Hello, again! It’s time for The Weekly Download.
On the hot sheet today: new emoji, new Twitter, Elon Musk’s futuristic Neuralink technology, Google’s latest social network test, and is engagement really declining on Instagram? Plus, you’ve probably seen FaceApp go viral (again) this week, but should you be worried about allowing it to access your camera roll?
Read on to find out!
More Fun (And Representative) Emoji Are on Their Way
In celebration of World Emoji Day, it was announced that many more new emoji will be coming to Apple and Google devices in the coming months. The new icons will include fun and cute (otters, sloths and flamingos) and also be more socially representative.
Both companies are overhauling their couples emoji to ensure your tiny graphic friends can hold hands with whomever they want — regardless of skin tone or gender.
Other new emoji that we’re happy to see added to the line up: people using two different kinds of wheelchairs, a service dog, an ear with a hearing aid, and a person walking with a white cane.
But while emoji offerings are becoming more inclusive of today’s socio-political landscape, many are upset that with these new releases there’s still no trans flag emoji. We’re happy to find out, however, that it IS on the approval shortlist for a potential 2020 release.
Elon Musk Unveils Neuralink’s Brain-Reading Technology
Last time we checked, we were living in 2019, but Elon Musk and his secretive company, Neuralink, are thinking way into the future.
This week Musk unveiled Neuralink’s new technology and it’s straight up futuristic. Using a module that sits outside a user’s head, the technology will wirelessly communicate with the brain through flexible “threads” embedded therein.
The threads are considerably thinner than a human hair and are less likely to damage the brain than materials currently used in brain-machine interfaces. If that wasn’t high-tech enough for you, Neuralink’s other big advance is a robot that surgically embeds the threads.
The company’s goal is to eventually begin implanting devices into paralyzed humans, allowing them to control phones or computers. According to Musk, a monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain using Neuralink’s technology. We’re not sure whether to be amazed or slightly scared…
Latest Statistics Show Engagement is Declining on Instagram
New data released by Trust Insights confirms that the overall engagement rate on Instagram is decreasing.
Trust Insights analyzed 1,430,995 posts from 3,637 brands in 2019, and notes a sharp decrease in engagement happening in May of this year. While there’s no way to say for sure what caused this drop off, Trust Insights maintains it is happening to individuals and brands alike.
To mitigate the decrease in engagement, some marketers have begun promoting feed posts in their Instagram Stories or using Instagram Ads to get noticed.
Have you noticed a drop in your personal or business Instagram engagement? Tell us using the comments below.
FaceApp Goes Viral (Again), But Should You Be Worried About Your Privacy?
This week you probably saw celebs (and everyone else) posting their FaceApp filtered results on social media. It’s a fun app — one that uses artificial technology to imagine what you might look like in the future — but some are worried that it might be invading user privacy.
After a developer wondered if the Russian-built app could be taking all the photos from your phone and uploading them permanently to its servers without any obvious user permissions, people started to worry.
Should we be concerned about the provenance of the company behind FaceApp?
— Thomas Brewster (@iblametom) July 17, 2019
Several security researchers have taken a deeper dive in response to these concerns and say that while the app could make users feel safer without storing images to a cloud-based server in the short term, access to your entire camera roll isn’t something to worry about.
According to FaceApp developers, images are deleted from the cloud server within 48 hours of their upload date, and are only stored so user photos aren’t repeatedly uploaded for every edit operation.
New Twitter for Desktop Goes Live
— Twitter (@Twitter) July 15, 2019
So what’s new? Twitter’s made it easier for users to access their favourite features, see more of “What’s Happening?” around the world, and streamlined DMs by putting them all in the same place. A much-anticipated “dark mode” is also now available, along with colour customization.
As with any big interface change, some people had strong (read NOT happy) feelings about the redesign. What are your thoughts on Twitter’s new look and feel?
Shoelace is Google’s Newest Attempt at a Social Network
After Orkut, Google Buzz and Google+ comes… Shoelace?
Shoelace is described as a hyper-local social networking app (available for download on Android and iOS) that aims to connect people based on shared interests in specific events and in-person activities. What’s different about the app is that it encourages people to get off their devices and actually connect in real life.
Users create event listings called “Loops” that can be shared with others on the app. If you don’t have any of your own Loops to broadcast to the world, Shoelace will recommend some for you based on your interests.
Before you get too excited, there’s one major catch — Shoelace is only available in New York City… for now. Oh, and if you do happen to live in or near NYC, you’ll have to score a special invite to join during the testing phase.
Tell us: would you use an app like Shoelace to meet new friends and check out local events?
Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship
This piece of Friday Fun needs no introduction… Turns out knitters can be a little hardcore, too!
Buzz Aldrin Steals the Show at the Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary Party
Eight astronauts from various Apollo missions gathered together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, but one astronaut in particular was the real star of the show.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out 89 year-old Buzz Aldrin’s suave getup from the event — he’s got style that’s really ~out of this world~ (sorry!).