This Week’s 5 Must-Read Stories You May Have Missed
Apple announces plans to donate to the Amazon rainforest, rumours suggest Facebook is producing a new messaging app and the BBC has announced it will launch a rival to Amazon’s Alexa.
We caught up with our columnist, business transformation expert, author of The Interim Revolution and founder and CEO of Sullivan and Stanley, Pat Lynes, to discuss the biggest news stories you wouldn’t have wanted to miss last week.
1. Apple announces plans to donate to the Amazon rainforest
The Amazon rainforest has had a recorded 74,000 fires in Brazil this year, which is double the fires recorded in the whole of 2018. More recently, a catastrophe fire has been raging across the forest for the last four weeks. Following a rally from activists and celebrities, the news finally hit the rest of the world. In response, CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to reveal that Apple will be donating to help preserve and restore the Amazon rainforest.
Although Cook did not diverge full details on the donation, it is now crucial for big businesses such as Apple to step up and offer their support. The climate has become one of the greatest threats to the world, so all businesses big and small should be doing their bit to reduce the ever-growing impact.
2. Facebook is producing a new messaging app called Threads
According to tech news website The Verge, Facebook is developing a new messaging app called Threads. A rival to Snapchat, the new app is expected to facilitate constant, intimate sharing of information between users and their closest friends. The app will be a build on Instagram, using its ‘Close Friends’ feature as its framework.
Facebook has been trying to create a standalone messaging app through Instagram and to date, has failed to develop it out of the beta testers stage. Despite previous failures, it’s positive to see Facebook continuing to innovate and improve its offering to tackle disruption and stay ahead of its competitors.
3. The BBC will launch Beeb, a rival to Amazon’s Alexa
The BBC is planning to enter into the digital voice assistant landscape, as it announced plans to launch Beeb (working title), a new hardware device. Beeb, which will be a competitor to Amazon’s Alexa, is being created to work on smart speakers, TVs and mobiles. It won’t be a standalone product, instead, it will be built into the BBC’s website, iPlayer and smart TVs. However, what sets it apart, is its expected capability to train the system to recognise accents from across the UK.
As the BBC looks to further its offering, I think it’s a move in the right direction to being a “public service innovator in technology”, which is helping everyone, tech-savvy or not, to embrace and use tech to their own personal benefit.
4. The hot temperatures on the Northern line will soon keep North London homes warm
Hot air from a disused Northern Line station is expected to keep the borough of Islington warm by the end of next year. This new scheme is a joint venture by Transport for London, Islington Council and engineering firm Ramboll. By harnessing the ‘waste heat’ from the underground, it will supply heat and hot water to 1,000 homes and businesses in North London.
According to the Greater London Authority, 38% of London’s heat demands could be met by harnessing heat wasted by the underground. So, it is great to see governing bodies partnering with innovative companies, to deliver sustainable solutions.
5. SpaceX test flies Starhopper rocket ship
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully launched and landed an experimental rocket ship called Starhopper. The vehicle, which is a prototype of a planned Mars launch system called Starship, flew 150 metres into the sky, then landed safely back down on its landing pad. The bright chrome rocket ship, which looks a bit like R2D2, is roughly 60ft tall and is powered by a single-engine, is a huge step for Elon Musk’s dream of visiting space.