Quantum Computers Pose a Security Threat That We're Still Totally Unprepared For
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review:
The world relies on encryption to protect everything from credit card transactions to databases holding health records and other sensitive information. A new report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says we need to speed up preparations for the time when super-powerful quantum computers can crack conventional cryptographic defenses. The experts who produced the report, which was released today, say widespread adoption of quantum-resistant cryptography "will be a long and difficult process" that "probably cannot be completed in less than 20 years." It's possible that highly capable quantum machines will appear before then, and if hackers get their hands on them, the result could be a security and privacy nightmare.
Today's cyberdefenses rely heavily on the fact that it would take even the most powerful classical supercomputers almost unimaginable amounts of time to unravel the cryptographic algorithms that protect our data, computer networks, and other digital systems. But computers that harness quantum bits, or qubits, promise to deliver exponential leaps in processing power that could break today's best encryption. The report cites an example of encryption that protects the process of swapping identical digital keys between two parties, who use them to decrypt secure messages sent to one another. A powerful quantum computer could crack RSA-1024, a popular algorithmic defense for this process, in less than a day. The U.S., Israel and others are working to develop standards for quantum-proof cryptographic algorithms, but they may not be ready or widely adopted by the time quantum computers arrive.
"[I]t will take at least a couple of decades to get quantum-safe cryptography broadly in place," the report says in closing. "If that holds, we're going have to hope it somehow takes even longer before a powerful quantum computer ends up in a malicious hacker's hands."
FCC Chairman Admits Russia Meddled In Net Neutrality Debate
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has admitted that around 500,000 comments submitted during the net neutrality public comment period
were linked to Russia email addresses. "Pai noted in a court filing that most of the comments were in favor of net neutrality, which the FCC repealed last December," reports Engadget. From the report:
The New York Times and BuzzFeed News have filed freedom of information requests in the hopes of uncovering the extent of fraudulent comments and Russian influence in the net neutrality process. Pai's filing was part of an FCC memorandum that addressed the requests, and the agency has argued that releasing the data could expose the U.S. to cyberattacks.
Pai's concession underscores how Russia's influence on U.S. democracy extends beyond headline-grabbing election interference and fake news peddling, and it also reflects the litany of issues the FCC faced during the net neutrality comment period. Over half of the almost 22 million comments came from phony, temporary or duplicate email addresses, according to a study, and reportedly only 17.4 percent of the comments were unique.
A Quarter of Tumblr's Users Are There To Consume Porn, Data Scientists Estimate
On Monday, Tumblr announced that it
will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th, alienating a large portion of the site's users who enjoy sharing and consuming NSFW content. Motherboard has surfaced a study
conducted in 2017 by two Italian universities and Bell Labs, which found that
roughly a quarter of Tumblr users were on the platform largely to consume pornography. From the report:
This study was based on the behavior of 130 million users, about half of Tumblr's entire user base. Of that number, "adult content consumers are 22 percent of our sample," the study said. "At the time of the study, roughly 30 million active accounts were consuming adult content, either re-sharing it or following the accounts of those producers," Luca Aiello, one of the study's authors and now a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs told Motherboard in an email. "I expect this audience to experience a noticeable drop in engagement: some of them will just churn out, many of them will likely reduce considerably the time spent on the platform."
Another 28 percent, or roughly 40 million users, encountered pornography unintentionally on Tumblr. That means they didn't seek out the porn, but they followed someone who pushed it into their feed. "The extent of this exposure is hard to estimate but it's probably not major," Aiello said. "Therefore, I believe some people in this segments would be happy to have a cleaner Tumblr feed but I don't expect a significant lift in their engagement, overall." Crucially, the study found that Tumblr's userbase was more female than many social networks ("we estimate that the average user age is 26 and 72 percent of the users are female," they wrote.) They found that these demographics held up between porn consumers and non porn consumers on the site, and that, in fact, young women between the ages of 20-25 were consuming porn on the site at a higher rate than young men. This means that Tumblr's crackdown will likely disproportionately affect women porn consumers.
Canada Arrests Top Huawei Executive For Allegedly Violating Iran Sanctions
has arrested Huawei's chief financial officer on suspicion of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. "Wanzhou Meng, who is also the deputy chair of Huawei's board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities," reports The Globe and Mail. From the report:
"Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday," Justice department spokesperson Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail. "As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.
