Today's Top Technology Headlines
- Google's EU showdown offers openings to competitors
Whether or not the EU succeeds in branding Google a market-abusing monopolist in web search - a big if, given that the competition authority has yet to publish its exact charges - the Internet giant could be pinned down for years to come in regulatory procedures and legal appeals. A drawn-out process is likely to embolden existing and would-be interlopers to step up assaults on Google's wide range of businesses, if the history of Microsoft's antitrust battles with U.S. and European regulators is any guide. In accusing Google of anti-competitive practices against rival shopping sites, the EU competition authority said it is continuing to investigate other areas, including alleged "web scraping" to copy content off of rival travel and local business review sites, and Google's restrictive practices on advertising. A quick EU finding that Google has abused its market power by favoring its own shopping services at the expense of non-Google websites, could set a precedent for new charges over how it handles hotels, flights and other services, experts say.
- China fines Alibaba $129,000 for pricing violations
China's e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, has been fined 800,000 yuan ($129,000) by the price bureau in eastern Zhejiang province for violations by third-party sellers during promotions on its e-commerce platforms. Since Alibaba turned "Singles' Day", a November 11 Chinese response to Valentine's Day, into an online shopping festival in 2009, the event has grown to similar proportions as Cyber Monday and Black Friday in the United States. "The company has been fined 500,000 yuan ($81,000) for matters related to Singles' Day pricing by third-party sellers on our Tmall marketplace in 2013 and 2014 and 300,000 yuan($48,000) for pricing in other promotions in 2013 and 2015," Alibaba Group said in a statement on Friday. While pricing is handled by third parties, not directly by Alibaba, the group said, it would nevertheless reinforce pricing rules and regulations with sellers to protect consumers.
- EU telecoms reform to address competition from WhatsApp, Skype
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will take into account increased competition from cable operators and alternative services such as WhatsApp when it overhauls Europe's telecoms rules next year, a move that will be cheered by the telecoms industry. A draft seen by Reuters of the Commission's strategy for creating a digital single market says telecom operators compete with "over-the-top" services "without being subject to the same regulatory regime". The bloc's telecom firms such as Orange and Deutsche Telekom have long called for lighter-touch regulation, after years of declining revenues and competition from new entrants, to enable them to invest in network upgrades. Telecom companies point to increased competition from services such as Skype (owned by Microsoft ) and online messaging as a reason for easing the regulatory burden.
- Microsoft unveils touch-friendly Office apps for Windows phones
Microsoft Corp on Friday unveiled a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices. Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said. Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet. Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc's iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc's Android.
- Scientists create self-powering camera
By Elly Park New York, NEW YORK - Scientists at Columbia University in New York have successfully built a camera that is capable of producing images using power harvested from the surrounding incident light. The prototype self-powering camera takes an image each second, and in a well-lit scene it can operate indefinitely. The team is led by Shree Nayar, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering, "What we have designed here is an image sensor with pixels, with this new design that can not only capture pictures but also generate power from the pixels, in order to capture the images themselves. In modern cameras photo diodes, tiny devices inside each pixels of the image sensor, measure the amount of light that falls onto it, and Nayar said he noticed that the process is similar to photo diodes used inside solar panels to harvest energy. "It turns out exactly the photo diode is also used in solar cells which are used in solar panels to harvest energy from light, except that they are being used in a slightly different circuit.
- EU to investigate transparency of Internet search results: document
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Internet platforms such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! will be the subject of a widespread inquiry by European regulators to determine whether they are transparent enough in how they display search results. In a draft of the Commission's strategy for creating a digital single market, seen by Reuters, it says it will "carry out a comprehensive investigation and consultation on the role of platforms, including the growth of the sharing economy." The investigation, expected to be carried out next year, will look into the transparency of search results - involving paid for links and advertisements - and how platforms use the information they acquire. European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip is expected to formally announce the new strategy on May 6. The transparency of search results came under particular scrutiny this week when the European competition chief accused Google of cheating competitors by distorting web search results to consistently favor its own shopping service.
- Tiny trackpad uses your thumbnail to navigate devices
- Facebook gets entangled in India's net neutrality debate
- Surge in real-time big data and IoT analytics is changing corporate thinking
- If you want to chat on Steam, spend at least $5
- What the first Apple.com homepage looked like
Many of the earliest website designs to populate the web are nothing more than distant and irretrievable memories. While sites like the The Internet Archive Wayback Machine provide a great way to take a stroll back through Internet time, their index only goes back so far. So it goes with the Apple.com homepage. Archived versions of Apple’s homepage on the Wayback Machine only go back to October 1996, a shame given that Apple had a website up and running for many years prior. Don’t Miss: Watch the leaked Batman v. Superman IMAX trailer right here! Thankfully, Kevin Fox, who previously did design and software work at both Google and Apple, realized that he just might have a screenshot of Apple’s old and seemingly
- Justice Department may try to block the Comcast / TWC merger
- After a brief lull, the PS4 is back to trampling on the Xbox One and Nintendo 3DS
After being edged out by the Xbox One in December and falling behind the Nintendo 3DS in February, the PlayStation 4 reclaimed its spot at the top of the hardware sales chart in March, the NPD Group revealed in its latest report. DON’T MISS: Halo: Spartan Strike now available on PC, iOS and Windows Phone “We are truly honored PlayStation 4 is the top-selling console and No. 1 in software sales again according to NPD sales data for March 2015,” said a spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment. Official sales figures were not released, but at the last count, Sony had sold over 20.2 million PS4s worldwide since the console’s debut. Microsoft also released its own statement as well, claiming that “cumulative U.S. Xbox One
- Crave Ep. 200: Forget maps and let leg electrodes guide you there
- French government really doesn’t want you comparing its new surveillance bill to the Patriot Act
France insists it’s not working on a French version of the U.S. Patriot Act that would give the government massive additional surveillance powers, The Verge reports. But the French government is definitely interested in passing a law that would give it more freedom to collect information in its fight against terrorism, even if local businesses and human rights organizations are criticizing the initiative. DON’T MISS: Watch the leaked Batman v. Superman IMAX trailer right here! The new law, which prime minister Manuel Valls is rushing through Parliament, would give local spy agencies even more powers. The government would be allowed to spy on emails and calls of suspected terrorists and their families and contacts without receiving authorization from a judge. Furthermore, telecommunications