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.