This is The Download, a weekday recap of the top technology headlines.
Apple internal memo warns staff of possible legal action for leaks; 29 employees caught, 12 charged
In an internal blog memo, Apple warned employees to stop leaking internal information to stop leaking information on future plans and threatened legal action and criminal charges for violators.
According to the memo, 29 leakers were caught by the company last year, with 12 of them being arrested.
“Those people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere.”
Apple, in a memo to employees
The company outlined situations where information was leaked to the media, including a meeting earlier this year where Apple’s software engineering head Craig Federighi told employees that some planned iOS software features would be delayed. Apple also cited a yet-to-be-released software package that revealed details about the iPhone X and new Apple Watch.
“We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else.”
Greg Joswiak, Apple iOS, iPad, and iPhone product marketing vice president
Gmail’s new design will include a Confidential Mode
The web version of Gmail will be getting a big update in the coming weeks that brings a new design and features, including a new Confidential Mode. The mode comes alongside features like quick reply to emails, the ability to snooze emails for later, and a new sidebar to give you a glance at your calendar side by side with your messages. Confidential mode will let Gmail users stop recipients from forwarding certain emails, or restricts the ability to copy, download, or print them.
Google will also let Gmail users require a password to open emails, which can be generated with SMS, or set an expiration date on sent emails. The features are very similar to features already available in the desktop version of Outlook and coming to Outlook.com.
Waymo applies for California driverless vehicle testing permit
According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, Waymo was among the companies that applied for an application for a permit that would allow testing of fully driverless vehicles on public roads in California.
The Chronicle reports that the company will begin testing sans-human safety drivers near its Mountain View, CA headquarters. Once testing is established there, it will expand its test area across the Bay Area.
Among the California DMV’s requirements to obtain and retain a driverless testing permit are two-way communications capability with the vehicle, geofencing to ensure the vehicle doesn’t leave its predetermined test area, and sufficient security technology to resist cyber attacks.
Overall, Waymo currently has an excellent track record of safety with its autonomous test vehicles, with an average of one disengagement (situations where a human safety driver must intervene and take control of an autonomous vehicle) per 5,596 test miles traveled.
Zillow will start buying & selling homes for cash
Zillow will begin buying and selling homes. With the program, home sellers in the test markets of Phoenix and Las Vegas will be able to use the company’s platform to compare offers from potential buyers and Zillow.
When Zillow purchases a home, the company will attempt to quickly flip the home by making repairs and listing it as soon as possible. An agent will represent Zillow in each transaction.
“We’re entering that market and think we have huge advantages because we have access to the huge audience of sellers and buyers. After testing for a year in a marketplace model, we’re ready to be an investor in our own marketplace.”
Spencer Rascoff; Zillow CEO, to CNBC’s Squawk Alley
According to Rascoff, the company will take on collateralized debt to purchase the homes, and hopes to have between 300 and 1,000 homes held for sale by the end of the year. He called the move “industry friendly,” benefitting buyers, investors, and agents while stimulating the real estate market and opening up new inventory for prospective buyers.
Google has to remove links about man who “showed remorse” for past conviction, can keep links for another who didn’t
A UK judge has ruled that Google must honor a request to remove search results for a man convicted of conspiracy to intercept communications over a decade ago. According to the judge, the unnamed plaintiff showed remorse for his actions and the offense was relatively minor.
However, the court shot down another man’s attempt after being convicted of false accounting and seeming bent on misleading the public.
Google argued that the EU’s right to be forgotten policy wasn’t intended as a “right to rewrite history” or “tailor your past.”
Comcast plans to include Netflix with TV bundles starting this month, gives no details about pricing
Comcast will offer the ability to include a Netflix subscription to new and existing Xfinity cable packages later this month. This comes after adding Netflix to its Xfinity X1 set-top box in 2016, and 4K streaming coming last year.
The cable company didn’t detail pricing for these new bundles, but did say that a “variety of initial offers” will be available. These offers will depend on the market you’re in, and Comcast will handle any billing with Netflix.
AMD unveils new second-gen Ryzen CPUs with Wraith coolers
AMD has begun pre-sales for the second generation Ryzen processors. The full launch is set for April 19th, but we have learned a bit about the impending processors.
Four processors were announced: two from the Ryzen 7 line with eight cores and 16 threads of processors and two six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 chips. Leading the pack is the $329 Ryzen 7 2700X that’s clocked at 3.7GHz with a boost to 4.3GHz and the slightly cheaper and less powerful Ryzen 7 2700, which will set you back $299 and is clocked at 3.2GHz with a boost to 4.1GHz.
For the Ryzen 5 models, there’s the Ryzen 5 2600X that costs $229 and runs at 3.6GHz with a boost to 4.2GHz and the Ryzen 5 2600, which costs $199 and is clocked at 3.4GHz with boost to 3.9GHz.
All four processors will come with an AMD Wraith cooling unit free in the box, compared to last year’s models that only got them on the higher-end chips.
AMD is sticking with its AM4 socket, which will be able to slot the new Ryzen chips on your existing motherboard. The company has also announced a new AMD X470 chipset that will work with the new chips with a new AMD StoreMI feature that lets you combine SSD storage with spinning hard drives into a single, faster, virtual disk.
Facebook marketing exec: Users generally haven’t changed settings amid privacy scandals, doesn’t expect revenue impact
Facebook doesn’t expect the Cambridge Analytica scandal to significantly affect sales, according to the company’s vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson.
Everson told attendees at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council that Facebook users largely haven’t changed their privacy settings in the last four weeks after heightened scrutiny over how it shares users’ data.
“We have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore.”
Carolyn Everson, Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions
The company also is “not anticipating major changes to our revenue and business model” or stricter privacy laws that could lead consumers to opt out of targeted ads.
In other news…
- Yahoo Japan will buy a 40 percent stake in Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange BitARG.
- According to 9to5Mac, code in NanoTimeKit for Apple’s watchOS 4.3.1 hints at future support for third-party watch faces.
- Chinese social network Weibo is removing violent and gay-themed content to comply with China’s new cybersecurity regulations.
- Austin, Texas is piloting a system that uses blockchain identifiers to safeguard the IDs and vital records of homeless people in a way that’s more accessible for service providers.
- Google Research has rolled out a couple of Semantic Experiences, which are websites with interesting activities that demonstrate artificial intelligence’s ability to understand how we speak.