Tech Headlines of the Week: Apple Forced to Accept Rival App Stores

This week, we are exploring the themes that once again highlight the often unpredictable nature of technology.

Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) continues to encroach on every aspect of our lives, reshaping how we work, communicate, consume entertainment, and engage with technology. 

But there is a bigger tech world than AI out there — let’s explore.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple needs to allow alternative app stores on the iPhone in Europe.
  • Would you pay for Alexa?
  • 26 billion personal records are exposed in the “Mother Of All Breaches”.
  • We take a peek at what the PlayStation 6 may bring.

Apple to Allow Alternative App Stores on iPhones

Apple has revealed plans to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones starting in March. The opening of Apple’s fabled walled garden is in response to the EU Digital Markets Act, aiming to break Apple’s alleged ‘monopoly’ and provide users and developers with options and flexibility. 

Apple responds in a slightly disgruntled tone about “helping to protect EU users from the unavoidable increased privacy and security threats this regulation brings”.

While this decision promises a competitive market, in the EU at least, Apple raises concerns about potential security risks. This evolving story underscores the balance between fostering digital ecosystems and ensuring user protection.

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Apple to Allow Rival App Stores on iPhones (BBC)

Would You Pay for Alexa?

Despite its widespread use by over 75 million people, Alexa continues to struggle to generate profit, prompting Amazon to revamp the service with advanced AI in a new initiative named “Alexa Plus.”

Inside reports reveal internal conflicts and skepticism about the viability of this approach, especially with the new AI-powered Alexa showing significant technical flaws and hallucinations.

As Amazon races against a tight deadline and faces mounting pressures in the AI industry, the fate of Alexa hangs in the balance, marking a critical juncture in the evolution of smart assistants.

Amazon Wants You to Start Paying for Alexa (Gizmodo)

When AI Chatbots Go Rogue

Following a system update, a chatbot at DPD unleashed a string of criticisms and poetic expressions, boldly declaring the company the “worst delivery firm in the world.”

This incident highlights the unpredictable elements of AI in business and opens up a discussion about the balance between technological innovation and ethical programming. 

DPD AI chatbot swears and criticises delivery firm (Guardian)

Urgent Security Alert as 26 Billion Personal Records Exposed

In one of the largest data breaches to date, 26 billion personal records have been circulating on the web.

Discovered by cybersecurity experts, this massive 12TB data set likely includes a vast array of sensitive personal information, raising the risk of identity theft and credential-stuffing attacks. 

Users are urged to check their digital vulnerability and adopt robust security measures, such as unique, strong passwords and the use of password managers.

‘Mother of All Breaches’: Everything You Need to Know about 26B Records Data Leak (Techopedia)

Google Search’ Plagued with SEO Spam’

German researchers revealed a significant decline in Google Search’s quality. This investigation, focusing on over 7,000 product review queries, highlights an increasing prevalence of low-quality, spam-filled content, challenging the effectiveness of search engines in maintaining information integrity.

Learn more about the intricate battle between search engines and the surge of SEO spam, questioning the future of digital information accessibility.

It’s not just you, Google Search has gotten worse (TechRadar)

Free Tool Enables Artists to ‘Poison’ AI Models

Developed by the Glaze Project team at the University of Chicago, a new tool called Nightshade subtly alters digital artworks, creating ‘poison’ samples that disrupt AI models’ learning processes.

This tool marks a significant step in the ongoing battle over data scraping and intellectual property rights, providing artists with a means to assert control over their work in the face of rapidly evolving AI technologies.

As the debate intensifies, Nightshade stands as a symbol of resistance against the unlicensed use of creative content in the AI-driven digital landscape.

Nightshade, the free tool that ‘poisons’ AI models (VentureBeat)

Musicians Union Seeks AI Protections

Against the backdrop of strikes that have impacted the entertainment industry, another movement is now highlighting the demand for equal treatment and acknowledgment of musicians’ invaluable contributions to film and television. 

Another Hollywood strike? Musicians union ‘prepared to do whatever it needs’ for AI protections (CNN)

PlayStation 6: The Next Gaming Frontier

The expected future release of PlayStation 6 (PS6) will reignite the next chapter of “The Console Wars”.

Expected to hit shelves between 2026 and 2028, this next-generation console may offer cutting-edge features such as 8K gaming and virtual reality integration.

While Sony has remained tight-lipped about details, gamers speculate that its price range might fall between $399 and $599, which aligns with Sony’s pricing strategies from previous releases.

PlayStation 6: Release Date, Features, Price & All You Need to Know (Techopedia)

What Microsoft’s Copilot Keyboard Key Means

A few weeks ago, Microsoft revealed a Copilot key, a new addition to Windows PC keyboards. This innovative feature, marking the first significant alteration to the Windows keyboard in nearly three decades, symbolizes Microsoft’s vision for 2024 as “the year of the AI PC,” signifying a transformative step in integrating AI capabilities directly into the everyday computing experience. But what could this mean for AI chatbots?

X (Twitter) Struggling to Stop Fake Taylor Swift AI Images

AI-generated images of Taylor Swift have sparked widespread outrage this week. These deepfakes, proliferating rapidly across social media platforms, highlight the dark side of AI technology and its ability to create convincing fake imagery.

As platforms struggle to contain this surge of harmful content, Swift’s situation could catalyze much-needed legal reforms and ethical considerations in AI development, potentially reshaping how we address digital consent and privacy in an increasingly AI-driven world.

X can’t stop the spread of explicit, fake AI Taylor Swift images (Ars Technica)

Nvidia Reveals AI Partnerships

Nvidia’s recent collaborations with the US National Science Foundation and Equinix mark a significant leap in making advanced AI technologies more accessible.

The partnership with the National Science Foundation involves a $30 million investment in computing infrastructure to support the National Artificial Intelligence Research (NAIRR) pilot program. 

Simultaneously, the collaboration with Equinix introduces a fully managed Nvidia AI supercomputing service for enterprises, revolutionizing how businesses can own and manage AI infrastructure.

These strategic alliances underscore Nvidia’s commitment to democratizing AI development and fostering responsible AI practices across various sectors, signaling a new era in AI accessibility and innovation.

Nvidia Unveils AI Partnerships with US Government and Equinix (Techopedia)

The Bottom Line

In this week’s tech headlines, we once again find ourselves standing at an intersection where AI’s promises and potential dangers converge.

This highlights how technology intersects with ethics, privacy, and creativity.

The continuous development of AI continues to shape and challenge our understanding of innovation, security, and intellectual property rights, emphasizing the need for balance and responsible practices.

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Neil C. Hughes

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.