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Tech News 2Night 74
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Tonight, more Amazon Smartphone details, HTC loses it's design chief, Netflix expands while Hulu tightens, and the rise of Pinterest
Tech News 2Night is Next!
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This is Tech News 2Night Episode 74, for Friday April 25, 2014
I'm Jason Howell, Let's get right to the Tech Feed!
Boy Genius Report has been hot on the Amazon Smartphone rumor trail. BGR previously reported supposed leaked photos of the device, plus information about multiple sensors and camera on the phone for 3D effects and motion detection. Now, BGR says Amazon is planning to offer a wireless data plan called “Prime Data." Without any real confirmation of plans, the publication speculates this could be made available exclusively on AT&T’s network in the United States, which could make a Prime Data setup similar to the AT&T's new “Sponsored Data” program. Sponsored Data was announced back in February and allows companies to pick up the bill for data traffic used by specific apps and services on customers’ devices, and bypass a subscriber’s monthly data cap. Using a similar model, Amazon could offer smartphone buyers free access to its various Prime-branded digital services.
HTC's One smartphone line has been praised for its design, but things are changing behind the scenes. Scott Croyle, head of the One design and HTC's industrial design and user experience teams, is leaving the Taiwanese company to work on his own projects. HTC confirmed Croyle's plans to The Verge, but called it a "long-term transition" where Croyle will remain involved with HTC product development in a consultancy role for a few months longer. In other HTC leadership news, Drew Bamford has been promoted from overseeing the Sense user experience to being in charge of all HTC software and services. The company is consolidating its user experience team alonng with its industrial design and engineering group.
Computer World has obtained documents sent to 34 different US cities from Google, that point to Google possibly launching Wi-Fi networks in cities that also get Google Fiber in 2015. Google released a response, merely saying "We'd love to be able to bring Wi-Fi access to all of our Fiber cities, but we don't have any specific plans to announce right now." Google has reportedly asked the cities, which include Atlanta, Phoenix, and Portland, for lists of all addresses with descriptions of building types, a huge range of data on everything from pavement conditions to locations of utility poles, and possible locations where Google might set up 12- by 30-foot "utility huts."
For the first time, Netflix will be available in the US via cable. Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN have all announced that subscribers will be able to access the streaming service through their TiVo DVRs as soon as April 28th. Customers will still need a Netflix subscription on top of a DVR TiVo cable contract. But Atlantic said that accessing it would be as "easy as changing the channel," pointing to integration with current services. Netflix already has similar deals in Europe through TiVo.
As Netflix access expands, Hulu's is tightening - the company began blocking VPN users this week in an attempt to prevent people overseas from accessing videos without permission. With a relatively cheap VPN subscription, people from all over the world can connect to the site via a U.S.-based IP-address and bypass its geographical restrictions, but Hulu is now blocking visitors linked to a VPN service. However, this block also applies to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens using VPN. When connecting, users are receiving the notice, "Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu."
Coming up... a robotic caddy, need I say more?
But first, joining me today is KIA KOKA-LA-CHEVA, a reporter for VentureBeat, to talk about a few social stories that are making the rounds today. Thanks for being here!
Let's talk social!
- First up, Pinterest, which is growing at a rapid rate right now. 30 Billion total pins is the number that CEO Ben Silbermann announced at an event at the Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco last night. That's a 50% increase in six months. They also had some interesting new features to introduce today and you wrote all about them today on VentureBeat. One of them is Guided Search. Explain what this is and how its useful to Pinterest users.
- They also introduced Custom Categories. What's that all about?
- Pinterest has always seemed to be that social network that people either completely get, or simply don't understand the value of its service and how it fits into their social network world. What does the company really need to do to attract would-be Pinners to the service and prove to them that this is a social network that they need to invest their time in?"
"-When chatting about social, we'd be remiss if we didn't talk a little about Google's loss of Vic Gundotra who was instrumental in the creation and development of Google+. What is your take on this? Are Google+'s best days ahead of it or are we in store for a major shift in what we know of the social network?
-Both Pinterest and Google+ have one thing in common in that they are both working hard to build their service into something great that can compete with the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Which service is doing this bettter, in your opinion, and why?
Thank you so much for joining me today to talk social, Kia. Where can people find your work and follow you online?"
And finally, we love all things robotic here on TN2. And we love golf (well, today we do). Now, no more lugging that heavy golf bag around for 18 holes. [Roll Video] Introducing the Stewart Golf X9 robotic caddy. It follows you around like your favorite Labrador puppy (you have several Lab puppies, right?). Simply attach the remote to your back pocket and the X9 senses your proximity and direction. The caddy-robot uses two Bluetooth antennas that talk to the remote, each controlling one of the two drive wheels so it knows where you are and which direction you are walking. It will speed up to catch you then stop when you get close. Perfect for retrieving your clubs, your favorite beverage or a snack. You can also use the remote to turn and steer the robot around the fairway to the the next tee. It's ships in June and is available for around $3,200. Good boy!
[good bye] That's it for this edition of Tech News 2Night.
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Don't miss our morning news program, Tech News Today, tomorrow and every weekday at 10am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern. I'm Jason Howell, thanks for watching.
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