If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new iPhone
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this last week, you can’t help but have noticed the launch of Apple’s newest piece of hardware, the iPhone X (pronounced ‘iPhone Ten’). It represents the next step in what has been the massive evolution of social technology in just 10 short years. The thing with the iPhone, is it’s not necessarily what Apple creates that revolutionises communication, rather what app developers in bedrooms and cramped offices across the globe come up with and how (often) younger adopters choose to use the devices. The internet connectivity of the early phones, made quick text communication simple and accessible, Twitter flourished. The front facing camera was designed for video calling, but spawned the selfie phenomenon without which Instagram may never have taken off. Camera improvements and processing speeds enabled the likes of Snapchat to add imaginative filter overlays to live video. The introduction of 3D facial recognition and the new phone’s augmented reality function will surely result in something more disruptive than a talking poo emoji. It will be interesting to see where the new iPhone X’s processing power and leading edge technical specifications will take the social sphere in the next couple of years.
Instagram deletes images of disabled child
We were pretty shocked this week to read about the story of photos of a disabled boy being removed from his mother’s Instagram feed. When Charlie Beswick from Stoke-on-Trent posted pictures of her son, Harry, she was doing what we all do, sharing special moments with the world. Little did she expect that the images would be reported and the images blocked by Instagram. The issue? Harry has Goldenhar syndrome meaning he has a differently developed face, without an eye, eye-socket, ear, nostril and a shortened jaw. Too often disability is airbrushed from our media. Instagram frequently falls short of presenting an accurate view of the world, with an endless parade of Photoshopped unattainable “perfection”, so it’s good news to see that Instagram restored the images of a happy 12-year-old enjoying time with his family.
Facebook crashes the houseparty
Facebook has established a reputation for pilfering the innovations of smaller up-start rivals, once it was Twitter (hashtags and @ handles), more recently Snapchat (filters, disappearing content). Now they’re at it again, this time launching their own just-different-enough version of Houseparty, a fledgling app that allows for multiple video chat feeds at once to enable group conversations. Facebook’s equivalent, Bonfire, has been launched quietly in Denmark to test the waters, but it is another example of the social networking giant’s attempts to stem the flow of younger users to its rivals.
We’re not quite sure what to make of this story on Futurism about scientists in South Africa connecting a brain to the internet. The story all seems a little innocuous; it’s a project that live-streams brainwaves for users of the World Wide Web to review and analyse, effectively a data collection exercise.
The rational part of us has us stroking our chins gently, admiring the know-how and motivation to achieve such a feat. The irrational part however, has us leaping for the tin foil to make protective headgear.
It’s thought the breakthrough will aid machine learning (where artificial intelligence can identify hidden insights in data without having been programmed to do so). Conversely it could eventually be used to stimulate brain activity for those with neurological diseases and injuries, perhaps helping those with locked-in syndrome to communicate. A more sinister application is the potential for the technology to programme some people to be much more intelligent than others, at which point the ethics become a bit murky.
Foil hat anyone?