Google Plus, Google’s social networking arm, is going to be shut down moments after the company announced a major data breach happened, wherein the private information of around 500,000 users was made public over a period of three years, ranging approximately from March 2015 to March 2018. What is really surprising about this data reveal is that when the breach happened last spring, Google decided to cover up the issue, rather than address it like the mature company it was expected to be.
The glitch happened when Google allowed close to 500 external apps (438 apps, to be precise,) to obtain users’ full names, email addresses, occupations, relationship statuses, genders and ages, even for accounts which were made private. While these tools require the permission of the users for access, the information is more often than not made publicly available to these apps through third party users. Google said it could not identify the users whose data was leaked and therefore, it did not want to send out a mass memo regarding the issue.
Post the reveal of the data breach, Google said it did release an internal memo about the bug, but did not tell its users because it wanted to avoid dealing with the immediate regulations that would have been certainly imposed. Incidentally, this was when Facebook was in the spotlight for the Cambridge Analytica scam and if Google came under the radar for this, the repercussions would be massive, to say the least.
Repenting its decision to not do anything about the breach earlier, Google has finally decided to do something now. Not only is Google going to shut down Google Plus, its initiative, Project Strobe, is going to conduct a root and branch initiative of the third party developer access to Google accounts and Android data.
After this breach was brought to the public’s notice, Google has now decided to shut down Google Plus for a period of 10 months. However, people will still be able to use this networking platform for enterprise purposes and not for personal purposes. To improve the experience of the users using the G Suite, Google is going to notify customers the moment a data breach happens. Further initiatives on how Google is going to protect users’ data are going to be announced soon.
CES 2019: The Best Innovations Announced
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES,) one of the largest tech shows held at Las Vegas every January, hosts over 180,000 people with ideas, innovations and new creations fit for a future world! With artificial intelligence (AI) playing the central theme at the show, different startups and tech establishments told us where technology is heading toward in the coming years. From self driving suitcases to flying taxis, here’s taking a look all the inventions which were on display at the CES this year!
1. Ovis Luggage
Developed by a Chinese company called Forward X Robotics, the idea behind Ovis Luggage is to help carry your luggage around without having to put in any physical effort. By using facial recognition and movement tracking algorithms, the bags come fully equipped with cameras which track the surroundings perfectly. To amp up the excitement level, the bags have also been designed to stick to their owners at the speed of 6 miles per hour and through the movement tracking algorithms, they can also avoid colliding into people beyond a certain radius! If by chance the bag does go missing, you can track the suitcase by using the inbuilt GPS system! Priced at $ 799, the bags are expected to go on sale within the next few months.
2. Lenovo Smart Clock
A little over a year after announcing their first invention together, Google and Lenovo came back with another cutting edge invention called the Lenovo Smart Clock. The AI enabled smart clock comes with touch sensors and is designed to map your schedule from sunrise to sunset. Starting half an hour before your alarm is scheduled to ring, the smart clock also functions as a Google smart speaker, which means the clock can send music and podcasts (among other things) to your phone through Chromecast. Priced at $ 80, the smart clock will go on sale this spring!
3. Obsbot Tail AI Camera
While the last major innovative improvement (when it came to cameras,) was in the form of the 360 degrees video, the CES summit saw a new breakthrough in this field. China based startup Obsbot built a camera which uses artificial intelligence in the best way possible. Called the Tail, not only can this camera take extremely smooth pictures and videos, it identifies subjects in the shoot and tracks them using AI. With the ability to switch without friction between different models, this camera is perfect for people looking at making videos without the requirement of someone operating the camera manually. Equipped with the ability to shoot up to 4K/60 fps videos and to support HDR 10, the Tail is going to be priced at $ 500 and will be available at Kickstarter.
4. Riding High
At a time when ride sharing cabs like Ola, Uber and Lyft are at the peak of their performance levels, it comes as no surprise, people are looking at creating new ways of sharing rides. A partner of Uber, Bell Helicopters, launched a brand new flying taxi called Nexus Air Taxi. AI empowered, the taxi will seat four passengers and a pilot and will have a range of 150 miles, with the highest speed being 150 mph. Expected to launch next year, the Nexus is looking at being available in major cities by mid 2020.
