Welcome to Ember – the EduKits news roundup reporting on some of the most interesting recent tech happenings from around the globe. Our selection of stories is great for students and teachers keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world of technology.
Boeing planes grounded across the globe following two lethal crashes
An international air-scare late last week involving Boeing’s newest jets has prompted China, Indonesia, Ethiopia and many others to ground the new aeroplanes. On Sunday last week, an Ethiopian Airlines flight killed 157 people, carried by a Boeing 737 Max 8. Just a few months earlier, a Lion Air flight also crashed following takeoff, killing 189 people. It is suspected that the planes’ software may have had a role to play in both crashes, though experts are still yet to determine whether the two crashes are linked. The US air regulator followed later in the footsteps of other countries under pressure from Boeing and the public, grounding US flights involving their new jets.
Apple announces mysterious product launch for March 25
Apple has officially announced it will be holding a special event on March 25. It is expected that here, the company will unveil its long-awaited streaming service set to compete with the likes of Netflix, Stan, and Disney’s upcoming Disney ‘Plus’. Reports suggest that this service may be extremely different from its competitors, with CEO Tim Cook allegedly making ruthless changes to content in order to ensure family-friendliness. However, some fans also suspect that we could see the release of the second generation AirPods and possibly Apple’s infamous wireless charging mat, AirPower.
3D-printed food set to trial in Swedish aged care homes
Swedish innovators plan to revolutionise food in aged care establishments, creating a system which makes easy-to-swallow foods appear more appetising. One researcher on the project noted that many elderly people experience malnourishment because they simply don’t eat enough – consistency-adapted food cited as the reason behind this. Their big idea is to take soft foods, currently served in square slabs, and make them more aesthetic by recreating their original form using 3D printing technology. Customers would be served a dish that resembles a chicken leg, but with the consistency of pannacotta. The first trial meals are set to be served later this year in Sweden. The team will be working hard to deliver appetising dishes suited to individual tastes and dietary requirements. Maybe this is something we will be able to see in Australian elderly care homes sometime in the future.
YouTube’s battle between PewDiePie and T-Series
On Tuesday, YouTuber PewDiePie’s channel was briefly overtaken in its top spot with the most subscribers on the platform by Indian channel T-Series. PewDiePie has held the record for being the channel with the most subscribers since 2013. However, the record label and film production company T-Series has challenged his lead in recent months, exceeding PewDiePie’s subscriber count two times already. Tuesday’s power flip did not last long; the Swedish content creator was soon top dog once again.
Facebook, Instagram face widespread outages on Thursday
The online world was shaken up on Thursday after Facebook and a number of its other services, such as Instagram, faced serious outages in Australia and around the world. Some functions of the platforms were unavailable to certain users, while others reported not being able to access the associated websites or applications at all. It looks like the company has since patched the glitches, but it reportedly took more than a day until the platforms were fully operational for users.
Tesla releases Model Y, a new compact SUV
Tesla released its newest car, the Model Y, at an event on Friday afternoon. The compact SUV will share many other features the automaker is known for like Tesla’s autopilot, for example, while having more room for families with an optional seven seats. Pre-orders are now being taken on the company’s website, however, the car is not set to go into production until 2020.
US Presidential Candidate calls for major tech companies to be dissolved
The US elections are set to take place in November next year, but campaigns for the presidency have already begun. Elizabeth Warren is a candidate you may not have heard of before, but some of the policies she has been putting forward could have a big impact on big tech. In a post published on blogging platform Medium, she expressed her desire to break up large technology companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. She later added to a reporter from The Verge that she wants to break up Apple, too. Warren believes that technology companies have become too powerful, and are beginning to act in ways that are anti-competitive and dangerous to user privacy. Facebook, for example, controls three of the top five most popular social media platforms in the world. Under her proposed laws, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram could become separate companies each competing with each other, something the current US Senator believes would be healthy for the market.
Australian inquiry looks into the power of large technology companies
It’s not just in the United States where there are calls to break up large technology corporations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has this week publicised a number of documents submitted to them as part of the watchdog’s world-first inquiry into digital platforms. A number of strong claims have been made against Google, who Australian companies fear is hurting competition and abusing customer data. Companies like News Corp Australia and Nine have expressed their distaste in the giant’s stronghold on the online advertising industry. Technology company Oracle goes much further, alleging that Google uses “massive amounts of consumer data, not all of which it discloses to consumers, to target advertising”.