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The Independent - Tech


Apple releases iPhone update to patch 'Unc0ver' zero-day hack

The Independent - Tech

Apple has released a new version of its operating system, iOS 13.5.1, in order to provide "important security updates [that are] recommended for all users." It means Apple has patched the infamous "Unc0ver" jailbreak which allowed even the most recent iPhones to be compromised. Apple's security page states that the update was pushed out in order to stop software from "execut[ing] arbitrary code with kernel privileges" – which is how jailbreaking works. To "jailbreak" an iPhone means to remove the usual restrictions imposed by Apple, allowing users more control such as loading apps that are not available in Apple's App Store at the risk of lower device security. It was discovered that the Unc0ver jailbreak has been circulating on the internet since at least February, with some speculating that hackers and researchers had the code since December 2019.


Android 11: Google postpones release of beta version of major new phone software update, saying 'now is not the time'

The Independent - Tech

Google will postpone the unveiling of its Android 11 update after declaring that "now is not the time". The announcement came as protests continued across US cities, following the death of George Floyd in policy custody. It is one of a range of measures taken by the company to show its support for the Americans protesting against racial inequality. It also added a message to its search page that reads: "We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it". YouTube, which is owned by the same company, has committed $1 million to non-profit Center for Policing Equity in a move it said demonstrated "solidarity against racism and violence".


MIT builds robot hand that can 'see and feel' objects as fragile as a crisp in major breakthrough

The Independent - Tech

Robotic hands capable of picking up objects as fragile as a crisp by "sensing" objects have been developed by researchers. Two new tools built by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) offer a breakthrough in the emerging field of soft robotics – a new generation of robots that use squishy, flexible materials rather than traditional rigid equipment. These types of soft robots often draw inspiration from living organisms and offer numerous benefits in their versatile functionality. They are able to operate far more delicately than their rigid counterparts, but until now they have lacked the ability to perceive what items they are interacting with. To overcome this, the researchers equipped their robots with various sensors, cameras and software, allowing them to "see and classify" a range of objects.


Staring at your phone at night could be linked to depression, study finds

The Independent - Tech

Exposure to artificial light at night has been found to induce depressive-like behaviour in mice, a new study has found. The findings could help with the understanding of how exposure to excessive light at night-time triggers depression in humans. Researchers from the University of Science and Technology in China exposed mice to two hours of blue light – the same light emitted from light pollution or electronic devices like smartphones – for several weeks. They observed that after three weeks the animals displayed depressive tendencies, measured by reduced escape behaviour and decreased preference for sugar. These bouts of depression lasted up for an additional three weeks after the mice were no longer exposed to light at night.


Our universe could have been spinning around, new study that might change our understanding of the cosmos suggests

The Independent - Tech

Galaxies are spinning in different directions, scientists have found – a discovery that could change our undertstanding of the structure of the universe. The spin of those galaxies seem to suggest there are unexpected and unexplained links between the directions of their spin. The structure formed by those unusual links could suggest that the early universe was also spinning, according to the new study. That is in conflict with previous understandings of the structure of the universe at the largest scale. For decades, scientists have believed that the universe is expanding in no particular direction, with the galaxies inside of it distributed with no particular structure.


SpaceX launch - live: Nasa to attempt mission today as rocket liftoff threatened by weather again

The Independent - Tech

SpaceX has sent Nasa astronauts into space in a historic mission. The Falcon 9 rocket carried the astronauts into orbit in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. Minutes after launch, the rocket detached and landed safely on a drone ship while the capsule continued to carry the astronauts on to the International Space Station. The successful launch is the first time that humans have been shot into space from US soil since the Space Shuttle programme ended in 2011. And it is the first time that humans have been sent into space by a private company, a feat only previous achieved by the space agencies of the US, Russia and China.


Google to reopen offices in July after coronavirus lockdowns

The Independent - Tech

Google will start reopening its offices from July, after coronavirus lockdowns sent all of its staff home. But the plans will be very phased at the beginning, with only a small number of staff allowed in on a rotating basis, according to its chief executive. In an email sent to staff, Google boss Sundar Pichai said city-based offices will begin to open to some members of staff from July 6. He said phased reopening will allow Google staff to return on a "limited, rotating basis", for example, one day every two weeks, with offices reaching around 10% occupancy. The technology giant began urging staff to work from home in March as the coronavirus outbreak spread around the world.


Amazon facial recognition falsely matches more than 100 politicians to arrested criminals

The Independent - Tech

Amazon's controversial facial recognition technology has incorrectly matched more than 100 photos of politicians in the UK and US to police mugshots, new tests have revealed. Amazon Rekognition uses artificial intelligence software to identify individuals from their facial structure. Customers include law enforcement and US government agencies like Immigration and Custome Enforcement (ICE). It is not the first time the software's accuracy has been called into question. In July 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found 28 false matches between US Congress members and pictures of people arrested for a crime.


Facebook knew its algorithm made people turn against each other but stopped research

The Independent - Tech

Facebook executives took the decision to end research that would make the social media site less polarising for fears that it would unfairly target right-wing users, according to new reports. The company also knew that its recommendation algorithm exacerbated divisiveness, leaked internal research from 2016 appears to indicate. Building features to combat that would require the company to sacrifice engagement – and by extension, profit – according to a later document from 2018 which described the proposals as "antigrowth" and requiring "a moral stance." "Our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness," a 2018 presentation warned, warning that if action was not taken Facebook would provide users "more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform." According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, in 2017 and 2018 Facebook conducted research through newly created "Integrity Teams" to tackle extremist content and a cross-jurisdictional task force dubbed "Common Ground."


Xbox Series X will be 'most compatible console ever', says Microsoft, as next-gen battle against PS5 continues

The Independent - Tech

The Xbox Series X will be the most compatible console ever, Microsoft has claimed, as its battle with the PlayStation 5 continues. The new Xbox console will be able to play games from the original Xbox and will bring players' progression in these games to the latest generation, Microsoft said in a new update. Those older games should even look better on the new hardware, even if they were made for previous generations, the company has said. The new updates come after Microsoft said that as well as allowing games from the original Xbox to work on the new one, it will also allow all accessories that currently work with the Xbox One to work with the new console too. They are in keeping with the suggestion from Microsoft that the Xbox Series X is more of an iterative update than an entirely new generation, with the name intended to suggest that it is part of a range of Xboxes that include the current generation and any more that come in the future.