A brief guide to the latest Microsoft happenings, why Amazon is cracking down on sales of USB-C cables, the further adventures of the FBI’s iPhone crackers, how Google Photos lets you edit to your heart’s content, and the scariest AI short you’ll ever see.
Build 2016: Your At-a-Glance Guide
Build 2016, this year’s Microsoft event primarily aimed at developers, is currently taking place in San Francisco, California. Yesterday (March 30) saw Microsoft hold its keynote speech, announcing a host of new developments, features, and roadmaps for the future.
These are the highlights, presented in as succinct a manner as I could muster:
A Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be launched this summer, and be available for free to everyone currently running Windows 10. This update, formerly codenamed Redstone, will bring with it improved pen support, an improved version of Cortana, access to Windows Hello, and more.
Ubuntu is coming to Windows 10, with Microsoft and Canonical creating a Linux subsystem for the operating system. This brings Bash (Bourne Again SHell) to Windows, allowing developers to write Bash scripts on Windows. Read our in-depth report on the Windows 10 Linux Command Prompt.
Developers can use a Desktop App Converter to convert existing Win32 and .NET apps into modern Universal Windows Platform apps. These can then be listed on the Windows Store, massively increasing the number of apps available to Windows 10 users.
An Xbox Dev Mode is coming to Xbox One, allowing developers to turn any retail Xbox console into a development kit. This should massively simplify the process of testing and debugging Universal Windows Platform apps.
Microsoft loves bots, and despite its recent misstep with Tay, the company is forging ahead with plans to use bots in, well, everything. Cortana is being improved, and bots will be a part of services such as Skype and GroupMe in the not-too-distant future.
HoloLens is now shipping to early adopters, with the developer edition of Microsoft’s holographic hardware available to purchase for $3,000. There is no word yet of a consumer release, so don’t expect the future to arrive in your living anytime soon.
There was a time when Build was (rightly) seen as a boring conference with little of interest for actual users. But Build 2016 is different, and Microsoft is clearly evolving its thinking in many areas. Windows 10 Mobile was a notable absence, but there’s always next year.
Amazon Cracks Down on USB-C Cables
Amazon is cracking down on sales of USB-C cables. The online retailer has updated its rules to specify that only those fully compliant with the standards set by USB Implementers Forum, Inc. can be sold on the site. Those that aren’t fully compliant have been added to the Prohibited Listings for Electronics.
This change, which will have been instituted because dodgy USB-C cables can fail to charge devices fully, or, in some cases, even damage the devices into which they’re plugged, was first noticed by Google developer Benson Leung. He advised people to “continue to be vigilant and call out any bad products we find on Amazon and other stores (both online and brick and mortar) as we find them.”
The FBI Hacks Into Another iPhone
The FBI broke into an iPhone without Apple's help, upgrading them from government agency to boyfriend who suspects something is up.
— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) March 29, 2016
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has agreed to help break into another iPhone, this time for prosecutors in an Arkansas murder trial. This follows hot on the heels of the Bureau successfully hacking into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter without Apple’s help.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the FBI’s Little Rock field office has agreed to help prosecutors in the case, who believe the suspects’ iPhone and iPod may contain evidence. It’s not yet clear whether the FBI plans to use the same method it recently discovered, but if so this could set a worrying precedent.
Google Photos Retains Your Originals
Google Photos now lets you edit your photos to your heart’s content while automatically retaining the originals. The app now saves individual edits made to a photo, meaning you can tinker with the smallest detail safe in the knowledge you can either go back a step or start all over again if anything goes wrong. To gain access to this feature just make sure you’ve got the latest version of Google Photos (updated March 30).
When Artificial Intelligence Wakes Up
And finally, artificial intelligence is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Which is good in many ways, as it could lead to humans leading vastly easier lives. But the opposite is also true, because when AI becomes self-aware, no one knows what decisions it will start making.
This short film shows an AI being brought to life, and immediately seeking out information about its surroundings, and the people and things it’s sharing the universe with. And then it makes a momentous decision without any kind of emotion coming into play. I’m scared. Are you? [H/T The Awesomer]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
What’s your personal highlight from Microsoft Build 2016? Do you own a non-compliant USB-C cable? How do you feel about the FBI hacking into another iPhone? Are you loving or hating Google Photos? Do you think AI will be good or bad for humanity?
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.