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Google relaunches Google+ again, Pushbullet pushes people to pay, Google releases the Chromebit, teach kids to code with Minecraft, and the first trailer for A Very Murray Christmas.

Google+ Devolves Into Pointlessness

Google has relaunched Google+ again, steadfastly refusing to give up on its failing social network. The new Google+ has been rebuilt to be responsive across all platforms, which should make it a more enjoyable experience on smartphones and the Web. If anyone still cares.

As for content, the redesigned Google+ focuses on two things: Communities and Collections. Communities is Google’s take on forums and groups, while Collections is Pinterest by another name. The combination of the two means Google+ is now about shared interests more than people.

This is an important re-positioning for Google+ How Google+ is Rethinking Social Media How Google+ is Rethinking Social Media You may remember a few years ago when Google+ attempted to compete with Facebook as a social website. Google has not yet met expectations. So, now what? Read More , with the likes of Photos and Hangouts being pivoted into standalone products. It means Google+ is no longer a requirement for everyone with a Google account, but instead an optional extra for those who actually want to use it.

The problem is we’re not sure that anyone does actually want to use it. Sure, Communities and Collections are solid features, but neither is unique, which removes most of our enthusiasm for them. Google should just let Google+ die quietly Google's Plus: The Latest in Long Line of Social Flops Google's Plus: The Latest in Long Line of Social Flops Google's history of launching social network is a series of failures. Read More . And learn the truth when nobody mourns the loss.

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Pushbullet Introduces a Potty Paywall

Pushbullet has launched a paid version of its service, with Pushbullet Pro priced at $5-per-month or $40-per-year. The problem is that this means many of the previously free features have disappeared behind a paywall Paywall Trend On The Internet [INFOGRAPHIC] Paywall Trend On The Internet [INFOGRAPHIC] Being a former newspaper journalist, I can sympathise to a very large extent with the plight of print media. With the relentless onslaught of the Internet, and peoples expectations that "information should be free", print... Read More , which has gone down about as well as any sensible person would expect.

From December 1st, Pushbullet users Make Kodi Work for You With a Little Help From Pushbullet Make Kodi Work for You With a Little Help From Pushbullet Send video links to Pushbullet and they'll play automatically in Kodi. If you've been looking for a Kodi Chromecast alternative, this is it. Read More will need to either pay up or lose access to mirrored notification actions, universal copy-and-paste, anything over 100 texts per month, anything over 2GB of cloud storage, and the moving of files over 25MB. All of which are pretty important elements of the service.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with paid versions of free services — especially if the reasoning behind them is sound — they should only ever add new features rather than steal them from the free tier. There’s also the pricing to consider, with $5 a month too steep for most users. Poor ol’ Pushbullet.

Chromebit Is Chrome OS on a Stick

Google and ASUS have finally started selling the Chromebit, which they announced way back in April 2015 The Best April Fools of 2015, Facebook Riffs with Friends, & More... [Tech News Digest] The Best April Fools of 2015, Facebook Riffs with Friends, & More... [Tech News Digest] Celebrating April Fools' Day 2015, Facebook's Riff app, the ASUS Chromebit, Amazon's Dash buttons, HBO on Sling TV, and homeless people reading mean tweets. Read More . The Chromebit is an HDMI stick which turns any TV or monitor into a computer powered by Chrome OS. And as it’s priced at just $85, it’s a bit of a bargain.

The Chromebit is perfect for anyone who wants a cheap and cheerful way of turning an old TV or monitor into a computing device capable of running Chrome extensions The Best Chrome Extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from both our readers and our writers. Read More and apps. It may not be as capable as the Compute Stick What Is the Chromebit and Is It Better Than the Intel Compute Stick? What Is the Chromebit and Is It Better Than the Intel Compute Stick? What is the Chromebit? How does it work? And how does it stack up against its main competition, the Intel Compute Stick? Let's find out. Read More from Intel, but it’s a solid option for those who hate Windows.

