Recent Articles By Charlotte Henry [RSS]

EU to Speak to Apple About Spotify Complaint

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The EU said it wanted to hear from Apple about Spotify’s complaint against it. The complaint is being handled by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, reported Reuters.

“We are looking into that and we have been asking questions around in that market but of course also Apple themselves, for them to answer the allegations. And when they come back, we will know more,” Vestager told reporters on the sidelines of an OECD conference. Vestager, who three years ago ordered Apple to repay about 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in unfair tax incentives to Ireland, can levy hefty fines on companies for breaching EU antitrust rules and also order them to amend business practices.

Huawei Ban Could Lead to Drop in Global Phone Sales

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Analyst’s Canalys reduced down their estimates for global smartphone shipments in a new report. AppleInsider reported that they now expect sales in 2019 to total 1.35 billion units. That is down 3.1% from the 1.39 billion units sold in 2018. The Huawei ban is a key factor in the drop in sales.

If found to be correct, the 2019 forecast would be a continuation of the industry’s decline, following a year-on-year contraction of 4.5 percent in 2018 from 2017. Canalys does not break down the figures to relate to specific companies, but in its post it spends a lot of time discussing Huawei, the main subject of the US measures. The firm’s base assumption will be that restrictions on Huawei will be “imposed stringently” once the 90-day reprieve expires, which will dramatically affect its ability to roll out new devices in the short term.

iTunes May Be Retired at WWDC 2019

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iTunes 12.x Icon

Could it finally be the end of the road for iTunes? That is one of the rumors circulating in the run-up to WWDC 2019. Bloomberg News reported that iTunes retirement could be announced next week.

The changes will showcase Apple’s new generation of devices and software: Apple Watches that are more independent from iPhones, iPads with software that reduces the need for a laptop, apps that run on any Apple device, and growth areas such as augmented reality and personal health-care management, according to people familiar with the plans. While the developer conference is software-focused, the company often sprinkles new hardware announcements in at the event. This year, Apple won’t show off a new Apple Watch or iPhone hardware until the fall, but has considered previewing the new Mac Pro at the conference.

To Change Facebook, Change Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is under-fire at the moment. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked about his position as the shareholder meeting yesterday. At Fast Company, Mark Sullivan argues that the only way to change the company is to change the man at the top.

Natasha Lamb, the managing partner of Arjuna Capital—is one of a growing number of investors calling for serious changes at the top, either by separating the roles of board chair and chief executive (Zuck has both) or losing him as CEO completely. They’re right to do it. If you want to change Facebook, you have to change Mark Zuckerberg. The reason is simple: Zuckerberg is Facebook and Facebook is Zuckerberg. The company, in word and in action, is the product of his vision, talent, ambition, moral compass, and worldview.

David Cameron: Former UK Prime Minister Joins U.S. AI Firm

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Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron has a new job. Mr. Cameron is to chair the advisory board of Afiniti, a Washington-based AI firm, the Guardian reported. He follows his former deputy into the tech sector. Sir Nick Clegg, who served as Deputy Prime Minister between 2010 and 2015, joined Facebook in October 2018.

The position represents one of Cameron’s most prominent appointments since he stood down as prime minister in 2016. He has previously taken a number of roles at not-for-profit organisations and has a memoir, For the Record, due out later this year. Cameron said he was “delighted” to take the job working on “transforming the future of customer service and interpersonal communications”. The advisory board features an array of high-profile figures including John Browne, former chief executive of BP and François Fillon, the former prime minister of France. Afiniti was set up by the US-Pakistani entrepreneur Zia Chishti and specializes in the use of AI in call centers.

Angry Face Emoji Protestors at Facebook Annual Meeting

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Facebook Angry Emoji

Protestors armed with an angry face emoji attended Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday. They were airing concerns about the scandals currently engulfing the firm. As Reuters noted, attempts to get reform in the company can easily be outvoted by Mark Zuckerberg and those close to him. However, the meeting will give a good indication as to whether investors share the protestors’ angry face sentiment.

The measures had little chance of succeeding, as a dual class share structure gives Zuckerberg and other insiders control of about 58% of the votes. Many investors have shrugged off the scandals swirling around the company, as it has beaten Wall Street’s estimates for revenue growth and continues to add users globally. Zuckerberg declined to answer a shareholder question on why he would not agree to create an independent board chair, instead restating his view that regulators should set the rules for companies around privacy and content.

Cardiogram Will Judge Most Exciting Parts of WWDC Keynote

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What gets your heart racing at WWDC? Cardiogram is going to find out. The Apple Watch heart rate sensor app is going to monitor the heart rates of those who want to play along during the WWDC keynote, and reveal what the most exciting moment was, reported AppleInsider.

Cardiogram will be allowing its users to start recording their heart rate on the Apple Watch continuously before the WWDC keynote begins, one which uses the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor. The data is shared minute-by-minute with the company, which is then compiled with data provided by other users. During the event, a dedicated live heart rate chart will update to show what the current heart rate of participants taking part in the monitoring scheme is, and what the group rate was in previous minutes. In theory, the heart rate will be highest shortly after major new announcements.

The Fake Nancy Pelosi Video and Facebook's Immunity

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There has been lots of controversy and discussion about a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi circulating online. It to show Speaker Pelosi as apparently unwell, or drunk. It was false, edited to look like that. YouTube chose to take the video off its platform but Facebook did not. In her recent New York Times column, Kara Swisher blasted the social media giant’s decision.

The only thing the incident shows is how expert Facebook has become at blurring the lines between simple mistakes and deliberate deception, thereby abrogating its responsibility as the key distributor of news on the planet. Would a broadcast network air this? Never. Would a newspaper publish it? Not without serious repercussions. Would a marketing campaign like this ever pass muster? False advertising. No other media could get away with spreading anything like this because they lack the immunity protection that Facebook and other tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Germany Considering Law Banning End-to-End Encryption in Chat Apps

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an encryption device shouldn't be necessary to secure emails

German officials are considering banning end-to-end encryption in chat apps like Apple iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal. Currently, law enforcement officers are only allowed to collect communications found on a suspect’s device. An expanded law would include allowing law enforcement access to data from firms that currently provide end-to-end encryption on chat services and software, The Register reported.

True and strong end-to-end encrypted conversations can only be decrypted by those participating in the discussion, so the proposed rules would require app makers to deliberately knacker or backdoor their code in order to comply. Those changes would be needed to allow them to collect messages passing through their systems and decrypt them on demand. Up until now, German police have opted not to bother with trying to decrypt the contents of messages in transit, opting instead to simply seize and break into the device itself, where the messages are typically stored in plain text.