Bytes: What’s new in tech
FBI gets expanded hacking powers
The FBI just gained broad new powers to hack into Americans’ computers and smartphones, said Erin Kelly in USA Today. A bipartisan group of senators failed last week to block new rules from taking effect that allow federal agents to hack into millions of devices at once using a single search warrant. Until now, FBI agents needed to obtain warrants in every judicial district where a device was physically located in order to access it. The Justice Department argues that the new rules are necessary to fight the growing use of “botnets,” in which hackers use malware to take over large numbers of computers to conduct sophisticated cyberattacks. Privacy advocates, however, say it would hurt botnet victims twice “by letting the government hack them after they’ve already been hit by criminal hackers.”
Netflix bingeing goes offline
“Rejoice! You can finally download Netflix shows to watch offline,” said Davey Alba in Wired.com. That means you can finally bingewatch your favorite TV series on a flight, or catch a movie during a long car ride. For years, Netflix has resisted allowing users to download shows for offline viewing. One reason for the delay is that offering downloads “means securing a whole new set of rights from the people who made those TV shows and movies.” But because Netflix has spent heavily creating its own original content, it now has a huge library of shows like Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black that the company can distribute however it likes. There’s also plenty of non-Netflix content included in the offline library, like Good Will Hunting, Mad Men, and Parks and Recreation.
Keeping the Pokémon spirit alive
Pokémon Go has a plan “to lure back the millions who have abandoned it,” said Ina Fried in Recode.net. The number of people playing the hit mobile game is less than 4 percent of the peak number in August, when more than 10 million people were using their smartphones to hunt for pocket monsters every day. To get those early fans playing again, the game has been rolling out special perks and promotions—adding rewards for playing every day, introducing new characters, and making “spooky” Pokémon more common during the weeks before Halloween. Ironically, the game’s early success hindered its creator, Niantic, from adding new features, because the company was so focused on keeping the game running under the crush of new users.