This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology stories.
Samsung will brick US Note 7s with next update
Samsung will render remaining United States Galaxy Note 7s useless with its final update Dec. 19 – to be distributed across all major carriers within 30 days – that will prevent the devices “from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.”
This seems to be a last resort to get the flawed handsets back in the Korean company’s possession. According to Samsung, 93 percent of U.S. Note 7s have been returned, with roughly 133,000 phones unaccounted for. The next update will also kick off a push by Samsung to ramp up communication with customers that insist on keeping the devices for some reason.
“Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note7 owners to participate in the program and to take advantage of the financial incentives available.”
However, Verizon has released a statement saying that they won’t be distributing the update to its devices.
“Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders, or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”
-Jeffrey Nelson, Verizon VP of Global Corporate Communications
Obama orders review of 2016 election cyber attacks
President Obama has ordered intelligence agencies to review cyberattacks and foreign intervention into the 2016 election and deliver a report before he leaves office on Jan. 20, according to the White House.
In October, the U.S. government formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyberattacks against Democratic Party organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process … and to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders, to include the Congress.”
-Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security adviser
According to White House spokesperson Eric Schultz, the review would be a “deep dive” that would look for a pattern of such behavior over several years during election time, dating as far back as the 2008 presidential election.
“This is a major priority.”
-Eric Schultz, White House spokesperson
President-elect Donald Trump isn’t convinced Russia is behind the attacks, according to an interview he did with Time.
“I don’t believe they interfered. They became a laughing point, not a talking point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’”
-Donald Trump, U.S. President-elect
“Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month.”
-Adam Schiff (California), House Intelligence Committee senior Democrat
Facebook corrects metrics affecting ad reach, streaming reactions, Like & Share counts
Facebook has announced correcting for a few more metric issues in areas like audience estimation for ads, live video reaction counts, and its Like and Share buttons.
There’s an update rolling out to its ad creation tool that’ll give advertisers an estimate of the potential overall reach and estimated daily reach of the campaign when they start building it. According to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, its methodology on this estimation has been improved – specifically for sampling and extrapolating the potential audience size – so it’s more accurate.
This helps give a better estimate for the target audience on Facebook and cross-platform (Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network).
However, the change to Live Video metrics is a correction.
In Page Insights, Facebook was misallocating extra reactions (Likes, Hearts, etc.) to the “Reactions from Shares of Post” section instead of “Reactions on Post.” This could’ve given the impression that Live Videos were seeing more engagement when shared than they really were.
According to the company, the fix will roll out in mid-December and will increase “Reactions on Post” by 500 percent on average, while decreasing the “Reactions on Shares of Post” by 25 percent on average.
Finally, there’s a discrepancy found between the counts for Like and Share buttons via Facebook’s Graph API and the counts when you enter in a URL in the search bar in the Facebook mobile app. The company’s still working to resolve this problem.
Michigan becomes first state to pass comprehensive self-driving regulations
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed four bills into law that creates the first comprehensive statewide self-driving regulations in the U.S.
The bills effectively amend the existing Michigan Motor Vehicle requirements as well as another law that previously banned automated driving in the state.
However, only motor vehicle manufacturers are allowed to operate an on-demand network of self-driving cars. According to MDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems program manager Matt Smith, non-traditional automakers (Apple, Google, Uber, etc.) will be allowed to test and deploy their cars on public roads if the companies work with a motor vehicle manufacturer to develop/produce those cars or get their vehicle/prototype approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Google and Apple wouldn’t be classified as a motor vehicle manufacturer until they have vehicles on the open market that meet [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s] Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. For now, they would be classified as a manufacturer of automated vehicle technology and could become a motor vehicle manufacturer if they met the requirements.”
-A Michigan DOT (MDOT) spokesperson
However, a Google spokesperson noted that the company’s self-driving car arm is recognized as a manufacturer of record by the NHTSA.
The self-driving coalition’s general counsel David Strickland – which represents Google, Uber, Volvo, Ford, and Lyft – wrote that the coalition was pleased that the state was taking steps to more innovation forward but warned against creating a patchwork of state regulations.
“We’re pleased to see that the Governor of Michigan and its state legislators recognize the tremendous safety potential and mobility benefits of self-driving technology. States play an important role in road safety, such as licensing and legislation, but the federal government should provide the national framework to prevent a patchwork of state laws and regulations. We advise states to avoid developing state-specific vehicle requirements that may contribute to inconsistency across the country.”
-David Strickland, self-driving coalition general counsel
AT&T will finally refund $88M in unauthorized charges
Roughly 2.7 million current and former AT&T mobile subscribers are getting more than $88 million in refunds from the Federal Trade Commission. The refunds are part of a 2014 statement where AT&T was accused of “mobile cramming” – the practice of tacking unnecessary third-party fees onto your bill without consent – along with two known cramming companies Tatto and Acquinity.
According to the FTC, AT&T was tacking on unauthorized $9.99 monthly charges for things like horoscopes, ringtones, love tips, and other fun facts from third-party companies and then keeping 35 percent of the charges. After the FTC crackdown, AT&T changed its billing practices and had to pay into the FTC fund that’s now issuing refunds amounting to “the most money ever returned to consumers in a mobile cramming case.”
The FTC also notes that customers should be getting an average of $31 on average. Around 2.5 million customers will see refunds show up on their AT&T mobile bill in the next 75 days and another 300,000 former customers will get their return via a check in the mail.
Facebook glitch reposts people’s random, old updates
Facebook users are reporting a bizarre bug that dredges up digital memories without their knowledge or permission.
The glitch appears to be randomly grabbing users’ posts and tossing them back onto their walls – and their friend’s timelines. The reported content found by Gizmodo was able to find their timestamps altered by the glitch to look like they’d been recently posted.
Some users affected by the repost glitch noticed the issue after updating the app or checking the Year in Review feature.
Google giving employees’ holiday gifts to charity this year
Google is giving its usual employee holiday gifts to charity this year. This follows last year’s option to employees to receive either a Nexus 5X smartphone or a charity donation.
According to Fortune, $30 million worth of products were donated – including Chromebooks, smartphones, and the associated tech support – to schools.
Molotov raises $23M, launches service aiming to revolutionize live TV
Paris-based startup Molotov has raised $23 million and launched a service poised to revolutionize the way we watch TV.
“The main problem we see is people sitting on their couch at 9 p.m. at night, and after 10 minutes of navigating through channels, feeling like there is nothing on. That’s something we feel frustrated by, as users and as members of the whole TV industry. And what people see as ‘nothing on’ is quite paradoxical, because free channels in France are spending about €300 billion on content.”
Molotov is a free app that allows users to watch 70 basic free channels in France in partnership with French TV stations.
Its selling point is an elegant interface that immediately shows the user what is being broadcast at that moment. There’s no video-on-demand, however, users can “bookmark” their favorite shows with a limited number of past episodes stored in the app’s cloud for later viewing. Premium users get additional storage.
By bookmarking a show, you also get alerted when it’s going to be on, or that an episode has been saved. If you come to a show late while it’s on live, you can restart at the beginning. Molotov doesn’t let you skip commercials.