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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Daily News Roundup: AT&T Will Block Robocalls For Free

In a welcome step forward in the fight to put an end to constant robocalls, AT&T just announced it would make its Call Protect service enabled by default for all customers. And even better, the service is free.

Everybody hates robocalls, but solutions to the problem have been few and far between. We’ve said in the past that the best you can do is not answer your phone, but for businesses and hospitals, that’s not a viable option. Even when you can ignore calls, you’ll still often deal with annoying voicemail notifications and the interruption of your phone ringing. We even praised iOS 13 for upcoming changes to help prevent robocalls from bothering you, but it has similar downsides.

AT&T is taking a bold forward and offering something none of the other major carriers have promised: Free robocall protection on by default for all customers. The company’s Call Protect service works in three stages. It detects and blocks fraudulent calls entirely, it flags telemarketer calls as spam, and it gives you a block list you can maintain.

Some apps like TrueCaller and Robokiller offer the latter two features, but they’re limited in effectiveness and often come with premium paid features.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, all offer similar tools, but none turn them on by default. And Spring doesn’t provide any free robocall blocking features currently. Hopefully, they’ll follow in AT&T’s footsteps. [The Verge]

RELATED: Tired of Robocalls? Stop Answering Your Phone

In Other News:

  • IBM now owns Red Hat: We knew it was coming, but now all sales are final. IBM purchased Red Hat, the Linux distribution loved in the enterprise world, for $34 billion. IBM promises we shouldn’t notice a difference, as no leadership changes are coming to Red Hat. At least not yet. [TechCrunch]
  • Instant Pot wants to Instant Fry: The company behind the Instant Pot, the pressure cooker you probably own or want to own, has a new product for your kitchen—an air fryer. Dubbed the Instant Vortex Plus, it fries, roasts, bakes, reheats, dehydrates, and rotates for a rotisserie-style chicken. It will not break. Wal-mart already has it in stock for $120. [Engadget]
  • Nintendo announces a new version of the Switch: Nintendo’s latest console, the lightswitch Switch Light, keeps most of what you loved about the Switch. It’s smaller and lighter, won’t plug into your TV, and the controllers are permanently attached. Meant for portable use only, the console goes for $199.99, about $100 off the original Switch. Nintendo intends to sell both models side by side. [VentureBeat]
  • Wyze cameras gain person detection for free: Until now, Wyze used pixel-based motion detection to notify you of movement. That meant when anything changed, like a bug on the screen or the sun rising, you’d get a notification. Now, Wyze is adding person detection (but not facial recognition) as an option, which should cut down on the extra notifications. Best of all, it’s a free upgrade. [ReviewGeek]
  • Zoom backtracks, promises to patch webcam vulnerability:  Yesterday we reported that Zoom’s software let websites start your webcam without your permission. Zoom called this a feature at first, but now they’re relenting and promise to correct the problem—at least on Mac, no word yet on Windows. [Digital Trends]
  • Logitech unifying receives are vulnerable to injection attacks:  Logitech’s unifying receivers are convenient. You can connect six different mice, keyboards, etc. to a computer with one dongle. Unfortunately, it also seems the dongle is vulnerable to injection attacks. The slightly good news is, the attackers need physical access to your machine, which makes it harder to pull off. The better news, Logitech promises to fix two of the vulnerabilities. However, Logitech says it will leave two other vulnerabilities in place for now. [Bleeping Computer]
  • YouTube manual copyright claims now require a timestamp: YouTube announced it now requires manually submitted copyright claims to include a timestamp of the offending material. The hope is by pointing directly to the video or audio in dispute the problem can be cleared up in a more timely manner. Makes sense to us. [Android Central]
  • Alexa now provides verified medical advice in the U.K.: Usually, if you ask Alexa anything medically related, she provides information from a variety of unverified sources like WebMD. Now in the U.K. Alexa will pull medical answers from the country’s National Health Service (NHS). That should lead to accurate medical advice while taking some stress of the NHS’s systems. [TechRadar]

Archeologists found two rare boat burials in Sweden. While ship burials are found all over Europe, they were uncommon and typically reserved for people of importance. You can think of it as something similar to the pyramids, on a less grand scale. When ship burials did occur, it wasn’t uncommon to include items of status and even animals.

But water is unkind to archaeology, and the remains of the ships and contents are usually unsuitable for study when anything is found at all. That’s what makes the latest find so exciting. Not only were two ships found, but researchers also discovered the skeletons of an adult male, a horse, and a dog in one of the watery graves.

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