Mobile Digest: Facebook and Equifax flubs show what an illusion cyber security has become
Facebook and Equifax are both on defense against hackers and trolls. Also, the iPhone X is here. Andrew Tolve reports.
In the news
Facebook testified before the U.S. Congress that Russian troll farms had purchased roughly $100,000 in political ads in the buildup to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russian hackers also created hundreds of fake accounts on Facebook, complete with fake friends and lives, to help promulgate fake news. The next day credit reporting firm Equifax revealed that it had been hacked on July 29 and that the personal and financial data of nearly half of all Americans had been exposed (check if you’ve been affected here). The back-to-back headlines were yet another reminder of how pernicious cyber attacks have become and how the phone in your pocket or the computer on your desktop is an open invitation for hackers to take your money, manipulate your data and warp your understanding of the truth.
In the money
Facebook and Apple have both earmarked $1 billion respectively to fund original TV and movie content in 2018. The revelation came the same week that Facebook rolled out its new content streaming platform, Watch, to all users in the U.S.. The $1 billion investment tally puts both Apple and Facebook in competition with the heavy hitters of the streaming industry, Netflix, Amazon and HBO.
IBM plans to make a 10-year, $240-million investment in a new lab with MIT to advance artificial intelligence hardware, software and algorithms. The MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab will be located in and around MIT’s campus in Cambridge, Mass., and will seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI, including in areas of cyber security and healthcare.
In other news
The new iPhone will finally debut this Tuesday. Apple is expected to unveil three new iPhones at its launch event at Apple’s new Park Campus in Cupertino, and according to leaks they will be called the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. The last of these will be Apple's most high-end phone ever and will do away with the home button for an edge-to-edge OLED screen and will retail at $999. Apple is also expected to unveil a new Apple Watch that includes LTE cell service, which would allow users to do everything from stream music to take calls without pairing their watches with their iPhones.
Two of the most powerful forces in the streaming world are partnering up. Hulu and Spotify plan to bundle their music and TV/movie services, starting with a premium entertainment package for U.S. college students called “Spotify Premium for Students, now with Hulu.” The single subscription plan will cost $4.99 a month. Offerings targeted at the broader market will follow.
WhatsApp is building a free business app for small businesses and an enterprise solution for larger companies. The latter will be WhatsApp's first foray into monetizing its platform; it says it will target global businesses like airlines, e-commerce sites and banks, which will be able to use the WhatsApp business app to provide customers with notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations and other updates. No word yet on when the apps will go live.
Want to know if you’re ready for an electric vehicle? Now there’s an app for that. The new Mercedes-Benz EQ Ready App is a free smartphone app that tracks how drivers use their existing cars on a day in, day out basis. The app then takes that data and analyzes how it compares with the parameters of electric and hybrid vehicles to let you know if buying an EV makes sense for you.
Google teamed up with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi to launch the latest phone in its Android One suite, which aims to bring low price but high quality phones to the masses in developing countries. The device, the Mi A1, includes dual cameras and a curved glass display. There’s still a home button (how old-fashioned!) but then again, it only costs $234. The phone will launch in India before expanding to 40+ markets around the world.
Finally, Lyft is bringing self-driving cars to San Francisco. Customers will soon be able to opt into the pilot on their phones and have the option to choose a self-driving car for their route. Lyft is partnering with self-driving tech firm Drive.ai on the pilot. A Drive.ai engineer will be behind the wheel for safety at all times.
The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.