Guardian - Technology

Latest Technology news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. Teardown exposes new silicone skirt around keys that could stop debris from blocking them

    Despite Apple stating that new 2018 MacBook Pro keyboards were not designed to alleviate key failures due to dust, a teardown has revealed a new barrier under the keys that could stop them getting clogged up.

    Repair specialists iFixit took apart one of the keyboards of the new £1,749-plus laptops to see what had been changed for what Apple calls its new third-generation butterfly mechanism under the keys that is reportedly quieter in operation.

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  2. Britain has required resources to be global hub for blockchain technology, analysts say

    The UK is well-placed to become a leader in blockchain technologies and the crypto economy, according to a new report.

    Britain has all the required resources, as well as industrial and governmental will, to become a global hub for the technology by 2022, according to analysis by the Big Innovation Centre, DAG Global and Deep Knowledge Analytics.

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  3. Accusation directed on Twitter at Vern Unsworth, who called Tesla CEO’s offer of ‘mini-sub’ to help rescuers a ‘PR stunt’

    Elon Musk came under fire on Sunday after launching an extraordinary attack on a British diver who helped rescue the boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, baselessly calling him a “pedo” on Twitter and then doubling down.

    Related:'We don't know how it worked': the inside story of the Thai cave rescue

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  4. President Brad Smith warns authorities might track, investigate or arrest people based on flawed evidence

    Microsoft has called for facial recognition technology to be regulated by government, with for laws governing its acceptable uses.

    In a blog post on the company’s website on Friday, Microsoft president Brad Smith called for a congressional bipartisan “expert commission” to look into regulating the technology in the US.

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  5. So-called ‘anonymous’ data can be easily used to identify everything from our medical records to purchase histories

    In August 2016, the Australian government released an “anonymised” data set comprising the medical billing records, including every prescription and surgery, of 2.9 million people.

    Names and other identifying features were removed from the records in an effort to protect individuals’ privacy, but a research team from the University of Melbourne soon discovered that it was simple to re-identify people, and learn about their entire medical history without their consent, by comparing the dataset to other publicly available information, such as reports of celebrities having babies or athletes having surgeries.

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  6. Some of most popular users appear to lose millions of followers after crackdown

    Egos have been bruised on Twitter after the social network initiated a change to how it tracks followers that saw some of the most popular users lose millions from their count.

    Following the change on Friday, which removes from the count accounts that have been suspended or locked by Twitter for abuse, some of the most popular users had hundreds of thousands, or millions, fewer followers than they had a day before.

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  7. AI and robotics forecast to generate 7.2m jobs, more than will be lost due to automation

    Artificial intelligence is set to create more than 7m new UK jobs in healthcare, science and education by 2037, more than making up for the jobs lost in manufacturing and other sectors through automation, according to a report.

    A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers argued that AI would create slightly more jobs (7.2m) than it displaced (7m) by boosting economic growth. The firm estimated about 20% of jobs would be automated over the next 20 years and no sector would be unaffected.

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  8. C4 Dispatches documentary finds moderators left Britain First’s pages alone as ‘they generate a lot of revenue’

    Leading far-right activists have received special protection from Facebook, preventing their pages from being deleted even after a pattern of behaviour that would typically result in moderator action being taken.

    The process, called “shielded review”, was uncovered by Channel 4 Dispatches, after the documentary series sent an undercover reporter to work as a content moderator in a Dublin-based Facebook contractor.

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  9. Accommodation service told it needs to be clearer on total cost including fees and charges

    Airbnb has been found in breach of EU law and given until the end of the summer to ditch a range of practices, including that of belatedly applying additional fees to the prices it promotes online.

    The accommodation service has been accused by the European commission and national regulators of failing its customers and making the mistake of many global digital firms of “forgetting its responsibilities”.

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  10. Vernon Unsworth ‘astonished and very angry’ after Tesla owner makes baseless remark

    A British cave diver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a northern Thailand cave says he is considering legal action after the inventor Elon Musk called him a “pedo”on Twitter.

    Vernon Unsworth told the Guardian on Monday he was “astonished and very angry” at the attack, for which Musk offered no evidence or basis. The billionaire initially doubled down on the comments made on social media, but has since deleted them.

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  11. The gadgets inspired by Back to the Future Part II’s floating skateboards have failed to deliver

    We could start by saying “they” didn’t promise us hoverboards. People want hoverboards because they saw one in the disappointing sequel Back to the Future Part II . But that doesn’t mean people haven’t tried to make them. Like other colourful retrofuturist fantasies, hoverboards were a lustmotif that spoke to a whole generation in the way that flying cars and jetpacks did to baby boomers.

    Problem No 1: how would this thing hover? We have four choices: some type of thrust, a cushion of air, maglev or magic.

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  12. If Paul adds an iPhone and Chromebook to his Microsoft devices, will it lead to a mess of email addresses and accounts?