5. Magic Mirror
Looking at yourself in the mirror and checking yourself out can never be boring! Developed by Electric Mirror Inc., in Everett, Washington, the Savvy Smart Mirror is perhaps the most interesting development in this mix. Designed to resemble a massive touchscreen, the Savvy Smart Mirror is not only a looking glass, but also can be used to show weather reports, play music and connect to your social media accounts as well. Apart from the other features available, the Savvy Smart Mirror also lets you control and adjust the thermostat controls in your room. Initially designed for hotels, the mirror is also going to be designed for homes. Priced at a whopping $ 2,500, the mirror is expected to go on the market soon.
With so many exciting innovations being introduced, the year is definitely dedicated to innovation and creations. What invention are you looking forward to owning the most? Comment and let us know!
Instagram 2.0? Swipe Feature Tested In Massive Roll Out Error
Photo sharing platform Instagram briefly rolled out a massive update to their app changing their entire user interface (UI) by mistake. However, a couple of minutes later, the platform downgraded to the previous version, going back to their typical vertical list of posts. The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, confirmed the massive rollout was an error by the company.
UPDATE: Instagram confirmed to me that the tap-to-view feature was a TEST which rolled out to lots of users in error.
It has now been reverted. https://t.co/9LRmw5B0G1
— 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁 𝗡𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗮 (@MattNavarra) December 27, 2018
— Alexandra Arsene (@lexaarsene) December 27, 2018
This new version of Instagram replaced the scroll feature from the app and introduced a new feature wherein users could either tap or swipe to go to the next post on their feed. In order to explain the way the new app works to existing users, the app also displayed a messaged which read, “Introducing a new way to move through posts. Tap through posts, just like you tap through stories.” It then instructs the users to “tap [the screen] to see the next post.”
The new feature was not meant for a wide scale rollout, however, the update was an attempt improve the experience of the existing users and to transform the way Instagram looks and feels by mimicking the Stories feature.
While the Stories feature was initially started by Snapchat, Instagram took the feature to an all new level, integrating the popularity of the feature onto its app and centering its USP around this subject entirely! Although a news daily reported the update was initially rolled out for people only living in the United Kingdom during the day, the new feature was visible to people all over the world during different parts of Thursday. The new update also started trending on Twitter with the hashtag #NewInstagram.
Startups Which Achieved The Unicorn Status In 2018
The word unicorn started trending in the beginning of 2018 and to define the term simply, it refers to startups which have a valuation of more than $ 1 billion. As this year comes to a close, here’s taking a look at all the different startups which entered the billion dollar club and earned themselves the unicorn status.
Zomato, a food delivery and restaurant discovery startup based out of Gurugram, raised over $ 200 million in a funding round held in February 2018 and since then, there is no stopping the growth of this particular startup. With multiple rounds of investment from various areas, the valuation of Zomato increased by leaps and bounds and right now, toward the close of 2018, this particular food tech startup has an estimated valuation of $ 1.1 billion!
Founded in the year 2013, service apartment provider Oyo entered the Unicorn Club in September by raising $ 1 billion from existing investor, SoftBank. Founded by Ritesh Agarwal, Oyo has grown so much over the years in the last five years that it is now extremely popular in places like India, China, west Asia, the UK and the UAE.
When Byju’s was initially founded, the startup barely had a major presence in India. However, through the years, Byju’s grew to become the next Indian startup to enter the Unicorn Club! Standing at a valuation of approximately $ 2 billion, Byju’s became the first startup in the edutech field in India to be valued at more than a billion dollars!
4. Paytm Mall
A subset of Paytm, Paytm Mall came to be in 2016 and with an investment of $ 450 million from existing investors, Paytm Mall is now valued at more than one billion dollars! Using the investments to improve their existing features and to better the customer experience, Paytm Mall will likely achieve $ 10 billion in merchandise volume. Furthermore, with the investment Paytm received, the app is looking at allowing customers to walk into offline stores, scan products through QR codes, go through information about the products and finally, purchase the product through the app.
Food delivery startup Swiggy raised $ 1 billion from Naspers and post that, the startup has grown to stand at a valuation of over 3.3 billion dollars! Not only is Swiggy the second food tech startup to enter the billion dollar club, it is also the fastest startup in India which grew to reach that place. The startup entered the Unicorn Club in just under four years, a feat which is truly commendable.
Based out of Chennai, Freshworks is a software as a service (SaaS) provider, which entered the billion dollar club in August this year. Freshworks entered the Unicorn Club post securing a $ 100 million investment from Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and CapitalG!
With so many startups achieving the unicorn status through sheer hard work and dedication to innovation, the unicorn status is truly a coveted symbol to achieve. If you think we missed out on other startups in this field, comment and let us know!
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