Interest rates and fears of a mounting trade war send tech stocks lower

Shares of technology companies were battered in today’s trading as fears of an increasing trade war between the U.S. and China and rising interest rates convinced worried investors to sell. The Nasdaq Composite Index, which is where many of the country’s largest technology companies trade their shares, was down 219.4 points, or 3 percent, to 7,028.48. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 395.8 points, or 1.6 percent, to 25,017.44. Facebook, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Apple, Netflix and Amazon all fell into bear trading territory, which means that the value of these stocks have slid more than 20 percent. CNBC has a handy chart illustrating just how bad things have been for the largest tech companies in the U.S. Some of the woes from tech stocks aren’t necessarily trade-war related. Facebook shares have been hammered on the back of a blockbuster New York Times report detailing the missteps and misdirection involved in the company’s response to Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Investors are likely concerned that the company’s margins will shrink as it spends more on content moderation. And Apple saw its shares decline on reports that sales of its new iPhones may not be as rosy as the company predicted — although the holiday season should boost those numbers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple has cut the targets for all of its new phones amid uncertainties around sales. The Journal reported that in recent weeks, Apple had cut its production orders for all of the iPhone models it unveiled in September, which has carried through the supply chain. Specifically, targets for the new iPhone XR were cut by one-third from the 70 million units the company had asked suppliers to produce, according to WSJ sources. Those sales numbers had a ripple effect throughout Apple’s supply chain, hitting the stock prices for a number of suppliers and competitors. But the U.S. government’s escalating trade war with China is definitely a concern for most of the technology industry as tariffs are likely to affect supply chains and drive prices higher. According to a research note from Chris Zaccarelli, the chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance, quoted in MarketWatch, interest rates and slowing global growth are adding to trade war pressures to drive tech stock prices down. “Tech continues to be caught in the crosshairs of the triple threat of rising interest rates, global growth fears and trade tensions with China,” Zaccarelli wrote. “Trade war concerns with China weigh on the global supply chain for large technology companies while global growth fears worry many that future earnings will be lower,” he said.

Gender-Neutral Emoji Headed to Apple Devices

The latest batch of iOS emoji includes three gender-neutral characters: an adult, kid, and senior citizen.

Snapchat adds GIF stickers via Giphy, plus new Friends and Discover screen tabs

Snapchat is bringing one of the best recent features of Instagram Stories to its own app, with the ability to add GIF stickers from Giphy to your posts. This is a notable reversal of the typical pattern we’ve seen of Instagram cloning Snapchat features, but it’s a good one for users since GIF stickers for Stories are basically the greatest thing ever invented on social media. The… Read More

Tenor hits 12B GIF searches every month

David McIntosh’s startup Tenor builds a GIF keyboard — but he actually hopes you’ll spend as little time searching on it as possible. Instead, Tenor’s aim has been to collapse the amount of time it takes you to find a GIF you like and send it to a friend. Read More

The maker of the Turing Phone files for bankruptcy and suspends manufacturing

Turing Robotic’s CEO says the company isn’t done. But it’s definitely hit another significant roadblock in its quest to bring some fun alternative handsets to the market. The Finnish phone maker’s story so far is one of delay after delay, and now it’s announced, via Facebook post, that it’s suspending manufacturing. CEO Syl Chao’s didn’t offer… Read More

Coolpad Conjr

The unlocked Coolpad Conjr is an affordable phone that's comfortable to hold and use, but it falls short on performance and battery life.

