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Today in Tech News Digest, Google acquires Nest, Facebook acquires Branch, the Twitter Web app gets a makeover, Yelp is forced to reveal the identities of anonymous reviewers, YouTube introduces a new comments management page, IObit Uninstaller 3.1 is released, and the Muppets stage a mock Twitter argument.
Google Buys Nest For $3.2 Billion
— Google Nest (@googlenest) January 13, 2014
Google is acquiring Nest for $3.2 billion. Nest is the company responsible for a range of smart home products, including a thermostat and a combined smoke alarm and carbon dioxide detector. The start-up has gained traction thanks in part to being headed by Tony Fadell, famous for being the brains behind the iPod while working at Apple.
Google is understood to have been the only serious bidder, and to have paid the $3.2 billion in cash. The deal will go ahead subject to regulatory approval, and Nest will continue to operate under its own brand.
Facebook Buys Branch
"Facebook may have an irreversibly bad brand.” New Facebook hire Josh Miller, a year ago. http://t.co/uMCMI9psk9
— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) January 13, 2014
Facebook has acquired Branch for around $15 million. Branch is a service which lets users build communities, take part in conversations, and share links. The company also recently unveiled a bite-sized news app called Potluck.
Branch CEO Josh Miller announced the acquisition on Facebook, but The Verge has since filled in the gaps in the story. Miller maintains that both Branch and Potluck with “live on,” further suggesting that Facebook asked him to “build Branch at Facebook scale.”
Miller is now obviously a committed fan of Facebook, but he’s been a fierce critic in the past, suggesting in a post on Medium that Facebook “may have an irreversibly bad brand.” I’m sure his new overlords will put him straight soon enough.
Twitter Enjoys A Makeover
— Twitter (@Twitter) January 13, 2014
Twitter is rolling out a new design for its Web app, one which is meant to better reflect the design of the iOS and Android apps. The changes, announced in the tweet embedded above, are admittedly subtle, but the whole thing looks cleaner and simpler, which surely cannot be a bad thing.
Yelp Reviewers To Be Revealed
An appeals court has ordered Yelp to reveal the identities of seven people who anonymously posted negative reviews of a carpet-cleaning company. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning in Virginia instructed lawyers to act on its behalf in unmasking the people involved.
The judge in the case ruled, “Generally, a Yelp review is entitled to First Amendment protection because it is a person’s opinion about a business that they patronised. [However] if the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; instead the review is based on a false statement.”
If this view is repeated elsewhere it could have serious consequences for Yelp, as well as the idea of free speech on the Internetz.
YouTube Introduces New Comments Page
YouTube has introduced a new comments management page for channel owners. From one single page channel owners can now remove comments, flag comment as spam, or reply to comments. This move goes some way to replacing what was lost when YouTube controversially switched to using Google+ for comments at the end of 2013. Unfortunately there is no sign of Google+ being removed from the equation altogether.
IObit Uninstaller 3.1 Released
The popular IObit Uninstaller, third-party software that helps you uninstall unwanted programs from your computer, has been given an update, with version 3.1 having just been released. The update means programs can be removed without prompts, and you can “force uninstall” any unwanted programs that are proving tricky to remove.
The Muppets Mock Twitter Row
And finally, the Muppets may be too adorable to actually row on Twitter themselves, but that hasn’t stopped them staging a mock Twitter argument to promote their forthcoming movie Muppets Most Wanted.
The first video promo for the film, shown on television during the 71st Golden Globes, features a fake Twitter row over whether Muppets Most Wanted should have won all of the awards. Even though it isn’t even out yet. The Muppets clearly understand Twitter, and how to market a movie to geeks like us. I’m in.