Weekly tech news roundup for October 24

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Voyage reviews are in (and they’re ALL good!)
This week it seemed like just about every tech website had taken the new Kindle Voyage out for a test drive. Usually there’s someone who doesn’t like a new product, but it seems like everyone is loving the new e-reader. If you don’t believe me, read them yourself: Engadget, TechCrunch, CNet, The Verge, Wired. I think the only thing they weren’t 100% excited about is the $199 price tag.

Kickstarter of the week: Hendo Hoverboard (for real!!)
No joke, Back to the Future Part II just got REAL. The prototype actually does hover a few inches off the ground, but there’s a catch—you can’t be over pavement (doh!). As it’s outfitted with electromagnets, it’ll only works over metal (non-ferrous) surfaces like aluminum or copper. If you don’t have $10K to get a Hendo Hoverboard of your very own (on 10/21/15 – fans of the movie will understand this reference), you can get a Whitebox Developer Kit for “only” $299. This is a Hendo hover engine in a box and is, “designed to be explored, taken apart, and analyzed, encouraging you to dare to wonder.” They also want to build a hover park, where you can take your board for a spin (you can help sponsor that too). A practical application for this technology is to help keep buildings safe during earthquakes and floods (who knew?). I know the technology is limited (and apparently it’s really loud) to only some surfaces, but I still can’t help but think this is completely awesome!! Check it out in action:
 

iOS8.1
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but it seems worthy of a mention since it was available on Monday. I can tell you I upgraded my phone but haven’t noticed any difference from iOS8. Given that the last attempt to update iOS8 just about broke everyone’s phones, I consider this upgrade a #win. Anyone try Apple Pay yet? I’m tempted to run over to Panera and give it a try, but haven’t yet—have you tried it?

Fitbit Surge_The VergeSo THAT’S why Fitbit won’t work with Apple’s HealthKit
Last week I told you that all Fitbits were being pulled from Apple shelves and about a few new Fitbits expected soon—the Charge and the Charge HR. But, The Verge found out on Monday that Fitbit has plans to introduce a third wearable called Surge. Actually, the marketing materials leaked suggest it’s more than “just” a wearable and is being called a “fitness superwatch” (and thus an Apple Watch competitor). It looks like it’s a watch that also monitors your heart rate, is made for multi-sport use, still tracks steps, distance, floors and active minutes, plus will also give you call and text notifications and will control your music too. No word yet on pricing info, but now it makes a lot of sense that Fitbit says it has no interest in developing for Health Kit.

But Microsoft is also jumping into the wearable fitness band market
You know you’re not shocked to read this headline – Microsoft is jumping into the wearable fitness market. Forbes is reporting Microsoft is going to launch a wearable in the next few weeks, and rumor has it it’ll have battery life of more than a few days (unlike Galaxy Gear of the Moto 360 that need charging once a day).

Google announces “Inbox”
If you love to hate Gmail, then from the looks of it, the new Inbox app might be for you. The same team that developed Gmail has been working on Inbox, only it’s an entirely different way of presenting you with information. It appears to be way more visual, and the video says you can set alerts, it bundles like messages together, and “highlights the important stuff.” Right now it’s available only to a limited group, but according to Tech Crunch will be growing users via an invite system (like the used with Gmail when it started). Here’s the promo video that hit the web:
 

Nest buys Revolv to make “ecosystem richer”
Nest wants to control your house—all of it. To help make that happen, they have announced they’re acquiring Revolv, a smart home software platform. Up until now, Nest has been heavily focused on the hardware with their Nest thermostats and Protect smoke detectors. But, by buying Revolv, Nest moves strongly into the platform market. Nest is going to discontinue Revolv’s product which allows devices from different brands to “talk” to each other. Instead, the Revolv team is going to take what they know and start working on the Works With Nest platform so more products can connect to that ecosystem.

RoomsFacebook launches “Rooms” app
The new app does what the name suggests—you can set up a space to talk about any topic or interest. Then you can invite others to come in and share photos, comments, and videos. The room’s owner can customize how it looks and controls the moderation settings. Although the app is a Facebook product, you don’t have to have a Facebook account to use it, nor does it take a peek at your phone’s contacts or suggest people to invite. Instead, each room is given a unique QR code that the room creator can share with whoever they’d like. The app is available now for iOS and is coming to Android in 2015. TechCrunch has more details if you’re interested.

Nerd news: J.K. Rowling is going to publish new Harry Potter short
As a fan girl of the Harry Potter series I just about gave a big squee! on reading the news. J.K. Rowling is returning that universe and is going to release a short story with Dolores Umbridge’s backstory (maybe we’ll find out why she loves that blood quill!). The story will be published on Halloween on Pottermore, the Harry Potter community website.

 
 

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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