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Today in Tech News Digest, Google self-driving cars navigate cities, Microsoft owns Nokia, HP teases an Android laptop, a Secret expansion, BuzzFeed wants $1 billion, Joss Whedon gets In Your Eyes, and Oculus Rift demonstrates living with lag.
Google Updates Us On Self-Driving Cars
Google has offered an update on where its epic effort to make self-driving cars a reality stands at the moment. The big challenge being mastered right now is driving through city streets, with mastery of freeway driving having been achieved.
Chris Urmston, the director of the project, claims Google’s self-driving cars have now completed more than 700,000 autonomous miles. Each mile driven provides new problems to solve and new situations that the software needs to be taught how to handle.
City driving is obviously more unpredictable than freeway driving. Which is why the focus is now being shifted to that discipline. As the video embedded above shows, Google has achieved a great deal in the way its self-driving cars react to situations changing around them.
As part of the update, Eric Jaffe of The Atlantic Cities was afforded first-hand experience of Google’s self-driving cars. His write-up offers a unique perspective on the initiative, and acts as a reminder that while Google has come a long way in the last five years, it still has a long way to go before we’re all sitting behind the wheel with our hands behind our heads.
Nokia Is Now Part Of Microsoft
Yesterday saw Microsoft’s employee numbers swell by 25,000, as Nokia’s devices and services unit was consumed by Redmond. The deal, worth $7.2 billion, closed last week. It means Microsoft now has control of around 90 percent of all Windows Phone handsets sold, with Nokia previously responsible for shipping around 200 million units each year.
Microsoft took the opportunity to release the first Nokia advert made under its control. It shows a guy dressed as Ali G standing out from the crowd, suggesting iOS and Android users are boring, black and white automatons who cannot think for themselves. Which surely isn’t all that far from the truth.
The HP SlateBook is an Android Laptop
HP is preparing to release a laptop powered by Android. We know because the HP SlateBook 14 was inadvertently teased by the company before being pulled as soon as word got out. With Chromebooks growing in popularity, it seems a strange time to release an Android laptop. But that’s exactly what’s happening.
The HP SlateBook 14 runs Android and enjoys full access to Google Play and its wealth of apps. The hardware is no slouch either, with a 14-inch 1080p touchscreen, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD, and an NVIDIA quad-core processor. We’ll know more when HP decides to fill us in on the details.
Secret App Moves Beyond U.S. & iOS
Secret App Launches in UK/Ireland. And you thought Twitter lacked civility… http://t.co/F6uNpGmWmE
— Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) April 28, 2014
Secret, an app which has so far only really appealed to Silicon Valley and its followers, is seeking to expand. The app, which allows people to post secrets semi-anonymously is first being launched in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with other countries to follow. An Android version is also in the works, with interested parties invited to join the waiting list. Only gossip-mongers need apply.
BuzzFeed Thinks It’s Worth $1 Billion
Apparently Disney tried to buy Buzzfeed. Being a kid in the future will be different: “101 Dalmations That Escaped From An Evil Old Lady”
— Aaron Levie (@levie) April 29, 2014
Disney, which recently acquired YouTube network Maker Studios, reportedly tried to buy BuzzFeed at around the same time. Fortune claims the deal broke down as BuzzFeed felt it was worth $1 billion. Disney disagreed. It’s just disappointing Fortune didn’t report this as, ‘10 Reasons Disney Didn’t Buy BuzzFeed For $1 billion‘. Badum-tish.
Joss Whedon Gets ‘In Your Eyes’ On Vimeo
Joss Whedon is a cult writer/producer/director best known for creating both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Which makes it all the more astonishing that he has brought his new movie to the masses by way of Vimeo On Demand. In Your Eyes is available to rent on Vimeo for $5, which isn’t bad considering its budget of $1 million.
Oculus Rift Demonstrates Living With Lag
And finally, no one likes experiencing lag when playing video games online or having to wait while media content buffers during playback. But it’s something we’ve come to accept and deal with when using the Internet.
What would life be like if lag affected us in the real world? Swedish broadband provider Umeå Energi decided to find out, using an Oculus Rift VR headset in order to do so. The results are unusual and unsettling, and should make us all thankful that this is just an advertisement masquerading as an experiment.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Kris Krüg via Flickr