Google invests in new subsea cable that connects Singapore to Australia

Google today announced that it will invest in a new subsea cable that will connect Singapore to Perth and Sydney in Australia (with a branch to Jakarta, Indonesia). The so-called Indigo cable will be almost 5,600 miles long and will be built by a consortium that also includes AARNet, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, SubPartners and Telsta.

The cable will feature two fiber pairs with a total capacity of about 18 terabits per second — with the option to expand in the future.

As Google notes, that’s enough to power 8 million simultaneous Google Hangout video calls (or are those Hangout Meet calls now?). Google, however, is obviously sharing the capacity here, so it won’t quite be able to handle all of those calls at any given time. It’s also worth noting that 18 terabits isn’t extremely fast by today’s standard. The subsea cable between Hong Kong and Los Angeles Google and Facebook invested in last year tops out at 120 terabits per second.

Google isn’t sharing how much it is investing in this project. We do know, though, that the APX-West cable between Singapore and Perth, which ultimately evolved into the new Indigo consortium announced today, was supposed to cost in excess of $75 million to build. The extension of the original APX project between Perth and Sydney was also supposed to include other landing sites in southern Australia. As far as we can see, those have been scrapped now.

 Google has made a total of seven subsea cable investments so far. Five of these have been in Asia.

For Google’s customers, especially in Australia, having more bandwidth available between cities like Sydney, Perth and the rest of Asia (and the Middle East and Europe from there), will result in faster connections and (maybe more importantly) lower latency. The cable itself, though, should also improve connectivity between Perth and Sydney, which is currently a rather underserved market as far as direct subsea connections go. Overall, though, Australia’s connectivity to the rest of the world is scheduled to improve quite a bit over the course of the next few years, with various new submarine cable projects slated for completion in 2018.

Swiss system ups security and reliability of finger-based biometrics

Biometrics may not be the perfect solution for security, but they can be useful — as long as they’re robust and well thought out. TouchID is all well and good, but you wouldn’t secure a nuclear site with it. Well, movies aside, you probably should secure a nuclear site with a fingerprint, regardless. But this new system from Swiss researchers is a step in the right direction.

Lambert Sonna Momo headed up a collaboration between his company, Global ID, and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which combines the former’s biometric tech with the latter’s crypto chops.

On the biometric side is a 3D vein imaging tech Sonna Momo helped put together. “Nowadays you can easily and cheaply create fake fingerprints,” he explained in an EPFL news release. “2D vein recognition technology is already used throughout the world, but the system has its flaws. With 3D analysis, the risk of counterfeits is essentially non-existent.”

Essentially, superficially similar patterns are easily differentiated when you add another dimension to the imaging. The scanner itself is relatively cheap, too — around $300 — and has been tested with a wide variety of people and skin types — it’s a major consideration in biometric optics.

EPFL, for its part, created an equally important aspect of the system: the data handling and encryption. After all, you can’t reset your fingerprint, retina or veins — once they leak, they’re compromised forever. And fundamentally, privacy is important with such things.

 So EPFL’s crypto lab put together a homomorphic encryption scheme that allows the scanner and ID system to analyze data without ever decrypting it. That also means data can live on the device and connectivity can be disrupted without disturbing security. A fringe benefit of the scheme is that if the data is stolen or leaked, patterns built into it will point at the device from which it came.

Sonna Momo is hoping the tech will prove useful in hospitals, where positive identification is critical for care, and places where quick but accurate IDs must be established, like banks.

LinkedIn’s New Trending Storylines Feature Aims to Hook More Users With News

LinkedIn on Wednesday plans to launch a section on its network dedicated to business news, seeking to draw users onto the service more frequently to read and talk about current events, company officials said.

The updates to its website and smartphone app are the latest attempt by LinkedIn, which Microsoft Corp bought last year for $26 billion, to grow beyond its roots as a job-hunting service and to add features associated with social media.

LinkedIn's New Trending Storylines Feature Aims to Hook More Users With News

LinkedIn is calling the section “Trending Storylines.” It will have a stream of links to outside news sources mixed with related posts written by LinkedIn users.

A team of editors will choose which stories to highlight, LinkedIn’s editor in chief, Daniel Roth, said in an interview. The company will not have reporters of its own.

“We think that people will start their day with this, to get the news they need,” Roth said.

