Pandora picks over the bones of Rdio, Google gains intelligence, Walmart sells a cheap Android handset, the Tears of Joy emoji wins Word of the Year, and how to build a time machine, theoretically speaking.
Pandora Acquires Rdio to Battle Spotify
Pandora has bought Rdio, acquiring “several key assets from Rdio,” which is currently filing for bankruptcy. Pandora, which is an old hat at streaming music, plans to use the assets to “offer an expanded Pandora listening experience by late 2016.” Which is likely to mean a subscription-based service along the same lines as Spotify and Apple Music.
While it’s sad to see Rdio die in this way, Pandora is clearly looking to turn what it was doing into a more successful business. Which means there is unlikely to be a free tier included in Pandora’s offering. Pandora has previously described the practice of giving away unlimited amounts of free music as being “unsustainable”.
Pandora is extremely popular in the U.S., but has pulled out of most other countries due to licensing issues. The problem is that licensing issues around an Rdio-like service are likely to be even more complicated, so it remains to be seen whether Pandora moves outside of its current comfort zone.
Either way, we can look forward to yet another $10-a-month, all-you-can-eat music streaming service launching soon. Joy!
Google Gets Better at Answering Questions
Google is getting more intelligent, with its mobile app now able to answer more complex questions that previously. The Google app has been updated to add an extra layer of understanding, with each element of a question analyzed to produce better results.
As you can see in the example give above, Google is seeking to understand the intent of any question asked in order to give more accurate answers. This is a key part of machine learning, with Google seeking to move beyond simply presenting results based on keywords.
To this end, the Google app now understands superlatives such as “tallest” and “largest,” dates, and combinations of questions. Google is quick to point out that it’s still learning, but it still wants you to test the Google app to find out its strengths and weaknesses. So, what are you waiting for?
Walmart Sells Androids for Just $10
Walmart is selling two Android handsets for just $9.82, making these the first smartphones available to buy for under $10. They may not be the fastest or smartest smartphones in the world, but they’re manufactured by LG, and have specs which surpass those of the original iPhone, which was considered the best thing since sliced bread… in 2007.
Wow, walmart is now selling an Android smartphone for <$10. Technically it's a $60 phone subsidised by a network, but no contract is needed.
— Scott Manley (@DJSnM) November 16, 2015
So, what do you get for your $10? The Lucky LG16 and L15G Sunrise come with Android 4.4 (KitKat), a 3.8-inch display, a quad-core processor, Wi-Fi and 3G, a 3-megapixel camera, and a microSD card slot. These phones are subsidized by TracFone, but come without contracts, so should rightly be considered bargains for those who have no need (or desire) to own the latest and greatest smartphones.
An Emoji Wins Word of the Year for 2015
— Oxford Dictionaries (@OxfordWords) November 16, 2015
Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2015 is… the Face with Tears of Joy emoji. Which isn’t really a word at all (or is it?!). Still, Oxford Dictionaries decided that this particular emoji is “the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015”.
It turns out that the Face with Tears of Joy emoji is “the most popular emoji across the world,” at least according to SwiftKey. This popularity, coupled with the fact that emoji have crossed over into mainstream use, saw this emoji beat out words such as “Brexit,” “refugee,” and “lumbersexual” to take the prize. So, which word would you have chosen?
How to Build a Time Machine
And finally, we already know how to build a time machine, and this video explores the ideas behind this fantastical but theoretically possible mode of transport. No one is saying it’s easy or is likely to happen anytime soon (or even ever), but it is at least within the realms of possibility.
The obvious question people ask when told time travel is possible is: “Then why haven’t people from the future already traveled back to our time?” They may well have done so, without revealing themselves. Or, more likely, time travel is only possible back to the point the time machine is invented. So there. [H/T Gizmodo]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
What do you think of Pandora acquiring Rdio? How accurately does Google answer your questions? Would you ever buy a $10 Android phone? Should emoji be accepted as legitimate words? Will humanity ever build a real time machine?
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: William Brawley via Flickr