Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle and established the appeal of reading on a digital device. Four years ago, Jeff Bezos and company rolled out the Echo, prompting millions of people to start talking to a computer.
Now Amazon.com Inc. is working on another big bet: robots for the home. The retail and cloud computing giant has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot, according to people familiar with the plans. Codenamed “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, the project is overseen by Gregg Zehr, who runs Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division based in California.Read more
Apple Inc. plans to integrate recently acquired magazine app Texture into Apple News and debut its own premium subscription offering, according to people familiar with the matter. The move is part of a broader push by the iPhone maker to generate more revenue from online content and services.
The Cupertino, California company agreed last month to buy Texture, which lets users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 a month. Apple cut about 20 Texture staff soon after, according to one of the people. The world’s largest technology company is integrating Texture technology and the remaining employees into its Apple News team.Read more
Blockchain boosters rejoice: A major bank is using the distributed-ledger technology that makes bitcoin possible for international payments of fiat currency.
Santander, which had been testing it internally among its staff, launched the service today, making the Spanish banking giant among the few major financial institutions to go live with the extraordinarily hyped technology. The service is supposed to be cheaper and faster than existing systems, and will provide more certainty about when the money will arrive, according to a statement. Right now, it’s available for retail customers in Spain, UK, Brazil, and Poland and will roll out in other countries in coming months.Read more
Google is working on a brand new design for the web version of Gmail. Yesterday, I published screenshots of the new design. TechCrunch’s tipster Chaim also discovered an interesting new feature in the new Gmail. You’ll soon be able to send expiring emails.
Working on an email service is hard as you have to be compatible with all sorts of email providers and email clients. But it doesn’t seem to be stopping Google as the company is now evolving beyond the simple POP3/IMAP/SMTP protocols. Based on those screenshots, expiring emails work pretty much like expiring emails in ProtonMail. After some time, the email becomes unreadable.Read more
VirnetX Holding Corp. won $502.6 million against Apple Inc. after a federal jury in Texas said the maker of iPhones was infringing patents for secure communications, the latest twist in a dispute now in its eighth year.
VirnetX’s stock rose as much as 44 percent on the news in after hours trading. The company closed at $4.10 per share on Tuesday. Apple’s stock has seen little change on the news given that the $502.6 million award is minuscule compared to the company’s profits. The company generated $20 billion profit in the first quarter, the company said in February.Read more
The Trump administration has said it wants to start collecting the social media history of nearly everyone seeking a visa to enter the US.
The proposal, which comes from the state department, would require most visa applicants to give details of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They would have to disclose all social media identities used in the past five years. About 14.7 million people a year would be affected by the proposals. The information would be used to identify and vet those seeking both immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Applicants would also be asked for five years of their telephone numbers, email addresses and travel history.Read more
Like most electronic stuff, robots are not immune to cybercriminals. Last year, researchers at IOActive detected as many as 50 vulnerabilities in robots developed by the Japanese firm SoftBank. They informed the manufacturer but never heard back. So this year at the Security Analyst Summit 2018, they decided to demonstrate what can happen.
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills, and even working in hospitals. For its part, SoftBank Robotics supplies electronic helpers to work with people. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics, and it also teaches children with autism.Read more
Facebook was recently hit by a huge scandal. According to media reports, data on the “likes” of 50 million Facebook users was harvested by the firm Cambridge Analytica and used for targeted political advertising. Facebook’s own behavior of added fuel to the fire of public outrage.
As a result, the company’s capitalization shed tens of billions of dollars, and a number of Twitter activists launched the #DeleteFacebook campaign. In our opinion, first, the action comes a bit late —the horse has well and truly bolted — and second, the incident underscores yet again people’s dependence on modern technology and vulnerability to it.Read more
Authenticating with your face seems like a natural choice when it comes to smartphones. Talk about convenient — you were going to look at the phone anyway, right? The smartphone industry as a whole seems to agree.
Apple wasn’t the first company to come up with the idea of unlocking a smartphone with a face, but after Apple introduced it, in the iPhone X, the whole smartphone industry followed — as it always does. Almost every phone showcased at Mobile World Congress 2018 had this function. It’s a really bad trend, and here’s why. Actually, I don’t think that face recognition is bad per se. Quite the opposite — done right, it’s probably better then authentication based on fingerprints or PIN codes.Read more
Ecuador has cut Julian Assange’s communications with the outside world from its London embassy, where the founder of the whistleblowing WikiLeaks website has been living for nearly six years.
The Ecuadorian government said in statement that it had acted because Assange had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states”. It said Assange’s recent behaviour on social media “put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations”.Read more