Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

Led by UBS Group, 14 financial firms including banks in the United States, Europe and Japan are using blockchain technology to settle cross-border trades. The group, which spent the last four years developing this project, invested £50 million ($63.2 million) to establish Fnality International, a company to control the bitcoin token, dubbed the utility settlement coin (USC). Trades can take a long time to clear and failed trades are common; the USC token would both carry all the information to complete a trade and be payment for it. Continue reading Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

At this week’s WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple introduced an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking the user’s location, in an attempt to gain the high ground among big tech companies targeted by regulators for privacy issues. Apple also differentiated itself from Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on tracking users’ behavior and activity. The company’s next mobile operating system, iOS 13, slated to debut this fall, will allow users to log into apps without giving up any personal information and generate “automated and random” email addresses. Continue reading Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

U.S. tech giants are expected to become targets of in-depth antitrust investigations to determine if any companies have become too large and may be stifling competition. According to sources, federal agencies have agreed to distribute the investigative responsibilities. The Justice Department reportedly has authority over looking into Apple and Google, while the Federal Trade Commission will have oversight of Amazon and Facebook. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee plans to examine competition in digital markets and the growing power of the tech industry. Continue reading Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

At DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI labs, researchers built virtual video-game players that master the game by playing other bots. Most of the time, the bots played a capture-the-flag video game better than human game testers who are professional. DeepMind researcher Max Jaderberg said that the work, first described in the company blog last year, is moving towards “developing the fundamental algorithms” that could in the future lead to a “more human intelligence.” Not every lab, however, can afford the compute power required. Continue reading Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Determining the impact of screen time isn’t easy. It’s almost impossible to put together a “control group” of people living non-digital lives, and there are no baselines for such factors as “average daily Facebook usage.” Stanford University professor of communication Byron Reeves, in a paper in Human-Computer Interaction, suggested a new approach that eschews the term “screen time” as hopelessly ambiguous. Instead, he argued, scientists should analyze what people are watching — but this data doesn’t exist. Continue reading Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

The British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), which analyzes signals and cracks codes, has proposed eavesdropping on encrypted chat services. The backlash has been strong, with 50+ companies, security experts and civil rights organizations calling it a “serious threat” to human rights and digital security. Apple, Google, Microsoft, WhatsApp and Privacy International are among those encouraging GCHQ to drop the “ghost protocol” proposal first put forward in November 2018. Continue reading U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

Google has doubled-down on a change made in January to Manifest V3, Chrome’s extensions system, that would prevent the effective functioning of current ad blockers. Despite backlash to the change by extension developers and power users, the company said that only enterprise users will be able to continue to use such ad blocking software. Manifest V3 includes other changes, such as a tweaking of the permissions system. Now, all extensions must use the “minimum set of permissions necessary” when requesting access to data. Continue reading In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

The California Assembly introduced a law that would require Amazon Flex, Postmates, Uber and other similar companies to treat their gig economy contractors as employees, with the wages and benefits of that classification. The bill, which was approved 53 to 11, comes only a few weeks after Uber’s IPO was met with a brief strike by ride-hail drivers around the world protesting their low pay and contractor status. The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled state senate where it is likely to be signed into law. Continue reading California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

Ericsson and Nokia Vie for Advantage in Wake of Huawei Ban

Nokia and Ericsson are competing to gain the greatest advantage of the U.S. ban on Huawei technologies. Both rivals stated they would be “primary providers” for SoftBank Group’s mobile network upgrade to 5G. Ericsson was awarded a contract from a Danish network to replace Huawei gear in an upgrade to 5G; the company stated it had won 18 similar contracts. Nokia said it replaced Huawei gear for Germany’s Vodafone Group; with 37 recent “equipment swap” deals, the Finnish company tops Swedish-based Ericsson. Continue reading Ericsson and Nokia Vie for Advantage in Wake of Huawei Ban

Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Amazon unveiled Echo Show 5, the third generation of its Alexa-enabled Echo Show, which offers a 5.5-inch 960×480-pixel diagonal smart display and built-in far-field microphones. Although in numerous ways, the Echo Show 5 resembles past generations of the device, it differs in that it includes a mechanical slide that lets the user close the shutter on the device’s front-facing camera. To assuage consumers’ privacy concerns about Alexa, Amazon has also added the “Alexa Privacy Hub,” an online collection of privacy settings. Continue reading Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Intel‘s Sneak Peek of Innovative Two-Screen PC for Gamers

Intel is developing its Honeycomb Glacier to bring two-screen PCs to gamers. The primary panel is 15.6-inch 1080p; the secondary one is 12.3-inch 1920×720. Up until now, laptops with a secondary screen have been uncomfortable and awkward to use, but the Honeycomb Glacier resolves that problem by using a double hinge to lift both screens into the air. The lifted screen automatically stays in the angle chosen by the user due to a mechanical one-way roller clutch. A button on the left side disengages it. Continue reading Intel‘s Sneak Peek of Innovative Two-Screen PC for Gamers

Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

Los Angeles startup Cinelytic uses artificial intelligence to project box office returns. It licenses data about past movie performances and cross-references that with themes and actors in order to identify patterns. The software allows the user to input script and cast, and then try to see how specific actors would likely impact box office receipts. Other companies are experimenting with applying AI to film production, including the Belgium-based ScriptBook, which its founders say can predict success via an analyzed script. Continue reading Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

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