Child advocates slam YouTube Kids in complaint to FTC
The new YouTube Kids video app definitely isn’t TV: If it were, its heavy advertising content and cheerful blending of commerce and entertainment would probably be illegal, because commercial television aimed at children is governed by strict regulations. Now a coalition is asking the FTC to investigate the service, which one expert called “the most hyper-commercialized media environment for children I have ever seen.”
New battery technology could take charge times down to one minute
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new battery using aluminum-ion cells that can be recharged in about a minute and is safer than the widely used lithium-ion technology. The battery can survive 7,500 charging cycles without losing performance—more than the typical 1,000 cycles from current lithium-ion batteries.
Retailer-backed CurrentC coming soon to mobile payments space
CurrentC, the mobile payments platform backed by some of the biggest retailers in the U.S. including Walmart, 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Sears, Best Buy, Exxon Mobil and Gap, will launch in the next few months. Not much is known about it other than it is expected to merge payments and loyalty benefits. With rival offerings from Apple, Google and Samsung Electronics not yet seeing major takeup among consumers, there’s still space for CurrentC to pick up steam when it launches around mid-year.
Judge lets woman serve divorce papers via Facebook
In another watershed moment for technology and the law, the New York Daily News reported Monday that a judge approved a Brooklyn’s woman’s request to use Facebook to serve divorce papers on her hard-to-find husband. She can use the social network’s private messaging function to serve him with the divorce summons, but has to do that once a week for three consecutive weeks. It’s complicated.
Microsoft likely done with major job cuts
Last week’s Microsoft layoffs are probably the last big round of its restructuring, GeekWire reports. The software giant said last year that it would cut about 18,000 jobs.
Uber staffs up self-driving car project
Uber has listed a raft of jobs at the new Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, its joint project with Carnegie Mellon University focused on developing self-driving car technology. To staff up, Uber is looking for engineers in the areas of robotics, machine learning, communications, traffic simulation, vehicle testing, and software and hardware development.
Samsung expects big drop in first-quarter profits
Samsung warned that its first quarter profits will likely drop by more than 30 percent, marking the sixth straight quarterly decline as it struggles to compete with Apple at the top of the smartphone market. Revenue is expected to be down 12 percent, the company said in its earnings guidance; it will report its full quarterly results at the end of the month.
Surveillance was John Oliver’s topic on Last Week Tonight, and who better to interview about that than Edward Snowden?
One last thing
Now mobile apps can be works of experiential art: The New York Times reports on the new life coach app, Karen, created by British art group Blast Theory.