Up until recently, those self-driving cars were basically commercially available vehicles that had been retrofitted to work without user input. Now Google’s going all out and building its own cars. They’re actually kind of cute, and Google’s doing a lot of work to show how these things can be useful rather than scary by highlighting how they help transport people who might not otherwise be able to drive, for instance. They’re also built with safety in mind.
And they kind of look like toys.
Here’s a roundup of tech news from around the world.
- First Google takes away third-party Chrome extensions… then they take away automobile steering wheels
All you need to do to get going is push a button and let the car know where you want to go. It’s kind of a week for Google taking control out of your hands though. [Google]
- Apple to acquire Beats for $3 billion
This is Apple’s largest acquisition to date, and it means Beats headphones and the Beats Music streaming service could be Apple brands by the end of the year… although Beats will continue to exist as a standalone brand. The companies also say Beats Music apps for Android and Windows Phone will continue to coexist with an iOS app. [Beats]
- TrueCrypt ends development, suggests you immediately migrate to BitLocker
Open source encryption software TrueCrypt has been around for more than a decade, but the project’s Sourceforge page was unexpectedly updated today to announced that development has ended, the software is no longer secure, and that users should migrate to BitLocker or another supported platform. [Ars Technica]
- Chromecast launches in Australia, Belgium, Korea, Portugal, Switzerland, and Japan
Google’s cheap media streaming stick costs more in some countries than others (it’s about $49 in Australia), but that’s true about most consumer electronics devices. [Google]
- WD TV Personal Edition brings media to your TV, lets you mirror your mobile device screen
For $100 you get the ability to play MKV, MP4, WMV, and MOV files on your TV, access internet content from YouTube, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and more, and use other services including Pandora, Facebook, Spotify, and SlingPlayer. This model also supports screen mirroring thanks to Miracast. Of course, all that’s pretty much true of the similarly-priced Amazon Fire TV as well. [WD]
- Leap Motion software update improves 3D gesture detection by watching your joints, not just your fingers
The company’s motion tracking device and software lets you interact with a computer without touching it. Now there’s a free update availabel to developers which should make it even more accurate. [Leap Motion]
- Digital book distributor Feedbooks acquires Aldiko
One of the most popular independent eBook reader apps for Android is now owned by eBook distributor Feedbooks. [Feedbox]
- Nova launcher 3.0 beta 1 for Android
It’s been a while since the popular NOVA Launcher for Android has received a major update. But the wait is almost over. [+Kevin Barry]
- DIY Tizen netbook w/Allwinner A20 board + Motorola lapdock
Take a developer board with a dual-core ARM processor, throw in a laptop shell which has a keyboard and monitor, and add a Linux-based operating system designed for mobile devices, and you’ve got yourself a DIY low-power laptop. [Tizen Experts]