Big Tech &
Apple Fitness+ tidbits (4 minute read)
Apple's Fitness+ is now available. Users will be able to share workouts with other Apple devices, but the ability to take screenshots has been blocked in the app. An Apple Watch is required to activate Fitness+, but after activation, the app can be used without the watch. While there is no leaderboard for Fitness+, there is a Burn Bar that shows users' efforts compared to others during their workouts. The data for the Burn Bar is collected anonymously from users who opt-in for the feature. A 17-minute video walkthrough of Fitness+ is available in the article.
Reddit buys TikTok rival Dubsmash (2 minute read)
Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, a short-form video social platform. Dubsmash will continue to exist as a separate platform and brand, but its software will be integrated into Reddit. Reddit has allowed video uploads since 2017, but its video-editing tools are limited. Dubsmash has declined to share its total number of users, but its share of the USA's short-form video market is second only to TikTok. Reddit specifically cited Dubsmash's user base as a reason for its acquisition.
Amazon Zoox unveils self-driving robotaxi (2 minute read)
Zoox recently unveiled an electric, fully driverless car built for ride-hailing. It can sit up to four passengers. There is no space for a driver or steering wheel. As it is a 'carriage-style' car, passengers will sit facing each other. Amazon acquired Zoox in June, but it gave few details about how it planned to use Zoox's technology. The robotaxi features bidirectional capabilities and four-wheel steering. It can drive up to 75 miles per hour and run for 16 hours on a single charge. Zoox plans to launch an app-based ridesharing service, with the first target markets in San Francisco and Las Vegas.
FDA approves genetically engineered pigs (2 minute read)
The FDA has approved genetically engineered pigs developed by Revivicor, a medical company, for use in food and medical products. The pigs can now be used in the production of drugs, to provide organs and tissues for transplants, and to produce meat that is safe to eat. It is the first-ever approval of an animal biotechnology product for both food consumption and medical use. The pigs lack a molecule called alpha-gal sugar, which can trigger allergic reactions. Removing the molecule means products developed from these pigs can be used by people who are allergic to it.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Life of a Netflix Partner Engineer — The case of the extra 40 ms (8 minute read)
The role of a Partner Engineer at Netflix is to help device manufacturers launch the Netflix application on their devices. At the end of 2017, Netflix was implementing its app on a new Android TV device which experienced a serious stuttering issue. This article follows a Netflix Partner Engineer as they track down the bug, figure out the real root cause, and then work towards a fix.
Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, and other services go down in multiple countries (2 minute read)
At 3.47 AM PT, Google experienced an authentication outage for around 45 minutes. Users experienced high error rates when trying to login to services during this period. The outage affected business operation times in multiple markets and led to a slight drop in pre-market trading for Alphabet. Coincidentally, Microsoft Outlook is also experiencing some problems. The unprecedented failure has reminded many of just how much Google affects their lives.
Israeli Spy Tech Firm Says It Can Break Into Signal App Previously Considered Safe From Hacking (6 minute read)
Cellebrite claims it can break into Signal. The Israeli phone-hacking firm has been criticized widely for selling its products to states with poor human rights records. Its products allow its customers to unlock, access, organize, and process the data of any phone in their possession. It has just updated its products to decode information and data from Signal. Signal employs end-to-end encryption, which prevents snooping of messages between devices, but not when the physical device is in the attacker's possession.