X (Emil Protalinski/VentureBeat)

Google today released Chrome 40 for iOS. You can download the new version now directly from Apple’s App Store . The first change you’ll notice in version 40.0.2214.61 is the implementation of Google’s Material Design mantra. As we noted when Google revamped its main iOS app last month, it doesn’t look quite as good as on Android, but the new look and feel does carry to Apple’s mobile platform over surprisingly well. In this case, Google describes the new Chrome design as featuring “bold graphics, fluid motion, and tactile surfaces.” We’ve included screenshots of the new app on both iPhone and iPad in this post, but you’ll need to actually use the browser to get a feel for it. Next up, Chrome for iOS now supports handoff, which allows users to start a task on one device and swap to another one nearby. OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are required, and in this case Google is supporting going from Chrome on your iPhone or iPad to your default browser on your Mac. It’s not clear if there are any other limitations beyond that. Finally, in addition to the usual “stability improvements and bug fixes” that is listed for every changelog, Google notes this update includes iOS 8 optimizations and support for bigger phones. iOS 8 support arrived in September and support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus displays was implemented in October, so there’s nothing technically new here. Google has just improved both implementations, so you may see some minor tweaks here and there, but don’t expect anything major. More to follow Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob...

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The Verge accidentally posts 30-second spot it will run during Super Bowl XLIX (Richard Horgan/FishbowlNY)

For the briefest of moments today, a few lucky folks caught a premature glimpse of something major: The Verge’s 30-second Super Bowl XLIX ad. The page was quickly taken down , but not before we here at FishbowlNY read the “DNP” headline, the “TKTK” placeholder text and enjoyed the embedded video. The Verge TV ad is *almost* as impressive as the idea that parent Vox Media can afford the very large outlay required for a 30-second Super Bowl XLIX spot. The ad (we’ve confirmed it will air during the February 1 telecast) is all about how Smartphones are changing everything. ‘It’s changing how we live… and even, how we die…’ the male narrator intones. ‘This is the future. And it belongs, to you.’ A few Twitter users thought perhaps The Verge had posted the “DNP” page on viral purpose. But as the quick removal confirms, the bylined item by site EIC Nilay Patel was not meant to see the light of January 20, noontime day.

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Microsoft begins wide rollout of Lumia Denim update that brings big improvements to camera app (Kevin C. Tofel/Gigaom)

Microsoft has been sharing details on its Demim update, the next step up for Windows Phone, since September . And just prior to the end of 2014, it began a limited rollout of the new software, promising widespread availability starting in early January . Now Microsoft is making good on that promise, although carrier approval for the Denim update will add some delay in the rollout. While your Lumia waits for the software, Microsoft is reminding you what exactly is in the Denim update , highlighting new features in a blog post, along with a video look. Much of the video shows the Cortana voice assistant updates and new user interface tweaks; you can add Live Folders now, not just have Live Tiles. The second half of the video, however, shows off the new Lumia Camera, which I got a chance to see earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. I spent time with Juha Alakarhu, head of imaging technology for Microsoft Lumia phones, and he’s understandably excited about the new Lumia Camera app. After running through some real-time demos, I was excited too. Output from the new Moments capture, which starts snapping a brief 4K video, looked fantastic. So did images taken with the simple Rich Capture mode, which lets you adjust dynamic range and the amount of flash after the photo is taken. The variable flash changes were very impressive. Alakarhu also showed me the improved overall speed of the Camera app, which now does photo processing in the background so you can keep snapping away and capture images such as this sample. If there’s been a standout feature on Lumia phones, I think most would say it’s the camera imaging. Part of that is the hardware, of course, but software and photo processing are equally important

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