This turned into a surprisingly busy week in news, and I'm proud to say we made a little of our own this week with the announcement of Expand. The brainchild of our very own Darren Murph, this is something we've been working on for roughly a year now and, with the pieces falling into place, it's finally time to tell you all about it. The concept is pretty simple. It's a gadget event not unlike the best in the world (your CESes, your MWCs) but with one crucial difference: this one's for you.
We wanted to create something that would let us bring some of the feeling and excitement of a major gadget event and do it for the fans.
From the beginning we wanted to create something that would let us bring some of the feeling and excitement of a major gadget event and do it for the fans, giving you a chance to see and touch and interact with the latest and greatest devices plus listen to live interviews and panel discussions featuring some of the industry's biggest names. We'll be unveiling new products on the stage, where attendees will be among the first in the world to see them and, for those who can't make it in person, we'll be streaming almost all of it online for everyone to see.
Of course we hope you can be there. We've chosen to host our first Expand event in San Francisco on March 16th and 17th. Ticket information will be online soon and trust me when I say our entire team will be spending the next four months finalizing amazing speakers and giveaways to make sure that every attendee gets their money's worth. It's going to be an amazing event and I can't wait to see lots and lots of you there.
Yes, there was some other tech news this week, perhaps the biggest being the triumphant return of Google Maps to iOS, with Google flipping the switch and deploying a new app with full turn-by-turn navigation and public transit directions. That last bit addresses a major shortcoming of Apple's own Maps. In our hands-on impressions of the app, we found Google Maps on iOS to be even more intuitive than the Android version - though missing some functionality, like offline caching of data, bicycling directions and a low-contrast night version. Don't let that stop you from downloading this one before your next road trip, though.
Instagram responded over the weekend by pulling all Twitter photo integration, meaning that you'll have to click on through if you want to see someone's sepia sandwich.
The Twitter / Instagram spat continues to boil. Last week, Twitter disabled Cards support for Instagram, meaning that service's alternatively hued photos wouldn't display properly within Twitter's web interface. Instagram responded over the weekend by pulling all Twitter photo integration, meaning that you'll have to click on through if you want to see someone's sepia sandwich. And, finally, Twitter launched its own suite of photo filters to its iOS and Android apps, a move that surprised none and, frankly, impressed fewer. The next round of this micro-battle remains to be seen and no "winner" can be predicted yet, but so far I would say that absolutely everyone is losing.
While the anecdotal evidence of a lack of sales success for Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT continues to pile up, the company itself pledged to increase production as it begins rolling the device out to more major retailers. Staples and Best Buy will be the first to offer the productivity-minded slate, and it should be in stores by December 16th at the latest.
This could extend the Euro Crisis to a whole new set of shores, both real and imagined.
In a major step toward the real-world legitimacy of virtual currencies, Bitcoin-Central became the first exchange to be certified to operate like a legitimate bank. The service has organized a deal with French payment processor Aqoba and France's Credit Mutuel bank, meaning account-holders can maintain Bitcoin accounts - accounts that are fully insured. Even Bitcoin-capable debit cards are on the way and users will be able to easily exchange currencies into bits. This could extend the Euro Crisis to a whole new set of shores, both real and imagined.
Finally this week, Google released its top search terms of 2012. It published multiple iterations of its so-called Google Zeitgeist, showing some cultural differences between the search terms of nations. For example, the top search term in the UK was "Euro 2012," while the top search term in the rest of the world was "Whitney Houston." "Hurricane Sandy" topped the list for events while the "iPad 3" topped the consumer electronics list, followed by "Galaxy S3" which beat out the iPhone 5.
In this week's Distro we take you on a tour through the history and future of wearable technology, putting Google's Project Glass in context. Dana Wollman reviews the slinky new Apple iMac while Sarah Silbert tries out Windows 8 on the non-touchscreen ASUS Zenbook Prime UX51Vz and Terrence O'Brien sees if the new Jawbone Up fixes all the woes of its predecessor. Joshua Fruhlinger looks at cyber-snooping in Modem World while Ross Rubin explains why home automation isn't quite yet the thing that I so wish it were. We have new IRL and Recommended Reading entries and Pebble Founder Eric Migicovsky sits down for Q&A. As ever it's an awful lot of content and you can download it right here.
Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.