Google and Microsoft Call a Truce, Facebook Adds Video Profiles… [Tech News Digest]
Google and Microsoft end their patent wars, Facebook adds videos, Google Maps comes to Apple Watch, Netflix streams in the air, Back to the Future is on Amazon Prime, and Grand Theft Auto inspires crappy clones.
Google and Microsoft Call a Truce
— Martin Anderson (@mdtauk) September 30, 2015
Google and Microsoft have called a truce in the ongoing war on patents held by the two companies. A total of 18 lawsuits pertaining to patents have been brewing between the two tech giants over the past five years, and the only real winners are the lawyers working for both sides. Now, however, things are changing.
In a joint statement, the two companies stated, “Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues. As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility. Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”
Details are, as you would expect, thin on the ground, with neither company keen to share anything much. The patents being disputed include video compression and wireless technology on the Xbox, and a host of issues surrounding Google’s 2011 acquisition of Motorola, which it has since sold onto Lenovo .
Facebook Offers Short Video Profiles
A bunch of awesome changes happening to Facebook profiles today… the team has been working really hard on this. http://t.co/CQ0NIQeC0B
— Jon Lax (@jlax) September 30, 2015
Facebook is changing the way you present yourself to the world, making various improvements to Facebook profiles. The biggest change is the introduction of profile videos, which are short, looping videos (of up to seven seconds) that will take the place of your regular profile photograph.
These are essentially GIFs by another name , and give individual users the chance to express themselves in new ways. They will show up for anyone visiting your profile page without constantly annoying people reading your timeline. Instead, a single frame from the video will be displayed.
Facebook is also rolling out temporary profile pictures, which revert back to the default after a set period of time, a new one-line biography that will distill you and your life into a single sentence, and several design changes to improve the aesthetic of everybody’s Facebook profile. Allegedly.
Google Maps Finds Its Way to Apple Watch
Google Maps just launched an Apple Watch app and a Today Widget for iOS. #sneaky
— Mikhail Sinanan (@mikhaiS) September 29, 2015
Google has updated its Google Maps app on iOS, with version 4.11.0 adding support for Apple Watch. This means Apple Watch owners can now get directions by looking at their wrist, saving them the hassle of pulling their phone out of their pocket.
The new Google Maps update also adds estimated arrival times for people traveling by car, bike, public transport, or walking, as well as the option to call businesses in the local vicinity. All of which puts Google Maps way ahead of Apple Maps in terms of features.
Netflix Starts Streaming at 35,000 Feet
Netflix will soon be available to passengers on selected Virgin America flights. This is thanks to a partnership between Netflix and Virgin America, which sees free Wi-Fi access being offered to Netflix subscribers “traveling on ViaSat-equipped planes”.
The ViaSat Wi-Fi service offers fast broadband speeds on board planes. And Netflix is keen to make the most of this speedy broadband. The promotion will run through to March 2016, at which point Netflix subscribers will, presumably, be asked to start paying for access.
Back to the Future Lands on Amazon Prime
This is an important month for the Back to the Future trilogy. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the first movie, and Oct. 21, 2015 is the date in the future to which Marty McFly travels in Back to the Future II. Hence, the trilogy is being re-released on DVD and Blu-ray, and being shown in selected theaters too.
However, some of you can avoid spending any money on the classic films, as the whole Back to the Future trilogy is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime for the whole of October. Amazon has nabbed the exclusive rights, and this is the first time the trilogy has appeared on one service without extra rental fees being applied.
A Litany of Grand Theft Auto Clones
And finally, Grand Theft Auto 5 is a masterpiece. As video games go, it’s unrivaled in terms of longevity, depth, storyline, characterization, and sheer entertainment value. It’s insanely popular too, having sold millions of copies worldwide. Which is why so many developers want a piece of the action.
Unfortunately, as this video shows, no other developer has the skills or resources needed to build a living, breathing world like that seen in GTA V. But that won’t stop them trying. This guy takes several clones for a spin, and finds them all deeply disappointing. Well, they’re fun, but for all the wrong reasons. [H/T Reddit]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Should more companies seek to work together in the same vein as Google and Microsoft? Will you be creating a Facebook video profile? What other first-party apps should Google bring to Apple Watch? Would you fly Virgin America just to watch Netflix?
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 Credits: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr