New Huawei Mate 30 phone to launch without Google apps

The latest flagship smartphone from Huawei will launch without crucial Google apps and services due a US trade ban on the company.

Excitement would usually be high in the UK and Europe for a major new release from the Chinese tech giant, but it may struggle to find buyers for the Mate 30 series outside its homeland.

The Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro are the first handsets from Huawei since the firm was blacklisted by the White House earlier this year, amid claims it was a security threat because of its relations with the Chinese government.

Image: The Chinese tech giant boasted of the Mate 30’s specs compared to the competition, but they will mean little without Google apps and services

Huawei has denied the allegations and described the action taken as a “concerted effort by the US government to discredit and curb its leadership position in the industry”.

The restrictions mean it cannot use the fully featured Google-run Android operating system (OS) on new phones, with a temporary licence issued earlier in the summer only covering existing devices.

The only version of Android that Huawei is allowed to use is one that is open source.

In practical terms for Huawei fans in the UK and Europe, that means the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro are not allowed to come with key apps like Google Maps and YouTube – or security protections from Google itself.

More from Huawei

Huawei has been working on its own homemade operating system called HarmonyOS as an alternative, which features its own app marketplace called AppGallery to replace the Google Play Store.

But with Android being the most widely used mobile OS in the world, its absence will be keenly felt.

Huawei's state-of-the-art 5G testing lab.

Inside Huawei’s sprawling campus

Huawei has not even revealed a UK or European release date for the Mate 30 series, despite holding its anticipated announcement presentation in Munich.

Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei Consumer Business Group, put emphasis largely on hardware features like the cameras and battery life, with scant detail about software.

The showcase featured slides comparing the Mate 30 specs with the latest phones from rivals Apple and Samsung, but quick glimpses of its edge-to-edge display showed no sign of any Google apps.

There was also no sign of the Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp in the AppGallery.

YouTube says the new algorithm should result in less views for potentially harmful videos

Image: YouTube is among the apps absent from the Mate 30 series

Mr Yu only briefly touched on their conspicuous absence, telling the audience the US trade ban had “forced” the company to pursue its own solution to the issue.

It could prove to be a major setback for Huawei, which has enjoyed impressive growth in Europe and the UK in recent years to help it overtake Apple in terms of global smartphone market share.

Facebook admits new smart devices allow people to listen in

Facebook had admitted people will be allowed to listen in to audio captured by its new smart devices, despite stopping the controversial practice in its Messenger app.

The tech giant has announced its own competitor to the likes of the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast, which will also include video calling as a headline feature.

Facebook has also revealed that the range of Portal products will support allowing human teams to review audio of user interactions with its voice assistant, despite recent privacy concerns over the practice.

Image: The Portal TV will allow for video calling. Pic: Facebook

Much like Alexa from Amazon, questions can be asked and commands given by saying the phrase “Hey Portal”.

The device will then send a recording and transcript of the interaction to Facebook, where “a trained team may review a sample to make our voice services smarter and more accurate for everyone”.

Facebook insists Portal will allow users to disable the camera and microphone, and there will also be a physical cover to completely block the camera lens itself.

The AI powering the device also runs locally instead of on Facebook servers, and an activity log will keep track of voice interactions – which can be played back and deleted.

More from Facebook

Voice storage can also be turned off completely.

Facebook has included a host of options in a bid to downplay concerns, but support for human audio review reverses a recent decision to halt the practice completely in its Messenger app.

Users opted in via the Messenger app

Image: Facebook recently stopped using contractors to review audio taken from its Messenger app

Last month, Facebook admitted using contractors to listen to and transcribe recordings of Messenger users without their knowledge after people who worked on the project spoke publicly about their experience.

Users did have to opt-in to having their audio clips reviewed, but only expected it to be done by an AI.

Facebook told Sky News it had stopped the practice soon after, following in the footsteps of many of its rivals that had also come under scrutiny for employing human audio review.

Amazon halted the practice after staff reported hearing “distressing” recordings by Alexa assistants, and Apple recently changed its policy to allow users to opt out of having their interactions with Siri recorded.

Google has done the same with its own assistant, and Microsoft told Sky News it no longer used people to review clips from Xbox One consoles unless it involves gamers who are reported for violating its terms of service.

The lack of response to gender-based insults can reinforce a "boys will boys" attitude, the report notes

Image: Other voice assistants like Apple’s Siri have come under scrutiny in recent months

Facebook will hope privacy concerns do not have too much of an impact on interest in its range of Portal devices, which launch in the US and Canada in October and November – priced between $129 (£103) and $179 (£143).

Each will include Messenger and WhatsApp calling, with the TV edition also boasting support for streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Spotify

The Portal lineup is coming the UK at a later date.

'Biometric earbuds' can unlock your phone

You have no doubt unlocked your smartphone with your finger, and on newer phones maybe even your face too – but how about your ears?

Researchers have been working on tech they believe could make Ear ID the new Face ID, with modified earbuds that use sound waves to identify the unique geometry of the ear canal.

The gadget, tentatively dubbed EarEcho, was developed at the University at Buffalo in New York after an engineering and computer science professor theorised there was more to be done with the ubiquitous earbuds.

Image: EarEcho uses modified wireless earbuds to authenticate smartphone users via the unique geometry of their ear canal. Pic: University at Buffalo

“We have so many students walking around with speakers in their ears,” said Professor Zhangpeng Jin.

“It led me to wonder what else we could do with them.”

His team built a prototype using off-the-shelf products, including a pair of in-ear earphones and a tiny microphone, and developed their own techniques to limit noise interference.

This means that when a sound is played into the ear, it can be clearly reflected and absorbed by the canal to produce a unique signature that can be recorded by the microphone.

More from Science & Tech

Once the microphone has gathered the necessary information, it is transferred to the smartphone via Bluetooth and analysed in a similar fashion to other biometric data stored by modern handsets.

Tests that used audio samples of speech and music, carried out across settings from street corners to shopping centres, returned success rates of 95% to 97.5% and led the university to file a provisional patent application.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SOREN BILLING: This photo illustration shows a woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden is at the forefront of a global recovery in music sales driven by streaming music services such as Spotify. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Image: Older iPhones use the home button to verify fingerprints

Professor Jin said the gadget could prove extremely popular if it makes it to market, arguing that it is more convenient than existing biometric solutions.

He explained: “Just by wearing the earphones, which many people already do, you wouldn’t have to do anything to unlock your phone.”

The prototype is detailed in the journal Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

Instagram and Facebook ban 'miracle' diet posts

Instagram and Facebook have imposed age restrictions on content about diet products and plastic surgery – with some posts banned completely.

Anything that promotes certain weight loss products or cosmetic procedures with an incentive to buy or a listed price will be hidden from users under 18.

Anything with “miraculous” claims alongside offers such as discount codes will be banned.

Image: Khloe Kardashian is among the celebrities who have been criticised for posting about dietary products

Instagram says it wants to ensure its photo-sharing app is a “positive place” following concerns about the impact of dieting, detoxing and cosmetic surgery content on young people.

Just last month, nutritionists told Sky News that certain social media accounts are to blame for a rise in people with eating disorders like orthorexia – when people are obsessed with healthy eating and become starved.

Emma Collins, public policy manager at Instagram, said the company had sought expert guidance to crack down on content that could impact mental health in such a way.

She added that the changes would “reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media”, while ensuring that Instagram “remains a platform for expression and discussion”.

More from Instagram

The move has been welcomed by campaigners, including actress Jameela Jamil.

She has criticised celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian for posting about dietary products on Instagram, and launched an online movement called I Weigh to encourage people to share their achievements regardless of body shape.

Social media influencers fuelled my 'clean eating' disorder

Social media influencers fuelled my ‘clean eating’ disorder

Nutritionist Pixie Turner writes about how her orthorexia was triggered by reading misinformation on social media

Hailing the change in policy as a “huge win”, Jamil said: “Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.

“I’m thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products.

“Instagram were supportive and helpful when I brought them my protests and petitions; they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process.”

'Flying taxi' stopped by police during tests in Paris

An ambitious “flying taxi” dubbed “a James Bond car for everybody” has been stopped by police during a test run above the River Seine in Paris.

Officers in the French capital intercepted the electric vehicle as they believed it was travelling too quickly, despite assertions by the startup firm behind the project that it had permission to breach the usual speed limit.

Anders Bringdal, co-founder of Seabubbles, told The Independent the taxi “has the right to go at 30kmph (18.6mph)”, well above the normal river restriction of 12kmph (7.5mph), and that police were happy for it to continue operating once relevant paperwork had been checked.

