With the holidays right around the corner, the BIGteam is busy sending those final Holiday Gift Guide pitches. But we always make time to recap the biggest happenings in the tech world – check out some of the top news that caught our attention this week:
Earlier this month, Google announced two sequels to its first smartphone, the Pixel, with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The biggest upgrade in the Pixel 2 is the camera. The new device features dual lens technology, which empowers the camera to pick up even the most nuanced details, meaning your images will be crisper and clearer than ever. The Pixel 2 also has a new feature called “Assistance Squeeze Activation.” While it may sound funky at first, the feature is actually pretty handy: all a user needs to do to activate the Google AI companion is squeeze the side of their phone and the device is ready to listen to their commands. With all these upgrades starting at $649, the Pixel 2 stands to rival the new iPhone X (Note: the Pixel 2 XL retails at $849).
Only true 90’s kids will remember AOL’s instant messenger service or “AIM” for short. Back in 1997, AOL launched AIM and it quickly became one of the most popular ways to communicate with friends and family. Unfortunately, as technology advanced, AIM started to become a thing of the past. Newer and better chat services became available on Skype, Whatsapp and even social media services like Facebook. This past week, AOL announced on their Tumblr that they are officially shutting down AIM on December 15. Although the chat service will be discontinued, AOL emails will still be in service. Upon the announcement, many millennials flocked to social media to reminisce about the good old days. While AIM may be leaving us soon, we are forever grateful for all the memories it has given us.
Enter New Away Message:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened :,)”
Although we are a little sad about AIM, we can fill that tech void with the announcement of new emojis! It seems like Apple has an emoji for everything these days, but time and time again, they release something new that we didn’t even know we needed. Finally Bostonians are able to express our emotions during those cold winter months with new scarf, mitten and parka emojis. And for those fantasy enthusiasts out there, there’s a new batch of emojis including a wizard, mermaid, fairy and vampire!
By far the most progressive and news-worthy additions to the rolodex of emojis are the gender neutral additions. We will now have three age ranges (child, adult and elder) of gender neutral emoji individuals each in a variety of complexions. Yiying Lu, a creative director at 500 StartUps and a designer of several new emojis said in a San Francisco Chronicle article, “if you’re trying to communicate something that represents you but there is no word for it — because each emoji is a word in this language — that can be very frustrating. It can feel like you don’t matter.” All 69 new emojis will be available with iOS 11.1 which is expected to be released in late October or early November.
SNAPCHAT AND JEFF KOONS
Snapchat is stepping up its filter game and moving away from dog faces and dancing hotdogs. Earlier this month, Snapchat announced a collaboration with artist Jeff Koons to feature his artwork as augmented reality sculptures in the app. When a user pulls up their phone, they will have the opportunity to see 3-story-tall augmented reality versions of Koons’ whimsical work. Koons is best known for his large balloon-like sculptures such as “Balloon Dog” and “Tulips.” Each of Koons’ Snapchat sculpture are location sensitive, meaning that a user has to be in a specific place to see the virtual Koons sculpture. For example, “Balloon Dog” is only available in New York’s Central Park or Hyde Park in London. While Jeff Koons may be the only artist featured in SnapChat filters now, the Snapchat website has a form that artists can fill out to submit their work to possibly be featured as a filters, as well. This could be a great way for local artists to get more attention in their neighborhoods and promote local unity within a community. Next time you’re out and about on Snapchat, take a look and see if any digital sculptures are close by!
Feeling out of the loop because you missed our last tech roundup? Don’t worry, you can get caught up to speed here! Be sure to tweet us at @BIGfishPR to let us know your favorite tech stories this week!