Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we cover Project Loon’s change of strategy, Alibaba’s IPO filing and the big Google Maps update you’ve been waiting for.
Google to partner with wireless carriers on Project Loon
Project Loon is one of Google’s “moonshot” projects that will use a global network of high-altitude balloons to connect people in rural and remote areas who have no Internet access at all. And to execute that project, the company will lease the balloons to wireless carriers as they fly over countries where each company provides service.
This is certainly a change in strategy for the project. The company scrapped plans to buy spectrum from large telecommunication companies, with whom they had been negotiating for over six months; instead, Google will now lease these high-altitude balloons to various wireless carriers who want to provide Internet service over these remote areas.
Floating cell towers? That may look cooler than those ugly land-based ones wireless companies have now.
Alibaba files for IPO in the U.S.
We wrote a few weeks ago about how Alibaba was preparing for its initial public offering. Well, the company just filed for its IPO and experts predict it could top Facebook for the largest in tech history.
Data from Bloomberg put Alibaba’s value around $168 billion, which would make it bigger than 95% of the S&P 500, and the most valuable tech company after Google. An interesting side note is that Yahoo, who currently owns a 22.6% stake in the Chinese e-commerce company, is expected to sell about half of its shares for a huge payday as the company struggles to reinvent itself.
I can’t wait to write about how massive this IPO is in a future Week in Tech post.
Significant Google Maps update includes Uber integration
Google recently pushed out an update to its Google Maps app for iOS and Android and boy, is it a big one. What are some of the new features that you can look forward to?
- Uber integration – if you have the Uber app installed (like most city folks do!), then you can now compare your route with mass transit or walking routes. You’ll also be able to know if trains are running off-schedule or experiencing delays.
- Lane guidance – Google maps will now show you what lane you should stay in or refrain from during your route.
- Better offline maps – it will be easier now to access your offline maps by using your profile icon on the top right corner of the app.
- Improved transit and place information – there will be additional filter searches available and users will now be able to get more real-time transit information, e.g., last train arriving for cities that do not currently have a 24-hr mass transit.
These changes were definitely needed for Google Maps, and we’re excited to see how it’ll work! The updates are now available in the App Store and on Google Play.
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.