Today in Tech News Digest, Project Ara is real and happening, Apple quietly ends support for Snow Leopard, Nintendo loudly ends support for online multiplayer on Wii and DS, Sony announces the closure of the majority of its bricks-and-mortar stores, Facebook retires its email service, and retro games are set to invade Adam Sandler.
Project Ara Is Getting Serious
When Motorola announced Project Ara in October 2013, some people were extremely skeptical about the feasibility of creating a modular smartphone. But the Advanced Technology and Projects group is forging ahead with its plans, being retained at Google despite the sale of Motorola to Lenovo in January.
Time has taken an in-depth look at Project Ara, detailing its humble beginnings and bringing us up to date on where the effort is now. In the piece, Google reveals that it is “not targeting geeks,” a working prototype will be “ready within weeks,” and “the first quarter of 2015” is being targeted for a commercial release. Costs are still a concern, but Google is hoping to grind the (bare-bones) “grayphone” down to $50.
Meanwhile, Google has announced an Ara Developers’ Conference for April, the first of three taking place through 2014. The Ara MDK (Module Development Kit) will be released ahead of the conference.
There is clearly still a long way to go before Project Ara is ready for primetime, but modular smartphones are coming, whether the public has any interest in them or not.
Apple Ends Support For Snow Leopard
Microsoft is ending support Windows XP after 12 years. Apple is doing that with OS X Snow Leopard after 4 – http://t.co/pJmh5Zl3on
— Rohin Dharmakumar (@r0h1n) February 27, 2014
Apple appears to have ended support for Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.6, with a new round of updates for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion missing out Snow Leopard. As Computerworld reports, the last update for Snow Leopard was back in September 2013.
Free upgrades means Apple has less obligation to continue supporting older versions of its operating system, but it’s estimated that one in five Macs are running an unsupported version of Mac OS X.
In the same way that many PC users seem intent on sticking with Windows XP, some Mac users want to carry on using an older version of OS X. Say what you like about Microsoft, but at least it announces that support is ending well ahead of time. Apple should really offer a similar courtesy.
Nintendo Ends Wii, DS Online Multiplayer
— Kotaku (@Kotaku) February 27, 2014
Nintendo is ending support for online multiplayer on the Wii and DS. On May 20, 2014, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection will stop functioning, leaving Wii and DS gamers unable to play people online. The Web browser and apps such as YouTube and Netflix will continue to function as normal. Which will please Wii owners addicted to watching TV.
Sony Closing Majority Of U.S. Stores
Hate seeing the brand falter. Let’s hope they can turn it around. “Sony To Close Two-Thirds Of Its US Retail Stores” http://t.co/6rerTLqfWE
— John Russell (@John_D_Russell) February 27, 2014
Sony is closing the majority of its bricks-and-mortar stores in the U.S., with 20 of the 31 Sony Stores shutting before the end of 2014. This is part of a major restructuring happening at the Japanese company, which also recently sold off its Vaio brand.
Mike Fasulo, President and COO of Sony Electronics, said, “I am entirely confident in our ability to turn the business around, in achieving our preferred future, and continue building on our flawless commitment to customer loyalty through the complete entertainment experience only Sony can offer.”
Which will be of scant comfort to the 5,000 people being laid off by Sony by the end of March 2015.
Facebook Admits Defeat On Email
Wait, people actually used Facebook email? http://t.co/eMgGzKkuta
— The Daily Dot (@dailydot) February 27, 2014
Facebook is retiring its email service, which most people didn’t even know existed, let alone use on a regular basis. Everybody with a Facebook account has an @facebook.com email address, but the social network is now forwarding mail onto your primary email address.
Most people won’t even notice this change, but it’s a good opportunity to laugh at Facebook. Go on, laugh at its failure. You have our permission.
When Retro Video Games Attack
And finally, a short film called Pixels by Patrick Jean (embedded above) is being turned into a feature-length movie. The two-minute short, originally put online in 2010, shows iconic characters from retro video games destroying New York City, and it’s rather brilliant.
Adam Sandler agreed with this assessment, and consequently acquired the rights to the concept. It has now been turned into an action-comedy which will see professional gamers brought in by the U.S. government to combat such an invasion. Sandler himself will be starring in the film. Which is the one negative.