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News & Views

Weekly Tech Roundup: August 10

Uber adds in-app messaging between riders and drivers

Starting this week, Uber will roll out a new feature on its ride-sharing app which will allow passengers and drivers to communicate via instant message once a vehicle has been booked. This will help make the service safer and more secure; at present, drivers need the user’s phone number in order to communicate.

Patreon will help fans pay creators $140 million this year

In the latest episode of the Recode Media podcast, Patreon’s CEO Jack Conte explained how he believes the current version of the internet, where content is mostly free and ad-supported, is not necessarily “the best version.” His platform, which connects artists with would-be patrons, looks set to process more than £150 million in donations this year (before the 5% cut).

FaceApp pulls ill-advised “ethnicity filters”

Remember when selfie novelty FaceApp released a “beauty” filter which lightened the skin? It made another misstep this week with a series of filters which let users see what they would look like if they were Caucasian, black, Asian, or Indian, prompting critics to accuse the app of racial insensitivity and resulting in the company swiftly removing the filters.

Password guru regrets past advice

Bill Burr, the author of an influential 2003 guide to computer security, has admitted that his recommendation to change passwords every 90 days and obfuscate words by replacing letters with numbers or punctuation is less practical in application than he first believed. In a recent interview, he states how such guidelines, which were published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US, might have been “barking up the wrong tree.”

Is Amazon working on mobile drone stations?

A recent patent filing from ecommerce giant Amazon outlines the feasibility of installing special drone storage and repair facilities to trains, boats and vans. This would hypothetically enable operators to then transport drones to areas of anticipated high demand, and dispatch them from these mobile hubs.

ASOS adds visual search to ease your fashion hunt

Lots of people forget that ASOS originally stood for “as seen on screen,” a means for fashion-savvy consumers to replicate looks from movies and the red carpet. Now the company is adding visual search to its mobile app, enabling customers to search for bargains on items in their Camera Roll.

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