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 discuss the arrest of a student who built a clock, Facebook’s new button, Amazon’s launches, and Snapchat’s new features.
Muslim student arrested for building digital clock
Ahmed Mohamed, a student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was arrested for making his own digital clock and bringing it to school.
After Mohamed showed his teacher his homemade project, school officials detained him because they thought that the clock was a “hoax bomb.”
The police announced that the teen would not be charged after they determined that, well, it was just a clock.
The incident caused a ruckus on the internet, with the Twitter hashtag #IStandwithAhmed trending on Wednesday in support of the future engineer. Mohamed, who aspires to attend MIT, received invitations from the university as well as Harvard. He also was invited to Facebook headquarters by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and even Obama extended an invitation to Mohamed to bring his “cool clock” to the White House.
Mohamed said that he plans on transferring to another school, “any other school.”
The kid’s life has been changed forever for the better, but it’s unfortunate that a student who just wants to tinker and build things had to endure this.
Facebook working on a new button
It’s usually not news when a company adds a button to its website. When Facebook does it, everyone goes nuts.
In a public town hall event, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that they were working on a way for users to show a different emotion other than a “Like.” But don’t bank on a “Dislike” button any time soon.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that not every post on Facebook is positive and happy, and that there needs to be ways to express feelings other than approval. And he wants to avoid downvoting, as that’s not the type of community he’d like to build.
So the company is working on a new button that allows users to communicate that they understand and relate with a negative story in their news feeds. For instance, if a user posts a story that a family member passed away, Liking that story is a bit confusing.
An empathy or sympathy button might be what works. Whatever the button is called, it needs to be crystal clear for each and every one of the social network’s 1.5 billion monthly active users.
Amazon launches new TV and tablet products. And soon, rockets.
Amazon and its CEO made some interesting product announcements this week.
On Thursday, Amazon launched a bunch of new products, including:
- Two new media streaming devices, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, both of which will be able to stream 4K content.
- Four new tablets, including a $50 tablet that’s being sold in a 6-pack for $250. Yup, buy 5, get one free.
- A new operating system, FireOS 5, that will run on all Amazon tablets.
Earlier in the week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced another type of “launch,” laying out plans for his space exploration company Blue Origin to build a rocket manufacturing plant and launch site at Cape Canaveral.
He joins fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson in the race to send humans into space at scale.
Snapchat now charges you to replay snaps
Snapchat built its huge audience on the premise that its video messages can only be viewed once, then will disappear forever. Now they are charging you for the ability to watch these messages a second time.
You can now pay $0.99 to replay three snaps one more time before they disappear. For about two years now, Snapchat users have been able to replay one snap per day before it vanished.
This adds a third revenue stream for the company, as Snapchat already makes money from its Discover media partnerships and sponsored Snapchat Stories.
Snapchat also announced two other new features. Lenses allows users to place filters over their selfies, and Trophies gives you virtual rewards for using the app in different ways.
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.