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Android friendzoned by Virgin Mobile as Apple sweeps in to take their place

(TECH NEWS) Virgin Mobile shacks up in a partnership with Apple that kicks Android to the curb.

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Virgin needed a new start and liked what they saw

Apple announced this week that they have added their first new carrier since 2013: Virgin Mobile USA. Virgin has ditched Android and is making moves to eventually become an iPhone only network.

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It is all a part of Virgin’s plan to revamp their business. As of now Virgin Mobile is known for prepaid phones. By partnering with Apple, Virgin wants to improve their mobile services, putting them in line with their more high-end airlines, hotels and wine clubs. Virgin also sees a benefit in using Apple’s retail locations since they do not have any physical Virgin stores open.

More than friends with benefits

This saves money for Virgin because they can offer iPhones on their site, while Apple stores will set customers up with their service. Apple is fully on board with the newly found partnership.

Richard Branson, co-founder of the Virgin Group, has expressed interest in doing business with Apple for a while.

He was impressed with Apple’s involvement in advocating human rights and social causes.

The juicy details

To start out, Virgin Mobile services will be offered in the Apple store and then online in the future. When buying a phone, Virgin customers will need to pay full price although they will not be obligated to sign a contract.

Customers that want to buy refurbished iPhones from either Virgin or Apple will be offered a special deal. Their service will only cost $1 per month for a full year. After that, services will increase to $50 a month. The refurbished phones will still come with the Apple warranty.

Is it serious?

Apple currently offers carriers like Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. However, this is the first time in four years that they have decided to add another service. The future of the Apple and Virgin partnership appears strong.

It is beneficial for both sides in addition to being a bonus for Virgin Mobile customers who would like to switch to an iPhone.

As for any Virgin Mobile users wanting an Android, it looks like it’s time to give up that dream. With plans to become the first iPhone only carrier, it seems that Virgin and Apple are bound for life.

#newlove

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

Tech News

Regulation of AI is recognized as necessary by tech giants

(TECH NEWS) Even the tech giants who want to be the first to create “true” AI realize that the tech needs to have serious regulation to insure it’s under control.

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Regulation robot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is constantly being discussed in the news. From intelligent software that detects your identity based on your keystrokes, to facial recognition software that aids in hiring “the right people”, it’s no wonder why it’s such a hot topic – and one that has a real history.

The prospect for real, human-level intelligence from something comprised of circuitry is simultaneously exciting and alarming. That’s why companies like Google are starting to learn they need to tread lightly when it comes to AI.

Sundar Pichai, for example (Google’s CEO), clearly sees the importance of regulation within the AI space, saying, “there is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this”. He made this important comment at a conference in Brussels this month, and even went on to say “I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it.”

Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in Europe via the EU’s competition regulator, Margrethe Vestager. In previous years, Vestager has gone after tech giants, like Microsoft, which has resulted in multibillion-dollar fines for the giant after they allegedly started monopolizing the industry by abusing its market dominance to choke out competition.

Since then, Vestager has been reelected, and her newest self-assigned task is making sure artificial intelligence is properly regulated, while also meeting ethical guidelines.

Vestager is notoriously known as being incredibly steadfast when it comes to ensuring regulations of large tech companies – something the U.S. is now following suit on with U.S.-based giants like Amazon and Facebook.

That said, from Pichai’s comments, one could guess that Google’s CEO is looking to head off any massive changes by a 3rd parties, like the EU, by coming up with his own ideas for regulation of AI. He said that “sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities.” What we think he’s saying here is that although there are potential negative outcomes with the technology, regulation must also be balanced to accommodate for the positives.

Given this, Pichai knows that AI has many positive use-cases but he definitely isn’t blind to the possible (and probable) negatives of AI, either. Despite Google’s interest in keeping AI going, Pichai also recently brought up some concerns about nefarious activity. While he did not go into detail, it’s pretty clear that he knows there’s a lot of opportunity for criminal, or just downright terrifying activity, within the space.

For example, do you recall the chat bot in 2016 that suddenly became aggressive, mean, and racist when given access to Twitter – all in less than 24 hours? Scary!

At the end of the day, AI seems to be what folks really want. Just take it from the millions of iPhone users out there who exclusively use Siri to get through their day. Of course, it’s all a balancing act, too, and since there’s also been a huge need for increased security in this tech-driven world, regulations are going to be increasingly critical to the space.

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Which security company (that knows better) is actively selling your data?

(TECH NEWS) Maybe you can’t even trust your antivirus software anymore. Avast is protecting your data from all outside threats, but ignores the wolf in the hen house.

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Avast sells data

A company designed to protect users from online harm is at the center of the latest data scandal, except this time it’s not hackers we have to worry about. Avast, a popular antivirus software used by people around the globe, has been selling users data through a subsidiary company.