A Canadian source with knowledge of the arrest said U.S. law enforcement authorities are alleging that Ms. Meng tried to evade the U.S. trade embargo against Iran but provided no further details. Since at least 2016, U.S. authorities have been reviewing Huawei's alleged shipping of U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws.
First Baby Born After Deceased Womb Transplant
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC:
A healthy baby girl has been born using a womb transplanted from a dead person. The 10-hour transplant operation -- and later fertility treatment -- took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2016. The mother, 32, was born without a womb. There have been 39 womb transplants using a live donor, including mothers donating their womb to their daughter, resulting in 11 babies. But the 10 previous transplants from a dead donor have failed or resulted in miscarriage. In this case, reported in The Lancet, the womb donor was a mother of three in her mid-40s who died from bleeding on the brain. The recipient reportedly had
Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in every 4,500 women and results in the vagina and uterus (womb) failing to form properly.
The baby girl was delivered by Caesarean section on December 15, 2017, weighing 6 pounds (2.5kg).
Google Is Shutting Down Its Allo Messaging App, Says Report
According to 9to5Google, citing a source familiar with the plan, Google will "soon" announce that it
will be shutting down its Google Allo messaging app. "This development comes almost 8 months after Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Chrome, Comms and Photos at Google, said that the company was 'pausing investment' in Google Allo," reports 9to5Google. It also comes less than a week after 9to5Google reported that Google will be
shutting down Google Hangouts for consumers sometime in 2020. Google may delay the news about Allo due to the backlash stemming from the article about Hangouts. From the report:
Lately, some of the app's remaining users have complained of bugs and broken functionality: there have been messages not being delivered, features like hearting posts randomly disappearing for some, and the latest stable version has been unable to perform Google Drive restores of chats for several weeks. Meanwhile, essentially the entire Allo team was moved to work on Android Messages and spent the last several months porting over much of Allo's features and functionality -- all leading up to the recent beginnings of evidence that the rollout of Google's RCS 'Chat' initiative is gaining traction.
SpaceX Sends Dragon To ISS But Falcon 9 Rocket Misses Landing Pad
On Wednesday, SpaceX successfully sent a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station to deliver supplies, but unfortunately it
wasn't able to recover the Falcon 9 rocket that launched with it. "The first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle appeared to lose control as it approached Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral," reports CNET. "The live feed from the rocket cut away on the SpaceX webcast, but video from people in the media area at the cape showed the Falcon 9 appearing to regain control before making an unplanned landing in the water rather than ashore at the landing area." From the report:
Musk tweeted shortly afterward that cutting the live feed "was a mistake" and shared the full clip of the water landing from the rocket's perspective. The rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:16 p.m. local time, a little more than 48 hours after SpaceX sent another Falcon 9 to space from the West Coast on Monday. Dragon's flight to low-Earth orbit was supposed to happen Tuesday, but the mission was pushed back a day to replace some food being sent to the space station for experimental mice living there.
SpaceX had planned to land the first stage of the brand-new Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket at a landing zone ashore at Cape Canaveral, but as the rocket descended toward the cape, the live feed from the booster's onboard cameras appeared to show the craft going into some sort of uncontrolled spin. Musk tweeted that the problem was that a "grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea." Musk also tweeted that the pump that failed didn't have a backup because "landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical. Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines."
Thieves Are Boosting the Signal From Key Fobs Inside Homes To Steal Vehicles
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca:
According to Markham automotive security specialist Jeff Bates, owner of Lockdown Security, wireless key fobs have a role to play in many recent car thefts, with thieves intercepting and rerouting their signals -- even from inside homes -- to open and steal cars. According to Bates, many of these thieves are using a method called "relay theft." Key fobs are constantly broadcasting a signal that communicates with a specific vehicle, he said, and when it comes into a close enough range, the vehicle will open and start. The thief will bring a device close to the home's door, close to where most keys are sitting, to boost the fob's signal. They leave another device near the vehicle, which receives the signal and opens the car. Many people don't realize it, Bates said, but the thieves don't need the fob in the car to drive it away. Bates says, if you have a key fob that can wirelessly unlock/start your car, you should not keep it by the front door.
