Today in Tech News Digest, Google starts building robots, sales of PCs are expected to fall sharply, Spotify woos artists, the PlayStation 4 hits the 2 million sold milestone, UPS tries to one-up Amazon, Office 365 is offered free to students, and Star Wars lands on Instagram with a Darth Vader selfie.
Google Building Androids, For Real
Andy Rubin emerges from the shadows with an army of robots. Sleep tight! http://t.co/FGabL6fNHd
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) December 4, 2013
Google is developing its own army of robots, with Android founder Andy Rubin in charge of bringing this vision through to reality. In order to achieve this goal, Google has acquired seven robotics-oriented technology firms over the past few months.
In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Rubin revealed he had “a history of making my hobbies into a career,” and robotics is something he’s passionate about. He didn’t reveal Google’s specific plans for the new wave of robots, but it’s thought manufacturing will be the initial target market rather than consumers.
While Rubin admits this is a “moonshot” requiring a “10-year vision,” Google isn’t exactly new to turning science fiction concepts into working prototypes. The biggest examples of this being Google Glass and the company’s self-driving cars.
Cynics may suggest this is nothing more than posturing from Google, delivered as a riposte to Amazon’s plans for delivery drones. The timing suggests there is some truth to that, but while Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ announcement surely prompted the revelation, Google has clearly been working on this for months.
PC Sales Plummet
The PC market is expected to have declined further than expected in 2013, with research firm IDC predicting a 10.1 percent drop in shipments. If proven correct, this would be by far the biggest annual decline ever seen. The reasons for this decline, and the declines seen over the past few years, are many and varied, but the switch to tablets and smartphones is likely to be the biggest cause of this dip. The question is, will the PC market ever recover? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Spotify Targets Artists
Spotify has begun wooing artists to its cause, with a standalone website designed for content creators rather than consumers. The website explains the basics of how Spotify works, offers analytics and best practices, and most importantly, reveals the truth about royalties and payments to artists.
While many artists have already embraced the new digital/streaming order of things, some are holding out in the belief that they’re being shortchanged. The Spotify Artists website is clearly an attempt to convey the positive side of the story to unconvinced musicians. If it means The Beatles and Pink Floyd put their music on Spotify then we all win.
PS4 Hits 2 Million
It took just 24 hours for the PS4 to rack up sales of 1 million. And now sales have hit the 2.1 million mark just two weeks after the launch of Sony’s next-gen console. Sony makes it clear this is real sales to real consumers, rather than merely shipments to retailers. Those who haven’t yet bought one may want to join our PS4 giveaway (closing date: Dec. 13).
UPS Drones On
It seems Amazon isn’t the only company experimenting with delivery drones, as UPS has reportedly been working on using the exact same technology as the online retail giant. This news comes via sources talking to The Verge, and UPS would only say that, “The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we’ll continue to evaluate it.” With so many practical and legal obstacles to overcome before these efforts can (literally) get off the ground, it’s far too early to get excited. Or is it?
Free Office 365 For Students
Office 365, Microsoft ever-popular productivity suite, is now potentially available for free to students around the world. Thanks to the Student Advantage program, schools and colleges which hold a license for either Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus can now offer access to their students at no extra cost. So, someone’s paying, but at least it isn’t the lowly students.
Star Wars Instagram
And finally, Disney has launched an official Instagram account for Star Wars. This may be nothing more than an early promotional effort for Star Wars VII, due to be released in 2015, but what Star Wars fan could resist? The first photo uploaded to the Star Wars Instagram was a Darth Vader selfie, and I guess we’ll let him off using this hateful medium for fear of being strangled at arm’s length.