Moxie: the Emotionally Intelligent Robot Friend For Children

Although released in 2020 Moxie, the blue body, cartoon eye Moxie robot who wants to befriend your child might be one of the hot, high end toys of Christmas 2021. It currently retails at the manufacturer’s website for wallet-busting $799.

The companion robot was designed to support social, cognitive and emotional development in kids between five and ten. It does this via play based learning or lessons on things like turn-taking and eye contact. The company Emobided launched Moxie in 2020 at a much higher price point of $1,500, currently their website lists the regular price as $999 but currently reduced to $799. They are based in Pasadena, California.

Embodied has stated that their goal is to create robots that will benefit society. They say Moxie builds a relationship with children by teaching them how to label and navigate their emotions.

Moxie is equipped with microphones, sensors and cameras and has the benefit of expert technologist, and expert story tellers from Disney and the Jim Henson Company.

Time, in 2020, listed it as a one of the top inventions of the year.

According to the company, Moxie tries to rethink what human and machine interaction could be and they are rethinking these interactions by making Moxie socially and emotionally intelligent.

They believe inventions like Moxie could increase the emotional intelligence of soft skills that will make the next generation of children more balanced people as members of society.

 

 

 

 

Very Human Robot Writes Poetry and Creates Art

Artificial intelligence has been a part of science fiction for years and has often been portrayed as anywhere from troubling to outright evil.

AI is not commonly associated with things like art and poetry, but that is the purpose of the very realistic human-like robot, Ai-Da, invented by Aidan Meller in Oxford, England. She spends her time creating poetry and visual art. She is the worlds first robot of her kind and publicly performed some of her poetry that she wrote using her AI. The poetry was in celebration of famous Italian poet Dante.

Ai-Da performed her poetry recital at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University as part of an exhibition marking Dante’s 700th death anniversary.

Ai-Da’s poem was a response to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Ai-Da’s AI analyzed Dante’s writing patterns and vocabulary but also her own databank of words—between the two her AI created the final product.

Ai-Da’s creator, Meller, stated that her ability to imitate human writing is so incredible it is hard to know it wasn’t written by a human.

Ai-Da doesn’t only write poetry, she also is very capable of creating works of art. She made one of the Dante exhibition. It was inspired by her own experience in Egypt when security forces detained Ai-Da and Meller over security concerns over the cameras in her eyes, which they wanted to remove. The piece is titled “Eyes Wide Shut.”

Little Tikes Released “Pellican” Stationary Bike for Kids, Childhood Development Experts Not Impressed

The new indoor cycling craze (a la’ Peloton bikes) has now become available for young children; however, child development experts aren’t excited about it.

Well known toymaker Little Tikes attempted to mimic Peloton’s recent stationary bike success by building versions for children to enjoy alongside their parents, according to a statement by the toymaker.

Little Tikes’ Pelican stationary bike for kids 3-7 was released this summer. Like Pelotons it has a screen attached for watching videos. Pelotons come standard with a screen that displays exercise classes, intended to add a touch of socialization to home exercise. Pelotons cost $1,495 and then there is a monthly fee of $39 to view video classes.

Little Tikes stated they saw a way for kids to have fun with their parents and want to inspire an active and imagination filled lifestyle among kids.

Similar products have been tried before. Fisher-Price released a stationary bike for kids in 2017. It was available on Amazon, originally costing $150, it was later lowered to a $100 price tag and eventually discontinued. Neither company commented on why.

But child development experts aren’t having it. They say a stationary bicycle, especially one with a screen attached, is a step backward for what a bicycle can mean to child development. Kids riding a stationary bike lose the learning experiences that come from roaming their neighborhood on foot or on bike.

Basically, childhood development experts say that a stationary bike for kids cannot replace the social experiences they will have exploring their neighborhood with friends on a real bike. They claim kids need to interact in the real world to learn how to socialize and work out problems in real life.

 

 

 

 

Popular Personal Care Brand, Lush, To Go Dark on Social Media This Black Friday

In a somewhat surprising move trendy personal care brand Lush Cosmetics is quitting TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to draw attention to how these social media platforms can be damaging to people’s mental health, especially young people.

The accounts will be deactivated on Black Friday (6 Nov. 2021) when other retail brands will weaponize their marketing to win those holiday dollars from shoppers.

Lush, which has more than 900 locations worldwide and 240 in the United States and Canada stated that their social media channels will go dark until the platforms are make changes to protect users.

