Tech Digest daily roundup: Smartphone sales to hit 1.4 billion in 2021, boosted by 5G


2020 saw a substantial dip in smartphone growth as shipments fell 7% due to the market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 will see the market recover, predict the analysts at Canalys, who also forecast that it will get close to a tipping point in the adoption of 5G. The smartphone market will bounce back now that countries have started to get the pandemic under control. However, that bounce will be limited by the component shortage that has driven up prices of electronics and has caused makers to delay or even outright cancel product launches. Even with that bottleneck, global smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.4 billion units this year, up 12% compared to last year. Gartner is forecasting an 11.4% increase, IDC is more conservative and predicts 1.38 billion units shipped for a 7.7% increase. GSM Arena

A drive to develop AI for the battlefield has begun as Porton Down begins its recruitment of hundreds of top-secret scientists. Over the next three months, jobs will be advertised for around 300 defence scientists to work for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which is based at Porton Down, near Salisbury, and other sites around the country. A new technology hub, which launched in April this year, will become Dstl’s fifth site and will focus solely on AI. The recruitment drive, which is the biggest in Dstl’s 20-year history, comes amid the Government’s bid to make the UK a “science and tech superpower” by 2030, with the ability to “monitor, protect and defend” the country’s interests. Telegraph 

Surrounded by a forest of tall green pine trees, 125 miles south of the Arctic circle, a giant electric battery factory is rapidly taking shape on a site as big as 71 football pitches. The project will be a gigafactory, a term coined by Tesla founder Elon Musk to describe his first high-volume plant for producing lithium-ion electric battery cells, deep in the Nevada desert. Startup Northvolt, co-founded by two former Tesla executives, is in Skellefteå, a much chillier location, in northern Sweden. But from here, as well as a base in Västerås just outside Stockholm, it is hoping to provide a quarter of Europe’s electric batteries, as demand for electric vehicles surges amidst the global race to cut carbon emissions. BBC

Apple’s announcement last week that it was cracking down on some “hookup apps” sparked widespread confusion and concern that the company planned to remove dating apps – particularly ones such as Grindr and Scruff that cater to the LGBTQ+ community – from its app store. Viral tweets and articles condemned the company for banning the gay app during Pride month, while some users mulled over a switch to Android to avoid the reported ban. The controversy on Twitter prompted the company to clarify its stance and say Grindr is not going anywhere at this time. A spokesman from Apple told the Guardian that the company has always banned apps dedicated to pornography and that the update is meant to codify those policies. He said dating apps such as Grindr and Scruff would not be rejected based on the new guidelines. Guardian

Mobile phones are as addictive as crack cocaine, a headteacher who intends to ban them in school hours has claimed. Jane Lunnon says that the type of pornographic material and the volume of images that children can access has changed significantly in the past decade. After the outpouring of testimonies on the anti-rape movement website Everyone’s Invited, and a report from Ofsted last week that said sexual abuse and harassment had been normalised among teenagers, many schools are introducing new measures. Lunnon, of Alleyn’s School in south London, described as “chastening and salutory” the discovery that it was named on Everyone’s Invited, where pupils from hundreds of schools posted experiences of sexual harassment. She said that it led to immediate action. The Times 

Chris Price
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