Thursday, February 5, 2015

Uber Develops Self-Driving Cars, Twitter Unveils Instant Timeline

By Dave Parrack
Uber takes on Google, Twitter helps new users, RadioShack looks to shut up shop, Adobe PaintCan helps you draw, Bayonetta comes to your browser, and Mr. Selfie ignores everybody.

Uber Develops Autonomous Taxi Fleet

Uber is keen to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars for the future. That is at least the conclusion being drawn from the company teaming up with the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.
According to TechCrunch, which broke the story, a source close to the decision-making process suggests this is designed to “kickstart [its] autonomous taxi fleet development.” In order to make this happen, Uber has also reportedly “hired talent from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, including lead engineering and commercialization experts.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously suggested he would like to see his fleet of vehicles (don’t call them taxis!) powered by something other than human drivers. Because human drivers are expensive. We wonder how this revelation, along with the opening of the Advanced Technologies Center, has gone down with current Uber drivers.
In a related story, Bloomberg claims Google is “preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project.” This would, if true, put Uber and Google on a collision course, but the Wall Street Journal claims the whole thing has been “blown out of proportion,” and that Google is actually trialing a carpool service for its employees.

Twitter Helps New Users Settle In

Twitter is testing a new Instant Timeline which prevents new users from being faced with a wall of nothingness when they sign up to use the social networking site. As its name suggests, Instant Timeline presents new users will a feed of content before they have even followed anyone.
The idea is to solve one of the main issues with Twitter that could be preventing its growth. That is the need to actively interact with the site in order to gain anything from it. Which is, we suspect, why so many new users abandon the site before truly experiencing everything Twitter has to offer.
Instant Timeline decides what content to show you by analyzing the Twitter behavior of your contacts. So, if you have a lot of friends who are into baseball, expect to be shown lots of baseball tweets. Instant Timeline is currently being tested, with the hope being to expand it until it’s a standard part of the sign-up process.

RadioShack May Be on Its Way Out

American electronics retailer RadioShack looks set to shut its doors in the not-too-distant future. According to Bloomberg, the company which was founded all the way back in 1921, is preparing to declare bankruptcy, selling half of its stores to Sprint and closing the rest.
The Sprint deal isn’t yet complete, which means the plans are still liable to change. There are further suggestions that Amazon could be circling the injured company, using the RadioShack retail space as showrooms for its own hardware. Either way, with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) suspending the trading of RadioShack stock, it seems the once-mighty retailer is doomed.

Everybody Can Draw with Adobe PaintCan


Adobe Labs has released a free app called PaintCan. Available for free exclusively on iOS (only in the U.S.), PaintCan lets you turn photographs into paintings in a matter of minutes. The video above shows how it works, with automatic presets and manual brushstrokes applied.
Due to its experimental nature, Adobe is actively seeking feedback about PaintCan, which may end up becoming a full Adobe product, be folded into Photoshop, or disappear altogether. Which means you should probably get hold of it for free while you can.

Play 8-Bit Bayonetta in Your Browser


You can now play an 8-bit version of Bayonetta directly in your Web browser. The game loads up when you hit the 404 Error page on the website of Bayonetta developer Platinum Games. Which, as Kotaku suggests, provides ample opportunity for trolling friends with fake URLs.
The game itself is simple to play but fiendishly difficult to master. Meaning the best score I have personally managed so far is a paltry 2000. Still, video games were harder back in the 8-bit days, so this makes perfect sense. But it’s still frustrating.

Please Don’t Be like Mr. Selfie


And finally, a short animation from London-based design studio Weareseventeenshould act as a reminder for us all to look up from our smartphones once in a while. If we don’t do so there is a very real danger of missing out on all of the wondrous things life has to offer. In other words, don’t be like Mr. Selfie.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you for or against the idea of self-driving cars? Will you be sad to see RadioShack disappear? Do you see yourself in the antics of the animated Mr. Selfie?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Dirk Heine via Flickr  Source: www.makeuseof.com

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