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Apple announces iTunes Radio, iOS 7, Macbook upgrades at Worldwide Developers Conference

At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced upgrades to its OSes, Macbook Air, and Macbook Pro — and a direct competitor to your favorite internet radio station, Pandora.

iTunes Radio is coming this fall and will contain, at least, the following features: It will be available on all iOS 7 devices (that means it won’t be on your iPhone without an upgrade); it will include ads, unless you subscribe to iTunes Match; it can create custom stations built around a song or artist; it will allow you to buy the songs that you stream; and it will allow you to “thumbs-up” a track you like. Yes, it’s a lot like Pandora.

Other highlights from the WDC below:
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A la carte cable? John McCain wants to make it possible

An interview with my DVR (his name is Leonardo — after the Ninja Turtle, not DiCaprio in case you were wondering), confirms that despite regularly watching up to 30 different scripted television shows a week, I am only using a handful of the channels currently offered to me by my cable provider. Should a new bill from Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain pass, Leonardo might be recording my favorites from a far smaller batch of networks.

McCain’s proposed legislation, called The Television Consumer Freedom Act, aims to establish a television environment in which cable television customers only pay for the channels they choose.

By current practices, certain companies — like Disney and NBC Universal — sell their channels in bundles, thus charging cable operators for lower-profile channels, an expense that is then passed on to consumers. McCain’s proposal would seek to remedy that by forcing networks to unbundle channels and encourage cable operators to do the same. (What’s in it for them? Incentives around licensing.)
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Google launches 'The Peanut Gallery' or a new thing for you to do instead of working

Remember when the Google Doodle was that soccer game for the Olympics and you didn’t get any work done all day? Well Google’s The Peanut Gallery may give that a run for its money.

Google’s new Web Speech API is a voice recognition tool that writes out what you say. To show off this technology, Google released “The Peanut Gallery,” which lets you add intertitles to classic silent films like The Kid and The Lost World by just talking to your screen.

Plus we get this great comedy sketch/commercial. If you’re yelling like this young girl, your accuracy has to go up.

Read more:
Google Reader shutting down
Google unveils ‘talking shoe’ at SXSW Interactive
Google Glass video reveals that Google’s RoboCop glasses will let you take pictures and skydive and whatever

Google Reader shutting down

google-readerStarting July 1, you’re going to need a different RSS feed: Google Reader will be no more.

Google announced the news yesterday, writing on their blog, “We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too. There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.To ensure a smooth transition, we’re providing a three-month sunset period so you have sufficient time to find an alternative feed-reading solution. If you want to retain your Reader data, including subscriptions, you can do so through Google Takeout.”

While the numbers may be declining, fans took to social media last night to express their outrage. A Change.org petition asking Google to reconsider the decision has already garnered over 51,000 signatures — although Google is unlikely to change their minds. According to NextWeb, Google is pulling the plug to concentrate resources on the still-floundering Google+.

What are your favorite Reader alternatives — or, thanks to social media, do you not use an RSS program at all?

Read more:
SXSW: Reading The New York Times on Google Glass
Google unveils ‘talking shoe’ at SXSW Interactive
Google Doodle celebrates Douglas Adams and ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

SXSW: Reading The New York Times on Google Glass

Google gave app developers (and curiosity seekers like us) a first look at how its eagerly awaited (by some) headset computer will serve up breaking news and integrate with popular apps and web services at a packed session at SXSW earlier today.

The demo was designed to get developers excited to create apps to run on the device, expected to be released later this year.

After showing Glass’ ability to snap photos and provide on-demand translation (“Arigato!”) — features that have been well documented in countless promo clips — Google Sr. Developer Advocate Timothy Jordan showed how Glass wearers would be able to scan headlines from the New York Times: Images overlayed with text appear in a timeline — essentially a horizontal scroll of notification “cards” floating in the user’s peripheral vision. Tapping on a card reveals a secondary scroll of additional stories; by tapping the device or, apparently, nodding her head, the user can read a short summary of the story, or have the full text of the story read aloud.

Subsequent demos showed how a wearer could read and dictate responses to Gmail messages and notifications from friends they follow on Path, a social journaling app. Jordan also showed how a wearer could snap a photo and send it to her (Android) tablet, where she could annotate the image Perez Hilton-style using an app called Skitch, then save it to popular notebooking app Evernote.

