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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Google's result for Republican senator shows image with 'bigot' written across it – CNET

The image was pulled from a 2012 blog post.
Source: CNET

FCA phasing out European diesels, refocusing on global electrification – Roadshow

The automaker will sell its last diesel passenger car in 2021, shifting its focus to hybrids and EVs over the next five years.
Source: CNET

2019 Ford Fusion gets way more tech and a much bigger price tag – Roadshow

Never mind that it’s on its final walk to the automotive gallows, the 2019 Fusion gets a ton of great tech upgrades that make it a better value than ever, despite increased prices.
Source: CNET

Why Facebook's killing its trending topics video – CNET

The world’s largest social network said it’s putting an end to the controversial feature.
Source: CNET

Now fixed: Visa outage disrupted 'millions' of payments in UK and Europe – CNET

Update: Visa says the issue has been resolved.
Source: CNET

Apple needs to play nice with Spotify

With WWDC a couple of days out, we’re coming up on one year since Apple first showed off its glitzy answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. It took more than 8 months from then for the HomePod to finally hit shelves, and it took up until a couple of days ago for all the promised functionality to arrive.

Four months since launch, it’s clear Apple delivered some awesome hardware, but there are plenty of features I want to see the HomePod pick up when Apple comes to the stage at its annual developer conference to talk iOS 12. For all the criticisms levied against the device, the most weighty has been the fact that there isn’t even a vague reason to consider buying the speaker unless you are an Apple Music subscriber. For Apple Watch users who want to listen to non-Apple Music tunes the same is true to a lesser degree.

At the very least, the company needs to introduce some functionality to third-party music services through SiriKit that opens up voice commands to play specific songs and user playlists while leaving premium functionality for Apple Music where users can say stuff like “play more songs like this,” and “play something I’d like,” etc., etc. No one is expecting the Apple hardware to be designed around listening to Spotify, but it’s frustrating and confounding that Apple won’t play ball at all.

Apple Music has 50 million subscribers, including those on three-month free trials. Spotify has 170 million monthly active users, 75 million of which are paying for the Premium service. That’s an awfully big chunk of music fans to be ignoring. As nice as I think the HomePod is, it’s a bold (and misguided) strategy to think it’s enough to convince entrenched Spotify playlist lovers that they just need need need to switch so they can buy this $349 speaker.

To be fair, the company seems to have had enough struggles making the speaker work for its own ambitions. Airplay 2 was announced at WWDC last year and was only released a few days ago with the functionality that brings stereo playback to users that have a couple of HomePods.

iOS 12 would be an opportune time for Apple to showcase that the HomePod is open for business to third-party developers — though hopefully in a way that’s more gated than the gimmick dump that Alexa Skills has become. Siri has been pretty light on third-party action for a while now, but it made some notable strides in iOS 11, though that functionality has largely been screen-dependent and thus not available to the HomePod. It’s time to change that, or at least share how they plan to improve the experience over the next year.

Apple hardware giving preferential treatment to Apple services isn’t exactly a surprising turn for the company, but building a smart speaker that asserts fantastic audio as its central premise while ignoring any shred of support for playing songs from the most popular streaming service seems a little anti-consumer and out of Apple’s best interests, as well. It’s taken Apple long enough to bring Siri to the rough place it’s at now on the iPhone, hopefully they can speed up the progress on HomePod and Apple Watch to make life easier for third-party integrations on devices that have so much unrealized potential.


Source: TechCrunch

Telegram says its iOS app is updating again, a day after the CEO decried Apple’s block

What a difference a day — one with a public lament — makes. Today the CEO of Telegram Pavel Durov announced that the messaging app is updating again on iOS, putting to a close a six-week freeze, where Apple had stopped allowing Telegram to ship newer versions of the app globally, even while continuing to allow the app to live in the App Store and allowing push notifications to those who already had it installed. Apple has also confirmed to us that it’s now allowing updates of the app again.

“Amazing news – Apple has just successfully reviewed our latest update for Telegram iOS, and we were able to ship a new version with long awaited fixes and improvements to the AppStore,” he wrote earlier today.

The change in course comes just one day after Durov announced there were some glitches in the app after the release of iOS 11.4 because Apple had stopped letting Telegram’s developers ship iOS updates globally. The lack of updates also meant the app was not compliant with GDPR regulations.

