Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Apple overhauls its privacy pages, mobile in Sub-Saharan Africa, what is ethical AI? and much more.
Apple has refreshed and expanded its privacy website, a month after its most recent iPhone and Mac launches.
You’re not going to see much change from previous years — the privacy pages still state the same commitments that Apple’s long held, like that privacy is a “fundamental human right” and that your information is largely on your iPhones, iPads and Macs. And, now with a bevy of new security and privacy features in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, the pages are updated to include new information about end-to-end encrypted group FaceTime video calls and improvements to intelligence tracking protections — and, how it uses differential privacy to understand which are the most popular features so it can improve, without being able to identify individual users.
One key addition this time around: Apple is expanding its data portal to allow U.S. customers to get a copy of the data that the company stores on them.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a large, diverse region, encompassing 37 countries ranging from South Africa and Nigeria, to Angola, Cameroon, and Mali.
It’s a region where mobile technology is going through a major period of change, according to trade body the GSMA. More than 90 percent of the population were covered by 2G networks at the end of 2017, but more advanced networks are now beginning to take hold.
“Future growth opportunities will increasingly be concentrated in rural and low-ARPU (average revenue per user) markets, as well as younger demographic groups,” the GSMA notes in itsmost recent report on the region.
“World Bank data indicates that around 40 percent of the population in the region is under the age of 16, a demographic segment that has significantly lower levels of mobile ownership than the population as a whole.”
Artificial intelligence is creeping ever further into our everyday lives. Healthcare, policing, city systems, and even our workplaces are now becoming increasingly ‘connected’, making our lives safer and more convenient in many cases.
However, despite the benefits of the technology, placing our trust in algorithms for making key decisions is fraught with risk. As has been the case with driverless car accidents and bias in machine learning recruitment systems, handing over the reigns to AI can have unintended consequences.
There’s also the question of ethics. How do we ensure our existing prejudices aren’t embedded into algorithms? Should the technology be used as a weapon? And if robots and artificial intelligence become sophisticated enough, should they be given rights akin to a human?
Right after getting hacked a few weeks back, Facebook announced the Portal, a smart video calling device for your home that they said would respect your privacy. Turns out they didn’t really mean your privacy. Somebody’s privacy might get respected though.
The Facebook Portal has a camera and microphone, and is meant to be used to talk to your relatives, watch videos from social media, and listen to music. It’s supposed to be the new communication portal with the rest of the world, using Facebook and Messenger to communicate with friends and family.
Originally Facebook touted all of the privacy features—you can disable the camera and microphone with a tap, and it comes with a camera cover. And they had originally told the media that no data collected through portal would be used to target users with ads on Facebook. They literally claim on their privacy page that it is “private by design”. Turns out… that’s not true…
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub has stated that if the government and ICASA gave it more spectrum, it could cut mobile data prices in half.
Joosub was speaking at the 2018 MyBroadband Conference about mobile data prices in South Africa.
Mobile operators like Vodacom have been begging the South African government for years for more spectrum, but these calls have fallen on deaf ears.
To provide cheaper data, Vodacom needs to “manufacture” data at a lower cost. To do this, it needs to roll out fibre to more base stations and receive more spectrum.
The fact alone that Google will start charging in Europe for what one could fairly call “parts of” Android is in itself huge news. The change, announced Tuesday as a result of a European Commission lawsuit, is a major shift in Google’s business model and has the potential to loosen the company’s grip on the search and browser market. It is a big deal.
But of all the changes that this new licensing model could bring, simply charging licensees might not be the biggest. The biggest detail could end up being that Google’s phone and tablet partners — like Samsung, LG, and Motorola — can now offer Android-based phones in Europe without any Google apps and services on them. That’s a huge deal, and if manufacturers are daring enough to try it, it could lead to a substantially different market for Android phones some years down the road.
Twilio is hosting its Signal developer conference in San Francisco this week. Yesterday was all about bots and taking payments over the phone; today is all about IoT. The company is launching two new (but related) products today that will make it easier for IoT developers to connect their devices. The first is the Global Super SIM that offers global connectivity management through the networks of Twilio’s partners. The second is Twilio Narrowband, which, in cooperation with T-Mobile, offers a full software and hardware kit for building low-bandwidth IoT solutions and the narrowband network to connect them.
Twilio also announced that it is expanding its wireless network partnerships with the addition of Singtel, Telefonica and Three Group. Unsurprisingly, those are also the partners that make the company’s Super SIM project possible.
Uber now allows riders and drivers to communicate over voice over internet protocol (VoIP) in addition to SMS texts, in-app messaging and regular phone calls. The Verge reports that Uber announced the global availability of the VoIP feature at a conference in San Francisco today. The ride-hailing firm has also confirmed the feature to Engadget.
For the uninitiated, VoIP sends data over an internet connection rather than over cellular. Because international data plans can be quite expensive, this could appeal to US riders traveling abroad. The Verge also notes that VoIP option could come in handy for riders in locations teeming with people competing for cell service or where cellular reception is generally unreliable.
India’s mobile phone accessories market is expected to grow at a compounded rate of over 10% till 2024. Moreover, according to a recent report by Research Nester, a leading service provider for strategic market research and consulting, this market is projected to mushroom to $3.54 billion by then.
No wonder Chinese mobile accessories companies are now eyeing this red-hot pie. According to The Economic Times, Hong Kong-based WK Life plans to open 200 outlets across India in the next two years, selling mobile phone cases, power banks, earphones and speakers to tap the Rs 10,000-crore market.
“India is the second largest mobile phone user base in the world but the accessories market is unorganised as one company is selling cable, other is selling earphones … But this brand is selling everything under one roof,” Rohit Sahani, co-founder of WK Lifestyle India, the master franchisee for WK in the country, told the daily.
Inevitably, you’ve heard of Bitcoin. Most people have: Bitcoin, one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies, has found itself all over the news in the past few years. Hailed by many of its users as a revolutionary new currency that offers unparalleled security and anonymity, Bitcoin has worked its way into the popular consciousness and isn’t going anywhere. But even if you’ve heard of Bitcoin itself, have you heard about the blockchain, the technology that allows Bitcoin to operate?
Blockchain technology is complex and involved, but to simplify it down to essentials: a blockchain is an open ledger of transactions that can be accessed and verified by users. Individual “blocks” regularly record transactions, and these blocks are verified by network consensus—that is, a blockchain is considered secure because you cannot alter an individual block without the majority of the rest of the network agreeing that the alteration is valid.