Weekly Tech Digest: Snapchat’s new filter, Alexa for business, Bitcoin price and more

Weekly Tech Digest: Snapchat’s new filter, Alexa for business, Bitcoin price and more
Anna Bazyma
01.12.2017

This week was full of interesting tech news. Here are the main one’s.

1) Snapchat quietly releases new filters based on what you’re snapping

Snap quietly launched new filters that recognize what’s being snapped and provide a contextually relevant border or sticker. The update comes ahead of a massive app redesign as the company tries to keep users and advertisers engaged. The filters began gradually rolling out to users last week, a Snap spokesperson confirmed to Mashable.

The filters will automatically appear in the user’s carousel of filters after they take a photo snap of something within a certain set of categories. These include items at concerts, beaches, pets, sports, and food, a Snap spokesperson told Mashable. 
Read more on Mashable

 

2) YouTube kills ads on 50,000 channels as advertisers flee over disturbing child content

For the second time in less than a year, major advertisers are fleeing YouTube after finding their ads were paired with offensive content — this time, directed at children. And the number of disturbing videos targeted at child audiences is much larger than previously known, YouTube’s response reveals.

Over the past week, YouTube says it has “terminated more than 270 accounts and removed over 150,000 videos from our platform in the last week.” The company also “turned off comments on over 625,000 videos targeted by child predators.

Read more on Vice News

 

3) Uber is going to have to explain to Congress why it hid the 2016 data breach that affected 57 million users

Uber is facing fresh questions from the U.S. Congress after it initially suppressed details about a data breach that affected more than 57 million of its drivers and riders in 2016.

In a series of letters sent to the ride-hailing company on Monday, Democrats and Republicans alike pressed Uber to detail why it hadn’t informed customers sooner, whether it has spoken with law enforcement agencies about the matter and what exactly it’s doing to help drivers whose sensitive data was stolen.

To all of the lawmakers that wrote Uber, though, the incident also amounted to just the latest misstep by a tech giant that’s repeatedly faced a litany of government probes for its controversial business practices.

Read more on Recode

 

4) Amazon is getting ready to bring Alexa to work

Alexa will soon be going to work.

While Amazon has been busy announcing new cloud services for developers this week at its annual reinvent conference, the company is preparing to talk about new tools that will make it easier for people to use Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant in the workplace, four sources have told CNBC.

The company intends to announce an Alexa for Business Platform, along with a set of initial partners that have developed specific “skills,” or apps, for business customers.

Read more on CNBC

 

5) Google finally bans apps that include shady lock screen ads from the Play Store

Ads are just a fact of life in mobile apps. You can’t completely avoid them, but there are some ad implementations that are so annoying that Google has explicitly disallowed them from the Play Store. Remember Airpush? The current advertising scourge is ad-infused lock screens, which have shown up in previously safe apps like ES File Explorer, Peel, and Hotspot Shield VPN. Google has finally listened to our pleading, and lock screen ads are no longer allowed in the Play Store.

Technically, the new policy is a bit more nuanced than “no ads on the lock screen.” Here’s the new section on Google’s developer monetization page.

Read more on Androidpolice

 

6) Bitcoin clears $10,000

Bitcoin, the red-hot digital currency, has cleared $10,000 for the first time.

The virtual currency, which has gripped the attention of Wall Street and Main Street, reached the much-anticipated threshold at about 1:26 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to data from Markets Insider. It’s trading up 2.85%, at $10,011 a coin.

The currency was flirting with $10,000 throughout the trading day on Tuesday, and has been on a tear since the US Thanksgiving holiday. It’s up more than $2,000 since Thursday’s low of $7,979 per coin.

Bitcoin has been on a wild ride this year. In addition to rising nearly $9,000 since the beginning of the year, the cryptocurrency has withstood a number of splits in its blockchain, including one in August that resulted in the creation of clone coin bitcoin cash. Disagreements over how the coin should scale continue to divide power brokers in the bitcoin community.

Read more on Bussiness Insider 

 

7) TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announces hedge fund denominated in Ripple, will focus primarily on crypto assets, currently raised ~$50M of $100M target

Michael Arrington Has a New $100 Million Hedge Fund That Will Be Valued in Ripple’s XRP.

The prominent tech figure Michael Arrington announced a new hedge fund on Tuesday that will be denominated in the crypto-currency XRP, a rival to bitcoin that is closely tied to the software company Ripple.

The news, which Arrington announced at an investor conference in New York, is significant because investors will buy shares of the fund and receive distributions in XRP. While dozens of hedge funds have sprung up this year to invest in the white-hot digital currency market, this one, known as Arrington XRP Capital, is the first to be denominated in a crypto-currency rather than dollars or euros.

Arrington told Fortune that the fund would invest primarily in digital assets, including exotic ones, and in so-called “initial coin offerings,” which involve the sale of digital tokens that can in some cases provide access to an online service such as file sharing. He said the fund will invest to a lesser extent in the equity of crypto-related startups.

Read more on Fortune

 

8) Uber says 2.7M UK users affected by 2016 data breach

Uber’s October 2016 data breach affected some 2.7 million UK users, it has now been revealed.

On Friday the government said it had been informed by Uber that UK users were affected by the 2016 breach, though it did not disclose the number at that stage.

Uber only publicly disclosed the existence of the data breach this month, close to a year after learning that hackers had accessed data on a total of 57M Uber users and drivers.

In an update about the breach today, the UK’s data protection watchdog confirmed that for UK users affected data is names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses.

It added that it expects Uber to alert affected users ASAP.

Read more on TechCrunch

 

9) Google Sued Over Privacy on Behalf of 5 Million iPhone Users

Google was sued by a group of U.K. consumers over claims that the company improperly collected personal data from millions of users of Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

The group, called Google You Owe Us, said in a statement Thursday that it was the first case of its kind in the U.K. against a major tech company over the alleged misuse of personal data. It says the Alphabet Inc. unit unlawfully collected people’s personal information by bypassing the iPhone’s default privacy settings.

Richard Lloyd, a consumer advocate who is leading the case, said he wanted to “send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken.” The group said each of the 5.4 million customers could get “several hundred pounds” if the case, filed in London Wednesday, is successful.

Read more on Bloomberg

 

10) Microsoft Edge browser now available for all Android and iOS users

Microsoft unveiled a beta version of its Edge web browser last month for iOS and Android. Testers had to sign-up to get special access to the new browser, but Microsoft is making both the Android and iOS versions generally available today. Microsoft Edge for mobile is mainly useful if you tend to resume a lot of browsing from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Read more on Verge