Today in Tech News Digest, Google buys Boston Dynamics (bringing Skynet closer to reality), Amazon starts selling its Kindle Fire tablets in installments, SteamOS arrives, Twitter experiments with location-based tweets, Microsoft Photosynth gets updated, Doctor On Demand debuts, and Winklevii (the Winklevoss twins) make a shocking prediction about Bitcoin.
Google Buys Boston Dynamics
Do not be alarmed: News broadcasts about Google acquiring Boston Dynamics are a fictional dramatization. Plz return 2 your homes immediately
— Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) December 14, 2013
Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, an engineering firm with a slew of robots under its command. We only recently discovered Google was busy buying up robotics firms, with Android founder Andy Rubin heading the effort to build an army of robots ready and able to do Google’s bidding, and now this.
Boston Dynamics has been developing robots since its inception in 1992. Rather than sell robots commercially, the company has developed autonomous machines for clients such as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Which means Google now owns what many consider to be a military contractor.
The video below shows one of Boston Dynamics’ creations in action, and if the sight of a giant metal cat thundering along at speed doesn’t fill you with terror then you clearly need to watch the Terminator movies. Skynet is edging ever closer!
Amazon Adds Installment Plan Option
Amazon is going all out to sell as many of its Kindle Fire HDX tablets as possible, with an installment plan payment option being touted on the homepage. Those who want a Kindle Fire HDX but who can’t afford one at the moment can receive one now and pay in equal increments over the next nine months.
This isn’t a bad deal, as Amazon isn’t charging interest for this offer, but it’s still not advisable to buy something you want (but don’t need) with money you don’t have.
SteamOS Available To Download
Valve has made the initial version of SteamOS available to download. However, as this is only a beta release, the company is advising only people who are well-versed in Linux to even attempt to use this future gaming platform. At least until a more polished version arrives sometime in 2014.
Twitter Tests ‘Nearby’ Tweets
Seriously, who looks at the Internet and thinks, "It's okay. But it really needs to be more stalker-friendly?" http://t.co/O6XNNFYUs9
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) December 14, 2013
Twitter has reportedly been testing new location-based timelines of tweets known as ‘Nearby’. According to the Wall Street Journal, mobile Twitter users who share their location with the service have been the subject of this experiment. If successful, it could mean an option is added for all users to see tweets from people in close proximity to them, whether they follow those people or not. A bit stalkerish, perhaps, but useful under the right circumstances.
Microsoft Photosynth Updated
Microsoft has released a new version of Photosynth, with extra features opening up new possibilities for creating 3D panoramas. These new features include Spin, Walk, Wall, and Panorama, all of which turn still photography into moving images. Just be prepared to shoot lots of pictures of the same object from multiple different angles.
Doctor On Demand Debuts
Healthcare in the United States has been in the news rather a lot of late, which makes the unveiling of Doctor on Demand a rather intriguing story. Doctor on Demand allows patients to consult a medical professional via the Internet, with iOS and Android apps amongst the many ways this can be achieved. It costs a fair amount of money, but then so does all healthcare in the U.S.
Winklevii Make Shocking Bitcoin Valuation
— reddit (@redditfeed) December 15, 2013
And finally, Cameron Winklevoss, one of the Winklevoss twins collectively known as Winklevii — best known for being the guys who claim they created Facebook before Mark Zuckerberg took over — has completed a Reddit AMA focused mainly on Bitcoin. Whatever you think of the Winklevii, it makes for fascinating reading.
The Winklevoss twins are now heavily invested in Bitcoin, owning millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency. Which may go some way to explaining Cameron’s startling suggestion that the value of a single Bitcoin could one day reach US$40,000. If true, this would mean it’s still not too late to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Image Credit: Pascal