WhatsApp updates privacy policy, Google teases new OS and the bot community comes together

Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash

In this issue, we look at the updates made to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, the speculation surrounding Google’s new operating system as well how the bot community is coming together to tackle the challenges they face.

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Hi Mum! Said Dad

WhatsApp goes back on its word?

WhatsApp is set to share user data with Facebook in order to allow businesses to send messages to users.

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, fears quickly surfaced that the social media giant was looking to display adverts and monetise WhatsApp user data. WhatsApp quickly moved to quash such rumours, much to the relief of its huge user base. However, only two years on and it seems they have changed their tune. A statement from WhatsApp yesterday confirmed that users’ phone numbers will be shared with Facebook in order to allow users “to communicate with businesses that matter to you too”. However, that is not all. The update to the privacy policy will allow Facebook to use WhatsApp users’ phone numbers in order to suggest friends to add as well as allow marketers to target adverts.

If you aren’t comfortable with Facebook receiving your data, you you can get more information about how to opt out here. Sadly, many users will a) probably not have the patience to read the privacy policy update and b) be unaware of the ability to opt out (it is conveniently well hidden as you can see in the link above). Despite this ability to opt out (not a full opt out by the way — Facebook will still receive data in certain situations), there has been a backlash from many users on social media.

This one is going to leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth, especially when you take a look back at some of the rhetoric that came out of WhatsApp in the good old days.

The new privacy policy that will be greeting WhatsApp users. Source: WhatsApp

Google: ‘Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)’

Last Friday, it emerged that Google is in the early stages of building a new operating system called Fuchsia. It looks like Google is taking a new direction as the operating system is not based on the Linux kernel (underpins both the Android and Chrome OS, the operating system found on Google’s Chromebook laptops).

Google are yet to comment on the intended purpose of this new operating system but as you can imagine, speculation has been rife. Many seem to think that Fuchsia is Google’s attempt to consolidate Android and Chrome OS into one operating system. This should allow for a more consistent experience across phones, tablets and laptops. Others are speculating that the Fuchsia will be used to power IoT devices. Closer inspection of the code (yes, Fuchsia is open source) as well as the backgrounds of developers (features two heavyweights in embedded systems — most IoT devices will be a subset of embedded systems) listed on the official Fuchsia GitHub page suggests that this may not be a bad shout at all.

The unification of Android and Chrome OS would represent a fairly logical step for Google. However, if the latter is true and Fuchsia is indeed intended for IoT devices, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either. A recent report by Ericsson predicts that IoT devices (e.g. connected cars, machines, utility meters, remote metering and consumer electronics) are set to overtake smartphones by 2018.

Android allowed Google to be at the heart of the smartphone revolution and now Google may well be laying the groundwork to strategically place itself at the heart of the IoT revolution.

Fuchsia’s cryptic GitHub page. Source: Google

Creating a common standard for bots

The bot community is rallying together in an attempt to better understand the bot landscape and agree on common standards.

Heavyweights including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Slack and Kik have met with startups and investors to discuss problems, share knowledge and define a roadmap for the future of bots. They refer to themselves as the Botness community and their last 2 day meeting took place in June in San Francisco.

Botness have just recently issued a survey in an attempt to further understand the bot ecosystem and the results will be formally published for all to see. The survey will aim to provide investors with greater clarity but above all, bring to light the problems and issues that are impeding progress in the space.

VentureBeat Insights estimates the nascent bot industry to be made up of more than 170 companies who have received more than $4 billion in funding. The willingness to collaborate through Botness is something to be admired, especially when you consider that many of the companies in attendance are likely to be in competition with each other.

Recognising the need to work together may just be the first step to realising the early potential of bots.

The Botness community is made up of some tech’s biggest companies. Source: Venture Beat

Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.

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