Happy New Year
advances in technology
That’s it, folks. Dig out the noisemakers, throw on some sequins and pop the champagne because 2014 is coming to an end.
But before the ball drops, there are a few things one must do to properly prepare for the new year—create a list of resolutions (i.e. “go to the gym”), watch the latest United States of Pop video and catch up on the tech news of the passing year, to name a few. With the latter in mind, we’ve created a guide to Betabeat’s biggest breaking news of 2014.
Yes, Facebook manipulated your emotions, curved TVs drove us wild and a “potato salad guy” achieved Internet celebrity status. We’re sure Twitter told you all this, so rather than summing up what made the tech blogosphere rounds this year, we’re offering a collection of the biggest and most interesting stories brought to you by yours truly, Betabeat.
An App for That
Sorry, kiddos, but you can’t always get what you want–unless it’s at McDonalds in the United Kingdom. The restaurant chain is thinking about installing in-store 3D printers to appease kids who are disappointed in their Happy Meal toys selection and further enabling a generation of bratty children.
As if a freaking drive-through window through which your bag of greasy sludge is shoved into your car while you sit still wasn’t convenient enough, McDonald’s is testing an app that would allow users to order and pay for burgers and fries through their smartphones.
Off the Media
In the good ol’ days of McDonald’s, you’d finish your quarter pounder, pull on your sweaty tube socks, and go play in the glistening, brightly-colored, slippery-with-sweat tunnels of the huge McDonald’s Play Place.
Not anymore. In one Singapore location, young McDonald’s diners can play with “The Happy Table,” a McDonald’s-themed smartphone game that’s only playable within the confines of the McDonald’s restaurant (PLAY UNTIL YOU’RE HUNGRY FOR MORE FOOD, KIDS!). What is this sorcery, you ask? The restaurant’s tables are embedded with NFC stickers, so when a kid waves her smartphone over the table, “The Happy Table” game automatically launches on her screen.
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
The best kind of marketing messages are the ones that don’t seem like marketing messages. Because it means that the viewers’ defenses are down.
That may be why the front page of Reddit has become an irresistible target for feel-good messages about brands and businesses. Despite the community’s penchant for skepticism, Costco, Taco Bell (in fact, most of the Yum! Brands) and a handful of startups have all made very conspicuous appearances on Reddit in the last year–not via paid ads, but through what at first glance appear to be organic and genuine discussions by Reddit users.
But are they? Could they really be? As someone responsible for my own fair share of marketing stunts, I am suspicious and cynical—I’ll disclose that right up front. I very well may be seeing signs of undue influence where there is only rule-bending behavior, but then again, I’ve also begun getting requests from clients about the possibility of orchestrating Reddit machinations. So because of this, and because of what I’ve observed behind the scenes, I’ll come out and say it: what’s going on Reddit these days has media manipulation written all over it.
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
For the love of Christ, will you social media gurus please learn to change your passwords once in a while? A scant 24 hours after someone hijacked Burger King’s Twitter account and began pumping out pro-McDonald’s sentiment, it appears Jeep’s verified account has now been compromised.
The official Burger King Twitter account has been hacked, and when it comes to terrible fast food, the hacker appears to have an allegiance to McDonald’s.
“We just got sold to McDonalds! Look for McDonalds in a hood near you,” tweeted the account about 20 minutes ago. The Burger King avatar has been changed to the McDonald’s logo.
After the Storm
Zynga has lost another exec. The struggling company’s chief game designer Brian Reynolds has resigned. [VentureBeat]
Sorry, Facebook: Twitter is now the fastest-growing social platform in the world. No data yet on who owns the universe, though. [GlobalWebIndex]
Netflix wants to become the next HBO. So, lots of shows with gratuitous nudity and cursing just ‘cuz, “It’s premium cable, man.” [The Verge]
McDonald’s is the new study hall. Hey, it’s not like the library has french fries. [Wall Street Journal]
Startup visas may soon become a thing after the President endorsed them in a recent speech. But what about all those lawless seafaring incubators? [Huffington Post]
Privacy is Dead
We’re stretching into yet another day of no power downtown. If you’re seeking Wifi, you could simply head north until you find somewhere, but it’s probably best to proceed with a plan. Hence, we’ve rounded up a list of places you might want to try:
The Federal Trade Commission is looking to change regulatory lawsthat that protect children’s privacy on the Internet. Although it’s legal right now, a slew of apps and popular websites collect data and pictures from young users. In the most cringe-worthy example, pictures of children that were uploaded to a “get in the picture with Ronald McDonald” game in were kept by McDonald’s in directories that were publicly available to anyone who wanted access to them. McDonald’s tells the Times that they’ve now “blocked public access to several directories on the site.”
The new laws say children’s websites would be required to obtain parents’ permission before tracking kids around the Web for advertising purposes.
But while government restrictions may help protect innocent children, it’s hard not to feel that the responsibility (and the biggest hope for keeping kids safe) lies with their parents. After all, children don’t only stick to apps directed to their demographic.