Technology

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Tesla apologises as China disquiet mounts

Tesla Inc. is coming under increasing pressure in China with two government entities firing off missives about the carmaker's behavior and treatment of customers, eliciting an apology from the company. The trouble started early Tuesday when China's state-run Xinhua news agency published an article that said the quality of Tesla's electric vehicles must meet market expectations in order to win consumer trust. The Palo Alto, California-based company should address consumer hesitation over buying its cars after issues ranging from malfunctioning brakes to fires during charging emerged, the article said. A few hours later, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee weighed in, posting a commentary on its WeChat account saying the automaker should respect Chinese consumers and comply with local laws and regulations. Making an effort to find the cause of problems and improve features is something any responsible business should do, and Tesla hasn't done that, the Communist Party body that oversees China's police, prosecutors and courts said. The blowback appears to stem from an embarrassing incident Tesla faced Monday at the Shanghai Auto Show, one of the world's premier car events. An angry protester climbed on one of its display vehicles shouting that her car's brakes had lost control. Her protest was captured by scores of onlookers who then uploaded the footage to social media, helping it go viral. Tesla's booth at the show had a noticeably increased security presence Tuesday. After initially pushing back against the woman's claims on Monday, saying he was "widely known" for protesting against Tesla, and that it would "never compromise against unreasonable demands," the automaker struck a more conciliatory tone in a statement late Tuesday. "We apologize for the delay in resolving the car-owner's problem,” it said. "Tesla appreciates the trust and tolerance given by our car-owners, netizens and media friends, and actively listens to the suggestions and critics. In order to make up for the discomfort of the owner as much as possible and the negative impact on her car using experience and life, we are always willing to try our best to actively communicate with her and seek solutions with the most sincere attitude, firmly fulfilling our commitment of being responsible to the end." A special taskforce has been created and Tesla "will strive to do our best to meet the demands of the owner, making the owner satisfied under the condition of compliance and legality." It added that it "respects and firmly complies” with decisions of the relevant government departments, respects its consumers, abides by laws and regulations, and actively cooperates with all investigations by government authorities. The unwanted publicity comes at an uncomfortable time for Tesla, which since breaking ground on its Shanghai Gigafactory in early 2019 has enjoyed a dream run in China, receiving all-important support from the government and appearing to skirt the tensions between Washington and Beijing. The world's biggest maker of EVs has extracted perks other international companies have struggled to obtain in China, the No. 1 global EV market, including tax breaks, cheap loans and permission to wholly own its domestic operations. But over the past month, Tesla has had to defend the way it handles data in China and had its cars banned from military complexes because of concerns about sensitive information being collected by cameras built into the vehicles. After that order, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk strenuously denied the company would ever use a car's technology for spying, and Tesla's Beijing unit said cameras that are built into its EVs aren't activated outside of North America. Tesla has been called out by Chinese regulators over quality and safety issues before, including battery fires and abnormal acceleration. In early February, it was forced into issuing a public apology to China's state grid after a video purportedly showed staff blaming an overload in the national electricity network for damage to a customer's vehicle. Tesla's China honeymoon appears to be coming to an end at a time the U.S. automaker is facing increasing competition from a slew of younger, cashed up local EV players like the New York-listed Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc., which also enjoy the support of municipal governments. Their presence at this year's Shanghai Auto Show was telling, with their large, shiny booths overshadowing exhibits from some of the more traditional carmakers. For all the hype over these newer entrants, however, Teslas remain hugely popular in China, the world's biggest car market for conventional automobiles as well. A record 34,714 China-built and imported Teslas were registered in the country in March, almost double the 18,155 registrations in February, when the week long Lunar New Year holiday slowed sales, and almost triple the number a year earlier, when the nation was in the grip of coronavrius lockdowns. The pushback against Tesla comes as other Western brands also face greater scrutiny and become ensnared in geopolitics. Swedish clothing giant Hennes & Mauritz AB was earlier criticized by state entities for an old statement on its website about forced labor in the contentious Chinese region of Xinjiang, while there has been a marked increase in nationalism among some Chinese consumers, with campaigns to buy local brands gathering pace.

