As the week winds down, the State of the Union address is history and cloud service provider Akamai has popped out its latest quarterly State of the Internet report. Once again, South Korea leads the world in average global connection speed; the United States ranks 8th. As if to rub it in, the South Korean government is dropping $1.5 billion into upgrading its mobile communications network by 2020, and says this will make it a thousand times faster than it is now. In theory, you could download an entire movie in one second on this mythical 5G network. Think of it, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in less time than it takes to sneeze and find a tissue.
But wait, this week had more reports to report. The Android operating system was tops in Europe in 2013, according to new numbers from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The little green robot snagged a 68.6 percent share of the European smartphone market, compared to Apple’s 18.5 percent. Windows Phone, showing some moxie, was able to claim 10.3 percent of the market. All three operating systems placed in the same order Stateside, but don’t even ask about BlackBerry (although BlackBerry OS 10 did get another update recently to make loading Android apps even easier).
Now, while Apple did set a record in the last quarter with 51 million iPhones sold, investors were hoping for 55 million iPhones out the door, so the company’s stock fell 8 percent. The tech press will now be filled with stories about how Apple needs to innovate again, although the company recently filed a patent for a solar-powered MacBook and seems to have new plans in the works for its Apple TV set-top streamer. Just last week, the tech press was filled with stories about the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, which made its debut on January 24th, 1984, and had a very memorable Super Bowl commercial that can still be found online.
Google is still on its January shopping spree, buying up DeepMind, a privately held artificial intelligence company based in the United Kingdom. While replicants don’t seem to be in the near future, a DeepMind investor told the Re/Code website, “If anyone builds something remotely resembling artificial general intelligence, this will be the team. Think Manhattan Project for AI.”
Google Glass may be getting a little more affordable for some, particularly those with optical health insurance. The provider VSP has made a deal with Google to subsidize prescription lenses and frames for the Internet-connected spendy spectacles. However, Google Glass may not be the only wearable face computers strutting around town. The Korea Times is reporting that Samsung and Sony may be getting into the game. Samsung is rumored to be showing off its version this September at the annual IFA trade show in Berlin.
Shifting gears to Gears of War, Microsoft has purchased the shoot ‘em up franchise from Epic Games, which means future installments will likely be Xbox-only. And in other Microsoft news, the company announced that it was renaming its cloud storage service. The formerly known Hawaii Five-0 Approved Microsoft SkyDrive will now be known as OneDrive. Microsoft was forced into the name change after losing a trademark tussle to British Sky Broadcasting.
Government security groups have allegedly been harvesting player info from mobile games. Do people at the top of the leaderboards have anything to worry about? Angry Hackers, by the way, have already smacked up the Angry Birds website.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for mysterious charges $9.84 on their credit-card bills. Those charges, often from unfamiliar sounding websites, are part of a scam. Call your bank and request a new debit or credit card, as this one’s been compromised.
The Chrome browser for iOS just got an update from Google that brings more speed and security to the app. And speaking of apps, a couple hotels in the Starwood chain are trying out new room door locks that can be opened by a smartphone with a Bluetooth connection and an Android or iOS app. (Here’s an idea: put this system in a few Vegas hotels during the annual DEF CON gathering and see how it holds up.)
And finally, Facebook marks its 10th birthday next week. The site was founded as TheFaceBook.com back on February 4th, 2004, and was intended as a resource for Harvard students. Flash forward a decade past a big-budget origin movie, a wobbly IPO and about 1.2 billion users around the world and you have the current social network. Now, if you’ve been wondering how much of your life in the past 10 years you’ve spent on the site, the folks at Time magazine’s website have created a handy tool called “How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook?” If the thought of letting an app trip merrily through your Facebook history disturbs you (it’ll probably meet up for drinks with the NSA bots in there), you can probably ballpark it yourself, especially if you’re a daily user. Just calculate the average amount of time you spend per day on the site, look up the date on your Timeline when you joined Facebook to see how many days it’s been, and factor those numbers together. Remember, there are 1440 minutes in a day…