Google Launches Project Fi, Germany Embraces AdBlock Plus, & More… [Tech News Digest]

Google Project Fi, AdBlock Plus in Germany, Facebook IDs callers, Apple Watch gets fashionable, Tidal discovers Indie, and J.J. Abrams kicks off the Twizzler Challenge.

Google’s Project Fi Lands on Nexus 6

Google is launching its own mobile network exclusively for Nexus 6 owners. Project Fi, which is currently in an invite-only beta, sees the company “work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Unlike most other mobile networks, Google is offering users the chance to only pay for the data they actually use each month. Project Fi costs $20-per-month for “all the basics (talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage in 120+ countries),” with an additional $10 for every GB of data you use. And if you don’t use what you have paid for the difference gets refunded in full.

Project Fi works by “intelligently connecting you to the fastest available network at your location whether it’s Wi-Fi or one of our two partner LTE networks (T-Mobile and Sprint).” Which should, in theory, help you maintain a better connection wherever you are.

You can sign up for an invite to this MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) as long as you’re resident in the United States and own a Nexus 6. However, Google is only promising a small number of invites every week, so your chances of getting selected remain slim at this stage.

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German Court OKs Use of AdBlock Plus

A German court has declared that people are legally entitled to use AdBlock Plus to block online advertising, regardless of how much harm this is doing to publishers. The judgement was in response to two German newspapers, Die Zeit and Handelsblatt, taking AdBlock Plus to court claiming its anti-competitive and threatening their businesses.

In the aftermath of the case, the people behind AdBlock Plus heralded their triumph in a self-congratulatory blog post. Meanwhile, the publishers who brought the case issued a statement saying, “We are still convinced that AdBlock Plus is an illegal and anti-competitive practice.”

I am obviously biased on this one, because my whole livelihood is reliant on people seeing ads. But there is a deeper issue at play here, because if everyone installed AdBlock Plus then the websites they love would all wither and die. So if you do use an ad-blocker, please whitelist MakeUseOf. We would appreciate it immensely.

Facebook Says Hello to Caller ID App

Facebook has launched Hello, a new app designed to bring the simple act of making and receiving phone calls into the 21st century. The primary function of Hello is to offer users a way of identifying incoming calls, which it does by sourcing information from Facebook.

Hello also offers a synced phonebook, free VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls, a smart search bar, and the option to block nuisance calls. Hello is only available on Android due to Apple’s insistence that apps don’t interfere with phone calls, and is currently only available in the U.S., Brazil, and Nigeria.

Apple Watch Is a Fashion Accessory

Apple is offering the Apple Watch for sale through a number of high-end fashion boutiques, thus proving the theory that this gadget is a case of style over substance. While you won’t be able to purchase an Apple Watch at an Apple Store this weekend, you will be able to purchase one at selected fashion boutiques.

The boutiques in question are Maxfield in L.A., Colette in Paris, The Corner in Berlin, 10 Corso Como in Milan, and Dover Street Market in the UK and Japan. All of which will have their own separate stock of Apple Watches for hipsters to buy. But not Beyoncé, because she’s special.

Tidal Discovery Helps Indie Artists

Jay Z must have heard us, and the hundreds of other media outlets, condemning Tidal as a complete non-starter when it comes to disrupting the music streaming scene. Hence, the service he recently relaunched is seeking to make it easier for independent artists to get involved with his rich-person revolution.

Discussing a new element of Tidal called Discovery, Tidal CIO Vania Schlogel told Smashd, “When it comes to the distribution of music, I want to get to a point where there are no blockades for artists in order to be able to easily do that for themselves. The end game [is] that we want everyone to be able to self-upload their own music and then track it very intuitively through this artist dashboard.” Which all sounds very democratic and liberating.

Unfortunately, one watch of that launch video and my feelings towards Tidal switch back to being wholly negative. Still, there’s always time for Jay Z to turn things around. After all, everybody hated Apple for a good few years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Chewbacca Does the Twizzler Challenge

And finally, J.J. Abrams and Chewbacca are two of the first “celebrities” to complete the Twizzler Challenge in order to raise awareness of autism. The Twizzler Challenge is the brainchild of New York Collaborates for Autism, and could become this year’s Ice Bucket Challenge.

I’m not sure I ever wanted to see Abrams almost kissing Chewie, but then the fact they’re even an item means there’s a new Star Wars film on the way. Everything is right with the world. Except that, as a man with a beard, this makes me realize how unpleasant it must be for my girlfriend to kiss me. [H/T The Verge]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you tempted to buy a Nexus 6 in order to use Project Fi? Do you use AdBlock Plus despite the harm it’s doing to your favorite websites? Will you be taking part in the Twizzler Challenge?

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.

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