Image: The ‘flying taxi’ has been tested on the River Seine

The firm has been testing the so-called hydrofoil vessel with a view to rolling out an entire fleet across Paris next year, followed by other cities in Europe and the US.

The futuristic cab is designed to “hover” above the water – creating no noise, waves or pollution – and it is hoped that customers would be able to hire one via an Uber-style app.

On its website, which is headed by the tagline “make our cities flow again”, Seabubbles states: “Think James Bond car, available for everybody, but with zero wave, zero noise, zero CO2 emission.

“We make the riding experience on waterways the best possible so that people will be glad to choose the most eco-conscious transport solution.”

More from Science & Tech

Seabubbles is far from the only company seeking to take advantage of increased drive for electric vehicle options, with autonomous taxis tipped to become a feature of major cities in the coming years.

Plans are motoring on despite safety concerns, which were heightened last year when a self-driving Uber car fatally crashed into a woman walking her bike across the road in the US.

5G provides breakthrough for driverless car tests

5G provides breakthrough for driverless car tests

Autonomous cars could download a detailed satellite navigation map of Britain within a single second

UK to trial driverless cars without safety drivers

UK to trial driverless cars without safety drivers

Cars without safety drivers could be on Britain’s roads by the end of the year, according to a government announcement

Elon Musk has claimed that robots will be behind the wheel of a network of Tesla taxis from 2020, which will compete against similar plans by the likes of Uber.

Rolls Royce is also making moves in the taxi space and last year unveiled an electric vertical take-off and landing system it said could pave the way for flying taxis that produce minimal noise pollution.

And traditional taxi firm Addison Lee says it has struck an agreement with Oxbotica, an Oxford-based startup specialising in autonomous software, to launch self-driving taxis in London by 2021.

Leaked classified 'UFO footage' is real, US Navy confirms

Three videos purporting to be leaked military footage of UFOs are genuine, the US Navy has revealed.

The clips – published by the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science In December 2017 and March 2018 – showed several mystery objects travelling through the air at high speed.

One of the videos was from 2004, while the other two were recorded in 2015 and featured audio from US fighter pilots expressing disbelief at what they they were seeing – unsure if the objects were drones or something else.

Image: The footage was first published by the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science

While the US Navy remains none the wiser as to what the pilots saw, it has confirmed that the leaked footage is real and that the objects have been classified as “unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Spokesman Joseph Gradisher told NBC News: “The three videos show incursions into our military training ranges by unidentified aerial phenomena. The Navy has characterised the observed phenomena as unidentified.”

To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, a group co-founded by Blink 182 singer Tom DeLonge to research UFOs, had claimed the clips went though a “declassification review process” and were approved for release.

Mr Gradisher has disputed those claims, with the 2004 clip taken aboard an aircraft from the carrier USS Nimitz,

More from Science & Tech

He said it had been widely shared by the crew of the ship and first posted online in 2007 – and that the Navy decided it was too late to pursue the matter by the time it came to the attention of officials two years later.

But he said the US Navy “has no information” on how the 2015 clips ended up in the public domain, as they were also published by The New York Times at the time they first surfaced.

Two clips are from 2015 and another is from 2004

Image: Two clips are from 2015 and another is from 2004

Mr Gradisher told NBC News that sightings of “unidentified aerial phenomena” were on the rise – and added that all of them were thoroughly investigated.

He said: “Any incursion into our training ranges by any aircraft or phenomena, identified or not identified, is problematic from both a safety and security concern.”

The US Navy is reluctant to give in to pop culture norms and describe such sightings as UFOs.

Mr Gradisher said the “unidentified aerial phenomena” phrase had been borrowed from the UK and covers “any aerial phenomenon that cannot immediately be identified”.

Non-native weevil to be released in the US to combat spread of thistle

The US will release non-native insects to control a hated and invasive species of thistle.

The weevil is to be used to fight the spread of the yellow starthistle, which first arrived in California before 1860.

The plant has quickly spread across most of the country’s states, although it is most prevalent in the west.

Its seeds can be carried by the wind, but also by vehicle tyres and even hiking boots.

Image: Yellow starthistles are found in most US states. Pic: Franco Folini/Wikimedia Commons

Experts say that the weevil, native to Europe and western Asia, will be more effective in stopping the thistle’s spread than pesticides and physical removal.

The insects feed on the plant’s upper root for about two months before going inside the plant for their pupa stage.

When they emerge as adults they eat the thistle’s leaves.