    Over the past few years I have been using all Microsoft-oriented products: a Windows 10 laptop and desktop, a Windows phone (Lumia 950) and a Surface 2 (Windows RT) tablet. One advantage is that they all log on to a single Windows account with an Outlook email address. I use Outlook (from Office 365) to manage my email, contacts and calendar.

    Because of the poor app support for the phone and Surface 2, I’m wondering about getting an iPhone and a Chromebook to replace the tablet and laptop. My laptop needs are likely to diminish once I have finished my PhD, and will be mainly email, word processing and presentations.

    When this column started, in a previous century, most users only had one PC. Home users did not have broadband, so email was collected via a dial-up modem. Some people had handheld “organisers” from Palm, Psion and other suppliers, but they synced with PCs. Life was simple.

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  13. Barbara is constantly being interrupted by pop-ups about the new GDPR. Is there anything she can do?

    Because of GDPR, it feels as though my internet access – my access to information – is now more restricted. I am constantly being interrupted by pop-ups that want me to agree to the website’s privacy policy, use of my data and so on, in order to “personalise my experience”. After recent revelations about unauthorised use of personal data, I’m wary of agreeing without checking what their proposals are, but I often just close the page because there are too many options and it’s too much of a bother. Am I being too paranoid? Barbara

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) only came into force on 25 May and it will take a while for some websites to adapt. Breaking the rules can result in fines of up to €20m, so at this point, information providers are probably more paranoid than you are.

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  14. Martin works for a large company that uses G Suite where the tech team can accesses employees’ emails. Can he prevent this?

    I work for a large company and use the Gmail set up for my account. As a senior manager, I have many confidential conversations internally and externally via email.

    I have found out that one of the tech guys accesses employee’s emails when requested to carry out checks by the CEO. Do they have the right to do this? I think it creates a feeling of mistrust and insecurity. Can I lock my account so only I can access it? Martin

    Historically, the assumption has always been that companies own and can access mail used for company business. When I was a manager, I dictated letters to a secretary who typed them and filed copies. I never reached a level where these filing cabinets were locked and inaccessible, but they contained nothing of personal interest.

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  15. James wants to know whether he should opt for an SSD or HDD to save his files on

    I am hoping to go to university this year and am looking for a laptop. What’s the difference between an SSD and an HDD, and which would be better for a student? From what I’ve seen, you can get roughly four times as much storage on an HDD as you can on an SSD for the same price, so it seems an HDD would be the better option. James

    The laptop market is moving from traditional “spinning rust” hard disk drives (HDDs) to chip-based, solid-state drives (SSDs) for several reasons. SSDs are more responsive; they consume less battery power; they are less likely to break when dropped and they take up a lot less space.

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  16. As the number of young gamers has risen sharply, so have addiction narratives

    Gaming disorder may be a newly recognised condition, but disordered gaming is anything but new. In 2010, a Korean couple was arrested for fatal child neglect spurred by an obsession with Prius Online. Five years earlier, another Korean man collapsed and died after a 50-hour session playing StarCraft in an internet cafe.

    In the west, World of Warcraft, released in 2004, was one of the first games to trigger addiction narratives in the mainstream press, with the game blamed for causing college students to drop out of university and others losing careers and families.

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  17. App blamed for circulating false information in India, Brazil, Kenya and now the UK

    Abijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das were driving back from a visit to a waterfall in the Indian province of Assam earlier this month when they stopped in a village to ask for directions. The two men were pulled out of their car and beaten to death by a mob who accused them of stealing children.

    “The villagers got suspicious of the strangers as for the last three or four days messages were going around on WhatsApp, as well as through word of mouth, about child lifters roaming the area,” Mukesh Agrawal, a local police officer said.

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  18. As tax credits threaten to run out and more powerful and expensive versions launch, buyers are still waiting

    This week saw Tesla’s enigmatic chief executive Elon Musk take to Twitter to announce two more powerful, and more expensive, versions of the auto firm’s Model 3 – the much lauded “mass market” vehicle that appears, for now, to be veering further and further away from its $35,000 price tag.

    The new dual-motor Model 3 and its souped-up range-topping “performance” version, which costs $78,000 and, as Musk claims, will be 15% quicker than German rival BMW’s $66,500 (£59,905 in the UK) M3, are not unexpected. Tesla did a similar thing with its Model S, launching dual-motor and performance versions with ever more dizzying price tags.

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  19. The format didn’t let MEPs question the Facebook boss too deeply – but there were worries over its monopoly

    1. The European Parliament’s chosen format was a terrible way to elicit answers from one of the most powerful people in the world.

    Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of the European parliament’s conference of presidents was a long-awaited opportunity to press the founder of the world’s biggest social network – which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp – on his company’s global influence and use of personal data following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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  20. While trolls and idiots are best ignored, there can be value in seeking to genuinely understand those who disagree with us

    What is the difference between frank debate, bullying, abuse and a pile-on, and what are the appropriate responses to each?