On Tuesday, an early version seen by Reuters led with stories about US and British authorities banning electronic devices larger than a cellphone from airline carry-on luggage. Alongside that news was commentary about the change by LinkedIn users, including Ian Bremmer, president of consultancy Eurasia Group.

Social media networks such as Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc and Snap Inc long ago added some kind of feature spotlighting major news stories.

Unlike the others, the LinkedIn feed will be limited to topics about professions and business, trying to provide information that would be useful in work meetings, said Tomer Cohen, LinkedIn’s vice president of product.

LinkedIn has 106 million active monthly users on average and 467 million members in all, according to the company.

Facebook Is Testing Messenger-Like Bubble Texts for Its Comments Section

Facebook has been subtly tweaking its site over the past few months. The company last month brought an update that added autoplay with sound along with picture-in-picture. But Facebook has largely left one area untouched for a long time, the comments section. However, it now appears that the company is planning to bring some flavour to this with an update that seems to have been borrowed directly from Messenger.

Facebook Is Testing Messenger-Like Bubble Texts for Its Comments Section

Buzzfeed News recently confirmed that Facebook is testing out messaging bubbles for its comments section, similar to what you see on Messenger. The thread-like text bubbles, which looks to replace the current flat text layout, are being spotted by a few people using the mobile app.

“We are always working to make Facebook a more visual and engaging place to have conversations. So we’re testing multiple design updates in News Feed, including a more conversational way to comment on posts,” a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

The social networking giant has not revealed when it plans to roll out this new update and would probably like to wait and see how people are reacting to it before making a final decision. The company has in the past made some subtle updates such as pop ups that bring up individual posts in a new window, and showing when a user is typing a comment for a more conversational experience.

Facebook has over the past few months brought some questionable changes to apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, with both getting Snapchat-like Stories feature. WhatsApp last month rolled out a Status feature while Messenger got Messenger Day earlier this month. It’s safe to assume that the company will be more mindful with the changes it brings to its site and will be looking for positive user feedback before it rolls out its new update.

Google’s fight with Uber over self-driving cars is heating up

Google’s legal battle with Uber over the development of self-driving cars is already off to an ugly start. Lawyers for the two tech firms spent the last two days bickering over which attorneys should be allowed to view the trade secrets Google claims were stolen by their former employees who went to work at Uber, and a lawyer for Uber said today in court that the company has been unable to locate one of those engineers.

Google’s self-driving car unit is taking Uber to court over allegations that a star figure in the development of automated vehicles, Anthony Levandowski, stole trade secrets from Google before he abruptly quit his job. Soon thereafter, he founded his own self-driving truck company, Otto, which was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

Waymo, the self-driving wing of Google’s parent company Alphabet, claims that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 sensitive documents from a secure repository just before quitting without notice in January 2016. The company has also accused two other engineers, Radu Raduta and Sameet Kshirsagar, of swiping a handful of documents before they also accepted jobs at Uber.

Raduta doesn’t work for Uber anymore, Uber’s attorney Arturo Gonzalez told the court, and Uber hasn’t been able to locate him. Waymo claims that Raduta, who worked as a mechanical engineer for the company, downloaded several documents related to the self-driving car project last July, just before going to work at Uber.

Waymo files for an injunction against Uber’s use of its self-driving techHere’s what the head of Uber’s self-driving program wasn’t asked on stage todayWaymo sues Uber and Otto for theft of trade secrets

Gonzalez told reporters that Uber plans to argue in upcoming filings that the “whole matter” belongs in arbitration between Google and Levandowski, citing Levandowski’s contract with his former employer.

Uber also pushed back against Waymo’s claims that none of Uber’s in-house lawyers should be allowed to see unredacted versions of court filings that contain Google trade secrets. The two companies eventually settled on an agreement that just one of Uber’s in-house lawyers, Nicole Bartow, would be allowed to view the documents.

Leaked internal Uber documents show rocky self-driving car progress

New internal Uber documents leaked to Recode detail the company’s progress toward realizing its dream of a fleet of vehicles entirely devoid of pesky human drivers. As those files reveal, Uber’s month-over-month metrics aren’t exactly a steady line of progress, more a jerky sort of stumbling toward its goal of self-driving reliability. And as Uber’s court battle with Google over autonomous car tech begins, that visual is a particularly apt metaphor.

