Tech News Roundup: Serious business
Search keeps changing. Apple has new devices in the pipeline. A Facebook app shot to white-hot popularity before being shut down. And international unrest shines a spotlight online. Got all that? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Search shifts and engagement
The numbers are out, and it looks like January was a good month for search engine Bing, which grew search share month-over-month by more than a percent at Google’s expense. Though the announcement marked a small, edging victory for the No. 2 search engine, Bing continued to move its search technology forward with Live Tiles, a feature that dynamically updates visual info in SERPs from 45 partners, including IMDb, OpenTable, Yelp and YouTube. The additional info aids the discoverability of third-party content and enhances the user experience.
Google also made enhancements to the engagement of search results this week with an update to Social Search. Social Search results, culled from a user’s social network connections, are now being integrated throughout a results page rather than at the bottom, and a result includes a notation if it has been shared by a member of the user’s social network.
Mobile games, brains and gains
As mobile continues its rise as the primary device for connecting to the Internet, new research lends insight into its effect on society. When it comes to one of technology’s most entertaining offerings, gaming is actually a different animal when comparing users of mobile and social platforms to users of traditional game consoles. As mobile and social gaming is an emerging way for brands and advertisers to reach consumers, understanding the demographics, habits and mindsets of mobile gamers is required. As more consumers become smartphone owners, it’s good that researchers continue to study the effect of cell phone use on the human brain. A new study shows that cell phone use increases brain activity in the form of glucose metabolism; however, it’s unclear if this is harmful to one’s health.
No doubt that before the debate is settled, a slew of new mobile devices will hit the market. Apple is set to unveil the next generation of the most popular tablet computer, the iPad. The iPad 2 is expected to have a front-facing camera and Facetime video chat support.
Impact of social is deadly serious
While here in the United States tech news excites and delights us, the past weeks have shown that tech can play a much more critical role as a provider of information and usher of freedom. As hyperbolic as that sounds, one first-time father in Egypt this week named his daughter “Facebook” to commemorate the social network’s catalytic impact in the Egyptian revolution that began January 25 and up-heaved a government. According to TechCrunch: “While the baby girl could just have easily been called “YouTube,” “Twitter” “Google” or even “Cellphone Camera,” it seems like Facebook has become the umbrella symbol for how social media can spread the message of freedom.”
Elsewhere, dire political unrest in Libya is ongoing, and the nightly lockdown of the Internet in the country is a clear sign that the government fears the power of the Internet as citizens demand to exercise their voice and freedoms.
The power struggles of aging regimes and empowered citizens brings into stark relief the ability of today’s technologies to change the world.