"If you do live in a house, try to leave your keys either upstairs or ... as far away from the vehicle as possible," he said. "The other thing that you can do is there are products out there that you can put your key fob into," such as a faraday cage -- a box used to block radio signals -- a key pouch, which works similarly, or even a steel box.
Cyber-Espionage Group Uses Chrome Extension To Infect Victims
In what appears to be a first on the cyber-espionage scene, a nation-state-backed hacking group has used a Google Chrome extension to
infect victims and steal passwords and cookies from their browsers. From a report:
This is the first time an APT (Advanced Persistent Threat -- an industry term for nation-state hacking groups) has been seen (ab)using a Chrome extension, albeit it's not the first time one has used a browser extension, as the Russian-linked Turla APT previously used a Firefox add-on in 2015. According to a report that's going to be published later today by the ASERT team at Netscout reveals the details of a spear-phishing campaign that's been pushing a malicious Chrome extension since at least May 2018.
Hackers used spear-phishing emails to lure victims on websites copied from legitimate academic organizations. These phishing sites, now down, showed a benign PDF document but prevented users from viewing it, redirecting victims to the official Chrome Web Store page to install a (now removed) Chrome extension named Auto Font Manager.
Facebook Used Its VPN App To Track Competitors, Documents Reveal
Newly public documents reveal just how paranoid Facebook was of its potential competitors and shines new light on some of the company's most important acquisitions. From a report:
The internal documents, made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat, both of which became acquisition targets. The documents, which are labeled "highly confidential," show slides from an internal presentation in 2013 that compares Facebook's reach to competing apps, including WhatsApp and Snapchat. While Facebook and Instagram lead in marketshare, it's clear why Facebook may have viewed Snapchat and WhatsApp as potential threats. [...] Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later. Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.
Americans Are Moving Less Than Ever, and It's Bad For the Economy
An anonymous reader writes:
The best job for someone is not always in the area where they live. Often times, the job that will pay them most, and make the best use of their skills means moving to another city, state or country. Though making the choice to move can be difficult emotionally, it is extremely good for economic growth. Productive people make productive economies. Unfortunately for the US economy, people don't move they like they used to. According to recently released data from the US Census, only 10.1% of adults moved homes from August 2017 to August 2018. This is the lowest rate of moving since the government began collected data in 1948. The census tracks moves within counties, within states, or across states, and no matter how you look at it, moving rates are way down from just 15 years ago. For example, from 2002 to 2003, 2.8% of Americans moved across state lines. From 2017 to 2018, it was just 1.5%.
Bizarre 'Dark Fluid' With Negative Mass Could Dominate the Universe
One of the most galling mysteries in physics is that of the dark matter and dark energy. Scientists believe that together, these could account for up to 95 percent of the total mass in the universe. Now, a
researcher at the University of Oxford says a new theory could explain all that "dark phenomena." From a report:
The two mysterious dark substances can only be inferred from gravitational effects. Dark matter may be an invisible material, but it exerts a gravitational force on surrounding matter that we can measure. Dark energy is a repulsive force that makes the universe expand at an accelerating rate. The two have always been treated as separate phenomena. But my new study, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, suggests they may both be part of the same strange concept -- a single, unified "dark fluid" of negative masses.
Negative masses are a hypothetical form of matter that would have a type of negative gravity -- repelling all other material around them. Unlike familiar positive mass matter, if a negative mass was pushed, it would accelerate towards you rather than away from you. Negative masses are not a new idea in cosmology. Just like normal matter, negative mass particles would become more spread out as the universe expands -- meaning that their repulsive force would become weaker over time. However, studies have shown that the force driving the accelerating expansion of the universe is relentlessly constant. This inconsistency has previously led researchers to abandon this idea. If a dark fluid exists, it should not thin out over time.
In the new study, I propose a modification to Einstein's theory of general relativity to allow negative masses to not only exist, but to be created continuously. "Matter creation" was already included in an early alternative theory to the Big Bang, known as the Steady State model. The main assumption was that (positive mass) matter was continuously created to replenish material as the universe expands. We now know from observational evidence that this is incorrect. However, that doesn't mean that negative mass matter can't be continuously created. I show that this assumed dark fluid is never spread too thinly. Instead it behaves exactly like dark energy.
