New Google Cardboard Apps, BitTorrent Browser Maelstrom [Tech News Digest]
Also, Minecraft lands on Windows Phone, 4K lands on Amazon Instant Video, custom genders land on Google+, and a look back at 2014 in gaming.
Google Launches Cardboard App Collection
Google is pushing its virtual reality headset Google Cardboard harder than ever, with updates for users, developers, and makers. When Google unveiled Google Cardboard at Google I/O 2014 in June, most people regarded it as a jokey take on the emerging VR form factor . But it turns out Google was deadly serious.
To demonstrate its commitment to Cardboard, Google has rolled some of its favorite Cardboard apps into a collection on Google Play. Included are a live performance from Jack White, a tour of the Shire from The Hobbit, and a 3D brick-breaking game. As well as Google’s own dedicated Cardboard app.
In order to help developers create the best Cardboard apps, Google has also released software development kits (SDKs) for Android and Unity. And for makers there are new building specs crafted with specific tools in mind. Finally, as proof Google is serious about Cardboard, it’s hiring a handful of people to work on creating virtual reality experiences.
Google states that 500,000 Cardboard headsets have now been shipped. So, have you got yours yet?
BitTorrent Launches Maelstrom Browser
BitTorrent has launched a new Web browser codenamed Project Maelstrom. As you would expect from BitTorrent, Maelstrom has been built on the principles of a distributed Internet, with users more in control of their data than they would be with standard browsers.
Maelstrom would change the way we browse the Web. Publishers would publish their sites using the BitTorrent protocol , and it would be shared amongst users in the same way as any BitTorrent file. The HTML files are all included in the torrent, with the Maelstrom browser used to render them.
It’s an ambitious plan, which is why BitTorrent is taking things very slowly. Right now, Maelstrom is available as an invite-only alpha effort, with a beta due to arrive sometime in 2015. Those people lucky enough to be chosen as testers could either be glimpsing the future of the Web or a nice idea which will ultimately come to nothing.
Minecraft Arrives On Windows Phone
Minecraft is available on Windows Phone for the first time, with Minecraft: Pocket Edition priced at $6.99. The Pocket Edition includes Minecraft’s Survival and Creative modes, as well as multiplayer over Wi-Fi.
Android and iOS users have been able to play Minecraft on their mobile devices for some time, but with Microsoft having purchased Mojang in September, its arrival on Windows Phone was well overdue. So, get crafting, or mining, or whatever it is you do in Minecraft .
Amazon Instant Video Adds 4K Content
Amazon Prime subscribers can now enjoy Amazon Instant Video in Ultra HD, with some movies, TV shows, and Amazon’s own original series being streamed in 4K.
The 4K content is available through the Amazon Instant Video app or available to purchase, but you obviously still need to own an Ultra HD television set to appreciate the increase in quality. Assuming you do have one, streaming in 4K costs no more than streaming in normal, run-of-the-mill HD. Which means you’re only limited by your Internet speeds.
Google Lets You Choose Your Own Gender
Google has rolled out a small-but-significant update to Google+ that lets each individual user choose their own custom gender. Choices were previously limited to ‘Male’, ‘Female’, and ‘Other’, but choosing the new ‘Custom’ option now lets everybody type in whatever they please. Which is rather refreshing.
2014 In Video Games In Under Two Minutes
And finally, 2014 has been a big year for gaming, with the PS4 , Xbox One , and Wii U all taking significant strides forward. Some games have been a bit of a letdown, but there have been enough gems released to keep most people entertained.
This video shows how 2014 has shaped up in terms of video games. It’s surely impossible to watch it and not be optimistic about the way gaming is going. Or make a list of games released this year that you still need to play… probably a long list.
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
Are you interested in using Project Maelstrom from BitTorrent? Is Google Cardboard the future of virtual reality headsets? Will you be adding a custom gender to Google+?
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.