Tech news: Apple turns on child protection features, Musk’s Twitter drama drones on, Playdate launched, and Netflix is ​​on a downer…

Apple turns on child protection features

Apple says it’s soon going to turn on two of the three controversial child protection features for its services that were announced… then paused… last year.

Coming to the UK in a software update “in the coming weeks” will be an option for parents to turn on a warning in the Messages app if the system detects nudity in a photo being received or sent. Users will be asked to think carefully about whether they want to see or send the photo, and be directed to contact their adult for advice.

The other protection is applied to searches – if the system detects a search for something inappropriate, it will direct the user to expert public services for help and advice. Both these protections are already in place in the US.

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Apple says all the checking is done on device, and it holds no records of any events that may trigger the warnings.

The other child protection service it announced last year – the scanning of photos uploaded to iCloud for known child abuse photos – remains on pause, Apple says, while it continued to consult on the feature.

Online safety group the Internet Watch Foundation’s Communications Director Emma Hardy said: “We’re pleased to see Apple expanding the communication safety in Messages feature to the UK.

“At IWF, we’re concerned about preventing the creation of ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse images and videos. Research shows that the best way to do this is to empower families, and particularly children and young people, to make good decisions. This, plus regularly talking about how to use technology as a family are good strategies for keeping safe online.”

Meanwhile there was good green news from Apple – the company says it has increased the amount of recycled materials it uses in its products.

Apple has increased the amount of recycled components it uses in its products

For the first time it says it’s now using recycled gold, and increased the amount of several other elements from recycled sources. Almost 20% of the materials it uses are now recycled.

In addition, Apple says it’s developed a new machine that is better at disassembling old tech so that more material can be recovered and used again.

Apple’s goal is to create a ‘closed loop’ of production where everything it makes is from recycled material, using renewable energy.

Readmore:Review: Apple iPad Air 2022

Twitter’s Musk saga goes on

It seems like we hear a story about Elon Musk and Twitter every week. And this week has been no exception.

Last week we heard how the Test and SpaceX boss had launched a hostile takeover bid for the social network – and said the offer he had made to buy all shares and take the company private was non-negotiable and final.

Musk reckons Twitter stifles free speech and has decided the only way to make the changes to the company he feels are necessary is to take it over completely, rather than take a seat on its board.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

He certainly has the money to complete the deal, but Twitter’s board has other ideas. It has invoked what is known in the stocks and shares business as the ‘poison pill’ defence.

Twitter has said that if anyone buys more than 15% of the shares available in the company, it will issue more shares to current shareholders at a knockdown price. The idea is the holding of the individual making the aggressive takeover bid will be diluted in its value.

The defense is in place for a year and shows how determined the Twitter board are to keep Musk out – he has said if he fails (and he’s not sure he will succeed) he’ll sell the shares he does have and look at other options .

Meanwhile, Twitter has revealed it is working on a feature that Musk has claimed he most craves – an edit button for tweets.

The concern has been that people could go back and edit historic tweets, but this week it’s been suggested the feature will retain a history of all tweets and any subsequent edits.

Twitter plans to fight Elon Musk's takeover bid
Twitter plans to fight Elon Musk’s takeover bid

The edit feature isn’t quite ready for testing, and Twitter hasn’t revealed when it will be. Meanwhile, we all wait with bated breath to see what Musk’s next move in this fascinating game of chess may be.

playdate ships

It’s been a long time since we first heard about Playdate – the handheld gaming device from Panic, makers of a couple of great video games and some excellent Mac software.

Three years have passed, in fact, since the company revealed the quirky gaming device and targeted a 2020 launch date. We all know what happened then, and other production difficulties conspired to delay the device still further.

The news this week that the first Playdates have shipped and are in the hands of the early adopters is most welcome, then.

The Playdate handheld game console from Panic
The Playdate handheld game console from Panic

The Playdate, which costs around £150, is an innovative retro device with a mono screen and a couple of unusual USPs – there’s a fold out hand-crank that can be used to control certain aspects of games, and the games themselves, all new and designed specifically for this device, will be delivered at no extra cost at a rate of two a week for 12 weeks.

Anyway, while those with orders already in are now receiving their devices after a three-year wait, it should come as no surprise to learn those who order now will have to wait until next year to get their hands on one.

Netflix on a downer

Something has happened on Netflix that hasn’t happened for 10 years… the number of subscribers paying to watch shows has gone down. In the first three months of this year the company lost 200,000 paying members, and it expects to lose 2m more before the end of July.

The company cites a couple of reasons why the numbers are dropping – for a start, 700,000 users were lost when the company pulled out of Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Netflix has lost subscribers for the first time in a decade
Netflix has lost subscribers for the first time in a decade

But it’s also suffered in the US and UK after price rises seemed to encourage many to leave. Netflix has also suggested a surge in sign-ups during the pandemic is reversing as that worry subsides.

To turn things around Netflix is ​​apparently planning to crack down on account sharing, and is also thinking about carrying advertising as a way to lower subscription costs.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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