The Times - UK (2020-10-14)

(Antfer) #1

the times | Wednesday October 14 2020 2GM 15


Apple has heralded the “start of a new

era” with the release of the first iPhone

that works on 5G networks, which the

technology giant hopes will encourage

pre-Christmas sales.

The company unveiled the iPhone 12

at a virtual event yesterday. It comes in

four different models, and is lighter,

thinner, faster and has a screen that is

four times harder to crack.

However, Wall Street became jittery

after China apparently shut down the

livestream of the event. A Bloomberg

reporter in Beijing tweeted that Chi-

nese online platforms had cancelled

the showing without any explanation.

Apple shares closed down 2.7 per cent

at $121.10. The Times could not confirm

why the cancellation occurred.

While 5G technology is in its infancy,

with coverage in the UK still sporadic,

analysts believe Apple’s backing will

encourage more people to upgrade

their devices. “Although 5G devices

have been available from pretty much

every other smartphone maker for over

a year... the iPhone 12 will mark the

real start of 5G for the consumer mass

market,” Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS

Insight, said.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive,

said: “The next generation is here. Each

generation of cellular network techno-
logy on iPhone has enabled break-
through innovations... and 5G is the
most exciting step yet.”
He added: “5G will bring a new level
of performance for downloads and up-
loads, higher quality video streaming,
more responsive gaming, real-time in-
teractivity and so much more.”
The iPhone 12, which will cost £799,
has the same 6in (15.5cm) screen as its
predecessor, but the device itself is 11
per cent thinner and 16 per cent lighter,
while the aluminium edges are now flat

man who lost almost £100,000 after
clicking on an online investment advert
featuring fake endorsements from
Martin Lewis, the founder of Money
Saving Expert, and Deborah Meaden,
of the BBC programme Dragons’ Den.
The consumer rights group is calling
on the Department for Digital, Culture,
Media and Sport to make it the law for
tech firms to prevent scam content
from appearing on their platforms, as
part of the government’s forthcoming
online harms bill.
The planned legislation, which has
been repeatedly delayed, intends to lay
out a new regulatory framework for
online safety that will make clear com-
panies’ responsibilities to keep UK
users safer online.
The research by Which? focused on
Facebook because of its size and influ-
ence, with 2.7 billion monthly active
users. However, it said that the findings
could apply to other platforms.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and
advocacy at Which?, said: “The time for
serious action on online scams is now. If
the government doesn’t grasp the op-
portunity to deliver this in the upcom-
ing online harms bill, it must urgently
come forward with new proposals.”
Facebook said: “We remove ads and
content that violate our policies. We
have a dedicated reporting tool and a
specialist team to review reports and
have donated £3 million to Citizens
Advice to deliver a UK Scam Action


t has shaped the
way we use the
internet. Now
Google wants to
change how we
farm the land (Tom
Knowles writes).
X Development,
which Google founded
in 2010, has unveiled a
“plant buggy” that uses
artificial intelligence to
analyse crops so that
farmers can improve
their yields and save

money. It is part of a
project called Mineral to
create tools in AI and
robotics that can
manage the “staggering
complexity of farming”
and help to grow food
sustainably around the
The autonomous,
electric buggy has been
tested in strawberry
fields in California and
in soya bean fields in
Illinois. It has solar

panels, and cameras and
sensors that examine
and count every plant,
berry and bean as it
travels through a field.
The buggy has GPS
software to mark the
precise location of
particular plants and its
sensors are able to take
measurements including
height, leaf area and
fruit size of each crop.
By combining this
data with satellite

images, weather
patterns and
information on the soil,
the Mineral team says
the buggy and artificial
intelligence software can
give farmers insights
into how their crops are
growing and how they
are likely to grow.
This means farmers
can target individual
plants, working out if
only a handful need a
pesticide or some other

