Top Tech New Stories You Missed Last Week

Happy Cyber Monday to you all, undoubtedly the most sanctified and unanimously-loved day of them all. It was one of the busiest week of digital news, but there’s plenty a discerning reader like you needs to keep abreast of.

Apple decided to do Black Friday

Last year it didn’t, this year it did. The mysterious Black Friday landing page carried no clues as to what might be on offer, except of course that big picture of an Apple Watch.

Google Maps tells you if a store is busy

Google Maps is providing real-time information about how busy a store is. ‘Popular Times’ was added to Search and Maps in 2015, but is now bolstered by this real-time data. The service aggregates anonymized data coming from Android phones that have opted to share location data. So, now you can know before you go.

Amazon Prime might air sports

Amazon is reportedly in talks with the NBA and NFL, potentially to air sports as part of its $99 Prime subscription. Such a move would obviously signal more danger for traditional cable networks.

Facebook’s may create a censorship tool for Chinese market

The New York Times reports that Facebook is building a censorship tool, which will allow a third-party to suppress certain posts in the News Feed. The effort is part of Facebook’s attempts to crack China, and has raised eyebrows in the US, given the networks failure to stamp down on fake news. Of course, as many in the press point out, it’s a lot easier to build a censorship tool than it is to build a lie-detector algorithm.

Amazon cracks down on ‘incentivized’ reviews

From early October this year, Amazon has made good progress cracking down on ‘incentivized’, less trustworthy reviews (for which reviewers receive free or discounted items). Analysis by ReviewMeta of 65m reviews for 32,000 products has shown these reviews, which have an average rating 0.38 higher than genuine reviews, are being removed. When Amazon announced the ban on these reviews earlier this year, it suggested retroactive action would only be taken in exceptional cases, but this new data shows older reviews are being impacted. Average rating for all reviews has fallen since the crackdown.

IBM launches Watson IoT Consulting Solution

IBM Watson (the company’s artificial intelligence infrastructure) continues to expand its impressive applications, launching a global consulting practice for the Internet of things (IoT). This will allow customers such as Ricoh to integrate Watson into IoT services.

A press release stated: ‘The practice will feature 1,500 experts across IBM Watson IoT headquarters…By integrating IBM Watson IoT Platform APIs and technologies, including cognitive, analytics, mobile, security and cloud capabilities, together with development and implementation consulting and ongoing support, clients can fully use the IoT without the risk and complexity of dealing with multiple vendors.’ 

Facebook follows Google & Apple, commits to bigger London HQ

Facebook has committed to employing a further 500 people at its London headquarters in Rathbone Square, increasing the workforce there by 50%. The news comes after Google has committed to a new building at Kings Cross, and Apple is in the process of creating a Battersea headquarters. Nicola Mendelson, Facebook’s European boss, said: “The UK remains one of the best places to be a tech company.”

Ctrip.com buys Skyscanner

Ctrip.com, China’s biggest online travel company, has agreed a deal to buy Skyscanner for $1.4bn. The acquisition of the Scottish-based company, which was founded by three Manchester University graduates, comes after it was valued at more than £1bn after a round of funding in January 2016. The Guardian commented that the news comes just days after ‘the chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised to stem the flow of British firms being sold to foreign investors before reaching their full potential’.

So, there you have it! Enjoy the rest of your week.

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