Downloads: “unjailbreak” phones and Ring TV shows

This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.

Erik Prince wants to sell you a “secure” smartphone that’s too good to be true

Erik Prince’s offering to investors is simple, but certainly ambitious: pay just €5 million and cure the greatest privacy and cybersecurity plagues of our time.

The American billionaire – best known for founding the notorious private military company Blackwater – has promoted Unplugged, a smartphone startup that promises “free speech, privacy, and security” “not bound by dominant tech giants like Apple and Google.

But these bold claims were undercut by a previously unreported pitch obtained by MIT Technology Review. It’s a messy mix of impossible claims, meaningless buzzwords, and outright fiction.

Almost every attempt to build this type of phone has failed. This attempt is likely to be no different. Read full story.

—Patrick Howell O’Neill

Ring’s new TV show is a great but ominous viral marketing ploy

Footage from Ring’s camera devices, which customers install to secure their homes, track deliveries, and see or interact with people at the door, has become commonplace on social media. social media in recent years.

Such videos will form the basis of the new Ring Nation TV show, which begins next month, featuring funny animals, marriage proposals and heartwarming interactions between neighborhoods.

As well as an extensive viral marketing campaign, it’s a smart attempt to wash away the image of Ring – a company that has been repeatedly criticized for its often lax approach to customer data and especially allowing law enforcement to access users’ videos without consent. Read full story.

—Eileen Guo & Abby Ohlheiser

The battle for the “Instagram face”

Through beauty filters, platforms like Instagram are helping users achieve ever-shrinking beauty standards — albeit only in the digital world — at an astonishingly fast rate. There is evidence that excessive use of these filters online is harmful to mental health, especially for young girls.

The “Instagram face” is a recognized aesthetic model: ethnic indistinct and has flawless skin, big eyes, full lips, small nose, and perfect curves that are accessible to the rest of the body. as large as the filter. And while Instagram has banned filters that encourage plastic surgery, the social network’s need to enhance beauty is complicating matters. Read full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

Things to read

I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.

1 The US is trying to give monkeys more smallpox vaccine
By moving production to Michigan and dividing the existing dose into five. (WP $)
+ It wants to deliver 50,000 vaccines to Pride events around the country. (CNBC)
+ Everything you need to know about monkeypox vaccine. (MIT Technology Review)

2 A Chicago city sensor project has gone global
It tracks everything from air quality to flooding. (MIT Technology Review)

3 How does a predatory CEO’s internet fame allow him to hide in plain sight
Dan Price has used social media to shamelessly revamp his image and control the narrative surrounding his actions. (NYT $)
+ Price has resigned from his company, Gravity Payments. (WP $)

An Apple security flaw leaves devices vulnerable to hacking
Hackers can gain full administrator access to iPhones, iPads, and Macs if users don’t update to the latest software. (The Verge)

5 Google workers urge the company to stop collecting abortion data
The union is also asking Alphabet to stop lobbying post-Roe politics. (Guardians)
+ An ad-tech company’s disclosure of trips to abortion clinics drew the ire of the FTC. (WP $)
+ It is not yet clear how an employer policy that covers workers’ abortions will work. (Atlantic $)
+ Big Tech remains silent on data privacy questions in post-Roe US. (MIT Technology Review)

6 What can returning to nature teach us about the future
A ‘hunter-gatherer’ attitude could help as the climate crisis intensifies. (Neo.Life)
+ Bioacoustics are a useful, if limited, way to monitor wildlife. (Fast company $)

7 Google’s Quantum Computer Has Been Jailbroken
By an algorithm that runs on a standard machine. (New Scientist $)

8 How much meat should we eat?
We should reduce our consumption and cultivate more sustainably. (Magazine worth knowing)
+ Giving up just half of your hamburger can actually help the climate. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Meet musicians who connect with fans via email
Forget TikTok and Instagram, Substack is at #1 these days. (Guardians)

10 TikTokers are stealing cars
The Kia Boyz trend has fueled a wave of car crime across America. (NY Mag $)
+ The platform reversed its decision to ban the hashtag schizophrenia. (Input)

Quote of the day

“Everybody is begging for a monkeypox vaccine, and we just pissed off a single manufacturer.”

—An unnamed health official described the Biden administration’s decision to split the monkeypox vaccine into five components that didn’t go well with its maker, Bavarian Nordic, for Washington Post.

Big story

Inside Singapore’s Big Bet on Vertical Farming

October 2020

It took decades for Singapore to wake up and realize that – for food – it is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world.

This risk simply did not occur to the authorities in the 1970s, when they cut down the cassava, sweet potato and vegetable crops that flourished on more than 15,000 hectares of land in the country and replaced them with buildings. office buildings and high-rise apartments. The focus back then was on finance, telecommunications and electronics, not food.

But while this strategy has succeeded in lifting Singapore’s economy (now the 4th richest country in the world per capita), it has left the country with only 600 hectares of arable land. As a result, the country has pinned its hopes on technology, with high-yielding urban farms hailed as the best option. But vertical farming is not without its skeptics. Read full story.

—Megan Tatum

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments?Drop me a lineortweet ’em with me.)

+ Who doesn’t love the Boys on the beach?
+ The avocado Obviously a more eco-friendly butter.
+ A great question — why *do* so much bicycle end of canal and lake?
+ Here is a brief look at some strange and wonderful creatures hidden in the ocean depths.
+ How amazing is that World Dog Surfing Championship look? (thanks Charlotte!)

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