Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.
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Ferrari’s tech partnership
Italian luxury sports carmaker, Ferrari has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud, machine learning, and artificial intelligence technologies, the firms said on Friday. The collaboration aims to accelerate the pace of innovation across the entire Ferrari organisation, including their road cars department, GT Competitions, the Ferrari Challenge, and the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 (F1) team. Ferrari will use AWS’s services and global infrastructure to streamline design as well as testing of its cars, and make it easier for its customers to build, purchase, and maintain their cars. In addition, the F1 team will leverage AWS to launch a digital fan engagement platform, via its mobile app, to engage millions of fans worldwide with exclusive, personalised content. Moving forward, Ferrari plans to build virtual and augmented reality experiences on AWS that bring fans into the garage to interact with drivers and team personnel. In another development, Amazon announced a programme in India for students to learn applied machine learning skills to address the growing demand for talent with this skillset across various industries.
Android’s new features
Google is introducing a bunch of new features for Android users that includes end-to-end encryption in Messages to keep one-on-one conversations between users more secure. The feature moves out of beta and will be available to everyone using the app. Also, users will now be able to star mark important messages and easily revisit them later by tapping on the starred category. Additionally, to help people with motor disabilities, the gaze detection feature on Voice Access, can now be set to work only when they are looking at the screen, so they can naturally move between talking to friends and using their phone. Google is also expanding voice assistant access to more apps. Finally, Android Auto gets more customisation options, new app experiences, and allows users to easily read and send new messages directly from apps like WhatsApp or Messages from the launcher screen. This week, Google also opened its first ever physical retail store in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood as the tech giant looks to promote its consumer hardware products.
Spotify acquires Podz
Spotify said on Thursday that it has acquired a startup called Podz that could help improve the platform’s podcast discovery experience. Spotify’s machine learning (ML) experts have focused on improving audio discovery on the platform, however, it believes that “Podz’ technology will complement and accelerate” its efforts. Powered by advanced ML technology, Podz generates high-quality clips that give users the opportunity to preview key moments from podcast episodes, making it easier for listeners to find the content they want to listen to. “We plan to integrate Podz’ technology into the Spotify experience, and listeners should start seeing elements of that work before the end of the year,” it said. In April, Spotify launched a podcast subscription model just a week after Apple rolled out a subscription-based podcast service. Last month, it introduced new features for users to share their favourite music or podcast episodes through their social media channels. In another update, Spotify on Wednesday announced Greenroom, a Clubhouse-like mobile app for live audio discussions.
FedEx, Nuro team up for autonomous delivery
International delivery services firm, FedEx Corp has teamed up with self-driving delivery startup, Nuro to test the latter’s next-generation autonomous delivery vehicle within FedEx operations. The collaboration between the two firms launched in April with a pilot program across the Houston area in the U.S. This pilot marks Nuro’s expansion into parcel logistics and allows FedEx to explore various use cases for on-road autonomous vehicle logistics, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries. The Nuro pilot is the latest addition to the FedEx portfolio of autonomous same-day and speciality delivery devices. In April, Nuro had announced a partnership with Domino’s for autonomous pizza delivery to select customers in Houston, using its R2 robot, which is the first completely autonomous, occupant-less on-road delivery vehicle with regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In a separate development, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday again rejected attempts to lift regulations to allow for the deployment of thousands of autonomous vehicles.
Microsoft Flight Simulator World Update 5
Microsoft has released another world update for its popular simulation game, Flight Simulator, with a focus on Europe’s Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. World Update V: Nordics includes landscapes improvements, enhancements to regional architecture, improved data for 100 airports, 78 points of interest, and five bush trips, one for each of the Nordic countries, that show off some of the best elements of these destinations, Microsoft noted in a blog post. It also brings new hand-crafted airports, and five original landing challenges at Denmark’s Bornholm, Iceland’s Ísafjörður, Sweden’s Stockholm Arlanda, Norway’s Svalbard, and Finland’s Vaasa Airports. World Update V: Nordics is available FREE to all Flight Simulator users. Microsoft had released the fourth major update in April, the UK & Ireland update in February, and two other updates last year. The game is available on Xbox Game Pass for PC, Windows 10, and Steam and is coming to Xbox Series X|S on July 27th. This week, Microsoft also named Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella as its new chairman, in place of John Thompson.
IKEA’s new picture frame WiFi speaker
IKEA and Sonos have introduced a new SYMFONISK picture frame WiFi speaker that can be used for room-filling sound and as a beautiful piece of art that seamlessly blends into the home. It connects over WiFi and can be used independently or connected with other products from the SYMFONISK range or other Sonos products. It is also part of the Sonos system, enabling listeners to connect to more than 100 streaming services. “The space-saving picture frame speaker can hang on its own on the wall as an eye-catching art piece, be matched with other art on the wall, be placed on a shelf or on the floor, leaning against the wall. The interchangeable fronts make it easy to choose a style that suits your individual home,” Stjepan Begic, product developer at IKEA, said in a statement. Starting 15 July, the new speaker will be available in IKEA stores and on IKEA.com in Europe and North America – other regions will follow later on, the company said. On Wednesday, IKEA launched its e-commerce services and mobile app in Bengaluru. In a separate development, U.S. lawmakers from both parties pressed Google and Amazon on Tuesday about their smart speakers markets, amid concern over the domination of the tech behemoths in this area.
You can read more at thehindu.com/technology