Apple Pay finally launches in Germany

Apple’s mobile payment technology has finally launched in Germany, some four years after it debuted in the U.S. On its newly launched Apple Pay website for Germany, Apple lists partner banks and credit card companies at launch, with customers from the likes of Deutsche Bank, O2 Banking, N26, Comdirect, HypoVerensbank, Bunq and Boon able to tap up the payment method directly. Some fifteen banks and services are supported at launch. A further nine banks are slated as adding support in 2019, including DKB, INK and Revolut. iOS users in the country can now add supported debit or credit cards to Apple Pay to make contactless payments with their device, rather than having to carry cash. Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID biometrics are used to a security layer to the payment system. The local Apple Pay site also lists a selection of retailers, with Apple writing: “Apple Pay works in supermarkets, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and many other places. You can also use Apple Pay in many apps — and on participating websites with Safari on your Mac, iPhone or iPad.” Aside from convenience, the other consumer advantage Apple touts for the system is privacy, with Apple Pay using a device-specific number and unique transaction code — and the user’s actual card numbers never stored on their device or on Apple’s servers — which means trackable card numbers aren’t shared with merchants, so purchases can’t be tied back to the individual. While that might sound like an abstract concern, a Bloomberg report this summer revealed details of a multi-million deal in which Google pays for transaction data from Mastercard — in order to try to link online ad views with offline purchases in the US. Facebook has also long been known to buy offline data to supplement the interest signals it collects on users from inside (and outside) its social network — further fleshing out ad-targeting profiles. So escaping the surveillance net of one flavor of big tech can require buying into another. Or else going low tech and paying in cash. Apple does not say what took it so long to add Germany to its now pretty long list of Apple Pay countries but Apple Insider suggests the relatively late adoption was down to pushback from local banks over fees, noting that it’s four months after the official announcement of a German launch. It’s also true that paying by plastic isn’t always an option in Germany, as cash remains the dominant payment method of choice — also, seemingly, for privacy purposes. So Apple Pay is at least aligned with those concerns.

Motorola Tips Super-Slim Moto Z2 Force Edition

The new Moto Z2 Force Edition has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and supports a new 360-degree camera mod.

‘Google You Owe Us’ claimants aren’t giving up on UK Safari workaround suit

Lawyers behind a UK class-action style compensation litigation against Google for privacy violations have filed an application requesting permission to appeal against a recent High Court ruling blocking the proceeding. In October Mr Justice Warby ruled the case could not proceed on legal grounds, finding the claimants had not demonstrated a basis for bringing a compensation claim. The case relates to the so called ‘Safari workaround’ Google used between 2011 and 2012 to override iPhone privacy settings and track users without consent. The civil legal action — whose claimants refer to themselves as ‘Google You Owe Us’ — was filed last year by one named iPhone user, Richard Lloyd, the former director of consumer group, Which?, seeking to represent millions of UK users whose Safari settings the complaint alleges were similarly ignored by Google, via a representative legal action. Lawyers for the claimants argued that sensitive personal data such as iPhone users’ political affiliation, sexual orientation, financial situation and more had been gathered by Google and used for targeted advertising without their consent. Google You Owe Us proposed the sum of £750 per claimant for the company’s improper use of people’s data — which could result in a bill of up to £3BN (based on the suit’s intent to represent ~4.4 million UK iPhone users). However UK law requires claimants demonstrate they suffered damage as a result of violation of the relevant data protection rules. And in his October ruling Justice Warby found that the “bare facts pleaded in this case” were not “individualised” — hence he saw no case for damages. He also ruled against the case proceeding on another legal point, related to defining a class for the case — finding “the essential requirements for a representative action are absent” because he said individuals in the group do not have the “same interest” in the claim. Lodging its application for permission to appeal today, Google You Owe us described the High Court judgement as disappointing, and said it highlights the barriers that remain for consumers seeking to use collective actions as a route to redress in England and Wales. In the US, meanwhile, Google settled with the FTC over a similar cookie tracking issue back in 2012 — agreeing to pay $22.5M in that instance. Countering Justice Warby’s earlier suggestion that affected class members in the UK case did not care about their data being taken without permission, Google You Owe Us said, on the contrary, affected class members have continued to show their support for the case on Facebook — noting that more than 20,000 have signed up for case updates. If leave to appeal is granted, the legal team said it would argue that the High Court judgment was incorrect in stating the class had not suffered damage within the meaning of the UK’s Data Protection Act; and that the class had not all suffered in the same way as a result of the data breach. Commenting in a statement, Lloyd said: Google’s business model is based on using personal data to target adverts to consumers and they must ask permission before using this data. The court accepted that people did not give Google permission to use their data in this case, yet slammed the door shut on holding Google to account. By appealing this decision, we want to give affected consumers the opportunity to get the compensation they are owed and show that collective actions offer a clear route to justice for data protection claims. We’ve reached out to Google for comment. Update: A Google spokesperson told us: “The privacy and security of our users is extremely important to us. The Courts have already dismissed this case, finding it to be without merit.” This report was updated to clarify that the claimants have lodged an application for permission to appeal; rather than lodging an appeal itself

YouTube’s mobile app gets a dark mode

YouTube’s mobile app is getting a dark mode. The company announced this morning its dark theme first introduced on its desktop site last year, is launching today on the YouTube iOS app and arriving soon after on Android. With the setting enabled, YouTube’s background turns from white to black throughout the YouTube experience as you navigate, search and browse its app. The setting… Read More

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