TLDR Daily Update 2019-09-04

Android 10 launch, Whole Foods’ new payment system

Big Tech & Startups

Android 10 launches today, and Pixel phones get the day one update (4 minute read)

Android 10 will start rolling out to devices starting with the Pixel phones, including the Pixel 1. The update will include fully gestural navigation, full support for a dark mode, changes to how users can interact with notifications, a faster share sheet, an API for floating apps, 230 new emoji, various under-the-hood changes, and much more. There are better security and privacy options, giving users more control over app permissions and storage. The security changes include a new method for storage encryption that will work on cheaper devices, and because of this, encryption will now be mandatory on all devices. A gallery of screenshots is available that shows some of the new features.

Amazon is reportedly working on a new payment system that would let you check out at Whole Foods by simply waving your hand over a sensor (2 minute read)

Amazon is developing a new payment system for its Whole Foods stores that uses the size and shape of customers' hands to identify them and authorize payments. Credit card payment systems take around three to four seconds to process, but the new system processes payments in less than 300 milliseconds. Other tech companies also use biometric sensors to authorize payments, for example, Apple's iPhones and iPads use fingerprint and facial recognition technology. Although biometric systems may be more convenient and unique than passwords, they are much harder to change if the information is compromised.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Hong Kong protestors are once again using mesh networks to preempt an internet shutdown (3 minute read)

As the Hong Kong protests continue, the possibility of an internet shutdown has led protestors to start using mesh networking technologies again. These networks played an important role during Hong Kong's 2014 democracy protests. Apps such as FireChat and Bridgefy link phones directly to each other through Bluetooth, allowing users to communicate through a network of devices rather than the internet. Private communication is encrypted, but public chat rooms are not. There are ways to monitor devices and identify them, and Bluetooth is not the most secure protocol. Bridgefy's CEO says that it's highly unlikely but not impossible for the government to trace messages to individual users, but users should still exercise caution.

Say goodbye to temporary fillings: scientists successfully use a gel to regrow tooth enamel (2 minute read)

Scientists from Zhejiang University have developed a new gel that helps to regrow tooth enamel. Enamel is the tough outer tissue layer of our teeth. General wear and tear through the exposure to certain sugars and acids tend to erode the enamel, leading to holes that require fillings. The scientists were able to grow enamel with the same structure and similar mechanical properties as native enamel, meaning that fillings might soon become a thing of the past. Enamel was grown from a gel that was made from calcium and phosphate ions mixed with trimethylamine. When the gel was applied to the sample teeth, it formed a new enamel layer approximately 3 micrometers in thickness within 48 hours. The researchers are hoping to conduct trials on people within the next two years.
Programming, Design & Data Science (GitHub Repo) is an end-to-end machine learning project that shows key aspects of developing and deploying a real-life machine learning-based application. The example used in the project is a web-based bike trip advisor with trip time prediction. – Open Machine Learning Course (GitHub Repo) is a machine learning course that aims to balance theory and practice. There are several Kaggle Inclass competitions held during the course. The final session is between September 2 and November 24, and participants can join at any time before the end of the session.

Today’s Firefox Blocks Third-Party Tracking Cookies and Cryptomining by Default (4 minute read)

A new update for Firefox on desktop and Android will block third-party tracking cookies and crypto miners by default. Enhanced Tracking Protection will be turned on by default for users as part of the 'Standard' setting in Firefox. Currently, only 20 percent of Firefox users use Enhanced Tracking Protection. The feature stops companies from forming a user profile based on tracking behavior across websites, which is often done without peoples' knowledge or consent. A view of the companies which have been blocked from tracking is available in the settings. Some websites have built-in crypto miners that mine cryptocurrencies for the site while the user is browsing. Firefox's new update will include a default option to block these scripts from working.

Waze Hijacked L.A. in the Name of Convenience. Can Anyone Put the Genie Back in the Bottle? (15 minute read)

By finding the shortest paths for drivers to take, Waze has unleashed chaos onto the roads, turning regular streets into something that resembles a freeway, often making it very difficult for people to leave their driveways. Waze would save everyday users a few minutes here and there, but it has come at a price. Local residents are distraught by the amount of traffic that is being sent to what were once quiet streets. People have been proposing legal action against Waze and Google. Waze has interfered with the city’s traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety. Council members have commented that Waze's responses so far have been inadequate and their solutions nonexistent. If nothing is done, Waze could lead everyone on a race to the bottom, where traffic plans are ignored, and every street is gridlocked.

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