Apple Has Some Not-So-New iPhones, Google Discontinues the …



On Wednesday last week, Apple introduced new iPhones – there was no huge announcements as this is the S year from Apple products – just minor improvements to last year’s products including the iPhone and the Apple watch and then slapping expensive prices on them. In brief:

  • Apple killed the iPhone X, the SE and the 6s which got replaced with the colourful 6.1″ iPhone XR which starts at $749 (64GB) and is cheaper than the iPhone X.
    • The 5.8″ iPhone XS and the 6.5″ iPhone XS Max with the best cameras and displays and start at $999 and $1,099 respectively
    • Apple’s new devices fully embraced the notch life and killed the home button. The watch has faster processing speed s4 chip and a gyroscope that detects when you fall and alert your SOS contact in case of a non-responsive fall and an ECG test for more sophisticated heartbeat measurements that will come handy in emergency situations.
  • The free dongles Apple usually ships have been discontinued and you’ll have to purchase them while also raising the battery repair prices thus make Apple reach the $2 trillion market cap faster.

Early reviews are already in with some praising the new camera software, pointing out that the giant screen isn’t that bad (Gheorghe Mureșan, the 7ft 7″ former NBA player didn’t think Apple used the large screen well enough for it to be big) and reviewers even agreed that the battery life of the new phones is better than last years’. Is it worth it? The new iPhones aren’t offering that much as compared to what last years had and if you’re price conscious, you should wait for the XR version before making the decision to get this years’ new iPhones and if it makes sense to you, then upgrade or wait for next years’ iPhones.

Interesting takes from Apple’s announcement:

• Based on which units ran out first, hard-core early adopters were going for bigger screens (Max over Xs) and larger capacities (512 and 256 over 64). the space Gray 512GB Xs Max ran out in a minute and the space Gray 256GB Xs ran out in 40 minutes. [Read More]
• XDA wrote a piece on how Apple’s new iPhone lineup especially the XR will influence Android trends, for better and for worse. [Read More]
• Venture Beat’s article on why the XR will succeed where the 5C failed. [Read More]
• This satire piece on how future Apple events will turn out including the 2026 event where the law will require you to get an iPhone. [Read More]

Google pulled the plug on Inbox

Inbox was Google’s experimental email service that didn’t get adopted widely and now will be shutting down on March 2019 – existing users have been requested to start shifting to the new Gmail. Actually, Inbox was a panic app – Google had seen how Mailbox, a similar service but for iPhones has certain features and user interface appeal that power users preferred. Mailbox gained a million users even before officially launching which threatened Gmail and thus the launch of Inbox that copied most of those features. It feels like Google is ignoring the passionate users who try new stuff and these users will probably take this passion somewhere else, but who cares? The masses win! [Read More]

The EU Parliament approved controversial internet copyright law

The laws which include law Articles 11 and 13, dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter” respectively will get a final vote in January 2019, but is expected to pass. According to Article 13 law, anything you want to publish will need to first be approved by upload filters meaning that perfectly legal content like parodies and memes will be caught in the crosshairs. World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee came out so strongly against the directive.

Reddit said that the law will be a big blow to the open internet and Wikimedia said it was disappointed by “the missed opportunity to modernize copyright”. They rejected expert tech evidence and academic analysis and went ahead to adopt both articles in the mandate for negotiations ahead of the trilogies. It will be up to the Member States to fight EU censorship in name of copyright. It is worth pointing out that under this new copyright directive, streaming services like Amazon and Netflix will be forced to pay higher copyright fees to filmmakers.

Google’s censored search engine for China will link people’s phone numbers to their searches

Dragonfly, the prototype search engine will make it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries – users seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google (Google’s data centres for the censored China search engine would be on the Chinese mainland meaning people’s search queries in China would be processed there and thus accessible to Chinese authorities.)

The search engine would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, peaceful protest and replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing. Citing Dragonfly and ethics & transparency concerns, several employees have quit their jobs at Google, “I view our intent to capitulate to censorship & surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values,” said a recently resigned Senior Google scientist. [Read More]

Facebook is upping its efforts to fight fake images and videos

Facebook said it would expand its efforts to scan media uploaded for evidence of doctored photos or videos, taken out of context or accompanied by misleading text. Facebook said it has deployed its powerful algorithms to “identify potentially false” images and videos, then send those flagged posts to outside fact-checkers for further review.

Facebook’s Rosetta AI will also help the company understand memes using text extraction to spot hate speech and inappropriate content in images and videos that human content moderators miss since more than a billion images and videos are posted daily.

If you’re curious enough, check out this extension that is Facebook without the content

Facebook is being sued for letting job advertisers target only men

ProPublica found out that 15 employers in the past year, including Uber and a police department, have advertised jobs on the social media platform exclusively to one gender with many of the ads playing to stereotypes. Many of these ads are not visible to women. ACLU filed a lawsuit claiming such Facebook ads are illegal. A Facebook spokesperson added that they’ll review the complaint and look forward to defending their practices. [Read More]

WhatsApp for feature phones launched in India

The Facebook-owned app is racing to add even more users despite the bad reputation it has gained in the same country where false rumours spread through WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers. The app was launched for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS. Jiophone controls 47% of the feature phone market share and thus makes sense for WhatsApp to partner with as they strive to grow from 1.5 billion users to 2 billion.

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Looks like Apple live streaming their event on Twitter made them priotise live broadcasting as it is becoming important to them. The social media giant announced it will put broadcasts and livestreams started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline making it easier to see what they’re doing in real time. Will it make a difference?

Uber’s new design

Uber amidst the new iPhone announcement made a bold move and unveiled a new design, including a logo that does away with the icon and simply features the name, a custom typeface called Uber Move that’s designed to evoke safety and accessibility and a redesigned in-app look. This is a move to convince users that it has put its problematic reputation in the past and a complete rebrand is a better way to usher in a new era. “Platform of mobility” is what Uber now wants to be known as. They say the third time is a charm and we hope this works in their favour.

Interesting Reads

Silicon Valley CEOs are pivoting from big to boring – if you put Elon Musk aside, tech CEOS aren’t that flashy anymore. They’re turning more inward and abandoning the archetype of the reckless tech CEO. Most of them now have more influence than many governments around the world and that comes with the glare of global scrutiny.

The New Yorker had an excellent bio on Zuckerberg and Facebook’s current challenge of moving from disruptor to protector. The question is not whether Zuckerberg has the power to fix Facebook but whether he has the will.

Distract

Browser companies are interestingly collegial. The endearing tradition former Internet Explorer team started of sending the rival team, in this case, Firefox when they released Firefox 3 continued with the Edge team sending one to the Chrome team.

Lady Gaga tweeted some random letters and numbers – perhaps her cat walked over her keyboard. People got creative.

Clicked covers interesting tech and culture news you might have missed. Read previous editions here.


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