Friday Five: Getting ready for 5G and new emojis
Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. UK to give Huawei limited role in 5G network
The UK government has decided to let Huawei continue to be used in building its 5G network, despite pressure from the US to block the Chinese firm. However, there will be restrictions put in place: Huawei won’t be allowed to supply kits to ‘sensitive parts’ of the network, will only be allowed to account for 35% of the kit and will be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites.
The 5G network will mean smart cities in which everything is connected to the web, and the fear is that China would be able to suck up vast amounts of data about us, and even have the power to turn the network off. Huawei’s founder, for his part, says he would rather “shut the company down” than aid “any spying activities”.
2. Pinterest rolls out AR tool for beauty brands
Pinterest has launched an AR tool that lets users try on products from top beauty brands. The ‘try it’ option is powered by Pinterest’s smart camera ‘Lens’. Shoppers can go straight into the app to experiment with different featured products, or search for make-up related terms like ‘plum lipstick’ to try different shades.
L’Oreal, Estée Lauder and Sephora are among the beauty brands to come on board as Pinterest ramps up its focus on becoming the go-to platform for beauty inspiration. According to the platform, more than 52 million people search and engage with its beauty content each month in the US alone.
3. Transgender flag among new emojis for 2020
The next batch of emojis to be released in 2020 has been announced by Unicode, the cross-industry consortium that decides these important matters. They include animals such as beetles and worms, ninjas, and, most notably, the transgender flag and symbol, as well as more gender-neutral and gender-inclusive options.
The addition of these emojis is the latest step taken in providing the LGBTQ community with equal representation in the emoji language. The significance of these new releases shouldn’t be underestimated — as Google engineer and drag queen Anna Lytical put it on Twitter: “Getting to see yourself and your pride in technology you use is validation that you are being heard and your voice matters.”
4. New law to protect owners of smart devices
The UK government has announced new legislation that aims to protect consumers who buy smart devices for their homes. The new law would require makers of smart devices to adhere to three security requirements: basically, ensure all passwords are unique, provide a point of contact to report bugs (and act on that info) and state a minimum length of time that the device will receive security updates.
These seem like fairly obvious points but up to now manufacturers have been able to do pretty much whatever they liked, including offering a default password for a more ‘frictionless’ setup experience. But with 75 billion smart devices expected in homes globally by 2025, it’s good to see basic standards being brought in.
5. Tracker to keep your cat in purr-fect health
Fitness trackers for humans, sure, but fitness trackers for cats? It might sound daft, but the PurrSong Pendant, which featured at CES 2020, simply concentrates on your cat’s activity and sleep to get data on its normal routine and, more importantly, to keep track of those times when that routine is broken.
As cat owners know, it’s hard to detect when your pet is sick, particularly as cats try to hide when they are ill. But with notifications from the PurrSong Pendant (which attaches to the cat’s collar), you should be able to spot an irregular pattern more quickly and get them to the vet sooner.