Weekly tech news roundup for August 22

nexus2cee_image_thumb3Google to launch YouTube Music Key streaming service
Based on images that Android Police spotted this week, Google really is rolling out a subscription-based service that will offer ad-free music, video viewing, audio-only playback (if you want to listen without having to have a screen up), and offline playback. It’s going to be called YouTube Music Key and it will be bundled with a newly rebranded Google Play Music Key (formerly known as Google Play All Access) for $9.99/month. No word yet on what exactly is going to happen with just plain old Google Play and Google Play Music. Is it just me, or are all these different Google options getting really confusing?

Windows 9 launching on September 30
Rumor has it that Microsoft will be planning a press event for September 30 and will unveil Windows 9 (codename “Threshold”). At the event Microsoft is expected to give developers a preview version of the release and give an overview of their newest system.

The iPhone 6s must be a sure thing
How do we know? Because prices are dropping like crazy on the 5C model and the 5Ss price has come down as well. Walmart has discounted the 5C to less than a dollar ($0.97) and the price on the 5S has dropped $20 to only $79 at Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, and AT&T. If you don’t have the latest and greatest model, it could be a good chance to upgrade from your iPhone 4 or 4S—especially since the price on the new model(s) coming on September 9th are not supposed to be nearly as low as the last versions. As someone who is looking to switch carriers and upgrade, I’ve got to admit I’m almost as tempted by the potential bargain as I am by the lure of a bigger screen.

ipod-touch_1024x1024_AliveCorSmartphone add-on can detect heart conditions
AliveCor has developed an FDA-approved “plate” that snaps onto your smartphone so you can track your heart rhythms….and it can be purchased for the cost of some blood pressure cuffs. It simply snaps onto your smart phone, you download the app, and you’re ready to use the two electrodes embedded in the “case.” From reading over the user manual, it looks like you can get different types of ECG readings depending on how you hold it or where you place it. If you hold it between your hands, you’ll get a Lead I ECG. You can also get Lead II ECG readings by using the knees or the chest (now just don’t ask me what those two different kinds of readings means :-)). Once you’ve made your recordings, you can email or print them off to give to your doctor. In my opinion this is pretty awesome medical tech for home use, possibly even revolutionary for those with suspected or existing heart conditions.

Kickstarter of the week: David, a 3D printer using pellets, not filament
Most 3D printers use spools of plastic filament as “ink” – but the filament is actually made from plastic pellets. Since filament costs more than double the cost of pellets, why not just use pellets from the start? That’s what the five-member team at Sculptify wondered. Their answer to this quandary was to create David, a 3D printer that uses what they call “pelletized materials” – and can print nylon, wood composite, and more. I like that they want to create a machine that avoids proprietary spools of filament (translation: expensive!!) and kind of disrupt that “ink cartridge process” before it gets too engrained. Check it out:


 

Twitter timelines now include stuff you didn’t ask for
It’s true. The sanctity of your Twitter timeline, what sometimes felt like the only social media to not clutter up your feed with stuff you don’t want to see, is no more. What was first thought to be an experiment is now official Twitter policy. To give you a “more relevant and interesting” feed, Twitter is inserting tweets from people you don’t know and other people’s favorites. My feeling? Nooooooooooooooooooo.

swingcoptersFlappy Bird sequel generally reviled
Swing Copters is the newest game by Flappy Bird creator Doug Nguyen and, to make a massive understatement, it seems that people are not liking it. The game has you flying a creature around obstacles, but rather than flying horizontally the bird flies vertically thanks to the helicopter hat he wears. One article described the game as “nearly impossible” – and not in a good way. Another said the game will, “drive you to insanity.” I haven’t tried it myself—have you?

Hypnotic solar desk toy
You know those Newton’s Cradle desk toys where there’s a row of hanging balls and if one is pulled back and hits the rest, the ball on the opposite end swings? You can’t quite stop watching it…it’s hypnotic. Well, here’s a modern equivalent: the solar marble machine. A solar cell powers a gear that moves marbles to the top of a downward spiral. It’s clever and you can’t quite look away. You can build your own for $33.


 

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 Nook now in stores
Barnes & Noble got out of the tablet business last year, saying it would no longer make its own. Instead, they decided to partner with other companies to make Nook-branded products. Samsung took that offer and now their first effort is available in stores. Essentially, this “new” Nook is a rebranded Galaxy Tab 4 and it’s pretty much the same price as it is too–$179. It’s a 7-inch tablet with a 1280 x 800 display and customized Nook software preloaded. As The Verge points out, while this offering will keep Nook in the playing field, it faces strong competition from Amazon’s Fire which, similarly outfitted, costs $139.

Flashback: two popular Apple games from the late 70s
I’ve seen a bunch of commercials lately for new video games and holy CRAP do the graphics amaze. This got me thinking and chatting with a friend about the video games I grew up with. Anyone else remember “Decathalon”? Or how about “Lemonade Stand”? All I can say is that these YouTube videos showing each one made me nostalgic and kind of happy this week:

 
 

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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