Google Secrets, Instagram Ads, Patent Wars, Netflix 4K [Tech News Digest]

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Tech News Digest is a new column designed to deliver the latest technology news in bite-sized chunks. In today’s Tech News Digest, the secret behind Google’s floating barge is (probably) revealed, Instagram adds ads, the smartphone patent wars intensify, Netflix begins testing Ultra HD video streaming, iGoogle gets buried for good, Amazon launches Kindle MatchBook, Google+ appeals to your vanity, a female driver is ticketed for wearing Google Glass, and Kanye sues Chad.

The Big Story Of The Day

Google’s Big Secret Is Revealed, Probably

Last week saw news emerge of a mysterious floating barge being kitted out in San Francisco Bay, with all signs pointing towards Google being the company behind the construction. But what on Earth was Google building? Most pundits concluded this would be an enormous data center, but the truth is a little more exciting than that. Only a little, mind.

According to local TV station KPIX 5, the Google barge will house “luxury showrooms and a party deck” where important clients can be wined and dined before having Google Glass and other Google gadgets and services marketed to them. And there we were hoping Google was beginning its quest for world domination by building a secret island like all the best Bond villains do.

News From Around The Web

Ads Come To Instagram

All websites face the dilemma of how to make money at some point in their existence, whether just to cover running costs or to actually get rich. Instagram, owned by Facebook since the social network bought the company for a cool $1 billion in 2012, is the latest to have introduced advertising as a solution to this problem. After a month of testing, the first ad, for fashion brand Michael Kors, has gone live. Feel free to air your views on this development in the comments section below.

Rockstar Sues Google

Rockstar is suing Google. Not a rock star but rather Rockstar Bidco, a company owned by Microsoft, Apple, RiM, Ericsson, and Sony. Rockstar bought up a hefty set of Nortel patents in 2011, and these are now being used to wage war against Google, Android, and a host of companies who manufacture Android devices. This set of patents is being talked about as the equivalent of a nuclear bomb in the patent wars, so the fallout from this lawsuit [PDF link] is likely to be widespread and messy.

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Netflix Begins Testing 4K Video

With the 3D phenomenon failing to take hold in a mainstream way television manufacturers are now gambling on 4K TV sets. Its alternative name of Ultra HD reveals its nature, as these sets are likely to make your mere 1080p capable telly boxes look terrible by comparison. The sets will only sell if there is dedicated content available, which is why it’s good news that Netflix is now testing 4K content on its streaming service. As the video from The Verge embedded above shows this has been in the works since at least CES 2013.

Ticketed For Driving While Google Glassing

Google Glass is, depending on which technology pundit you listen to, either going to revolutionize the world or turn the whole human race into a mass of gibbering wrecks like the morons from Wall-E. One person who has embraced Google Glass was ticketed for distracted driving purely because she was wearing the futuristic eye goggles. This despite the fact she was only wearing them but not actually using them.

Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook Ignited

Amazon really wants you to buy a Kindle and stop reading those horrible book things made from paper and cardboard. Books, I think they’re called. Hence the introduction of MatchBook, which will offer you digital versions of the books you have bought from Amazon over the last 15 years. The prices are reduced but this still means Amazon effectively gets paid twice for the same product.

iGoogle Goes iBye

iGoogle is officially no more, with Google having killed the Web portal off on Nov. 1 as promised. This was a popular Google product that will be sorely missed by its small but dedicated set of fans. Engadget bid iGoogle goodbye with a must-read ode, though I’m sure the last line will cause annoyance amongst former users of the product. Thankfully there are alternatives to iGoogle.

Google+ Adds Vanity URLs

Whether you actively use it or not (I’m guessing not) you’re likely to have a Google+ account. And now you can get a Google+ vanity URL which will replace the random set of numbers with a name pre-chosen by Google. Why? Because you can, Goddammit.

And Finally…

Kanye West Sues Founder Of YouTube

When Kanye West proposed to Kim Kardashian none of the invited guests were meant to record the event. But one did. His name is Chad Hurley, and he co-founded YouTube before selling it to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006. He has since launched MixBit, but that isn’t doing quite as well. The recording of Kanye’s proposal was uploaded to MixBit, naturally, and that’s made Kanye and Kim very, very mad. To the point that the couple are suing Hurley. Be careful who you film, folks.

Image Credit: Carlos Luna

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