Facebook Faces Close Scrutiny Regarding its Libra Project, Faces Moratorium Until Hearing Scheduled in July

Facebook Faces Close Scrutiny Regarding its Libra Project, Faces Moratorium Until Hearing Scheduled in July

Facebook recently announced its new cryptocurrency project called Libra. The announcement has faced concerns by politicians from all around the US and Europe. Facebook’s previous scandals regarding personal information of users raise doubts regarding privacy and security at its new project. With something like Cambridge Analytica scandal in their track record, Facebook would have a tough time in establishing Libra.

House Financial Services chairperson, Maxine Waters, has asked the company to stall its development of the currency until the legislators have approved it. A hearing of the project is scheduled to be held on July 16. Facebook executives are requested to testify at the hearing. The new project will be under scrutiny by U.S. Senate Banking Committee. Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the committee wrote in a tweet that, “Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight.”

French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire raised concerns over the Libra becoming a “sovereign” currency. He was specifically concerned about the role the currency might play in financing terrorist and other illegal activities. Threats regarding the project’s effect on the financial system also called for the moratorium imposed on it.

Facebook has however assured that it will be only partly involved in the project. The Libra Association will, in fact, be managing the cryptocurrency. The association is a syndicate of many non-profit organizations and companies. Currently, the association has 28 members but is aimed at reaching a hundred before its launch. The association will be based in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Verge, the company has agreed to answer the legislator’s concern. It will, however, continue development on the project.

Epic Games Has Acquired Houseparty, a Social Media App

Epic Games Has Acquired Houseparty, a Social Media App

Most people started knowing about Epic Games after Fortnite became an internet sensation. Now, it seems the company is trying to make things more evident in the digital sphere. According to the latest reports, Epic Games has acquired Houseparty, a social media platform and app that focus on teen users. The amount for which the acquisition took place was not disclosed by either party, though.

“Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real time. By teaming up, we can build even more fun, shared experiences than what could be achieved alone,” the founder and CEO of Epic Games was quoted saying in an official blog post. It’s clear that Epic Games is planning something big through this acquisition and the best possible things in the social media platform would be used for mutual benefits.

First things first, Fortnite currently has one of the most enviable user-base in the digital industry. And, most importantly, the majority of the users in Fortnite belong to the teen category and this is where a social network app like Houseparty comes into play. As it happens, both the companies will be able to find mutual ground for development. While Fortnite can leverage the social media platform, Houseparty will enhance the base.

“Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication. We have a common vision to make human interaction easier and more enjoyable, and always with respect for user privacy,” the co-founder and CEO of Houseparty said in a statement when talking about the deal with Epic Games.

It is not clear how this acquisition is going to impact Fortnite or Houseparty, but a complete invasion is not an option. that is because of the individualistic identities both applications have been able to build in recent past.

Google Ready to Devote $1 Billion to Tackle Housing Crisis in San Francisco Bay Area

Google Ready to Devote $1 Billion to Tackle Housing Crisis in San Francisco Bay Area

Google has announced that it will dedicate $1 billion to tackle the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay area. The American tech giant promised on Tuesday that it will develop the housing area around the bay. The company has provided $18 million in grants over the last five years to help tackle the crisis in the area. The area, according to a recent study, holds the third-largest population of people who are facing homelessness in the United States. A large number of people live in RVs and vans for decades in the region. These RVs which are parked on the streets of the area also house some low-income employees from Google.

The rate of these houses has gone up over the years because of the employees from big tech companies staying there. Some of the big tech companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are blamed for high prices. These employees have comparably better pay than what a teacher or a restaurant employee can make. This crisis has forced people to commute from far off areas to their workplaces. “Across all of this, our goal is to help communities succeed over the long term, and make sure that everyone has access to opportunity, whether or not they work in tech,” Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

The company will create a residential housing area in $750 million worth of land that they own in the region. The CEO of the company, Sundar Pichai, said in a recent blog post that the land will be used to create more than 15,000 homes over a decade. The houses are expected to range for people with different levels of income. Most residents with a medium to low-level income will find more affordable homes. They are among the people who have a hard time finding affordable housing area in the Bay region.

Anyone without a good stock option is unlikely to get a house in the region. The area was previously devoted for industrial and commercial use. Another $250 million are intended on spending on creating investment funds. This is expected to create around 5,000 more homes by motivating other developers.

