From cat moon landings to birthday fails

Did you miss some tech news this week? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with a rapid roundup of the latest headlines. Welcome to this week’s edition of “News You Probably Missed and Shouldn’t Have!” From surprising leaks to groundbreaking announcements that slipped through the cracks, here’s everything you need to know to stay in the loop. Grab a coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the week’s tech highlights (or lowlights).

Verizon drops the ultimate phone upgrade plan

Verizon just dropped the mic on phone upgrades. Forget those “new customers only” deals, they’re so last season. Now everyone gets the VIP treatment, including existing customers with phones held together by duct tape and dreams. The carrier is giving away the latest 5G phones as long as you sign up for its Unlimited Ultimate plan (which probably comes with a lifetime supply of pizza and a personal masseuse, but that’s not confirmed). Oh, and they’re also teaming up with YouTube Premium and Peacock to make sure you have endless entertainment to stream on your shiny new phone.

Microsoft launches official AI chatbot on Telegram

Move over, Telegram stickers, there’s a new AI sheriff in town! Microsoft just released its chatty bot Copilot for Telegram, letting you ditch real conversations for a virtual buddy. Need help picking a movie or writing a witty comeback? Copilot’s your GPT-powered wingman, all for the low, low price of free (and maybe your soul… but hey, entertainment!). Just don’t expect it to fix your grandma’s printer – yet.

Google Play Store can uninstall apps remotely

Google Play Store finally caught up to your mom – it can now uninstall apps remotely! No more nagging your kids to clear out that game they haven’t touched since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Just grab your phone, hit the secret uninstall button, and watch their tablets mysteriously go blank. Mwahahaha (evil laugh optional).

Elon Musk is creating an ultra-powerful supercomputer

Elon Musk, the wizard of tech, is conjuring up an xAI supercomputer to make the Grok chatbot even groovier! Planned for a fall 2025 launch, the so-called “gigafactory of compute” will be more powerful than we can imagine and cost billions of dollars to build—a good few pennies if we are to look at it from Musk’s perspective. It’s like he’s mixing potions of AI and magic to create a digital sorcery that’ll blow our minds!

Chrome gets a customizable menu bar on iPhones

Chrome on iPhone and iPad is getting a makeover—a makeover that improves the quality of life rather than appearance. You can’t say that for all kinds of makeovers, can you? Now you can customize the menu bar, making it as flashy as a disco ball at a party. Say goodbye to an annoying browsing experience and hello to personalized pizzazz–ahem, menu bar.

Google Chrome iPhone menu bar

Google pulls the plug on Business Messages

Google’s Business Messages is going the way of the dodo bird! Remember that chat feature in Maps and Search that nobody ever used? Yeah, that one. Starting July 15th, you won’t be able to message businesses like a lonely teenager sliding into DMs.

By July 31st, it’s curtains for existing chats too. Businesses will have to rely on carrier pigeons or smoke signals to communicate now. Maybe they should have offered free pizza with every message… just a thought, Google.

WhatsApp now supports 1-minute voice messages in status updates

WhatsApp is giving us the power to gab endlessly in status updates. Well, not endlessly but for twice as long as you could before. Instead of just 30 seconds, you can now share minute-long rambling monologues or rants and annoy your friends and families. Or maybe tell a tale and make them smile. Perhaps confuse them with accidental pocket recordings. Be careful with that!

Apple blocks users from downgrading to iOS 17.5

Apple users with buggy iOS 17.5.1 beware! Downgrading to the previous version to escape the glitches is no longer an option. You’re stuck with it, like a bad roommate who never washes the dishes. Guess it’s time to embrace the chaos and wait for the company that took your hard-earned money to fix things on its own time. Perhaps invest in a time machine and escape the chaos.

