WhatsApp Gets Fined Record-High $267M In Ireland Over Privacy Breaches

On Thursday, it was revealed that messaging platform WhatsApp had been fined a whopping €225 million (US$267,337,400) by an Irish data protection regulator due to the platform’s privacy breaches.

Operating as an EU privacy watchdog, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) shared that the inquiry was made into whether WhatsApp conformed to EU data transparency rules in 2018, otherwise known as the GDPR.

This covered information “about the processing of information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies,” the regulator states in its press announcement.

The European Data Protection Board stepped in at the end of July. This came after the Irish agency received criticism for allegedly delaying its decision in cases involving tech giants and letting them off with lighter fines than what was deserved.

After a “clear instruction” was issued by the board, the DPC was prompted to “reassess and increase” the proposed fine, which led to the final amount of €225 million.

It’s the highest fine issued by Ireland related to GDPR privacy regulations, and the EU’s second-highest.

Apart from paying up, the texting platform will also need to “bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions.”

“We disagree with the decision today regarding the transparency we provided to people in 2018 and the penalties are entirely disproportionate,” a spokesperson for WhatsApp is reported to have said in a statement to Reuters.

It’s stated that the company is filing for an appeal, but it appears to be watched very closely by regulatory firms and it’s doubtful that a lesser fine will be granted.

The Irish regulator DPC, according to Reuters, had 14 major inquiries into Facebook, including WhatsApp and Instagram, open at the end of last year.

Source: DesignTAXI

Reddit Acquires TikTok/Triller Rival Dubsmash

Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, the lipsyncing video app which launched in 2014 and was largely supplanted when TikTok showed up. 

Announced via Reddit’s blog on Sunday, the annexing of Dubsmash’s 12-person team to Reddit’s 700-strong horde is the popular website’s first major acquisition in its 15-year history.

While the financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Dubsmash will be keeping its own platform and separate branding. Dubsmash’s Android and Apple apps will continue to operate as normal, with its video creation tools simply integrated into Reddit’s infrastructure. 

Reddit currently allows users to upload and livestream videos, however its editing capabilities are somewhat lacklustre — a problem this acquisition hopes to address.

“The transition to video will be bigger than the transition to mobile,” Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said, speaking via the Wall Street JournalWhich sounds fake, but okay. Pivots to video historically haven’t worked out well, but perhaps the distinction between editorial and user-created content will yield better results.

Dubsmash went through a slow decline in the wake of its 2015 popularity boom, before revamping itself in 2017 to stage an unlikely comeback. While still not as successful as TikTok, the short-form video app established a significant audience by focusing on the one demographic still using it — Black teenagers in the U.S

As such, both Reddit and Dubsmash’s acquisition announcements heavily emphasised the diverse, underrepresented creators who use the app. According to Reddit, a quarter of Black teens in the U.S. use Dubsmash, while 70 percent of users are women or girls.

“By joining forces with Reddit, we expand our ability to serve the creators that represent the lifeblood of Dubsmash, helping them connect, share, and deepen their impact on culture,” wrote Dubsmash co-founders Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel and Tim Specht. The trio further reaffirmed their goal to “[create] a safe and welcoming platform for underrepresented communities.”

“Both Reddit and Dubsmash share a deep rooted respect for how communities come together,” said Huffman. “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions.”

Source: Mashable

Facebook Accused Of Watching Instagram Users Through Their Phone Cameras

Facebook Inc. is again being sued for allegedly spying on Instagram users, this time through the unauthorized use of their mobile phone cameras.

The lawsuit springs from media reports in July that the photo-sharing app appeared to be accessing iPhone cameras even when they weren’t actively being used.

Facebook denied the reports and blamed a bug, which it said it was correcting, for triggering what it described as false notifications that Instagram was accessing iPhone cameras.

In the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, New Jersey Instagram user Brittany Conditi contends the app’s use of the camera is intentional and done for the purpose of collecting “lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to.”

By “obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes,” Instagram and Facebook are able to collect “valuable insights and market research,” according to the complaint.

