This is The Download, a weekday recap of the top technology headlines.
Apple rebuilding Maps from the ground up with its own data
Apple is planning to introduce overhauled mapping data in the US over the next year using information gathered by Apple themselves, according to a feature from TechCrunch that delivers a behind-the-scenes look at the project.
The new data will begin rolling out in the coming weeks in a very limited way, starting first for people enrolled in the iOS 12 beta with data for the San Francisco Bay Area. According to TechCrunch, it’ll cover all of Northern California by the fall and come to all versions of iOS eventually.
Apple services leader Eddy Cue said that the rest of the US will receive the new maps “section by section” “over the next year.” According to Cue, Apple’s “done a huge investment in getting the map up to par.”
With the change, Apple will eschew all third-party mapping data instead relying on data from two sources: sensor-packed vans that it’s been driving around the US for several years, and iPhones. According to TechCrunch, the company will be gathering anonymized chunks of travel data (like Google does for its Maps app) when people open Maps to get updated information on road openings and traffic.
The new data will also influence the way Maps look, with more green for parks and woods, more detailed waterways, and differentiated streets to highlight main throughways and make the map easier to read. Apple isn’t planning a complete redesign though, according to TechCrunch.
WhatsApp launches group setting letting only administrators send messages
WhatsApp has announced a new control for group administrators to make them the only group members to be able to send messages.
This could change the chat app from being a place for conversation to a place for announcements.
NSA says it’s deleting all phone records acquired under FISA since 2015 because of technical glitch
The US’ National Security Agency is deleting hundreds of millions of call and text message data records collected since 2015 after learning of “technical irregularities” that led to receiving records it wasn’t authorized to obtain under the USA Freedom Act.
According to NSA general counsel Glenn Gerstell, “one or more” unnamed telecoms responded to data requests for targets by sending logs that includes the relevant data and records for people who hadn’t been in contact with the targets. Since it was “infeasible” to comb through all the data and find just the authorized data, the NSA decided to wipe everything.
The deletions began on May 23, and it’s not certain when this purge of metadata (not the content of the calls and messages themselves) ends. According to a NSA spokesperson, it also doesn’t include location data since the Freedom Act doesn’t allow gathering that information under this collection system. The companies involved have
“addressed” the cause of the problem for the data going forward.
Comcast: National outages partially caused by CenturyLink, Zayo fiber cable cuts
If you had issues accessing your favorite websites Friday afternoon, Comcast might’ve had something to do with it.
While I personally didn’t have any issues, many other Xfinity customers did around the United States.
Comcast explained the issue in a statement to CNET:
“We identified two, separate, and unrelated fiber cuts to our network backbone providers. Our engineers worked to address the issue immediately and services are now being restored to business and residential internet, video, and voice customers. We again apologize to anyone who was impacted.”
Comcast, in a statement to CNET
Backbone provider CenturyLink confirmed the cuts, but said that they weren’t the cause of the issues experienced by Comcast.
“While the CenturyLink network continues to operate normally, on June 29, we experienced two isolated fiber cuts in North Carolina affecting some customers that by themselves did not cause the issues experienced by other providers. At this time, our technicians are working to restore the services.”
CenturyLink, in a statement
Comcast followed up with a statement to CNET saying that CenturyLink was responsible for one of the cut fibers, with Zayo causing the other cut. Comcast called the incidents isolated, but both cuts were partially responsible for the outage.
“Earlier today, Zayo experienced a fiber cut in the New York area. We immediately dispatched our local team who quickly restored the cut. All impacted services in the area have been restored.”
A Zayo spokesperson, to CNET
AT&T and Verizon spokespeople said that the companies weren’t aware of any impact on their networks.
In other news…
- DirecTV Now is increasing the prices for each of its plans by $5 a month, starting in August.
- T-Mobile is rolling out a software update that brings RCS Universal Profile text messaging to “select” Android devices.
- Netflix has green-lit a 10-episode first season for Wu Assassins, a martial arts sci-fi crime drama starring Indonesian actor Iko Uwais.
- Drake has broken single-day streaming records on both Spotify and Apple Music with his new album Scorpion, netting over 170 million streams in 24 hours on Apple Music. Spotify didn’t reveal an overall figure but they did say that the album was being streamed 10 million times an hour at one point.
- E-cigarette maker Juul has raised a $1.2 billion funding round, placing the startup’s value between $15 and $16 billion. The company hopes to use the money to make its USB vape pens available outside the US and Israel.