The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Friday, May 15
Google said Friday that its prototype self-driving car will leave the test track and hit the local roads around Mountain View, California, this summer. Speed is capped at 25 miles per hour, and safety drivers will be onboard, a blog post stressed, with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal so they can take over driving if necessary.
Upstarts Xiaomi, Micromax pressure established smartphone players
Smartphone manufacturers Micromax in India and Xiaomi in China are shaking up the high-growth low end of the market with their latest launches, and even if the devices don't go on sale around the world, their impact will be felt globally. The impressive specs and aggressive pricing of the Micromax Yu Yuphoria and the Xiaomi Mi 4i are putting pressure on phone makers Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility to step up their efforts in the segment for sub-$200 smartphones, as they reset customer expectations.
Reddit fights harassment, angers some users
Reddit has long been a no-holds-barred environment, with some subreddits full of raw and hostile comments. Now an attempt to tamp down online harassment is drawing cries of outrage from some who say the rules are vague, will destroy free expression on the site, or are simply a ploy to attract advertisers.
Qualcomm makes its Internet of Things play
Just days after Samsung unveiled its Artik hardware-software modules for IoT devices, Qualcomm put its stake in the ground and introduced its own IoT systems on Thursday. New to its lineup are a chip platform for low-power Wi-Fi devices that use real-time operating systems; a turnkey solution for Wi-Fi devices that run Linux; and new features for AllPlay, its platform for wireless media streaming. Qualcomm says it logged more than $1 billion in revenue from chips for IoT devices in its last fiscal year.
Physicist Hawking warns of robot takeover
Reknowned physicist Stephen Hawking is once again sounding the alarm that resonates with those who fear serving robot overlords: he said at a conference in London this week that robots powered by artificial intelligence could overtake humans in the next 100 years. Last December, he warned that "the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
Microsoft Bing gets on board with mobile-friendly search
Microsoft has lined up behind Google and is adjusting how it ranks Bing search results for mobile users, prioritizing sites that display better on smaller screens to accommodate the increased use of mobile search. Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new "mobile friendly" tag.
Going global is a must for Alibaba, new CEO says
Alibaba Group's new CEO has made global expansion a top priority for the Chinese e-commerce giant. Daniel Zhang said Wednesday that it will invest heavily in overseas operations and recruiting talent internationally to adopt "global thinking." If it can't globalize, then Alibaba won't last, he said.
Chinese hackers hid malware in Microsoft's TechNet
Microsoft has taken steps to stop a China-based hacking group from using its TechNet documentation website as part of its attack infrastructure. The group used the TechNet forums to leave comments that contained the name of an encoded domain, which computers infected by the group's malware were instructed to contact. The encoded domain then referred the victim's computer to a command-and-control server run by the group.
Big companies are unhappy with ICANN's handlng of domain-names
You can't please everyone. The U.S. government bowed to international criticism and ceded more control over the Internet to ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, but now businesses are unhappy with the nonprofit's stewardship of domain names, PC World reports. Complaints include giving preferential treatment to foreign governments and a lack of overall transparency. An Amazon VP told a congressional hearing Wednesday that the process is not working.
Oracle zeroes in on Hadoop data with new analytics tool
Oracle is bringing new analytic capabilities to Hadoop and NoSQL with its Big Data Spatial and Graph software. Spatial and graph analytics tools have long been available for users of Oracle's own database, to uncover relationships and analyze data sets involving location. Now they will be able to process data natively on Hadoop.
This consumer photography drone has six rotors for level flight, which means it can deliver stable camera shots without the need for a heavy, expensive gimbel on board.
One last thing
Everyone's first friend on MySpace, Tom Anderson, gives Vanity Fair his critique of the HBO comedy, Silicon Valley.