Lush is well known already as both supporting social causes like Black Lives Matter and environmental causes like sustainability and deforestation while initially gaining popularity among Millennials and Gen-Z for being a cruelty free and organic personal care company.

They will be giving up access to 659,000 Instagram followers, 275,000 Twitter followers and over 1 million Facebook followers.

Yet, this isn’t he first time they’ve tried quitting social media. In 2019 went dark on their UK accounts saying they no longer wished to fight social media algorithms and would rather speak directly to their customers.

Of course this new and worldwide black out of most of their social media accounts comes at a time when all social media has come under fire for contributing to both physical and mental health issues.

The company hopes their efforts will convince these platforms to enact better practices. Lush will continue to use its Twitter and YouTube account.

 

 

New Tech Extends Range of Deep Sea Exploration Robots

For much of human history we have explored and lived in some of the most extreme environments on the planet—mountains, jungles, deserts. However, the largest environment on Earth composing 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean largely remains a mystery to us.

Only about 20% of the ocean bed has been mapped.

A fuller picture of the ocean would bring many benefits including safer navigating ships, creating more accurate climate models, laying new telecommunication cables, the building of offshore windfarms and of course protecting marine species.

Many refer to this as the “blue economy” and it could be worth an astonishing $3 trillion by 2030.

While underwater robotic vehicles equipped with various equipment have been in service for quite a while and have increased the amount of data we collect and at a lower cost, many of these robots rely on batteries and have to return to the shore or a boat to recharge making it impossible for them to ever map the most remote parts of the ocean.

Yi Chao’s Seatrec startup is working on solving this challenge by channeling the natural temperature differences in ocean waters.

The technology can be attached to existing robots or Seatrec’s own ocean explorers. The device is a float that moves between warm and cold parts of the ocean. The materials inside the module the either solidifies or melts. This causes pressure that turns to thermal energy that power’s the robot’s generator.

 

Google Creates New System to Help Parents and Minors Remove Pictures of Children

Google has put in place a system to help parents and minors to have photos of the minors deleted from public search results.

In a blog post the company said the tool will let parents and children under 18 to request photos be removed from an “image search” result list and from search thumbnails.

Google had previously offered people a method for requesting the removal of any image or information that were considered: financial, non-consensual explicit, national or medical ID. It is now simply extending that system to images of minors.

The company stated in the blog post that they understand that children face unique challenges navigating the online world when a picture of them becomes available on the internet. The company said they wanted to give young people more control their digital footprint.

Users will be able to flag URLs that lead to pictures they want removed. A team of human reviewers will go over each submission and contact the user they need additional information. The company did state very specifically they won’t remove an image from the internet entirely. The administrator of the website hosting the photo will have to be contacted to have the image removed entirely. The system only stops users from finding the photos directly through Google.

 

 

 

Facebook Changes Corporate Name and Logo

Facebook is changing its company name to “Meta” as it shifts its sights to focus on the so-called “metaverse.” This also comes on the heels of yet more intense scrutiny of the real-world harms that come from its various platforms after a whistleblower released hundreds of damaging internal documents.

Facebook, the app, is basically being “demoted” by the change, and will sit equally among the company’s other apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. This rebranding is clearly in response to a number of public relations explosions on its platforms such as revelations about the negative effects of the products have on some users’ (especially children), the spreading of misinformation on its platforms and the failure to moderate inappropriate content.

The press release from Facebook/Meta stated they will begin trading under the stock ticker MVRS on December 1.

The company has also iniated a logo change and already replaced their corporate sign. Outside their California headquarters their once ubiquitous thumbs-up sign as been replaced with a blue infinity symbol.

The company announced no executive changes. Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook page now lists his job as “Founder and CEO at Meta.”

The Verge asked Zuckerberg thought he’d still be the CEO at Facebook/Meta in the next five years. He replied “Probably. I don’t have a specific date how long I want to be doing this for. I guess what I could say is I’m very excited about the next chapter of what we’re doing.”

 

 

 

 

Man Charged in MLB Streaming Service Hacking Incident

According to the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, a Minnesota man has been charged with hacking Major League Baseball’s computer systems and trying to extort $150,000 from them.

According to court documents, 30 year old Joshua Streit sent emails to an MLB executive threatening to publicize the vulnerability he discovered and used to access the website the MLB uses from streaming live games before asking for the $150,000.

Allegedly Streit renewed his extortion attempt in September, when the MLB was under increased stress building up to upcoming playoff season.

