Facebook Adds Apps to Messenger, Amazon Tests Robot Packers, & More… [Tech News Digest]
Facebook Messenger API, Amazon wants robots, Facebook video embeds, RadioShack sells everything, Halo Online in Russia, and when Apple Store employees go bad.
Facebook Turns Messenger Into a Platform
Pro tip: you don’t need to wait for an update to Facebook Messenger in the App Store – the app integrations should be in your app now.
— Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP) March 25, 2015
Facebook is opening Messenger up to third-party developers, allowing them to add apps of their own. Messenger Platform turns Messenger from a simple app into its own platform, with 40 new add-ons having already been developed.
Rather than install apps to your smartphone via Google Play or the App Store, you’ll install apps to Facebook Messenger . These will then add new ways of communicating to Messenger, with, for example, Giphy sending animated GIFs, JibJab sending eCards, and The Weather Channel sending forecasts, all from within Messenger.
This is a bold move, but one which could make Facebook Messenger its own self-contained social network. Messenger already has 600 million users, which explains why companies are keen to jump on board even though it means giving up some power to the mighty Facebook.
Amazon Wants More Robot Workers
Amazon already uses robots to transport goods around its giant warehouses prior to sending them out to customers, but the online retailer has plans to increase its autonomous army of pickers and packers . Which is obviously great news for the human workforce.
The robots currently employed by Amazon mostly move heavy loads around the warehouses, at which point human employees take over. But according to MIT Technology Review, Amazon is looking to automate the whole process, including the picking and packing of items of all shapes and sizes.
To this end, 30 teams will compete in May at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle. The robots able to best pack a range of items into boxes will win, with prize money of $25,000 up for grabs. However, the real winner will be Amazon, as this could signpost a future when humans are surplus to requirements .
Facebook Introduces Video Embeds
Facebook is finally allowing users to embed video on other sites across the Web. YouTube has been offering this rather obvious feature for many years, but Facebook has caught up at last, letting users embed videos hosted on the social networking site with a simple HTML code. Users previously had to link to the actual Facebook page, which is why no one bothered.
Facebook has also unveiled a new type of content it’s calling “spherical videos.” These are shot using 24 cameras working together to create a 3D environment the viewer can move through and explore from all angles. Again, YouTube has beaten Facebook to the punch, having recently unveiled similar technology , but competition is always healthy.
RadioShack Is Selling Customer Data
As part of its bankruptcy auction , troubled U.S. electronics retailer RadioShack is selling off the personal data of millions of its customers. According to Bloomberg, 13 million email addresses and up to 65 million customer names and physical addresses are included in the assets sale.
The attorney generals of both Texas and Tennessee are fighting against this sell-off, citing the fact that RadioShack stores formerly displayed signs stating, “We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” Just because the company is in deep financial trouble doesn’t mean its customers should pay the price.
In Russia, Halo is Free To Play
Microsoft is releasing a free-to-play version of Halo titled Halo Online, but unfortunately, it’s only available in Russia. 343 Industries has created the PC game in conjunction with Saber Interactive and Innova Systems, and it’s starting life in a closed beta.
Halo Online is based on a modified version of Halo 3, and set “on a secret UNSC space installation called Anvil, where Spartan-IV soldiers train together in war exercises to sharpen their battle skills and test experimental technology.”
There are currently no plans to release Halo Online anywhere other than Russia, and it looks unlikely to be released on Xbox One or Xbox 360. So, screw the rest of us, but PC gamers in Russia certainly have something to celebrate.
Fake Store Employees Troll Apple
And finally, with their distinctive uniforms and smug attitudes, you can spot Apple Store employees a mile off. But this also means they can be mimicked rather easily. As these pranksters prove.
Sure, they all quickly get caught giving bogus advice to customers, but not before advising anyone who will listen to go with Microsoft instead. And if just one Apple fanboy was roused from their devotion by this prank, it was all have been worth it. [H/T Independent]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Are you pleased to see Facebook opening Messenger up to other apps? Could your job ever be done by a robot? Should RadioShack be allowed to auction off its customer data?
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.
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