China reserves a $47 billion fund for the domestic chip industry

China is like, “Move over, Silicon Valley, we’re coming for ya!” The country has thrown $47 billion into the pot to stir up its chip industry. The fund will help domestic semiconductor foundries strengthen their chip fabrication processes and production capacity. This comes right on the heels of the US government awarding massive grants and subsidies to chip firms. A chip war is on the cards, folks.

iPhone to Android messaging has another issue

If the green bubble-blue bubble controversy wasn’t enough, text messaging between Android phones and iPhones is plagued by another issue. Users are reporting that GIFs sent from iPhone to Google Messages users on Android are arriving distorted. The GIFs are turned into abstract art, and iOS appears to be the culprit. Oh, Apple! All we asked for was a seamless cross-platform messaging experience.

iPhone Android messaging GIFs

Huawei to launch a new watch with HarmonyOS NEXT

Huawei couldn’t live in harmony with the US. But hey, it now has an operating system called HarmonyOS. And can you guess what is the name of the next version? Yes, it’s HarmonyOS NEXT. That’s a pretty harmonious name there. Anyways, this “NEXT” version is coming to the Huawei Watch 5 series. Hopefully, Huawei’s next watch powered by HarmonyOS NEXT is fitting to be called a next-gen wearable.

T-Mobile data thief arrested in Turkey

The T-Mobile data thief, who thought they could escape justice by taking their show on the road, has been busted in Turkey. The long arm of the law caught up with them three years after committing the crime and going on to brag about it. John Binns (not a fake name), the 24-year-old man (or should we say boy?) who exposed the personal information of millions of Americans, is being brought to the US for further legal proceedings.

OnePlus 12 gets a new feature update

OnePlus 12 users, get ready to bounce with joy! The latest OxygenOS 14.0.0.802 update is here, bringing new smooth animations and a zippy touch control experience. Picture this: wallpaper zooms, icon transitions that feel like a magic trick, and a notification drawer with a delightful bounce. It’s like your phone went to animation school and graduated summa cum laude! Plus, there’s enhanced system stability and a May 2024 security patch to keep things safe.

AMD mulling switching to Samsung’s 3nm process

AMD is reportedly giving their chip production a side chick! For years they’ve been with TSMC, the Beyonce of chipmakers, but rumors are swirling that they’re cozying up to Samsung Foundry, the industry’s slightly less famous Rihanna. Why the switch? Apparently, Samsung’s got this new 3nm technology that’s hotter than the latest mixtape, and AMD wants a piece of that action.

The LATAM smartphone market saw strong growth in Q1 2024

It’s a smartphone fiesta south of the border! The Latin American market just kicked it up a notch with a whopping 26% growth in Q1 2024. Samsung’s A-series led the charge, followed by Motorola, Xiaomi, TRANSSION, and HONOR, who are all seeing explosive gains. The region’s economic upswing and a thirst for device upgrades are driving this surge. While high-end AI features dazzle in marketing, budget-friendly phones still reign supreme.

LATAM smartphone market q1 2024 canalys

WhatsApp boss debunks Elon Musk’s user data claims

Elon Musk’s claim about WhatsApp exporting user data sparks a fiery response from WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart, who defends the app’s end-to-end encryption. “This is not correct,” Cathcart said right on Musk’s face. Meta’s AI chief also hit at the X owner, accusing him of “spewing conspiracy theories.” It’s a tech showdown of the highest level. Who needs reality TV when you have Silicon Valley smackdowns?

iPhone 16 to get bigger batteries

iPhone users, rejoice! Those nightly battery anxiety dreams might be a thing of the past if there were any. Leaked info suggests the iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max are getting bigger batteries, about nine percent bigger than their predecessors. Imagine, an extra hour of scrolling through TikTok without the low battery panic! Hopefully, the info is more reliable than your uncle’s tech advice.

Discord to turn focus back on games

Gamers, assemble! Discord is ditching its quest to be the next Facebook and returning to its roots. Get ready for a fresh app redesign that puts games front and center. Basically, Discord is Thanos snapping away all the non-gaming stuff you never liked and doubling down on what made it awesome in the first place. No matter where you reach in life, you should never forget your roots.