Many news outlets contacted a Twitter accounted listed in the criminal complaint as being Streit’s, but the account has not yet responded to any requests for comments. James Beckcer, the attorney listed as Streit’s in court documents as also not responded to requests for comments.

The charges listed against Streit, aka Josh Brody, include illegally hacking a computer to commit fraud, wire fraud and sending threats over state lines with the intent to extort. Streit/Brody could face anywhere from 2-20 years in prison for each charge.

 

 

Instagram Puts Brakes on Instagram for Kids

Facebook’s Instagram social media platform is pausing development of a new version of Instagram for children under 13 amidst pressure from lawmakers as they had questions about the impact such photo sharing platforms have on teen girls.

Instagram stated that they stand by the development of the app but will pause development. Their reasoning being it will give them a chance to work with parents, policymakers, and experts to listen to their concerns and to demonstrate the importance of developing the app.

This decision comes on the heels of a US Senate hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram and Mental Health Harms.” This hearing was inspired by a investigation by the Wall Street Journal investigation that delved into what Facebook knows about how Instagram affects teen users and their mental health.

Instagram acknowledged the investigation by the WSJ and admitted that people sometimes have “negative experiences,” but that the app also gives a voice to marginalized people and helps friends and family stay connected.

Instagram says they are working on some tools to address mental health issues. One includes a “Take a Break” feature that allows users to temporarily leave the platform and other users won’t be able to message them or comment on their posts. They also claimed they were working on parental controls for teens users over 13.

 

 

TikTok Reports 1 Billion Active Monthly Users

TikTok, a short video based social media platform, has reached the tech world milestone of one billion monthly active users—what is, perhaps, more impressive is they are a rare platform to achieve the one billion user status that is not owned by Google or Facebook.

This growth came from both social media consumers spending more time online during the pandemic and more consumers becoming creators looking to make a living from content creation over social media.

The growth happened despite many hurdles. Among those was former president Donald Trump’s failed attempt to ban the Chinese-owned app in the U.S. Others include the app being banned in India and facing enquiry from European regulators over children’s safety as well as their data protection practices.

Furthermore, the TikTok has flourished despite competitors releasing rival products like Snapchat’s Spotlight, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

Sensor Tower, app store intelligence firm, noted that TikTok’s active user base was up 25% this August over its numbers from August 2020.

 

 

iOS 14.8: Critical Security Update

iOS users take note: while updates are often not critical, the newest update to iOS 14.8 is one of those critical updates.

Independent experts believe that all iPhone users are facing a software issue that was employed to spy on Saudi activists.

Apple recently released an “urgent” update to fix the issue. Apple Head of Security Engineering stated the vulnerability can be exploited to target specific individuals, however, is “not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.”

While typically for a phone to be attacked the user has to click on a corrupt link, this is not the case with this latest security workaround. The vulnerability can affect anyone who uses iMessage, according to Apple.

iPhone users can immediately update their phones to iOS 14.8 to be protected against potential, personal attacks. Users need only go into settings, click on “General” and check for a “Software Update.”

Recent months have seen an uptick in “zero click attacks. It is believe this has been enabled by spyware from Israeli firm NSO group who claims they only sell their services to government agencies to assist in combating crime and terrorism.

NOS Group didn’t address any allegations and stated only that it would continue to do business with government intelligence and law enforcement.

Despite this, researchers have demonstrated that the spyware was used in multiple cases on the phones of so-called dissidents and even journalists.

Product Announcements from Apple’s Virtual Event Part 2

At their virtual event iPhone also revealed the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini (6.1 inches and 5.4 inches).

Both of these phones will include the A15 Bionic chip, just like the Pro line. They both are equipped with a diagonally arranged dual camera system. They also will have extended battery life. The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini will have a 2.5 hour and 1.5 longer battery life than their version 12 predecessors.

Other updates to the new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will include a new 5G chip, a more efficient display, a tool called Cinematic Mode which is basically Portrait mode but for video.

The iPhone 13 mini base price will be $699 with 128GB of storage, which is more than the mini has ever included in a base model. The iPhone 13 base price will be $799 with 128GB of storage. The phones will come in five new colors red, pink, blue, black and white.

Apple also showed off their updates to the iPad and iPad mini. The 10.2 inch iPad includes a new, powerful A13 chip that increases performance speed by 20% over the previous iPad. Apple claims the iPad will now be 3 times faster than a Chromebook.

