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Weekly Bytes | WhatsApp’s multi-device experience, Google app’s ‘quick delete’ option, and more

WhatsApp's new multi-device experience.   | Photo Credit: WhatsApp

WhatsApp rolls out multi-device experience in beta

WhatsApp has started testing the app’s new multi-device capability through a limited public beta. The updated multi-device experience allows people to use the messaging service on up to four devices, excluding their smartphone, simultaneously and without requiring a constant connection with the phone. This means, even if their phone is switched off, users will be able to connect over WhatsApp, using the devices linked to their account. “Each companion device will connect to your WhatsApp independently while maintaining the same level of privacy and security through end-to-end encryption,” Facebook explained in a web post. However, users can only have one phone connected to their WhatsApp account at one time, and if they don’t use their phone for over 14 days, their linked devices will be disconnected, WhatsApp noted. The company plans to optimise the performance and add a few additional features in the beta phase, and is eventually expected to introduce the feature to all users. In another update, WhatsApp banned two million Indian accounts to prevent harmful behaviour and spam on its platform between May 15 and June 15.

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Google app’s ‘quick delete’ option

Google has introduced a new ‘quick delete’ option in its app that allows users to erase the last 15 minutes of saved Search history with the single tap of a button. Users can access the feature from the Google account menu, just below Search history. The feature, which was revealed at this year’s I/O, is now available to iOS users, and coming to Android users later this year, Google said in a blog post. Users can also choose an auto-delete option to erase their Search history, along with other web and app activity, from their account after three, 18 or 36 months (for new accounts, the default is 18 months). Google users can also add an extra layer of protection around the searches saved in their account from the ‘Manage my activity verification’ tab and selecting ‘Require extra verification’. This way, additional information, like the user’s password or two-factor authentication will be required to view their full history. In another development, Google is ending its unlimited group video calls on Meet for free Gmail accounts a year after it introduced the feature to compete with the video-calling app Zoom.

BMW, AWS launch ‘Quantum Computing Challenge’

BMW Group has launched a Quantum Computing Challenge (QCC) in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to crowd-source solutions from the global quantum computing community for specific industrial challenges. BMW has identified over 50 challenges at various stages of the value chain where quantum computing could provide a potential benefit in the future. QCC will encourage entrants to come up with innovative quantum algorithms and test their solutions on real quantum computing technologies. Quantum computing could address challenging problems in the automotive sector in complex optimisation, materials research, and – in the form of quantum machine learning – automated driving in tomorrow’s world, the luxury carmaker noted. The winners will get the BMW Group as a client and will also be involved in the implementation of the respective pilot projects. AWS will provide credits for entrants to use Amazon Braket to encourage development and testing of the quantum algorithms submitted. In another quantum computing update, Honeywell said last month it will combine with Cambridge Quantum Computing in a bid to form the largest standalone quantum computing company in the world.

Jeff Bezos to donate $200 million to Smithsonian

Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos will donate $200 million to the Smithsonian. It is the largest gift to the Smithsonian since the Institution’s founding gift from James Smithson in 1846. A $70 million portion of the donation will support the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million will launch a new education centre at the museum. The centre will feature programs and activities that inspire students to pursue innovation and explore careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fields. It will be named the Bezos Learning Centre in honour of Bezos’ donation. The gift will also help enable a technological transformation of the museum’s galleries and public spaces, including the creation of new interactive experiences to inspire visitors, students, teachers and families. “The Smithsonian plays a vital role in igniting the imaginations of our future builders and dreamers,” Bezos said. “Every child is born with great potential, and it’s inspiration that unlocks that potential.” In a separate development, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a Blue Origin license to carry humans on the New Shepard launch system into space ahead of its maiden crewed voyage that will take the Bezos brothers, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer, and an 18-year-old to the edge of space.

Facebook’s new approach to connect people with experts

Facebook’s new approach will enable group admins to recognise knowledgeable members in their group by designating them as group experts, it said in a web post. “Admins now have the ability to select specific members in their communities who stand out, empowering them to play a more meaningful role,” the social network explained. According to the firm, there are more than 70 million admins and moderators running active Facebook groups around the world. The group experts will receive a badge next to their names in the group, making it easier for members to spot informative posts and comments from designated experts. “To make it easier for experts to engage with their followers, we’re introducing automatic invites, which allows them to invite their recently engaged Page followers to join groups they’ve created,” Facebook noted. The new approach could also help curb misinformation on the social media platform. In another update, Facebook-owned Instagram Inc said on Tuesday it has rolled out a new security feature for users whose accounts have been hacked.

India’s software market revenue to reach $7.6 bln in 2021

India’s software market is estimated to reach $7.6 billion by the end of 2021, according to a report by research firm IDC. The software market grew 13.4% to $7 billion in 2020, compared with the previous year. Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP maintained their leadership positions in the Indian market during 2020. As per IDC's estimates, engineering, collaborative, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource management applications, are the leading software segments in terms of revenue. The research firm forecasts India's overall software market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.6% from 2020 to 2025. It expects acceleration in demand for technologies, such as robotic process automation software, conferencing and collaborative applications, Artificial Intelligence platforms, digital commerce applications, and IT service management software. Besides, the cloud is also becoming one of the critical elements of enterprises’ digital strategy, it noted. In a separate development, global PC market expanded in the June ending quarter this year, boosted by strong growth in gaming notebooks and demand across multiple categories as a result of work- and study-from home lifestyle.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 7:48:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/weekly-bytes-whatsapps-multi-device-experience-google-apps-quick-delete-option-and-more/article35377610.ece

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