Smartphones Are Killing Off Our Imaginary Friends & Your Doorbell Is The New CCTV Camera On The Block – Digital News Roundup – 30.08.19
The final roundup of the summer! This time it’s all about yet another EU investigation for Google, Amazon’s Ring recruitment tactics, Insta Story ads, the downsides of screen time for kids, and yet more talk about Brexit. Apologies.
Your imaginary friends are dead now, and it’s all techs fault… 💀
Google faces another EU investigation – this time over job-search tool
The EU is investigating Google’s job-search tool, following claims that it is “driving competitors out of the market”.
Currently, Google places a widget at the top of searches, meaning that users don’t need to click through to job sites to see information. While Google does not charge a fee for this, industry competitors are concerned that it’s a ploy to gain market share – with monetisation coming in the near future.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has previously taken a tough stance against the search giant, questioned whether it was fair that Google had such control over “the success or failure” of its rivals. In the past, she’s issued fines totalling 8.47bn euros ($9.40bn; £7.64bn) in similar antitrust cases – so if the investigation doesn’t go Google’s way, it could be unpleasant.
Google claimed that the changes came following feedback in Europe specifically, and that the widget offers direct links to third party sites. Following being stung with a record breaking 4.34bn euro antitrust recently, Google is no doubt hoping to avoid more controversy. Read more at BBC News.
Amazon’s Ring network recruitment ploys revealed
Up to 250 police departments have joined Amazon’s Ring Neighbors program, and a Freedom of Information Act request has shown just how staff are convincing police departments to sign up.
The documents explain how Ring’s staff convinced a local police department in California to join Neighbors, an app released in 2018. In instances when police didn’t respond to the enquiries, Ring’s staff would continue to follow up – noting neighboring law enforcement agencies that have joined, and pushing for the police department in question to join them.
The tactics offer a window into how Amazon-owned Ring, a company bought by the retail giant last year for $839 million, has gone about achieving partnerships with these 250 police departments across America.
Police are supposedly using the tool as a way of obtaining video during investigations, and creating surveillance networks in residential neighborhoods. But privacy advocates are concerned about the way that Amazon is, effectively, helping the police to create surveillance networks in their local areas. Check out the full story over at CNet.
Nursery workers concerned that excessive screen time is killing children’s imaginations
A survey of nursery workers in the UK has highlighted concerns that excessive screen time is linked to a negative impact on children’s imaginations.
While some experts argue that technology supports a child’s development, too much screen time could in fact be resulting in a lack of imagination. Almost two-thirds of the 1,000 people surveyed felt that “screens are making children less creative” – with only 48% saying children at their nursery have an imaginary friend.
“Quite often these days, children expect to be entertained in some way, so that they’re receiving content either from a tablet or a TV, and I think that diminishes their ability to then use their own imagination,” explained David Wright, a nursery owner from Southampton.
Another recent study in Canada found connections between screen time and behavioural and attention problems in children, so this is the latest in a string of concerns around increased technology dependence among younger members of society. Read more at The Independent.
Instagram confirms that increased ad loads are being tested within Stories
Instagram has this week confirmed that it is “experimenting” with increasing ad volume in Stories, in a test which involves running ads from two different advertisers back-to-back within a Story.
The experiment, which is only being run on a limited group of users, comes following a report last month, which showed that marketers were noticing a “noticeable uptick in ad load on Instagram” – with ads accounting for 23% of Stories.
The test should come as a prompt for marketers who aren’t currently utilising Story adverts on Instagram, and perhaps a signal that becoming more familiar with Insta advertising is a worthy investment. An increase in the volume of ads shown could mean we see more ad fatigue on the platform as a whole, meaning creativity will become more important than ever. Take a look at the full report at Marketing Land.
Government Brexit residency app not available for iPhone users
Hearing the word Brexit is enough to make you run for cover with your hands over your ears at this point, but it seems that a new app designed to offer help is also causing controversy during the never-ending Brexit drama.
A government app, designed to help European Union nationals residing in Britain apply to stay in the country, has been found to only be available for Android users, and not iPhones, according to The Financial Times.
The app allows EU nationals to apply for “settled status” through the EU Settlement Scheme; a process which requires documents to be scanned as proof of identity. The instructions point users towards the app for Android – but if you don’t have an Android, it suggests you “use someone else’s Android phone, visit one of the organisation offices in person (where you might have to pay a fee) or send your documents by post.”
With the potential for a no deal Brexit coming up at the end of October, it’s unlikely the app will be available for Apple before the deadline, which leaves iPhone users in a frustrating position regarding their applications. Read more on the story at CNet.
BBC launching voice assistant trained with British accents in mind
The BBC has announced that it’s developing its own digital voice assistant, designed to offer an alternative Alexa and Google Assistant.
The voice assistant, which will use the wake word “Beeb”, is expected to launch in 2020. The team behind the tech are currently working on ensuring that regional accents can be understood, using recordings collected from BBC teams around the country.
Beeb will let users interact with BBC programs and online services, and will be built into the BBC’s website and iPlayer app. It will also work on devices like smart speakers and smartphones.
“We want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programmes and services – in a trusted, easy-to-use way.” said a BBC spokesperson. The TV broadcaster has also said its assistant will embody its “trust and quality” values, and be “free of commercial interests”. Read more at CNet.
How is it almost September? We’ll see you back here next week for the first Digital News Roundup of the new school year, or you can check out some of our latest blogs in the meantime. You’re never too old to learn a thing or two!
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