Uber’s self driving fleet, spread across Pennsylvania, California and Arizona, is driving more miles than ever, but its vehicles aren’t improving in a steady way on measurements of rider experience. Uber breaks this variable down into a few different data streams: how many miles a car makes it before a human takes over for any reason which it calls “miles per intervention,” how many miles a car goes before a “critical” driver takeover (to avoid harm or damage) and how many miles a car goes before a “bad experience,” a measure of overall ride smoothness that is less focused on safety.

By the miles per intervention measure, Uber’s fleet isn’t doing so hot. In January, an Uber autonomous vehicle could drive .9 miles before a driver takeover. By February, that number had inched up to one full mile before dropping down again to .71 miles. As of last week it was .8 miles.

When it comes to measures of critical interventions — the scary, accident-avoiding ones — Uber’s metrics are trending upward, albeit erratically. At the start of February, an autonomous vehicle could make it 125 miles without a critical intervention, but the following week that number dipped down to 50 miles. By the third week in February it shot back up to 160 miles before dipping to 115 again the following week. At the last measure, taken the week of March 8, it was up to 196 miles.

 By measures of “bad experiences” like hard stops and jerky driving, the fleet is getting worse. In mid-January, Uber self-driving cars averaged 4.5 miles before a bad experience, but by the next month that had dropped down to 2 miles, where the number remained into the first week of March.

Recode’s numbers paint a rough outline of Uber’s autonomous vehicle performance, but it’s worth remembering that the cars are still figuring out routes and learning as they go. Still, as the numbers illustrate, Uber’s fleet is demonstrating some fairly wild swings on measures of safety and reliability. The numbers may be improving in aggregate, but their erratic movement doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when it comes to taking your hands off the wheel.

Marketing slogan

Surprisingly, even though TechCrunch is owned by not one but two enormous corporate entities — the Voltron form of which I like to call Verizaol — we are hit by very little splash from the stream of time-wasting marketing exercises that form a corporation’s very being. Recently, however, we were asked to come up with an internal tagline to explain what TechCrunch is to — I don’t know who actually but some people. Probably the ones with the money.

The exercise on the whole felt like making really serviceable burritos for people who aren’t really hungry they just want to see you making burritos.

To my eternal regret, I solicited feedback from our editorial staff. Something I rarely do in these cases because those who grab hot pokers should expect discomfort.

Anyway, here’s some choice options from our internal Convo thread. Enjoy.

Mint-green Gradient

TechCrunch: With TNW team

Making Gabe Proud

Free two-day delivery

New Star Wars

Tech Real Fast

Not Dead Yet

Distraction, Since 2005

Delivering Food, Faster

Here’s Your Burrito

Om Nom Dotcom

TechCrunch: Serving above average croissants at Disrupt

The Green One

Please Click This

Tap That (mobile optimized)

Internet Website

Not A Cereal

It’s The Future

Wait, What?

Tomorrow’s Tech, Today

We Own This?

What Is It?

Tech, DMs Open

Poppin’ Hot Scoops

Thinkfluencers Growthhack Disruption

Gratuity Not Included

Investable Shower Thoughts

Slide Into Tech

Love That Joker

The Associated Press’ plan to put hyperlocal data in the hands of reporters

Since 2013, The Associated Press has been making an intentional effort to put data in the hands of local reporters. In the last few years, this meant assisting with Freedom of Information Act requests and putting a team of four engineers to work building visualizations and extracting insights from massive spreadsheets. Today the AP is entering into a joint pilot program with Data.world to equip reporters with granular, local, data for more telling stories.

Data.world is a platform for hosting and collaboratively analyzing data. As a registered B corp, the startup is on a mission to maximize its social impact — today’s partnership with the AP being no exception. The beauty of the Data.world platform is that users can set their own permission settings for individual data sets. This means that the AP can import its data and hash out conclusions in private before expressing confidence and opening up the work to readers.

“We wanted a platform focused on the data,” explains Troy Thibodeaux, data journalism team editor at the AP. “Other things were more visualization platforms but we wanted our users to get to the data and understand it better.”

Thibodeaux and his team thought about building their own platform, but ultimately decided to give Data.world a chance. In the past, the AP had done individual websites for each of their data distributions. But the new platform does more than just improve the accessibility of data, it makes it possible to pull together public and private data for better context — enabling ideas to mix that otherwise wouldn’t.

 As a cooperative of contributing news agencies, the AP is a prime hub for distributing data. Local newspapers receiving distributions can reframe the insights to suit their audience.

