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October 1, 2012

Technology News Briefs — Oct. 1, 2012

Facebook Messenger  2.0 Available

Facebook Messenger for iPhone has been upgraded to version 2.0.

The Facebook Messenger app, launched about a year ago, is an extension of the main Facebook iOS client. It is a stand-alone app that allows users to text their friends for free using their existing data plan.

Version 2.0 of Facebook Messenger introduces some notable features. The app has a new design for conversations: chat bubbles for individual messages in conversations.

The update also allows users to swipe left anywhere in the app to quickly see who’s available and send a message.  Users can now also add friends they message most to the top of their Favorites.

Facebook Messenger 2.0, which is available in the App Store, has been improved with support for both iOS 6 and the iPhone 5.

Barnes & Noble Cuts Nook Price Tag

Barnes & Noble has slashed the price of its back-lit Nook e-reader by $20 to stay competitive against Amazon.

The Nook drops to $119 from $139 at a number of retailers to prepare for Amazon’s imminent Kindle Paperwhite, which also will sell for $119.

The Nook Simple Touch with “GlowLight” technology hit the market in April, receiving two thumbs up from critics.

The Kindle Paperwhite, however, with higher resolution screen and adjustable lighting could offer some stiff competition.

Nook’s Simple Touch with GlowLight can be purchased online for $119.

Google Cutting Services

Google is taking the axe to some of its services.

The list includes AdSense for Feeds, Classic Plus, Google Storage, Spreadsheet Gadgets, Places for Android and +1 Reports in Webmaster Tools.

The company will also join its Picasa photo service with Google Drive, offering 5GB for both Picasa photos and Drive items.

“We want people to have a beautifully simple experience when using Google,” said Yossi Matias, Google’s senior engineering director. “These changes will enable us to focus better so that we can do more to help improve the products that millions of people use multiple times a day.”

High-Speed Network Proposal

The U.S. government is doing its part to aid in the making of new, high-speed wireless Internet networks that could stimulate the growth of the next generation of Smartphones, tablets and other devices.

The five-member Federal Communications Commission gave the green light to a far-reaching, introductory proposal to regain public airwaves now used for broadcast television.  They would then be auctioned off for use in wireless broadband networks. Broadcasters would receive a share of the profits

The proposal would help meet a growing need for wireless Internet capacity.