Tech Tuesday: News Roundup

It’s been a big week for us tech nerds: we’ve had to deal with the demise of Google Reader, the postponement of the Nvidia Shield release, and the baffling news of a $39 smartphone running Firefox OS! Read on to get the scoop.



Firefox Phones!

The first two smartphones running the brand-new Firefox OS — the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire —were officially announced on Monday morning. The former is expected to hit shelves next week in Spain, and is the world’s first open web phone: much like the Google Chromebook, almost everything it does is web-based. But don’t expect this new player to compete with iOS or Android: priced at around $39, Firefox phones are aimed at the consumer who isn’t fussy about features. In fact, many of the customers are expected to be first-time smartphone users. Seems like a great gift idea for those tech-unsavvy parents or grandparents! But what would they do without an internet connection?

Death of a Reader

Yesterday marked the long-awaited demise of Google Reader, a day which many of us had been dreading since the March 13 announcement (For those of you who remained blissfully unaware, Google Reader was a news feed aggregator: a platform for staying up-to-date on all your blogs and news feeds in one place). While the scramble to find alternatives has turned attention to previously-lesser-known platforms like Feedly–which saw its user base more than triple since March–everyone’s favourite social media behemoth is rumoured to want a piece of the pie. That’s right, Facebook is apparently developing a news reader app for smartphone and tablet. It’s rumored to be big on visuals, rather than text, and to have a Flipboard-style interface, meaning users can ‘flip’ through stories as if flipping through a magazine. Some say it won’t even feature RSS at all! Though it may be no Google Reader, it will almost certainly be more popular: Facebook’s existing user base of over 1 billion will make sure of that.

Little Consolation

The last week has been a big one for Android gaming consoles! First there was the Nvidia Shield, which was due for release on June 27th but, at the last minute, delayed until July. The Shield features a 5-inch 720p display attached to a Tegra 4-powered controller, and in addition to Android games, will be able to wirelessly sync with Steam to play PC games on the big or small screen.

Beating the Shield to the release date, there was the Ouya, a Kickstarter-funded project which was finally released to the general public last Tuesday after shipping to Kickstarter backers since late March. While few would criticize its $99 price tag—especially when that price buys a Tegra 3 console with 1GB of RAM, 1080p HDMI output and a wireless controller—reviews about its construction and performance have been less than ideal.

And let’s not forget…While the open platform allows anyone to develop games for free, Android’s game repertoire has a long way to go before it can compete with Sony, Nintendo or Xbox at this stage. Do you think Android games will take off? Would you buy one of these consoles?

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