Tech 2.0 for Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 12/12/2012 3:18 pm


The DVD kiosk operator Redbox has launched a challenge to Netflix dominance of the streaming industry. Later this month, Redbox will offer an unlimited streaming-video plan that includes movies from Warner Brothers and pay TV channel Epix, along with four nights of physical DVD rentals, for $8 a month. For those who want Blu-ray discs, the cost per month will be $9. To do the math for you, that's a buck lower than the $10-a-month DVD and streaming plan Netflix abandoned a year ago. Currently, the lowest price plan from Netflix that combines DVDs-by-mail and streaming is now $16 a month. The new service will be called Redbox Instant by Verizon. We can only imagine what the people at Netflix might be tempted to call the new service.

Facebook is trying to make its privacy controls easier to find and understand in an effort to turn the world's largest social network into a more discreet place. The fine-tuning announced Wednesday will include several revisions that will start rolling out to Facebook Inc.'s more than 1 billion users in the next few weeks. The biggest change will be a new "privacy shortcuts" section that will appear as a tiny lock on the right-hand side at the top of people's news feeds. This feature offers a drop-down box where users will be able to get answers to common questions such as "Who can see my stuff?" Other updates will include a tool that will enable individuals to review all the publicly available pictures identifying them on Facebook.

Yahoo has retooled its free email service in an attempt to regain some of the ground it lost to Google's popular alternative. Aside from the new look unveiled Tuesday, Yahoo introduced email apps for the iPhone, iPad and mobile devices running on the new Windows 8 operating system. The company, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also updated its app designed for Google's Android operating system. As she nears the end of her fifth month on the job, Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to give people more reasons to use the company's online services and stick around longer. Mayer played a key role in building Google's Gmail, which has emerged as the world's top email service in just eight years.
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