    Let’s start with Mary Beard, who has responded very differently to very different types of online provocation in ways that feel to me to be vaguely instructive. I am a big fan of the Cambridge historian, who for a while there was the poster child for how to deal with online abuse, famously shaming the trolls by trying to connect with them and, in one instance, messaging the teenager who had sent her sexually explicit abuse with kindness and an offer of lunch. Eventually, she reduced him – and others – to pathetic, blubbing balls of apology.

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  21. We dismiss claims about mobiles being bad for our health – but is that because studies showing a link to cancer have been cast into doubt by the industry?

    On 28 March this year, the scientific peer review of a landmark United States government study concluded that there is “clear evidence” that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer, specifically, a heart tissue cancer in rats that is too rare to be explained as random occurrence.

    Eleven independent scientists spent three days at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, discussing the study, which was done by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services and ranks among the largest conducted of the health effects of mobile phone radiation. NTP scientists had exposed thousands of rats and mice (whose biological similarities to humans make them useful indicators of human health risks) to doses of radiation equivalent to an average mobile user’s lifetime exposure.

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  22. The inventor, entrepreneur and much-ridiculed rich person thinks his wealth is used as a stick to beat him. People with less than $20bn disagree …

    Name: The billionaire’s curse.

    Age: Of the moment.

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  23. From picking up the phone every seven minutes to realising that Safari is my main time sink, Apple’s Screen Time tools revealed more than I expected

    How many times do you pick up and interact with your phone in a week? More than 500 times? How about the sheer number of notifications you get? It might number in the thousands.

    With all the talk of smartphone addiction, I was curious to find out just how often I actually use my phone and why, so I took Apple’s new Screen Time phone-tracking tools for a spin, installing the latest iOS 12 beta. What I discovered is that I pick up my phone every seven minutes during the day – far more than I imagined, and not just at the prompt of a notification.

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  24. Electronics manufacturers know exactly how big wall outlets are – so why do they make plugs so big that they obscure more than one?

    Name:Plugspreading.

    Age: It has been creeping up on us for some years now.

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  25. Great screen, improved camera and dual-sim support make this high-performing £469 phone feel like a bargain

    The new OnePlus 6 holds true to a winning formula: a premium smartphone with top-end specs that costs less than half the price of an iPhone X.

    Seen next to last year’s OnePlus 5 and 5T, the OnePlus 6 looks like a logical extension of the design trend for ever larger screens fitted into the same size bodies.

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  26. The company’s most important smartphone in years does not disappoint, with Face ID and an all-screen design that spells the end of the home button

    The iPhone X is Apple’s most important – and most expensive – new smartphone in four years, bringing with it a significant change to the design, dumping the home button to usher in a full-screen experience. Thankfully, Apple nailed it.

    After four years of the company recycling the design of the iPhone 6, the iPhone X is a breath of fresh air. The beautiful OLED screen takes up pretty much the whole front of the device. It’s one of the best displays I’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and while it’s not quite as bezel free at the sides as Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8 devices, it’s a giant leap forward for Apple.

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  27. The Chinese smartphone maker has hit a home run with this top-end smartphone that’s on a par with the best

    With the P20 Pro, Huawei has not only proved that it can compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, but it can beat them in many ways. Three cameras really are better than one (or two).

    Having established its name in value smartphones, Huawei has recently made inroads into the premium market with the likes of the Mate 10 Pro and last year’s P10. They were of high quality, and had all the features you’d expect from an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S. But until now they’ve not quite captured the same luxurious feel.

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  28. Gorgeous screen and excellent camera are highlights of this top-end phone, but battery life could be improved

    Having ushered in a new super-slim bezel design at the beginning of 2017 with the S8, has Samsung’s new dual-aperture, dual camera enough to entice people to upgrade?

    It’s fair to say the Galaxy S9+ looks practically identical to its predecessor. It’s got the same curved glass design, metal sides and lump-less camera on the back, and while it is 1.4mm shorter, 0.4mm wider and 0.4mm thicker than the S8+, you’ll need a ruler to notice.

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  29. The firm’s latest Alexa-powered addition to its Echo range adds a clock and touchscreen interface to the mix

    Amazon’s new Echo Spot is one of the most novel takes on a smart speaker yet, and while it is certainly more than just a smart clock, that’s what it’s best at – an attractive voice-assisted smart desk or bedside-table accessory.

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  30. The company’s first foray into smart tech adds Amazon’s Alexa to a great wireless speaker to create a formidable combo

    Having practically invented the multi-room wireless speaker category in 2005, Sonos has lagged behind in the race to become smart. Now the Sonos One is here, packing Alexa in the top and premium audio in the bottom.

    The Sonos One is very deliberately designed to look, feel and sound like the company’s successful Play: 1 – a compact wireless speaker launched in 2013 at about £150 that was arguably the best for the money for years. Side-by-side they look identical apart from the top of the speaker, which is flat on the One, perforated by holes for the microphones that enable the voice assistant to hear you.

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