Weekly Tech News Roundup 23/1/2017

Beware those shiny new apps, Samsung tells us why Galaxy Note 7s were blowing up and the data is in: Autonomous cars are better at driving than humans.

Just how much information is the latest and hottest smart phone app gathering?

The Meitu (Me too) app has been around for quite a few years. It is a photo app that allows users to take photos, apply filters and share with friends. Much like snapchat and instagram but a recently added filter that converts pictures of people to anime or japanese cartoon characters has seen an explosion in interest.

With this added interest, it has gained the attention of people who dig deeper into apps and they have found out that the app is not as innocent as you would expect.

It seems as though the Meitu app is not just accessing your network, camera and other simple functions but it is also reaching deep into your phone to get information such as phone status and identity.

It turns out that other very popular programs when scrutinised collect a good deal of information that seems unrelated to the original function (such as Facebook Messenger).

The good news (for Android users) is that it is possible to allow and deny access depending on what you want to share with that must-have app.

Just remember, if the service is free then you are the product.

More on this here.

Samsung tells us what went so spectacularly wrong with the Galaxy Note 7.

Those of you that might have missed one of the biggest stories in mobile phones last year Samsung made headlines for the wrong reasons when the “Best Android Phone Ever” started smoking, catching fire and in some cases exploding.

The Tech giant issued and immediate recall and we all thought that was it but the replacement handsets started exploding too and it got to the point where the Galaxy Note 7 was not even allowed on aircraft for fears of explosions while in flight.

So what went wrong?

First a design flaw in the upper right corner of the battery caused the electrodes to bend in leading to a short in the battery that quickly turned into “thermal runaway” and eventual failure and fire.

The reworked phones had the design flaw fixed but the replacement battery had a manufacturing issue that let to a welding defect leading to a similar outcome.

Samsung has stated it will continue to manufacture the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note product lines with the S8 and Note 8 due or release this year.

The question that now needs answering is, will the market accept Samsung’s explanation and will the next versions of the Samsung premium handsets still be popular?

For the full story on Recode, click here.

Autonomous driving. Does not have to be perfect, just better than what we have now.

An investigation by the US Department of Transportation prompted by the fatal accident involving a Tesla vehicle equipped with Autopilot has recently been closed and the report did not find an indication of a safety problem with the feature.

In fact, with data supplied by Tesla it was revealed that the Autosteer feature in Autopilot reduced crashes in Tesla vehicles by 40%. This on top of the initial stats of 130 million miles per Tesla fatality compared to the US average of just 94 million miles per fatality puts forward a strong case for the future of autonomous vehicles.

Just recently, Tesla rolled out Version 8 of its software giving the system even better sensor coverage around the vehicle taking Tesla another step closer to its goal of reducing car crashes by 90%.

If you are skeptical about what autonomous vehicles can do for us, does this change your view?

More on this story from AFR here.