Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer © Facebook
When will the consumer version of the much-anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset ship? With competition looming from Sony PlayStation’s Project Morpheus and the Vive headset announced by Valve and HTC a month ago, Oculus’ early lead in VR suddenly looks like it could be under threat.
After launching two prototype headsets for developers and an “innovator edition” of its Samsung Gear mobile VR device, executives at Facebook-owned Oculus have been tight-lipped about when consumers will be able to buy the PC-based Rift.
But at the F8 developer event in San Francisco, one Facebook executive’s lips were a somewhat looser. Read more
It was probably best that I died, my computer companion told me sadly. Read more
Michael Ginty, former head of global security for Uber, used to spend his days thinking about how to keep the ride-hailing company’s facilities and staff safe as it opened new offices and angered taxi drivers in hundreds of cities around the world.
This week, the former military special agent is starting a new job protecting far smaller charges. He has left Uber to figure out how to protect primary school children at Altschool, a venture-capital backed start-up opening new schools in the San Francisco area that integrate technology into the curriculum.
Silicon Valley’s super-rich tech companies have found a new way to compete: which of them can come up with the coolest new headquarters?
With the unveiling of a new, adaptive building style that it says will have the capacity to evolve over decades, Google on Friday made its own bid for architectural immortality, following Apple and Facebook.
This post on BuzzFeed is getting a lot of traffic – 26m 27.6m page views (and counting) since Thursday. It’s important to work out why otherwise we will all feel very old.
The basic attraction is working out what colour the dress is. “Currently, 74% of readers see a white and gold dress. Only 26% see black and blue,” BuzzFeed explains.
But to put its popularity in perspective – last year the Guardian said that its most popular article ever was a piece revealing Edward Snowden as a whistleblower. That had nearly 4m page views.
So let’s settle this: why do you think BuzzFeed’s post went viral? Read more
Google’s Play Store is taking off. It has handed out more than $7bn to app developers in the last 12 months. And after an apparent slow-down at Apple, it looks like it may be closing the gap with the App Store:
Better known for slick and glossy ads, LG Electronics on Monday uploaded 9 minutes of grainy footage to YouTube showing one of its top executives innocently looking at a washing machine.
The bizarre move was the latest salvo in the decidedly un-high tech washing machine wars. Tech may be an industry famed for its multi-billion-dollar patent lawsuits and occasional (careful) corporate espionage, but South Korea’s two tech wunderkinds are clashing over claims of old-fashioned vandalising a very domestic appliance. Read more
What is Slack? Even for Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of the online collaboration tool of the moment, it isn’t an easy question to answer.
“We’re working on a tight articulation of that,” he says “It’s a new category.” Whatever you call it, though, Slack’s first year has been impressive. Read more
Cheap remote-controlled quadcopters from Syma and Hubsan bring aerial photography within reach of a much bigger audience. Read more
Expectations are high for Apple as it publishes its first-quarter earnings, with analysts forecasting that it sold more than 65m iPhones in the three months to December. With the impact of China looming large but the iPad still looking weak, Tim Bradshaw and Sarah Mishkin bring the news, live updates and analyst reaction from San Francisco.
“Cardboard” is a funny thing to call a teleportation machine. But when paired with a smartphone and a willing suspension of disbelief, Google’s low-cost design for a virtual reality headset becomes just that. Read more
The sliding Bitcoin price has provoked a fair amount of schadenfreude recently. But it hasn’t done much to dampen the spirits of the start-up investors flocking to the market.
A case in point: Coinbase has just raised $75m in what is the biggest publicly disclosed funding round yet for a Bitcoin company. Also notable is that the backers this time include the New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. Read more
Machines are getting smarter all the time, but could they ever attain the quintessentially human qualities of creativity and introspection?
Demis Hassabis – chess wunderkind, games designer and one of Google’s artificial intelligence whizzkids – thinks so.
He made a rare public appearance this week, speaking on a panel of philosophers and neuroscientists at the London School of Economics, to debate whether the brain is a “predictive machine”. Read more
Soylent, the start-up which aims to replace regular meals with its low-cost nutritional drinks, has raised $20m to expand its manufacturing capabilities and develop its recipe. Read more
The damaging fall-out from emails leaked after the Sony Pictures cyber attack has spread to the technology industry, with details of Snapchat‘s business plan exposed in messages reported to be found in the inbox of Michael Lynton, Sony Entertainment CEO and Snapchat board member.
Evan Spiegel, Snapchat‘s chief executive, has reacted angrily to having what he described as his “business plans” and “secrets” spilled in an industry that places a high value on stealth. Read more
A German start-up is trying to change America’s reluctance to long-distance ride-sharing by partnering with Uber to make it more convenient, even in the sprawling US.
Munich-based carpooling is launching today in the US with an app that lets drivers offer spare seats to passengers for rides. The model has proven a hit in Europe, with multiple start-ups in the same field, but it has not taken off in the US, where cities are further apart and public transit within most cities fairly meager. Blablacar, carpooling’s French rival, told the Financial Times last week that it would not launch in the US. Read more
On Friday we reported that the European parliament is threatening to break up Google. More precisely, it is likely to approve a draft motion calling for the European Commission to consider the “unbundling” of search engines from other commercial services as one possible solution to Google’s dominance.
But would this even work in practice? The short answer is, it’s not clear.
The German MEP Andreas Schwab, a long-time Google critic who is sponsoring the draft motion, told the FT that the practicalities had still to be looked at. Read more
Is it too early to make forecasts for 2015? Not for CCS Insight, a UK-based technology research firm, which is already confidently predicting that a major internet player will buy Netflix, and Vodafone will buy Sky, by the end of next year.
“All Web players are looking for a stronger presence in paid-for video, something Netflix has achieved with remarkable success… Yahoo, Alibaba and Google are potential suitors,” CCS says in an upcoming report. If Google does not buy Netflix, it will launch its own video streaming service in 2015, it predicts.
Further bold/foolhardy predictions below. Read more
Samsung has unveiled a prototype of a new kind of 360-degree camera that could help virtual reality move beyond its current gaming niche.
“Project Beyond” is an ambitious concept that looks a little like it belongs on top of a Google Street View car. Sixteen small cameras point out from a frisbee-sized disk, with another on the top. It can capture 3D, 360-degree video that can be streamed live to a VR headset, allowing the wearer to look around as if they were standing wherever the camera is placed. Read more