More from US

The weevils are to be released in California in the spring, followed by Idaho, Oregon, Washington and possibly Nevada.

The US Department of Agriculture said the yellow starthistle’s long spines deter feeding and injure grazing animals.

Jeremey Varley of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture also said yellow starthistle is “not good to eat” and is toxic to horses.

“We’re really excited about the release of this weevil,” he added.

The agency has insisted there is little to no risk of the weevils attacking native plants.

Giant asteroid crash 'could hold clues to prevent climate disaster'

A massive asteroid collision 470 million years ago could hold clues on how to stop global warming.

The crash in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter triggered an ice age on Earth and paved the way for the evolution of new species.

Scientists already knew about the ice age but they did not know the reason for it.

They examined traces of space dust in 466-million-year-old rocks from a fossil site in Sweden, looking for a type of helium isotope often found in asteroids.

They found that a large amount of debris thrown into the atmosphere by the collision had partially blocked the sunlight from Earth.

Study author Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago and associate professor at the University of Chicago, said: “Normally, Earth gains about 40,000 tonnes of extraterrestrial material every year.

“Imagine multiplying that by a factor of a thousand or 10,000.”

More from World

The dust floated towards Earth over two million years, gradually cooling the planet and allowing new species to adapt.

It also divided the planet into zones – colder temperatures at the outer extremes and warmer conditions at the equator.

Scientists say that the finding, documented in the journal Science Advances, could help them explore different ways the planet could be cooled artificially.

Birger Schmitz, professor of geology at Lund University and the leader of the study, said the result was “completely unexpected”.

“We have during the last 25 years leaned against very different hypotheses in terms of what happened,” he said.

“It wasn’t until we got the last helium measurements that everything fell into place.”

Finding a way to cool the Earth could help prevent a major climate crisis.

Previously, scientists have used computer simulations to show asteroids could orbit Earth in a way that allows them to create fine dust which blocks the sunlight.

Mr Schmitz said: “Our results show for the first time that such dust at times has cooled Earth dramatically.

“Our studies can give a more detailed, empirical based understanding of how this works, and this in turn can be used to evaluate if model simulations are realistic.”

Mr Heck was more cautious, saying any ideas needed to be looked at “very critically and very carefully, because if something goes wrong, things could become worse than before”.

Adult type 2 diabetes markers found in kids as young as eight

Scientists have discovered indicators of adult type 2 diabetes can be spotted in children as young as eight – about 50 years before it is usually diagnosed.

University of Bristol researchers analysed genetic information known to increase the chances of the disease and metabolism measures in thousands of British children.

They found being more susceptible to type 2 diabetes affected children’s levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, amino acids and a chronic inflammatory trait measured in the blood.

Some of the earliest indicators of susceptibility were certain HDL lipids.

Image: Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity

Scientists hope the metabolic features could be targeted to prevent young people from developing the disease which is often linked to being overweight or inactive, unlike type 1 patients.

It is also linked to having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Joshua Bell, from the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, said: “It’s remarkable that we can see signs of adult diabetes in the blood from such a young age – this is about 50 years before it’s commonly diagnosed.

More from Diabetes

“This is not a clinical study; nearly all participants were free of diabetes and most will not go on to develop it.

“This is about liability to disease and how genetics can tell us something about how the disease develops.”

fat child check out his body fat with measuring tape isolated on white background, obesity or diet concept

Some 715 people under the age of 25 were treated for the disease in England and Wales during 2016/17 and 78.6% of them were obese.

The study will be presented as this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain.

More than 4,500 participants born in Bristol in the early 1990s were tracked as part of the research.

Researchers measured 229 metabolic traits on the healthy participants when they were aged eight, 15, 18 and 25 to see how early diabetes susceptibility is visible.

They found HDL cholesterol levels were reduced at eight years old, and inflammatory glycoprotein acetyls and amino acids were elevated by the mid to late teens.

New injection helps weight loss in obese and diabetic patients, study finds

New injection helps weight loss in obese and diabetic patients, study finds

Dr Bell, who co-led the research, added: “If we want to prevent diabetes, we need to know how it starts.

“Genetics can help with that, but our aim here is to learn how diabetes develops, not to predict who will and will not develop it.

“Other methods may help with prediction but won’t necessarily tell us where to intervene.

“Knowing what early features of type 2 diabetes look like could help us to intervene much earlier to halt progression to full blown diabetes and its complications.”

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!