Apps

Zoom’s security is tied to China

Opening access to Chinese authorities

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Days ago, Zoom’s status as an indisputable teleconferencing solution today blew out of proportion. Though its userbase is still on the rise, Zoom is constantly finding more and more flaws in its infrastructure. For example, a report has recently revealed the platform’s lack of true end-to-end encryption.

Today, The Citizen Lab, a research laboratory in Toronto, revealed another concerning flaw with the popular app. Apparently, the mostly American company employs “at least 700 employees in China. Though the company is still primarily American, Zoom’s Chinese presence can open it up to “pressure from Chinese authorities.” Even if a meeting’s participants are in the US, for example, Chinese parties can still access the meeting.

As we already know, Zoom’s encryption is lackluster, allowing Zoom employees to access private information if they need to. Of course, despite the revelation, Zoom has still claimed its respect over its users’ information.

However, with potential Chinese interference, who can really tell? In the report’s conclusion, The Citizen Lab does not recommend the platform for secrecy. Though a good chunk of users come from university settings, government officials, like UK’s Boris Johnson, have also started using the platform for official state meetings.

Additionally, the report goes into a potential flaw with Zoom’s “waiting room” feature. Before a meeting starts, a host can keep participants in a virtual waiting room before starting. Apparently, the feature can allow malicious parties to infiltrate the call. However, The Citizen Lab chose not to disclose the flaw to the public. Instead, they forwarded the flaw to Zoom; the company quickly turned the feature off for now.

Regardless, even without the feature, Zoom-bombing is quickly turning into a trend. All over the world, students have found ways to access meetings from other classes even without official access. Though disruptive, Zoom-bombing is still within the realm of jokes and pranks. Of course, the infiltrative method is easily exploitable by more malicious entities.

Despite its ease of access, Zoom is quickly losing its potential as a secure online platform for the quarantine era.

SEE ALSO: Zoom, Skype now used for virtual drinking parties

Apps

Hearo app translates sign language to voice and text

Developed and improved via the Apple Developer Academy

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Hearo

The phrase “There’s an app for that!” became commonplace in the early 2010s. With more people getting their hands on iPhones and other smartphones, the number of available apps also increased. A developer from Indonesia saw this as an opportunity and made the Hearo app.

Hearo is an app that can translate sign language into voice and text, providing a more seamless way to communicate with friends who are deaf. The 23-year-old Aisyah Widya Nur Shadrina created the app along with her her all-women team.

Their goal is “to build a more inclusive community where people can communicate without barriers.” The team gained the experience to do so at the Apple Developer Academy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

They were selected for the Apple Entrepreneur Camp in 2020. There, they received code-level guidance from Apple experts and engineers. This significantly improved the in-app navigation and user experience.

This year, Shadrina and her team will attend the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) virtually happening from June 7 to 11. She says she looks forward to learning more about new Apple technologies, frameworks, and tools that can help developers build more innovative and inclusive apps.

Download the Hearo app here.

Apple Developer Academy

The first Apple Developer Academy opened in Brazil in 2013. Its goal is to provide the tools and training for aspiring entrepreneurs, developers, and designers to find and create jobs in the thriving iOS app economy.

The program has empowered students around the world with app development and entrepreneurial training. May of the said students have gone on to start their own businesses, create and sell apps on the App Store, and give back to their communities.

Since then, the company has opened more than a dozen academies across the world. Two more are on the way: one in Korea, and one in Detroit, Michigan–the first-ever US location.

Applications for the first academy cohort in Detroit — Apple’s first Developer Academy in the US — open this week. It will open in October in a newly redesigned space in downtown Detroit. It is part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

All Michigan residents 18 and over are welcomed to apply, regardless of prior coding experience, at developeracademy.msu.edu/students.

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WhatsApp will turn-off features until you accept the new T&C

Facebook wants your submission before May 15

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WhatsApp Pay

WhatsApp will continue the roll-out of its controversial terms of service, which has received a lot of criticism in the last few months for being too intrusive. Well, Facebook has made it clear that users can either accept the new terms or lose access to features.

The instant messenger has always shied away from advertisements since its inception. But its acquisition by Facebook confirmed one thing — the private, silent life of WhatsApp would change radically. The new terms and conditions are from Facebook, ensuring that all its products like Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, are ready for monetization.

“After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications, and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone,” the company said. At that point, users will have to choose: either accept the new terms, or they slowly forget WhatsApp.

The moment WhatsApp starts sending “persistent reminders,” users will encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until they accept the updates. Although, it won’t happen to all users simultaneously and will change in a phased manner.

Additionally, if you don’t use the messaging app, your account will get deleted as WhatsApp generally deletes those accounts that remain untouched for about 120 days.

The rollout isn’t going smoothly for WhatsApp, though. Germany’s data regulator has asked the instant messenger to stop processing users’ data from the country. The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) issued a three-month emergency ban on Tuesday, which is permitted under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Right now, it’s hard to gauge if Facebook will continue with its blitzkrieg or buy some time for itself and rethink the strategy. If one country has clamped down on the app, it won’t take much time for others to follow as well. Facebook is already in boiling water with American lawmakers and cannot afford to spoil relationships with any more governments.

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YouTube enters the TikTok party, announces $100 million fund for creators

Short videos are the latest hype

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shorts

TikTok has created a global phenomenon, and every platform is scrambling to have a share of the pie. After Instagram’s Reels, YouTube has debuted its own short-video-making feature called Shorts. Now, the Google-backed company intends to attract content creators.

YouTube Shorts Fund contains US$ 100 million, which will be distributed to creators over the course of 2021 and 2022. YouTube will actually reach out to “thousands” of creators whose Shorts receive the most engagement and views. You don’t have to be a part of the YouTube Partner Program, which is used to monetize standard videos.

Shorts must be original and follow community guidelines to be considered for the fund. Google is holding onto additional details about the fund as the feature is only available in the US and India at the moment. Instagram followed a similar strategy to lure TikTok users.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said on the company’s earnings call that Shorts is garnering 6.5 billion daily views globally. The company declined to provide more recent statistics for global and U.S. user bases.

“YouTube has helped an entire generation of creators and artists turn their creativity into businesses, paying more than US$ 30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years,” Singer wrote. “The Shorts Fund is just the first step in our journey to build a long-term monetization model for Shorts on YouTube.”

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