Internal Emails Show Facebook Weighing the Privacy Risks of Quietly Collecting Call and Text Records From Its Android Users -- Then Going Ahead Anyway
Earlier this year, many Android users were shocked to discover that Facebook had been
collecting a record of their call and SMS history, as revealed by the company's data download tool. Now, internal emails released by the UK Parliament
show how the decision was made internally. From a report:
According to the emails, developers knew the data was sensitive, but they still pushed to collect it as a way of expanding Facebook's reach. The emails show Facebook's growth team looking to call log data as a way to improve Facebook's algorithms as well as to locate new contacts through the "People You May Know" feature. Notably, the project manager recognized it as "a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective," but that risk seems to have been overwhelmed by the potential user growth.
Initially, the feature was intended to require users to opt in, typically through an in-app pop-up dialog box. But as developers looked for ways to get users signed up, it became clear that Android's data permissions could be manipulated to automatically enroll users if the new feature was deployed in a certain way.
An Eye-Scanning Lie Detector Is Forging a Dystopian Future
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Sitting in front of a Converus EyeDetect station, it's impossible not to think of Blade Runner. In the 1982 sci-fi classic, Harrison Ford's rumpled detective identifies artificial humans using a steam-punk Voight-Kampff device that watches their eyes while they answer surreal questions. EyeDetect's questions are less philosophical, and the penalty for failure is less fatal (Ford's character would whip out a gun and shoot). But the basic idea is the same: By capturing imperceptible changes in a participant's eyes -- measuring things like pupil dilation and reaction time -- the device aims to sort deceptive humanoids from genuine ones.
It claims to be, in short, a next-generation lie detector. Polygraph tests are a $2 billion industry in the US and, despite their inaccuracy, are widely used to screen candidates for government jobs. Released in 2014 by Converus, a Mark Cuban-funded startup, EyeDetect is pitched by its makers as a faster, cheaper, and more accurate alternative to the notoriously unreliable polygraph. By many measures, EyeDetect appears to be the future of lie detection -- and it's already being used by local and federal agencies to screen job applicants.
We're No Longer in Smartphone Plateau. We're in the Smartphone Decline.
The days of double-digit smartphone growth are over -- and the next decade may start to see smartphone sales decline. A report adds:
From roughly 2007 until 2013, the smartphone market grew at an astonishing pace, posting double-digit growth year after year, even during a global recession. They were the good years, the type that would inspire a Scorsese montage: millions and then billions of smartphones going out; billions and then trillions of dollars in rising company valuations; every year new models of phones hitting the market, held up triumphantly at events that were part sales pitch, part tent revival. (To nail the Scorsese effect, imagine "Jumpin' Jack Flash" playing while you think about it.)
But just like every Scorsese movie, the party ends. Smartphone growth began to slow starting in 2013 or 2014. In 2016, it was suddenly in the single digits, and in 2017 global smartphone shipments, for the first time, actually declined -- fewer smartphones were sold than in 2017 than in 2016. Every smartphone manufacturer is now facing a world where, at best, they can hope for single-digit growth in smartphone sales -- and many seem to be preparing for a world where they face declines.
Samsung Caught (Again) Using DSLR Photo To Advertise Smartphone Camera
An anonymous reader writes:
Over at DIYPhotography (which we spotted via Daring Fireball), writer and photographer Dunja Djudjic says that she caught Samsung Malaysia using one of her photos to advertise the portrait mode capabilities of the Galaxy A8 Star, a midrange phone that came out over the summer. Djudjic suspects that Samsung licensed the picture from her through the photo site EyeEm, so payment isn't necessarily a problem. But Djudjic does say that the photo wasn't taken with an A8 Star. Instead, it was taken with an (unnamed) DSLR she owns.
Samsung doesn't state outright that the photo was taken on the A8 Star, but it's certainly implied by the page it's on, which is meant to illustrate the phone's capabilities. The page doesn't note that the images are simulated, and after showing Djudjic's photo, it proceeds to show the A8's dual rear cameras, implying a connection.
Google's 'Shadow Workforce' of Contractors Demands Higher Wages, Equal Benefits in a Letter To CEO Sundar Pichai
Members of Google's "shadow workforce" of temporary workers and contractors is
demanding higher wages and equal benefits to full employees in an open letter addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai. From a report, submitted by an anonymous reader:
It's the latest in a series of public stands made by Google employees against aspects of the company culture. A coordinated walkout by employees around the globe protesting discrimination and sexual harassment at Google led the company to end forced arbitration for claims. Last month, several hundred employees signed onto a letter protesting the company's censored search efforts in China. A Bloomberg report in July said Alphabet had more contractors than direct employees this year, for the first time ever.