Niantic is Suing Global++ on the Basis of Copyright Infringement

Niantic is Suing Global++ on the Basis of Copyright Infringement

Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go is much ready for the legal battle against Global++ who allegedly makes and distributes hacked versions of their games. The augmented reality game developers filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on Monday ahead of the United States launch of the AR game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The lawsuit alleges that the Global ++ group has received monetary advances by selling subscriptions. The motion is intended “to enjoin defendants” from infringing the copyrights of Niantic.

According to the report of Business Insider, Niantic has alleged that Global++ create, distribute and profit from the “unauthorized derivative versions of other companies’ mobile game apps.” These apps which have been referred to as tweaks by the Global++ includes  Potter++ (sometimes called Unite++), PokeGo++, Ingress++ which are the hacked versions of the original Harry Potter app; Pokémon GO app; and the Ingress app respectively.

These apps are collectively referred to as “Cheating Programs” by Niantic. It allows the users to spoof their location and obtain items and achievements they have not legitimately earned. Through automation, it would appear as the users are playing the game 24 hours a day. This provides an unfair advantage over the honest players who use the app which does not allow them for playing in such a way.

The lawsuit claims that “Defendants schemes, therefore, damage Niantic’s reputation and goodwill and interfere with Niantic’s business.” The defendants as per the lawsuit are Ryan Hunt, Alen Hundur and twenty other unidentified members. The filed motion of preliminary injunction would force Global++ to immediately stop the distribution of the hacked apps and to stop working on reverse engineering the official code.

There is no comment from the representatives of the Global++. But they have taken down its website and deleted the Discord servers after sharing their message on the End of Service among their fan community. The message reads “It is with great sadness that we will be shutting down indefinitely noncompliance with our legal obligations.”

Google Releases the First Ever Picture of its New Smartphone – Pixel 4

Google releases the first ever picture of its new smartphone- Pixel 4

In a recent tweet by the Google Pixel team, the makers released an image of its new smartphone Pixel 4. The news gathered a lot of attention because the phone is expected only to be released by October this year and the move might have been too early. This move might have been taken as a step to counter the leaking of information about the device as has been the case in most of its earlier phones.

The previous Pixel phones have always faced leaking way before being announced officially. Most of the leading tech companies like Apple, Google, Samsung etc. have to go through similar leaking issues. The companies though don’t go ahead and reveal their products, rather wait for their official events to arrive. Google’s event Google I/O is the event in which the previous Pixel products like Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL were unpacked.

The move by the tech giant is seen as a way to provide security against any allegations made of it having copied Apple’s iPhone 11, which is also believed to have a square camera. Google might be aware that it will now be easily targeted for having copied Apple’s product’s design of the camera which releases its product only a month ago than Pixel 4’s. Knowing that Apple won’t like to reveal the product’s information before September, Google might be stating that the design is not so unique after all. Even Huawei Mate 20 Pro had a similar camera design.

The new smartphone features a square camera bump in the back which has manifold cameras. This is the first ever Pixel which will not have a fingerprint scanner on its back. A Google spokesperson told The Verge by email, “I wish I could share more, but can just confirm this is indeed Pixel 4, for now.” Google had previously announced the next-generation Google Assistant to receive a launch on this phone in this fall. The new updated version of the Google Assistant is expected to give a lightning-fast response to the questions or voice commands.

Apple Brings Dark Mode into iOS 13, Announced at WWDC

Apple Brings Dark Mode into iOS 13, Announced at WWDC

The American tech giant Apple on its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that took place on Monday in San Jose launched an array of new features that include a Mac Pro, iPadOS, dark mode for its iOS13, etc. The dark mode garnered much attention due to its claims at providing better control and allowing users to stay focused on their work. The feature is likely to be available by this fall to the users by downloading an app that shall have an owl as its icon.

Though the support websites don’t claim anything about the feature’s ability to save battery. According to a report published by the CNN business, most smartphones use an organic light emitting diode(OLED) that consumes less power than a regular white background. The dark background also claims to have a soothing effect on the eyes as it is designed specifically to make the screen appear easy for the eyes and benefits the sleep of the user.

According to the company’s support page, “The dark mode makes it easier to stay focused on your work because your content stands out while darkened controls and windows recede into the background.” The dark mode works with lots of apps and features such as Mail, Maps, Notes, Safari, etc. providing an enriched experience for those who like to read or work in the dark.

The dark mode has been popular with most of the leading global tech companies like Samsung Galaxy, platforms such as Twitter and browsers such as Google Chrome. However, Apple’s dark mode comes with specially built icons and a grey keyboard which provide a full dark-experience. The feature is reported to be working across iPhones, iPads and various apps from Apple. The feature included customization regarding its time and can be automatically turned on or off at evenings or any set time.

