13 things you need to know in tech today

Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Friday, August 2, 2019!


1. Siri and Google Assistant: not listening anymore

Reports on Monday revealed that Apple employs human contractors to help improve its digital voice assistant Siri.

As Scott passed on:

  • A whistleblower divulged details to The Guardian on what this work entails, stating that contractors are required to listen to user queries to grade Siri based on how it responds.
  • Buuut Apple products sometimes record voice data even when the “Hey, Siri” hot word isn’t used, through accidental occurrences.
  • This led to private conversations – although anonymized – revealing confidential and intimate conversations to people Apple are paying per hour to listen to.

Ultimately, it was a black eye for Apple given its privacy stance. And in response, Apple has acted.

  • TechCrunch first reported that Apple has suspended the Siri program where people listened to your questions, following Monday’s privacy outrage.
  • In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said that while it conducts a “thorough” review, it’s suspending the program globally.
  • “We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy,” Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch. “While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally. Additionally, as part of a future software update, users will have the ability to choose to participate in grading.”
  • I read this and understand that Apple will bring the program, but Apple users will be able to opt-in or opt-out of ‘grading’.
  • All of this shortly after Google agreed to prohibit humans from listening to stored voice recordings in the EU, as a German investigation begins (Android Police).
  • Humans have to listen to people using the service to get better, but doing it without it being obvious, clear, or an opt-in, was always going to be a problem, especially if you trade on privacy (9to5Mac).

2. Next week’s Samsung Galaxy Note 10 won’t have a headphone jack, judging by all leaks, images, and reports, which is still a divisive choice. Now the dongle Samsung will include in the box with the Note 10 has leaked. Samsung has long been one of the few makers sticking with the 3.5mm port.


3. Here are two views on the matter: “Dongle me this: Why I’m not mad that headphone jacks are going away” (Android Authority). And, the counter-argument, which I still find myself agreeing with: “I still miss my headphone jack, and I want it back” (FastCompany).


4. A real surprise: Ninja announces he is leaving Twitch to stream exclusively on Mixer (The Verge). Mixer is Microsoft’s mostly game streaming service. The as-yet-unknown money changing hands here is fascinating. Within 40 minutes of the news, Mixer was the top trending topic on Twitter in the U.S, per Axios.


5. If newly announced tariffs on China do come into force on September 1, per the Trump administration, the U.S. phone market is about to get even more expensive (Android Authority).


6. Razer announces the Viper: A lightning fast mouse with optical switches for more/faster headshots (Android Authority).


7. New Android feature: With a tap on your phone, get help in an emergency (Android Authority).


8. Netflix explains why it snuck a physical activity tracker onto some phones (The Verge).


9. Ars reviews three cell signal boosters—and they actually work (Ars Technica).


10.Intel’s new 10-nanometer chips have finally arrived, which will give late-2019 laptops and notebooks much more battery life (Wired). Just in time for the holidays!


11. Elon Musk’s Las Vegas tunnel kind of sucks? (Jalopnik).


12. Ordinary Americans are using armies of phones to generate cash to buy food, diapers, and beer through ad fraud (VICE).


13. Ugly Gerry – a font made up of gerrymandered U.S. districts (uglygerry.com).


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