The new iPad will also include a 12 mega pixel camera that employs Center Stage, AI that adjusts the front-facing camera for FaceTime calls. There will also be more accessory support to aid in use with the first-gen Apple Pencil. A color temperature feature, True Tone, which adjusts the screen color temperature will also be included in the new iPad.

The iPad mini (8.3 inches) will include smaller bezels and the corners will be more rounded. New, functional features will included updated front and back cameras, a Liquid retina display, USB-C support, new speaker system, magnetic support for Apple Pencil and new colors will include those like pink and purple.

The standard sized iPad will cost $329 with 64 gigs of storage, which is double what the base model usually includes. The new iPad Mini will begin at $499.

Finally, the Apple Watch Series 7. It’ll slimmer and include a wider screen than the previous model. The Series 7 will include a wider screen that will display 50% ore text and a full keyboard for typing or swiping messages. The Series 7 will begin at $399.

 

 

 

 

Product Announcements from Apple’s Virtual Event Part 1

Broadcasting from California Apple recently held a virtual event in which they reviled 4 new iPhones, a new Apple Watch and new iPads.

When they unveiled the new smartphones—iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max—there was a dubious lack of any groundbreaking features, especially compared to the 2020 5G announcement. Expectations of a portless iPhone and under-display touch ID were not met.

At least among the iPhones the Pro line was probably the highlight of the virtual event. Bot the 6.1 inch and 6.7 inch iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro 13 Pro Max both include Apple’s new and powerful A15 Bionic chip. Apple claims the A15 is the “fastest CPU in any smartphone.” This allows new machine learning features like analyzing text from photos or real-time video analysis.

The Pro devices have five-core CPUs with a 50% increase in graphics speed which may attract many gamers. They also include the brighter Super Retna XDR display which has faster refresh rate, an “all-day” battery life and the option for an impressive terabyte of storage (doubling the prior max).

For the photographers, the camera system was upgraded as well. Now with 77 mm telephoto lens, 3 times optical zoom and new wide and ultrawide cameras.

The Pro and Pro Max base prices are $99 and $1,099. The Pro Max that includes one terabyte of storage comes in at a whopping $1,599. Colors will include sierra blue, gold, silver, and graphite. The entire new iPhone line ships on 24 September 2021.

China Increases Restrictions on Online Gaming for Minors

Recently China has banned gamers under 18 years of age from playing online games during the weekdays and is limiting them to just three hours of game play on weekends. This is a considerable increase on the country’s huge gaming industry.

The specifics state that minors will be allowed only an hour of online gaming time between 8 pm and 9 pm on Friday, weekends and public holidays according to statement released by Chinese media watch dog, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA). It was posted by state news agency Xinhua.

Previously in 2019 the agency had set relatively lighter limits on online gaming for minors to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends for minors. Authorities have stated in both cases the restrictions are intended to protect children from becoming video game addicts.

The NPPA stated that the rules were being put in place “at the beginning of the new [school] semester, putting specific requirements for preventing the addiction to online games, and protecting the healthy growth of minors.”

 

Twitter Announces New Protective Feature

Twitter is increasing efforts to provide user-side tools for those users who are experiencing harassment to help themselves.

The social media platform announced that it will be testing a new feature called “Safety Mode.” This new feature is intended to protect users from being overwhelmed by harmful tweets or unwanted replies or mentions. The feature will block, temporarily, accounts from interacting with users to whom the harasser has sent harmful speech and repeated or uninvited replies and mentions.

Over the years Twitter has often bored criticism for the recurrent use of hateful or abusive content submitted to its platform by users. There are even rare and unfortunate cases where the harmful content has extended to the real world, most often when the target of the content is a marginalized group.

Twitter hasn’t spoken of any major protective features since 2017 when it released, among other features, its “safe search” function along with the user’s ability to block potentially abusive or “low-quality” tweets to appear in their conversations.

 

The Famous Analog Computer Toy

While most may not think of the Rubik cube as a computer, the famous toy is a very basic analog computer.

The Rubik’s Cube has been around since the 70s. Invented by a Hungarian professor named Erno Rubik, his first prototype was made in 1974. When he had built his first cube, it took him a month to solve it. He got his patent in 1975 for his “Magic Cube”. In 1979, it was presented to toy fairs in various countries.

Tom Kremer, a toy specialist with a passion, convinced the Ideal Toy Company to pick this up as a product. The first thing they did was change the name from Magic Cube to Rubik’s Cube and launched it in 1980. By 1981 it was a world-wide craze. Through the years it has been reworked and made even faster. In 2017 they released the Rubik’s Speedcube.

