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Tech News Roundup: 7th July

Jul 7, 2023
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In this week's tech news, we cover Google using your data for its AI training, Apple’s vision pro production stopped, TweetDeck to be for subscribers only, New $12 4G phone, RoboDeck gets $2M pre-seed, M4 Robot updates, Valve responds to banning AI-Generated games on Steam, ‘GAFAM’ tech giants, ByteDance and Samsung to face EU’s rebooted antitrust regime.

Google's AI Gets Personal: Your Data Now Trains the Machines!

The technology news sphere is abuzz with Google's recent pivot in its privacy policy, a move that's redefining the boundaries between user data and artificial intelligence (AI) training. Announcing a shift that might feel straight out of a sci-fi movie, Google is planning to use your data to supercharge the training of its AI systems, with the ultimate objective of elevating the performance of its AI technologies— think search engine, virtual assistant, and recommendation algorithms.

With this transformation, the spotlight is shining brightly on Google's data collection practices. The new policy openly acknowledges that everything from your personal details, device information, to online habits, is being gathered. Such data, while instrumental in tailoring user experiences, fine-tuning services, and crafting targeted ads, will now be explicitly used to refine the tech behemoth's AI models.

This move slides seamlessly into Google's overarching strategy of continually advancing AI capabilities. By harnessing the vast array of user data, Google aims to sharpen the accuracy and efficacy of its AI algorithms, seeking a more profound understanding of user preferences and behaviors.

Despite raising eyebrows, Google reiterates its commitment to user privacy and data protection within the updated policy. Users' data is anonymized and aggregated to maintain individual privacy, with Google promising that users remain in control of their privacy settings, including data collection and ad personalization.

Nevertheless, there's a brewing storm of concern about the potential for misuse or mishandling of user data. Privacy champions have pointed out the risks inherent in extensive data collection, from invasive profiling to potential data breaches.

In summary, Google's privacy policy reboot is turning heads, and for good reason. While the company aims to leverage user data to turbocharge AI development, it's a tightrope walk between progress and privacy. Google's firm stance on user privacy is laudable, but only consistent transparency in data handling can keep user trust intact in this rapidly evolving digital age.

Apple VR and MR Headsets: A Bump in the Release Road

Apple's much-awaited virtual reality headset, the Vision Pro, and an anticipated lower-cost mixed reality model, are seemingly navigating through some choppy production waters. Apple is known for its 'wait until perfect' approach, and it seems this is what we're seeing play out here.

Our source reveals that Apple has slowed down the production pace for the Vision Pro, a top-tier VR headset that was in the pipeline. It appears that the illustrious tech giant is grappling with some setbacks during the development phase, causing a ripple effect on the device's release schedule. As of now, Apple's lips are sealed on a new launch date for the high-end VR gadget.

In a twist of events, the launch of an economically friendlier model has also been put on hold. The more budget-friendly sibling to the Vision Pro, a mixed reality (MR) headset, was poised to make an appearance post the Vision Pro debut. But, it seems this entry has hit a pause button too, and the article doesn't dive into the details behind this delay.

Pondering the possible causes of these adjustments, one could speculate about technical hiccups, supply chain knots, or simply Apple's penchant for perfection needing a bit more time to polish. It's no secret that Apple's modus operandi involves keeping the lid tightly closed on its products until they're ready to shine in the public eye.

This being said, the information we're discussing here is sourced anonymously and lands firmly in the realm of rumor until Apple steps in with an official nod. The Cupertino-based tech leader has apparently dialed down the production of its VR headset, the Vision Pro, and hit the brakes on the launch of a less pricey model. The reasons for these changes are yet under wraps, and the best strategy is to keep an ear out for official updates from Apple for the true scoop on these products.

TweetDeck Exclusivity: A New Perk for Twitter's Verified Users

If you're an ardent Twitter user who loves the supercharged features of TweetDeck, you might need to brace for some changes. Twitter recently dropped a bombshell – starting in a month, TweetDeck, the handy tool for managing and streamlining your Twitter experience, will be exclusively available to verified users only.

For those unfamiliar, TweetDeck is an advanced social media management tool, beloved for its column-based organization and real-time monitoring capabilities. Right now, any Twitter user can take advantage of these powerful features. However, Twitter's new policy will change that, further delineating the lines between its standard and verified users.

So, who exactly are these "verified users"? They're typically celebrities, public figures, journalists, and other notable individuals. They sport a nifty blue checkmark badge on their profile that indicates Twitter's stamp of approval on their authenticity.

