The Extra Mighell - June 19, 2020

Technology and Assorted News, Among Other Things

Welcome to issue #11 of The Extra Mighell!

The links here represent the stories of the past week that I found interesting or noteworthy but had no time to cover on the blog - that’s why they’re “extra.”

On to the news….

It was a week of a LOT of new tech being introduced - not all of it is ready for prime-time, so for now just imagine the possibilities.

Top News Stories

Hey! It’s an Email (and App Store) Uproar! This week, the developers of Basecamp unveiled Hey!, a new email platform that simultaneously confronts a few issues about email head-on: email is great! and it’s also very frustrating! The app, which is currently invite-only, has some really interesting ways of dealing with some of the frustrations we all face when dealing with email. Trouble is, at the time of writing this newsletter, Hey!’s developers were locked in a very public spat with Apple, which is essentially refusing to allow the email app into the App Store unless it agrees to give Apple 30% of all subscription fees generated through people who download from Apple. Not great timing for Apple; it is hosting a virtual Worldwide Developer Conference next week and is facing antitrust allegations in Europe. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out - almost as much as I can’t wait for my invite from Hey! to arrive. [Protocol, The Verge]

This Week in Coronavirus Tech

We are starting to see a lot of new technologies roll out that are designed to address some aspect of COVID-19. Amazon introduced its Distance Assistant, which uses large TV monitors, cameras, and computing devices to let people in the workplace know when they might be getting closer than allowed by social distancing. Amazon is using the software themselves, and then making it open-source for anyone to use. [Amazon]

Fitbit rolled out a new service called Ready to Work, a symptom-tracking service that helps employees determine whether it’s safe to go back to work. [ZD Net]

And a company called Polte introduced Polte Proximity, a connected device that provides alerts to employees if they’ve been in a confined space with people for too long, or if they are putting others in uncomfortable situations. Companies can make the alerts as loose or stringent as they want [Dallas Innovates]

Technology and Culture

Why is it that we tend to express ourselves in a more intimate, personal style on our smartphones than when we communicate on a PC? A researcher wanted to find out, and her study revealed that people are more likely to disclose personal information in response to an ad on their smartphone than on a PC. [Wall Street Journal]

Social Media

Did you sense a coming of the apocalypse this week? That was just Twitter announcing that you can now record your tweets in audio, starting with the iOS Twitter app. Now instead of just reading mean things, you can hear people saying those mean things. (I’m only partially kidding) [The Verge]

Security

Looks like the tech world wasn’t too happy about Zoom’s plan to offer end-to-end encryption only to its paying customers. This week Zoom gave in to the pressure, announcing end-to-end encryption on all meetings, free or paid. [Ars Technica]

Gadgets

If you use Windows on a Mac, you are probably familiar with Parallels, the software that allows you to run two operating systems on the same computer. Well, the folks at Google are partnering with Parallels to bring Microsoft Office and other Windows Apps to Chromebooks. Very interesting, considering Office is a direct competitor to the G Suite of productivity applications. [The Verge]

New Apps/Tools

Have you ever been reading an article on the web, and come across a sentence or paragraph that you must share with others? You could copy and paste it into another app, of course, but now Google is making it easy to create a link to any text on a web page. You do need to be using the Chrome browser - to get started, download the Link to Text Fragment extension from the Chrome store, and start linking. [Android Police]

Maybe Quicken is too expensive for you, or you just want an uncomplicated way of tracking your banking activities and your expenses, and you have a Microsoft 365 account. This week, Microsoft announced Money in Excel, a template and add-in for Excel that allows you to connect your bank accounts, credit cards, and other accounts and use Excel to track spending habits and create relevant reports.

How do you listen to podcasts? Podhero is a new service that lets you support podcast creators. Each month you pay $5.99, and it is split among the podcasts you listen to on a regular basis. Not sure if this model is going to work, because it doesn’t eliminate the ads that may already exist in the podcast recordings - but it’s an interesting start.

Google’s Advanced Search tools are pretty amazing, but it’s easy to forget where they are. If you’re using the Chrome browser, the new Googlescope extension puts all the advanced search features right at your fingertips, so you can perform some complex searches faster and easier.

And in the “I am not exactly sure what this is yet” category, Google’s in-house incubator for new ideas launched Keen this week. Keen is described as a modern-day rethinking of the Google Alerts service, in that it uses machine learning and human collaboration to curate content around a specific content. Think Pinterest, but brainier. [TechCrunch]

See you next week!
— Tom