The First Programmable, General Purpose Computer

ENIAC or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose digital computer. It was Turing-complete and able to solve “a large class of numerical problems” through reprogramming.

Although ENIAC was designed and primarily used to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory (which later became a part of the Army Research Laboratory), its first program was a study of the feasibility of the thermonuclear weapon.

ENIAC was completed in 1945 and first put to work for practical purposes on December 10, 1945.

ENIAC was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania on February 15, 1946, and was heralded as a “Giant Brain” by the press. It had a speed on the order of one thousand times faster than that of electro-mechanical machines; this computational power, coupled with general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists alike. The combination of speed and programmability allowed for thousands more calculations for problems, as ENIAC calculated a trajectory in 30 seconds that took a human 20 hours (allowing one ENIAC to displace 2,400 humans).

The completed machine was announced to the public the evening of February 14, 1946, and formally dedicated the next day at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000 (approximately equivalent to $7,283,000 in 2020). It was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946, for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29, 1947, it was turned on and was in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.

Facebook Doubles Down on Creating “Instagram Kids” Amid Criticisms

Despite concerns and criticisms from lawmakers and others, Facebook restated its intention to create a special Instagram platform just for children under 13 but also announced new updates to take care of concerns about the safety of young users on its social media platforms.

In one blog post Facebook claims it is developing the new platform to reduce the chances of children under 13 lying about their age to use the current Instagram platform. The new Instagram for kids, Facebook says, will allow parents and guardians to heavily manage their children’s use of the new platform.

Facebook wrote that kids this age are already online and using social media platforms and there simply isn’t yet a foolproof way to stop them. According to an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed Instagram identified youth work as a priority.

Earlier this year 44 attorneys general signed a letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) to scrap the Instagram for kids project. They cited concerns over privacy and mental health. Child safety groups and Congress expressed similar concerns just weeks before this letter.

Facebook and Instagram have made a lot of promises about safety with their new platform and reiterated steps they’ve taken to help protect young users on their existing platforms.

uSky Testing Autonomous Public Transportation

Around the world traffic congestion is a problem for cities. Some tech-based solutions have included electric scooter systems or AI powered traffic lights. Another company thinks their solution to build a network of autonomous, high speed pods that would ride around a city suspended from a steel track might be a solution.

Belarus company uSky Transport has opened a 400-meter test line in Sharjah, located near Dubai.

Outside the electric power pods look are a promised-future glossy white. Inside they look more like a first-class airplane experience. This includes mood lighting, music, and windows. There are two padded armchairs and two folding seats, each pod being rated to carry four people.

uSky claims a fully executed whole city network could support 10k passengers an hour. The pods have a top speed of 93 miles an hour. However, due to safety concerns the test pods are not using their top speed.

uSky says it has a goal to free up roads and ground space that could be used for greenery, walkways and public spaces like parks.

 

Facial Recognition Coming to Unemployment Agencies

Facial recognition is a new but controversial technology that is beginning to be employed everywhere from law enforcement, security and as a way to lock/unlock personal smartphones.

27 states’ unemployment agencies have currently entered into contracts with facial recognition company ID.me, according to the company. 25 of these states are already using it. The company also claims they are talking to these agencies in 7 other states. They are already working with federal agencies like the IRS, Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veteran Affairs to verify the identities of their staff and or clients.

ID.me’s swift integration into state unemployment agencies is just the latest step towards a future where facial recognition will be used widely for identification.

ID.me uses facial verification style racial recognition that compares a photo ID with a video selfie the user takes on their phone when ID.me’s software prompts them. It is very similar to using facial recognition to lock and unlock a personal smartphone with your face. This is slightly different than what law enforcement would use where they would take one photo of person and the software would compare it to a database of known faces.

 

 

 

Experts Express Concerns With Increasing Internet Outages

Recently a widespread disruption of internet services took down range of major corporate websites. Some of those companies included Delta Air Lines, FedEx, HSBC and McDonald’s.

The disruptions came along with reported disruptions from internet infrastructure services provides Akamai and Oracle.

This is a third major internet interruption in just two months and the second Akamai has been involved in. In early June many large websites like a UK government site, the New York Times and Target went down with dozens of others. The outage lasted for about fifty minutes because of failed content delivery network, Fastly.

