IN CES WEEK, most of what happens, happens very much in the foreground, so a column about stuff going on in the background is already somewhat on the back foot. But in amongst the waterlogged stand and battles with Amazon Alexa, a couple of things caught our eye.
First up, Google Duo, the video calling element to the gaggle of competing communications apps that we're lovingly referring to as a ‘bellendfull'. Up to now, you've both needed to have the app installed, but a web app for mobile now means you can call anyone, as long you're set up. So much for conscientious objection.
It was a swansong move for head of Allo/Duo/Hangouts at the company, Amit Fulay, who announced this week that he's over and out - moving to Facebook, who have their own eye on video calling.
Although we've talked lots about the third party video-enabled Google Assistant devices, it's worth mentioning that CES also saw the launch of Lenovo's Daydream headset, unique in that it doesn't need a phone in it. We're waiting for a hands-on with this standalone wonder.
Finally, after we mentioned last week that Google had put a customer satisfaction survey into the settings of the Pixel 2 (ugh), there are rumours as we write that other manufacturers' phones are getting the same treatment. We'll keep you up to date with that.
There are slimmer pickings in the Three-For-Free this week. Post-Christmas and CES, it's a bit quiet on the free software front. But we've found a few things for you.
Laserbreak Pro (£1.49) is a game we've been playing for a while now so it's great to see the ad-free version for free. 120 levels of laser beams and mirrors as you try and deflect your way to the door. Great if you're good at pool.
Melody Maker XD (£1.00) is not a title we were previously aware of, but we're going to have a tinker with it. The proposition is somewhere between Guitar Hero, Mario Bros and Ableton Live, allowing you to build musical compositions with a graphical interface. Probably won't write any chart toppers this way, but worth a look.
Call Recorder (£0.69) does exactly what it sounds like. This is actually the licence key to unlock the full version of the free app so you'll need to download both, but this freebie unlocks functionality and removes the ads. When you've recorded your call, you can even email the result or send it to a cloud service. µ
Oh look, the EU is getting stuck into the workings of tech again
At last, the break gamers have been waiting for
Users have flocked to VPN services to skirt the block, claims NordVPN
'Stick that in your #DeleteFacebook', smirks social network