“Recently we did a data distribution about refugees and where they ended up in the U.S.,” added Thibodeaux. “We looked at seven countries and ten years of immigration data. We did a small story that was just a summary of the data, but our membership did a lot with that data.”

The AP will have some work ahead of it to teach newsrooms how to make the most of the new resources. But when the entire system is working effectively, the resulting data-driven local journalism will improve trust, transparency and relevance in news.

LG G6 Revealed in All Its Glory by Qualcomm Ahead of MWC 2017 Launch

LG G6, the new flagship smartphone from LG, is due to be launched in a few minutes from now at MWC 2017 in Barcelona. But there has been no dearth in excitement around the handset as prolific tipster Evan Blass revealed the LG G6 in all its glory in a leaked image showing the handset a day before the launch. Qualcomm didn’t want to be left out it seems, and has managed to leak the LG G6 in all its glory in a now deleted tweet.

LG G6 Revealed in All Its Glory by Qualcomm Ahead of MWC 2017 Launch

The Qualcomm tweet showed the LG G6 in images. Unlike Blass, Qualcomm tweeted out four images of the G6 showing the handset from all angles. The tweet read, “The LG G6 is a movie screen in the palm of your hands, thanks to Dolby Vision and Snapdragon. Coming Soon.” The tweet also included ‘Blog Link’ confirming that the company inadvertently spilled the beans ahead of any official announcement. The images shared by Qualcomm are in line with what we have been reporting for weeks now.

 

As for the LG G6 specifications, we know it will feature a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2880 pixels) display with an aspect ratio of 18:9 and pixel density of 564ppi. The smartphone is widely rumoured to sport a Snapdragon 821 SoC. LG G6 camera will be a dual rear camera setup featuring 13-megapixel sensors, the company confirmed, with a 125-degree wide-angle view. The LG G6 battery rated to have a capacity larger than 3200mAh. LG G6 is widely rumoured to come in White, Black, and Platinum colour options. The big highlight is rumoured Google Assistant integration, making it the only the smartphone to come with it, apart from the Google Pixel devices launched last year.

LG MWC 2017 event is scheduled to begin at 12pm CET (4:30pm IST) on Sunday, and users worldwide will be able to watch the event live.

LG’s event will be live streamed on its YouTube channel. If you’re watching the stream, we recommend you to be in a strong Wi-Fi connection for seamless broadcast. Gadgets 360 will also be on ground zero covering the event as it happens

Huawei P10 Images Leak Ahead of MWC 2017 Launch, Tipping Features and Design

Huawei P10, P10 Plus are set to be launched by Huawei at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, on Sunday, at an event that starts at 2pm CET (6:30pm IST). A number of leaks have given us an idea of what the Huawei P10 and its sibling, the Huawei P10 Plus, will look like along with their specifications. And now, Huawei P10 has been leaked in massive press images that tell us colour assortment along with last-minute features the device is said to pack-in.

Huawei P10 Images Leak Ahead of MWC 2017 Launch, Tipping Features and Design

The Huawei P10 will feature a fingerprint scanner on the Home button, as leaked earlier in an image render shared by tipster Evan Blass. Now, new leaked images have been spotted by GSMArena on Finnish site Suomi. The images show the device will have a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom, unlike what other major manufacturers are deciding to forgo these days. Apart from these, the Huawei P10 will have USB Type-C port next to the audio jack. Contrary to what earlier reports said, the fresh press images suggest that the Huawei P10 is tipped to have a 5.1-inch full-HD display with 2.5D contoured edge around. The rear side of the device is said to have a ‘chamfer finish’ and obviously a dual camera setup, manufactured by Leica as the former Huawei P9.

Talking about the colours, the leaked images reveal that Huawei P10 will come in two unreported colours – Greenery and Dazzling Blue – in addition to Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Graphite Black, and Dazzling Gold, which are already known from the previous leaks. Additionally, it is also reported that Huawei may also launch a new smartwatch called Huawei Watch 2.

Moving to the specifications leaked so far, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are likely to sport a Kirin 960 processor, and are expected to come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage variants. The handsets are said to sport a Leica-designed dual 12-megapixel rear camera setup while an 8-megapixel front camera will be present at the front. The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are said to come with 3100mAh battery and run the Android Nougat-based EMUI 5.1, which is also said to arrive with the new smartphones.