The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Monday, June 29
- 29 June, 2015 22:04
Google's favoring its own services in search results harms consumers, not just competitors
It's not just the European Union's antitrust authorities that don't like Google's practice of promoting its own services ahead of those of its competitors: A Columbia Law School Professor says the company's business practices are bad for us too. Tim Wu presented his paper, "Is Google degrading Search? Consumer harm from universal search," at the Antitrust Enforcement Symposium in Oxford, England, over the weekend, Bloomberg reports. Take his findings with a small pinch of salt though: He had support from Yelp, one of the complainants in the EU case against Google.
Tech industry greets same-sex marriage ruling with rainbows and emojis
When the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the U.S. on Friday, many of the biggest technology companies embraced the decision with characteristic flair through social media, on their sites, and with tools that others could use to show their support as well. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Uber and Airbnb, their chief executives, and their venture capitalist funders all took to Twitter to post celebratory tweets about the ruling, often accompanied by the hashtags #LoveWins or #Pride, plus GIFs.
... but its respect for our private life doesn't always extend to privacy
Sure, tech companies say they respect your privacy, but will they the morning after they get taken over? The New York Times has the answer after examining the privacy policies of the top 100 websites in the U.S. -- and it's not reassuring.
Disney bans selfie sticks in its theme parks
Would-be self-portraitists will just have to wave their arms in the air like everyone else when Disney's ban on selfie sticks comes into force at its U.S. theme parks tomorrow. The ban is not for esthetic reasons but on safety grounds: Last week the company closed a roller coaster for an hour when a passenger tried to snap a pic with their smartphone on a stick; the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Samsung will stop blocking Microsoft software updates 'within a few days'
Faced with a choice between locking out your USB memory stick or letting in malware, Samsung Electronics has opted to play it safe. It will soon allow owners of its PCs to receive automatic software updates from Microsoft, the company said Friday, a few days after a security researcher spotted an app called "Disable_Windowsupdate.exe" running on Samsung PCs. The app was intended to prevent Windows Update from messing with proprietary Samsung USB device drivers, the company said.
Apple raises the bar on in-warranty battery replacements
Handheld devices with built-in batteries are great -- until that battery no longer holds enough charge. Previously, Apple said replacement of such batteries was only covered by warranty if they could hold no more than 50 percent of rated capacity. Now it's raising that limit to 80 percent for devices bought since April 9.
... while future iPhones will have Force Touch and perhaps no home button
In search of a more minimalist interface for its phones, Apple may consider doing away with the home button for the iPhone 7, according to MacWorld. Key to such a change would be adoption of the Force Touch technology introduced in the Apple Watch -- and this could come to iPhones as early as later this year, in updates of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Bloomberg reports.
Send sox 4 luv or $
Would Michael J. Fox have been as charming as the hotel concierge in For Love or Money if he'd delivered all his lines by SMS? The New York Times reports on how hotels are turning to text chat to help out customers who don't want to talk to another human being, whether it's to ask for fresh socks, or to complain about the smell of smoke.
Demonstrating once again why "rocket science" is synonymous with difficult, SpaceX's mission to deliver two Microsoft HoloLens virtual reality headsets (and other, more vital, supplies) to the International Space Station exploded just over two minutes after lift-off. IDG.TV has the entire flight for you.
One last thing
Slackers might get more work done, says Ben Brown. He offers a guide to letting bots loose in the corporate messaging tool Slack to automate common tasks, compressing 15-minute stand-up meetings into two minutes at the keyboard.