Today in Tech News Digest, Microsoft Threshold is teased, Apple acquires Topsy for reasons unknown, Tumblr adds Sponsored Trending Blogs, the German police create a Shazam clone to detect neo-Nazi music, BlackBerry sets the record straight, and the problem with Google Glass is revealed.
Windows Threshold Incoming
— Tim Stevens (@Tim_Stevens) December 2, 2013
Brace yourself for the next big Windows release, due to be delivered to consumers in Spring 2015. This is according to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, known as a reliable source for all things Microsoft. This wave of Windows releases, which will include updates to all three Microsoft operating systems — Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox One — is codenamed Threshold. The Threshold name is derived from a planet in the original Halo game on Xbox.
Little is known about Threshold at this early stage, except that it will “add another level of commonality across Microsoft’s various Windows-based platforms.” These include so-called “high-value activities,” such as Office and Bing, but this isn’t set to be the big convergence of all three operating systems into one to suit all purposes, as was signposted recently by Microsoft exec Julie Larson-Green.
Long before Threshold arrives, Microsoft is planning to release incremental updates to Windows 8 (Windows 8.1 Update 1) and Windows Phone (Windows Phone 8.1), both due to land in Spring 2014. None of which is likely to convert any of the haters back to using Windows, barring an absolute miracle.
Apple Acquires Topsy
Just spoke to one source who tells me that Topsy is a Siri play. So, deeper Twitter integration into Siri's search?
— Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) December 3, 2013
Apple has acquired Topsy for $200 million, but no one seems quite sure why. Topsy analyzes Twitter data to track trends, chart conversations, and mark out experts in various fields. To achieve this it’s one of the few Twitter partners gifted access to the ‘fire hose’, the never-ending stream of tweets dating all the way back to 2006.
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, suggests various ways in which Apple could use Topsy, with Siri, iTunes, and the faltering iAd advertising platform being the obvious candidates. Whatever the truth is, Twitter itself was likely involved in the sale as Topsy’s access to the ‘fire hose’ is key to its usefulness. Thus making any future falling out between the two companies potentially disastrous.
German Police Create Nazi Shazam
Jihadi anashid up next? – "Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music" http://t.co/R5bGpv7pit
— Thomas Hegghammer (@Hegghammer) December 2, 2013
Police in Germany have developed a prototype system for quickly identifying neo-Nazi music being played either on Internet radio stations or in public places. Far-right rock bands are seen as a gateway drug into the neo-Nazi scene, so recognizing that such music is being played is seen as a big step in countering the far-right youth movement.
This Shazam-like system currently only exists on a regional level, and various legal hurdles will need to be cleared in order for the Ministry of the Interior to adopt it on a wider scale. This includes the accusation that such a system would constitute “acoustic surveillance.”
Tumblr Lures Brands
Tumblr is the latest social networking site to introduce sponsored content into the feeds seen by users. Sponsored Trending Blogs is a new ad unit currently in beta and due to be officially rolled out in January. Brands and advertisers will pay for the privilege of having their entries show up across Tumblr, with a $ icon clearly indicating this is advertising and not organic content. For those who don’t like advertising, blame Yahoo.
BlackBerry Sets Record Straight
BlackBerry is still alive, and it wants you to know this in no uncertain terms. Hence the publishing of an open letter to customers from interim CEO John Chen, who makes it clear that the company is no longer for sale, and that “reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.” The message is clear, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone is going to believe it.
The Problem With Google Glass
And finally, while many tech geeks and gadget freaks are looking forward to a time when Google Glass is a common sight in public places, others aren’t so convinced that this particular device is the future. After all, using it in public could lead to some rather awkward situations developing.
This video (as spotted by Venturebeat) shows just how confusing life will be if we all own Google Glass. Sure, the same problem of, “Are you talking to me or, hmm, what?!” already exists to a certain degree with smartphones and Bluetooth headsets, but Google Glass is only going to make the whole thing worse. Fun times ahead.