Techzone 360 Week in Review

By Tony Rizzo April 06, 2013

This past Thursday, as most of us surely know by now, Facebook finally announced Facebook Home, its go-to plan for driving Facebook face-first into the mobile world. No, the company did not release its own version of Android, and no, the jointly announced HTC First smartphone is not specifically a Facebook phone (or a Facebook-branded phone). Instead Facebook delivered a replacement shell for Android user home screens – one which can be pre-installed directly by device makers – as HTC has done with the HTC First, or through a free download via Google Play that will allow a user to install the shell directly on a variety of supported devices.

Our coverage provides details of two sorts – first, what is it, does it make sense, and what about mobile ads and user boredom with Facebook? The second sort reflects on what Facebook Home may do to Apple and Microsoft. Some of us don’t necessarily believe Apple or Microsoft will be bothered in the least by Facebook Home – rather, we are wondering what Google might decide to do with Google+ relative to Android integration instead – something we’ll provide more insights on in the coming week.

There have been lots of Apple rumors this week – we’re beginning to enter that phase of life where an Apple event surely must be imminent. Is that new version of iOS finally going to show? Or is it the iPhone 5S? Who really knows? Of course the rumor mill automatically starts to pump headlines out like mad to at least pretend to answer these questions. Well, we’ve got our own thoughts to share – first, what are the odds really that a new next generation iOS 7 is really about to drop?

Leaving aside the operating system software, what might a next generation iPhone look like? We don’t mean an iPhone that takes its design cues from the current generation phones. We mean, what might an entirely new iPhone design look like? How about something that is nicely curved and all glass? Perhaps using a bendable display in a truly real-world bendable display application, and no physical buttons what so ever? There are some interesting anew patents and patent applications from Apple that provide some very intriguing clues.

Not be left out of the picture, Google has been generating some news of its own this week, though not of its own accord and certainly not  the kind that the company would like to generate. We’re referring specifically to Google’s troubles with Europe and Europe’s major issues with Google’s privacy initiatives – or more directly Google’s lack of implementation of European-mandated privacy directives. The company is on major alert from Europe with as many as six European countries ready to take some serious actions against Google.

In the meantime, as Europe gathers its privacy forces against Google, the United Kingdom looks like it doesn’t want to play on pother privacy fronts. Britain wants to be excluded from a new European Union proposal that would allow people to delete most personal details from social media sites. Called the right to be forgotten, the recommendation is likely to become part of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. But the British government says it creates “unrealistic expectations” and wants to be excluded.

Nothing would make Microsoft happier than to see Google go through some monster European headaches. And Microsoft is certainly happy to help push privacy matters against Google every chance it gets. Recently the company has re-energized its “Have you been Scroogled” campaign, this time aiming the Scroogle guns at Google’s Gmail platform and its very publically acknowledged lack of privacy. A great many people actually do not know what Gmail really does, and though once they do know they may not really choose to act on it, but as many as 20+ million people have switched from Gmail to Microsoft’s new Outlook.com service because of it. Should you?

Before we leave Google behind, it has also moved this week to add some interesting new cloud functionality to Chrome. This time around, it looks like Chrome is now accessing a cloud-based service that offers a function allowing you to “ask Chrome for suggestions” when spelling a word. How handy! We’re not sure if this is any more a compelling reason to give up Microsoft Office than privacy concerns are a reason for leaving Gmail for Microsoft, but it’s good to know Chrome has your spelling and grammar covered for you.

Google’s cloud-based spell checker provides a good segue way into another cloud-based announcement. This week Sony introduced its own Sony new subsidiary, Sony Media Cloud Services, which aims to provide an online platform for creative professionals to store and share their large and complex media files. The new platform – dubbed Ci (pronounced “see”) – is currently in beta and is designed to provide broadcasters, filmmakers, independent producers and marketing teams with a “one-cloud” solution to collect, produce and archive high-definition content.

Before we sign off this week, we need to note that there is a new center of high tech emerging in the country. No, it isn’t in California and it isn’t in New York City. Rather, it turns out that Las Vegas is now quietly becoming a high tech hub, with strengths in high touch customer service, data centers, and space technology. Who knew? You can gamble and run a startup all at the same time now – what were the odds of such a thing occurring?

Have a great weekend!



TechZone360 Senior Editor

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