Wait! What? 5/15: Shape-shifting planes, secret agent desks, and Facebook’s controversial new feature

It's a bird, it's a plane! It's a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane! It’s a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)

Lots of big announcements this week in our beloved world of tech, but if you wanted to read about Verizon’s acquisition of AOL or the new Gmail login screen – you’ve come to the wrong place. As usual, we’re more interested in the weirder, more wackadoodle stories that you weren’t paying attention to over the past seven days. Buckle up – it’s time for this week’s roundup:

  • NASA successfully tested a plane with shape-changing wings. Will we ever get tired of futuristic space-stuff? No, we won’t – and before you say anything, ‘space-stuff’ is the term used by actual scientists.
  • Feeling less Ethan Hunt-y than usual? No problem. Introducing Sharetable, the desk that makes every other desk look like complete garbage. Its surface features a shareable screen connected to your desktop monitor, so that the person sitting across from you can see what you’re seeing. Although, he won’t be able to see the expression of total awe on his own face, since that view is reserved for you.
  • All the pretty girls love Samsung? Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea released the video for their song “Pretty Girls,” in which Iggy uses her space-alien super powers to transform Brit’s old school cell phone into a gigantic Samsung Galaxy something or other (marketing!). We don’t really have time to go through all of the problems with the video – but our main concern is that Iggy seems to think that robots and aliens are the same thing.
  • Media no-likey Facebook’s “Instant Articles.” Facebook announced “Instant Articles,” sparking controversy among media outlets. They’re concerned that the new feature will make it difficult for publishers to control their own content. They have a point, but we’re pretty sure that Facebook has been aggregating content for a while now, simply through its users. You know…because, like…cat videos.
  • If we use Waze, can we skip the rush-hour traffic out of King’s Landing? The answer is no, because you can’t just leave King’s Landing, and this totally awesome Google Map of Westeros isn’t connected to Waze.

Now you’re all caught up. Hopefully some of this will come up in your next round of bar trivia.

Wait! What? 5/8: Storytelling enters the C-Suite, Yelp prepares to exit? Plus: The Emoji Graveyard

A vast abyss of :(. 30,000 of them, to be exact.
A vast abyss of :(. 30,000 of them, to be exact.

Whether you missed the news this week while nursing your tequila-induced hangover, post-#Maypac wallet or a new baby (HAYY royal family), no worries: we mixed up a tasty batch of headlines on the rocks for you:

  • They say compatibility can be measured by affinity for scary movies, but we’d like to propose a new question: is the McDonald’s revamped Hamburglar hot, creepy or actually a blue and black dress?
  • Carly Fiorina officially entered the 2016 presidential race, and so emerged a new PR attack tactic: the “Emoji Graveyard.”
  • To all of the wannabe bloggers out there afraid of taking the plunge who instead use Yelp to post self-indulgent, quixotic passages about every manicure and latte they purchase: get a Tumblr. The end may be nigh.
  • English majors everywhere, rejoice: we could be entering the era of the CSO – Chief Storytelling Officer.
  • Meanwhile, as corporations get cozy with English literature, the peasants have moved on to a new lingua franca, and it looks something like kissy face-frog-eggplant-flying money.

While those were the headlines we were particularly partial to this week, let us know if there’s a story we missed via Twitter, or carrier pigeon-note crafted in all Emoji (a startup idea we’d invest in).

Wait, What?! 5/1: Drones in Nepal; Secret CEO sells his Ferrari

Drones: they're not all evil. (Thinkstock)
Drones: they’re not all evil. (Thinkstock)

Happy Friday and first day of May! As your day filled with Justin Timberlake memes winds to a close, let’s have a look at what you may have missed in the world of tech:

  • Drones are helping the relief effort after the earthquake in Nepal by identifying obstructed roads or damaged infrastructure. (Proving that tech sometimes actually can save the world.)
  • Apple confirmed that the new Apple Watch may not work properly for those with tattoos. Bay Area hipsters everywhere are outraged and canceling their orders en masse over what they’re calling #TattooGate. Just kidding; they probably don’t care.
  • The secret is out! The founder of anonymous/failed social app Secret announced the company is shutting down for good and selling his Ferrari. Ironically, most employees found out on Secret.
  • Are they or aren’t they? Rumor had it this week that Salesforce has hired bankers to field a potential takeover offer…for a discounted price of $44 billion!
  • Microsoft’s machine-learning team built a robot that can guess your gender and age. We tested it out with a rather blurry photo and it guessed age 16. SPOT ON ROBOT, SPOT ON.

Well, there you have it – our favorite tech stories from the week! If that wasn’t enough and you must have MOAR news, visit @BlancandOtus or check back next Friday!

