Facebook Drops BlackBerry, Uber Begs to Be Hacked.. [Tech News Digest]

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BlackBerry loses another supporter, Uber pays you to hack it, Toonz animation software goes open-source, Microsoft tweets like a teenager, and proof that Apple fans will believe any old crap.

Facebook Drops Support for BlackBerry

Facebook is the latest company to abandon BlackBerry, with the social network ending support for BlackBerry 10 later this year. Both Facebook and Facebook Messenger will no longer be supported on BlackBerry’s own blighted operating system, with Facebook following in the footsteps of WhatsApp, which announced in February that it was ending support for BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has expressed disappointment with Facebook dropping support, saying:

“Facebook made the decision to discontinue support of their essential APIs for BlackBerry and WhatsApp announced they would end support for BlackBerry 10 and BBOS at the end of 2016. We are extremely disappointed in their decision as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands.”

The problem for BlackBerry is that it has such a small share of the market, meaning it’s difficult for Facebook and others to dedicate time and effort into supporting the platform. BlackBerry users can continue to use the mobile Web version of Facebook, but it won’t be as eminently usable as the app. And honestly, it may just be time to switch to one of the more sensible options, whether that’s Android, iOS, or Windows 10 Mobile.

Uber Is Looking for Hackers

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Uber is actively seeking hackers capable of hacking into its websites and apps. This is by way of a new public bug bounty program which has generous rewards on offer to anyone who successfully finds a vulnerability and divulges it to the company. Payouts could be as high as $10,000 for critical issues.

John Flynn, Uber’s Chief Information Security Officer, said:

“We believe that bug bounty programs are an important part of the modern software development lifecycle. Our unique program combines healthy rewards, a loyalty program, and a ‘treasure map’ of information to incentivize our community to find even the most subtle bugs as we work together to protect users.”

Uber has something of an image problem for various reasons, including the outspoken views of its executives and the actions of its drivers. However, a bug bounty program is a sign that the company is growing up and taking its responsibilities towards security seriously. Which is a start for this disruptive company.

Toonz Is Available for Free

Toonz, a popular piece of animation software, is getting a free, open-source version. This will allow animators, both aspiring amateurs and perfectionist professionals, to create animations. The free version will be Toonz Ghibli Edition, with new owner Dwango acquiring the software from Digital Video.

Studio Ghibli’s Executive Imaging Director Atsushi Okui commented on the news, saying:

“We are happy to hear that this open-source version contains the Ghibli Edition. We hope that many people inside and outside of the animation industry will utilize this software for their work.”

You may not have heard of Toonz, but, as noted by Cartoon Brew, it was used to create both Futurama and works of art by the aforementioned Studio Ghibli. Toonz has been around since 1993, and is able to convert hand-drawn art into vector graphics. The official unveiling is expected at Anime Japan starting March 26. Dwango will continue to sell a premium version of Toonz to companies.

Microsoft Tweets Like a Teenager

Microsoft has taken to tweeting like a teenager, purely in the name of science. Tay is an artificial intelligence created by both Microsoft’s Research and Technology team and its Bing team. Between them they have created a monster, who interacts on social media in the manner of a typical 18-year-old. Which, if you know any typical 18-year-olds, is unintelligible to the rest of us.

Tay has been designed to help Microsoft “experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding”. You can interact with Tay on Twitter, Kik, and GroupMe, just messaging her with some random snippet of conversation. Her reply may not make much sense, but her understanding of the vagaries of casual conversation will improve over time. And she is a teenager, after all.

The iPhone SE vs. the iPhone 5

And finally, as we explained yesterday, the new iPhone SE (Special Edition) has the brains of an iPhone 6s and the body of an iPhone 5. Apple has traveled back in time three years to deliver the oldest new smartphone ever released. But will the Apple faithful see through this charade?

No, they won’t. At least if the dummies interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! are anything to go on. These fools were handed two iPhone 5 handsets completely identical in every single way, but told one of them is an iPhone SE. And they believe it too. Behold the power of a brand.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you a disgruntled BlackBerry user annoyed at Facebook? Will you be trying to hack Uber? Are you likely to try Toonz because it’s free? Can you understand everything Tay tweets? What do you think of the iPhone SE?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credit: Mxmstryo via Flickr

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