The Top Tech News of February 2018
A new month means a new batch of tech news.
For professionals who know that changes in the tech world influence your business, but have trouble staying on top of it all on your own, we bring you our monthly roundup of tech news to keep an eye on this month.
1. Tech Giants Tackle Online Security
With news of Metdown and Spectre bugs that cause serious vulnerabilities in computer systems, we’re once again all reminded how difficult it is to protect our sensitive data online.
A number of businesses are scrambling to create patches that will protect their users from the bugs, and tech businesses are continuing in their ongoing efforts to increase online security proactively, as well as in response to each new bug and hack.
Google has launched Chronicle, a company devoted to finding hackers fast using machine learning, and Apple has created a Privacy icon to help customers tell the difference between legitimate requests for their login information and phishing attempts.
2. AR a Top Trend at CES
Every year, CES gives tech companies a chance to show off what they’re working on and shows the rest of us what trends to expect in the year to come.
This year, a lot of the main tech trends and product categories you expect to see were still well covered – autonomous cars, smart home tech, AI – but one of the significant trends on display was the growing efforts to create products in the AR space. There’s the Vuzix Blade (pictured right), which is like a better-looking take on Google Glass. There’s the MonoHD from DigiLens, which uses AR tech to improve motorcycle safety. And Realmax shared their prototype of AR goggles.
It looks like things are heating up in the AR world and this is a trend people can expect to see more of in the coming year.
3. Facebook Makes New Updates to Feed
Facebook recently announced plans to make some changes to how stories and updates show up in people’s feeds. Recent changes include prioritizing posts from friends and family over those from brands or media companies, giving greater priority to publishers that are considered trustworthy by a wide range of users, and giving extra weight to local news stories.
The goal is to improve users’ experience on the platform, but not everyone’s happy about the change. Brands are concerned about losing reach on the platform (and not for the first time) and investors are leery as well – the company’s stock value dropped soon after the changes were announced.
Whether everyday users see the updates as an improvement is still up in the air, but will likely have the biggest influence on whether or not Facebook continues on this route.
4. Google Chrome Takes On Autoplay
Pretty much everyone that spends time online is familiar with a particularly obnoxious and common experience: opening a link only to be bombarded with noise from an autoplay video on the website.
We all hate it, yet websites keep doing it. Well, Chrome is here to help. The browser now provides users the option to permanently mute any site you choose.
If you still use auto-play video on your own website (and what are you thinking? That’s a surefire way to increase bounce rates!), this change makes them that much less effective. Follow Chrome’s lead and give the people what they want by taking those autoplay videos down.
5. Twitter Releases Information about Russian Bots
One of the biggest tech stories of the past year has been the way the Russian government used social media platforms and search engines to influence the U.S. election.
Both Twitter and Facebook have been asked by politicians to take a more active role in identifying and weeding out the Russian bots and fake news that gets shared on their platforms. This past month, Twitter contacted over a million users to let them know they’d interacted with Russian propaganda on the platform. And the total number of people exposed to Russian propaganda may well be higher.
Knowing about the propaganda after the fact doesn’t change the influence it had at the time, but maybe now that tech companies are more aware of the problem, they’ll be better at recognizing and doing something about propaganda moving forward.
6. Amazon Opens Autonomous Grocery Store
If the main thing you hated about going shopping was having to wait in line to check out, then Amazon’s new Amazon Go store solves that problem for you.
The first location just opened in Seattle and anyone who shops there need only scan the Amazon Go app on their phone on the way in, select the items they want, and walk out with them. The company uses sensors and cameras to monitor what items people choose and make sure they’re charged accordingly.
Whether or not the autonomous grocery store concept will really take off remains to be seen – and whether or not the technology will successfully make sure people are charged the right amount without issues is a big part of how this all plays out. But if it does, this is one more way for Amazon to disrupt a familiar business model and one that might both change how people shop and leave some people left behind out of work.
7. Developer Week Is Coming
From February 3-7, thousands of developers will gather in San Francisco for Developer Week. The conference provides opportunities for networking, showcases speakers from a number of tech giants, and includes a hackathon (with cash prizes).
For anyone wanting to learn more about some of the most important technologies in the tech world today, this is an event worth checking out.
8. States Pass Their Own Net Neutrality Laws
The repeal of net neutrality late last year was a very controversial move that left a lot of citizens offended and riled up.
Plenty of politicians agreed with the outrage and some of them are taking steps to pass laws upholding net neutrality rules at the state level. Six states have already gotten a net neutrality law on the books and several more have one in the works.
For something as popular as net neutrality, it just makes sense for state and local representatives to get involved and work for what their constituents want.
9. YouTube Makes Monetizing Video A Lot Harder
Making money on YouTube has never been easy, but it’s been a possibility within reach for any content creator that could gain a niche following. Now many of them are finding their ability to make any money on the platform at all cut off.
YouTube has just changed the rules around who’s able to make money from the site. Anyone that has less than 1,000 subscribers or has been viewed less than 4,000 hours in the last year will no longer qualify for monetization.
Many YouTubers are livid, voicing their anger at the decision on various platforms, in some cases while pleading with their fans to press that “subscribe” button or spend some more time watching to help them make the cutoff. For marketers, this is one more reminder not to build too much of your brand on a platform you don’t own – you never know when a change they make will ruin your ability to stay afloat there.
10. Mobile World Congress
The Mobile World Congress, the largest conference in the mobile industry, meets this month in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1. With over 100,000 attendees, it’s the place to be for anyone working in the mobile industry. We can expect to see new mobile products and features launched and hear about important news and trends in the world of mobile as news starts to come out of the conference.
Like every month, February is sure to include tech news none of us could anticipate. Check back next month to see what new stories to follow as we move into March.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.