Twitter's decision to grant exclusive TweetDeck access to its verified user base appears to be part of a broader strategy. By offering the tool as a benefit exclusive to those with a blue badge, the company is providing a compelling incentive for users to undertake its verification process. While the move is likely to enhance the experience for Twitter's verified users, it is also being viewed as a ploy to emphasize the significance of its verification process.

The downside? Non-verified users who depend heavily on TweetDeck may feel disadvantaged. The announcement has sparked mixed reactions, with some users expressing disappointment, and others questioning the motive behind the decision.

In conclusion, Twitter's choice to restrict TweetDeck to its verified users may be a double-edged sword. It's likely to drive more users towards verification, creating a more tailored and focused experience for the privileged few. However, this could also create friction with non-verified users, potentially shaking up the Twitterverse in significant ways.

Jio Unveils JioPhone Next: An Affordable Smartphone to Boost Digital India

The Indian telecommunications titan, Reliance Jio, is all set to revolutionize the country's smartphone market with the launch of its affordable 4G handset, the JioPhone Next. Targeted at the budget-conscious consumer segment, this new entrant is far from a basic phone. Its array of features, including digital payment capabilities and access to streaming services, is impressive.

This move comes as part of Jio's ambitious initiative to bridge the digital divide in India by offering internet access and digital services to the millions of citizens yet to own a smartphone. In a landmark collaboration with Google, JioPhone Next is priced at an economical 4,000 to 5,000 Indian Rupees ($54 to $68 approx.), making it a high-tech device that's light on the pocket.

JioPhone Next operates on a specially optimized Android platform, promising a seamless and efficient user experience even on basic hardware. The smartphone will be pre-installed with an array of Jio and Google apps, providing facilities like voice assistant, messaging, video calling, and much more. And it's not just the tech-savvy English speaking users who can enjoy these benefits. The device will support multiple Indian languages, broadening its reach across different demographic sections.

Another exciting feature is the smartphone's built-in capabilities for digital payments. With India experiencing a surge in digital transactions, users will find it convenient to make payments securely right from their phone.

As for entertainment, users will be spoilt for choice with JioTV+, Jio's exclusive streaming platform offering a vast selection of movies, TV shows, and a lot more.

JioPhone Next's launch is an instrumental step in advancing India's digital transformation. Moreover, it is central to Jio's broader strategy to consolidate its position in India's telecom sector by expanding its user base. This smartphone is not just a product, it's a potent catalyst for the nation's digital revolution.

RoboDeck Raises $2M Pre-Seed Funding for Deck Maintenance Robot

For all the homeowners out there, here's some news that might just make your day. RoboDeck, a tech-savvy startup, recently secured a hefty $2 million in pre-seed funding for its groundbreaking deck maintenance robot. The investment is primed to accelerate the commercialization and development of this robotic whizz that's all about making deck maintenance less of a chore and more of a breeze.

We all know the struggle: the endless cycle of cleaning, sealing, staining that deck, the physical demands, the long hours. RoboDeck aims to address these woes with an autonomous deck-maintenance robot, which brings together advanced sensors and AI tech. It's all about navigating the deck, assessing its condition, and doing the dirty work for you – cleaning, sanding, applying coatings – without missing a beat.

Not only does this save us all some precious time, but it also ensures a high-quality finish with its meticulous precision and consistency, virtually eliminating any room for error.

Spearheading the funding round was XYZ Ventures, accompanied by several big-name venture capital firms, all seeing the potential in RoboDeck. With these funds, the company has its sights set on enhancing the robot's abilities, improving user interaction, and conducting thorough testing for optimal performance and customer satisfaction.

RoboDeck is already creating quite a stir. Early adopters have shown keen interest, and it's clear why. It's a cost-effective, convenient solution that minimizes manual labor, providing an automated alternative to tedious deck maintenance tasks.

In a nutshell, the successful funding round propels RoboDeck closer to its goal of shaking up how we care for our decks. By tapping into advanced tech, it's simplifying and automating the process, giving us all a well-deserved break. Judging by the excitement brewing among potential customers, it seems like RoboDeck is well on its way to becoming a game-changer in the home maintenance industry.

Meet M4: The Transforming, Terrain-Conquering Robot

In the rapidly evolving world of robotics, a groundbreaking development emerges, courtesy of an innovative team of researchers. Say hello to the M4, a state-of-the-art robot that's redefining the boundaries of mobility and versatility.

