Today in Tech News Digest, Sony unveils PlayStation Now, Biz Stone launches Jelly, Apple announced App Store sales figures for 2013, the new version of Gorilla Glass is revealed as being antimicrobial, McAfee becomes Intel Security, China lifts its ban on video games consoles, and the mysterious Cicada 3301 returns.
Sony Unveils PlayStation Now
The only thing I need to know about PlayStation Now is if the lag would kill PaRappa the Rapper.
— Philip Palermo (@Philip_Palermo) January 8, 2014
Sony has taken the wraps off its long-awaited cloud gaming service. PlayStation Now, announced during the company’s CES 2014 press keynote, will bring classic PlayStation titles to a range of devices. These include the PS4, the PS3, the PS Vita, smart televisions, tablets, and smartphones.
PlayStation Now works by running games on Sony’s servers and streaming them to other devices. This means even smartphones and tablets can handle a PS3 game with ease, though a solid Internet connection with low latency is a must.
A cloud gaming service from Sony has been on the cards ever since the company acquired Gaikai in 2012. PlayStation Now will be launched in private beta in the U.S. this month, with a full rollout expected later in the year.
Games will be offered both as individual rentals or as part of a subscription service. Unfortunately, this looks to be completely separate from PlayStation Plus, which PS4 owners already need to pay for in order to play online. So much for Xbox Live being a rip-off.
Stone Launches Jelly
Twitter-co-founder Biz Stone has launched his new startup: a social networking app based on questions and answers. Stone has teased Jelly for some time, but the new app is now ready for primetime. Unfortunately, despite the big name at its helm, Jelly doesn’t seem to be either the most original or interesting idea.
Jelly is, to some degree at least, a human-powered search engine, using people rather than algorithms to answer questions. You ask your network of friends questions and post answers to their questions in return. Whether anyone will get excited about such a simple idea remains to be seen.
App Store Sales Top $10 Billion
App Store Sales=$10 Billion in 2013, with Dec'13 alone bringing in over $1 Billion in Sales–Apple. In related news: Samsung Q4 profits down
— Om Malik (@om) January 7, 2014
Apple has announced that sales through the App Store topped $10 billion in 2013. In December 2013 alone Apple fans spent $1 billion, making it the “most successful month in App Store history.” Apple also keenly pointed out that developers have now earned $15 billion through the App Store, and that these developers come from many countries rather than just the United States.
Gorilla Glass Now Kills Bacteria
Corning has unveiled its new Gorilla Glass, and this one is capable of repelling bacteria. The new Gorilla Glass, destined for smartphones released later this year, is formulated with ionic silver. This antibacterial agent will inhibit the growth of up to 99.9 percent of bacteria and molds.
In practical terms this means your smartphone screen will be a lot less gross in the future than it is right now. It’s unclear when the new Gorilla Glass will make its debut in the wild, but it’s reportedly already being tested by a number of manufacturers.
McAfee Becoming Intel Security
The McAfee brand name is disappearing, with the software currently sporting the moniker soon to be renamed under the Intel Security banner. Intel acquired McAfee in 2011, and is now stripping the brand of its name, though not, rather bizarrely, its logo of an M inside a shield.
As if the NSFW video embedded above hasn’t already clued you in to how John McAfee feels about this, he shared his thoughts on the matter with BBC News. “I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet,” McAfee declared, “These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users. My elation at Intel’s decision is beyond words.” Subtlety isn’t one of this man’s strong points.
China Lifts Ban On Games Consoles
China has lifted its ban on foreign video games consoles. The ban has been in place since 2000, and has led to PC gaming dominating the market in China. The Chinese government is now going to allow foreign companies to manufacture games consoles within Shanghai’s free trade zone for sale throughout the country.
The race is now on to see which of the big three — Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — sets up shop in China first. There is certainly money to be made for whichever acts the fastest. My money is on Microsoft, which sorely needs to win over Asia.
Cicada 3301 Returns
— 1231507051321 (@1231507051321) January 6, 2014
And finally, the Cicada 3301 mystery has returned for the third year in a row. Those of you unaware what this baffling online quest is all about should check out the Wikipedia page and the Uncovering Cicada wiki that is constantly being updated.
The latest set of riddles began with the mysterious tweet embedded above, which has since led some down the rabbit hole to who-knows-where. And still no one apart from the few who passed the previous tests knows who is behind Cicada 3301 or what the purpose of the whole exercise may be. Which is absolutely fascinating. And frustrating.
Feel free to put forward your own theories in the comments section below.