Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week… As the iPhone turns 10, how it became the ‘everything machine’, Telegram registers with Russian regulator, Instagram implements new AI system, why the Google fine is small change and much more…
iPhone turns 10: How it became the everything machine
Today, Cupertino’s most famous device turns 10 years old. From its original release, the story of the iPhone has always been one about pushing the boundaries of what you could do with the power of a tiny computer in your pocket.
But the story of the iPhone decade isn’t really one story at all. Instead, it’s a tangle of narratives about how this device would forever change the way people make and use technology. It’s the tale of the team that clamored to finish the first iPhone by its shipping deadline, despite software bugs and hardware hurdles that threatened to keep the vision from becoming a reality. It’s the story of how the iPhone release marked the most important moment in tech journalism, and how it would ultimately replace some professional photojournalists with iPhone-wielding reporters. It’s the story of Steve Lacey, the hip-hop producer who makes his beats on his iPhone, and the dancers who use the iPhone’s slow-motion feature to fine-tune their movements.
Telegram registers with Russian regulator
The founder of encrypted messaging app Telegram has agreed to register the company in Russia, following pressure from local authorities.
Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor had warned that Telegram would be blocked if it did not comply with new data laws.
Founder Pavel Durov said the company would be registered on the government’s list of information distributors.
However, he insisted Telegram would not share confidential user data.
Telegram lets people send encrypted messages, which cannot be read by criminals or law enforcement if intercepted.
Instagram implements an AI system to fight mean and harassing comments
Instagram is flipping the switch on a system that will automatically detect mean, offensive and harassing comments and make sure that people never see them. The new system is based on work that Facebook and Instagram have done with DeepText, a text classification engine meant to help machines interpret words as used in context to fight spam.
As Wired first reported, the Instagram system follows the social network’s successful use of the tech to fight spam, which began in October of last year. After training the system with human input on how to ID spam, the team liked the results, though they aren’t saying exactly how much its implementation reduced spam by vs. previously methods.
Based on the success of that system, the team wanted to see if it could tackle an even stickier issue: mean-spirited, hateful and harassing comments…
Grab is adding Myanmar’s Wave Money to its mobile wallet
Tech in Asia
Ride-hailing and mobile payments startup Grab is partnering with Wave Money in Myanmar.
Drivers will be able to sign up for emoney accounts that let them cash out their daily earnings at one of Wave’s 9,000 shops across Myanmar, Grab said in a statement today.
Grab also plans to integrate Wave Money’s digital wallet with its own wallet, GrabPay, so that passengers in Myanmar can use Wave Money’s ecash to pay for Grab rides.
“This is in line with Grab’s approach of providing locally preferred payment options for our customers in each country,” the firm states.
China, India to account for half of mobile subs adds by 2020
China and India will account for almost half of all new mobile subscribers expected to be added worldwide by the end of the decade, according to a report from GSMA. India is forecast to account for 27 percent (206 million) and China 21 percent (155 million) of the 753 million new mobile subscribers expected to be added globally by the end of 2020.
The report also estimates that the Asia Pacific region as a whole will increase from 2.7 billion unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2016 to 3.1 billion in 2020, accounting for two-thirds of global growth.
Subscriber growth in the Asia Pacific region will mean that mobile penetration in the region (as a percentage of the population) will jump from 66 percent in 2016 to 75 percent in 2020. Mobile broadband (3G and above) is currently the dominant technology in the region, accounting for more than half of connections for the first time last year.
Google visualises virtual reality ad format compatible with mobile
Google has made a head start developing ad formats for one of the next media battlefields, virtual reality (VR), and has unveiled the fruits of its labour in the form of an ad cube.
Developing a solid monetization stream will help support VR content, something that, along with hardware accessibility, is to an extent hamstringing the growth of the industry. Google’s experimental research unit Area 120 said they are prototyping a new product, a video ad housed within a digital cube, activated upon an interaction.
Google product manager Aayush Upadhyay and associate project manager Neel Rao, said that developers had guided them to avoid “disruptive, hard-to-implement ad experiences”.
Govt set to slap 10% duty on imported mobile phones
Times of India
NEW DELHI: The government is set to slap a customs duty of at least 10 per cent on imported mobile phones under the GST regime as it plans to retain benefits accorded to local manufacturing in line with the ambitious electronics manufacturing and ‘Make in India’ programme.
Government sources said the duty can be notified later this week and could help address concerns of local manufacturers who have been worried about losing the edge they have enjoyed against imports.
“The import duty will be at least 10 per cent, and this is being done to ensure that manufacturing in India remains lucrative vis-a-vis importing the devices from China, or elsewhere,” an official source said.
How Apps Can Help Manage Chronic Diseases
Wall Street journal
Technology is offering a new fix for one of the most confounding health-care challenges: getting patients with chronic disease to take better care of themselves.
About half of all adults suffer from one or more chronic diseases, which account for seven of 10 deaths and 86% of U.S. health-care costs. But preventing and treating such ailments requires time that doctors don’t have in brief office visits, and a degree of daily self-management that many patients have been unable to handle. They often become overwhelmed by the demands of their daily regimens, slip back into poor health habits, fail to take their medications correctly—and end up in the emergency room.
Google’s €2.4bn fine is small change – the EU has bigger plans
When it comes to the EU Commission’s decision to fine Google €2.42 billion for breaking competition law, the cash is just a distraction. The EU’s larger goal is to position itself as an antidote to Silicon Valley’s winner-takes-all attitude, and reshape our interactions with the world’s tech giants.
The hefty sum – the largest ever doled out by the EU’s competition regulators – will sting in the short term, but Google can handle it. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, made a profit of $2.5 billion (€2.2 billion) in the first six weeks of 2017 alone. The real impact of the ruling is that Google must stop using its dominance as a search engine to give itself the edge in another market: online price comparisons.
Google disputes the ruling, but the evidence is quite clear. The higher up a search result is, the more people click on it. Links on the first page of search results get 95 per cent of all clicks for that search term. The third ranked search result gets half as many clicks as that ranked first.
Mobile fragmentation to blame for Sega Forever launch woes
Sega’s newly-launched range of free retro games for mobile has met with some criticism over the quality of its emulation. However, the publisher remains confident about the long-term potential of Sega Forever.
The new brand launched last week and offers classic Sega titles to mobile users for free, with a single purchase to disable the ads and unlock a few additional features. There are five titles in the initial line-up, with plans to release two or three more per month.
Eurogamer reports app store reviews for these first titles are extremely mixed, with several negative reviews declaring the emulation quality to be poor, with complaints including gameplay stuttering and audio issues.