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Verizon buys AOL, Facebook starts publishing, Microsoft starts translating, TunnelBear extends to Chrome, Domino’s delivers via emoji, and Conan O’Brien plays The Witcher 3.

Verizon Buys AOL for $4.4 Billion

Telecoms giant Verizon is buying Internet giant AOL for a total of $4.4 billion in cash ($50-per-share). Once the deal is completed later this year, AOL will become a mere subsidiary of Verizon. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is expected to remain in charge of the company after the deal has gone through.

According to Verizon, the deal “further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy. The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon’s IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.” Which sounds like typical press release gobbledygook.

This is potentially a big deal for lovers of technology, as AOL owns The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget among others. There are already rumors of HuffPo being sold off to immediately recoup some of the purchase price. Meanwhile, TechCrunch and Engadget face the prospect of having their editorial freedoms eroded, as Verizon is unlikely to want websites it now owns to talk passionately in favor of net neutrality What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? A significant number see Net Neutrality as essential to the survival of the Internet. In this article, we're going to look at why Net Neutrality matters, and why we should fight to protect it. Read More . Fight! Fight! Fight!

Facebook Starts Publishing Instant Articles

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Facebook has launched Instant Articles, a feature that brings content from external sources in-house. As the name suggests, Instant Articles will provide a quicker and easier way for readers to consume content, with third-party publishers publishing articles in full on Facebook. Currently, with Facebook being an important driver of traffic, most publishers instead post a snippet and link out to articles on their own websites.

The social networking site is implying Instant Articles is all for the good of its users, who have to wait seconds for content to load up once they have clicked on a link. But Facebook benefits greatly from this initiative, keeping users on Facebook, where they are more likely to comment, share with friends, and (most importantly) see ads. However, publishers are getting a share of the advertising revenues.

This would appear to be a win-win-win for all concerned How Facebook Is Changing News Journalism – For The Better How Facebook Is Changing News Journalism – For The Better News outlets are considering publishing stories straight to Facebook. It's easy to be cynical. But this change could be a good thing – for readers and journalists. Read More . Facebook gets to keep you on its site for longer, publishers get another revenue stream, and readers get reduced loading times. However, Facebook is clearly the biggest winner by a huge margin, and this will only be the first step in the social network’s efforts to become indistinguishable from the Internet Millions Of People Think They Use Facebook, But Not The Internet Millions Of People Think They Use Facebook, But Not The Internet Millions of people say they don't use the Internet, but talk enthusiastically about Facebook. How has this monopoly of the World Wide Web come about? And what wider implications does it have? Read More as a whole.

Microsoft Opens Skype Translator to All

Microsoft has opened up the Skype Translator Preview to all, dropping the requirement for users to sign up and wait for an invite. While the feature is still in beta, anyone can now use Skype Translator, as long as they’re using either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Skype Translator is a universal translation app How Skype's Star Trek Translator Works How Skype's Star Trek Translator Works Skype's new translate feature offers something dreamed of since Star Trek -- an effortless way to communicate across languages. Read More capable of translating conversations between people talking in different languages almost instantly. It debuted in December 2014 Skype Offers Universal Translator, Facebook Stops Accepting 'Users' [Tech News Digest] Skype Offers Universal Translator, Facebook Stops Accepting 'Users' [Tech News Digest] Also, Indiegogo Life launches, Valve bans Hatred, Google Wallet splits the bill, and teens react to Mega Man. Read More with support for four languages (English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin), with more due to be added in the future.

TunnelBear Brings its VPN to Chrome

TunnelBear, the premium VPN (Virtual private Network) provider, has launched a lightweight extension for Google Chrome. The obviously named TunnelBear for Chrome is an extension that brings TunnelBear to Linux and Chrome OS for the first time, and makes it easier than ever for users to employ this VPN The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More .

Those using the free Little tier will only have a 500MB allowance every month, although tweeting about TunnelBear should push this up to 1GB. Anyone who wants more than that will have to sign up for paid Giant or Grizzly accounts to get unlimited data. TunnelBear extensions for Firefox and Safari are also on the way.

Tweet an Emoji, Get a Domino’s Pizza

Everybody loves pizza The Best Places To Order Pizza Online The Best Places To Order Pizza Online Read More . Everybody loves emoji Can Emoji Transcend Language Boundaries? Can Emoji Transcend Language Boundaries? Will the connected age help us move beyond language as we know it? Some people think that emoji could revolutionize how we communicate. Let's take a look. Read More . So, Domino’s is combining the two, letting regular customers order a pizza by tweeting the pizza emoji to the company. Even those who don’t often order from Domino’s can use Twitter to do so, at least in the U.S.

All you need to do is set up an “Easy Order” on your Domino’s Pizza profile, and link your Twitter username to your account. From then on, tweeting #EasyOrder to @dominos will end with you getting a steaming hot pizza delivered to your door… roll on, obesity!

Conan Plays The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

And finally, Conan O’Brien is back once again as the “Clueless Gamer”, and this time he’s tackling The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Conan has been doing this feature for a while, and has become a much better gamer as a result. But on this occasion he is only interested in one thing. Virtual sex.

This may just be more informative than a regular review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as we discover you can have sex on the back of a stuffed unicorn. Which, while hopefully not reason enough on its own to make you buy the game, must surely count as an added bonus. Because kink sells.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Why do you think Verizon has paid so much money to acquire AOL? Will you be trying out Microsoft’s Skype Translator? Will you be making use of TunnelBear for Chrome? Would you ever order a pizza via Twitter?

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: Roland Tanglao via Flickr

  1. Daniel
    May 14, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    4.4 Billion for AOL?? I guess that there's somthing wrong with this info, see in 1999 when we used to receive the AOL spams by mail(those lame anoying cds) AOL was already Internet junk, so who throws away 4 and a half billion to buy something that even the name has no value or consumers respect.

    Gimme half of it and I can provide more content than this...... good luck on bankruptcy.

  2. dragonmouth
    May 13, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    "This is potentially a big deal for lovers of technology, as AOL owns The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget among others. "
    It was the same "big deal for lovers of technology" when Time Warner tried to swallow and digest AOL only to choke on it and have to disgorge it. What makes Verizon think they are any different? Do they have better/more knowledgeable management? Is the synergy better VZ and AOL? Or is Verizon going to sell off the valuable parts of AOL and discard what's left?

    "this will only be the first step in the social network’s efforts to become indistinguishable from the Internet as a whole."
    AOL tried to be "indistinguishable from the Internet." Where are they now? Ready to be swallowed up and dismembered by Verizon.

    • likefunbutnot
      May 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      @dragonmouth,
      AOL is at this point as much or more a content producer and advertising company as an ISP, though there is a synergy there for Verizon as well. I suspect Verizon bought AOL to maintain a media content ownership parity with Comcast (which owns NBC/Universal Studios in the US) and to give it "name-brand" platform for premium content that it can package for its mobile devices and use as a seat at the table the next time Verizon has to talk to other media conglomerates.

      TV is dying and the new delivery system for video is mobile devices and set top boxes. While AOL has never been a name in premium video content, it does have some expertise in packaging other forms of premium media. As a strategic matter, I think there might be some interest in creating something that differs from the current broadcast TV model, which seems to be what Sony and Yahoo are trying to emulate right now.

  3. likefunbutnot
    May 13, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I'm amused by the similarity between the amount of money Verizon paid for AOL and the amount of money AOL paid for Netscape once upon a time.

    • Howard Pearce
      May 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Lol, the embedded browser in AOL's earlier version of America OnLine.

      I didn't know much about the internet back then but Netscape seemed the only browser worth mentioning.

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