July 2017’s Top Tech News Stories
Every new month brings new tech news with it, and businesses have good reason to pay attention. New technologies, updates to current tech tools, and the moves of the big tech companies are all likely to have an influence on how you run your business.
To help you stay in the loop, we’ve scanned the web to bring you the top tech news you should be sure to keep your eye on in July.
1. Uber Undergoes Big Changes
The tech news world has Uber on the mind. The company’s not new to scandal, but the past month saw the ouster of the company’s CEO, the continuation of an intellectual property lawsuit against the company, and accusations that they ignored clear warning signs in hiring a driver that allegedly raped a passenger. In spite of all the bad press and big changes in the company though, Uber recently announced that their drivers have provided over 5 billion trips. Even as things get rough, the company still maintains a significant portion of the ridesharing market share.
2. Amazon Broadens Its Business Empire
The other big story that got lots of people talking last month was the online giant’s purchase of a giant in an entirely different industry. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods suggests a big shift from the company into an industry they’ve only dabbled in so far: fresh food delivery. People can already order just about anything else they could possible need from Amazon, so why not add grocery delivery to the mix as well?
While for some customers this looks like great news, for other companies in the food delivery business it’s troubling. Blue Apron’s IPO launched at about 50% less than the price they’d originally hoped for after news of the acquisition hit the news cycle. As Amazon keeps moving in new directions, businesses in a variety of industries keep having to scramble to compete with the company’s dominance.
3. The Petya Virus Reveals Our Cyber Vulnerabilities (Again)
Last month we saw the WannaCry virus scare businesses and governments around the world into focusing more on their computer security. Without giving us much time to take a breath, the Petya ransomware attack hit a huge number of businesses and organizations throughout Europe and the United States. The malware program demanded $300 in bitcoin for people to save their files.
If you’ve ever been lax about the security of your computer and website, these last couple of months have demonstrated the importance of acting to protect yourself. Make sure your website is secure and always back up your files.
4. WhatsApp Gains in Significance
You hear about so many new apps and channels and platforms every day that it’s hard to know which ones are worth paying any attention to. A recent report suggests that WhatsApp is not one to be ignored. The app now trails only Facebook and YouTube in how frequently people around the world use it – beating out the much more talked-about platform Twitter. If you’ve been ignoring WhatsApp so far, it might be time to familiarize yourself with the platform.
5. Twitch Releases Update
The popular gaming platform has announced plans to launch an update this month that provides many features gamers have been asking for. The mobile update will include the option of streaming games directly on your mobile app, the addition of a “dark mode,” and easier navigation options.
6. New Video Conference Camera Goes to Market
In a move likely to be relevant to a number of businesses, Owl Labs just launched a product specifically focused on improving videoconferencing. The new camera, called simply Owl, will record a 360º view of the room and automatically focus in on the person talking at any given time. For businesses that have a lot of meetings over video, the technology can simplify and improve the experience. And it adorably resembles an owl.
7. Facebook and Google Move to Correct Privacy Issues
Even as Facebook has comfortably dominated the social media space, it has time and again earned criticisms from users concerned about privacy. Google has similarly been successful in a number of areas its ventured into while also facing discomfort at times from users who feel the company goes too far in tracking and using the information they collect.
Both companies are showing they’ve heard those criticisms (at least to a degree) and are taking some moves to respond to them. Facebook has released features that allow users in India to protect who has access to their profile pictures. Google has announced that those ads you see when logged into your Gmail account that creepily promote things mentioned in your emails should be a thing of the past, as they won’t have their algorithms scanning email content anymore for personalization.
For those concerned about their privacy on these platforms, these steps seem pretty small, but they show that the companies are listening to user concerns to at least some degree.
8. Facebook and YouTube Take Steps Against Extremist Content
Recent months have seen a rise in stories about extremist behavior. A lot of people believe that part of the blame for the rise in extremism is the accessibility of hate speech and other extremist content online. To do their part in helping curb the growth in extremist movements, both Facebook and YouTube are taking steps to identify and remove any content that’s hateful or promotes terrorist activities from their sites.
9. Congress Takes Aim At Internet Harassment
For years, victims of online harassment have been complaining that the law hasn’t caught up to technology. The lack of clear laws or a process for responding to online harassment has given online harassers a lot of power over the lives of their victims, and the victims very little power to fight back. The Online Safety Modernization Act proposed by Rep. Katherine Clark seeks to change that.
If the bill passes, it will outlaw abusive online behavior such as doxxing, revenge porn, and swatting. It will also provide funding to train local police in how to handle these types of crimes when they arise. While legislation likely won’t solve all the problems of people behaving badly online, it may well help the internet become a safer space for many of those victimized there now.
10. Companies Moving Us Closer to Having Robots in the Home
Any tech innovation that moves us closer to the cool possibilities we saw in sci-fi movies will always be exciting, and several companies are working to move us toward a future where families can have robots in the home.
The toy company Sphero is launching a company, Misty Robotics, that aims to create robot butlers that can tackle some of those pesky domestic tasks humans have to perform now. The home robot Kuri, from Mayfield Robotics, is becoming more advanced as the company continues to hone the technology. They’ve announced it’s now able to recognize pets, as well as humans, it can move around more smoothly, and it can livestream high-quality video. And finally, the German company Kuka that makes the robotics products that help build cars and machines is branching into the home robot field as well.
With more and more companies moving into this space, the possibility that you’ll have an (affordable) home robot to help you out around the house in the next few years is starting to seem within reach.
11. YouTube Provides Better 360 Video Analytics
A bit less exciting, but more immediately important to some readers will be YouTube’s announcement that it will be providing better analytics data to users that load 360 videos to the platform. The video platform will now use heat maps to demonstrate to video creators the parts of the 360 video that attract the most attention from viewers. If you use 360 videos in your marketing, this improvement will help you better understand what’s working.
The summer so far has been rife with exciting tech news and updates and there’s no reason to expect things to slow down now. Check back next month to learn the tech news to watch in August.
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.