News Roundup: Apple Eats Intel, Facebook Gets Fat, and QWERTY Vs KALQ

Apple has the Intel
Reducing the News Roundup to a rumour hound after only a week, but could Apple be buying Intel? Following on from last week's slightly lower than normal but still huge profits announcement, people are wondering what the iPhone maker will do with all its cash. With enough to buy Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, or pretty much any other tech company bar Google and Microsoft, the rumour-mill is betting on the former. Hard to say how likely it is, but in theory it could work out well for both companies. Not news per say, but by far the most interesting Apple-related spiel I've heard in a while, and for once not related to iWatches or iOS 7.

Facebook getting fatter with age, less attractive too
Despite in theory just being a simple blue webpage, Facebook now requires the same amount of code to appear in your web browser as the Windows OS. Described as "a holy-f**k comparison" by Facebook engineer Joel Pobar- a man who has worked as a programmer for both systems, he's a man who might be able to tell. While the actual numbers are vague and vary depending on who's talking, it's still an impressive way to overcomplicate things.

As well as getting growing coding love handles, the love affair with Facebook might be coming to an end. Reports have come out that Mr. Zuckerberg's company has lost 10 million users in the US and a net gain of zero in the UK in the last year. But on the other hand, worldwide users are still up almost a quarter on last year, and it was inevitable that growth would stall in the markets it's been active in for a decade. Still, over a billion active users is alright, isn't it?

Google+ does the maths on Twitter
Apparently Google+ now has more users than Twitter. But do people actually use it? I'm still not sold. Could a hacked Google+ account wipe $136bn off the US stockmarket, like the AP's Obama Death tweet did? I highly doubt it. Google's social network still feels like the obligatory by-product of owning a Gmail account, while Twitter is more a pulse of what's going on in the world, at least for now. Either way, both are still better than Google Buzz.

Blackberry CEO turns psychic
The release of Blackberry's BB10 OS version of its QWERTY phone has seen CEO Thorsten Heins doing the interview rounds this week. The Q10 may well be where the company makes its money, but I think the pressure might be getting to him. "In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing - that's what we're aiming for," he said. The other massive change come in 2018, he predicts, will be the death of tablets. "In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore." Bold predictions both, but deluded perhaps?

KALQ spells the death of QWERTY...
Personally, I think hybrid laptops will be the norm in the near future, and desktops reserved for those who need serious computing power. But that change won't come without a few casualties. Will one be the QWERTY keyboard? Boffins at the University of St Andrews have made a split-screen keyboard specifically to suit the way we hold tablets. Entitled KALQ, after the letters at the bottom right, it features two blocks, 16 letters to the left, 12 to the right. It could also mean the end of QWERTY as one of the most common passwords.

In related news, China may now have the world's biggest PC market, but in touchscreen Tablet-loving places, what happens to the humble keyboard? Peripherals builder Logitech makes a loss of $37 million (compared to $24m profit the year before), that's what. Times are a changing.

...While Apps herald the death of the text?
Is another staple icon of the 90s going? Text messaging still looks remarkably healthy 20 years on, but the writing may be on the wall. Chat apps such as WhatsApp overtook traditional SMS in 2012, losing a combined $23 billion of potential revenue because of it. Text messages are still on the increase and will be around for a while yet, but it's just a matter of time until we communicate solely through selfies sent through Snapchat. Will all the main tech of the last century be completely obsolete in a few years' time?

Currency Cryptography
Bitcoin has finally levelled off somewhat after a chaotic start to the year. Those who joined before the hype are still better off, and more companies than ever are using it and cyber-criminals have another way of making a mint. But the news this week is that another crypto-currency, Litecoin, hit an all-time high, as did Ripple's internal currency XRP. Admittedly these figures paled compared to Bitcoin, but it's hard to argue with alternative currencies being here to stay.

Braille Smartphone
The cool tech news of the week is that a team of developers in India have created a prototype shape-shifting smartphone for the blind. Equipped with a screen "composed of a grid of pins that move up and down each time a text or new web content is loaded", it's a genius idea.

Ukraine worst for IP Piracy
According to the US Trade Representative, Ukraine has the worst record in the world for protecting intellectual property. The USTR said the government in Kiev had failed to fight internet piracy and the use of illegal software. While believable, it's a surprising result. Ukraine isn't the first place that comes to mind for IP infringement. Other problem countries on the USTR's list included Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.




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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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