Tech round-up for June 19: Libra and Facebook's Calibra, Chrome and ad blocking, Death Stranding release date

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Google is making changes to the Chrome browser and Death Stranding gets a release date. But first, Facebook wants to disrupt banking with Libra.

Facebook cryptocurrency project Libra coming in 2020

Libra, a new digital currency project being led by Facebook, will be launched next year, the company announced on Tuesday (June 18).

The currency is being constructed on blockchain technology, which is a way of having an open, public record of transactions that are protected and secure through cryptography.

What makes Libra different from other cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, is that it will not be speculative. Instead, the value of Libra coin will be determined by a reserve of funds contributed by a group of tech and commerce companies that have each contributed at least US$10 million.

Those companies, which include Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, and Spotify alongside non-profits like Women’s World Banking and Kiva, also form the Libra Association, which will be headquartered in Geneva. Facebook has a single seat on the Libra board.

The idea is that any company can use the currency. Facebook has set up its own subsidiary, Calibra, that will manage things on its own network to allow people to use Libra coin to pay for things on Facebook.

The initiative, while being presented as a way of “empowering” people – “better, cheaper, and open financial services” is how Facebook refers to Libra – is already facing criticism from regulators.

And Matt Stoller, who thinks and writes about monopolies and “regulated competition” is rolling his eyes at the entire idea.

Stoller associate Sally Hubbard had this to say:

Google changes to Chrome browser plans threatens third-party ad blockers

Google is making some changes to its Chrome browser and it looks like they are going to prevent ad blocking for regular users.

This may seem strange given that Google integrated its own ad blocker into Chrome last year in an effort to promote better advertising practices. It was in response to an industry that had become increasingly intrusive (autoplay video, anyone?) and disruptive (hello, pop-ups).

I’m not going to get into the technical aspects of this (see 9to5Google for the specifics).

It does seem like the change to Chrome is being made, in part, to actually restrict the ability of Chrome extensions – like ad blockers – from being able to access data about your web usage. This ties in with Google’s commitment to do better on user privacy.

And given that Google’s business relies on advertising, maybe it’s not so strange. It’s even less odd when you learn that the ad blocking features of Chrome will still be available to enterprise users.

That is, if you pay to use Chrome you can block ads.

As of last fall, Chrome was the most widely used browser (across platforms) accounting for well over 60% of the browser use the world.

New Death Stranding trailer confounds, delights

While Sony and PlayStation were absent from E3 last week, that didn’t stop the company from rolling out a new trailer for its biggest game of the fall, Death Stranding.

The game, being developed by Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear) and his Kojima Productions studio, will launch on November 8, 2019 as an exclusive for the PS4 console.

The game stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, and Lindsay Wagner.


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