Tech Roundup: Apple China App Takedown, TikTok's Looming U.S. Ban & More

[A recurring feature on the latest in Science & Technology.]
  • U.S. President Joe Biden signs into law the "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act" requiring TikTok's owner ByteDance to sell the company within 270 days or lose access to the U.S. market; says it's being done to "prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations," as TikTok claims "we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation" and that it has no plans to sell TikTok. (The development also coincides with ByteDance internally disclosing 61 misconduct cases involving employees accepting bribes, leaking data to rivals and claiming expenses inappropriately, among other wrongdoings.)
  • Apple removes WhatsApp, Threads, Signal and Telegram from its App Store in China, after orders from the country's regulators citing national security concerns.
  • Google delays the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome for the third time, pushing back its plans to early 2025 amid regulatory scrutiny in the U.K.
  • Meta tests options to manually archive individual posts or automatically hide posts after a set period of time on Threads, as the platform's daily active user count in the U.S. surpasses that of X (formerly Twitter) and the monthly active user count tops 150 million.
  • Reddit rolls out updates to Android and iOS apps to quickly load comments and integrates a unified media player across all post types.
  • Meta's WhatsApp adds passkey support on iOS, removing the need for users to deal with SMS one-time passcodes, six months after introducing the feature on Android; allows users to pin up to three chats.
  • TikTok suspends rewards program in its TikTok Lite app in France and Spain while it tries to resolve E.U. concerns about the potentially addictive nature of the program for children by making them engage with videos in exchange for cash benefits.
  • The European Commission designates Apple iPadOS as a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), requiring that the company fully complies with the necessary obligations, including third-party app stores, within the next six months.
  • Google debuts a "Vibrate when unlocked" toggle in Android 15 Beta to supplement its in-development notification cooldown feature, which progressively silences successive notification; also packs a new "make all apps dark" toggle to force dark mode on any app.
  • Microsoft rolls out offline mode for OneDrive on the web; comes as GitHub announces Copilot Workspace, a developer environment using "Copilot-powered agents" to help brainstorm, plan, build, test and run code in natural language.
  • The Browser Company debuts Arc on Windows, after testing it in December 2023 and shipping the macOS app in July 2023; says the Windows app has more than 150,000 users.
  • OpenAI broadly makes available its Memory feature for paying subscribers outside of Europe or Korea, allowing users to store queries, prompts and other customisations more permanently; faces a new GDPR complaint the E.U. after an unnamed public figure found ChatGPT gave his incorrect birth date.
  • The U.K. becomes the first country in the world to ban default guessable usernames and passwords from these IoT devices.
  • Apple removes three AI image generation apps from the App Store following a 404 Media probe that found the apps advertised capabilities to create nonconsensual nude images.
  • Google tests "Speaking practice" in Search, a feature that employs a conversational AI bot to let select users improve their English language skills; showcases Gecko to evaluate text-to-image AI models.
  • Bumble redesigns its mobile app and adds Opening Moves to let women ask a question that men can answer, marking a major shift that ends the requirement that women message first; rival Tinder announces Share My Date, letting users share their date plans with friends via a link that includes their match's name, meeting location, date and time.
  • Meta's WhatsApp threatens to exit India if forced to break end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in connection 2021 Information Technology Rules for social media intermediaries that require them to identify the first originator of information; overhauls its recommendation algorithms to promote original content, impacting aggregator accounts, and increase distribution for smaller accounts.
  • The E.U. formally opens an investigation into Facebook and Instagram over deceptive advertising and political content under the Digital Services Act (DSA).
  • Yelp unveils an AI-powered chatbot called Yelp Assistant to help consumers connect with relevant businesses, joining a long list of organizations leaning into AI chatbots as an assistive medium.
  • Google rolls out an update for Meet to allow users seamlessly transfer calls between devices without hanging up via its Android, iOS and web apps; now lets users download two Android apps at the same time from the Play Store.
  • Microsoft partners with IBM to release the MS-DOS 4.0 source code under the MIT license on GitHub.
  • Meta begins restricting certain election-related keywords for Meta AI in India amid ongoing elections in the country.
  • Snap reports 422 million daily active users in Q1 2024, up 10%, as Meta says 3.24 billion people use its family of apps as of March 2024; Music streamer Spotify reports 615 million monthly active users, up 19%, and 239 million paying subscribers, up 14%, and Pinterest reports 518 million monthly active users, up 12% YoY.
  • Twitch rolls out its TikTok-like discovery feed, launching as a tab within the Twitch iOS and Android apps showing live streams and clips.
  • Amazon reports a 24% growth in its advertising business, with ad revenues climbing to US$ 11.8 billion in Q1 2024; makes generally available Amazon Q Business for enterprises and rebrands its AI-powered assistive coding tool CodeWhisperer to Q Developer.