Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Apple defends complying with China over VPNs, Facebook shuts down chatbots after they invent their own language, PayPal partners with Skype for P2P payments in the Skype app, 96% of mobile phones sold in India will be Made in India by 2020 and much more.
Apple boss Tim Cook has defended his company’s decision to comply with the Chinese government’s demand it remove VPN software from the App Store.
Virtual Private Networks are often used to skirt censorship and surveillance in countries with tight restrictions on internet use.The company has been heavily criticised for removing several VPN apps, and was accused of “aiding Chinese censorship efforts”.
Apple said it disagreed with China’s position but had to comply with the country’s laws. “We would obviously rather not remove the apps,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday.
Skype and PayPal are rolling out an integrated payment service that lets people send money to each other while chatting on the latest version of Skype mobile app.
The “Send Money” person-to-person payment feature relies on PayPal to handle the transfer, and users must link their Skype and PayPal accounts to initiate an exchange. The feature is for personal use only, meaning it’s not designed as a way to pay for goods or services.
For PayPal, the integration is just the latest in a long series of partnerships aimed at expanding the company’s ecosystem giving its mobile wallet more exposure for direct checkout.
Services has become the rising star of Apple’s business. But the reasons behind its explosive growth are complex.
During the company’s earnings call yesterday, Apple CFO Luca Maestri tried to explain the numerous moving pieces that propelled Services to grow 22 percentduring the quarter ending June 30, compared to the previous year. Services is Apple’s second-largest business behind iPhones and now well ahead of iPad and Mac sales.
Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Services on its own is now a Fortune 500 business, based on its revenues from the last 12 months. Apple’s revenue for the quarter grew by $3.05 billion, with Services accounting for the largest chunk of that growth at $1.29 billion.
Facebook shut down a pair of its artificial intelligence robots after they invented their own language.
Researchers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research built a chatbot earlier this year that was meant to learn how to negotiate by mimicking human trading and bartering.
But when the social network paired two of the programs, nicknamed Alice and Bob, to trade against each other, they started to learn their own bizarre form of communication.
The chatbot conversation “led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating,” the researchers said.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google didn’t give consumers a reasonable way to opt out of having their personal data, including payment card transaction information, used to evaluate the effectiveness of its online advertising, a privacy advocacy group said in a request for investigation to the Federal Trade Commission.
Google and other online giants subject to FTC jurisdiction, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., rely on consumer confidence that they respect privacy and handle data securely. Challenges to that trust aren’t welcome by companies such as Alphabet, which Bloomberg data show has a market cap of over $652 billion.
NEW DELHI: By 2020, almost 96 per cent of mobile phones sold in India will be locally manufactured, according to a research report.
India is set to increase its domestic localisation rate, says the report titled ‘Indian Mobile Phone market: Emerging Opportunities for fulfilling India’s Digital Economy Dream’, released by Enixta, an artificial intelligence company, and Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). In 2016, two out of every three mobile phones sold in India were domestically produced.
Unlimited data plans are slowing down mobile speeds for Verizon and AT&T customers, according to data released today by mobile network measurement company OpenSignal.
Verizon and AT&T reinstated their unlimited plans in February to compete with T-Mobile and Sprint, which have long offered unlimited data plans, and have since seen a deluge of demand.
Greater data demand — either more data usage or more customers — means slower speeds. Think of it as increased traffic on a highway.
Global remittance company Western Union aims to run its entire African operation digitally within the next three years, taking advantage of the trend towards mobile finance services on the continent.
Reporting from a press conference in Nairobi, The Star said the company was also set to create an Africa-focused app to ease the process of transferring money through mobile handsets.
Its current presence in many African countries is centred on its own kiosks and network of merchants, which the newspaper reported covered 52 countries.
Apple has been announcing a bunch of news about Apple Pay recently. The company is expanding its mobile payment feature more aggressively. As announced in yesterday’s earnings call, Apple Pay is coming to the UAE, Denmark, Finland and Sweden before the end of the year.
Apple hasn’t shared any specific information about those new countries. For instance, the company hasn’t named its financial partners or mentioned a launch date.
In addition to this expansion news, the company is also adding support for more banks in the U.S. and around the world. Most new banks are in the U.S., but there are also two Japanese banks, a bank in Canada, one in Australia and another one in the U.K.
Shopify just released its new card reader that makes it easy for merchants to complete credit or debit card-based sales on the go. The reader accepts chip dips or swipes and works with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. It connects wirelessly to Android and Apple phones via Bluetooth and at full charge can carry out 400 chip dips and 700 swipe transactions.
Shopify’s reader is an alternative to the popular version sold by Square, which just introduced a prepaid debit card that lets users tap into their Square Cash while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. PayPal and Intuitalso have mobile card readers, while Amazon’s short-lived version is no more.