Fully Charged: Google mulling Songza purchase, shatterproof phone screens incoming, and the Minecraft creator’s strange new horse game

Begin the week with a blast of news from all corners of the tech world

Google reportedly eyeing Songza acquisition

Apple bought Beats for US$3 billion, and now Google might buy Songza for… just US$15 million? That’s what the New York Post is reporting, as Google apparently wants the streaming music service for its smart and very distinctive curation features.

Unlike traditional streaming approaches, Songza simply asks for your mood or what you’re doing, and then pairs music accordingly—whether you are at work, need a dance break, or are up for some toilet listening. No, really.

Songza has about 5.5 million active users, and the Post report cites one source claiming that Google has made a mere US$15 million offer, while another says the sum is much higher and that other companies are also trying to pursue the streaming service. It won’t dominate headlines like Beats did, but Songza’s charming and effective curation could be a sharp addition to Google’s music arsenal.

[Source: The New York Post]

READ MORE: Apple acquires Beats for US$3 billion

Shatterproof phone screens are on the horizon

Cracked screen

Our hearts skip a beat every time we drop our slippery smartphones, as an impact at the wrong angle could result in a massive repair bill for a horribly cracked display. Luckily, the technology to avoid such outcomes is apparently rather close to being a reality.

Scientists at the University of Akron in Ohio, USA have designed a transparent electrode film that is dramatically tougher than the indium tin oxide (ITO) coatings found on many current devices, and it’s been bent more than 1000 times during testing and retained its shape. It could be produced in rolls and applied to future handsets.

“We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor," says Yu Zhu, assistant professor of polymer science at the university, and the lead researcher. "The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touch screen.”

[Sources: MD Connects and The University of Akron via Engadget]

READ MORE: Disney Research creates paper that can generate electricity

Minecraft creator’s new game is Cliffhorse


Released with the same kind of freewheeling indie ethos as Minecraft was—once upon a time, before it evolved into a juggernaut—Cliffhorse (from Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson) for PC has suddenly appeared on the Internet. You can pay him in Dogecoin for it, if you’d like, but he makes the link for an “early access” version freely available.

As far as we can tell (from various unofficial YouTube videos), it’s a game about galloping a horse around rolling hills—and that may be it for now, or maybe ever, as the website says there’s “no guarantee of future updates.”

Persson claims to have amassed about US$100 worth of Dogecoin as of yesterday, and tweeted, “I can't believe this somehow ended up being my first commercial game after Minecraft.” Yeah, that makes all of us!

READ MORE: Minecraft goes to Hollywood

Ant-Man adds new director and writer, stays on target


Marvel’s movie-making nightmare has finally come to an end, as the company has found a new director to tackle next year’s Ant-Man after parting ways with Edgar Wright. Peyton Reed, director of Bring it On and Yes Man, has been announced as the new director for the comic adaptation.

It’s an awfully pedestrian pick following Edgar Wright’s lengthy involvement with the project, but there’s a saving grace here: Anchorman director Adam McKay, who passed on directing Ant-Man, will instead help tweak the script as the film rushes into production. Here’s hoping that the original vision for the Paul Rudd-starring flick isn’t completely lost in the process.

[Source: Marvel]

READ MORE: Fully Charged: Marvel’s Ant-Man loses Edgar Wright, free Star Wars game cancelled, and Xbox One controllers getting PC support