News Roundup: MWC is all about that 5G
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News Roundup: MWC is all about that 5G

A roundup of the week’s technology news including 4G on the moon, Apple Healthcare, and the return of Acorn Computers.

 

MWC

Another year, another MWC. This year was less about mobile phones – although there were a few – and more about the coming of 5G.

Nokia released a new smartphone and an updated ‘banana’ phone. SikurPhone showed off a ‘hack-proof’ phone that comes with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet. Samsung showed off its latest Galaxy. Asus had a phone. So did Sony. And ZTE. And Alcatel. They were all pretty similar. Vivo had a popup selfie camera on its phone for some reason.

Android Go was there to try and bring a decent experience to cheap smartphones in emerging markets. KaiOS – based on the doomed Firefox OS – wants to bring some smartphone-like capabilities to feature phones. It will be powering Nokia’s new feature phone. Jolla also announced the latest version of its Sailfish OS, and is going for that same feature phone market.

Huawei’s MateBook X Pro wants to be the Mac/Surfacebook Pro you can actually afford. Lenovo also demonstrated a new Chromebook and Yoga laptop.

Google released v1 of its ARCore Augmented Reality platform, and Samsung thought the world wanted more 3D animoji things. [We don’t.]

Hearables from Bragi, Waverly Labs, and Sony were on show. As were some decent looking smartglasses.

And then there was 5G. Huawei made many, many announcements about 5G, including base stations, chipsets etc. Intel said its working on bringing 5G to phones and PCs. Cities getting 5G first were announced. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the US needed “modern, flexible, light-touch network regulation not a one-size-fits-all utility model from the 1930s” in order to make the most of 5G.

Facebook said it has no plans to try and monetize the Telecom Infra or any other connectivity projects.

There were also Morse Code shoes. Because smart shoes are still a thing people are trying to make happen.

 

Huawei makes a stand

In recent months Huawei has seen two US-based carriers drop plans to offer its phones, and seen various US intelligence directors warn anybody and everybody to stay away from the Chinese technology company.

At this year’s CES, rotating CEO Richard Yu said this blocking was bad for customers. At MWC, however, he was far more direct in his language.

“Some people, some of our competitors, are using political ways to try and kick us out of the U.S. market -- they can’t compete with us on the technology and innovation so they compete with us on the politics,” he said. “We’re independent from any country, any government. We’re not involved in politics.”

 

Big Tech needs bigger regulation, say the people

America, the home of big business and the world’s biggest tech companies, wants its government to keep Big Tech on a tighter leash. A new Axios study shows a majority of people in the US want the government to do more to regulate the technology industry.

55% of those surveyed said they were concerned government is not going far enough to regulate technology; 64% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 45% of Republicans. That figure has jumped up by around 15% since the previous poll in November, possibly due to recent investigations into Fake News and foreign agents meddling in elections via social media.

Companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have been making steps to counter fake news and interference, but clearly they haven’t done enough, according to the public.

 

Apple moves into healthcare

What do you do if you’re unhappy with the healthcare service you’re receiving? Go somewhere else and pay more? Not if you’re Apple, who instead just decided to open its own healthcare practise. CNBC reports that a new organization called AC Wellness is looking to deliver healthcare solely to the Cupertino company’s workers.

According to its site, AC Wellness is ‘an independent medical practice dedicated to delivering compassionate, effective healthcare to the Apple employee population’, and promises a ‘concierge-like healthcare experience’. According to one of the job listings, AC Wellness Network, LLC. is a subsidiary of Apple Inc., Apple is yet to make any public comment on the story.

Apple isn’t the only tech company with eyes on healthcare. Google has long had its Verily unit, Amazon recently announced plans to shake up healthcare, and Uber this week launched a healthcare-compliant ride-hailing service.

