Newsweek magazine makes a splashy return on paper with a cover story claiming to have found the father of Bitcoin. In his Tech Term of the Week, El Kaiser explains doxxing and why Internet denizens are so ticked off at the weekly news magazine. The computer mouse has been with us for half a century and J.D. explains why it may stick around for awhile longer. In the news Google dives into wearable computing; Apple releases an 8-gigabyte version of the iPhone 5C — but not in the United States; the Windows XP Death Watch continues; The Big Bang Theory may have been proven; and say hello to robot fish.
Your eyes are not enough for Google. This week, the Big G announced Android Wear, a version of the mobile operating system for smartwatches and other gadgets strapped to other parts of the body. The first Android Wear watches and monitors will arrive later this year but there’s a developer’s preview out now for anybody who want to sling some wearable code. (Speaking of potential gym gear, the 9to5Mac site has an update on what it says is Apple’s new Healthbook software for fitness tracking.) Oh, and Google and Viacom have finally settled a seven-year marathon of litigation.
Apple, perhaps in a move to get some of the international smartphone market back from Google and Android, released at 8-gigabyte version of its colorful iPhone 5C model this week in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and China. Oh, if anybody cares, Mac rumor sites are reporting that Microsoft is preparing the official Office for the iPad for its public debut next week at a media event on March 27th. And in other Apple news, the company has finally retired the iPad 2 from March 2011 as the entry-level option for its full-size iPad line; the iPad 2 is succeeded by the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display that was first released in October 2012.
Speaking of old things, the Windows XP Death Watch continues to spiral downward to the April 8th deadline, when Microsoft says it’s seriously, totes mcgoats for real pulling the support plug this time. The Washington Post reports that hundreds of thousands of US government computers are running behind on their upgrades from Windows XP to a safer, secure and actually still supported operating system. Also missing some upgrade deadlines? Banks around the world, many of which didn’t make their deadlines for upgrading their ATMs.
Way to go, banks!
Some people are cutting the cord and ditching those pricy cable packages. According to the Leichtman Research Group, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other providers lost 1.1 million customers in 2013. Broadband subscriptions, however, are up for many cable providers.
The Big Bang Theory (no, not the TV show), that the scientific notion about the expansion of the universe, may have been proven. New research suggests that astronomers have found the first direct evidence of the cosmic inflation. An experiment at the South Pole led by John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced it had detected ripples from gravitational waves created in a violent inflationary event at the dawn of time. And while we’re out in space, it you haven’t caught the first few episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Adventure hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, you can check ’em out online with the Fox Now app or Fox on Demand service. (Also in your favorite app store: the official NCAA Basketball Tournament app. Yes, it’s March Madness once again.
And finally: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently announced advances in soft robotics. The school has released a video and details on its new robot fish that’s capable of rapid body motion and can quickly change direction when needed, just like a real fish. And the Cubestormer 3, a Lego robot powered by a Samsung Galaxy S4, solved the Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds, which scored it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. We look forward to the eventual Guinness record for fastest Rubik’s Cube solution by a robot fish. Any day now.
This week JD takes a listen to Apple’s new iTunes Radio service and breaks it down for us; Pedro wrestles with a rare tie-less day in the studio; and gives us his observations on everything from “Breaking Bad”, iOS 7 and the updated edition of JD’s book, “iPad: The Missing Manual”. In the news New York State goes after fake online reviews; LinkedIn gets sued for allegedly hacking user accounts; Microsoft debuts new Surface tablets; Blackberry throws in the towel; iPhone sets a sales record for their new smartphones; Google’s Gmail service slows to a crawl; Valve announces their own Linux based OS; and Adobe updates their consumer photo apps to eliminate the dreaded “Pet Eye”. (Stop frontin’, you know you wanted it…)
As expected, Apple announced two new iPhone models on Tuesday. The first was the lower-end iPhone 5C with a plastic back in white, pink, green, blue or yellow and specs similar to the now-discontinued iPhone 5. The second was the high-end iPhone 5S, a 64-bit handset with a fingerprint reader, better camera and three color options: gold, silver and “space gray.” Not sure about taking a bite and upgrading? As with every tech-acquisition decision, there are pros and cons.
In other news, Apple announced that its own iApps — iMovie, iPhoto, and the iWork trio of Pages, Numbers and Keynote — will now come free with newly purchased devices running iOS 7. As for iOS 7, Apple’s new flatly designed mobile operating system will be available for download on September 18th. And with iOS 7, you get iTunes Radio. Not mentioned during this week’s Apple press event: iPads, iPods, iTunes, OS X Mavericks, MacBook Pro updates, Apple TV updates, mythical iTV sets or imaginary iWatches. Maybe next month.
Try as it might, Apple could not hog all the headlines this week. Microsoft is preparing to launch the Surface 2 tablets later this month. Hoping not to get lost in the press for iTunes Radio, Microsoft also launched mobile apps for its Xbox streaming music service. Users can now stream the service on iOS and Android devices. Xbox Music has about 30 million songs in the jukebox.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 console is on the way later this fall, as is a new version of its handheld PS Vita and its PlayStation Vita TV hardware. The Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch made its official debut last week. The fancy timepiece can link with Android devices running version 4.3 or later.
