Paper could just be the best iOS Facebook app yet
Facebook has released a brand new mobile app called Paper (much to the dismay of another company who already HAS an app with that name–they’re now suing). It hit the web with a flurry of press and reviews on Monday and is being lauded as the best Facebook app yet (or ever, in some places). Gone is the vertical news feed, and in is a more graphic and engaging interface. Paper is also a bit Instapaper/Flipboard-like because you can also view other types of news in separate feeds. The new app isn’t pushing out automatically—you’ve got to download it yourself. Wired has some helpful setting tweaks for the app, so be sure to check them out (like turning off video auto play). So far, I have to say the app is standing up to the hype since I like it a lot more than the regular app.
More apps likely coming to Chromecast
Google has launched an official software development kit (you might see this called a “SDK” in the news) for Chromecast, opening up the platform to other developers. The expectation is that more movies, shows and music will now become available to Chromecast users. One website said that the potential of this device “could skyrocket in the months and weeks to come.”
Gamifying world news
How do you get kids interested in world events and politics? You turn learning into a Fantasy Football-like game. One teacher in Minnesota, after being inspired by his Fantasy Football league, created Fantasy Geopolitics. The game starts like FF, with a draft session where students select three countries (U.S. and China too dominant so cannot be chosen). Then the players track stories about their countries in the news via a special website. Students get a point for every mention. It’s been so popular, the game has spread to other schools and now there’s a Kickstarter campaign to expand even further. I think this is pretty cool—why shouldn’t learning be fun??
New voice archive effort for Wikipedia
Reported on NPR’s All Tech Considered, there is a new project to archive the voices of famous people. All that is asked is that they provide a short audio sample where they record their name, and a little bit of their background so everyone will know what their voice sounds like. Why audio and not video? The project’s founder says because it’s a lot cheaper and faster to download audio…but also for another important reason. He says, “If you think about the people in your own life, you know their voice the moment you hear it, as much or sometimes even more than a photograph—with a voice, you know instantly.” An interesting point and the story is a great listen, if you have a few minutes.
Microsoft names Satya Nadella as new CEO
Nadella is now only the third CEO in the company’s history, taking over from Steve Ballmer, who is retiring. Whereas Ballmer was a business guy who new technology, apparently Nadella is a tech guy who knows business (and my fellow Wisconsinites might appreciate knowing he got his master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee). He’s been with Microsoft since 1992 and has leading their Cloud and Enterprise business. Because Ballmer has been heavily criticized for lagging on a number of technological developments, including mobile and tablets, everyone will be watching to see if Nadella will help Microsoft be a bit more nimble.
Bio-hackers working to unlock one child’s DNA
This story fascinated me this week: There’s a little boy named Max who is suffering from a mysterious disease. Doctors have searched and searched and tested and tested but no answers have been found to explain his condition. As a result, Max’s family has taken a rather unusual approach—they had Max’s DNA fully sequenced (like down to the strings of As, Cs and Gs in the genetic code), along with their own. Now, Max’s uncle and a researcher friend are slowly processing the 30 gigabits of data hoping to unlock the mystery. To do this, they’ve created a special program to piece together strips of Max’s DNA data and compare them with the Human Reference Genome. There’s lot more fascinating detail in the original article (which isn’t super long). Read it if you like reading about science innovation, genetics, and genetics testing—it’s a good one.
Best Valentine’s Day apps
Mashable has a fun list of 12 Valentine’s Day apps. From love poems, 30 day relationship challenges, to dating apps and social media for couples, there are some interesting selections. Check it out.
Amazon acquires Double Helix games
To add more fuel to the rumor that they’re developing their own gaming platform, this week (after it was leaked), Amazon confirmed that they have purchased Double Helix games. Double Helix has a 20-year record of success including games like Earthworm Jim (you remember it, right? Loved it!), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, and more.
iWatch rumors abound
This week Apple posted a job listing on their website seeking physiologists and engineers to crunch health and fitness data. This had pretty much every tech news site buzzing, especially on the heels of a recent report saying that Apple is developing a new app called “Healthbook.” Given all the rumors (and hopes) for an iWatch, folks are putting two and two together and are now thinking Apple is developing a wearable of some kind. Time will tell!
Windows 8.1 update leaked
This week an update to Windows 8.1 showed up on a few file-sharing websites. The update, not expected to debut until March, reportedly makes some improvements to the keyboard and mouse experience. The Verge says it also brings a new title bar for the apps, “allowing you to close, minimize, and snap apps to appear side by side with the mouse.” There are a few more details, you can always wait until March 11th for the final version.