Aug 26 - 4min readTech News Of The WeekBy Borne
For us Brits, this weekend is a one in a million.
Not only is it a bank holiday, rumour has it, it’s going to be sunny. And in the UK, the words ‘bank holiday’ and ‘sunny’ are only ever used in the same sentence when describing what the bank holiday wasn’t.
But before you get yourself down to the nearest watering hole because HELLO, it’s Friday and that’s what you do, here’s a little tech news of the week roundup so when your friends start talking about the latest Apple scandals, you won’t look like an idiot. Or maybe it’s just us app developers who talk about stuff like that while boozing. Here’s last week’s tech news if you missed it.
1. WhatsApp users are to receive adverts
Cue eye rolls from millions of people, we knew we couldn’t escape it for long.
WhatsApp has, until this point, been possibly the only platform which hasn’t bombarded us with adverts for products sold on a webpage we visited back in April.
All this is about to change. Sob.
Yes WhatsApp, I’m sure you’ve got our best interests at heart. Thanks so much.
The platform will suggest friends whose phone number you have, but you are not connected with on Facebook (and we all know a friend isn’t a friend unless they’re a Facebook friend), as well as providing relevant adverts.
The platform has assured users that the content of their messages has and always will remain private.
2. Lawnmower prompts Northern Lights alert
Earlier this week a lawnmower got too close to one of the sensors which predicts when the Northern Lights will be visible in the UK. The sensor was triggered, alerting the scientists running Aurora Watch.
Four hours later, the alert was withdrawn when the researchers realised only one sensor was triggered.
Aurora Watch is looking at ways to avoid this happening in the future, as we all know there is nothing more disappointing than a false Northern Lights alert, even more so when the guilty prankster is a lawnmower.
3. Uber adds advanced bookings
The popular transport app Uber is allowing customers who are travelling in London to book journeys up to 30 days in advance.
Until now, customers were only able to book Ubers when they actually wanted to travel, so this is a big step for the company that at one point looked set to put black cabs out of business.
Although passengers may still be charged a ‘surge price’ if there is a high demand (for example, after a concert or football game), they will be able to cancel their bookings if they feel it’s too expensive.
However, Uber will have a few things to consider with this addition. The company will have to judge when to send the car to the pick up the passenger based on whether the driver actually accepts the request as well as traffic conditions, which we all know are generally panic-attack inducing in London.
Similarly, if the passenger is running late, Uber drivers may not wait for them as other cab companies would.
It’s not all rosy for Uber, as despite their initial success, the company announced last week that this quarter has seen another loss. In the 7 year history of the company, it has now lost at least $4 billion.
3. New #scam leaves Instagram filled with porn
The latest Instagram controversy sees victims photos of #brunch and #sunsets replaced with…adult porn.
This is now the worst thing to happen to Instagram since the launch of Instagram Stories at the start of August.
If users click on the links displayed on victims’ profiles, malware will be downloaded onto their computer, potentially giving the hacker remote access to their PC and, let’s face it, we probably have more information than we should stored on our PCs.
Watchdog on Three have provided some tips for staying safe on social media, but realistically we should all know better than to click on any links to adult sites displayed on someone’s Instagram feed.
Sympathy levels are dangerously low here.
4. Apple tackles iPhone one-tap spyware flaws
Flaws have been discovered in Apple’s iOS system which allow spyware to be installed on a device when the user clicks on a link.
A human rights lawyer alerted researchers when he received unsolicited text messages promising to reveal ‘secrets’ about people being tortured in the United Arab Emirates if he clicked on the links provided. The researchers then discovered three previously unknown flaws in Apple’s code.
Quick to act in any emergency situation, Apple swiftly released a software update to fix the problem. Phew.
5. Facebook launches new app Lifestage
In it’s increasingly desperate attempts to become cool again, Facebook have launched a new app Lifestage, designed specifically for teenagers in the US.
The app was created by Michael Sayman, a 19 year old Facebook employee. For teens who want to connect with others at their school, the app has a Snapchat-like feel as users are encouraged to share selfies and videos which can be watched by classmates.
People who list their age as over 21 are blocked from joining the app or looking up accounts.
Now any sensible app for teenagers would have something to prevent adults from posing as minors, but not Lifestage.
Clearly trusting the adult population, the app contains absolutely nothing to prevent adults from providing fake ages and joining an existing high school.
A spokesperson for the app told Business Insider that they do have some security measures. Users are able to report ‘concerning activity’ and only one account is allowed per phone number.
We’ll be honest here, we’re not feeling overly reassured.