The 20 technologies that defined the first 20 years of the 21st Century

The Independent - Tech

The early 2000s were not a good time for technology. After entering the new millennium amid the impotent panic of the Y2K bug, it wasn't long before the Dotcom Bubble was bursting all the hopes of a new internet-based era. Fortunately the recovery was swift and within a few years brand new technologies were emerging that would transform culture, politics and the economy. They have brought with them new ways of connecting, consuming and getting around, while also raising fresh Doomsday concerns. As we enter a new decade of the 21st Century, we've rounded up the best and worst of the technologies that have taken us here, while offering some clue of where we might be going. There was nothing much really new about the iPhone: there had been phones before, there had been computers before, there had been phones combined into computers before. There was also a lot that wasn't good about it: it was slow, its internet connection barely functioned, and it would be two years before it could even take a video.

Pervasive AI for IoT Applications: Resource-efficient Distributed Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has witnessed a substantial breakthrough in a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) applications and services, spanning from recommendation systems to robotics control and military surveillance. This is driven by the easier access to sensory data and the enormous scale of pervasive/ubiquitous devices that generate zettabytes (ZB) of real-time data streams. Designing accurate models using such data streams, to predict future insights and revolutionize the decision-taking process, inaugurates pervasive systems as a worthy paradigm for a better quality-of-life. The confluence of pervasive computing and artificial intelligence, Pervasive AI, expanded the role of ubiquitous IoT systems from mainly data collection to executing distributed computations with a promising alternative to centralized learning, presenting various challenges. In this context, a wise cooperation and resource scheduling should be envisaged among IoT devices (e.g., smartphones, smart vehicles) and infrastructure (e.g. edge nodes, and base stations) to avoid communication and computation overheads and ensure maximum performance. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive survey of the recent techniques developed to overcome these resource challenges in pervasive AI systems. Specifically, we first present an overview of the pervasive computing, its architecture, and its intersection with artificial intelligence. We then review the background, applications and performance metrics of AI, particularly Deep Learning (DL) and online learning, running in a ubiquitous system. Next, we provide a deep literature review of communication-efficient techniques, from both algorithmic and system perspectives, of distributed inference, training and online learning tasks across the combination of IoT devices, edge devices and cloud servers. Finally, we discuss our future vision and research challenges.

The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business


In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.

New charging standard promises full charge in less than 15 minutes

The Independent - Tech

Smartphones could soon be able to fully recharge in under 15 minutes after a new fast-charging standard was introduced. Qualcomm's Quick Charge 5 will also allow phones to charge from 0 to 50 per cent in just five minutes, as well as introduce new safety features to prevent overheating. The "world's fastest commercial charging solution" will be up to four-times faster than current charging technologies, according to Qualcomm, and will find its way into commercial devices before the end of the year. It will be compatible with more than 250 smartphones, though it is not a feature that Apple supports. This means that only Androids, not iPhones, will benefit from the technology.

Apple AirPods update brings host of new features to wireless earbuds

The Independent - Tech

Apple has unveiled a new software update for its AirPods, bringing a host of new features. It includes a "spatial audio" feature, which uses filters and other technology to allow the sound to feel like it is coming from around the person despite using only two headphones, Apple said. The feature uses motion sensors in the earphones and the device to keep the sound static even when a person's head or iPad is moving around, Apple said. That feature will only be available on the newer AirPods Pro, Apple said. The new software also includes "automatic switching", which means that the AirPods will connect to whichever device is being used, rather than their owners having to manually change between their iPhone and iPad, for instance.

iOS 14: Apple unveils major new update for iPhone software

The Independent - Tech

Apple has unveiled iOS 14, its new operating system for the iPhone. The update includes a number of major changes to the way the operating system works, as well as new features and updates for apps within the operating system such as Messages. Instead of seeing their apps spread across a variety of screens, they will instead see an "App Library", which is intended to stop people having to search through their various pages. It also includes new widgets, which are dramatically more rich and adaptable than they currently are on the iPhone. As well as showing more information and options, those widgets can be dropped onto the home screen, alongside the list of apps.

Samsung unveils special edition BTS Galaxy S20 Plus smartphone

The Independent - Tech

Samsung has created a special edition Galaxy S20 smartphone for K-pop fans, the Galaxy S20 Plus BTS Edition. BTS, who are also known as the Bandtan Boys, are a seven-member South Korean boy band which has become the best-selling artist in South Korean history. The band is also the fastest group since the Beatles to earn four number one albums in the US in under two years. The new aesthetic for the smartphone features a "Haze Purple" colour scheme, with the BTS logo on the back and the band's heart iconography on the camera. It will also come with custom Android theme with a live wallpaper and an "inspiring" lock screen, according to Samsung.

Android users should uninstall these 36 fraudulent beauty apps, researchers warn

The Independent - Tech

Google has removed 36 applications from the Play Store after they were found to be responsible for unwanted adverts and taking users to malicious websites. The apps would also remove their icon from the smartphone's home screen and apps folder, making it harder for the user to uninstall it. Researchers from WhiteOps found fraudulent code in a number of beauty camera applications, with names such as "Yoroko Camera," "Beauty Collage Lite," and "Rose Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera". Many of these apps can be identified by a large number of installations in a short space of time, and a large amount of 5-star and 1-star ratings, resulting in a "U-shaped distribution." Altogether, these apps were downloaded more than 20 million times, 565,833 per app on average.

Most money made through the App Store does not go through Apple, company says amid questions over the 'digital marketplace'

The Independent - Tech

Apple says that most of the money being "facilitated" by its App Store does not go through the company, as it unveiled new research into the scale of the digital economy. The App Store helped facilitate some $519 billion in billings and sales last year, new analysis showed. Most of that money did not go through App Store purchases or in-app payments, it said, but rather simply relied on software for Apple's platforms to make goods and services available. In its announcements about the App Store in the past, Apple has focused primarily on the amount of money it has paid to developers directly, through sales of apps and in-app purchases on its platforms. But the new report attempts to highlight the broader impact on the economy that its digital store has, by giving an account of how many sales are "facilitated" through those apps more broadly.

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.