Weekend news round-up: Apple’s next big things, Twitter the songbird

3 Feb 2014

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In our round-up of the weekend in tech, Apple is working on creating the perfect battery technology as well as dominating the world of fitness apps, and Twitter is becoming quite the songbird with a new data analysis tech for the music industry.

Apple working on the perfect battery?

In fairness to Apple, it always blazes a trail that others follow – and exploit. And this will be true for the next generation of smartphone and smartwatch batteries.

According to The New York Times, the Californian tech giant is focusing on developing inductive coil-type battery technology that allows users to charge their device either by placing them on surfaces or over the air, like Wi-Fi.

“Batteries, long the poor cousin to computer chips in research-obsessed Silicon Valley, are now the rage.

“As tech companies push their businesses into making wearable devices like fitness bands, eyeglasses and smartwatches, the limitations of battery technology have become the biggest obstacle to sales and greater profits. Consumers are unlikely to embrace a wristwatch computer like the one being worked on by Apple, or Google’s smart glasses, if they work only a few hours between charges and must be removed to be plugged in.”

An Apple a day …

Apple was also in the news at the weekend for its ambitions in revolutionising mobile health and fitness-tracking technology.

9to5Mac.com reported Apple currently plans to release a new version of the iPhone operating system this year, with health and fitness tracking integration as its headline feature.

“Apple’s work on such an operating system likely indicates that Apple is nearing the introduction of its long-awaited, sensor-laden ‘iWatch’, which sources say is well into development …”

Trustev shows how scary tech is getting

Ireland’s own Trustev merited a mention in Forbes at the weekend for developing a proof-of-concept screenlogging malware that monitors finger swipes on smart devices, as well as taking screenshots to paint a picture of how a user is exactly interacting with their smartphone or tablet.

“This kind of attack is probably not something most users will have to worry about. Running malware like this on an industrial scale would be labour intensive, as it’s difficult to automate or search through images for relevant information.

“From a social engineering perspective, though, it could have its uses.”

Selfie … that annoying trend that just won’t die

You know that stupid trend that has people doing fishy faces into cameras? Yeah, the one called selfie? Yeah, it may be turned into a TV show called Selfie.

Entertainment Weekly reported that ABC hopes to turn social media into comedy with a pilot for a show called Selfie. Suburgatory writer Emily Kapnek will write the show.

“Comedy inspired by My Fair Lady tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman who is more concerned with ‘likes’ than being liked. After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media ‘followers’ than she ever imagined – but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.”

Flipboard kills the magazine star

Social reader app Flipboard is moving further in the direction of structured content for readers, TechCrunch reported.

“The company is revamping ‘Cover Stories’, the section within Flipboard that highlights the best and most popular content from across your subscriptions.

“This feature was initially developed using technology Flipboard acquired several years ago from Ellerdale, an early semantic web start-up. The system is designed to surface not just the trending content that others are sharing or clicking on, but also content that’s most relevant to you based on your own interactions (separate from general popularity).”

Twitter is quite the humming bird

The Next Web reported that Twitter has partnered with 300 Entertainment to give full access of its user data to the music industry.

“Hot on the heels of a deal with CNN and Dataminr to bring the benefits of its data to journalists, Twitter is focusing on unlocking the potential of its platform for the music industry. The company today announced a partnership with 300 Entertainment, a music industry firm founded by ex-Warner Music Group head Lyor Cohen, to delve into its data.

“The partnership represents Twitter’s first step into music-related analytics, and it shows its continued efforts to be seen as a platform to provide consumer insight.”

Information in the palm of your hand

Mashable reported on the arrival of a new wearable transmitter called Fin that turns your palm into a touch interface.

“Fin enables users to control up to three devices such as smartphones, car radios and smart TVs using only swipes and taps. The ring-shaped technology is worn on the thumb, and communicates with different devices using Bluetooth.

“Fin has five pre-programmed gestures; in its final iteration, users will be able to create custom ones on an app that will come with the device.”

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com