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WhatsApp working on Expiring Media feature that deletes media files once viewed
by Rajesh Pandey
A recent report had indicated that WhatsApp was working on allowing users to link their account to multiple devices. A new beta of WhatsApp for Android now reveals that the company is working on bringing a lot more features to the platform.
WhatsApp is currently working on a feature that will allow users to send media messages that expire after a set time. Dubbed Expiring Media, the media sent by a user will automatically disappear from the recipient's phone once it is viewed.
WhatsApp already allows users to revoke sent messages, but this feature is different as it will completely disappear from the chat with their being no indication whatsoever that a media file was sent in the chat. As of now, it does not look like WhatsApp will prevent users from taking screenshots of expiring media files, though this can change in a future build. There's also no timer functionality so that sent media files expire after a certain time but they should be presumably coming in the future.
As of now, the Expiring Media feature is only found in testing in the Android version of WhatsApp, though it should make its way to the beta version of the iOS app as well before its public release.
Alleged anti-5G USB stick that sells for £339 costs just £5 to make
by Paul Hill
An investigation by BBC News and Pen Test Partners has revealed that a £339 “anti-5G USB stick” is actually just a £5 USB device with a cheap sticker affixed. The report came after a member of Glastonbury Town Council’s 5G Advisory Committee, Toby Hall, suggested that the 5GBioShield could be used to tackle the alleged negative side effects of 5G.
The 5GBioShield retails for £339.60 including VAT and you can even get a discount if you buy three. According to the retailer, the device uses “proprietary holographic nano-layer technology” to ward off 5G’s “non-natural magneto-electric waves”. The town’s council committee member, Toby Hall, said in a report by the 5G Advisory Committee that “We use this device and find it helpful.”
In order to learn more about the device, Pen Test Partners got hold of the product and performed a tear down after plugging it into their computer. It found that the device comes with 128MB of storage and that the device properties were set to default values, which it said, is an indication of a cheap, unbranded device.
In terms of the hardware, Pen Test Partners found nothing unique about the hardware, explaining that the crystal holder housed an LED and that the circle near the front of the USB stick was just a regular sticker. Pen Test Partners came to the conclusion that the device was nothing more than a £5 USB key that you can find online and said that it believes a trading standards body should investigate the product.
Following the product's tear down, Toby Hall said that his remarks should not be taken as a recommendation by the council to buy the product. What he did say, however, was that since plugging it in he felt calmer, had better sleep, and noticed "a 'calmer' feel to the home."
Report suggests UK should set up digital news regulator
by Paul Hill
A new report - dubbed The Cairncross Review - has been published in the UK today and has called for a new regulator that monitors digital news platforms such as Google News and Apple News. The body would be tasked with amplifying “existing and future efforts to ensure the sustainability for public-interest news” by working with news platforms, publishers, and other bodies, such as Ofcom (communications regulator) and the BBC.
The report says that the way people find their news has changed from print to digital media and that with that shift, we’ve seen the ad market transformed. It said that with ad revenue moving from publishers to online platforms, the finances of the publishers have been undermined and that this particularly hits smaller publishers. In response to a lack of financial resources, publishers end up cutting back their reporting, which this review believes is bad for the “effective working” of democracy.
Explaining how platforms such as social media have detrimentally impacted publisher revenues, the report says:
The large report comes to 157 pages in total but the author’s helpfully highlighted nine recommendations in the form of bullet points. Some suggestions include having an obligation to provide quality news, having the BBC help provide expertise to local publishers, having a fund to help improve the supply of public-interest news, and giving tax reliefs to improve how the online news market works and to ensure an adequate supply of public-interest journalism.
Another item discussed in the report is fake news, a topic that has cropped up a lot ever since it became a focal point in the 2016 U.S. elections. The authors of the report suggest more needs to be done to tackle the dissemination of fake news, with the report saying:
It’ll be interesting to see what the government does with the feedback from the report. Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the review a little over a year ago so she will be likely to try and implement at least some of the measures outlined in the report. According to the conclusion of the report, it is not looking to preserve the status quo, or turn back the clocks on the media landscape so it’ll be interesting to see how existing organisations cope under the new suggestions from the report.
Update for Plex on Xbox One stamps out glitches, adds interface refinements
by Boyd Chan
While Plex for Xbox One initially required an active Plex Pass in order to be able to use the app, that changed towards the end of 2015 when the company removed that restriction from all of its console apps, making it a more accessible choice for the masses. In the interim, the app has received a number of updates one of which included a facelift late last year as well as Plex News, which initially appeared on other platforms last year but eventually appeared on Xbox One this March.
Now, a new update for the Xbox One app has been released that adds some interface refinements as well as a number of bug fixes:
If not already triggered, you can manually update the app via the Microsoft Store on Xbox One by visiting the store listing directly. Otherwise, if you've not already checked it out, you can grab it for free as well as the corresponding Plex Media Server software that will enable you to start streaming content from a designated computer.
Plex brings its virtual reality experience to Samsung Gear VR
by Boyd Chan
Back in January of this year, Plex made its first foray into the world of VR after having gained some inspiration from a community project, Plevr. This resulted in the release of Plex VR for Google Daydream compatible devices which enabled people to watch media together in real-time in a virtual theater. However, those who bought VR hardware outside of Google's ecosystem were left empty-handed.
Addressing this situation, Plex has announced that it is rolling out its VR app to the Gear VR. If the app follows the lead taken by its Daydream app, specific functions, such as "Watch together" will require a Plex Pass, however, everybody should get the chance to try it out for the first seven days of their Plex VR experience at no charge. Plex Pass holders should also gain access to a unique drive-in movie theater scene.
Plex VR for Gear VR has the following hardware and software requirements:
Unfortunately, for Galaxy S6 owners, Plex decided not to make its VR app available on this handset due to poor performance.
At present, the app is not fully featured, but Plex has advised that "Watch together, including Voice Chat on Plex VR will be available on Gear VR within a few weeks." The company also took the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to continue delivering improvements to its app for Daydream devices.