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July 10, 2020

Wrap up: the latest in technology...

By WILLIAM XIE | April 26, 2018

Nest Labs Provides Low-Income Families with Thermostats

Nest Labs, a producer of sensor-driven thermostats, smoke detectors and security systems, recently announced that it will donate up to one million thermostats to low-income families. The company is involved in Power Project, an initiative to improve energy costs for low-income families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. homes spend about 3.5 percent of income on energy. Furthermore, one in five families spends 20 percent or more on energy.

“We’re committed to installing one million energy- and money-saving thermostats in homes that need them most over the next five years by collaborating with energy companies, housing agencies like Fannie Mae, and non-profit organizations that are working to bring energy efficiency to everyone,” the company said in a press release.

In addition, for the weeks before and after Earth Day, Nest plans to donate 10 percent of proceeds to organizations that bring efficient energy solutions to the public, like Habitat for Humanity.

Android Apps Violate Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley analyzed the privacy behaviors of Android apps for children under the age of 13. The study tested 5855 apps that were free on the Google Play store, which amounted to 4.5 billion installations. The apps were from 63 varying categories released by 1889 unique developers. 

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was ratified in 1999 to protect the privacy of children online. Parents must give consent for the apps to collect personal information. 

However, researchers found that 4.8 percent of the apps violate COPPA by sharing location or contact information without consent. Forty percent of the apps share personal information without appropriate security measures, 18.8 percent potentially share identifiers with third parties and 39 percent disregard contractual obligations aimed to protect children’s privacy.

Amazon Prime members exceed 100 million

In a letter to shareholders Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon Inc, announced that Amazon has exceeded 100 million paid Prime memberships since its 13 years after its introduction. Prime membership is so large that in 2017 more than five billion items were shipped worldwide via Amazon Prime. 

Currently, Amazon Prime membership costs $99 annually or $13 monthly. Students are eligible for Prime Student membership, which is $49 annually. Prime members receive various benefits in areas including shipping, shopping, streaming and reading.

Wikipedia’s New Feature: Page Previews

Navigating Wikipedia just got easier. The large free-content encyclopedia added page previews this week. The previews pop up contextual information about what is being moused over. Page previews are “one of the largest changes to desktop Wikipedia made in recent years,” Wikimedia wrote in its blog. 

During testing, Wikimedia found that most users did not disable the feature, and the number of page views have dropped, showing how useful the addition of previews is to the ever growing online encyclopedia.

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