Episode 54 News: Hardware Watch

Cue the funeral march —as promised, Google Reader has been taken offline earlier this week. A note on Google’s site says that you now have until July 15th to download a copy of your feed file for use with another service and after that, it will be permanently deleted.

Google is not the only one dropping old services. Yahoo announced that it too, was cleaning house, and is ditching a dozen products and projects so it can focus its attention elsewhere. Say goodbye to Yahoo’s FoxyTunes browser extension for media playback, Yahoo RSS Alerts, the once-popular-in-the-90s AltaVista search engine and a bunch of services most people have never heard of. The Nextel Network was powered off this week as well.

While Google Reader and Nextel have gone down, Windows 8 has gone up — to slightly more than 5% of the worldwide desktop operating-system market as of June 2013, according to Net Applications. As Windows 8 gains more users — possibly excited by Windows 8.1 coming out as a free downloadable upgrade this fall — the system is getting more apps from developers and the Windows Store just passed the 100,000 apps mark this week. Oh, and Microsoft’s Zune replacement service, Xbox Music, now works in many desktop Web browsers.

Twitter is experimenting with a new feature that links standard tweets to Web stories where those tweets were mentioned or embedded. (When asked, Twitter did not comment on the feature at the time, leading many to believe they were, you know, field-testing and stuff.)

SolarFarmApple plans to power a new data center in Reno, Nevada, with a solar panel farm that can provide 18 to 20 megawatts of power. In other Apple news, people who notice trademark filings report that Apple has registered the name “iWatch” in a number of countries, including Japan, Russia, Mexico and Taiwan.

Smartwatches (or the idea thereof) are popping up everywhere and sources at Best Buy say the megaelectronics stores will start selling the Pebble smartwatch in stores this weekend. Google is said to be considering its own Android-powered watch, as well as a game console with Android under the hood and a revamped version of the failed Nexus Q media streamer. As for Google’s other major hardware project, the company informed the Texas Congressman Joe Barton in a letter last month that it was not making any changes to its privacy policy just for Google Glass. (On his site, Congressman Barton said he was disappointed by Google’s responses and felt his questions about privacy were not adequately answered.)

Also on the topic of privacy: the Federal Trade Commission’s revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act went into effect this week. The new rules address modern matters and close a loophole allowing third-party plug-ins to collect children’s information without parental consent.

In hardware news that does not involve wrist-wear or fancy spectacles, Hewlett-Packard is reportedly working on its own smartphone — Android this time instead of the late Palm/web OS system. And the chief technology officer of Mozilla said the company plans to make a Firefox OS-powered tablet computer ASAP.

Finally, if you need a cheap computer, consider the JW-11, which costs less than $80 and runs on an ARM processor. The system officially supports Android, but it can run Linux, too. And you know, you can get Google Reader replacements on Linux. Just sayin’.

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