Facebook seems to be trying to catch up with Twitter as the social-media place people go to get and discuss news events and other topics that trend. The Social Network released a pair of new tools for news organizations that could give those companies a better understanding of real-time social conversation surrounding things like breaking news, TV events like Sharknado or live sports. Google+ has added embedded posts and author attribution to its world. Google+ sign-ins are now integrated with Google’s Authorship program. Google+ also follows Twitter and Facebook into the world of embedded posts. And Twitter, perhaps looking to make some money in advertising, just bought the MoPub mobile advertising exchange for $350 million dollars.
FilmOn, one of the streaming broadcast TV services we mentioned recently here, has lost a major court battle over copyright in the District of Columbia and has been ordered to shut down by preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs in the case, which include ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, were pleased with the decision but FilmOn has vowed to fight on with an appeal. FilmOn’s rival, Aereo, is no doubt watching these events closely.
And finally, AM radio, perhaps the original wireless network that brought people together, has been losing audience and influence for years, but a lone member on the Federal Communications Commission is trying to get his agency to overhaul the technology and save it. In today’s world of satellite channels and audio streaming into your computer or phone from around the world, it’s easy to forget the crackly comfort of good ol’ amplitude modulation, but AM radio is still a vital part of rural communities and a beacon of information in times of emergency. (For a historical perspective on radio’s influence on the world, check out the excellent 1992 documentary Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio by Ken Burns, which is available on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.) If you’re now feeling nostalgic, go on — dig up that old transistor radio you’ve got tucked away in the junk drawer, pop in some fresh batteries and give the dial a spin for old times’ sake.
Apple makes a product announcement and the response is a collective “d’uh, we already knew that.” Turns out the rumors were true. The fruit-themed phone makers roll out a plastic iPhone and a refresh of their flagship smartphone. In the news, Microsoft prepares to launch new Surface tablets; Sony announces an updated version of their PS Vita mobile gaming device; Samsung unveils their smartwatch; Facebook aims to be your source for news; The NSA can crack even the most advanced encryption methods; and a lone voice makes the case for saving AM radio.
Despite all the big tech news this week J.D. takes a few minutes to help El Kaiser work up the courage to cut the cable, um, cable. In the news Microsoft buys Nokia’s phone handset division; CBS and Time Warner finally make up; Big announcements at the IFA Berlin show; Google acquires a smartwatch maker; U.S. retailer Target gets into the streaming video game; another government agency trips through U.S. phone records; and Skype celebrates its 10th birthday.
Summer’s over and it’s back to business. The Microsoft announced late on Labor Day evening here in the US that it was buying Nokia’s phone handset division for 7.2 Billion dollars. The company even published a 30-page PDF of a PowerPoint presentation on its site that outlined the strategic rationale for the purchase. It’s very colorful, if you like PowerPoints. (Nokia, when not getting parts of itself bought by Microsoft, also just launched an embedded Internet-linked navigation and infotainment system called Here Auto.)
The IFA Berlin show is up and running this week, and bringing with it plenty of tech announcements. LG Electronics announced a 55-inch OLED television called the LG Gallery that looks like a painting in a frame — except with a 2.2 channel speaker system inside, with most Van Gogh reproductions don’t include. LG has also jumped back into the tablet race with its G Pad, an 8.3-inch Android tablet with an HD display.
Acer also had a few new products to announce, including a 24-inch all-in-one computer with a Nvidia Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip inside that’s running Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and a phone with a 6-inch screen called the Liquid S2. It runs on the 4G data networks and it can also shoot video in ultra high-definition 4K. Acer also has a 10.1-inch Iconia A3 Android tablet coming too. Samsung, Sony and several other companies all had IFA announcements as well this week.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear was also formally announced this week. While we’re checking our watches, Google recently completed the acquisition of smartwatch maker WIMM Labs. WIMM Labs put out its own smartwatch in 2011, but Google itself has not commented on any smartwatch plans of its own. (It did, however, rename the next version of Android after a candy bar.) Amazon, not to be left out of product news, released a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite.
Target is getting ready to introduce its own video-on-demand service called Target Ticket. Maybe you’ll be able to order up a Target Ticket flick on a PlayStation 4 console this fall, as Sony has confirmed its next generation game console will have voice command ability through the Eye camera peripheral.
Another government agency besides the National Security Agency has been tripping through the phone records of Americans. This time, the situation involves drug-fighting federal and local law enforcement officials from The Hemisphere Project using an AT&T database to check out call logs that go back to 1987.
Apple finally confirmed that it’s having a September 10th press event. Photos have been popping up around the Web purporting to show a batch of the lower-cost iPhone 5C models tucked into the same types of clear plastic boxes used by Apple to sell its iPod Touch and iPod Nano media players, so we’ll see if those were real or rumor-driving props designed to make the tech blogs hyperventilate.
Skype has just celebrated its 10th birthday. The little startup accounted for 167 billion minutes of international voice traffic in 2012, much to the traditional telephone companies’ dismay. And speaking of 10-year anniversaries, the Daily Telegraph newspaper over in London has named its “10 Most Annoying Social Media Features of the Past 10 Years.” Go poke yourself, Facebook.