Friday Five: BBC launches tool to watch together

Zone
4 min readMay 22, 2020

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. BBC launches tool for watching together

Remember when we used to watch the same TV shows at the same time (because that’s when they were on)? Well the BBC is trialling a tool that allows you to enjoy a programme with friends during lockdown. BBC Together lets you watch or listen to content from iPlayer, Sounds, etc in sync with other people using different devices.

The host of the group sends a link, then controls when to play and pause so everyone sees the same thing at the same time. Up to 50 people can join and share the experience, swapping messages and going for synchronised tea and toilet breaks. Sounds a bit stressful if you’re the host — and irritating if you’re not.

2. Facebook turns business pages into Shops

Facebook has rolled out a major update in the US called Shops, which effectively turns Facebook and Instagram pages into digital shopfronts. A Shop would function on a business’s page or profile, from where a customer could browse its wares. In theory, a business could take its whole shopping mechanism to Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg has framed the change as an effort to help small businesses affected by the pandemic, and hopefully it will help such stores keep afloat until they can reopen again. But it’s also part of Facebook’s grand strategy to be big in e-commerce, with Instagram and Facebook Marketplace already popular resources.

3. Easyjet hit by ‘highly sophisticated’ hackers

Having already had to completely shut down its flying operations, Easyjet has now been the victim of a “highly sophisticated” hacking attempt that managed to access the email addresses and travel details of nine million people. Even more worryingly, it also accessed the credit card details of more than 2,000 customers.

Easyjet doesn’t appear to have handled the communications around the hack very well, with Twitter activity from the start of April showing Easyjet customers asking the airline whether notification emails were real (and getting no answer). It says the unfortunate nine million customers will be contacted by next Tuesday.

4. Virtual Chelsea Flower Show in full bloom

The first ever virtual Chelsea Flower Show got under way this week after the usual event at Royal Hospital Chelsea was cancelled for the first time since the second world war. Content including tours of gardens by designers such as Monty Don, potting demonstrations and a ‘school gardening club’ is being posted online.

Katherine Potsides from the Royal Horticultural Society said exhibitors would be “showing us round the corners of their gardens” and demonstrating “what they’re doing at this time to brighten up their own back yards”. My back garden has been ‘brightened up’ by hundreds of children’s toys, if anyone wants to see it?

5. KFC is back, so put the deep fryer away

Great news for fast food fans: not only has McDonald’s opened a load of drive-throughs (did you see the queues though?), KFC has announced that 500 of its UK restaurants are reopening for delivery. It celebrated the news with a YouTube video montage of people trying to recreate the Colonel’s favourite recipe at home.

The ad’s tagline is ‘We’ll take it from here’, which is fair enough, although to my untrained eye all the chicken in the advert looks perfectly respectable. Having said that, the people who actually drew the KFC logo and Colonel’s face on their homemade ‘buckets’ probably need to have a word with themselves…

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