But what is still not completely clear is why Apple blocked the updates in the first place, nor what happened in the last 24 hours to change things.

Durov has claimed the freeze on updates was tied to the Russian government’s attempts to crack down on it: it came directly in the wake of regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) reportedly writing to Apple to request it to remove the app from the App Store, and to stop allowing push notifications from the app for those who had already installed it. (In fact, RKN only released its statement about this days ago.)

However, Apple never removed the app, nor did it comply with the request to stop push notifications, even as it seemed to stop allowing Telegram to push updated versions.

“Apple has been preventing Telegram from updating its iOS apps globally ever since the Russian authorities ordered Apple to remove Telegram from the App Store,” he wrote yesterday. Google’s, Microsoft’s and Apple’s Mac app stores were not affected through all of this.

We have reached out to Telegram to see if it can explain the change of course. Apple has declined to comment specifically on this point.

The development today is the latest in a many-weeks saga that started with RKN announcing a ban on Telegram after the app refused to provide it with a way of viewing the encrypted messages on the app.

Russian law requires any apps or services operating in Russia to provide a way to monitor data in the app or service in question, by hosting servers in the country or providing other means of data access. It mandates this in the name of national security, although many third parties have disputed the requirement, and some like Telegram have said that apart from the ideological opposition to the rule, it would be impossible for the company to provide such keys.

Durov had run afoul of authorities with his previous company, the social network Vkontakte.com, over freedom of expression on the site, and that was part of the motivation for building Telegram in such a way.

Telegram’s solution for the last several weeks has been to work around the issue by appealing to people to use VPNs to access the service, and also by hopping on different IPs at hosting companies sympathetic to its attempt to continue offering its service without sharing data with Russian authorities.

Up to now, services like AWS and Google Cloud Platform have not asked Telegram to stop the hops, even despite some of the side effects: the IP hopping had the unintended consequence of RKN knocking out entire swathes of IP addresses to stop Telegram, rising to some 19 million IP addresses at its peak and causing a number of other services to go down, including some of Google’s itself. The situation has also led to a number of protests, with the app and the story going viral in the process.

Telegram has some 200 million users globally, with around 14 million users in Russia.


Source: TechCrunch

Google Won't Renew Controversial Pentagon AI Project

A Google executive told employees that the company won’t renew its contract with Project Maven, bowing to concerns of more than 4,000 employees who’ve protested the deal.
Source: Wired

Google reportedly backing out of military contract after public backlash

A controversial Google contract with the U.S. military will not be renewed next year after internal and public outcry against it, Gizmodo reports. The program itself was not particularly distasteful or lucrative, but served as a foot in the door for the company to pursue more government work that may very well have been both.

Project Maven, as the program was known, essentially had Google working with the military to perform image analysis on sensitive footage like that from drones flying over conflict areas.

A small but vocal group of employees has repeatedly called the company out for violating its familiar (but now deprecated) “Don’t be evil” motto by essentially taking a direct part in warfare. Thousands of employees signed a petition to end the work, and several even resigned in protest.

But more damaging than the loss of a few squeaky wheels has been the overall optics for Google. When it represented the contract as minor, and that it was essentially aiding in the administration of open-source software, the obvious question from the public was “so why not stop?”

The obvious answer is that it isn’t minor, and that there’s more to it than just a bit of innocuous support work. In fact, as reportage over the last few months has revealed, Maven seems to have been something like a pilot project intended to act as a wedge by which to gain access to other government contracts.

Part of the goal was getting the company’s security clearance fast-tracked and thus gaining access to data by which it could improve its military-related offerings. And promises to Pentagon representatives detailed far more than facilitation of garden-variety AI work.

Gizmodo’s sources say that Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, told employees today at a meeting that the backlash was too much and that the company’s priorities as regards military work have changed. They must have changed recently, since discussions have been ongoing right up until the end of 2017. I’ve asked Google for comment on the issue.

Whether the expiration of Project Maven will represent a larger change to Google’s military and government ambitions remains to be seen; some managers are surely saying to themselves right now that it would be a shame to have that security clearance go to waste.


Source: TechCrunch

Massive Visa Outage Shows the Fragility of Global Payments

Customers across Europe couldn’t make payments with Visa Friday, underscoring some of the risks in complex, centralized networks.
Source: Wired

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