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Twitter’s Birdwatch is a new approach to tackle misinformation

Won’t be ready before the US elections

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Twitter has announced it’s working on a new feature called Birdwatch. It’ll let the community warn each other about misleading tweets that endorse the spread of misinformation or manipulate data.

The idea is still in a very nascent stage and we don’t know if it’ll be an internal tool or available to the public on the frontend. However, one thing’s for sure — it won’t be deployed in time for the US Presidential elections this year.

Birdwatch was discovered by engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who has a reputation for digging through code to find unreleased features and hidden easter eggs. The screenshot she has shared shows the ability to add notes to a tweet.

 

Birdwatch can be used by moderation teams to flag a tweet, add a note, or any other clarification. Similarly, social media consultant Matt Navarra discovered a “Add to Birdwatch” button in the iOS app. According to his screengrabs, Birdwatch will let users make public as well as private notes.

To curb the spread of misinformation, Twitter seems to be creating a complex tool that can take a plethora of feedback from the users, making it quicker to flag a tweet and take it down, if needed.

 

Another revelation by Wong shows a lengthy form where users can be precise about the tweet’s misleading nature. Based on the unearthed screenshots, a new tab called ‘Birdwatch Notes’ will be added to Twitter’s sidebar navigation.

Later, Kayvon Beykpour, Product Lead at Twitter and Co-Founder of the live-streaming app, Periscope, confirmed in a reply that he would soon be sharing more on Birdwatch.

Apps

Apple lowers its cut from App Store apps made by small businesses

Developers who earn up to US$ 1 million may take advantage of a lower 15% cut

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Apple recently launched a new developer program aimed at small businesses and indie developers. The major takeaway from the program is the reduced commission rate which will greatly benefit most developers and act as a band-aid solution to problematic App Store policies.

Through the App Store Small Business Program, Apple would only take 15% of the cut from the total revenue generated from paid apps and in-app purchases. This constitutes a 50% decrease in the standard commission rate of the company.

Apple’s rationale for launching the program is to help small businesses and developers during these difficult times. Tim Cook cited the importance of these businesses to the economy and how the App Store creates new opportunities for them. In Apple’s marketing speak, the program will help spur innovation and support entrepreneurs with their “next big thing”.

That, of course, is one way of putting it. This year, Apple’s commission rate of 30% came under fire from a majority of developers who saw that it is too much. Even big-time developers criticized this 30% cut — think Facebook, Microsoft, and Epic Games.

As such, this new developer program could be seen as a band-aid solution to appease these developers calling for a change to the company’s policies.

Eligibility for the program

Comprehensive details about the program will be made public by early December. However, Apple has already laid out the rules for a developer to be eligible for the program. The rules are as follows:

  • A developer must earn up to US$ 1 million by the end of 2020 for all the paid apps and in-app purchases.
  • Developers who signed-up this 2020 will automatically qualify for the program.
  • The standard commission rate of 30% will apply once a developer’s total revenue exceeds US$ 1 million, good for the remainder of the year.
  • Developers whose revenue falls again in the succeeding year can requalify once again the year after.

The standard 30% cut will still apply to businesses and developers earning above US$ 1 million. According to Apple, 30% is the optimum commission rate since it is the standard across app distribution and gaming platforms.

The new developer program will surely boost the earnings of most developers — particularly indie developers — who rely on paid apps or in-app purchases for their income. It is also a welcome move for Apple, especially when its App Store policies are coming under fire recently.

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Google Chrome update brings massive performance improvements

Starts 25% faster now

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Google released a new update for Chrome and said it “represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years.” The browser is now faster to load, quicker in rendering web pages, and saves a lot of battery. Alongside the performance improvement, it’s also getting some new features.

The last Chrome update of 2020, v87, has already started rolling out, and you should get it soon. Google said the new performance improvement could reduce CPU usage by 5x. This is achieved by prioritizing active tabs versus background tasks.

These significant speeds are achieved by throttling JavaScript Timer wake-ups in the background to just once per minute. This technique does not interfere with background music, video, or notifications. Overall, the browser will now start 25 percent faster while consuming less power and RAM.

Furthermore, Google claims that Chrome on Android now loads pages nearly instantaneously when it navigates backward and forward. And for the messy ones, Google is finally bringing an option to search open tabs.

The New Tab Page will soon start surfacing recently-visited and related content cards. On the phone, Google Discover offers similar functionality, and Google says it wants to make it easy for you to discover relatable content without repeated manual searches.

Chrome should update automatically when you reopen the browser, but to be on the safe side, you can go to the “More” option (three vertical dots on the top right) and tap the update option. If the option isn’t available, it means you’re already on the latest version.

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Google’s app will let banks lock your Android phone in case of defaults

The future of fintech?

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Google has released a new app called Device Lock Controller, which “enables device management for credit providers.” In simpler words, financial institutions can use the app to lock your phone in case of due payments. The company has clarified that the listing is a mistake, and it’ll soon take it down.

The app was initially launched in collaboration with Kenyan carrier Safaricom for Android Go device financing. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the application, there’s no going back.

The new app listing has not been indexed for Play Store search and does not appear in Google’s list of published apps.

XDA Developers took a deeper look at the app’s code and found that Android APIs are leveraged to remotely lock a phone. Similar APIs are used on enterprise phones to ensure a more secure environment is maintained and there’s no possibility of a data leak. Furthermore, organizations often use tracking apps to keep a close tab on employees.

While the concept looks extremely draconian, it gives us a glimpse of the future. For ages, we have always submitted a commodity or product as collateral and availed a loan or other forms of credit. It can be a house, vehicle, plot, or even gold.

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives now and our data is invaluable. Fintech companies are getting more and more innovative and looking for ways to increase lending while keeping the associated risk constant.

On a smaller scale, the financing of phones can be an ideal starting point for the concept. And that’s exactly what Google and Safaricom teamed up to achieve.

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