Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, which will be released weekly every Saturday starting in January, as well as this Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. This edition of the TechSummit Rewind is also available on Sway as our storytelling experiments continue.
Technology seems to move at the speed of light. Sometimes you simply can’t keep up with the firehose of information being spewed out from the technosphere. How are you going to keep up? You could go through page after page of tech headlines or follow the TechSummit Rewind. Today, we look back at the first day of 2014, which is ironically a slow one.
January 1st: Samsung announces new streaming speaker, home theater system, portable stereo, two TV soundbars
Samsung took a page out of Sonos’ Play:1 playbook after the South Korean powerhouse revealed the smaller relative of the M7 speaker Samsung launched last year, the M5, at CES. This model features only three drivers (compared to the five in the flagship M7), but still packs the same wireless audio tech as its elder — by that I mean that’s it’s powered by the Shape mobile app, connects to your local network through a Shape hub wired to your router and automatically fits into your existing system, whether it’s a multi-room or multi-channel setup.
Additionally, Samsung cooked up a connect box that hooks up with the analog speakers of yesterday and loops them into the Shape system so they can be wirelessly controlled as well.
Plus, Sammy crafted a pair of Shape-compatible soundbars, the HW-H750 and the HW-H600. The H750 soundbar pumps out 320W of sound and is built to sit beneath the largest of TVs (whether it’s curved or flat), while the H600 sound stand is designed so that smaller 32-55 inch TVs sit directly on top of it while it pumps out multi-directional 4.2 channel audio.
Alongside these offerings, Samsung showed off a new HT-H7730WM home entertainment system at CES as well. The system comes with six speakers, one subwoofer, a Blu-ray player capable of upscaling to UHD (4K) resolution and an amplifier packing both analog vacuum tubes and digital amps. Additionally, despite having 6.1 speakers, the system delivers up to 9.1 channels of sound using the new DTS Neo: Fusion II Codec.
Lastly, the South Korean company’s latest GIGA system made its debut in the Nevada desert, the MX-HS8500. With 2,500 watts of power and twin 15-inch subwoofers at its disposal, it’s got enough thump to wake up the neighbors, but it’s been built to travel. That’s right, this GIGA’s got wheels and a retractable handle, so you can take the party wherever you like. Plus, it still has the same visual flair as previous GIGA systems, meaning it has fifteen different lighting effects settings to please partygoers’ eyeballs. The HS8500 also utilizes Samsung’s Bluetooth HiFi wireless audio streaming technology to stream audio from the company’s compatible TVs.
January 1: Bump, Flock discontinued after being acquired by Google
Back in September 2013, Bump announced that its team was joining Google to continue their work of “helping people share and interact with one another using mobile devices.”
Since they’ve become “deeply focused” on their new projects within Google, Bump and Flock have been discontinued. On January 31st, Bump and Flock were removed from the App Store and Google Play. As of the aforementioned date, neither app works and all user data was deleted.
David Lieb, Bump CEO and co-founder:
“Over the years, we’ve been inspired and humbled by the millions of people who have used Bump and Flock. Your feedback, enthusiasm, and support has brought much meaning to our work, and we want to thank you all for that. In many ways, Bump was a revolutionary product that inspired many subsequent advances and pushed the world forward. We hope our new creations at Google will do the same.”
January 1: Plex launches new website
Plex has launched a new website, which took a lot of work to conclude 2013. But it’s “much more than a redesign; it’s a joining together of four separate pieces of Plex into a unified whole.
Before the website launch, the service had four completely separate web areas: the actual website, the place where you managed your account and servers (known as myPlex), the place where you went for Plex Pass downloads, and the place you went to organize and play your media (known as Plex/Web). This “seemed like three places too many.”
Now there’s just one place for Plex on the web: plex.tv. The company got a shorter domain name because they “figured typing four fewer letters would help prevent global warming.” Let’s highlight some of the features of the new unified experience.
First and foremost, Plex did a lot of work to better explain what the service is. The company’s hope is that a new visitor to their website can “quickly understand how Plex can help them, and even people who have been using Plex for a while can get a great overview of features and supported platforms.”
Secondly, account management was integrated into the main site, so you can create an account or sign in right on the site. This also means that the company can show Plex Pass downloads right on the same downloads page if you’re signed in.
That leaves the web app, and there are lots of reasons to have it live alongside the website. Plex can share authentication with the main site, making it easier to launch, and it makes things faster for those accessing remote servers. The web app has also been made “ faster and prettier;” it can be found at plex.tv/web.
The company also worked on the first run experience. If you create an account and then download the server, there’s no need to sign in three times to the site, web app and in the media server. Lastly, Plex has improved the reliability of finding the media server on a local network. If you’re signed into the service, it should “just work, better than ever before.”
On the support side, Plex has opened up an “extensive” help center to replace the “aging and occasionally decrepit” wiki. The company has been working overtime to populate the help center with “helpful and clearly-written” content, and will continue to pull over anything needed from the old wiki.
In summary, this is “probably the biggest step forward in usability and user experience that we’ve taken in six years.” Plex has looked at “every single aspect,” from branding, terminology to naming, to the color palette.