Minecraft Teaches Kids to Code

Parents keen to tech their children to code — at least on a very basic level — can now get a helping hand thanks to Minecraft. Playing on the fact that most kids of a certain age like Minecraft even more than they like sugar, the game is being used as the basis for a Code.org lesson.

Kids who are into Minecraft can now use the characters and environments they’re familiar with to learn basic coding. In total, there are 14 different Minecraft-themed puzzles to solve using programming. And if your kids aren’t into Minecraft, there’s also a Star Wars coding lesson waiting to be tackled.

A Very Murray Christmas Trailer

And finally, what more could you need this holiday season than a Netflix Christmas special starring Bill Murray? Nothing, obviously. Well, apart from gifts you don’t need or want, and more food than any person should consume in one sitting. Still, Murray is a nice addition!

This video shows the official trailer for A Very Murray Christmas, Murray’s Christmas special as produced by Sofia Coppola. Even if you’re not a Bill Murray fan, appearances from celebrities including George Clooney, Chris Rock, and Amy Poehler should help pique your interest.

A Very Murray Christmas premieres on Netflix on December 4th. [H/T Variety]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you interested in the new Google+? Would you pay to use Pushbullet? Are you tempted to buy a Chromebit? Are you keen to teach your kids to code? Will you be watching A Very Murray Christmas?

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.

  1. swartley
    November 19, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Nothing really new. I think Google + has some difficulties to find his positioning. Many alternatives have been launched since Del.icio.us days. Some actors like Openoox.com already propose this principle of link collection to save and share your favorites web contents

  2. FrandyGoh
    November 19, 2015 at 3:22 am

    bye bye pushbullet..

  3. Suzi Love
    November 18, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    I really like Google +

    Like that you can see everything and everyone in your stream and nothing is hidden, as it is in Facebook. And it's easy to share from.

  4. Ben Stegner
    November 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I love Pushbullet and have written about it a few times. I was ticked to see this news yesterday - I have no problem with a Pro version, but don't take away features that were once free. They even said they would never take away functionality, which I guess went out the window:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/PushBullet/comments/18q5y7/pushbullets_api/c8hau7k

  5. Phil Nolan
    November 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    So much hate for one of the top social networks! Funny how you keep posting you hate for Google+ on Google+.

  6. likefun butnot
    November 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I don't really see the point of Pushbullet. I've always been able to Email myself whatever I want and unlike Pushbullet, Email actually works with all the browsers and devices I use. There are already crap-tons of ways to get SMSes off a phone, though my personal favorite is just to block all SMSes and force everyone to use Email like a grown up.

    With regard to G+, I don't have an account and I never have, but I do actually know of a lot of active communities centered around niche interests. Basically the one thing it has really been good for is a replacement/substitute for active USENET groups. That's not a bad thing and I don't really care if that makes it "social" or not.

    • Phil Nolan
      November 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Pushbullet is amazing. I use it every day. I love seeing my phone messages pop up on my desktop screen, I love replying to texts from my PC and it's really useful to copy text on one device and paste it on another.

      • likefun butnot
        November 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm

        @Phil Nolan,

        Pushbullet isn't doing anything terribly interesting. There are all sorts of ways to share snippets of data between devices that don't require its service (e.g. FoxtoPhone) and all kinds of ways to access SMS from a phone on a desktop PC (e.g. Phoneleash) if you're one of the people who somehow thing SMS is important.

        I don't like that Pushbullet is tied to Google or Facebook and it doesn't even work on FireOS (or other AOSP Android variants lacking the Google Play Framework), with Palemoon or with Chromium, the two browsers I'm most likely to actually use.

        For a supposedly indispensable tool, especially one they want people to pay for, they make it awfully difficult to put make it useful.

  7. Paul Werner
    November 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I'd mourn the loss of G+ more than makeuseof to be honest

  8. John
    November 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Pushbullet has made a very bad business decision. They have lost all my respect and many users, including me, will now leave for an alternative solution (such as Mightytext).

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