Snapchat Employees Had Abused Internal Tool to Spy on Users, Report

Snapchat Employees Had Abused Internal Tool to Spy on Users, Report

According to a report published by Motherboard, employees at Snapchat have abused internal software to spy on customers. The report says such privileged tools are available inside almost every department of Snapchat and that a number of employees had used these tools to spy on the private activities of Snapchat users. The report is based on the statement of two employees and email caches.

SnapLion is the name given for the internal tool being in question here. It should be noted that almost every tech company has some privileged software inside, but they reportedly take measures to prevent the abuse of the same. In the case of SnapLion, however, this hasn’t happened, say the former and current employees of Snapchat, who were speaking on the condition of anonymity.

According to these in-person sources and the cache of email threads that Motherboard had received, it has been made clear that the internal tool offers many privileges for the employees. They were able to access both public and private information of specific users, including but not limited to Snaps they have saved and sensitive information such as the email ID and phone number.

Just like other companies, Snapchat also had promised to take measures to prevent the abuse of sensitive data. However, this report once again proves the most practical fear inside and outside those server rooms stay some of the commonest human beings with so much privilege to access data. As it turns out, the SnapLion tool was created for addressing legal issues.

That is, SnapLion could have been used to collect information about a particular user upon a legal warrant from the competent authority for an understandable reason. Considering that Snapchat offers so many security-oriented features to its customers every day, this turns everything upside down.

Huawei Could Be A Part of Trade Agreement with China, Says Trump

Huawei Could Be A Part of Trade Agreement with China, Says Trump

Everyone knows the decision of the United States government to prevent Huawei Technologies from a potential future in business wasn’t an innocent idea. Now, Donald Trump has made it clear that Huawei will be a part of the trade agreement that would be presented if Washington and Beijing happen to see eye to eye. He also added Huawei may have a better future if both countries arrive at a deal.

“If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei possibly included in some form of or some part a trade deal,” he was quoted saying by reporters during a freewheeling impromptu exchange at the White House on Thursday afternoon. This once again shows the hidden intentions behind banning Huawei from conducting any sort of business with American companies — thereby striking the major core of the Chinese technology-manufacturing company.

Trump did not share much details about the decision, though. While he added that Huawei would be a part of the deal when it happens, the mode in which it happens wasn’t revealed. He told reporters it was too early to say the latter.  The time for the meet-up between Washington and Beijing has not been set so far though.

The announcement was made a few days back, coinciding with the time when the tensions between China and the United States were hitting the roof. While it’s a common story that Huawei had been under constant surveillance by the American government for potential issues as it has been the case of every Chinese player who gets into US soil, the ban was quite extreme.

Following the ban from the government, several US companies and non-US companies had severed the ties they had with Huawei. For instance, Google made it clear that Huawei cannot use Google services on their devices and ARM closed the license, thereby preventing the Chinese company from making their own Kirin line of chips.

Apple’s WWDC Keynote on June 3 Expected To Reveal New Software

Apple's WWDC Keynote on June 3 Expected To Reveal New Software

World Wide Developers Conference is something that every developer looks forward to. This year too, the conference will be happening, and Apple has just announced that the keynote presentation of the event will be happening on June 3rd. It is reported that the keynote address will be talking about new software Apple has been working on for the past year, including but not limited to iOS and macOS.

Owing to the tradition of WWDC announcements, Apple is expected to announce the newer versions of OSs for devices like iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch etc. In particular, this year’s event would focus on iOS 13 and macOS 10.15, say some reports. In addition to this, watchOS 6 may also make it to the spotlight while thousands of developers tune into Apple official website and the auditorium.

There are already some rumors regarding what these new Operating Systems are bringing. For instance, iOS 13 is expected to bring some tweaks to the user interface while addressing the existing bugs as well. One of the talked-about features is that a new animation would be added when closing apps and launching a multi-tasking window. A Dark Mode is also expected in the latest version of iOS.

macOS, on the other hand, is rumored to get some major changes in this iteration. Most importantly, the new version would allow users to run iPad apps on Mac, which opens a plethora of options. In addition to this major change, Apple is reportedly bringing some in-house apps like Screen Time, Reminders, Shortcuts and others, to macOS, adding more productivity options.

It is not normal for Apple to make product launches during WWDC, as the conference is software-focused. But, we will have to wait until 3rd June, 10 AM (Local time) to see whether the trillion-dollar company takes a diversion here.