What’s new in tech
‘Farming’ fraudulent ad clicks
“Ordinary Americans are using armies of phones to generate cash to buy food, diapers, and beer through ad fraud,” said Joseph Cox in Vice.com. The practice, called “phone farming,” was borne out of the ecosystem of websites that have begun compensating consumers to watch or interact with digital advertisements, either in the form of cash or points that can be exchanged for other goods. Some “farmers” have industrialized the process, using hundreds of phones to run the cash-paying apps. To test the scam for ourselves, we bought four Android phones over the internet to run an app that paid me to watch Netflix trailers over and over again. But we found “some of these money-making apps are buggy,” and keeping the apps going was labor-intensive and not exactly fruitful.
An e-reader cure for phone addiction
The best way to treat your smartphone addiction might be with an e-reader, said Brian Chen in The New York Times. I tested Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis. It’s a bit bulkier than other Kindles and not as pleasant to hold for long periods as the cheaper Kindle Paperwhite. But its “signature feature, the adjustable light, is a delight.” The device lets “you tweak the color tone from cool to warm”—at night, a feature I appreciated. The e-reader also provided “a respite from the hateful comments on social media and the stress-inducing news articles we consume on the web.” Last week, while trying to sleep, I found myself “stuck in a feverish loop of incessantly checking Twitter and email.” I downloaded a book about dogs on the Kindle, and “I was out like a light.”
New tariffs could hit the iPhone
President Trump’s new tariffs on products made in China could add $100 to the price of your next iPhone, said Jefferson Graham in USA Today. The threat of a 10 percent tariff on another $300 million of goods imported from China—this time including consumer electronics—sent Apple’s stock tumbling last week. The company has been weighing moving some of its production from Chinese soil, but that would take years. In the meantime, Apple is expected to release three new models of the iPhone in September and has already been struggling with sagging sales of its signature product. An analyst said, “Apple could lose sales of between 6 million and 8 million iPhones because of the tariffs.” Apple shares dropped precipitously early this week as the trade war accelerated.