Tech round-up for June 6: WWDC 2018, GitHub goes to Microsoft, Facebook and device manufacturers, the weight of websites

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This week, Microsoft makes another huge acquisition, Facebook reveals it’s been sharing your information with device manufacturers, and some information on just how all of this tracking is impacting your online experience. But first, the big news from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

News from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference

In San Francisco this week Apple held its annual developer’s conference. While there wasn’t much about hardware to talk about, the tech company had lots to share about upcoming software updates. Including Dolby Atmos support for Apple TV 4K.

Stop following me!

Apple’s Safari browser prevents websites from tracking you, and this fall it will expand that protection to block social networks – like Facebook – from following you after you leave.

macOS Mojave is coming this fall

A lot of what’s coming to the new version of Apple’s operating system for computers is functionality that has been part of the mobile operating systems for a while, including security notifications and apps like News, and Voice Memos.

WatchOS 5 additions

New fitness features coming to the Apple Watch include competitive activity with other Apple Watch users and auto-workout detection. The devices will also be able to track the activity performed during hiking and yoga.

WatchOS 5 also brings walkie-talkie functionality between Apple Watches, and you’ll be able to listen to podcasts on your watch without needing your iPhone nearby.

iOS 12 will make our mobile devices even more useful

Screen Time

This new feature will help us manage, well, our screen time. It will give you information about what apps you’re using and you can set limits for yourself. There’s also greater parental control over device usage.

More Animoji and introducing Memoji

iPhone 8X owners are going to be able to animate themselves as a ghost, koala, tiger, or T-rex, and you’ll be able to create an animated version of yourself, too, with Memoji.

Group FaceTime

Video calls using Apple’s service will now support up to 32 people across Apple mobile devices and Mac computers. And you can use your Animoji or Memoji avatar if you prefer.

Measure

Using the augmented reality functionality of Apple’s new mobile devices, Measure will let you figure out the dimensions of real life objects.

Other improvements

Apple is also making its Photos app better, and is adding Google Maps and Waze to its CarPlay platform.

Microsoft is buying Github

Microsoft is adding a key library to its collection of programming and code data with its acquisition of GitHub.

The deal is for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock.

If you don’t know what GitHub is, don’t be alarmed.

Git is a free and open-source system for version control, and GitHub is a site designed and intended for developers to store and track software projects.

In the ten years its been around, GitHub has collected billions of lines of code in some 85 million repositories and Microsoft teams have been using the service to manage their own software development projects.

In a blog post about the transaction, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella insists the open source nature of the service will be maintained, and GitHub will continue to operate independent of Microsoft.

Recent big purchases by Microsoft have included LinkedIn and Minecraft.

We keep learning more about what Facebook is doing with information about you

Facebook has been sharing information about its users to device manufacturers, including Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, Samsung, and TCL.

Four of those companies – Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL – are Chinese owned, and Huawei “has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat” according to the New York Times.

So while Facebook has claimed that the ability of companies to get access to user data like what was used by Cambridge Analytica had stopped in 2014, that was not actually the case.

Device manufacturers can also get information about friends of users, even when those people had explicitly said they didn’t want to share.

What’s going on behind the screen of the websites you visit?

You’ve been hearing about GDPR, the European Union’s new policy to protect the privacy of citizens.

The strict regulation has got organizations responding in different ways to comply. Some have been asking you to confirm your subscriptions. Some have been blasting you with emails about updates to privacy policies.

Some are actually serving up different experiences to users in Europe.

Austrian web developer Marcel Freinbichier noticed that’s what USA Today was doing. He wrote:

USA Today decided to run a separate version of their website for EU users, which has all the tracking scripts and ads removed. The site seemed very fast, so I did a performance audit. How fast the internet could be without all the junk!

The site load dropped from 5.2 MB to 500 KB, which translated from a load time from nearly 15 seconds to 3 seconds.

Just consider how much less data you’d need to use, and how much faster you could use the Internet, if all websites were like that.

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