The Tech Roundup: Week of May 14, 2017
MANILA, Philippines – This week, the biggest news in tech was the WannaCry ransomware attack, which "kidnapped" computers the world over – hundreds of thousands of them – for a ransom fee of a few hundred dollars.
WannaCry temporarily put a halt to normal operations to several industries, the most worrying of which is the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The NHS's computers were held hostage by the virus, dangerously slowing down their operations and jeopardizing the lives of patients. No one was reported to have died as a direct cause of the ransomware, but you can see the scary effect it has on healthcare services. (Read: What we've learned from WannaCry ransomware attacks)
Google had its I/O developer conference this week too where they said that the company's direction shifts from being "mobile-first" to "AI-first." Their first big move: bringing Google Assistant to Apple devices.
In the Philippines, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas advised would-be ransomware victims to not pay the attackers, saying that would only incentivize their efforts, encouraging them to pull off more attacks. In light of the cyber threats, broadband service provider Converge ICT brought some good news, announcing their 25Mbps/P1500 a month home broadband plan. Considering to switch?
Before you do though, make sure to check out the other tech stories – small ones, big ones, medium-sized ones – in this week's edition of the Tech Roundup.
The popular audio file format reaches the end of days. The owner for certain MP3-related patents, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, announced on Monday, May 15, US time, that they've terminated its licensing program for the patents. That means no one will be able to develop MP3-based products at this point, meaning that the format is dead.
But to be clear, you'll still be able to play MP3 files with available devices or programs now. When the institute terminated its licensing program, MP3 files the world over didn't drop dead like cyborgs getting the killswitch.
MP3 died because, according to the institute, more advanced codecs are now available.
Don't use cellphones while driving
Formally known as the "Anti-Distracted Driving Act," the law took effect May 18. It bans drivers from using mobile device to write, send or read text-based messages and from making or receving calls. Also prohibited: playing games, watching movies, surfing the internet, composing messages, reading e-books, and performing calculations.
The prohibitions apply whether a car is stopped or not. Read more here.
Instagram now has augmented reality filters
Instagram copies another Snapchat feature: filters. The photo-sharing social network launched theirs (called "Face Filters") on Tuesday, May 16, US time. For users of Snapchat, the filters work pretty much the same way: one points the camera at a face, and chooses a filter to use, ranging from koala ears, bunny ears to leafy crowns.
The filters are the last major Snapchat feature Instagram took for themselves, adding to a list that includes vanishing posts and messages, and virtual stickers.
"This is the way the tech industry works," says Instagram's VP of product, Kevin Weil in an interview with TechCrunch.
Google announces Android for low-cost phones, Android Go
At its developer conference, Google announced that they are crafting a lighter version of Android called Android Go.
Go is designed to work even on devices with less than 1GB of RAM, devices that are definitely in entry-level territory. It's also being optimized for developing countries where internet bandwidth is slow or expensive. Apps for Go will be optimized to use less RAM, less storage, and mobile data, said Google.
Go is expected to be implemented by manufacturers on their devices in 2018.
Here's the Android presentation at Google I/O:
360-degree YouTube videos to be available on TV
Google also announced that YouTube's 360-degree videos will be coming to TVs soon. Currently, the said videos are only available on smartphones and web browsers.
Google said the videos will be coming in the next few months to Android TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and 2017 4K TVs from LG and Samsung. A remote or a game controller will be used to rotate the view as opposed to swiping it on a phone or clicking and holding on a computer.
Neon Genesis Evangelion will have a VR game
After Dragon Ball, it's Neon Genesis Evangelion that's hopping aboard the VR bandwagon with a VR arcade game coming in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
The game, according to Japanese games magazine Famitsu, will reportedly allow you to control one of the titular giant mechs: Eva-00, Eva-01, and Eva-02. The game will reportedly be called "Evangelion VR: The Throne of Souls."
A video has surfaced on YouTube showing footage from the game:
The VR treatment feels like a great match for the source material as players get to essentially become a pilot for the giant bio-mechanical robots.
Seen something we may have missed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you again on Friday for another edition of the Tech Roundup! – Rappler.com