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Artificially intelligent humanoid robot 'Erica' nabs lead role in $70 million Hollywood sci-fi movie

Daily Mail - Science & tech

An artificially intelligent humanoid robot has nabbed the leading role in a $70 million (£56.4 million) upcoming Hollywood sci-fi movie, titled'b'. Erica, the eerily human-like android actress, will play the role of a genetically-modified superhuman who goes on the run with the scientists who created her. The electric leading lady is understood to have shot her first scenes for the movie in Japan last year -- with the rest of the film scheduled to be shot next year. An artificially intelligent humanoid robot has nabbed the leading role in a $70 million (£56.4 million) upcoming Hollywood sci-fi movie, titled ' b '. Erica -- who made her public debut back in 2015 -- is the brainchild of roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro of Japan's Osaka University, who calls his creation the world's'most beautiful and human-like android.'


Apple: EU opens major investigation into App Store and Apple Pay

The Independent - Tech

The EU has opened a major investigation into Apple over concerns that it uses its platforms unfairly. The EU commission will pursue antitrust investigations against the company over its App Store and Apple Pay products, which critics argue have stifled competition. The Commission said it was investigating Apple Pay over allegations the tech giant wields its control over the Pay platform to force developers into using it over others. It said a preliminary investigation had raised concerns that "Apple's terms, conditions, and other measures related to the integration of Apple Pay" may "distort competition and reduce choice and innovation". In addition, the EU Commission announced it had opened a second investigation into concerns that the firm's App Store restricts developers from informing iPhone and iPad users of alternative purchasing possibilities, instead pushing "mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system".


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.


Michael Seibel: Reddit names first black board member after Alexis Ohanian quits

The Independent - Tech

Reddit has announced its replacement for Alexis Ohanian, who stepped down from the company's board of directors last week. Ohanian said he wanted his position filled by a black candidate. That person is Michael Seibel, the CEO of startup accelerator Y Combinator. Seibel was also the founder of Justin.tv, He was Y Combinator's first black partner before he became CEO, and has supported donating to causes that promote the Black Lives Matter movement.


Lockdown: Ofcom says internet speeds functioning as normal despite major Virgin Media and other broadband outages

The Independent - Tech

Internet speeds are still running largely as normal despite the increased pressure of lockdown, according to research from regulator Ofcom. Download speeds have only dropped by an average of 2 per cent, according to the research, even with the extra load. That is despite some high-profile outages, including Virgin Media problems that took the internet offline for users across the country. Networks have been under increased strain with more people across the country working from home, children using online platforms to carry on school work, and greater gaming and streaming as a source of entertainment. The communications regulator measured broadband performance for 3,481 users at the beginning and end of March, to compare results before and after lockdown started.


Peloton adds new 'groups' feature as people work out together from home

The Independent - Tech

Peloton has added a new groups feature to allow people to exercise together despite being in lockdown. The company – which makes internet-enabled spinning bikes and treadmills, as well as running an app of online exercise classes – has seen a huge surge in users in recent months as people have looked for a way to work out at home. Now it has added a new groups feature, officially called "tags", allowing people to track their exercise alongside other people in communities they have formed off the bike. With the new feature, users are able to add hashtags to their profile, which designate certain groups: a certain set of people all from the same workplace, for instance, or one of the many "tribes" of users that have formed on other platforms such as Facebook and Reddit. If a user has a given hashtag in their profile, they will be able to see what classes other members have taken and when they are working out.


Houseparty hack rumours are part of paid 'smear campaign', say developers behind app

The Independent - Tech

Social video app Houseparty has rejected online rumours that downloading the application causes users' social media and other online accounts to be hacked. The app's creators instead claim that it is the victim of a "commercial smear campaign" designed to dent its surging popularity, offering a $1 million bounty to anyone who can provide proof. Houseparty has seen significant user growth over the last few weeks, as billions of people are forced to stay at home due to coronavirus containment measures. The number of app downloads rose from around 130,000 per week in February, to 2 million per week in March, according to analytics firm Apptopia. On Monday, various publications reported on a series of online posts claiming that installing Houseparty caused other apps like eBay, Instagram and Netflix to be hacked on people's devices.


Quibi: New billion-dollar streaming service launches with 175 shows featuring world's most famous celebrities – but leaves some early users confused

The Independent - Tech

Quibi, a new streaming service featuring many of the world's biggest celebrities, has finally launched – and prompted confusion among those who are the first to use it. The company has launched in the hope of being a version of streaming services like Netflix but with a focus on mobile phones. The hype before it launched has included ads during the Super Bowl and shows starring celebrities from Reece Witherspoon to Liam Hemsworth. The launch came with 175 new shows, ranging from scripted drama to real-life celebrity stories, all of which are short and made to be watched with the phone pointed up vertically rather than the usual landscape view. It has raised $1.75 billion to fund the shows and the app itself on the strength of that idea.


Sonos Radio update brings new free live stations to smart speakers, with guest presenters including Thom Yorke and David Byrne

The Independent - Tech

Sonos has launched a new radio service, allowing people to stream music for free. It is the first time that Sonos has offered a music service of its own on its smart speakers, which until now have played music from other streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. The new radio service sits alongside those streaming platforms, which will continue to work in the same way as before. It is available now through a software update that can be installed using the Sonos app. It integrates traditional radio programming on news, music and sport from other radio stations, taken from partners such as TuneIn.


Netflix subscribers more than double – but that could stop when lockdown is lifted, company warns

The Independent - Tech

Netflix more than doubled estimates for how many people would join the service – but that could stop when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, it warned. The company saw huge growth as people were forced to stay at home and watch popular series such as Tiger King, which has become one of its most popular shows ever. But it could have a more difficult second half of the year if lockdowns begin to lift and people go back out into the world and stop watching so much TV, Netflix said. The world's largest streaming service gained 15.8 million paying customers from January through March, bringing its global total to 182.9 million. Netflix had predicted it would add 7 million during the period.