Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. New petrol and diesel cars banned from 2030
A ban on new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will come into force in the UK in 2030, according to Boris Johnson. The prime minister added that some hybrids would still be allowed as he outlined a “green industrial revolution” to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear energy.
The 10-point plan also includes producing enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, investing in zero-emission public transport and making the City of London the global centre of green finance. A £4bn package has been allocated to the plan, although critics say that is far too small for the scale of the challenge.
2. Twitter Fleets jump on the Stories bandwagon
Twitter is rolling out a new feature across the world called Fleets: tweets that disappear after 24 hours, as it joins Instagram and Facebook in copying Snapchat’s successful Stories feature. Twitter says it hopes the feature will encourage people to post without having to worry about others liking or sharing their tweets.
The ephemeral nature of Fleets also means that they can’t be dredged up to harm someone’s reputation, which could be looked at as a positive or a negative thing. However, you can be sure that a famous person’s controversial Fleet would quickly be screenshotted and shared, so the Twitter community can still get its fix of rage.
3. New feature makes Zoombombers blow up
Zoom has introduced a feature that lets users temporarily pause meetings if they are disrupted by ‘Zoombombers’. As Zoom usage skyrocketed during the pandemic (amazing to think most of us had never heard of Zoom a year ago), hackers found ways to invade calls to display shocking videos and disruptive content.
This new security feature means users can suspend the meeting with a click, meaning video, audio, chat and everything else will be suspended and the host can report the culprit to Zoom. It’s being enabled by default for all users — and could also come in handy on family chats if your uncle starts wittering on about politics…
4. Facebook moderators demand Covid help
More than 200 content moderators at Facebook across Europe and the US have signed an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding better Covid-19 protection. They say management has put their lives at risk by forcing them back to the office, especially as full-time Facebook employees are working from home until July 2021.
Facebook has been under intense pressure to stop the spread of misinformation, particularly during the US election campaign. It tried to rely more heavily on AI to detect content that violated its policies but the letter says “AI wasn’t up to the job”. Among the demands, they want Facebook to stop outsourcing their work.
5. Is this cat chat app the purr-fect solution?
A lot of cat owners would argue they can already tell what their pet is trying to say, but just in case an engineer has developed an app that aims to translate your cat’s miaow. MeowTalk records the sound and then tries to identify the meaning. Currently the database has 13 phrases including ‘“Feed me”, “I’m angry” and “leave me alone”.
Each cat’s miaow is unique and tailored to its owner, with some more vocal than others. So, instead of a generic database for cat sounds, the app’s translation differs with each profile. The eventual aim is to develop a smart collar that translates the miaow instantly and a human voice would speak through the collar. Imagine that…