The Year in News: What Happened Next (Stories From September-October 2015)

Credit: Channel 4

Credit: Channel 4

We continue our look back at 2015’s news and subsequent developments with September and October. Insider reports revealed Amazon was working on a low-spec tablet computer which would cost just $50. That proved correct, though that price was only if you took up the “Special Offers” option, meaning advertisements appear on the lock screen. Reviews suggested that, as expected, the new starter Fire model was very much cheap and cheerful but was mainly good for basic browsing — which is no doubt what many users want it for.

Samsung unveiled a new form of smartphone memory that could allow up to 6GB of RAM without needing any extra space. Perhaps more usefully, the memory could also allow 3GB of RAM in small or low-budget handsets. It later emerged Samsung may be beaten to the punch as both a handset funded via Indiegogo campaign and a rumoured handset from a Chinese company are listed as offering 6GB.

The UK’s Channel 4 started airing Hunted, a modern-day (and non-lethal) take on The Running Man. It featured 14 contestants aiming to evade capture for 40 days while being hunted by a team of security experts and profilers using both real and simulated technologies such as phone tracking and CCTV networks. Eventually four contestants managed to last the 30 days, with the rest caught through a combination of technology, bribery and dumb luck. A second series has been confirmed, this time with a £100,000 (approx US$150,000) prize.

Apple applied to take the long-running saga of it colluding with publishers to fix e-book prices to the Supreme Court. That has since been approved and interested parties have until January 4 to submit evidence before the justices hear the case. The specific legal point the Supreme Court will hear involves the legal definition of the relationship between Apple and the publishers; that definition determines whether or not price-fixing is automatically considered illegal, or if a court must weigh up the resulting benefit and harm to consumers.

A European Court threw out the 15-year-old Safe Habor arrangement which meant that US companies handling the data of European customers were effectively exempted from local data protection laws. Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy campaigner and noted thorn in the side of Facebook, has now asked regulators in Ireland (Facebook’s European base), Belgium and Germany to stop all data flows between Facebook in Europe and the US.

The New York state Attorney General’s Office asked Cablevision, Time Warner and Verizon to provide proof that customers who paid higher fees for faster broadband packages really do get a benefit for their money. The office has since asked New Yorkers to take a speed test and submit their results, along with the advertised speeds on their packages.

A Kickstarter project asked for funding for a virtual reality headset that needed no phone, tablet or other device. AuraVisor would effectively have a graphics-focused Android computer built into the headset. It could download and run virtual reality apps as well as converting 2D video (from either an SD card or an HDMI input) to stereoscopic 3D. The project was successfully backed and the designer has indicated it could be shipped well ahead of the planned April/May timetable.

We’ll be back tomorrow to conclude with a look at updates from November and December’s stories.

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