New in Google Reader: a fresh design, and Google+ sharing

Today we’re rolling out the new Reader design, and the Google+ features that we mentioned just over a week ago. Before the day’s over, all Reader users will be able to enjoy the following improvements:
  • A new look and feel that’s cleaner, faster, and nicer to look at.

  • The ability to +1 a feed item (replacing “Like”), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (replacing “Share” and “Share with Note”).

Finally! This integration seems so obvious, I’m surprised G+ didn’t launch with it already in tow.

From the user’s perspective, it lowers the bar to sharing small stories, and makes switching from one app to the other more streamlined; for Google, it provides access to a slew of interesting data about readership, activity in the Reader, and desire to share with social networks, as well as valuable data about why and when people whoose G+ as their sharing mechanism. For publishers, the advantage is more subtle, but undoubtedly they would also benefit from a more integrated viewer.

3 Cheers for Reader!

BitTorrent and Netflix Dominate America’s Internet Traffic via @TorrentFreak

New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that on the average day Netflix and BitTorrent are responsible for 40 percent of all Internet traffic in North America. During peak hours Netflix accounts for a third of all download traffic, while BitTorrent is credited for nearly half of all upload traffic during the busiest time of the day.
Netflix is by far the most bandwidth-consuming source of traffic. On an average day, 23.3% of all North American traffic comes from or goes to Netflix. BitTorrent is a good second with 16.5% of the traffic pie, meaning that Netflix and BitTorrent together account for almost 40% of all traffic.

The most surprising – yet obvious – aspect of this data is the HUGE discrepancy between the upstream and downstream data. While the authors say Netflix and BitTorrent dominate the traffic, it’s really only BitTorrent boosting up the upstream numbers (that is, the amount of data you send to the internet, as opposed to the amount you download from it). The gap is so huge, it seems that would present an easy way to target torrenters – simply by closely monitoring the upload rates, especially during the night.

Of course, even if something like that were instituted, torrenters wuold simply design a new technology to circumvent it. If there’s one thing this data proves, it’s that pirating and sharing isn’t going anywhere, despite the mutli-billion-dollar industry that’s engaged in a constant arms race with it’s own customers.

More Data Was Transmitted Over the Internet in 2010 Than All Previous Years Combined

There was more data transmitted over the Internet in 2010 than the entire history of the Internet through 2009.

Now the transfer of data over the Internet is growing faster than ever, said Vice President of Intel’s Architecture Group Kirk Skaugen during the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He also explained how infrastructure is scaling with the increasing transfer of data.

That’s a lot of data. Skip through the video in chunks.

Cellphones Don’t Cause Cancer! via @mashable

Over the past couple of years, reports have suggested that cellphones may cause cancer or claimed the opposite. However, the interesting thing about this latest study is that it’s sample size is the entire adult population of Denmark.

Researchers from Copenhagen’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health divided Danish adults (30 years of age and over) born after 1925 into subscribers and non-subscribers of mobile phones before 1995. The study found that occurrences of cancer among the two groups were nearly equal.

Furthermore, among mobile phone subscribers, the study didn’t find an increased number of occurrences of glioma in the temporal lobes of the brain, the part of the body most directly exposed to cellphone radiation.

Well, that’s good news. I often find myself thinking “Gosh, i hope all this wifi isn’t going straight to my head.”

Streaming Bits: Apple Prepping Movie Cloud Service via @slashfilm

This week marked the launch of UltraViolet, a new digital locker system that would allow users to purchase content in one physical or digital format and access it across all platforms via a cloud-based system. The service came about through years of negotiation and collaboration between major studios, manufacturers, and retailers, but not everyone in the industry was on board — Apple and Disney were among the two biggest holdouts.

We’ve now learned why Apple declined to participate, and it’s pretty much the same reason Disney did. Apple has quietly been working on its own cloud service, expected to launch in late 2011 or early 2012, and has been working out deals with studios to allow videos purchased through iTunes to be streamed on any Apple device including iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.

“Digital music locker”? Gosh, even themovie studios’ metaphors sound dated. A locker? Really? That particular metal device is pretty ill-suited to convey the freedom of syncing and listening to your music anywhere you go. A locker? That idea… just stinks.

Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet via @wiredmag

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.

I certainly understand the tactical advantage of removing our soldiers from combat situations, but I fear what this technology implies. The drones are tools, which can be hijacked and reused – just like any other weapon of war. Or worse, they can be used to justify engaging in conflicts we otherwise normally wouldn’t partake in due to risk. But when we start to value our own lives so much more than our enemies that we put the destrictuive power in the hands of autonomous agents of war, and disconnect ourselves from the reality and consequences of our war machine, we open the door to our military system being hijacked from within, and fostering even more ‘shadow wars.’

Siri will chip away at Google’s mobile search business (via @arstechnica)

Think of all the times you’ve found yourself Googling stuff on your iPhone to settle a friendly debate with friends about a movie or athlete. There are a million things mobile users query Google about every day on their phones, but I theoretically could have used Siri to look up that entire list for me, and with much less effort on my part.

For Google, this is not good news.

Google recently stated during its testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that a whopping two-thirds of its mobile search traffic comes from iOS devices. If even half of those users eventually migrate over to Siri for the majority of their basic inquiries from their iPhones, Google’s mobile search business could find itself in flux. When roughly 66 percent of your mobile search traffic comes from a platform that now has an “intelligent assistant” making its own queries without the help of Google, a strategy change may be in the cards sooner than later. So far, Google is remaining mum on Siri.

Siri: Apple’s secret software ninja? Sneaks in through your phone, ends up taking over your life. In such a nice way.

Complete roundup of iProduct updates, specs, and release dates (via @engadget)

Apple’s done its fair share of introducing today, and now it’s on us to distill everything down into something understandable by folks who don’t have the time to pore over every single morsel of iPhone and iOS 5-related news oozing from Cupertino. You can relive our liveblog right here — for everything else, [follow the link] below.

A well-formatted summary of all the changes to the iProducts line, including iOS5.

Digital Monopolies A Bigger Threat Than Piracy, Says Miramax CEO

Miramax CEO Mike Lang and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos gave a keynote talk at the MIPCOM conference. The two discussed the challenges they face in the continuously changing digital world. Both agreed that piracy is not much of an issue as long as you give consumers what they want. Digital monopolies, such as Apple’s dominance in the music industry, are a far bigger threat.

It’s the classic power struggle between goliaths: they start to see their users as liabilities, and accordingly treat them with disrespect. Then another competitor comes along to gobble them up, in the opportunity void they created. Maybe the solution is to treat your customers like people, and cater to what they want?