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Apple unveils Dh129 AirTag for lost items: How it works

With AirTag, Apple expands the ‘Find My’ ecosystem Apple has unveiled on Tuesday (April 20, 2020), a tiny fancy new button-like accessory the helps people keep track of and find items that matter most to them — in tandem with Apple’s Find My app. The rollout unveil was live-streamed from the tech giant’s Cupertino headquarters, which also saw the introduction of the new iMac, iPad Pro, iPhone 12 in purple, and Apple TV 4K. What is AirTag? It’s an iPhone accessory that provides what Apple dubs as a “private and secure way to easily locate the items that matter most”. When will be available? From Friday, April 30. How can I use it? The small button-like accessory helps keep track of and find the items that matter most with Apple’s Find My app. Is it a tracker? Yes. It’s a locator. You may attach it to a handbag, keys, backpack, or other items. AirTag taps into the vast, global Find My network and can help locate a lost item. What about privacy? Apple says it has introduced enough safeguards to keep location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption. How much does it cost? AirTag can be purchased in one pack (Dh129) and four pack (Dh439). What’s it made of? What’s inside it? Each round AirTag is small and lightweight, features precision-etched polished stainless steel, and is IP67 water- and dust-resistant A built-in speaker plays sounds to help locate AirTag, while a removable cover makes it easy for users to replace the battery. How does it connect with iPhones? AirTag features the same setup experience as AirPods — just bring AirTag close to iPhone and it will connect. Users can assign AirTag to an item and name it with a default like “Keys” or “Jacket,” or provide a custom name of their choosing. Customers can personalise AirTag with free engraving, including text and a selection of 31 emoji, when purchasing from apple.com or the Apple Store app. Users can easily place AirTag into a bag or pocket on its own, or utilize a wide range of Apple-designed AirTag accessories, including the Polyurethane Loop, which is both lightweight and durable, and the Leather Loop and Leather Key Ring, featuring specially-tanned European leather. The enclosure of each accessory fits securely around AirTag, while conveniently attaching to a user’s belongings, further personalizing AirTag while making sure it is always with their important items. How to use it? Once AirTag is set up, it will appear in the new Items tab in the Find My app, where users can view the item’s current or last known location on a map. If you misplace tan item and it is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My app to play a sound from the AirTag to help locate it. Apple said users can also ask Siri to find their item, and AirTag will play a sound if it is nearby. What does Apple say about it? “We’re excited to bring this incredible new capability to iPhone users with the introduction of AirTag, leveraging the vast Find My network, to help them keep track of and find the important items in their lives,” said Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing. “With its design, unparalleled finding experience, and built-in privacy and security features, AirTag will provide customers with another way to leverage the power of the Apple ecosystem and enhance the versatility of iPhone.”

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Apple announces AirTags for lost items, podcast subscriptions at iPad launch event

Technology|: Apple Inc announced AirTags to find lost items and podcast subscription services that will compete with rival Spotify at an event also likely to include an update to Apple's iPad Pro tablet and its iMacs. Apple said that spouses and partners would be able to share and merge credit lines with its Apple Card, which CEO Tim Cook described as an important step toward making it easier for people to build their credit scores. Apple shares have risen nearly 95 per cent over the past year, faster than the 63 per cent rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index, thanks to a record $274.5 billion in sales for fiscal 2020 as consumers stocked up on electronics during the pandemic. Apple shares were down 1 per cent. Macs and iPads accounted for $52.3 billion during its fiscal 2020, and analysts expect updates to the top-end iPad Pro models on Tuesday, including better display and processing technology. "The Pro iPads are not the volume sellers, but they blur the line between Mac and iPad. How Apple differentiates between the iPad Pro and the Mac will be very interesting to watch," Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at Creative Strategies. The AirTag announcement could result in a new round of complaints to lawmakers that Apple is hurting smaller rivals. Tile, a startup that has sold a competing tracker for nearly a decade, last year testified before the US House of Representatives that Apple's App Store rules had made it harder to use Tile's products and will be called before the US Senate to testify on Wednesday. Apple has said it subjects all apps, including its own, to the same App Store review rules. Bob O'Donnell, head of TECHnalysis Research, said he does not believe the trackers will become a big business on their own. "Because they are so late to this, it might not be that much different than when Apple got into set top boxes like Apple TV. Theyre a player. Theyre there, but they're not huge," he said. But Bajarin said the trackers could keep people tied to their iPhones if they rely on them to find items like keys and wallets. "The more you buy into just one hardware product, the less likely it is youll ever leave," Bajarin said. O'Donnell said other announcements could include Apple moving some of its iMac models to its own processors from Intel Corp's chips; and a consumer computer monitor in a lineup that recently has only had a high-priced screen for video professionals.

