The year of 2012 is drawing to a close and what a 12 months it has been. Google unleashed not one but two amazing Nexus tablets upon the world, plus another great Nexus smartphone. Apple released the thinner and lighter iPhone 5 that its fans have been waiting for and surprised by shipping a thinner and lighter iPad that iOS fans didn't know they wanted -- but have been loving anyway. Microsoft pulled off near-simultaneous launches of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and RIM ... well, RIM gave us something to look forward to in 2013.
Thankfully we won't have to wait long. We knew a January 30th event was happening and this week we got the formal invite to the BlackBerry 10 unveiling. It happens early in the morning in New York City, meaning you West Coast BlackBerry addicts will need to dial your alarm clocks way back to the dark hours if you want to join along as we give it the full liveblog treatment.
The award for most talked about story this week undoubtedly goes to Instagram tweaking its Terms of Service -- the sort of minutia that typically goes unnoticed. Not this time.
That wasn't the most talked about tech story this week, though. Not by a long shot. That honor undoubtedly goes to Instagram tweaking its Terms of Service -- the sort of minutia that typically goes unnoticed. Not this time. The first update relates to sharing user data with parent company Facebook, which should come as no surprise, but it's the second update that really caused the muck to fly.
That update states: "a business or other entity may pay [Instagram] to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata) and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." In other words, Instagram can sell access to your vintage-look photos, a detail that caused a flurry of defections to Flickr and other social photo sites.
But, the important bit was the "paid or sponsored content or promotions" caveat. Co-founder Kevin Systrom hastily provided an update to clarify the intent here was to allow Instagram to use the photos of its members internally so that companies who are looking to expand their presence on the site can engage in some "innovative advertising." Like, say, including a photo of a friend of yours and saying, "So-and-so likes Garnier hair care products."
Systrom also specified that Instagram photos would not be sold to third parties, meaning your exhaustive collection of artistic latte foam photos is safe from unwanted commercialization.
This, Systrom says, would be an alternative to ugly banner ads -- and, it must be said, is exactly the kind of advertising we're inundated with on Facebook every day. Granted, nobody likes those ads, but they've hardly caused the mass of Facebook's users to flee. Systrom also specified that Instagram photos would not be sold to third parties, meaning your exhaustive collection of artistic latte foam photos is safe from unwanted commercialization.
In other bits of legal drama, the Samsung v. Apple battle continues, but both parties got a bit of a smackdown. First was Apple, denied an injunction request to block all sales of Samsung devices. Judge Koh stated, "The present case involves lost sales -- not a lost ability to be a viable market participant." Samsung, meanwhile, had its request for a retrial denied. The company's lawyers had argued jury misconduct but, as the court didn't even allow a hearing on the subject, that seems to have been a bit of a shot in the dark. XXXThe $1,049,393,540 verdict remains. Cash or check?
The $1,049,393,540 verdict remains. Cash or check?
While Facebook and Instagram received a wee bit of attention for plans to share data, Apple and Foursquare raised eyebrows after the Wall Street Journal suggested a deal would see the two building check-ins right into the next version of iOS. While we don't know exactly what sort of harmonious social partnership will arise, it would certainly explain Apple SVP Eddy Cue's curious check-in at his own office last week.
Finally, Google has brought its Google Play scan and match feature to the US. The service looks at your local collection of music and identifies those tracks automatically, making them instantly available for access through Google's systems. It'll certainly save you some time uploading and, if you ripped your tracks in low quality, you might get a boost there, too, with Google using up to 320Kbps encoding. It's free, too, which is always nice.
In this week's Distro we take a look back, back into time, at all of the year's top stories, going month by month across all the happenings that your eggnog-clouded mind may or may not recall -- and highlighting some CrapGadgets we all tried to forget. (May you find none in your stocking this holiday season.) In Modem World, Joshua Fruhlinger explains why there's no shame in using a phone that is (gasp) more than a year old and director / photographer Timothy Saccenti makes his way through our Q&A.
Now, before you click away, I want to thank you for what has been an amazing year. Everyone on the Engadget team, myself most certainly included, is grateful for your readership. Without you we wouldn't be able to do what we do, and we love what we do.
Happy holidays from all of us at Engadget.
Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.