Tech companies do love the April Fool’s Day gags, don’t they? In general, some “jokes” work better than others, but everyone seems to be moving on and getting back to business as we ease into spring. Take Amazon — its Cloud Drive can now give your files that syncing feeling. The company just released a new desktop app for Windows and Mac gives that lets you copy files to your online drive by just moving them into a desktop folder, just as you can do with Microsoft SkyDrive, Dropbox and other services. (As Ars Technica and others have pointed out, the app requires Java, but not that worrisome browser plug-in.)
Microsoft is getting it out there: Windows Phone handsets seem to be getting some traction in the marketplace (right before BlackBerry has sold a million new Z10 phones already) and the Internet Explorer 10 almost doubled in market share, thanks to the Windows 7 version arriving in February as an automatic update. Windows 8 is still trying to find its place in the world, and has risen to claim 3 percent of the desktop operating system pie, according to Net Applications in its report for March.
Meanwhile, over at Google, Alma Whitten, the Director of Privacy, is leaving the job this summer. Lawrence You, an engineering director, will be taking over the privacy-and-security department in June. In other company privacy news, Google is facing new probes and possible fines for privacy violations in Europe. (And on the topic of international incidents, Apple CEO Tim Cook has written a letter of apology to the company’s Chinese customers. )
Talking back can get some results and Nuance, the speech-recognition company, is working on mobile ads that can talk back to customers. Hopefully, the ads will wait until they are spoken to before nattering on about the product.
Out in space, astronomers have discovered a new comet that could be one of the visibly brightest in decades. (But will it be as popular as Halley’s comet, which has turned up in song, story and tapestry for centuries? Eh, probably not.) Hopefully, the Mars rovers will get a few good shots of Comet Ison when it passes by the Red Planet — and US astronaut Buzz Aldrin hopes the United States will take a shot at sending astronauts to Mars. He lays out a plan in his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, due out May 7th.
And finally, spring is here on the northern hemisphere, on the calendar if not in the weather forecast. Baseball is back, and so are a few very popular TV programs, including the BBC’s Doctor Who (which featured a geektastic episode about scary Wi-Fi) and HBO’s Game of Thrones (which broke the BitTorrent Swarm record with more than a million downloads in less than a day). HBO, however, does not seem to be worried.
Fans of these two franchises can also take in David Tennant (the beloved 10th Doctor) in the BBC miniseries Spies of Warsaw this month, and enjoy John Lanchester’s 4,600-word essay on George R.R. Martin’s opus in the London Review of Books. Both might be a nice distraction for all those who were crushed to find out, alas, that Scope Bacon was not real.