What’s new in tech
Amazon’s coming air force
Amazon said its Prime Air drone-delivery service could begin “within months,” said Alan Levin in Bloomberg.com. The company unveiled a hexagonal drone last week that “takes off vertically, then tilts horizontally to fly like a plane” and features six propellers built around a square-shaped fuselage in the middle. It also boasts the artificial intelligence capability to “fly robotically without threatening traditional aircraft or people on the ground.” After a year of relative quiet from Amazon, the company’s announcement “is a sign that it has been aggressively working with regulators” toward building an approved craft. The design allows the drone to carry packages weighing up to 5 pounds and “come within a foot or two of the ground and drop the package in a marked spot.” The drone is said to have mastered how to detect utility wires and clotheslines.
Low-tech protection at the ATM
If you’re worried about your bank information getting stolen, there are some steps you can take to protect your debit PIN, said Chris Kornelis in The Wall Street Journal. Criminals have been putting skimming devices on the mechanism that unlocks the vestibule door at bank ATMs. But did you know that you don’t actually need to use a bank card to get in? “Any old piece of plastic with a magnetic stripe should do, such as a grocery-store club card.” Drive-through ATMs have also become “an optimal location for crooks’ cameras,” so make sure to cover the PIN pad—even if you have to hang both arms out the car window. Lastly, try to avoid free-standing ATMs, because they are easier to break into and more susceptible to skimming. “If you can see the top of an ATM, that’s a big warning sign.”
Google’s data-crunching acquisition
Even with the Justice Department bearing down, “Google continues to expand,” said Klint Finley in Wired.com. The search giant paid $2.6 billion to buy the business intelligence and data analytics software specialist Looker. It’s the fourth-biggest acquisition in Google’s history, and “fills a hole in Google’s current portfolio.” While Google may be “the world’s biggest data cruncher,” its cloud computing services aren’t on a par with those of Microsoft and Amazon, which dominate the $12.7 billion business intelligence software market. Looker’s software lets companies mine data to spot trends and create predictive models, and could help the lagging cloud division attract more Fortune 500 clients.