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News & Views

Weekly Tech Roundup: November 17

What Twitter tells us about our happiness

Social media has become the de facto tool for recording everything that happens in our lives, and how we feel about it — so it makes a certain amount of sense that this would be where researchers turn to quantify the well-being of a population. The Computational Lab has developed a “hedonometer,” which tracks our happiness in real time.

Evan Spiegel has made great products – growing them has been harder

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel recently announced that the company’s flagship product, ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, will be getting a major redesign to make it easier to use. As a digital advertising company, Snap is dependent on bringing in new users, something which it has struggled to do with the proliferation of Snapchat feature clones across Facebook’s apps.

Siri is my agony aunt: but is telling big tech my feelings a bad idea?

Apple is currently in the process of hiring engineers with expertise in psychology to work on Siri, to respond to a very specific demand; consumers are turning to their virtual assistants for life advice. And while once they might have recorded their thoughts in a diary, now they’re spilling them to Alexa and Siri, and these innermost feelings are being recorded.

The very first “digital pill” containing a sensor is coming soon

The FDA in the United States has approved production of a pill which contains a tiny sensor, which alerts doctors when it has been ingested by the patient. The sensor sends a signal to a wearable patch, which then transmits that information to an app. While privacy regulators remain concerned, the pill’s creators insist that doctors will only be able to track when a patient is taking their medication.

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web

The inventor of the world wide web foresees a “nasty storm” ahead, as the internet faces challenges such as fake news, propaganda, radicalisation and the rollback of net neutrality protections. While he has always been optimistic about his creation, Berners-Lee now criticises the digital gatekeepers whose algorithms can be undermined and weaponised.

The reviews of Google’s translating headphones are in

Google’s Pixel Buds claim to be able to translate your conversations in real time. In reality, “real time” is a bit of a stretch, but still better than a phrase book, says the Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama.

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