These are the headlines from some of the web sources that I follow.

  • Get Your Faces Ready: Oculus Announces 2nd Developer Conference This Fall
    Oculus CTO John Carmack at Oculus Connect in 2014.In mere months, Oculus will show off its latest cool tools for virtual reality game and app makers. The Facebook-owned company announced Thursday that its second annual developer conference, Connect 2, will get underway September 23 to 25 in Hollywood, Calif.Developer conferences have become much more than geeky industry events in recent years. They’ve become hype machines for tech companies, who do their best to tempt developers into making apps—the lifeblood of any budding platform—as well as whet appetites among tech enthusiasts. See also: Oculus Will Bring Virtual Reality To Real Reality On June 11According to Oculus, 1,000 attendees came to the first Connect conference last year. This time around, those numbers could balloon, now that the VR company will open up consumer-ready headsets for pre-orders later this year. (The product will ship some time in early 2016.)The developer tools also cover more than just one device: According to the company's blog post, the they will cover “everything developers need to know to launch on the Rift and Gear VR.” Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR is also on the verge of a commercial launch for later this year, which could make for maximum froth at this developer conference.  Expect keynote addresses from Oculus honchos Michael Abrash, John Carmack and Brendan Iribe, along with plenty of demos—likely with the very latest version of the VR headset. The company plans to hold a June 11 press event in San Francisco, where it’s expected to show off the newest model heading to people's faces before long. In other words, VR’s about to get real. Brace those eyeballs. Oculus Rift invitation for June 11 press eventImages courtesy of Oculus
  • Gartner's Dismal Predictions for Hadoop Could Be Wrong
    When Gartner speaks, tech vendors bow their heads and pray for blessings — but that’s not always what they get.In its most recent report on Hadoop adoption, Gartner analysts Nick Heudecker and Merv Adrian stated that more than half of the IT and business leaders they surveyed reported having no current plans for Hadoop investment. They drove the point home, offering that fewer than half of the members of the Gartner Research Circle plan to begin Hadoop-based initiatives over the next two years. That’s less than half of the respondents who already have. Read full story... Follow us on Twitter Join free newsletter View upcoming events Find a new job
  • "Virtual Rooms" For The Apple Smart Home Sound Like A Great Idea
    Since Apple announced its HomeKit smart home initiative last year, it's been mostly quiet about just how iPhones and other Apple gadgets will wrangle those connected devices. Now, however, the company may have a fancy new app in the works—complete with virtual rooms, a clever and apparently easy-to-grasp metaphor for running a smart home.Apple’s approach, according to a 9to5Mac report, will be to launch a new "Home" app for controlling smart-home gadgets—think smart locks, sensors, garage openers, thermostats, lights, security cameras and other connected appliances. The Home app will sort gadgets by function and location into a visual arrangements of virtual roomsThe goal is to simplify the otherwise bewildering task of finding, adding and controlling smart devices and appliances from Apple and other companies.See also: Apple TV Will Reportedly Get Siri And Apps—But There's More In StoreSmart homes are quite likely to be collections of disparate gadgets from various manufacturers that need to identify and share information with each other as well as with a controlling "hub." Giving users an intuitive way to grasp what's where and who's doing what is something this industry badly needs.Here's what Apple's take supposedly looks like. The Kit And KaboodleWhen it comes to smart home systems, interfaces matter. Samsung’s still relatively new SmartThings division has a powerful, though complex, mobile app that it has been trying to simplify for users. Revolv, now owned by Google’s Nest division, used to offer an app with simple setup and management features, using graphical representations to symbolize connections to devices. See also: Apple Makes Its Move In The Smart Home With HomeKitApple's version might be even easier. The app, which supposedly sports a house icon against a dark yellow background, reportedly connects to a user’s Apple TV, using that as a hub or stationary command center for the system. There’s still a big question mark over how well it works, though—the Apple blog says that in its current form, it has only basic, limited features, and so far, only Apple employees have been allowed to take it for a spin. The new “Home” app—or whatever it will be officially called when it debuts (possibly with iOS 9)—seems like just the sort of thing Apple would want to spotlight at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in June. But that's only if the app’s ready for public viewing, which isn't at all certain yet.As 9to5Mac notes, the app might be too basic and unrefined at this point. Even if it’s not, it might be intended for use solely within Apple’s walls as a testing or development tool. If the latter is true, then people might manage their "Apple smart home" using their Siri voice assistant to control third-party apps. In essence, that would let people talk to their iPhones, Apple