Today in Tech News Digest, annoying autoplay ads arrive on Facebook, the NSA phone surveillance is branded “unconstitutional,” Google Glass adds a ‘Wink’ command, Samsung announces its Smartphone GamePad, Tomb Raider lands on iOS devices, Wunderlist suggests Christmas gifts, and Google reveals the top searches of 2013.
Autoplay Videos Ads Arrive On Facebook
Facebook to sell autoplay video ads in news feed. Personally I fear this could prove the final nail in the coffin for the social network.
— Witts & Wisdom (@stuartwitts) December 17, 2013
Facebook has announced that autoplay ads are on the way. A “small number of people” will be unlucky enough to see the first autoplay video ad, for a new film titled Divergent, but we can all expect to see other autoplay video ads in the future.
It was only last week that Facebook flicked the switch on autoplay videos on the website, and at the time we predicted this “feature” would one day be utilized for advertisements. And so it has come to pass, though a little sooner than even we expected.
These ads will begin playing as soon as they come into view on news feeds across mobile and desktop. They will be silent (which is one small mercy) unless and until someone clicks on them. Autoplay video ads are almost universally hated, so Facebook is playing a dangerous game here.
This is another step along the path of making Facebook good for everybody except its users. The problem Facebook faces is that if it annoys its users to the point they up and leave in great numbers, then their whole business vanishes overnight. No autoplay ads are going to save a service which no one uses any more.
NSA Spying “Unconstitutional”
The fact is, the NSA would have self-corrected without Snowden. Now excuse me, I'm riding my unicorn to the Great Chocolate Waterfall.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) December 16, 2013
The collection by the NSA of metadata related to phone calls made by American citizens has been branded “unconstitutional” by Federal District Judge Richard Leon. According to BBC News, Judge Leon branded the surveillance effort an “almost Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States.”
This pronouncement was made in a lawsuit brought by Larry Klayman, a conservative activist challenging the collection of this metadata. Judge Leon stated that the plaintiffs had demonstrated “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim,” referring to the section of the U.S. Constitution dealing with unreasonable search and seizure by the authorities.
This is strong stuff, but does anyone expect the NSA to listen? No, wait, they already are listening. To everything.
Google Glass Encourages Winking
Google has announced a slew of Google Glass updates, the most interesting of which is simply called Wink. As the name suggests, this allows you to control Google Glass with that most creepy of facial tics, the wink. Initially conceived as a way of taking a photo, Google hopes Wink will be utilized in more ways in the future.
Specific examples cited include, “You’re riding in the back of a cab and you just wink at the meter to pay. You wink at a pair of shoes in a shop window and your size is shipped to your door. You wink at a cookbook recipe and the instructions appear right in front of you.” Who would have thought winking was such a versatile gesture.
Samsung Announces Smartphone GamePad
Samsung has announced a new games controller for Android devices, one that is optimized for its own range of handsets. Android gamers are becoming spoilt for choice in terms of dedicated controllers, and the Samsung offering, imaginatively titled Smartphone GamePad, is another alternative. Samsung is rolling the product out gradually, with the release initially limited to parts of Europe.
Original Tomb Raider Hits iOS
Tomb Raider 1 for iOS. Proving what seemed impossible – that it's possible to make Tomb Raider's controls *worse*
— Andy (@oboewan) December 17, 2013
The first Tomb Raider, originally released on the PlayStation console in 1996, has landed on iOS. The game, which Square Enix believes will take you around 15 hours to complete, will work on the iPhone and iPad. Tomb Raider on iOS is priced at just 99 cents, making this a highly affordable slice of nostalgia for veteran gamers.
Wunderlist Suggests Christmas Gifts
Wunderlist, a free to-do app available on iOS, Android, and elsewhere, has introduced curated lists designed to help people struggling for last-minute gift ideas. The lists have gift ideas based on particular themes, and are therefore designed to be useful no matter what the interests of your loved ones may be.
MakeUseOf has also put together its own lists of gift ideas… for those at the bleeding edge of technology, for those who venture outside once in a while, for those who stay at home a lot, and for those on a budget.
Google Zeitgeist 2013
And finally, Google is the latest Internet company to put together its end of year report with the Google Zeitgeist 2013. Trending searches from the past 12 months can be seen in the video embedded above, and there is a lot more to explore on the Google Trends page for 2013. It’s a solid reminder of just how much has happened in the year that is about to draw to a close.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Image Credit: Khalid Albaih