alao News in February 2024: Cell phone reception during power outages, foldable iPhones, AI creates videos

26 February 2024
Cell phone reception during power outages, foldable iPhones, AI creates videos

Don’t fancy having to subscribe to an endless number of tech sites to stay up to date? Then we have good news: Our alao digest provides you with the most important tech, device and provider news once a month. In February, this news was important.

Cell phone reception during power outages: providers fail

Although power outages are rare, they can cause devastating damage in today’s networked world. The federal government has also recognized this and wants to oblige providers to ensure cell phone reception during a power outage. As reported by the Tagesanzeiger (link in German), the plan to purchase diesel generators and batteries will cost up to 145 million euros a year. The federal government argues that the economic damage caused by a power outage amounts to over 16 billion Swiss francs and that a price increase of 50 centimes per subscription and month is manageable for consumers.

The providers reject the federal government’s proposals. Providers are particularly critical of the additional access to the Internet. Swisscom wants to equip its antennas with the latest battery technology to ensure network reception for up to 4 hours.

Google releases first version of Android 15

In mid-February, Google presented the first version of Android 15. In this version, Google is primarily promoting improvements in terms of security. In recent months, security vulnerabilities have become known more and more frequently, and people are also increasingly wondering whether their smartphone could be hacked. Google will therefore be making changes to the Privacy Sandbox and File Integrity and updating the NFC chip via the Play Store in future. In future, it will be possible to share only one app window when sharing the screen. This should prevent support from gaining insights into other apps, for example when switching to the Messages app. In addition to the security updates, Google is also giving content creators more features. For example, the camera preview in third-party apps in low-light environments is to be improved, and Android 15 also brings UMP support for virtual MIDI apps. Google has summarized all changes on this page. Android 15 will be released for Google Pixel 6 or newer in late summer.

Apple buries foldable iPhones – for the time being

Anyone hoping to hold a foldable iPhone in their hands will probably have to wait several more years. According to insiders, Apple has abandoned its foldable plans for the time being after internal tests with prototypes proved unsatisfactory. The weak point proved to be the folding point, which is exposed to the highest stresses in all smartphones – remember the Galaxy Fold disaster. The same Samsung technology should also be used in the foldable iPhones. Apple has been working on foldables since 2016, but Apple itself does not expect a possible release until 2026.

Record fine for Apple

In recent months, we have repeatedly reported (also in our smartphone trends) that legislators are scrutinizing the market power of the big tech companies. After Google and Amazon in the US, Apple is now facing trouble in the EU. The EU Commission will impose a record fine of 500 million euros on the iPhone company. Apple is alleged to have exploited its market power and systematically disadvantaged other companies via its App Store. The streaming service Spotify filed a lawsuit back in 2019, accusing Apple of favoring its own music service Apple Music. Spotify had to use Apple’s billing service and pay 30 percent to the tech giant for each subscription. The Digital Markets Act put a stop to this practice in the EU. Apple must now allow alternative app stores.

The next level of AI: creating videos from text input

Anyone who thought that AI development would end with automatic text and image generation has been proven wrong again. The company behind ChatGPT and Dall-E has now unveiled a new AI model called Sora. The user enters a text, whereupon the AI creates a video lasting up to one minute. OpenAI has published several sample videos on its YouTube channel, but at the same time limited that the AIs still make mistakes in physics. Only selected users are currently allowed to test the new video AI. It is not yet known when we will be able to enjoy it.

OpenAI boss Sam Altman is also planning big things behind the scenes: According to reports, the company wants to raise 5 to 7 billion dollars to drive AI chip development forward. According to Altman, the rapid further development of AI models is only possible with powerful chips.

Are Peacock and Paramount+ merging?

After every media group has launched its own streaming service on the market in recent years, those responsible seem to be having a rethink. Streaming services are real money burners, especially in the current market environment with high interest rates. Disney’s streaming division posted a loss of almost 400 million dollars in the last financial quarter alone. At the same time, streaming services are falling far short of expectations in terms of the number of subscribers. The management teams at Peacock and Paramount+ also seem to have recognized this. As the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall, second source here), owners Paramount Global and Comcast are in talks. A partnership or joint venture would be possible in order to combine strengths and save costs

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