form of treatment,
helping to save money
and reduce the use of
chemicals. This can also
ensure better decisions
about “crop-threatening
issues like pests, diseases
or drought”, according
to the Mineral team.
It added: “Tracking
how the plants are
growing over time can
help growers predict the
size and yield of their
crop, enabling them to

make better yield
projections.” The team
says it is working with
farmers in the US,
Canada, Argentina and
South Africa.
Google is one of a
number of companies in
the “ag-tech” industry,
offering everything from
farm drones to AI facial
recognition for cows.
John Deere, the US
tractor maker, says it
now considers itself a

technology company,
and has built a combine
harvester that takes
pictures as it works and
detects subtle
differences in the grain.
Such technology
comes at a time when
many countries are
facing a farmer
shortage. In the UK
nearly four in ten are
over the age of 65, and
the average age of
farmers is 55.

Google’s robots

have farming

all sown up

How it works

Buggy travels
through a field

1 Records location of
particular plants


Farmers can target
individual plants,
and treat them as

Examines and counts 4
every plant including
precise height, leaf
area and fruit size


Powered by
solar panels Inbuilt GPS


and sensors

Call for new law to tackle

Facebook advert scams

Facebook users are “seriously under-
estimating” their chances of falling
victim to online fraud because the tech
giant is not doing enough to warn and
protect them, according to a report by
the Which? consumer rights group.
The organisation is pushing the gov-
ernment to make it a legal responsibili-
ty for social media companies to
prevent scam content from appearing
on their sites, warning that people are
often “lulled into a false sense of secur-
ity” on platforms such as Facebook.
Which? used an online community
of 50 Facebook users and found a third
did not know that fake products might
be advertised on the site, while a quar-
ter did not spot an investment scam
advert with a fake endorsement from a
celebrity. The users also mistakenly
assumed that they could spot fraud and
“that the company’s systems would
protect them effectively”.
The research, conducted alongside a
survey of 1,700 people, found that while
older social media users were often
more concerned about scams, younger
people may be more susceptible to
them as they are more likely to take part
in online shopping and quizzes used by
some fraudsters.
Which? said that the financial conse-
quences for those tricked by these
fraudsters on social media platforms
and on Google adverts “can be devas-
tating”. It highlighted the example of a

Tom Knowles

Apple hoping for quick

success with 5G iPhone

Tom Knowles

Technology Correspondent

instead of curved. An iPhone 12 mini,
starting at £699, was also unveiled with
a 5.4in screen, which Apple called the
“smallest, thinnest and lightest 5G
phone in the world”.
Apple’s smartphone sales peaked five
years ago, as people now wait longer
before upgrading their devices, but ana-
lysts believe this could lead to a wave of
upgrades. “This will be high on users’
Christmas shopping list,” Paolo Pesca-
tore, a tech analyst at the consultancy
PP Foresight, said. “Apple will sell mil-
lions of the new iPhone 5G devices.”
Apple also launched an iPhone 12 Pro
with stainless steel edges that costs
£999, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max has
a 6.7 inch (17 cm) screen, Apple’s largest
ever, and costs £1,099.
The Pro versions come with an extra
camera lens, their processors are
slightly more powerful and they have a
Lidar scanner, which is a depth sensor
that uses lasers to scan 3D objects, that
can help with augmented reality apps.
However, some users are likely to be
disappointed with Apple’s announce-
ment that it will no longer be including
a free charger or earphones with its new
iPhones. The company said this was for
environmental reasons.
Apple also launched a new version of
its smart speaker — the HomePod Mini
— its rival to Amazon’s Echo and
Google’s Nest devices.

Selling points

6 5G This has speeds up to ten
times faster than 4G networks.

6 Ceramic shield The nano-ceramic
crystal display is tougher than any
smartphone glass available.

6 OLED Brighter display technology
replaces previous LCD screens.

6 A14 bionic chip The iPhone’s
processor is 50 per cent faster than
competing smartphone chips.

6 Camera Multiple lenses include
a new wide view that provides
27 per cent more light and allows
night-time selfies without the flash.
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