 

Security headlines

  • Cellebrite claims it can now hack any Apple device up to the most recent 11.2.6 version of iOS. Ed Snowden wasn’t very impressed by the news.
  • Equifax says it actually lost 2.4 million more user records than previously thought. That’s on top of the 148 million-odd already affected.
  • GitHub was hit with the largest-ever recorded DDoS attack this week, peaking at 1.35Tbps via 126.9 million packets per second. This attack used the newly reported memcached method, which doesn’t need a massive Botnet to execute large attacks.

 

M&A

Amazon has acquired smart doorbell startup Ring, Nokia has bought mesh Wi-Fi Unium, Nutanix has snapped up Minjar, Microchip Technology has got its hands on Microsemi, a private equity consortium has bought PhishMe and is rebranding it to Cofense, Splunk has taken over Phantom, Alibaba has got its hands on food delivery startup Ele.me, and eBay now owns Japanese eCommerce company Qoo10.

JD.com has launched a new startup accelerator focusing on artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. The AI Catapult will be based in Beijing and its first entrees include startups from China, Singapore, Australia, and the UK.

Amazon announced a new imprint of its book publishing wing. TOPPLE Books – the company’s 15th imprint – will focus on ‘the voices of women of color, gender non-conforming, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer writers.’

 

NRA and Symantec

There’s been a lot about gun control online recently, and understandably so. This week saw Symantec end its discount program with the National Rifle Association (NRA). The security company announced the move on Twitter.

In a statement, the NRA said companies severing their relationship with the pro-gun organization have “decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.”

Not all Symantec users were happy about the decision.

 

Women in tech need promotions as much as promoting

It’s long been known that there is a dearth of diversity in the technology industry. And while these days there is no shortage of organizations, programs, and written pieces promoting the issue, it seems what women there are in tech have a problem actually getting promoted.

According to a new study from HackerRank, women are far more likely to be in junior developer roles compared to men, no matter what age they are.

The problem seems to be more pronounced with age. According to the study, over 20% of women over the age of 35 women are still in junior positions, and are 3.5x more likely to be in junior positions than men of the same age (compared to 1.1x for 18-24s and 1.8x for 25-34s).

 

Open Source

Java Enterprise Edition – recently donated to the Eclipse Foundation – will now be known as Jakarta EE after a public vote.

Microsoft has added MacOS and Linux for its support for its Quantum Computing development kit, and also released the Autonomous Driving Cookbook; a ‘collection of scenarios, tutorials, and demos to help you quickly onboard various aspects of the autonomous driving pipeline.’

The Vulkan GUI API is now compatible with MacOS and iOS through MoltenVK from the Khronos Group.

 

Cloud news

Apple this week finally confirmed – via an iOS security guide – that it uses Google’s Cloud Platform for its iCloud service.

In other Cloud news, Dropbox revealed in a recent filing that moving off Amazon Web Services and onto its own infrastructure saved it nearly $75 million in the last two years. And following recent announcements about Oracle’s datacenter expansion plans, Alibaba this week launched a host of new Cloud services for Europe.

 

4G. ON THE MOON

We’re yet to get to 100% 4G coverage here on Earth, but soon you’ll be able to watch Netflix on the moon. Vodafone, Nokia, Audi and PTScientists have combined for the Mission to the Moon project, which aims to be the ‘the first privately-funded mission to the Moon’. The mission will involve sending two remote-controlled rovers to the surface, and as part of the mission, a 4G network will be set up in order to transfer scientific data and HD video back to Earth.

 

The return of Acorn

Nostalgia for old technology names is all the rage. Nokia is back. The Psion is back in spirit. The Palm name could be soon back on the market. And now the Acorn name is being resurrected.

Acorn, a UK computer company founded in 1978, was an early pioneer of personal computing with devices such as the Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, and the development of ARM architecture. The company eventually faded away in the late 90s.

But to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, a new company bearing the Acorn logo is running an IndieGoGo campaign for the Micro C5; a pretty standard issue Android smartphone with a Union Jack on the back and a custom-designed keyboard.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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