The demo was a bit of a breakthrough in understanding how the hardware could apply to real life: Up till now, we had a hard time imagining any practical application for Glass (we’re not often struck with the urge to launch a Google Hangout while skydiving). The voice input feature and ability to have incoming messages read aloud were particularly exciting to see.

Others remained unconvinced. Attendees rushed to pack the auditorium at the Austin Convention Center … but they played it cool once inside, refusing to respond to the presenter’s frequent exclamations of “Isn’t that cool!?” During the short Q&A session following the panel, one audience member asked, What can I do with Glass that I can’t already do with my phone? The dwindling audience erupted in the most enthusiastic applause of the entire session.

But the question missed the point. It’s not what Google Glass does that’s innovative; it’s how it does it.

How about you, PopWatchers? Will instant, hands-free access to headlines, tweets, and mail inspire you to try Glass on for size?

SXSW 2013: Five tech trends we can't wait to see

Just a brief look at the South By Southwest interactive schedule can boggle even the most experienced festival-goer’s mind. There are panels and conversations and films and workshops and even a daily 7:30 am run (in cowboy costume!) in case you weren’t getting enough exercise dancing your pants off at one of the many parties. But for everyone not going to the festival, which marks 19 years of interactive and film coverage this year, we have started to make sense of some already-emerging trends and news to look out for as the unofficial “spring break for nerds” kicks off in Austin, Texas.
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Redesigned News Feed will change everything about the way we Facebook now

FB_before-after-photo

This afternoon, Facebook made an announcement so bold, so incredible, so — dare I say? — groundbreaking that the very foundations of the way we stalk our exes and look to see which of our enemies have gained weight may be forever altered.

The basic gist: Pictures on News Feed — wait for it, wait for itare about to get bigger.

Not just a little bigger — a lot bigger. Like, super big, as you can see from the photo above. Additionally, Facebook will be reducing News Feed’s clutter by allowing users to sort which information appears — it’ll soon be possible to view just updates from all of your friends, just photos posted by your friends, just posts from the properties you “like,” and so on — adding little maps to the posts that appear when a user checks into a location, and changing the site’s interface so that it better resembles Facebook’s mobile interface. READ FULL STORY

Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, and other Internet service providers launch Copyright Alert System

Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have joined together into a powerful Coalition of Businesses You Hate But Can’t Live Without, and now they’re taking action against illegal downloading. The Executive Director for the Center for Copyright Information announced in a blog post yesterday that the long-planned Copyright Alert System will go into effect. The system uses a kind of Six-Strikes policy: The Internet service providers will send six electronic warnings to alleged offenders who are downloading content illegally. (By the fifth and sixth strikes, the ISPs will begin implementing “Mitigation Measures,” which include reducing the speed of your Internet — and if there’s one thing your service provider is good at, it’s making your connection incredibly slow. READ FULL STORY

Google Glass video reveals that Google's RoboCop glasses will let you take pictures and skydive and whatever

For generations, the Great Minds of our world asked themselves: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a machine that could take pictures of your inane life, give you up-to-the-second directions so you never need to understand how to read a map again, and show you photos of tiger heads so you can carve an ice block into a tiger head?” And lo, thus it came to pass that — in the first decade of the third millennium A.D. — the market was positively besieged with magical picture-taking, map-replacing, tiger-head-picture-discovering devices. Smartphones. Tablets. Phone tablets. Tabphones. But that was not enough for the Great Minds. (It never is.) READ FULL STORY

Ashton Kutcher gets honest: 'I know exactly what films I've done that f--ing suck donkey'

Say this for Ashton Kutcher: he’s not as dim as the characters he plays.

The former model who has made a career out of playing lovable dummies (with a penchant for taking their clothes off) knows that some of his movies haven’t exactly been the greatest. In an Esquire profile, Kutcher told the magazine, “I know exactly what films I’ve done that f—ing suck donkey. And I know the ones that are good, that people like. And I know it not because of the box office, because the box office is not going to tell you the truth. I know it because I have friends that don’t hold back. They don’t depend on me for money or employment. They’re just friends. Friends tell the truth.”

While he doesn’t call out any movies specifically, the writer of the profile says the only good movie Kutcher has ever made – sorry, fans of No Strings Attached —  is Dude, Where’s My Car? But while his track record may not be great, Kutcher does seem excited about his upcoming film project, the Steve Jobs biopic jOBS that is being released April 19 after premiering at Sundance last month. “I think it turned out really well,” he told the magazine. READ FULL STORY

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