Google wants in on this “smart cities” thing too
Google has launched Sidewalk Labs, a New York-based company that will develop technology to make urban transportation and government more efficient, as well as lower the cost of living and cut energy use. The search giant is a little late to the party: Cisco, IBM and Microsoft are already heavily invested in this space, and the European Union has a major Smart Cities initiative as part of its Digital Agenda.
Ebay, PayPal scrutinized for claiming robocall rights in user agreements
Users who agree to the new terms of service from eBay and PayPal appear to be giving up their rights not to suffer from robocalls and marketing text messages, and the New York attorney general’s office is complaining about it in letters to the companies, the New York Times reports. The move comes shortly after Uber unveiled a new policy in which it claimed the right to harvest its users’ contacts lists so that it could spam those victims with marketing offers.
Spotify builds its war chest as Apple Music comes gunning
Spotify won’t sit idle while Apple makes a play for the streaming music business, and it has secured a new investment round of $526 million to defend its position. That values the Swedish startup at about $8.5 billion. The new funds will help it expand: last month it launched a new version that added podcasts and video content.
Microsoft’s giant Surface will ship in September
Microsoft’s huge, wall-mounted touchscreen for businesses, the Surface Hub, will ship in September and cost between $7,000 and $20,000—top dollar buys you the 84-inch, 4K version, PC World reports. Pre-orders start July 1 for the Windows 10 device, which is aimed at office collaboration with whiteboard and video-conferencing features.
Duqu spyware runners targeted Iran talks
There’s new evidence that the Duqu spyware uncovered by security researcher Kaspersky has links to Israeli interests: The malware platform compromised the computer networks of several hotels and venues that hosted negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The cyberespionage tools were originally discovered in 2011 and are believed to be related to Stuxnet, the computer worm developed by the U.S. and Israel to sabotage Iranian nuclear plants.
Apple sends out camera-equipped fleet to try to beef up its maps
Apple’s mapping service has lagged Google Maps since its error-riddled release, but the company continues to work to improve it. Now it’s confirmed that camera-equipped cars which have been spotted in several U.S. cities are collecting data for future updates of Apple Maps, indicating that it may be planning to copy Google Maps’ Street View.
European cloud startup emphasizes privacy over US rivals
It may not own its own data centers, but cloud storage startup Zettabox bets it will be able to compete against bigger rivals by guaranteeing customers that their data will be housed in Europe. Its offering anticipates the approval of stricter data protection rules in the European Union. Based in London and Prague, it’s a small fish in a sea of whales, with funding reportedly under €10 million.
How polluted will the air in Beijing be tomorrow? Microsoft has an app for that
Hazardous air quality levels are a common problem in major Chinese cities, and now Microsoft has brought big data analysis to bear. Its computing models can forecast the air quality in 41 cities in the country and deliver the information via its Your Weather app. It takes official data from government air quality monitoring stations and then uses weather data to predict the pollution levels two days in advance.
Sony has some new cameras that may convince you to take along a point and shoot, not just your smartphone, on your next vacation. World Tech Update takes a look.
One last thing
If you’re tech savvy, you dismiss those flashing pop-ups screaming that “Your PC may be infected!” with an eye-roll. But many other people call that number and wind up overpaying for mediocre security tools. Jeremy Kirk examines the underside of antivirus marketing.