Taylor Swift vs Apple

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 discuss Taylor Swift’s battle with Apple Music, Lexus’ hoverboard, Google’s News Lab, Facebook streaming HBO shows, and Snapchat’s new ad agency.

Taylor Swift drops the hammer on Apple

Taylor Swift showed everyone that’s she the most powerful person in music.

The pop star penned an open letter to Apple disagreeing with their policy that they won’t pay songwriters, producers, and artists during the three-month free trial of Apple Music, which will launch on June 30. She also said that her most recent album, 1989, would not be available for streaming on Apple’s service because of this.

“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,” said Swift.

Apple quickly changed course and said that they would pay all royalties during the free trial, and now Taylor Swift will allow her album to be streamed after all.

Rumors then started flying that the whole thing was an orchestrated PR stunt. As if Apple needed more hype for a product launch.

Lexus releases a video of a working hoverboard

In this week’s WTF segment, Lexus has supposedly developed a working hoverboard. Fo real?

Check out the video here:

Magnets are embedded in the hoverboard and it floats by repelling liquid nitrogen-cooled superconducting magnets. Therein lies the catch – in the video, the ground below the board isn’t concrete, but rather a metallic surface that helps the hoverboard float.

Lexus claims to have been working on this for over 18 months. And while you likely won’t see it on the market anytime soon, you can’t argue the company’s innovativeness nor how frickin cool this concept is.

Google launches News Lab to help journalists with reporting

Google announced the launch of News Lab, an initiative that aims to help journalists better report the news online.

News Lab is Google’s plan to play a larger role in journalism and provide the tools and resources for journalists to easily perform research, enhance stories, distribute content more efficiently, and measure engagement, all under one umbrella.

These resources include:

  • YouTube Newswire, which curates and validates videos of newsworthy events
  • Data acquisition tools like Google Trends, Surveys, and Public Data Explorer
  • Visualization programs like Maps and Earth Pro
  • Distribution channels such as YouTube, Play Newsstand, and Google+
  • Engagement analytics tools for all channels

Read more on TechCrunch.

Facebook streams premieres of two HBO series

For the first time ever, the premiere episodes of two HBO series are available via streaming video on Facebook.

The premieres of Ballers and The Brink have been available for viewing on the social network since Wednesday, and only for a limited time. Facebook has exclusivity, so these episodes can’t be viewed on any other streaming platform except for HBO Go.

This shows the increasing power that Facebook has in online video streaming. If this partnership is successful, it may be a sign of things to come, and more and more shows may be available on the world’s largest social network.

Read more on The Verge.

Snapchat, WPP, and Daily Mail launch digital agency

First it was disappearing messages. Then you could send money to your friends. Now Snapchat launches…an ad agency? Yup.

The ephemeral messaging startup is teaming up with ad agency conglomerate WPP and newspaper The Daily Mail to create a digital content agency named Truffle Pig.

The agency will offer services such as video content production, positioning and messaging, social media management, and analytics. The company will work with both WPP’s clients and other brands to engage younger audiences as only Snapchat knows how.

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.

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Image courtesy of jazills on Flickr.