Minecraft Educates Your Kids, Apple Raises Its Prices… [Tech News Digest]

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Microsoft launches Minecraft: Education Edition, Apple raises the price of its apps, Friends Reunited is shutting down, Netflix now has 75 million users, and a Star Wars fan film actually worth watching.

Microsoft Makes Minecraft Educational

Microsoft is launching an Education Edition of the insanely popular game Minecraft. This version of the world-building and resource-management game will allow teachers to use Minecraft in a range of different subjects, including math and science.

Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s vice-president of worldwide education, told BBC News:

“Teachers are using Minecraft to do so many things, including teaching maths, science, religion and poetry. Once we make the tools easier for schools to get access to and employ, I think you’ll see that number [of classrooms] grow quite quickly.”

Salcito claims that Minecraft is already being used as an educational tool in 7,000 classrooms around the world. However, while that requires a one-off fee, Microsoft will charge for Minecraft: Education Edition on an annual basis, allowing it to wrestle back control of its intellectual property.

Minecraft: Education Edition will cost each teacher and pupil $5-per-year, but they’ll also need their own Office 365 ID. So, not only will Microsoft make money from this, it will also gain future generations of Office 365 users. No wonder the company paid $2.5 billion to acquire Minecraft from Mojang in 2014.

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Apple Raises Its App Prices

Apple fans in certain countries will find the price of apps and in-app purchases increasing this week. This is due to changes in foreign exchange rates, with Apple trying to maintain its profit margins across borders. The countries affected by this are Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand, and Israel.

The price changes will be noticeable for most users, especially at the higher tiers. To take Canada as an example, iOS apps will now start at CAD$1.39, up from CAD$1.19. Which isn’t bad. However, Apps and in-app purchases that used to cost CAD$50.00 will now cost a whopping CAD$69.99!

Apple has released an epic PDF allowing you to see the full changes for your area. However, being upfront and honest about it won’t change people’s feelings on the matter. Apple makes billions of dollars every year, so reacting to fluctuations in exchange rates so quickly and often could be construed as pure greed.

Friends Reunited Is Reunited No More

Friends Reunited, one of the first social networks launched on the Internet, is shutting down. The site, which allowed old friends to reconnect with each other, originally launched in the year 2000, making it older than MySpace and Facebook by several years. However, it will be shuttered within the next month owing to just a handful of users still being interested.

Steve Pankhurst, the original founder of Friends Reunited, explained the decision in a Medium post, which also details his new project, Liife. Pankhurst sold Friends Reunited for $250 million in 2005, but is now back in charge of the site. So, as sad as it is to see the end of Friends Reunited, Pankhurst will be just fine sitting atop his mountain of cash.

Netflix Racks Up 75 Million Users

Netflix now has more than 75 million users worldwide, with the company adding 5.59 million subscribers in Q4 2015. This is already a phenomenal number, and it doesn’t even take into account the expansion into 130 countries announced earlier this month.

As well as the number of subscribers, Netflix’ most recent earnings statement revealed revenues of $1.67 billion and $0.10-per-share. All of which led to Netflix stock rising by more than 8 percent in after-hours trading. This despite Netflix’ (doomed to fail) crackdown on VPNs.

The Star Wars Fan Film for Rebel Scum

And finally, with The Force Awakens having been and gone, and Rogue One not being released until December, Star Wars fans around the world will be left feeling empty and ignored. However, thankfully, there are other things you can watch to fill the void. Such as this fan film titled Rebel Scum.

This 10-minute short from Blood Brother Cinema Co. shows what happens when a downed Rebel Alliance pilot meets an injured Stormtrooper. The acting is pretty good, and the visual effects are interesting, to say the least. And, to be honest, anything is better than nothing at this point!

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Should Minecraft be used as an educational tool for children? Are you disappointed to see Apple raising its prices in some countries? Do you remember Friends Reunited? What’s your favorite Star Wars fan film, fan fiction, or fan art?

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: Randy via Flickr

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