Wait! What? 4/25: A decade of viral videos

Cats, rulers of the Internet. (Credit: Megan Ann, Flickr)
Cats, rulers of the Internet. (Credit: Megan Ann, Flickr)

It was a fun week full of emojis, BuzzFeed dating advice and YouTube’s 10th birthday! Here’s a recap of the news you might have missed:

  • There’s a new norm for marketing – the emoji. More brands are trying to incorporate emojis into everyday campaigns in hopes of drawing the attention of millennials and Gen Z. Even CNN is joining the emoji game by developing emojis for the 2016 election.
  • Curious to find out what kind of guy you’ll find in San Francisco? Well, BuzzFeed released an article on the nine types of guys you’ll date by living out in the Bay. Who will you date – the Marina bro, the tech nerd or the Mission hipster?
  • Tech PR isn’t always a cushy gig, but there are ways to make it easier. PR Daily discussed ten apps that can help PR pros multitask and be more productive in their day-to-day lives.
  • Happy 10th birthday, YouTube! Over the years YouTube has become the top place for viewers to indulge in silly cat videos, explore new music and so much more. CNet explores how YouTube won our hearts through video.
  • Reporters are flocking away from journalism and into the PR industry. This is one trend we don’t expect to let up anytime soon.

Those are the latest tidbits from this week! Now go out and celebrate the weekend with a funny cat video.

Wait! What? 4/17: The Great Video-Streaming War of 2015 Continues

boxingimage
BigStock

It’s been a great week for television. Game of Thrones is back (our office was pretty excited), and we saw the return of our favorite nerds in Silicon Valley. HBO and Uber didn’t waste this opportunity to shamelessly exploit fan dedication to The Throne to promote the launch of HBO Now – we only wish they had brought some to San Francisco. Onto the rest of the tech news this week:

  • Reddit has gone legit, pushing its way into the publishing game by joining the likes of The New York Times with a weekly email newsletter of hand-selected content, Upvote. The hope is that this will help people better understand the “concept” of Reddit, so we’ll see about that.
  • Is Twitter cyberbullying celebs into using Periscope? According to TechCrunch, the answer is yes. Twitter’s influence in Hollywood may signal the end of Meerkat’s short-lived time in the spotlight.
  • Another day, another Snapchat scandal. The social media giant is allegedly using geotag filters to poach engineers from Uber. Where is Silicon Valley’s reality show? This is getting juicy.
  • If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you might have missed Hillary Clinton announcing her presidential candidacy. If you’ve been off the Internet, you definitely missed the birth of “Hillvetica,” a font inspired by her campaign logo. #cringe
  • Tidal might actually be worth that $20 subscription fee. Apparently artists can log in and see who is listening to their music, and this is provoking them to make personal calls to subscribers. BRB, I think Jay Z is calling.

That’s all, folks – now go enjoy your weekend, and don’t do anything too foolish à la Twitter/Snapchat.

Wait! What? 4/10: Apple diversifies emojis, Sparks fly between Tinder and Bud Light

#InclusiveEmojis, courtesy of Apple.
#InclusiveEmojis, courtesy of Apple.

Happy Friday and first weekend of Coachella! Maybe you’re mentally/physically preparing for a weekend at the happiest and most branded place on the planet, or maybe you’re just ready to kick back and enjoy a drink or two (you deserve it) in a more relaxing setting. Either way, here’s the tech news of the week you need to know:

  • iOS 8.3 is here and Apple pleasantly surprises us with hundreds of new emojis to reflect various races of people across the globe. All goes well until Clorox gets involved on Twitter…
  • Speaking of Twitter, they’re just killin’ it with the new tweet within a tweet. This feature allows people to share and comment on tweets without having to shorten the original tweet, thus preserving meaning and context. We’re into it.
  • Want to take a trip to Whatever, USA? Bud Light introduces native videos to Tinder, tempting users to swipe right for Bud Light for a chance to win. If you’re #UpForWhatever, at least that’s one match that can offer some potential.
  • Hulu has provided users a catalog of GIFs from its TV shows, which in theory sounds thrilling. But branded with a Hulu hashtag, accompanied by a disclaimer, and created with a choppy frame-rate, we just can’t recognize these as the GIFs we know and love.
  • Brands have been flocking to the baby of Siri and promoted tweets, otherwise known as ads on Kik. The app lets consumers get cozy and engage with brands through messaging. Are these conversations more engaging than your Tinder ones? Hard to say.

And that concludes this week’s #WaitWhat. If nothing else I hope we have at least inspired you to take your dating app game to the next level this weekend. See you next Friday!

