Tech Digest daily round up: Instagram to crack down on teen messages


Instagram is adding safety measures designed to protect teenagers from unwanted direct messages from adults. Older users will only be able to privately message teenagers who follow them. And messages will be overlaid with a notice reminding teenagers telling them they don’t need to respond to anything that makes them uncomfortable. Of course, the measures will work only if accounts have users’ correct ages, which young people sometimes lie about. Likewise, predators might pretend to be younger than they actually are. Instagram said it was developing “new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology” to help tackle the challenge of age verification. BBC 

A British energy technology firm is developing the world’s first microwave-powered boiler, which could replace standard gas boilers from 2022.  Heat Wayv uses microwaves, just like a microwave oven, to heat up water, providing a home with central heating and hot water. The futuristic-looking boiler is also internet-connected, controllable via a smartphone app, runs almost silently and is ‘virtually maintenance free’. It can be installed in a day in the same location as current gas boilers, works with existing home radiators and produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. Originally developed as portable cooking devices for military use, the microwave-powered boilers are available in two versions – the Heat Wayv One and the Heat Wayv Max, for larger households. Daily Mail 

Google wants to listen to you while you’re sleeping to make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest, writes The Telegraph. Isn’t that nice of them? The tech giant has unveiled a new Nest Hub, a 7-inch smart screen which includes sensors that can track sleep when placed on a bedside table. The feature, which Google intends to offer for free at least initially, relies on a new chip Google calls Soli. This uses radar to detect motion, including the depth of a person’s breathing. The Nest Hub is supposed to generate weekly sleep reports with easy-to-understand breakdowns on the length and quality of sleep, how frequently the user gets up at night and snoring and coughing frequency, along with tips developed in consultation with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Apple says its App Store rules support 330,000 jobs in the UK following an announcement that it was being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority. Earlier this month the CMA confirmed it had received complaints from “several developers reporting that Apple‘s terms and conditions are unfair and could break competition law”. The regulator did not reveal the identity of these developers, but the company’s most powerful rival and critic in recent months – Facebook – has filed competition complaints about Apple elsewhere, as have Spotify and Fortnite-maker Epic Games. Sky News. 

BMW’s latest infotainment system–called iDrive 8–aims to offer an even better user experience than iDrive 7, with enhanced voice-recognition software, a massive touchscreen, and myriad new features. And, yes, it still has a rotary controller. While iDrive 8 will eventually proliferate throughout the rest of BMW’s portfolio, it will initially debut later this year on the new electric iX SUV and i4 sedan. In these applications, the interface will be sourced through a massive curved display on the dashboard. There, a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel seamlessly converge with an enormous 14.9-inch central touchscreen. Car and Driver 

Nokia on Tuesday announced plans to cut up to 10,000 jobs within two years to trim costs and invest more in research capabilities, as the Finnish telecoms group seeks to step up its challenge to Sweden’s Ericsson and China’s Huawei. After taking over the top job last year, Chief Executive Pekka Lundmark has been making changes to recover from product missteps under the company’s previous management that hurt its 5G ambitions and dragged on its shares. He announced a new strategy in October, under which Nokia will have four business groups and said the company would “do whatever it takes” to take the lead in 5G, as it banks on also capturing share from Huawei. Reuters

Chris Price
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