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Tesla gets chided by China over vehicle safety

The knocks keep coming for Tesla Inc., with the electric carmaker singled out in a piece from China's state-run Xinhua news agency that said the quality of its vehicles must meet market expectations in order to win consumers' trust. The Palo Alto, California-based company should address consumer hesitation over purchasing its cars after issues ranging from malfunctioning brakes to fires erupting during the vehicles' charging emerged last year, Tuesday's article said. Tesla on Monday had an embarrassing moment at the big Shanghai Auto Show when an angry protester climbed on top of one of its display vehicles shouting that her car's brakes had lost control. The woman, a Tesla owner from Henan, "is widely known for having repeatedly protested against Tesla's brake issue," the company said. She was live-streaming earlier from near Tesla's booth at the show before staging her protest, which was captured by scores of onlookers who then uploaded the footage to the internet. Over the weekend, a Tesla car that no one appeared to be driving crashed in Texas, erupting into flames and killing the two passengers. The car ran into a tree after traveling at high speed and failing to navigate a turn. One victim was found in the front passenger seat of the 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear, suggesting no one was driving at the time of impact. In the accident that happened in Texas, the car ran into a tree after traveling at high speed and failing to navigate a turn. One victim was found in the front passenger seat of the 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear, suggesting no one was driving at the time of impact. Image Credit: Scott J. Engle via Reuters The slew of incidents comes at an uncomfortable time for Tesla, which over the past month has defended the way it handles data in China and had its cars banned from military complexes. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk later strenuously denied the company would ever use a vehicle's technology for spying and Tesla's Beijing unit said cameras that are built into its EVs aren't activated outside of North America. Tesla has been called in by Chinese regulators over quality and safety issues before, including battery fires and abnormal acceleration. It was forced into issuing a public apology to China's state grid in early February after a video purportedly showed staff blaming an overload in the national electricity network for damage to a customer's vehicle. The U.S. automaker is also facing increasing competition in China from a slew of newer, cashed up local firms like Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc. Their presence at this year's Shanghai Auto Show was telling, with their large, shiny booths overshadowing exhibits from some of the more traditional carmakers like BMW AG. Regardless, Teslas are still hugely popular in China, which is the world's biggest car market for both EVs and conventional automobiles. A record 34,714 China-built and imported Teslas were registered in the country in March, almost double the 18,155 registrations in February, when the week long Lunar New Year holiday slowed sales, and almost triple the number a year earlier, when the nation was in the grip of coronavrius lockdowns.

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Apple to let tweaked Parler back in App Store

Technology|: San Francisco: A version of social network Parler updated to curb incitements to violence has been cleared to return to Apple's App Store, a US congressman said Monday. A team at Apple devoted to reviewing whether apps submitted to its App Store conform to its policies has approved a modified version of Parler, which had become popular with conservatives before it was booted off online marketplaces. The news came from a copy of a letter from Apple posted on Twitter by US Representative Ken Buck of Colorado. "Parler has proposed updates to its app and the app's content moderation practices," read the letter signed by Apple senior director of government affairs in the Americas Timothy Powderly. "Its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstallment in the App Store." Apple, queried by AFP, offered no additional comment. Powderly noted in the letter that Apple stood by its independent decision to remove Parler from the App Store in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. Buck said in his tweet that Parler's return to the App Store is "a huge win for free speech." Parler relaunched in February after being forced offline over incitements to violence on the platform. Parler, which calls itself "the free speech social network", came under scrutiny following the deadly attack on the US Capitol. Apple and Google pulled the network's app from their download platforms and Amazon's web hosting service cut ties as well. Powderly said in the letter that Apple had found many posts violating the iPhone maker's rules about app content moderation. He said there were "posts that encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence against specific people." Apple chief executive Tim Cook said early this year that Parler could return the App Store if it changed how it moderates posts on the platform. Nevada-based Parler, which launched in 2018, operates much like Twitter, with profiles to follow and "parleys" instead of tweets. In its early days, the platform attracted a crowd of ultraconservative and even extreme-right users. It has since signed up many more traditional Republican voices. Parler fired its chief executive John Matze soon after the deadly attack on the US Capitol.