Did you just get back from vacation? You missed a busy week in technology. The first thing you need to know: Facebook and Google dominated the headlines.
Let’s get on with the list.
1. No surprises here. Facebook announced that it is integrating video calls (via Skype) into online chat. The downside: it’s limited to two people. So, this will not exactly work as a place to conduct your conference calls.
2. By the way, Facebook is up to 750 million users worldwide.
3. Google, meanwhile, announced Google+ (yuck on the name). Google+, yet another social network, is Google’s long-awaited answer to Facebook. Big question: how do you catch up when your competitor has a lead of 750 million users? Google is the only company on earth that has a prayer on that one. Hide in the weeds and watch, as we say in Texas.
4. Verizon went the way of AT&T and got rid of its unlimited data-use plans. If you already had one, you’re good: you’ll be grandfathered in. For new customers, prepare to pay through the schnoz if you are a data hog. Downloading 2GB of data a month starts at $30; 5GB for $50; and $80 for 10GB. Access to LTE mobile hot spots are going to start costing Verizon customers, too. Existing customers will pay $30 a month for flat use. New customers will only pay $20 but that is limited to the first 2 GB of use a month. For those of you tending your farm on Facebook at the local café, be warned.
5. There were more leaks, clues, and rumors that the iPhone 5 will launch sometime during the third quarter of this year (just in time for holiday shoppers). There were even more leaks, clues, and rumors that the upgrades will not be very exciting, but having anything to do with the iPhone; we’ll get excited anyway, of course! The iPhone 6, on the other hand, will likely be a big revamp, perhaps even featuring some sort of “cable free” way to recharge the battery. That’s not due out until 2012, however.
6. Love this one! It was really just a news Cheeto (small, but tasty); but Google has a new version of Maps for the Android that now includes transit GPS navigation. This is awesome and was actually my personal favorite story of the week. Imagine the next time you are traveling in an unfamiliar city (anywhere in the world, by the way: Google claims its good to go from “Bangkok to Baltimore”) and you are able to get stop by stop directions on the local bus or subway? It will direct you which line to hop onto, where to get on, get off and even guide you through transfers. Killer! Hurry up and make this for the iPhone!
7. Walter Isaacson, former editorial Poobah of both Time and CNN, and noted author of biographical tomes on such weighty figures as Ben Franklin, Einstein (relatively speaking), and Kissinger, will be adding Steve Jobs to his bibliography next spring. Here’s the kicker: his publishing house, taking its cues from its publicity department (always a bad idea, was going to call it “iSteve: The Book of Jobs”. And, no, I’m not making this up! One can imagine how that would have gone over in the Bible belt, for example. Regardless, Isaacson thought better of it and it will now be called, er, uh, “Steve Jobs.” It may not be flashy, but it beats the h-e-double hockey sticks out of iSteve (which reminds me of iCarley on Nickelodeon) and its way, way better than “Google+.”)
Now that you are back on the grid, check out my blog daily, Business Bytes, on Inc.com. My partner, Curt Finch, and I are never short on tips, scuttle butt, and opinions from the latest in technology.