Instagram doubles down on its teen safety measures

Instagram is cracking down on bullies like a bouncer at a teen idol concert! The company is buffing up its safety features to protect young users from trolls and negativity. The Meta-owned social media firm hopes these changes will make the platform a safer space for teens. Think of it as a digital playground with a big “No Bullies Allowed” sign. Now get out there and post your selfies without fear!

Limit Instagram interactions to your close friends

Instagram also has something new for grown-ups. The app now gives you more control over who can see your content and message you, with an option to limit it to only your close friends. Imagine you are enjoying a great party and your distant cousin shows up with bad dance moves and questionable jokes. You can now hit mute on them. No more awkward social interactions, just pure good vibes with your chosen squad.

Google Photos adds a social feed for likes and comments

Google Photos might be turning into your nosy neighbor! It’s adding a new “Sharing Activity” page that’s basically a gossip rag for your photos. This feed will spill the tea on who liked your pics, commented on your sunsets, and even dared to add more photos to a shared album (gasp!). Now you can see exactly who’s loving your vacation snaps (and who’s secretly judging your questionable food photography).

Google accused of unlawfully firing contract employees

Members of Congress are throwing shade at Google like it’s a cold California night. The company allegedly fired some YouTube Music contractors for unionizing against it, and lawmakers aren’t happy about it. A bunch of Representatives wrote a public letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the folks who oversee labor rights, saying “Hey, Google firing these workers trying to unionize seems kinda fishy.” Now the NLRB needs to investigate if the tech titan broke any rules. So, grab some popcorn and watch the drama unfold!

Threads adds a TweetDeck-like feed

Threads, the forgotten social media platform that Meta launched to rival Twitter (who calls it X anyway?), just copied a feature from Twitter. You can now customize your Threads homepage with a series of feeds like we could do on TweetDeck (what is its new name, by the way?). If you are on Threads, go test it out and see if the feature is any good. It is available to everyone without needing to pay a penny, at least not yet.

Threads feed customize

Google Phone gets a transparent status bar

Calling all those peeps who like to match their phone’s aesthetic to the sky (or maybe their mood?). Google Phone just got a cool update with a transparent status bar. The status bar now magically blends into the background of the app, like a chameleon on a plaid shirt (not the most stylish comparison, but you get the idea). This might seem like a minor detail, but hey, sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.

WhatsApp prepares an improved drawing editor

WhatsApp is getting fancy with its photo editing tools! It is improving the drawing editor to give more power to people who like to jazz up their pics. If you’re adding a funny mustache to your friend’s selfie but the preset colors just aren’t cutting it, you may find the perfect shade of blonde right from their hair for a truly realistic (and hilarious) masterpiece. No more settling for boring colors – this update is like having a whole paint palette at your fingertips.

Google drops “One” from its Pixel VPN

Google’s VPN service for Pixels is dropping one word from its name. It’s removing “One,” going from “Pixel VPN by Google One” to just “Pixel VPN by Google” – shorter, snappier, cooler (or at least that’s what the company is hoping). All you Pixel users out there with a need for a VPN can now enjoy their virtual private network with a slightly less cluttered name. Everyone else, forget Google One VPN.

Google Calendar to simplify birthday entries

Are you bad at remembering birthdays? You aren’t alone. We have all had moments like, “Oh crap, it was yesterday?” Google will help you up to an extent. It is preparing to simplify the process of adding birthday reminders to Google Calendar. You may soon get a dedicated Birthday chip when creating a new event. No more fiddling through multiple options to save your friend’s birthday and get a timely reminder. Otherwise, do you know that they call someone who forgets birthdays? An ex-best friend.

Google Calendar birthday chip

Google to fix its AI Search whoppers

Google’s AI-powered search results have been going off the rails like a runaway train filled with internet trolls! The fancy new AI tool served up some real whoppers, like claiming cats have walked on the moon (don’t go looking for it). Thankfully, the company appears to have found duct tape to fix the thing. Google’s Head of Search says they are working on preventing AI from short-circuiting and rewriting history. So, next time you ask Google something weird, you might get an actual answer instead of a story straight out of a fever dream.

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