Week in Tech: Facebook's got news, Apple's got tunes, Moto's got a secret


If you thought the UK election was dramatic, we hope you're sitting down: in the world of tech this week we've seen huge deals, big reveals, amazing advances and some surprising second chances. Facebook's trying to annexe more of the internet, the tech bubble's about to burst and the US Army wants to make everything invisible. What the heck? It's Week in Tech!

All the news that's fit for Facebook

Facebook has unveiled the latest bit of its world domination plan: instead of having us click away to news websites and Buzzfeed, it wants us to view stories without leaving Zuckerberg's warm embrace. The new Instant Articles platform promises to speed up the internet by getting rid of that whole "using something that isn't Facebook" thing. Publishers won't have to sign any exclusivity deals or hand over any of their advertising revenue, although if they want to use Facebook's own ad platform it'll take an iTunes-style 30% cut.

Pings can only get better

Remember Ping, Apple's ill-fated social network for music? Well, in true Smash Hits style it's back! Back! BAAAAACK! The incoming iOS 8.4 will feature a "deep social networking integration for artists" that should enable them to post exclusive content to their fans. Interestingly, it looks like Apple Music is coming to Android too. We should see iOS 8.4 released to coincide with WWDC 2015 next month.

What's Motorola got up its sleeve?

Fresh from the success of the Moto 360 it looks like Motorola is prepping a successor: a new listing on the Bluetooth SIG website mentions a new "Motorola Android Device" running Bluetooth 4.1 and with the model number BTWM03. Given that BTWM01 was the Moto 360, it's pretty obvious that we're talking about a smartwatch. With Google I/O just a few weeks away, it's possible we'll see it unveiled then – and we already have a wishlist of what we'd like to see.

Do you fancy owning a Moto 360 that can talk to your iPhone? You don't need to wait for Google to make Android Wear iOS-compatible. As long as you have access to an Android device to set it up, it's actually quite easy to make the Moto 360 and an iPhone fast friends.

You've got AOL

Good news for fans of the gibberish-spouting, electric-haired "digital prophet" Shingy: US telecoms firm Verizon has just bought him for 4.4 billion dollars, and as part of the deal they get AOL too. Older internet users will remember AOL as many people's first online experience, and many of those older users are still with it: it has 2.1 million people still using dial-up to get online. For those of us with slightly speedier connections, AOL is the firm that owns Engadget and TechCrunch.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next, because whenever AOL merges with another company it usually brings the entire stock market down with it: its 2000 acquisition of Time Warner nearly broke capitalism. Then again, in 2000 AOL Time Warner was worth a cool $350 billion. The Verizon deal values it as one eightieth of that.

Google stops users from taking the… mickey

Google has temporarily withdrawn its crowd-sourced Map Maker tool after a spate of pranks including the image of the Android robot urinating on the Apple logo. Google's attempts to crack down on such toilet-related tomfoolery backfired, causing a whole bunch of pranksters to add their own obscene contributions. There's no indication of when the app will return, but Google promises that its absence is temporary.

Not lost in translation

Buenas noticias! Bonnes nouvelles! Gute Nachrichten! καλα νεα! Yes, Skype Translator, the magic Babel Fish service that can translate speech in real time, is now available to everybody. All you need to use it is a PC, laptop or tablet running Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 preview. It knows 50 different languages offers speech to tech and text-to-speech, and it's brilliant.

Drums, puppies and why you can't have a Tron light cycle

Fancy a drone that follows you around like a flying puppy? Meet Lily. She loves you - although she might love you a little bit less if you use Yamaha's Typedrummer to turn your typing into beats. In other news, somebody just bought the world's only working Tron Legacy light cycle for a cool $77,000 (about £50,000 or AU$98,000), Amazon announced its plans for delivery drones that can hunt humans, and the US Army decided it wants to make its soldiers invisible within 18 months. Blimey.

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