About 40 percent of the world will be online by the end of this year, says the annual report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union. Less-developed countries are often the ones at the bottom of list that track a population’s online access, but Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel are among 30 companies that are teaming up to bring a less expensive Internet to those parts of the world that still lack connectivity. The initiative is called the Alliance for Affordable Internet and it was officially launched this week in Nigeria.
On the Apple front, the Gold Master of OS X Mavericks 10.9 was posted for developers late last week. And although some people stopped caring about Office for the iPad after Microsoft released the poorly reviewed and oddly named Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers earlier this year for iOS and Android, outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said this week that the company did have a touchscreen Office in the works, but that the iPad would get it after the Windows mobile devices got theirs.
Amazon to the top of the TV? If you believe the Wall Street Journal, the super-uber-online megastore will have its own video-streaming box for sale before the holidays. The unconfirmed streamer doesn’t have a price or a name yet, but the 9to5Google site has noted that Amazon recently trademarked the name “Firetube.”
Google has added transit directions to its fancy interactive Google Glass eyewear and the company also teamed up with HP this week to announce the HP Chromebook 11.
Yahoo celebrates its Sweet 16th birthday! Yahoo Mail has gotten an overhaul for desktop and mobile and now comes with some features previously seen in Gmail. Intsagram is also getting older and will soon be getting ads of its own soon, as a company blog post titled “Instagram Is a Growing Business,” explains.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is now out and receiving fair to middling reviews, and the rollout of smartwatches from other companies continues. The Filip smartwatch for kids — which also serves as a simple mobile phone between parent and child — is headed for AT&T.
LG Electronics has gone into mass production of what it claims is the “world’s first flexible OLED panel for smartphones.” Using the curved panels — made from plastic substrates instead of glass — is supposed to make the screens bendable and unbreakable and handsets featuring the new panels are expected next year.
The New York SciFi & Fantasy organization is trying to turn the Empire State Building a lovely shade of TARDIS blue for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who next month. The group has filed an application to the Empire State Building’s management team in hopes of creating a giant blue police box on the Manhattan skyline on November 23rd and an online petition has been started. Also in entertainment news: Gravity may have won the weekend box office, but the movie got nicked with some fact-checking criticisms over Twitter from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam would like to congratulate Peter Higgs and François Englert on winning the Nobel prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Awesome boson, dudes!