This Week In Tech And Telco: App Store Abuse And Managed Blockchain

Welcome back to the This Week In Tech And Telco. As always, I’m bringing you the best, biggest, and sometimes the most random news from within the tech and telco space.

There are tonnes of headlines to sift through every day, because let’s face it, who isn’t a tech company these days? That’s why Radial Path brings you the stuff you need to know, all in one place.

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter and blog updates so you’re alerted when more great content is ready. So get reading - and happy Friday!

Photographer: Nicole Honeywill | Source: Unsplash

Blockchain-as-a-Service? AWS launches managed blockchain

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the availability of Amazon Managed Blockchain, a managed service that simplifies the ability to create and manage scalable blockchain networks.

The benefits of blockchain have been clear for a long time: transactions are immutable, trusted and distributed. And although many enterprises have shown interest in the new technology, use cases for supply chain management, smart contracts, and tracking are still scarce.

But Amazon’s new offering enables businesses to quickly set up a blockchain network inside the AWS management console. It will be interesting to see who uses the tech and for what. Is this finally the breakthrough the immutable ledger needed?

Unlike existing blockchain technologies that require custom development to extract blockchain network activity data, Amazon Managed Blockchain makes it easy to replicate transactions to Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), which will offer a fully managed ledger database with a central trusted authority when it becomes generally available in the coming months.

The Amazon Managed Blockchain is now available in the US (North Virginia) with plans to extend to new regions over the year.

Telco and Tech news: Ethereum / Bitcoins
Blockhain use cases far surpass cryptocurrency

Huawei overtakes Apple, becomes 2nd biggest smartphone maker in the world

The Apple bubble has been about to burst for some time. And now, Huawei has officially taken over as the second biggest smartphone maker in the world.

Although Samsung still holds the top spot, Huawei has been making gains all over the world, particularly in its home market of China.

The company has been under fire recently, following a smear campaign by the US that encourages allies to ban Huawei tech from being used in 5G infrastructure. Although many have succumbed to pressure from Trump, others, like the UK, have not.

It appears consumers are also not concerned. The Chinese telco’s gains in the first quarter of the year put them one step closer to taking the top spot from Samsung.

Shipments grew 50% from a year earlier, research firm IDC estimates. It was the only name in the top four that managed to expand volumes as the overall market slid for the sixth consecutive quarter.

  • However, there has been more bad press. Vodafone revealed it found security concerns in equipment provided by Huawei back in 2011 and 2012. But according to Vodafone, the flaw would not have been accessible via the internet and was quickly patched. This seems like a normal process for anyone deploying tech and software, so its newsworthiness is questionable.
Huawei is now the second largest smartphone maker in the world

Apple isn't playing fair, booting competitors off the App Store

Developers have called on EU antitrust chiefs to stop Apple’s App Store abuse, claiming the tech giant has deliberately removed or restricted apps that compete with its own features.

At least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental control apps over the last year have been affected, according to the New York Times and app data firm Sensor Tower.

Apple strongly denies that its behavior is anti-competitive, and says the timing of its decisions wasn’t related to its own introduction of similar tools. Instead, claiming restrictions were “a matter of security.”

But two affected app developers are not convinced, lodging a complaint with the European Union’s antitrust authority. Qustodio and Kidslox alleged that Apple deliberately used its control over the App Store to try and give itself an advantage over apps that competed with the firm’s Screen Time feature.

Is the App Store anti-competitive?

Plan to secure Internet of Things with new law

Security is one of the Internet of Things’ biggest problems. As it expands, the connected network of internet-enabled devices is increasingly vulnerable to hackers through malware that is easily spread across the network after infecting just one IoT device.

Millions of devices are not secure because users often do not change default passwords - this could be a sensor in a factory or the latest smart home gadget. But a new law has been proposed that would make the rapidly growing IoT network more secure.

To gain a label and enter the market, IoT devices would have to:

  • come with unique passwords by default
  • state clearly for how long security updates would be made available
  • offer a public point of contact to whom any cyber-security vulnerabilities may be disclosed

The proposed laws follow a voluntary code of practice for IoT manufacturers that was published in the UK last year.

Portrait of a lifeless Alexa.
IoT is used in almost every industry

T-Mobile and Sprint telco merger delayed, again

It’s been over a year since the two announced plans to merge, but the deal has continuously been blocked by the US Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, who must approve the move.

The two telcos opted to extend the deadline an extra month in hope of a decision soon. They now have until July 29 to get the go-ahead from officials.

The $26.5 billion merger would see the third and fourth largest telecommunications companies in the US become one.

Photographer: Mika Baumeister | Source: Unsplash

AI can be hacked - and it's not very difficult

A vehicle is driving slowly on the top floor of a multistorey car park. Footage from an onboard camera shows what the artificial intelligence system controlling it can see: ranks of cars to the left, and is that a person off to the right? Straight ahead there is something else. To any human observer, it is obviously a stop sign. But the AI can’t seem to make sense of it and keeps on driving.

When is a stop sign not a stop sign? When it’s a forklift, of course. New research shows how artificial intelligence can be easily confused when an image is altered. Whether this is with black tape - as it was in the study - or a glitch in an image, results show that AI can easily be ‘hacked’, without the need to crack passwords.

But this isn't the first time something like this has made headlines - a different study previously made headlines because the AI was tricked into thinking a turtle was a rifle.

It’s just a matter of time before the flaw is monetized, experts warn.

White robot human features
AI can be hacked by simply distorting the image it is trained to recognize

Still have time?

  • The Internet of Things really is now the Internet of Everything. Sensors made from gummy bears could be used to monitor how children chew, according to a new study. A team of electrical engineers used Haribo gummy bears to build a cheap medical device to measure the pressure exerted by teeth, which could help measure signs of child development. (New Scientist)
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was jailed for 50 weeks - just under a year - for breaching bail conditions to avoid being extradited to Sweden. Avoiding rape charges in Sweden, Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy to London in 2012. There is now a fight ahead regarding potential extradition to the United States for his involvement in publishing the Afghan War logs and Iraq War logs. (Guardian)
  • Is big tech green? Apple and Google run off renewables Google and Apple both claim to be 100% carbon neutral, last year flipping entirely to renewable energy sources for their global operations, which includes data centers. But the definition of carbon neutral is a tricky one. Meanwhile, Microsoft's company-wide aim is to cut its carbon footprint by 75% by 2030, driven by doubling its in-house carbon tax. (WIRED)
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