Today in Tech News Digest, everybody is still talking about Facebook buying WhatsApp, Google launches Project Tango, new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks, Microsoft takes the wraps off the Xbox One Media Remote, Steve Jobs is getting his own postage stamp, and Wikipedia could become a real set of encyclopedias.
Facebook Buys WhatsApp: The Aftermath
FWIW as soon as the Facebook deal was announced, I uninstalled WhatsApp from my phone. #ProbablyTooLate
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) February 21, 2014
The Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp was such a massive deal (both figuratively and financially) that it’s still dominating the news. It’s almost as though an autopsy is taking place, with intrigued journalists, jealous entrepreneurs, and worried WhatsApp users merrily picking over the bones.
Since the deal was announced, it has emerged that Google was also interested in acquiring WhatsApp, and may have paid more than the $19 billion stumped up by Facebook. Google even offered to pay WhatsApp simply to be kept informed of any impending acquisition talks, but WhatsApp declined.
The deal (or at least the $19 billion sum) seems to have taken much of Silicon Valley by surprise, with the Wall Street Journal collating responses. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, because jealousy; the two founders of WhatsApp are now billionaires, and all of the 50 employees of the company are instant multi-millionaires.
It turns out co-founder Brian Acton tried (and failed) to get a job at Facebook in 2009. After which he created WhatsApp, which, five years later, cost Facebook $19 billion. And for those who are fascinated by what happened during those intervening years, Wired has the inside story of WhatsApp.
Google Launches Project Tango
if 200 developers get access to Google’s Project Tango and all we see from it are dumb augmented reality games, the project has failed.
— dan (@dcseifert) February 20, 2014
Google has launched Project Tango, a prototype Android smartphone capable of mapping the world around it. The phone features advanced 3D sensors that builds a map of whatever space it’s in. The project is headed by Johnny Lee, who helped Microsoft develop Kinect.
Project Tango, which emerged from the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group at Google, is being trialled with 200 developers who will be chosen specially to build apps for “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.” Which is potentially more exciting than it sounds on paper.
Satya Nadella Speaks
Since taking over as CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has been somewhat quiet, but he has given an interview to The New York Times. He speaks about his own management style, the company culture at Microsoft, and his predecessors Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
The most interesting part of the interview comes when he is asked how he plans to make his mark, to which he replies, “Longevity in this business is about being able to reinvent yourself or invent the future. In our case, given 39 years of success, it’s more about reinvention. We’ve had great successes, but our future is not about our past success. It’s going to be about whether we will invent things that are really going to drive our future.”
This all sounds very promising, but it would mean Microsoft becoming less reliant on its core products such as Windows and Office and becoming more innovative in other areas. Which is a tough ask.
Microsoft Unveils Xbox One Media Remote
— Larry Hryb (@majornelson) February 20, 2014
Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One Media Remote, a dedicated remote control unit for the company’s latest games console. The Xbox One Media Remote will be available in all markets in early March, and priced at $24.99 in the U.S.
This shows just how important media content other than games is to the Xbox One. The PlayStation 4 is no different, except that Sony hasn’t released a fancy remote control for its latest games console. Yet.
Steve Jobs On A Postage Stamp
It’s great that they’re putting Steve Jobs on a postage stamp. Next they should honor him by putting his face on a CD player & a Blackberry.
— Anil Dash (@anildash) February 21, 2014
Steve Jobs is getting his own postage stamp, with the US Postal Service honoring the deceased founder of Apple alongside Elvis Presley and Johnny Carson. Jobs is partially responsible for the lessening need for the USPS, making this a rather ironic tribute.
Wikipedia As A Set Of Encyclopedias
And finally, Wikipedia could soon be printed as a set of encyclopedias. PediaPress is seeking $50,000 via an Indiegogo campaign to print the contents of Wikipedia in 1,000 books for display in an art gallery, and possibly a world tour.
Why? Because, why not? Sure, the printed edition of Wikipedia will be out of date as soon as it’s completed, and no-one in their right mind would actually read this bookish behemoth, but these are just piffling issues.
At the time of writing the company has raised almost $3,000 of its goal, with 50 days left to go. Let us know what you think of this bizarre effort in the comments section below.