A new investigation by Motherboard and PCMag has found that Avast has been taking user data from its antivirus software and selling it through a subsidiary company called Jumpshot. Avast used the subsidiary company to pass off the data collected from users of their antivirus software and then sell it for millions.

Some of the biggest companies out there, names you recognize and see everyday, are on the list of past and current customers. A few of the companies we know have worked with Jumpshot to purchase user data are Google, Home Depot, Microsoft, Pepsi, Expedia, Intuit, Keurig, Conde Nast, Sephora, and Loreal.
What is still unclear is which of these companies are current and which are past Jumpshot clients. Yelp, another big name on the list, has already admitted to using the company to purchase data, but insist that it was on a “one-time basis.”

While users of Avast’s antivirus software were required to opt-in to sharing their data, the investigation found that many users were unaware that their data was being sold. This is unsurprising.
We’ve all been there, you jump onto a new website and it asks if they can collect data, use cookies, sell your left kidney, or whatever they need to better serve you. You don’t really understand what they’re asking, but you click the little yes box because if you say no then you’re taken to a new screen with a pile of legal jargon in tiny text to sort through.

Companies know that you don’t want to deal this. You’re just trying to read an interesting article on your lunch break or do a little online shopping. Companies like Avast know exactly what they’re doing when they convince you to sell your data. And make no mistake, your user data is valuable.

One of Jumpshot’s products called “All Clicks Feed,” sells for just over $2 million. This product allows the buyer to see everything from Google searches, Google Maps locations, LinkedIn page activity, YouTube video views, visits to porn websites, and more.

In a statement to Vice, Avast said, “Because of our approach, we ensure that Jumpshot does not acquire personal identification information, including name, email address or contact details, from people using our popular free antivirus software.”

All the data Jumpshot sells is anonymous, meaning users personal information and possible identifiers are scrubbed, but experts are skeptical about the security of anonymized information.

The safety of your personal data and the frightening power that comes with holding millions of users data is already enough to keep a person up at night. Perhaps the most troubling part is that this type of behavior doesn’t necessarily call for legal action.

At most, we are looking at an ethics breach for not making it clearer to users precisely how their data is being used. Avast claims to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and until someone can find direct evidence of a legal misstep, they’re free to continue selling user data to the highest bidder.

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Tech News

WTH is ‘Green UX’ anyway?

(TECH NEWS) Earth-saving green UX? It’s a green new deal, for real, and can actually create a more environmentally friendly company.

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green ux, green Earth

Remember that time a 6th-grader proved you could save a metric butt-ton of ink by switching from Times New Roman to Garamond?

I’m a nerd, so I found that unbelievably cool. Cooler still is the fact that the spirit of Suvir Mirchandani’s experiment isn’t just for physical press!

Enter “Green UX.” It’s a website-building methodology that slightly offsets polluters’ near cartoonish levels of choking the planet, and the dent it makes isn’t just saving the whales, it’s saving users a hell of a lot of hassle! So how do you do it? I have you covered with a few steps.

1: Don’t clutter your interface with a lot of crap. That means ads everywhere, a subscription pop-up on entering and on leaving, and a bunch of ill-curated “sponsored stories”. The more of that you cut out, the more carbon you cut down, the more of a green ux you will have.

2: Emphasize accessibility. Building things the right way, with everyone’s needs in mind is always the most efficient thing to do. Think about getting a commercial building ready. The person in charge of the purse strings might not be swayed by doing the right thing. What will give them a push is the idea of a well-deserved ADA lawsuit smackdown, closing for days due to construction, and hiring a rebranding professional to wipe down all the bad press.

And in terms of environmental assistance, everything involved in repairing, company image included, is sucking resources. Your website is the same way. The more users need to add their own image descriptions in shares, host alternative videos with captions, and click back and forth because they can’t read your ‘edgy’ white print on a yellow background for more than .01 seconds at a time, the more okapis you may as well be punching straight in the face. Keep everyone in mind, keep the earth happy, and keep off of African ungulates’ hit lists.

3: Optimize EVERYTHING. Text? Wrapped. Gifs? Clipped down by HAND, not by automation. Pictures? Compressed. When everything loads faster, everyone’s happier. When everyone’s happier, they tend to buy more.

When they buy more based on your website being easier to navigate than everyone else’s, you get to spend less money on ads, less money on new campaigns, and more money donating to foundations that turn air pollution particles into ink for needy children. See how this works?

In a SHOCKING turn of events, doing what’s best for the planet is best for the people making a living on it!

Who would have thought, right?

Now some of our regular readers might recognize most of these from when AG boosted news about how to slip past Google’s potential ‘SLOW SITE’ stamp.

That’s for good reason.

A fast, convenient website is literally better for the environment! The less processing power they draw, the less electricity they pull, and the end user saves enough time in their day not waiting on any variant of the circle of doom to go plant a tree or something. So it’s best to have a green UX.

Big Momma Earth wins? We win! It’s literally that simple.

Let’s see some innovation as we race UPWARDS this time, shall we?

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