Welcome to “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we talk about the rumors of Amazon’s smartphone, Google buying drones, Facebook and e-money, and Twitter’s purchase of Gnip.
Amazon to launch 3D smartphone
Amazon is preparing for the launch of a smartphone in June that has six cameras to facilitate a 3D interface. What?
The phone will have a 13-megapixel camera in the back, a standard front-facing camera, and four additional front-facing cameras located at each corner of the phone to track the position of the user’s face and eyes in relation to the phone’s display, creating the software’s 3D effect. This feature may be used to view product images and maps in 3D.
The company is also going to launch a lower-end device around the same time. Only 2D for that phone. Weak.
Amazon is entering the smartphone game with a bang, and we’re pumped about it.
Google, not Facebook, buys Titan Aerospace
Google has purchased solar-powered drone company Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed sum.
In a Week in Tech edition in early March, we wrote about how Facebook was in talks to buy Titan Aerospace, but Google scooped them up instead. Facebook recently purchased Titan competitor Ascenta for $20 million.
Google will leverage Titan’s drones to accelerate Project Loon, the company’s initiative to blanket the world in Internet access. The drones’ ability to take high-resolution images will also help improve Google Maps.
Facebook to test e-payments in Europe
Facebook users in Europe will soon be able to use the social network for payments, as the Central Bank of Ireland is about to approve the company as an e-money institution.
Facebook already processes money transfers in the US in the form of in-game purchases for game publishers like King Entertainment and Zynga, creators of Candy Crush Saga and Farmville, respectively. Thus the infrastructure for facilitating money transfers already exists and can be easily repurposed to allow the social network’s users move money between each other, store money on the site and make purchases.
E-money and mobile payments are hotly contested markets, with PayPal, Google Wallet, and even Amazon in the game. The competition is going get even fiercer now.
Twitter acquires social analytics provider Gnip
There’s a lot of value that can be gleaned from social media data. Twitter realized this and has purchased long-time partner and social media analytics company Gnip.
Gnip has access to the Twitter firehose but also offers APIs to other social sites like Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram, and more. Twitter will likely use this purchase to offer advertisers more in-depth data for better targeting capabilities. Twitter has been working hard to increase monetization of their platform ever since they went public.
Other companies in this space, like DataSift and Topsy (who was recently purchased by Apple) probably aren’t too happy about this situation, as Twitter may eventually turn off access to their firehose.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.