Weekly Bytes | WhatsApp’s 100 billion messages, Google’s VPN service, and more

WhatsApp delivers about 100 billion messages every day.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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WhatsApp delivers about 100 bn messages every day

WhatsApp users are now exchanging roughly 100 billion messages every day, as private messaging continues to be one of the fastest-growing forms of communication, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s third quarter earnings call. Also, there are now more than 40 million people viewing a Business Catalogue every month on WhatsApp, COO Sheryl Sandberg said. In another update, Facebook launched several cloud-streamed games for its 380 million gamers.

Google adds VPN to select One membership plans

Google has announced that VPN will now be available on some Google One plans to provide an additional layer of online protection. One membership users on a 2TB or higher plan will be able to use the VPN service, and also share it with up to five more people at no extra cost. For the Android users the VPN will be rolled out in the U.S. in the coming weeks through the Google One app and will expand to more countries and to iOS, Windows and Mac in the coming months, Google said in a blog post. In another development, Google was notified of 21 adware gaming apps on Play Store.

SpaceX expands Starlink beta testing

SpaceX has started expanding beta testing of its satellite-based internet service Starlink to people who have shown intertest in opting for the service, CNBC reported. The people were notified via emails by the aerospace company about the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test, with the Starlink service priced at $99 per month, and an additional upfront cost of $499 for the Starlink Kit including a user terminal to receive satellite data, a mounting tripod, plus a Wi-Fi router. Recently, SpaceX had confirmed that its Starlink internet private beta testing speeds are over 100 Mbps.

Microsoft Teams reaches 115 mn daily active users

Microsoft announced that its video conferencing platform Teams has reached 115 million daily active users. The platform brings together meetings, chat, calls, collaboration, third-party apps, and business processes into a single experience. “We are seeing increased usage intensity in Teams as people communicate, collaborate, and co-author content across work, life, and learning,” Microsoft said in a blog post. This week, Microsoft also announced the availability of its Teams displays in certain countries.

MIT’s AI model detects asymptomatic COVID-19 infections

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that can distinguish between asymptomatic and healthy individuals through cough recordings. The model was trained on tens of thousands of samples of coughs, and words, which people voluntarily submitted through web browsers and devices such as cell phones and laptops, MIT said in a release. The model identified 98.5 % of coughs from people who were confirmed to have COVID-19, including 100 % of coughs from asymptomatic individuals, it added. In another update, MIT’s upgraded autonomous boat can now ferry passengers.

Walmart to test AR-powered solutions in certain stores

Walmart has announced that it will be using augmented reality (AR) in the inventory process in four test stores across the U.S. The retail giant has developed an app that speeds up the time it takes to get items from the backroom to the sales floor, Walmart said in a statement. Instead of scanning each box individually, Walmart associates just hold up a handheld device, and the app uses augmented reality to highlight the boxes that are ready to go, it added. In another development, Walmart-owned Flipkart outperformed Amazon in the Diwali shopping season.

Ubisoft delays Far Cry 6 launch

Ubisoft’s much-anticipated game from the famous Far Cry series 'Far Cry 6' has been delayed to 2021-2022 due to COVID-19 as the video game company has been having production challenges related to work from home, Ubisoft said in its latest earnings report. “Our teams around the world are working in the studios and from their homes to pour their passion and creativity into making an unforgettable game,” Far Cry 6 team tweeted. The company’s Rainbow Six Quarantine’s release has also been pushed along with Far Cry 6. Ubisoft had unveiled the sixth instalment of the first-person shooter game in July.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 12:08:53 PM |

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