Also, Bing Pulse polls audiences, Google fixes CAPTCHAs, eBay opens Innovators Collective, and a Freaks & Geeks YouTube adventure.
Google Wants Children (To Use Its Products)
Google is set to start targeting children under the age of 13, with plans to develop a range of products designed for kids. According to USA Today, these are likely to be child-friendly versions of popular Google products, such as YouTube and the Chrome Web browser.
As it stands, kids under the age of 13 are protected by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). This federal law means tech companies are limited in their dealings with children, which is why Facebook and others require users to be over the age of 13.
However, plenty of children under the age of 13 are present on Facebook and use the same websites as adults with or without permission to do so. Google is keen to add those youngsters to its userbase, hence the plans outlined by Pavni Diwanji, Google’s vice president of engineering.
Diwanji explained, “The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children. We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home, so the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.”
Google hasn’t set out a detailed timetable for this initiative, but suggested this will be a “full-time effort” starting in 2015. Diwanji concluded that the company wants to “make sure every single part of Google is great for kids. They are the future, so why not give them the tools to let them create it.” Why not, indeed.
Spotify Reviews Your 2014 Listening Habits
Spotify knows more about your taste in music than you do. We know this thanks to the new Your Year In Music tool, which details the artists, songs, and genres you were addicted to during the course of 2014.
This tool reveals your top five songs of the year, which countries your musical heroes hail from, and how your tastes changed between Spring and Summer. Even better, it creates a playlist of 100 songs Spotify knows you love based on your listening habits over the past 12 months.
For more streaming music goodies, check out our list of apps that make Spotify even better.
Microsoft Opens Bing Pulse Up To All
Microsoft is opening up Bing Pulse to everybody. Bing Pulse measures audience engagement levels in real-time, as demonstrated in the video above. After partnering with news networks such as CNN and Fox News, Microsoft is expanding Bing Pulse out to a wider audience.
The Bing Pulse 2.0 beta is available for free until Jan. 31, 2015, at which point Microsoft will release it as a freemium product. A basic version will therefore be available for free, with additional features opened up for those willing to pay for the privilege.
Google Is Simplifying CAPTCHAs
Google is radically simplifying the CAPTCHA user experience. CAPTCHAs are those annoying prompts designed to stop spambots in their tracks by asking users to type out two words. Unfortunately, according to Google, they’re no longer very effective, with bots able to solve CAPTCHAs with an astonishing 99.8 percent accuracy.
This has led to the new API Google is slowly rolling out to users. The “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” drops the mangled words in favor of asking you to tick a box to confirm you’re not a robot. If Google’s risk analysis engine fails to determine whether or not you’re a bot, you may then see another, simpler CAPTCHA.
EBay Opens Innovators Collective Section
EBay has opened up a new section of the site dedicated to promoting exciting new products. Named Innovators Collective, the section contains products such as the app-controlled ball Sphero, the Bluetooth-enabled gramophone Gramovox, and the Orange Chef smart food scale. All of which are great gadget gift ideas for geeks.
Rogen & Franco Play Freaks & Geeks
And finally, who better to test out the interactive YouTube version of Freaks & Geeks than Seth Rogen and James Franco? After all, the pair starred in the short-lived cult television show before hitting it big in Hollywood.
Watching the actors play the quasi-8-bit versions of themselves is thoroughly entertaining. But even more entertaining, especially for fans of Freaks & Geeks, is playing this Choose Your Own Adventure-style YouTube game for yourself. So go do that right now.
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
Are you happy to see Google creating products aimed at children? How is your Spotify Year In Music looking (or sounding)? Like Seth Rogen and James Franco, have you played the Freaks & Geeks adventure on YouTube?
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.
Image Credit: Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr