Today in Tech News Digest, Apple (finally) buys Beats, Microsoft teases Skype Translator, Google blocks Chrome extensions, Billboard launches real-time Twitter charts, Uber loves self-driving cars, Avast gets hacked, and Hidden Cash appears on Twitter.
Apple Acquires Beats For $3 Billion
Sharing a laugh with Jimmy, Dre, and @cue. Excited to welcome the #Beats team to #Apple. It’s all about the music. pic.twitter.com/ZwyWgHFwhO
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 28, 2014
Apple is officially acquiring Beats Electronics and Beats Music for a total of $3 billion. A deal between the two companies was leaked at the beginning of May, but it has taken almost three weeks for the two sides to formally announce the arrangement.
The acquisition, the biggest in Apple’s history, brings Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to the company. Both will be working under Eddy Cue, the Apple exec in charge of iTunes, and both have made a commitment to be full-time employees at Cupertino.
The Beats brand will be retained, but the design of the company’s headphones will be brought in-house. Beats Music will also continue unhindered, and remain available on Android and Windows Phone as well as iOS. All of which makes this is a new kind of acquisition for Apple.
There are plenty of reasons why Apple acquired Beats: 1) It was a talent grab for Dre and Iovine. 2) Beats headphones are popular amongst certain demographics. 3) Beats Music is a ready-made streaming service waiting to be expanded. 4) Tim Cook wants to put his stamp on the company.
While all of these make perfect sense, the deal has been criticized by long-time Apple watchers wary of the company veering off in a new direction. In contrast, shareholders welcomed the deal, with the Apple share price rising in after-hours trading.
Skype Translator Launching By End Of 2014
Microsoft has shown off Skype Translator, which will offer universal translations of voice conversations in close to real-time. Skype Translator is still in development, but a beta version for Windows 8 is promised by the end of 2014.
A retail version will follow in a couple of years, and Skype Translator will eventually be added to all Microsoft devices. Microsoft has been working on a universal translator for the past decade, but it faces stiff competition from Google and others.
One way or another, this once-fictional technology will soon be available to all.
Google Takes Stance On Chrome Extensions
Ironically, when you install any Google desktop app it silently sideloads extensions into Firefox and IE. http://t.co/hj0UqjatTX
— Peter da Silva (@Resuna) May 29, 2014
Google has killed the sideloading of Chrome extensions from third-party websites. From now on, extensions can only be installed on Windows through the Chrome Web Store. Additionally, Chrome extensions previously installed through other means will stop working until developers host them on Google’s own servers.
This essentially means Google has created a walled garden for the Chrome browser, which is taking a leaf out of Apple’s playbook. Google’s intentions — to prevent the spread of malicious software — may be pure, but this still marks a significant shift in policy.
Billboard’s Real-Time Twitter Charts
Find out how you can influence the @Billboard charts via the #REALTIMECHARTS: http://t.co/85McbNdpC8
— billboard (@billboard) May 27, 2014
Billboard’s real-time Twitter charts have gone live. These charts rank songs according to how often they’re being shared on Twitter. The Trending 140 chart tracks all songs, while the Emerging Artists chart tracks songs by up-and-coming artists. It’s already becoming clear that the average Twitter user has bad taste in music.
Uber Wants To Get Rid Of Drivers
Just one day after Google unveiled its first self-driving car prototype, on-demand car service Uber has suggested that this is the future. And woe betide any mere human who gets in the way.
Speaking at the Code Conference, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said, “The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away.”
Asked what he would say to the human beings replaced by self-driving cars, Kalanick retorted, “I’d say ‘Look, this is the way of the world, and the world isn’t always great.’ We all have to find ways to change with the world.”
Which has, I’m sure, gone down extremely well with Uber’s fleet of drivers.
Avast Support Forum Hacked
Avast forums hacked. Avast took days to inform users, just like Ebay. That’s not good enough, specially not for a security company.
— Erroneus (@Erroneus) May 27, 2014
With more than a hint of irony, the Avast support forum has been hacked. The antivirus software company has taken the forum offline while it deals with the problem. Avast suggests just 0.2% percent of its 200 million users have been affected, but that still adds up to around 400,000 accounts.
Hidden Cash Takes Twitter By Storm
New drop. See it??? What a beautiful day in SF. Showing a friend the sights for his first time. Love this place! pic.twitter.com/8U3ADVkSK3
— Hidden Cash (@HiddenCash) May 27, 2014
And finally, someone is giving away free cash on Twitter using the account @HiddenCash to detail where the money is being left. Thousands of dollars have already been dropped in various places, and this “anonymous social experiment for good” shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
Unfortunately, 231k followers (at the time of writing) are tracking the cash drops, meaning the odds of getting there first are heavily stacked against you. Still, it’s an interesting idea that once again shows why you should be using Twitter.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans via Flickr