Tech Roundup: OpenAI CriticGPT, Snapchat Safeguards & More

[A recurring feature on the latest in Science & Technology.]
  • Controversial facial recognition startup Clearview AI reaches a settlement in an ongoing lawsuit in the U.S. state of Illinois alleging its massive photographic collection of faces violated the subjects' privacy rights; gives plaintiffs a collective 23% stake in the company.
  • OpenAI acquires remote collaboration platform Multi, days after purchasing Rockset.
  • Chinese handset maker Huawei announces its next generation mobile operating system HarmonyOS NEXT that drops Android in favor of an in-house version as it seeks to reduce its reliance on foreign companies; integrates a suite of AI-powered features under the umbrella of Harmony Intelligence.
  • The European Commission calls out Microsoft for breaching E.U. antitrust rules by bundling Teams with Office 365 and Microsoft 365 productivity suites, thereby "restricting competition on the market for communication and collaboration products and defending its market position in productivity software and its suites-centric model from competing suppliers of individual software"; comes nearly a year after the tech giant announced that it would separate Teams from Microsoft 365 in an effort to appease regulators. (The unbundling went into effect as of April 1, 2024.)
  • OpenAI delays the release of its advanced Voice Mode for ChatGPT by a month to address safety issues and plans to roll out the feature to Plus users later this year; makes its macOS app available to all users, after initially rolling it out to Plus subscribers, and notifies developers in China, Iran and Russia that they will lose API access starting July 9 as they are in a "region that OpenAI does not currently support."
  • Snap announces enhanced friending safeguards updates to Snapchat's account blocking functionality, making it difficult for strangers to contact its users and combat sextortion scams, as the social media service comes under fire for fueling an opioid crisis in the U.S. among teens.
  • Google drops continuous scroll in Search results on desktop and mobile after introducing it widely in December 2022; to switch back to the classic pagination approach; pilots the ability to mention YouTube channels in comments and adds new features for YouTube Premium subscribers to browse other apps while viewing Shorts and "skip ahead to the best parts of a video."
  • Meta-owned Threads allows users to like and see replies to their posts from other federated social networks like Mastodon, as it expands fediverse support to over 100 countries.
  • Content monetisation platform Patreon lets creators gift subscriptions to fans for a set amount of time; to also bring the ability to auto-generate audio and video clips to drive engagement off the service.
  • Microsoft automatically enables OneDrive folder backup in Windows 11 without askign for users' permission; comes over three months afer it made it possible to uninstall OneDrive from the system.
  • Reddit announces plans to update its Robots Exclusion Protocol (robots.txt file) to limit its content from being crawled by third-parties without prior agreement; comes as record labels sue AI music-synthesis companies Udio and Suno for allegedly committing mass copyright infringement by using recordings owned by the labels to train music-generating AI models, underscoring a fundamental conflict over how such models need to be trained and on what data.
  • Browser maker Mozilla launches an opt-in experiment offering access to different AI services such as OpenAI ChatGPT, Google Gemini, HuggingChat and Le Chat Mistral in its experimental version of the Firefox browser, becoming the latest software provider to jump in on the AI bandwagon.
  • Figma debuts a major UI redesign with collapsible panels and support for generative AI tools.
  • Apple expands its diagnostics tool for self-service repairs from the U.S. to 32 European countries, including the U.K.; plans to launch in Canada in 2025.
  • Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart quietly rolls out an UPI-based digital payments app,, after separating from PhonePe, India's largest payments app, in December 2022.
  • Swiss company Proton makes its VPN service free to use without an account on Android devices.
  • Opera releases an updated version of Opera One with improved multimedia controls, dynamic themes and new generative AI capabilities using Aria.
  • Google adds new features to Chrome, including new Chrome Actions to surface shortcuts in search result suggestions to restaurants and other places, a redesigned address bar on tablets, new shortcut suggestions, and trending searches on iOS.
  • Amazon plans to launch a new section on its site dedicated to low-priced fashion and lifestyle items that will allow Chinese sellers to ship directly to U.S. consumers, as it attempts to fend off growing competition from Chinese e-commerce upstarts Temu and Shein.
  • Nokia agrees to acquire Infinera, which provides networking hardware and software to mobile phone operators and others, for US$ 2.3 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.
  • Google adds support for 110 new languages in Translate, up from 133 languages, in its largest expansion ever, aided by the company's PaLM 2 AI language model; inks deals with Moody's, Thomson Reuters and ZoomInfo to "ground" responses from its enterprise AI chatbots in real-world facts.
  • Microsoft censors its Bing translation service more extensively in China than its competitors, like Baidu Translate and Tencent Machine Translation, according to new findings from the Citizen Lab. (Microsoft has long held the position that pulling its internet services out of China would deny people in China an "important avenue of communication and expression." Google withdrew from the Chinese market in 2010.)
  • Alibaba's AI models Qwen comes leads Hugging Face's Open LLM Leaderboard after it unveils an upgraded version of the benchmark suite.
  • Microsoft plans to launch its Xbox TV app on Amazon's Fire TV Sticks in July in more than 25 countries, letting Game Pass Ultimate subscribers access Xbox Cloud Gaming.
  • Character.AI debuts Character Calls, letting users talk to AI characters over calls in multiple languages, including English and Chinese, as Meta starts testing user-created AI chatbots on Instagram in the U.S.
  • OpenAI unveils a new model called CriticGPT that's trained on GPT-4 to "catch errors in ChatGPT's code output" and better "evaluate outputs from advanced AI systems that can be difficult for people to rate without better tools"; comes as Meta releases LLM Compiler, a family of models built on Code Llama specifically designed for code optimisation tasks.