At first glance, the M4 may seem like your average rolling robot, smoothly cruising on flat terrains with its wheel system, covering substantial distances swiftly. However, when it encounters an obstacle, the M4 unfurls its secret: a seamless transformation into a walking mode. Its four articulated limbs, equipped with adaptive joints, grant it the ability to traverse difficult terrains with grace and stability. Be it stairs, rocky landscapes, or any irregular surface, M4 can handle it all.

The M4's most compelling ability is flight. With a quick switch to its quadrotor configuration, it can swiftly rise into the air and soar above any hindrances. This aerial mode gives M4 a significant edge, allowing it to surmount vertical obstacles and access areas out of reach for conventional robots.

This robot doesn't just rely on pre-programmed responses. The M4 comes armed with a suite of sensors and cameras to perceive its surroundings, informing its decisions about the best form of locomotion. These swift transformations are smooth and flawless, ensuring the M4 adapts to its environment in real-time.

The applications of the M4 are vast and varied, ranging from search and rescue operations, surveillance missions to exploration tasks. Its ability to handle diverse terrains elevates its value in scenarios where conventional robots would falter.

In essence, the M4 stands as a powerful testament to the boundless potential of robotics technology. It embodies the possibilities for future adaptive robots that can seamlessly transition between diverse forms of movement, whether rolling, flying, or walking, to overcome any environmental challenge. This is just the beginning, and the M4 leads the charge in this robotic revolution.

AI Games on Steam? Valve Sets the Record Straight

This week, an intriguing ripple of news spread across the tech world, centered around Valve, the video game titan behind the enormously popular gaming platform, Steam. The buzz originated from a claim by a developer named Lars Doucet that AI-generated games were banned from the platform. However, the narrative has since been adjusted, with Valve refuting this idea, stating there is no absolute prohibition on AI-generated games.

Valve certainly isn't blind to the innovative prospects that AI-generated games can usher in. In fact, the gaming industry stalwart sees immense potential in these computer-crafted adventures. As a company built on nurturing creativity and fostering innovation within the gaming space, Valve is no stranger to the impressive capabilities of AI and its potential to revolutionize the gaming landscape.

But innovation shouldn't come at the cost of quality, according to Valve. The company puts considerable emphasis on quality control, ensuring that all games — AI-generated or otherwise — that grace its platform meet certain standards. This rigorous quality assurance is designed to guarantee that each game delivers an enjoyable, player-centric experience that meets, if not surpasses, the expectations of its discerning audience.

Far from shying away from conversation, Valve welcomes developers of AI-generated games to initiate dialogues about their projects. They are keen to evaluate these pioneering games individually, understanding their unique aspects and how they can integrate into the broader gaming ecosystem.

To sum up, Valve has deftly dodged any outright ban on AI-generated games on Steam. While stringent quality control mechanisms remain in place, the company is open to examining such games on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, developers keen on introducing AI-generated games to the Steam universe are encouraged to liaise directly with Valve to discuss their projects and navigate potential avenues.

EU Antitrust Revamp: What It Means for Tech Giants

Buckle up, tech biggies! If you're part of the GAFAM collective (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), ByteDance, or Samsung, you might be in for a closer inspection from the European Union (EU). This comes as the EU is jazzing up its antitrust rules to better handle the unique challenges that the digital platform world throws up.

In an era dominated by the digital market, the EU is making moves to assure fairness and competition, prioritize consumer protection, and become the cheerleader for digital innovation. And who's on their watchlist? GAFAM, for starters. With a track record of antitrust investigations and fines, these tech giants will likely be under a sharper EU gaze. The ultimate aim is to stop the misuse of dominant positions, shed light on advertising transparency, and induce competition in the digital advertising market. In simpler terms, GAFAM may need to tweak their business strategies to align with these regulations.

But that's not all, folks. ByteDance, the powerhouse behind TikTok, is also on the EU's radar. Worries about how they handle data collection, and possible threats to user privacy, have raised eyebrows. Expect stricter rules around data sharing and privacy safeguards in response.

And lastly, let's not forget about Samsung. The South Korean electronics titan has been dabbling in software and services, spreading its wings into mobile apps and smart home tech. This shift could lead the EU to probe into Samsung's market supremacy and possible anti-competitive conduct.

In a nutshell, the EU's antitrust makeover aims to level the digital playing field, ensuring tech titans act fair and square. The increased attention on GAFAM, ByteDance, and Samsung could be seen as a wider trend in regulatory moves to trim the sails of tech powerhouses and safeguard consumer interests in this digital age. So, in the grand chess game of tech regulation, it's check, and possibly soon checkmate, for these tech giants.

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