10 days later everything form banks, airlines, stock exchanges and trading platforms because of bugs at Akamai in a system meant to protect from attacks.

Major app and website outages happen occasionally, but typically don’t last long. While ISPs and other local and global services use backups and redundancies, however, experts are wary that the internet’s reliance what is a fairly small number of core infrastructure providers could put the internet at serious risk for bigger outages.

 

 

John McAfee of McAfee Antivirus Dead at 75

John McAfee, infamous antivirus software creator, has died at 75 after several recent run-ins with United States law.

McAfee was found dead in his Barcelona prison cell. The cause of death, according to the Superior Court of Catalonia, is under investigation.

According to Catalonia prison system spokespersons both guards and prison medical personnel performed the proper medical procedures to attempt to save McAfee’s life. This same statement said that “everything indicates” McAfee could have died by suicide.

His death comes on the heals of a ruling from Spain’s National Court in Madrid that McAfee could be extradited to the United States to face charges there. That decision could have been appealed by the same court and a larger panel of judges.

While McAfee did have a cell mate in prison that person was not present at the time of his death and that they were out of the cell doing normal activities at the prison. Officials said no special monitoring of the cell or McAfee

Windows 11 New Features: Teams Integration, Keyboard-less, Gaming and Microsoft Store

The popular productivity and live streaming app Microsoft Teams will now be integrated directly into the UI, getting its own icon on the taskbar. The app allows chat, calls, video calls with anyone anywhere in the world on platforms including, Windows, iOS, Android and others.

For those using their Windows device as a tablet, Windows 11 will be very familiar to users with few visual changes when the device is in tablet mode. Users will still be able to snap to navigate between various open apps. And if one rotates the screen the apps will get vertically staked for easy navigation.

A new feature to Windows 11 will be a floating keyboard and voice typing that uses auto punctuation and can follow voice commands like “delete that word.”

For gamers Windows 11 is offering “Auto HDR” which automatically improves the color and lighting of game visuals. This technology was first developed for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming consoles. In Windows 11 Xbox Game Pass will now be built in and give subscribers access to a library of hundreds of PC games.

The Microsoft Store has been redesigned to be faster. Users will also have a larger selection of apps including Android apps from the Amazon App Store allow users to load thousands of Android apps on their PC.

While rebuilding the Microsoft Store, Microsoft fire a metaphorically shot at Apple’s iOS store which takes a cut of each app purchase. Microsoft Store does not.

However, to date, the Microsoft Store has not been largely popular. Most apps are still downloaded and installed from .exe files.

Windows 11 New Features: User Interface

One of the biggest updates to Windows 11 will be the Start menu and Start button which will be placed front and centered on the task bar. The menu opens to pinned apps, “recommended” recent documents and a search bar. Live tiles are gone.

What Microsoft called “snap layouts” will give the user different window layout options. This will allow users to automatically arrange up to four open windows on their screen without manually moving and resizing them.

A new feature called “Snap Groups” will save a collection of apps a user was using and their layout. This allow users to quickly shift gears between different arrangements which are focused on different tasks. If using a docking station or switching between monitors at work and at home the snaps will reload as soon as a monitor is plugged back into the computer.

Another task oriented preset feature is saved desktops with personalized wallpapers. You could have one each for say school, home, work and gaming.

The entire system will get a graphic update with founded corners on windows and icons and a return to some Vista-like translucent layers for certain windows.

Windows widgets will bring personalized, AI-powered feed of information from weather, traffic, news and more. However, it won’t be all that different from Cortana and the Interests app on Windows 10.

Google and Amazon Face More Investigations Over Fake Product Reviews

UK regulators are investigating Amazon and Google for possibly breaking consumer protection laws for not handling fake product reviews properly.

This is just one probe in a line of investigations piling up against both the tech giants. Around the world officials have been examining claims of anti-competitive behavior. These investigations could lead to large fines and more pressure on companies like Facebook and Apple to change how they do business.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority stated that its inquiry could force Amazon and Google to change they way they deal with fake reviews or result in court action.

The CMA is worried that millions of online shoppers are being misled by fake product reviews and spending money based on those recommendations. They stated it isn’t fair business practice that some companies can fake five star reviews while lawful citizens lose out.

An investigation by UK consumer group Which? found a large industry of businesses making money by manipulating reviews on Amazon Marketplace. One company was selling single reviews for $18 or bulk packages that cost over $800 for 50 reviews.

Google and Amazon stated the would cooperate with the CMA.