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March 25, 2013

Technology News Briefs — March 25, 2013

Apple Buys GPS Startup for $20M

Apple has shelled out $20 million to acquire indoor GPS startup WiFiSlam, likely in a bid to shore up its map offerings.

According to the Wall Street Journal, while Apple has confirmed the purchase, it had little to say other than that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.”

The firm’s AngelList page said its product allows a user’s Smartphone “to pinpoint its location (and the location of the user’s friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient Wi-Fi signals that are already present in buildings.”

“We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking.”

It is not yet known if if WiFiSlam’s technology will be incorporated into Apple’s Maps app.

Privacy Issues, Popularity Determine Reader Shut Down

Declining usage is not the only reason Google Reader is getting the axe this summer.

Sources told AllThingsD the shut down is partly because of Google’s unwillingness to obtain the staff and infrastructure needed to deal with legal and privacy issues related to the RSS feed.

The sources told AllThingsD Google wants to prevent the company from being stuck in expensive privacy lawsuits. A group of longtime Reader users have said Google should simply sell Reader, but the product’s deep integration with other Google apps means it’s more beneficial for the firm to simply shut I down, the sources said.

According to AllThingsD, Reader product manager Nick Baum said for Google to keep the service up and running it would have to have about 100 million users daily.

A Sneak Peak of Windows Blue

A preliminary construction of Windows Blue, the next version of Windows, has been posted on Polish website Winforum,

Dubbed 9364, the Windows 8 update indicates the company is adding smaller tile arrangements as well as a larger desktop to its start screen, in addition to more control over color customization options.

Microsoft is adding more Snap Views into Windows Blue which, in turn, enables users to have apps beside one another in the Windows 8 view.

Microsoft, apparently, is also adding a Charms Bar menu for Start Screen dubbed “Personalize.” This enables users to change backgrounds and edit both background colors and accent colors from the operating system’s sidebar.

It seems Microsoft is also adding extra settings in the Start Screen “PC settings” section, likely to ensure tablets users don’t have to switch to a Desktop Mode-driven settings panel.

Internet Explorer 11 can also be seen in the screenshots, at least in name, and it seem there are new options for the SkyDrive service.