Google's mission is to 'organize the world's information and make it universally accessible.' But the company fails to meet this standard within its own workplace. Google routinely denies [temporary, vendor, and contract workers] access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives," the letter published Wednesday says. The latest letter is signed only by "TVCs at Google" and does not indicate the number of employees backing the effort. Google did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
Qualcomm: 5G Android Flagship Phones Will Storm the 2019 Holidays
Get ready for lots of 5G phones in time for the holidays next year. From a report:
The first devices for the fast, next-generation network will hit the market in early 2019. Samsung, for one, said it will have a phone for Verizon, AT&T and other networks in the first half of the year. By the holidays next year, every flagship handset -- at least when it comes to those running Google's Android software and using Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor -- will tap into 5G, said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon. "When we get to exactly this time of year one year from now ... we will see every [handset maker] on the Android ecosystem, their flagship across all US carriers will be a 5G device," he told CNET in an interview Tuesday at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii. "Every Android vendor is working on 5G right now."
Russian Internet Giant Yandex Launches Its First Smartphone
Russia's Yandex has launched its first ever smartphone as the company seeks to leverage its dominant position in apps and services into hardware sales. Yandex, which runs the most popular search engine in Russia, hopes its Yandex.Phone will bind users closer to its suite of products, from food delivery and taxi hailing apps to marketplace and music streaming platforms, as competition rises for online services. From a report:
The Yandex.Phone is a 5.65-inch Android-powered phone that will cost 17,990 rubles ($270) when it goes on sale tomorrow. In terms of specifications, Yandex.Phone is a fairly mid-range device, sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 16-megapixel / 5-megapixel dual rear camera.
In place of Google Assistant, which is standard on most Android phones, the company is also pushing its own intelligent assistant, Alice. This isn't the first piece of Yandex hardware to sport Alice since it was unveiled in 2017 -- earlier this year, Yandex launched a $160 smart speaker that also included the virtual assistant. It's not entirely clear what the default apps on the phone will be, but judging by the official photos it seems pretty clear Yandex is positioning its own services at the forefront of the device and favoring its own search engine. That said, Google's apps are also bundled.
Australia Set To Spy on WhatsApp Messages With Encryption Law
Australia is set to give its police and intelligence agencies the power to
access encrypted messages on platforms such as WhatsApp, becoming the latest country to face down privacy concerns in the name of public safety. From a report:
Amid protests from companies such as Facebook and Google, the government and main opposition struck a deal on Tuesday that should see the legislation passed by parliament this week. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the legislation is needed to help foil terrorist attacks and organized crime. Critics say it is flawed and could undermine security across the Internet, jeopardizing activities from online voting to market trading and data storage.
VW Says the Next Generation of Combustion Cars Will Be Its Last
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
Volkswagen AG expects the era of the combustion car to fade away after it rolls out its next-generation gasoline and diesel cars beginning in 2026. "Our colleagues are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren't CO2 neutral," Michael Jost, strategy chief for Volkswagen's namesake brand, said Tuesday at an industry conference near the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. "We're gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum."
The world's largest automaker has started to introduce its first wave of electric cars, including next year's Porsche Taycan. The rollout across its stable of 12 automotive brands is forecast to comprise about 15 million vehicles, as the company earmarks $50 billion over the next five years to spend on its transformation to self-driving, electric cars. Production of the VW brand's I.D. Neo hatchback will start in 12 months in Germany, followed by other models from the I.D. line assembled at two sites in China as of 2020. VW plans to launch fully or partly electric versions across its lineup of more than 300 cars, vans, trucks and motorbikes by 2030. The company "will continue to modify its combustion engine technology after the new platform is introduced next decade," reports Bloomberg. "After 2050, there may still be some gasoline and diesel models in regions where there is insufficient charging infrastructure, according to Jost."
