Weekly Bytes | Twitter’s ‘retweet prompts’ feature, Disney+ on Google’s Smart Displays and more

Here's our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

Updated - September 28, 2020 11:05 am IST

Published - September 26, 2020 12:08 pm IST

Twitter’s ‘retweet prompts’ feature. | Picture by special arrangement.

Twitter’s ‘retweet prompts’ feature. | Picture by special arrangement.

Twitter’s ‘retweet prompts’ is coming to everyone

Twitter announced that its 'retweet prompts,' which are designed to encourage a user to read an article before they retweet it, will be available to everyone globally, soon. The microblogging platform prompts a user, when they retweet an article that they have not opened on Twitter. “People open articles 40% more often after seeing the prompt,” Twitter wrote about the feature, it started testing in June. This week, Twitter also said it will investigate racial bias in its photo algorithm.

Google’s Smart Displays can now play Disney+ content

Google said its Smart Displays, like Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, can now be used to stream Disney Plus content directly. People with Disney Plus subscription can link their account in the Google Home or Assistant app to access shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and more. They can also use voice commands like “Hey Google, play ‘show’s name’ on Disney Plus,” to start streaming. Google also launched a work tracking tool this week, called Tables, for teams to track work, and automate tasks.

Instagram Reels can now be 30-seconds long

Instagram announced that its users can now create a Reels video up to 30-seconds long. They can also use the extended timer of 10 seconds when recording videos. Further, users will now be able to trim and delete any clip, simplifying the editing process. In another development, YouTube said it will use machine learning to auto-block videos violating age restrictions.

WhatsApp is working on ‘expiring media’ feature

WhatsApp has submitted a new beta build for Android, which reveals that the Facebook-owned company is working on a feature called expiring media, TechRadar reported. The new feature will allow people to send media including images, videos and GIFs, that will expire or disappear from the receiver’s phone after they exit the chat. In another update, Facebook introduced a new tool to help creators protect their photos on its platform.

Google adds COVID layer in Maps

Google Maps has introduced a new tool, COVID layer, which shows information about COVID-19 cases in a particular area. People can access the tool from the layer button on the top right-hand corner in the Maps interface. It shows if the cases are trending up or down, and colour coding helps distinguish the density of new cases in an area. Google has also developed an open source data repository for researchers to study the impact of COVID-19.

MS Office to offer subscription-free option from next year

Microsoft said it will offer a one-time pay option for MS Office, in its release, next year. “Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021,” the company said in blog post. Microsoft, now offers the option to subscribe to Microsoft 365, with a monthly payment for one person or up to six people. This week, Microsoft also unveiled its redesigned digital Xbox store to all users.

NASA plans to land first woman, next man on Moon in 2024

NASA said it plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis program. The space agency will launch two flight tests around the Moon to check performance, life support, and communication capabilities. The first mission, Artemis I, is on track for 2021 without astronauts, and Artemis II will fly with crew in 2023, NASA added. In another update, NASA said it is testing autonomous landing system for Moon and Mars.

Zoom, BenQ join hands to offer video conferencing solutions

Zoom and BenQ have partnered to offer Zoom’s video conference solutions on BenQ’s large-format displays. This will integrate Zoom Rooms with BenQ interactive displays and digital signage, providing seamless interactive telecommunication through video conferring and chat services, BenQ said in release. In another update, Logitech introduced MX Anywhere 3 mouse with customisable side buttons to control camera and mic during Zoom calls. Zoom also introduced new features this week to enhance virtual classroom experience.

iOS and Android adware scam apps spreading via TikTok, Avast says

Avast research found that apps posing in different categories including entertainment, games, and music, aggressively display ads, or charge users between $2-10, Avast said in a release. Many of the apps are being promoted on TikTok via at least three profiles dedicated to pushing the apps, one of which has more than 300K followers, it added. In another development, Ray-Ban's parent company Luxottica was attacked by a ransomware.

Halo 3: ODST is now available on PC with Xbox Game Pass

Xbox announced that Halo 3: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) is available for PC gamers with Xbox Game Pass for PC, on the Microsoft Store and Steam. The game has been enhanced for PC performance at 60 frames-per-second (FPS) or greater, with up to 4K UHD support. Halo’s another offering, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was already available on Xbox Game Pass for PC. This week, Microsoft also launched two new Xbox apps.

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