As if the news out of Google couldn't get any hotter today, the company decided to just casually announce that it has over 500 million users with Google+ accounts, 235 million of whom are active "across Google" which means anything from +1ing things in various Google products to "connecting with friends in Search"...whatever that means. The most important stat, though, is 135 million users are active in the stream. That means, if we can assume past definitions are still true, those users either visit plus.google.com or use the mobile app to view content.
In other words, it's time to stop pretending that Google+ is a ghost town.
Those of you who are on Sprint and thus have no need for opinions on the Nexus 4's lack of a 4G radio will probably agree: more LTE coverage is more gooder. Well, the Now Network concurs and the carrier is opening up the airwaves in a few more cities and areas, including Anderson, Indiana; Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Peabody, Massachusetts.
Here's the full list of cities that launch today (with coverage expanding in these areas over the coming months):
Do you like things that go fast? Do you enjoy sphere-shaped logos? Do you live in a moderately-populated town in Tennessee, Oklahoma, or Florida? If you answered yes to these questions, have I got some great news for you! AT&T users in Knoxville and surrounding counties, Tulsa, and Ft. Myers will notice a shiny new LTE market activated in their area.
The Knoxville area in particular is receiving a fairly wide-spread rollout, getting the LTE treatment not just in Knoxville, but also "Knox County, including parts of surrounding Anderson and Blount Counties and parts of Loudon, Roane and Sevier Counties." So, who out there is seeing the new speeds?
Previously, we'd heard rumors and whispers that T-Mobile (by way of its parent company Deutsche Telekom) would be acquiring MetroPCS. Today, both companies' boards have approved the merger and, pending regulatory and MetroPCS shareholder approval, the deal should be completed by mid-2013. The two companies will have a combined subscriber base of about 42.5 million customers, which still leaves it in fourth place in the U.S. behind Sprint with 56 million and AT&T/Verizon who each have over 100 million users.
The biggest news is that this will allow T-Mobile the spectrum it needs to rollout a competitive LTE network. In fact, T-Mo's CEO John Legere hopes to some day be able to "taunt" competitors over their LTE coverage.
Zeebox, a social TV companion app that's already found popularity in the UK has officially hit the US, aiming to make a splash thanks to monetary and promotional backing from both NBC and Comcast.
Essentially, Zeebox serves as an auxiliary guide to TV enjoyment as well as a social platform where users can see which shows are hot, who's watching them, and what they're saying in response. Users can see what their friends (and everyone else) are viewing or planning to view, chat with friends, start a viewing party, or tweet reactions.
What's interesting about the service's arrival in the US is that it's being heavily backed by broadcast giant NBC as well as Comcast Cable, meaning you aren't likely to see this app fade out of conversation very soon.
Over at Black Hat USA 2012, security researcher Ralf-Phillip Weinmann demonstrated a vulnerability in several Android devices that utilized A-GPS to send illicit messages to the device which could, he explained, be used to send a report of the device's location any time an A-GPS message was sent or even be used to gain complete control of the device.
In describing the attack, Weinmann pointed out that, for example, a malicious WiFi network could instruct a phone to relay all future A-GPS requests, even once the device has left the WiFi network's range. This even further drives home the point that you should not join any networks you don't trust.
We all know the scenario: a friend or family member is at your place and needs to connect to the Wi-Fi. At that point, you have a few choices (none of which are ideal): hand them a piece of paper with the network key, tell it to them aloud, or enter it for them.
Wouldn't it be so much easier to let them tap an NFC tag (granted they actually have an NFC-capable phone) or scan a QR code? Dang right it would - and now the process of making that happen in stupid-easy thanks to a new apps called InstaWifi.
Just last week, Sprint finally lit up its LTE network. Not before selling a number of LTE-equipped phones, however. If you were worried about Sprint's ability to keep up with the big dogs in the race to expand LTE coverage, the WSJ has some comforting words for you. Wait, did I say "comforting"? I'm sorry, I meant worrying. Very, very worrying.
The long and short of it is, Sprint simply doesn't seem to have enough spectrum to keep up. The initial LTE rollout covered 15 markets, compared to Verizon's 330 and AT&T's 47. Despite the rather distant third-place position, Sprint hopes to have coverage in all areas by the end of 2013.
Sure, Sprint may be considerably behind the big dogs in the whole LTE rollout thing, but hey, they've already started selling devices with LTE support. Might as well light it up, right? Well, if you live in the Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or Kansas City markets, and you own a Sprint LTE phone, you might be surprised to find that you have LTE access now.
According to Sprint 4G Rollout Updates, which has a pretty good track record, users have been reporting that their devices are discovering LTE networks in their areas. Sprint hasn't announced anything official, but hey, if you can start a speed test on Sprint and actually finish it, you must have 4G access.
Google I/O isn't even finished yet, and everyone's favorite search company has already shaken things up quite a bit. One of the biggest things Google announced was Google Events. Google said that this new feature would allow users to coordinate events and share them with others. What Google didn't say was that with the addition of this feature, Google+ is ready. Cooked until golden brown and ready to be served. And, guys? It's time to dig in.
By Your Powers Combined
Social networks will continue to evolve as long as people do, but today marked a subtle, yet important transition for Google: the day that the biggest majority of its key features finally became unified in a meaningful, social way.