Wait! What? 4/3: Pranks, Posts and Periscoping

(Uber)
(Uber)

We can’t slide into the weekend without taking a moment to consider some of the truly baffling things tech companies did this week. And with April Fools Day, you can be sure shenanigans were at an all time high. So we have no time to waste:

  • As an April Fools Day prank, Uber jokingly announced Uber Boat. Just in case you were interested in recreating any Gilligan’s Island fantasies you might have.
  • Plenty of companies thought pranks involving selfies would be funny. Can we all agree they weren’t that funny?
  • In a staggering example of not getting it – Jeb Bush went around this week defending a controversial bill while hitting up Silicon Valley for cash. Is there a phrase for the opposite of preaching to the choir?
  • Microsoft announced plans to remove “Do Not Track” as the default setting in their upcoming browsers. I am sure this will go over well with the Internet.
  • While we’ve all had a lot of fun Periscoping and Meerkatting through life these past few weeks, we may be in for quite a shock when our phone bills come in. These hot new apps chew through data like nobody’s business.

That wraps it up – hopefully you survived April Fools without getting pranked too hard. Check back next week for more tech and PR news.

Wait! What? 3/30: HBO woos tech, Facebook woos media, Comcast … yeah.

gifSometimes Monday morning rolls around and you think, “Wait, I did not read enough news about corporations last week.” So, here you go:

  • HBO treated the SF tech scene to a star-studded Game of Thrones season premiere party. Was it a PR stunt? Yes.
  • In response to a request for comment, a YouTube spokesperson simply sent back an animated GIF to the reporter. It’s inspiring, really.
  • Very Official News: Facebook is in talks with several media companies, The New York Times and BuzzFeed included, to host articles directly on its website. But will the deal ultimately help or hurt media brands? It doesn’t matter. They must obey.
  • Apple is developing smart packaging that allows customers to set up devices before they’re unboxed. Because, like, why would I take my iPad out of the box?
  • Remember that time Comcast customer service was the worst? To avoid future PR nightmares, the rarely beloved cable company just tripled its social media staff. I personally won’t follow up on this development – just ping me if anything hilarious happens.

I’m sorry that four out of those five bullets contain rhetorical questions; the advent of GIFs and listicles has destroyed my ability to form original sentences. Catch us again at our usual time this Friday for another tech-filled #WaitWhat!

Wait! What? 3/20: Meerkat dominates SXSW, brands go mad for March Madness and more

So inspiring. (Thinkstock)
So inspiring. (Thinkstock)

St. Patrick’s Day, SXSW and March Madness – oh my! While you were off drinking Guinness, fighting your tech hangover from Austin, and frantically filling out your NCAA March Madness bracket, we’ve compiled a list of this week’s top stories to keep you in the know:

  • From barbeque and brews to flying cars and Google Glass, here’s a look back at five standout moments from the interactive portion of this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.
  • Is Facebook suffering from a severe case of me-tooism? The social media network is gearing up to turn its Messenger app into something of a platform, similar to that of Asian chat giant Line. Hmm…
  • Wtf is Meerkat? The Internet’s shiny new toy, an app for live-video streaming, has gone from obscure to nearly viral in just two weeks. Brands such as Starbucks, JCPenny, NASDAQ and Red Bull are among the first to use it. C’mon, you know you want to try it…
  • The time has come, basketball fans – the three most unproductive weeks of the year: March Madness. While you were off gathering teams and filling out an excessive number of brackets, these brands took to social media to participate in all of the madness.
  • How did your office celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Ours was filled with team uniforms, green booze, a good ole St. Patrick’s Day feast and an…Irish jig-off? (See evidence here). All silliness aside, here are five PR takeaways from St. Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

See anything else of note in tech media this week? Tweet us @BlancandOtus and let us know! Our thirst for news is never quenched.

Wait! What? 3/13: This Friday the 13th brings the death of the Internet, a new tech frontier and more

The end is nigh... (Thinkstock)
The end is nigh… (Thinkstock)

What was going on in the tech world this week while you were caught up in all things Apple Watch? From the expected to the unexpected, we have this week’s top stories:

  • Dom Pérignon at the touch of a button…is this a dream? Nope. A new startup brings luxury to IoT!
  • From positive to negative, the Internet is abuzz with all things Apple Watch. But will Apple’s latest innovation mean the death of the Web?
  • Welcome to the billionaires club! Snapchat’s cofounders are each worth $1.5 billion. Not too shabby for a couple of twenty-somethings.
  • Hello Nebraska! From Silicon Valley to Silicon Prairie? Entrepreneurs are fleeing tech hotspots for greener pastures, but why?!
  • RIP. This week we had to say goodbye to one of the truly iconic tech blogs. Farewell, Gigaom…you will be missed (sigh).

Those were our favorite tech bites from this week – what were yours? Tweet us @BlancandOtus and let us know!