Facebook Ends Platform Policy Banning Apps That Copy Its Features
Facebook will now freely
allow developers to build competitors to its features upon its own platform. Today Facebook announced it will drop
Platform Policy section 4.1, which stipulates "Add something unique to the community. Don't replicate core functionality that Facebook already provides." TechCrunch reports:
Facebook had previously enforced that policy selectively to hurt competitors that had used its Find Friends or viral distribution features. Apps like Vine, Voxer, MessageMe, Phhhoto and more had been cut off from Facebook's platform for too closely replicating its video, messaging or GIF creation tools. The move will significantly reduce the risk of building on the Facebook platform. It could also cast it in a better light in the eyes of regulators. Anyone seeking ways Facebook abuses its dominance will lose a talking point. And by creating a more fair and open platform where developers can build without fear of straying too close to Facebook's history or road map, it could reinvigorate its developer ecosystem. In a statement to TechCrunch, a Facebook spokesperson said: "We built our developer platform years ago to pave the way for innovation in social apps and services. At that time we made the decision to restrict apps built on top of our platform that replicated our core functionality. These kind of restrictions are common across the tech industry with different platforms having their own variant including YouTube, Twitter, Snap and Apple. We regularly review our policies to ensure they are both protecting people's data and enabling useful services to be built on our platform for the benefit of the Facebook community. As part of our ongoing review we have decided that we will remove this out of date policy so that our platform remains as open as possible. We think this is the right thing to do as platforms and technology develop and grow."
Amazon Promised Drone Delivery In Five Years Five Years Ago
On December 1, 2013, Amazon
announced its plans to deliver packages by drone in just "four or five years" on a 60 Minutes episode with then-host Charlie Rose. As The Associated Press reports,
it's officially been five years and drone deliveries seem to be nowhere in sight. "Bezos made billions of dollars by transforming the retail sector," reports The Associated Press. "But overcoming the regulatory hurdles and safety issues posed by drones appears to be a challenge even for the world's wealthiest man." From the report:
The day may not be far off when drones will carry medicine to people in rural or remote areas, but the marketing hype around instant delivery of consumer goods looks more and more like just that -- hype. Drones have a short battery life, and privacy concerns can be a hindrance, too. Amazon says it is still pushing ahead with plans to use drones for quick deliveries, though the company is staying away from fixed timelines. "We are committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones in 30 minutes or less a reality," says Amazon spokeswoman Kristen Kish. The Seattle-based online retail giant says it has drone development centers in the United States, Austria, France, Israel and the United Kingdom.
Google Bridges Android, iOS Development With Flutter 1.0
Google has launched
Flutter 1.0, the first stable release of its open source, cross-platform UI toolkit and SDK. "Flutter
lets developers share a single code base across Android and iOS apps, with a focus on speed and maintaining a native feel," reports Ars Technica. From the report:
Flutter enables cross-platform app code by sidestepping the UI frameworks of both Android and iOS. Flutter apps run on the Flutter rendering engine and Flutter framework, which are shipped with every app. The Flutter platform handles communication with each OS and can spit out Android and iOS binaries with native-looking widgets and scrolling behavior if desired. It's kind of like applying a "video game" style of development to apps: if you write for a game engine like Unity or Unreal, those engines are packaged with your game, allowing it to run on multiple different platforms. It's the same deal with Flutter.
Flutter apps are written in Dart, and the SDK offers programmers nice quality-of-life benefits like the "stateful hot reload," a way to instantly make code changes appear in the emulator. For IDEs, there are plugins for Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, and IntelliJ. Apps come with their own set of Flutter UI widgets for Android and iOS, with the iOS widgets closely following Apple's guidelines and the Android widgets following Google's Material Design. Flutter is designed to be fast, with its custom app engine running on Google's hardware-accelerated Skia engine. This means 60fps apps on Android and iOS and a path for 120fps apps in the future. This is a bigger deal on Android than it is on iOS. The
Google Ads app is already built on Flutter, which means Google "thinks Flutter is ready for prime time," writes Ron Amadeo. There's a list of
other apps built on Flutter, too. Amadeo goes on to suggest that Flutter may be the path to Android's replacement. "Flutter ships its own app engine on Android and iOS, but in secret, Google is also developing an OS called 'Fuchsia' that runs these Flutter apps natively," writes Amadeo. "With Fuchsia, Google would switch from the Android apps written in Java to Flutter apps written in Dart..."