This month’s news had us looking past June gloom and towards the radiating landscape of product announcements, weird findings and hot rivalries between corporate giants. Before we all jump on the boycott-Belgium-waffles bandwagon, let’s take a look at the top trends from June and reminisce on Ann Coulter’s random hate for soccer.
The rivalry between Apple and Google continued to heat up at this year’s WWDC Conference, where developers duked it out with competing product announcements and software updates. With the healthcare market estimated to reach a $20.6 billion by 2018, both platforms seem to have their hands full with fitness trackers, like HealthKit, and health apps designed for widespread adoption. Significant developments in Android L and iOS8 were also shared, providing an opportune moment for Sundar Pichai to take a stab at Apple’s late integration with custom keyboards and widgets. And while Google drew back the curtain on its new Android Wear smartwatch, there was no mention of the heavily-rumored iWatch smartwatch, a misstep on Apple’s part given the increasing popularity of wearable tech in consumer technology.
Speaking of Google developments, more than a million people tuned in to the opening day presentation at Google I/O in San Francisco. Aspects of the keynote covered the company’s interest in mobile platform integration and customizing applications to fit the needs of human interaction. In other words, Google is developing technology for devices to determine when a user is at work or home. Based off of this data, apps will create a more connected environment experience. However, talk of Google Glass was left out of the big picture, as the product continues to receive public criticism. The glasses were recently banned from UK cinemas over rising piracy fears and privacy violations.
Meanwhile, Amazon rolled out its very own Amazon Fire Phone, aiming to compete with the top products in the smartphone market. The phone has an exclusive carrier contract with AT&T and in terms of alluring features, boasts a bigger display than the iPhone 5S and comes with a Mayday option for customers. Given Apple and Samsung’s widespread dominance, Amazon’s idea was to target the 42% of American adults who don’t own a smartphone and a younger, tech-savvy audience not specifically committed to an Apple or Droid ecosystem. So how did the Fire Phone fare? Currently, it sits at #61 in terms of top-selling electronics according to the company’s own rankings, a disappointing result despite the phone’s anticipated success. That’s okay Amazon. We still love the Kindle Fire and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Kindle Fire TV.
Social media continues to get creepier and Internet users are not happy about it. The results of a Facebook psychological experiment, conducted in 2012 using what’s called an “A/B” test, were published this month in the National Academy of Science academic journal. An A/B test is when an online company manipulates the web experience for a small division of users. Companies like Google and CNN have conducted tests like these see what headlines are generating the most clicks. For Facebook, the goal wasn’t totally clear. According to findings, users were shown more negative or positive content to affect their range of happiness for a full week. The result? Those who were shown more negative content were likely to produce negative posts and vice versa. Thus, the social media website has proven itself a powerful controller in the emotional state of its users. Even better is that the testing is permitted in the terms of service and there’s no indication subjects were asked about their interest in participating. Needless to say, we have all been lab rats at some point in the growth of the Internet.
In case you missed it, David Muir is to replace Diane Sawyer in September as the anchor of ABC’s “World News.” Sawyer is stepping down to concentrate on other areas of news, including specials and interviews. Although the move was Sawyer’s decision, her departure marks a rewiring of past traditional broadcasts, where all ABC evening news broadcasts will currently be anchored by white men. Still, she remains optimistic about her future position in prime time news. Go Diane!
To conclude the news roundup, our guilty pleasure mockumentary, Silicon Valley, wrapped up its first season this month and has been renewed for a second. For the high-tech junkie, the warped story line is a goldmine for humor and promises more than a few socially awkward moments in each episode. “Most start-ups are a soap opera but not that kind of a soap opera,” as Tesla CEO Elon Musk put it in an interview after the premiere. It’s a hilarious parody of the tech community that can’t be taken too seriously. HBO has not announced when Season 2 will premiere, but it’s guaranteed to be another unique experience.