Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.
(Subscribe to our Today’s Cache newsletter for a quick rundown of the 5 best tech stories. Click here to subscribe for free.)
Zoom immersive view function
Zoom’s new Immersive View feature will take on Microsoft Teams’ Together mode, allowing meeting hosts to place (manually or automatically) video participants and webinar panelists in a single virtual background. Current Immersive View scenes can have up to 25 participants, while additional participants will be displayed in a strip of thumbnails at the top of the stage, Zoom noted in a blog post. Hosts can also move attendees around a stage, resize an attendee’s image and change scenes or return to speaker or gallery view at any time, he added. Hosts can select an available scene, upload their own, and even use their own video as a scene. Recording of the immersive view is not yet supported, Zoom noted. In another development, Google is adding new features to Meet, including a refreshed web appearance and a few other features powered by artificial intelligence.
Autonomous vehicles on UK roads
The UK government said on Wednesday that autonomous vehicles equipped with Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology could be used on UK roads for the first time later this year. “Designed for use on a low-traffic motorway, ALKS allows a vehicle to be driven in a single lane, while retaining the ability to easily and safely return control to the driver when needed,” explained the government in a press release. The technology could improve road safety by reducing human error, which contributes to more than 85% of crashes, he added. “This is a major milestone for the safe use of autonomous vehicles in the UK, making future travel greener, easier and more reliable while helping the country to rebuild better”, Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transportation, said in a statement. In another update, Lyft Inc will sell its autonomous driving technology unit to Toyota Motor Corp under a $ 550 million deal, the companies said on Monday.
SpaceX passes 1,500 Starlink satellite launch milestone
SpaceX on Wednesday launched another batch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. With this launch, followed by the deployment of satellites, the aerospace firm has now placed 1,505 Starlink satellites 550 km above the Earth’s surface in low Earth orbit. This was SpaceX’s first Starlink launch after the Federal Communications Commission approved a license amendment for its constellation of satellites. The aerospace company can now operate an additional 2,814 satellites at a range of 540 to 570 km instead of 1,100 to 1,300 km. SpaceX also paid tribute to Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 90. “Michael Collins of Godspeed Apollo 11,” SpaceX’s launch director said as the Falcon 9 rocket took off. “Let the pursuit of exploration continue.” In another development, Blue Origin, the space rocket company backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, is officially challenging the $ 2.9 billion lunar lander contract awarded by NASA to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Microsoft Office, OneNote on Amazon Fire tablets
Microsoft Office and OneNote are now available for Amazon Fire tablets. The Office app combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one app, eliminating the need to download or switch between individual apps. Fire tablet users can use the app to create and edit, sign documents, and take notes. Moreover, they can scan, convert and edit to PDF or take a photo and extract text into a document or table. OneNote can be used to capture ideas, organize and share thoughts, and sync notes across multiple devices. Office and OneNote apps can be downloaded from the Amazon Appstore in all countries where Amazon Fire tablets are sold by Amazon, Microsoft noted in a blog post. Microsoft Outlook and OneDrive apps are already available for Amazon Fire tablets. In another update, Microsoft announced Thursday that it will reduce the commission for PC games on the Microsoft Store to 12% from 30% as of August 1.
Among Us is coming to PlayStation this year
Among us, the popular social deduction game is come to playstation 4 and 5 later this year. The game will support crossplay and online multiplayer on consoles and players will have access to exclusive content from Ratchet & Clank. Among us was the world’s most downloaded mobile game in 2020, beating popular mobile games such as PUBG mobile, Roblox, and Call of Duty. Last December, Microsoft announced the availability of the game on Xbox Game Pass for PC, and announced that it would arrive on Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and Xbox Game Pass for console in 2021. We’re “excited to say it’s coming to PlayStation!” Wahhh ?! Victoria Tran, community manager at Innersloth, said in a blog post. “We can’t wait for more people to join our space team… and potentially kick some out.” In another development, the downtime of Fortnite on the Xbox Cloud Gaming service is a “ deliberate decision ” made by Epic Games.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Next Generation Tablets
Amazon has announced the next generation of Fire HD 10 tablets along with updated versions for kids. Fire HD 10 features a powerful octa-core processor, now with 50% more RAM, a brighter Full HD display, updated design, 12 hours of battery life and up to 64GB of battery life. Internal storage expandable to 1TB via microSD card, priced at $ 199.99 (around ₹ 14,800). The company also launched the Fire Kids Pro tablets for ages 6 to 12 and the next generation Fire HD 10 Kids tablet for ages 3 to 7. Fire Kids Pro comes with a full Fire tablet and one year of Amazon Kids +. The new generation of Fire HD 10 Kids offers a 10.1-inch HD display and fast performance, plus a year of Amazon Kids +, a child-proof case and parental controls. Kids’ Fire tablets start at $ 99.99 (around ₹ 7,400). Amazon last week launched a Fire TV device that offers hands-free Alexa voice control in India.
You can find out more at thehindu.com/technology