Tech Digest daily round up: WhatsApp introduces video/voice calling for desktop


Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp has introduced voice and video calling on its desktop version, the company said on Thursday. The company said users will be able to use desktop screens for calls in both portrait and landscape mode, and the calls will be end-to-end encrypted. The move to facilitate calls over large screens would put WhatsApp on par with video-conferencing ‘bigwigs’ Zoom and Google Meet. However, it is not clear if it has ambitions to compete with the two in the enterprise space. See Reuters for full story. 

Google has promised not to develop any new way of tracking individual users for adverts once it phases out its current method, writes The BBC. Some critics had been concerned that Google’s plan to stop these cookies would prevent its rivals from building useful catalogues of ad targeting information – but that Google itself might still be able to do so. However, Google has denied this:  “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build [alternative] identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products,” the company said in a blog post.

Octopus Energy announced this week it has significantly expanded its roaming EV charging service, the Electric Juice Network (EJN), after signing up German charging network IONITY. The addition means the charge network will for the first time offer drivers access to charge points outside of the UK, while also adding a range of 350kW ultra-rapid chargers to the service. See Business Green. 

Amazon looks set to emerge as a key beneficiary of Britain’s new tax “super-deduction” thanks to a major ramping up of its UK warehouse footprint, even as the Government wrangles with how to get Big Tech to pay more tax. The latest tax measure, announced on Wednesday, will allow companies investing in new plant and machinery assets to deduct 130pc of that investment from their taxable income for the next two years. This means they would be able to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 that they invest. It is expected to include investments that companies make on fitting out warehouses. See Telegraph

The British Rallycross Championship is set to become the first series in the UK to adopt electric cars into its highest level this year. The BRX 5 Nations Trophy plans to run electric cars together with the headline internal combustion engine Supercars on track, with the electric cars using a powertrain developed by former World Rally Championship star Manfred Stohl’s STARD outfit in Austria, pending final approval from Motorsport UK. See full story on Autosport. 

Deliveroo plans a London stock market listing that could value the British food delivery firm at around $7 billion and mark the biggest new share issue in Britain in three years. It said it will use a dual-class share structure for the first three years of the listing, which will give co-founder and chief executive Will Shu more control over the company. The Deliveroo IPO is one of the most eagerly watched-for initial public offerings (IPOs) expected in London in the first half of 2021. See Daily Mail. 

TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is developing a Clubhouse-like app for China, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the global success of the audio-only platform inspires others to copy the service. At least a dozen similar apps have been launched in the past month, with momentum picking up after Clubhouse was blocked in China in early February.

Chris Price
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