Tech trends: Mobile payments, iPad Mini and Windows 8 release date gossip and more

iPad Mini meme

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Paper, plastic or iPhone 5? With Google Wallet and other mobile payments making carrying cash passé, what’s in your wallet these days? Plus, the rumors about what to expect from Windows 8, the rumored iPad mini, and news about the most played video game — shockingly, it’s not World of Warcraft or Diablo 3 but League of Legends.

Google Wallet and other mobile payments

It’s becoming more frequent to see customers at Starbucks whip out their smart phones to have cashiers ring them up using the Starbucks App, which keeps track of how much users keep on their Starbucks cards. With the release of the iPhone 5, Apple’s Passbook became a handy feature for users wanting to expand their digital wallet. Google Wallet has been around since 2011, and it uses a handy NFC (near field communication) function to become a generic replacement for credit cards for merchants that are NFC enabled. Passbook, however, is a vendor-buy-in program, with many companies already on board, such as:

  • United and American Airlines: Adopted it to allow customers to use their iPhones as virtual boarding passes
  • Major League Baseball: Selling tickets to games
  • Fandango: Sells electronic movie tickets
  • Walgreens: Allows customers to use the app for their rewards card

As Passbook popularizes the idea of an electronic wallet, will Google Wallet use pick up as well? Will customers be able to stop carrying the dozen discount cards attached to their key rings as well as their cash and credit cards? ZDNet tech columnist Jason Perlow, in his October 12, 2012, article “Apple’s Passbook and Google’s Wallet: Will they replace paper and plastic?” wrote that he couldn’t yet predict the future of a virtual wallet. He did suspect, however, that “what works necessarily for ecommerce and makes people comfortable pulling out their credit cards in front of their personal computer on a web site or ordering stuff on Amazon will not necessarily work in brick and mortar.”

A mini iPad and Windows 8

While some of Apple’s iPhone 5 features have been getting a lot of criticism — the flawed maps are the top problem, but short battery life is also a frequent user complaint — users are still waiting eagerly to hear whether the tech leviathan will be releasing a 7-8 inch screen tablet to compete with the Kindle and Google Nexus market. An October 23 event hosted by Apple is expected to confirm (or deny) rumors that the company will be releasing a smaller, thinner version of their popular device.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is preparing for its Windows 8 release date, for a $1.5 to $1.8 billion endeavor that will include not only the new operating system, but also the first Windows-based tablet, the Surface. On October 12, Windows 8 became available for pre-order — users of Windows 7, Vista, or XP are offered an upgrade price of $40. The OS officially becomes available on October 26. Lydia Sung, of Neoseeker, wrote, “Microsoft spending over $1.5 billion on Windows 8 launch” on October 12, 2012. According to Sung, the launch is so important because it’s about “whether Microsoft can effectively compete against Apple and Google in the mobile market.”

League of Legends averages 3 million players

Three-year-old game League of Legends hasn’t had the pop culture exposure that Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft get on a regular basis, despite averaging 3 million players online at one time. According to Christopher MacManus of CNet in his October 12, 2012, article “League of Legends the world’s ‘most played video game,” the game “in some ways completely flew under the radar for most casual observers of the gaming industry.” With 32 million active players logging on every month, the quiet (and free) real-time strategy game tops World of Warcraft subscribers. The game’s creators tabulated how many hours of worldwide play the game receives per month — over 1 billion — and proclaimed the game the most played video game in the world.

On Twitter and YouTube

Twitter is watching TV, music videos, and making jokes:

YouTube is showing a light-hearted side between political campaign ads:

And when Washington Nationals’ slugger Jayson Werth hit a walk-off homerun on October 11 in Game 4 of the Major League playoffs, he probably did not expect to become an instant meme. Images of Werth riding things from a photo where the player made his leap onto home plate have been surfacing around the net.

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