Bytes: What’s new in tech
The flying-car dream is still alive
Airbus wants to put a flying-car prototype in the air by the end of this year, said Jason Abbruzzese in Mashable.com. Speaking at a tech conference in Munich last week, Airbus CEO Tom Enders outlined the European aerospace giant’s vision for flying vehicles using technology similar to that of self-driving cars. “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground,” Enders said. “Now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground.” The small craft would “take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but take advantage of the efficiency of winged airplanes while in flight.” Airbus plans to have a prototype this year, but it doesn’t expect to have a model ready for public demonstration until 2020.
China orders app store registration
The Chinese government is tightening its control over mobile apps, said Paul Mozur in The New York Times. Beijing last month ordered the registration of app stores across the country with a vague item posted to the website of the Cyberspace Administration of China. “Many apps have been found to spread illegal information, violate user rights, or contain security risks,” the post read, suggesting that the country’s app stores could be held responsible for offering apps that run afoul of the government. China passed a law last year barring apps from “engaging in activities deemed to endanger national security or disrupt social order,” often a euphemism for discussing politically sensitive topics. Chinese apps often host content that would be strictly blocked on the internet, because they are harder to monitor and suppress than websites.
Google’s advertising conflicts
Google products enjoy a serious home turf advantage on the company’s search engine, said Jack Nicas in The Wall Street Journal. Ads for products sold by Google and its Alphabetowned sister companies snagged top billing in 91 percent of 25,000 recent searches analyzed by search-ad-data firm SEMrush—from Chromebook laptops to Nest smoke detectors. The results highlight “a rarely discussed” conflict of interest in the online ad industry. Google runs millions of auctions for search ads every minute, using a secret algorithm to determine placement and price. “Google said that when it competes for ads, other advertisers are charged as if it weren’t bidding.” However, because advertising slots are limited, “Google’s ads can prompt others to increase their bids to compete for the remaining slots.”