El Kaiser and J.D. return from Spring Break and head right into the news of the week, which includes Spotify’s initial public offering, an iPad update from Apple, background information on the latest credit-card hack and this year’s collection of April Fools jokes by corporate America. J.D. also takes a look at the revamped version of Mozilla Firefox — and new changes on the way to make it a “mixed reality” browser. Come join us for Episode 268!
The ThingMaker printer wasn’t the only geekworthy news Mattel made at the Toy Fair. The company also announced an update to its View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer. The 2.0 model has been reworked to handle varying sizes of smartphones without the need for an adapter, and it also has improved access to the phone’s headphone jack.
Speaking of virtual reality, the technology is also starting to turn up as a tool for real-estate brokers to sell you an apartment. As a recent story in The New York Times explains, companies like Halstead are using virtual reality headsets to let prospective buyers look around apartments for sale or rent. Thanks to contractors like Virtual Xperience and ArX Solutions who create a VR rendering of the future space based on architectural plans, prospective tenants can get a feel for the place — even if it hasn’t been built yet.
The notion of turning smartphones and their sensitive motion detector chips into earthquake sensors isn’t original, but there’s a new Android app called MyShake out from UC Berkeley Seismologicial Laboratory that has some research cred. The app sits quietly in the background until it senses the earth rumbling, and then it uploads a small amount of data to the centralized database created by the seismologists as an earthquake early-warning system. According to the companion paper its creators published on the Science Advances site, the app analyzes motion to see if the “newly incoming data are similar to previously defined human activities.” If it’s not a toddler birthday party or loud music, the data is sent along for further possible-earthquake analysis.
El Kaiser has a very blue Tech Term and J.D. shows us how to make iOS 7 easier to read. In the news, some love for Google Glass early adopters; Amazon launches a new program allowing customers the option to buy Kindle versions of their previous book purchases; SoundCloud adds Instagram integration; Netflix ponders its next move; a new report confirms that U.S. citizens pay more for less when it comes to their Internet service; Apple plans to continue its OS X freebie; and “The Zuckerberg Files”.
Amazon officially launched its new Kindle MatchBook program this week, which allows customers the option to buy discounted Kindle versions of books they’d previously purchased in print. To use it, log into your account on Amazon’s site to see what books are eligible. If you decide to grab the e-edition, you’ll typically pay $3 or less and the Kindle versions work with the Kindle apps for tablets, phones and computers as well as on actual Kindles.