Facebook declined to comment.

Source: Bloomberg

Software Engineer Rashiq Zahid Creates Website That Knows If Your Local McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine Is Broken

There’s a tired joke about McDonald’s chronically broken ice cream machines. You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, and 24-year-old software engineer Rashiq Zahid has heard it.

Fortunately, one of us—the engineer, of course—found a way to protect McDonald’s fans from the age-old disappointment of heading all the way to a store only to be told the ice cream machine isn’t working. Zahid calls his new masterpiece mcbroken, and it actually appears to work.

In simple terms, because, let’s be real, most of us don’t know what the hell reverse engineering an internal API means, mcbroken acts as a bot that tests the availability of ice cream sundaes at every US location every 30 minutes. It does so by trying to add a sundae to the cart on McDonald’s mobile app.

If the app fails to add a sundae to the cart because ice cream is unavailable at that location, that spot is marked with a red dot on the map. If the app succeeds at adding a sundae to the cart, it means ice cream is available at that location, earning the spot a green dot on the map.

Source: Thrillist

Apple announces Fitness Plus (virtual workouts) for Apple Watch Series 6, delivering breakthrough wellness and fitness capabilities; will research with UC Irvine (UCI) in health studies

Apple is launching a new subscription service for virtual fitness classes called Fitness Plus, the company announced during its presentation today. The service integrates with iPhones, iPads, and the Apple TV, but Apple says it’s built for the Apple Watch. Access to the service will cost $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year, and you’ll get three months free with the purchase of a new Apple Watch. It also comes bundled as part of Apple’s new Apple One subscription. Apple says Fitness Plus will be available before the end of the year.

Many of the workouts require just a set of dumbbells or no equipment at all, Apple says, which should give you the flexibility to do them wherever’s convenient for you. There are 10 different workout types available, including cycling, treadmill, yoga, core, strength, rowing, and HIIT routines, and there’s a program built in for absolute beginners. You can select workouts based on their duration, and Apple says it plans to add new workouts every week.

Apple is joining forces with researchers to conduct three health studies that include using Apple Watch to explore how blood oxygen levels can be used in future health applications. This year, Apple will collaborate with the University of California, Irvine, and Anthem to examine how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer, and legacy Edge in 2021 – in a bid to encourage enterprise customers to switch to its Edge browser

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Microsoft has announced that support for Internet Explorer 11 will end August 17, 2021. At that time, all products under the Microsoft umbrella which may currently still use Internet Explorer, such as Outlook, OneDrive or Office 365 will stop supporting the browser.Support for Internet Explorer within the Microsoft Teams web app ends November 30 of this year. Meanwhile, the legacy edition of Microsoft Edge is set to end March 9, 2021.

Source: PC Gamer

Facebook launches Instagram Reels in 50 countries, hoping to lure TikTok users

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With TikTok’s future uncertain, Instagram is hoping to lure some creators away with the rollout of a direct competitor, Reels, which is launching in more than 50 countries today, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android.

Similar to TikTok, Reels lets people create short-form videos set to music that can be shared with friends and followers and discovered while browsing the app. It’s the newest opportunity for Instagram to bring in users, increase the amount of time people spend in the app every day, and establish itself as a video entertainment platform.

Reels allows people to record videos up to 15 seconds long and add popular music, as well as an array of filters and effects, over top of them. For creators looking to use Instagram Reels as a new way to build a following, Instagram has revamped its Explore page to create a specific landing spot for Reels at the top of the screen that people can vertically scroll through — similar to TikTok’s “For You Page.”

Source: The Verge

Barbr – Mobile App

Last year I prototyped a mobile app that allowed users to get quality haircuts in their home by booking barbers in the area. The concept came from people in big cities who work tight schedules and can’t make it to a barbershop during business hours, or they just don’t feel like driving somewhere and paying for parking. Sure the idea could use some more refining but with all the recent closures and limited gatherings, I don’t think I was too far off with this one💈