Google Fiber Offers Free Internet, Facebook Celebrates Friends Day… [Tech News Digest]

How to get Google Fiber for free, Facebook invents Friends Day, Amazon brings Alexa to the Fire TV, original YouTube programming is coming soon, and a legitimate reason to own a drone, finally.

Google Gives Free Fiber to Poor People

Google Fiber has begun giving its full gigabit Internet service to people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford it. Starting with public housing properties in West Bluff, Kansas City, Google Fiber will be giving residents access to superfast Internet, with no costs being passed onto either the residents or the housing authority.

Google Fiber already gives residents free Internet access, but speeds are limited to 5Mbps for downloads, and 1Mbps for uploads. These same residents will now get the gigabit service, which means 1,000 Mbps for both downloads and uploads. This usually costs $70 a month.

The announcement reads:

“We’ve wired all 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000Mbps. Across Kansas City, we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area. Looking forward, we plan to bring gigabit Internet to select affordable housing in all of our Fiber cities”.

This is a very generous offer which will help get families living in affordable housing online without the costs associated with doing so. The cost of broadband in the United States are high compared to the rest of the world, while the speeds are nothing to write home about. Which is why Google Fiber is such a compelling prospect in the first place.

Facebook Celebrates You and Your Friends

As anyone who has logged into Facebook today will have noticed, the social network its 12th birthday. And in honor of turning 12, Facebook is celebrating Friends Day, another nonsense holiday to sit uncomfortably alongside Star Wars Day and, er, Valentine’s Day.

For users this basically means watching a video featuring photos of you and your friends. But for Facebook this has some deeper meaning. As Mark Zuckerberg says, “rather than having this birthday that focuses on us, we should make sure that the world focuses on what’s important”. Which isn’t terrorism, war, poverty, or diseases, but Facebook. Obviously.

To be fair, Facebook is celebrating “the importance of connections,” which does make sense. After all, bringing people together is the only way we will tackle any of those problems outlined above. However, we’re not convinced Facebook, or even social networking in general, is the positive force Zuckerberg believes it is.

Still, enjoy watching your Friends Day video,and enjoy having your timeline filled up with all of your friends’ Friends Day videos. Suffice to say, it’s going to be a long day.

Alexa Arrives on Amazon Fire TV

While Alexa is already resident within the Amazon Echo and the second-generation Fire TV, she’s now being added to the original Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick to boot, at least according to The Verge. This brings Amazon’s personal assistant to the older hardware for the first time.

Alexa adds the ability to get weather reports, traffic updates, and the latest sports results to these devices, along with a host of other useful features. According to Amazon, Alexa will be delivered to the original Fire TV and Fire TV Stick “over the next few weeks”.

YouTube Red Gets Original Content

All those people who subscribed to YouTube Red when it was first announced in October 2015 will soon get their first taste of original content. YouTube Red removes the ads from all videos, adds an offline viewing option, and gives subscribers exclusive access to a range of original films and shows.

The first wave of this original content is ready to go, with three films making their debut on February 10th, along with PewDiePie’s new show, Scare PewDiePie. Scare PewDiePie is a reality-adventure series starring the YouTube’s biggest (and possibly most annoying) star.

The first three films, also all made by established YouTubers, are Lazer Team, Dance Camp, and A Trip to Unicorn Island. YouTube Red has its own dedicated channel where, we assume, all of this original content will be shown to those paying the $10-per-month asking price.

Droneboarding Is Now a Thing

And finally, more and more people are buying drones because, well, they look cool, and are fun to fly. However, how many of those drones end up lying dormant in a garage after a couple of weeks when buyer’s remorse kicks in, and the purchaser realizes they really have no use for it? But it doesn’t have to be like this.

You could, in theory, strap your child to a snowboard and let the drone pull them along. Yes, droneboarding is now a thing. And as soon as someone figures out how to make it faster and more entertaining to watch, this is sure to be a popular sport in the future. Please note, children and drones don’t necessarily mix! [H/T The Verge]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

How do you feel about Google giving Fiber away to the poorest families? How will you be celebrating Facebook’s Friends Day? Will you make use of Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick? Have you subscribed to YouTube Red yet? If you own a drone, what do you use it for?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Sage Solar via Flickr

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