Last week in tech: Everything you missed while preparing your Oscars party
Shake off your Academy Awards haze and check out all the top tech stories you missed last week.
The Monday after a big event like the Oscars or the Super Bowl can be tough. Not enough sleep, and a sodium hangover from too many Trader Joe’s appetizers. But, we’re here to ease you into the work week with a rundown of the week’s top tech stories, in bite-sized chunks that are a lot easier to digest than all those pigs-in-a-blanket.
Amazon bought Ring
Ring is one of the biggest smart doorbell companies in the world, and now it’s part of the Amazon camp. Front porches play a big part in Amazon’s business model, so the acquisition makes a ton of sense. We don’t know exactly what it will ultimately mean for either one of the companies— or for users—just yet, but it’s likely part of a bigger effort by Amazon to increase control over your packages, even after delivery.
Mobile World Congress set the tone for this year in smartphones
Samsung Galaxy S9
The world’s largest mobile electronics trade show went down on Barcelona last week, and while none of the new products really blew off the doors, there were some interesting things to see. Check out our recap of the big products and trends, then dive into our in-depth look at the most interesting new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Ready Player One has a fun online arcade
Ready Player One Arcade
Like the book on which it’s based, the upcoming Ready Player One movie will be an ode to pop culture nostalgia. As part of the promotion for the film, you can play various retro video games right in your browser. I learned that I’m just as bad at Joust as an adult as I was as a kid.
Alexa went silent for a little while
If you tried interacting with Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa, on Friday morning, you may have found her less helpful than usual. The service experienced intermittent outages, likely due to a larger issue happening with Amazon Web Services that day. I had to use the light switch to turn on my lights, and open up my laptop to Amazon (yes, it’s a verb) more potato chips. Never leave me again, Alexa.
What the heck is Vero anyway?
You’ve probably seen some of your Facebook and Instagram friends jumping on the Vero social-media bandwagon this week. The app’s big draw is that it shows you content in chronological order, instead of relying on an algorithm to try and predict the stuff you most want to see. Signing up for the service was tricky last week because of all the new users clogging up the works, but that gives you a little extra time to read the terms of service, which are rather liberal about giving Vero rights to use your content for…whatever.
Lego is making plant-shaped pieces out of actual plants
Legos are fun, but all that plastic can come with a little environmental guilt. Now, in order to increase the sustainability of those little blocks, Lego has started making some pieces out of ethanol produced from sugar cane. It’s not every brick, but rather specifically botanical pieces like trees, bushes, and other plants that can be a touch softer than the rigid rectangles.
Google will let you make a song in your browser
If vintage video games don’t soak up enough of your Monday, give Google’s Song Maker a try. The interface is a big grid, in which each block represents a specific sound, whether its a melodic tone or piece of a drum kit. When you click play, a line moves across the grid, triggering each sound as it goes, which creates a musical loop. You can make some impressive and complex compositions if you know what you’re doing. Of course, I made a total cacophonous wreck that sounds like a bunch of angry babies got loose in a Guitar Center. But, it sure is fun.
The world’s largest plane is almost ready to fly
Stratolaunch isn’t quite ready to send the world’s biggest plane into the sky just yet, but it’s getting closer. The craft, which has two fuselages and six engines, hit a speed of 40 knots on the runway. The hope is that it will eventually help crafts get to space using all that engine power.
Light Phone 2 is for people who hate smartphones
Light Phone 2
This brick-style phone has an e-ink display and almost no features that could possibly qualify it as a smartphone. You get calling, contacts, messaging, alarms, and that’s it. It’s up on Indiiegogo right now, but it has already more than doubled its $250,000 fundraising goal. Apparently a lot of people really hate notifications.