Verizon Buys AOL, Facebook Launches Instant Articles, & More… [Tech News Digest]
Verizon buys AOL, Facebook starts publishing, Microsoft starts translating, Tunnelbear extends to Chrome, Domino’s delivers via emoji, and Conan O’Brien plays The Witcher 3.
Verizon Buys AOL for $4.4 Billion
Telecoms giant Verizon is buying Internet giant AOL for a total of $4.4 billion in cash ($50-per-share). Once the deal is completed later this year, AOL will become a mere subsidiary of Verizon. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is expected to remain in charge of the company after the deal has gone through.
According to Verizon, the deal “further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy. The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon’s IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.” Which sounds like typical press release gobbledygook.
This is potentially a big deal for lovers of technology, as AOL owns The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget among others. There are already rumors of HuffPo being sold off to immediately recoup some of the purchase price. Meanwhile, TechCrunch and Engadget face the prospect of having their editorial freedoms eroded, as Verizon is unlikely to want websites it now owns to talk passionately in favor of net neutrality . Fight! Fight! Fight!
Facebook Starts Publishing Instant Articles
If Google had launched Instant Articles like Facebook, the mediarati would have lose its collective s**t screaming conflict. Remember Knol?
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) May 13, 2015
Facebook has launched Instant Articles, a feature that brings content from external sources in-house. As the name suggests, Instant Articles will provide a quicker and easier way for readers to consume content, with third-party publishers publishing articles in full on Facebook. Currently, with Facebook being an important driver of traffic, most publishers instead post a snippet and link out to articles on their own websites.
The social networking site is implying Instant Articles is all for the good of its users, who have to wait seconds for content to load up once they have clicked on a link. But Facebook benefits greatly from this initiative, keeping users on Facebook, where they are more likely to comment, share with friends, and (most importantly) see ads. However, publishers are getting a share of the advertising revenues.
This would appear to be a win-win-win for all concerned . Facebook gets to keep you on its site for longer, publishers get another revenue stream, and readers get reduced loading times. However, Facebook is clearly the biggest winner by a huge margin, and this will only be the first step in the social network’s efforts to become indistinguishable from the Internet as a whole.
Microsoft Opens Skype Translator to All
Microsoft has opened up the Skype Translator Preview to all, dropping the requirement for users to sign up and wait for an invite. While the feature is still in beta, anyone can now use Skype Translator, as long as they’re using either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.
Skype Translator is a universal translation app capable of translating conversations between people talking in different languages almost instantly. It debuted in December 2014 with support for four languages (English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin), with more due to be added in the future.
TunnelBear Brings its VPN to Chrome
— Dr Fran (@RaccoonFran) May 4, 2015
TunnelBear, the premium VPN (Virtual private Network) provider, has launched a lightweight extension for Google Chrome. The obviously named TunnelBear for Chrome is an extension that brings TunnelBear to Linux and Chrome OS for the first time, and makes it easier than ever for users to employ this VPN .
Those using the free Little tier will only have a 500MB allowance every month, although tweeting about TunnelBear should push this up to 1GB. Anyone who wants more than that will have to sign up for paid Giant or Grizzly accounts to get unlimited data. TunnelBear extensions for Firefox and Safari are also on the way.
Tweet an Emoji, Get a Domino’s Pizza
??'? ?????? ????. ????? ???.
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) May 12, 2015
Everybody loves pizza . Everybody loves emoji . So, Domino’s is combining the two, letting regular customers order a pizza by tweeting the pizza emoji to the company. Even those who don’t often order from Domino’s can use Twitter to do so, at least in the U.S.
All you need to do is set up an “Easy Order” on your Domino’s Pizza profile, and link your Twitter username to your account. From then on, tweeting #EasyOrder to @dominos will end with you getting a steaming hot pizza delivered to your door… roll on, obesity!
Conan Plays The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
And finally, Conan O’Brien is back once again as the “Clueless Gamer”, and this time he’s tackling The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Conan has been doing this feature for a while, and has become a much better gamer as a result. But on this occasion he is only interested in one thing. Virtual sex.
This may just be more informative than a regular review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as we discover you can have sex on the back of a stuffed unicorn. Which, while hopefully not reason enough on its own to make you buy the game, must surely count as an added bonus. Because kink sells.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Why do you think Verizon has paid so much money to acquire AOL? Will you be trying out Microsoft’s Skype Translator? Will you be making use of TunnelBear for Chrome? Would you ever order a pizza via Twitter?
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 Credit: Roland Tanglao via Flickr