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Happy Friday! Before running off to the apple orchards or pumpkin patches (hello fall!), read up on this week’s tech news:
Is there someone you want to talk to online but don’t want your S.O., your mom, or the government to know? Good news for all you sneaks out there -- Facebook Messenger finished rolling out “Secret Conversations,” an opt-in feature that allows users to encrypt messages. The added layer of security means even Facebook, law enforcement or intelligence agencies can’t get access to encrypted messages. Yikes. This is nothing new for WhatsApp users, who were introduced to this feature last spring. Following Facebook’s continuous rip off of Snapchat, users can also set expiration time for messages from five seconds to one day. The catch: you have to manually encrypt each conversation, and both parties must have the update for this feature to work.
Google’s Self-Driving Car Program Odometer Reaches 2 Million Miles - Wall Street Journal
Google is a better driver than you. This week, Google’s autonomous car program hit the 2 million miles driven on public roads--that’s an estimated 300 years of road experience. Google says the cars are safer than when people drive them, and their fleet has experience driving in the city and dealing with construction zones, bikers and police cars. The program started over 7 years ago, but over the last year the program jumped from one million to 2 million miles. Joining Google in the autonomous car frenzy is Ford, Uber, Apple and Lyft. In fact, Lyft's co-founder claims autonomous vehicles will account for the majority of Lyft rides in the next 5 years. Google still hasn’t divulged details about its business strategy for the autonomous cars, but it’s already miles ahead of traditional automakers.
At this week’s Oculus Connect developer conference, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg introduced a demo of a new virtual reality device. The prototype of the headset includes a key feature: positional tracking. This enables you to “walk” through an experience and see it from every angle, rather than in 360 video experiences that are restricted to a spherical viewpoint. This device will close the gap between mobile VR and the PC experience. There’s no release date yet, but it’s supposed to be more affordable and accessible to VR enthusiasts.
The holidays are looming in the distance, so let’s get that gift list started. We all know that one person who is outright obsessed with Apple and is that guy who pays someone to stand in line all night so he can be the first to get the newest iPhone. While you’re probably not willing to buy that guy a new iPhone or iPad or whatever, here’s something you can put in his stocking: the “New Mac” candle. To take consumer loyalty to an obscene level, Apple accessory maker TwelveSouth now sells a 100% soy wax candle with scenes of “mint, peach, basil, lavender, mandarin, and sage.” It’s $24 and oh, wait--it’s already sold out.
Snap Inc. recently announced Spectacles, digital sunglasses that are akin to GoPro’s action cameras and a less freaky version of Google Glass. The $130 glasses capture snapshots and short videos (a light goes on to let the outside world know you’re recording) and are positioned to be more successful than Google Glass. In some minds, the playful look of the glasses is fun and sensational, but to others (i.e. Indiana University’s student newspaper IDS News) you might end up looking like Redfoo or Cookie from Ned’s Declassified SChool Survival Guide.