Today in Tech News Digest, new smartwatch hardware is announced in the form of Pebble Steel, Toshiba launches its first Chromebook, AT&T potentially kills net neutrality with Sponsored Data, Yahoo users are warned of a malware threat, Panasonic announces Firefox OS-powered smart TVs, retro games are made playable online thanks to the Console Living Room, and Michael Bay fails to deliver at CES 2014.
Pebble Steel Announced
CES 2014 has kicked off, and new hardware is being shown off left, right, and center. The biggest reveal on day one was arguably the new Pebble Steel, which turned heads thanks to being aesthetically pleasing, contrary to the fugliness of most smartwatches.
The new Pebble Steel features a stainless steel strap and a face made from Corning Gorilla Glass. The result is a smartwatch that looks very much like a traditional wristwatch. Only smarter, naturally. And, as it’s priced at $249, more expensive as well.
Pebble also announced that its app store is finally ready to be launched, with users able to access it by the end of January. Owners of the original Pebble smartwatch needn’t panic about the new update, as the company is promising all software will work on the old Pebble as well as the new Pebble Steel.
Toshiba Joins Chromebook Party
Just a day after learning how well Chromebooks did in 2013, we find Toshiba joining the party. The Japanese firm unveiled its first Chromebook at CES 2014, and it’s a rather good-looking piece of hardware featuring a silver body, black keys, a 13.3-inch screen, a Haswell-based Intel processor, and the (almost-obligatory) 16GB SSD.
The Toshiba Chromebook will be available to buy in the U.S. from Feb. 16 both online and at major retailers. With yet another OEM joining the Chromebook cause it seems Google may be onto something with its Chrome OS hardware.
AT&T Announces Sponsored Data
AT&T's sponsored mobile data plan is a glimpse of the future without net neutrality.
— Giorgos Zervas (@gzervas) January 7, 2014
AT&T used CES 2014 to announce Sponsored Data, a new service that lets companies pay for mobile data usage. Under the scheme a firm can pick up the tab when a particular service or app is accessed, with the firm rather than the customer being charged for data charges.
This has, rather inevitably, split opinion. AT&T is claiming this is a “win-win for customers and businesses,” while net neutrality advocates suspect this isthat will end badly for people who want Internet access to be offered on a level playing field, regardless of who is footing the bill.
Yahoo In Malware Warning
Anyone who has visited Yahoo.com recently is being warned to look for signs of a malware infection. The malware is alleged to have been spread through an ad, exploiting a vulnerability in Java (no surprise there). Yahoo has removed the ad in question, with worried users advised to block access to two suspicious IP addresses.
Firefox OS Lands On Smart TVs
Panasonic has announced that Firefox OS will be powering its smart televisions in the future. Connected TVs have had a mixed response so far, with set-top boxes and games consoles proving to be more popular ways of accessing Internet features, but Panasonic clearly believes Firefox OS will give its televisions an advantage over the competition.
The HTML5-based Firefox OS hasn’t made much of an impact on the smartphone market as yet, but it’s already being deeply embedded in other products. As well as Panasonic smart TVs, Firefox OS is being primed for use on tablets, with a finished product due later this year.
Console Living Room Now Online
The Internet Archive has added a new section to its Historical Software Collection, with the Console Living Room making hundreds of retro games available to play online directly in a Web browser. The line-up of games includes Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Mario Bros, with more due to be added in the future. This will hopefully include some of the classic games that changed the world, but only time will tell.
Michael Bay Fails At CES 2014
And finally, Michael Bay usually comes across as calm, collected, and completely unflappable, but he finally showed us he is human by failing to deliver his scheduled cameo at CES 2014. Bay was due to speak during Samsung’s press event, but suffered a catastrophic brain fart that led to him walking offstage mid-sentence.
The movie director was meant to discuss his partnership with Samsung that will see Transformers 4 footage shown off on a curved screen. Unfortunately, the teleprompter failed, and rather than try to rescue the situation Bay exited the stage to hide his embarrassment. Still, it was more entertaining than Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. Unlike Pearl Harbor.