America loves the Internet, what we discussed on Facebook over the past year, Walmart takes mobile payments, Popcorn Time for Music is no more, and YouTube looks back over 2015.
Internet Use in the United States
The United States of America is becoming increasingly addicted to the Internet. According to the latest statistics from the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of Americans go online at least once a day, with 21 percent admitting to being online “Almost constantly”. Just 13 percent of those polled do not use the Internet at all.
The ubiquity of smartphones has a lot to do with this, as 87 percent of Americans who own smartphones go online daily as opposed to 65 percent who don’t own smartphones. The figures are even more telling in terms of constant use, with 27 percent of smartphone users admitting to being online all the time as opposed to just 8 percent for non-smartphone owners.
This increased use of the Internet is fairly even across gender and race. However, age, education, and income all make big differences: Teenagers, graduates, and high-earners are all likely to spend more time online than retirees, school dropouts, and low-earners.
So, it might be time to ask yourself, are you addicted to the Internet? If so, perhaps it’s time to take a break.
The Biggest Stories on Facebook
We have already looked at the stories which dominated Twitter in 2015, and now it’s Facebook’s turn to take a look back over the past 12 months with its Year in Review for 2015. Facebook has pinpointed 10 news stories which were widely discussed on the social network in 2015, with the video embedded above providing some background to them all.
1. The U.S. Presidential Election
2. The November 13 Attacks in Paris
3. The Syrian Civil War and Refugee Crisis
4. The Nepal Earthquakes
5. The Greek Debt Crisis
6. Marriage Equality
7. The Fight Against ISIS
8. The Charlie Hebdo Attack
9. The Baltimore Protests
10. The Charleston Shooting and Flag Debate
As you can see from the list, the majority of the most-discussed stories involved bad news. This is not only reminder of what a terrible year it has been in terms of things happening in the world, but also a reminder that people are increasingly turning to social media to talk about these issues. Both for good and for bad.
We would love to know which of these stories resonated most with you, and which you found yourself having heated discussions about on Facebook. After all, this year, possibly more than any previous year, has shown that being friends with someone on Facebook doesn’t guarantee you’ll agree with them about everything. Especially Donald Trump.
Walmart Launches Walmart Pay
Someone at Wal*Mart corporate clearly got confused. When people demanded that Wal*Mart Pay, they meant pay their employees!
— Doug Hill (@DHStom) December 10, 2015
U.S. retailer Walmart has launched Walmart Pay, its own mobile payments platform designed to go head-to-head with Apple Pay, Android Pay and others. Walmart Pay will be introduced in selected stores today (Dec. 10), with additional stores coming online over the holidays. It should be available across the United States by the middle of next year.
Walmart Pay is free to use and integrated into the Walmart app. According to Reuters, it’s available both on Android and iOS, and is compatible with “any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift cards.” Using Walmart Pay requires you to scan a code at the checkout counter using your smartphone camera, with an e-receipt being sent to the app.
The RIAA Has Killed Aurous
Aurous, also known as the Popcorn Time for Music, has shut down for good, with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) bullying the service out of existence. The RIAA sued Aurous days after it launched in October 2015, and two months later, it’s dead as a dodo.
Aurous allowed users to play pretty much any song in existence by pulling music from 120 sources, including YouTube and SoundCloud. Unfortunately, not all of the sources were entirely legal, which led to the RIAA launching a lawsuit on behalf of the record labels it represents.
The lawsuit has now been settled for $3 million, with Aurous signing over its domain name and intellectual property to the record labels. According to TorrentFreak, Aurous co-founders Andrew Sampson and Danielle Astvatsaturova are banned from committing infringing actions in the future.
Watch YouTube Rewind 2015
And finally, YouTube Rewind takes a look back over 2015 with the YouTubers, videos, and memes that dominated over the past year. I think it’s fair to say that no one will recognize everybody and everything in this video. And if you do then you really need to get out more.
The video features a heady mix of mainstream celebrities and people only famous on YouTube. Which, as Wired points out, demonstrates how the lines are blurring as YouTube grows up and evolves. YouTube Red isn’t for everyone, but it’s a sure sign of a maturing platform.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Do you think you’re addicted to the Internet? What stories did you discuss on Facebook in 2015? Are you likely to ever use Walmart Pay? How do you feel about the RIAA killing Aurous? What YouTube channels have you watched most over the past 12 months?
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 Credits: Chris Potter via Flickr