Watches and likely Apple TVs to remote control their home appliances. Bring It On Home Either way, Apple will have to pick a path and fairly soon. The tech giant announced its HomeKit framework last year, and it's been losing steam in this area ever since. Rumors of more delays prompted an uncharacteristic Apple response in which it publicly promised that its first gadgets to support HomeKit will debut next month. When they arrive, users will have to have something with which to manage them. Otherwise, it might start looking like Apple bit off more than it could chew in the complicated smart-home arena. Simplicity is something this area sorely needs, if smart homes are ever going to attract broad interest. Of course, it has to be good, too. Launching an "Apple Maps bad” HomeKit initiative could ding the whole industry. It’s not hard to imagine even Apple loyalists (who are legion) walking away from a crummy experience and thinking, “If even Apple can’t make this work, then no one can.” If Apple does launch the new Home app soon—and if it works—its new metaphor could go a long way toward helping newcomers understand just why they'd want to equip their homes with connected, smart gadgets. In that way, you can imagine the smart-home industry at large holding its breath as WWDC opens. Next month, we’ll know if it's ready to exhale. Screenshots courtesy of Apple, captured by ReadWrite
  • Do Contributes to the Apple Productivity Parade
    Meeting productivity provider Do has rolled out a new suite of apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad. This debut — specifically it is a massive overhaul of an earlier iteration of a family of Apple apps — follows the company’s announcement in March that it is integrating with Microsoft Office 365. Score another one for the tiny start up that is barely a year old. Read full story... Follow us on Twitter Join free newsletter View upcoming events Find a new job
  • New Workplaces Mean New Demands on Leaders
    We have been witnessing a defection from web 2.0 era "social collaboration" tools because they don’t actually help people get their jobs done. Those tools may reflect an idealized company of five or more years ago, although I doubt it. They are really designed for the needs of the first line managers of an earlier day: overseeing what people are doing, and trying to "manage" people, like cowboys "manage" cattle. Read full story... Follow us on Twitter Join free newsletter View upcoming events Find a new job
  • Google Is Readying Its Own OS For Running The Internet Of Things
    With Google's I/O developer conference around the corner, you can expect the rumors to start coming thick and fast, and The Information has the scoop that the Mountain View company is working on a new OS for the Internet of Things.It's codenamed "Brillo" for now, though it emerge under the Android brand, reports The Information. It will be able to run on as little as 64MB or 32MB of RAM, with or without a screen.Those minimum specs explain the need for a whole new OS for the fledgling Internet of Things—these lightweight, low-powered, low-cost devices don't have the processing oomph to run Android or iOS.The Internet of Things may be a clunky title, but no one has yet come up with a better phrase to describe the smart lightbulbs, doorbells, fridges, washing machines and other gadgets that are rapidly invading the home—all of which need software to operate and get online.Anyone expecting a clean and open fight to become the dominant software provider is likely to be disappointed. At this point, in fact, the best we can hope for is that the companies' competing formats all decide to play nicely with one another. But where's the profit in that?Runners And RidersSamsung has its own IoT plans.Last week Samsung unveiled its Artik family of products, a series of modules and an underlying platform to power IoT innovation. The South Korean firm has been particularly active in the field, gobbling up independent startup SmartThings last year.Also last week we heard about Qualcomm's "Internet of Everything" strategy, combining both a series of chips as well as a software platform called AllJoyn. The company promised to play nicely with other standards, but—like everyone else—would prefer its own standard to win out.The most recent runner to declare was Huawei, unveiling its LiteOS operating system only a few days ago. Just 10KB in size, it supports zero configuration, auto-discovery and auto-networking—in other words it just works, as long as you have other LiteOS-compatible equipment at home.Those are three major moves in the last seven days, on top of initiatives already in progress from Intel, Apple, Microsoft and others. Confused yet? Your smart desk lamp probably will be.It's still early days to talk about interoperability, with so many systems yet to launch or in the nascent stages of development. Many firms are likely to hedge their bets by supporting multiple partners. Even Apple might have to work with more third-party manufacturers than it usually likes to.Even for those on the inside, it's difficult to get a handle on this shifting landscape, and it'll be a while before consumers come to know or care about the capabilities of these Internet-of-Things OSes. Right now it's about companies setting their stalls out, and you can expect Google to open the shutters before I/O is out.Lead photo by Anita Hart; Samsung photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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