Shiny Shiny tech round up: 4 out of 10 use car as additional place to work or relax

Four out of 10 households in the UK have used their car as an additional place to work, relax or even to catch up on TV shows during the pandemic, according to new research. The findings come after the Government announced a roadmap to easing lockdown, with all restrictions potentially removed as soon as June 21st. The study of 2,000 drivers by PEUGEOT UK found 41% of households with four or more people said they had started to use their car for purposes other than driving during Covid-19 lockdowns. See Tech Digest. 

Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp has introduced voice and video calling on its desktop version, the company said on Thursday. The company said users will be able to use desktop screens for calls in both portrait and landscape mode, and the calls will be end-to-end encrypted. The move to facilitate calls over large screens would put WhatsApp on par with video-conferencing ‘bigwigs’ Zoom and Google Meet. However, it is not clear if it has ambitions to compete with the two in the enterprise space. See Reuters for full story. 

Google has promised not to develop any new way of tracking individual users for adverts once it phases out its current method, writes The BBC. Some critics had been concerned that Google’s plan to stop these cookies would prevent its rivals from building useful catalogues of ad targeting information – but that Google itself might still be able to do so. However, Google has denied this:  “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build [alternative] identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products,” the company said in a blog post.

Octopus Energy announced this week it has significantly expanded its roaming EV charging service, the Electric Juice Network (EJN), after signing up German charging network IONITY. The addition means the charge network will for the first time offer drivers access to charge points outside of the UK, while also adding a range of 350kW ultra-rapid chargers to the service. See Business Green

Amazon looks set to emerge as a key beneficiary of Britain’s new tax “super-deduction” thanks to a major ramping up of its UK warehouse footprint, even as the Government wrangles with how to get Big Tech to pay more tax. The latest tax measure, announced on Wednesday, will allow companies investing in new plant and machinery assets to deduct 130pc of that investment from their taxable income for the next two years. This means they would be able to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 that they invest. It is expected to include investments that companies make on fitting out warehouses. See Telegraph

The UK has been found guilty by the European Court of Justice of “systematically and persistently” breaching air pollution limits. The court ruled that, since 2010, the UK had failed to tackle the problem of toxic NO2 gas emissions in the shortest possible time. The EU court has continued to oversee the case because proceedings started before Brexit. The government believes the judgement is unfair and is mulling its next move. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is emitted by gas heating boilers and cars, and the main hotspots are next to busy city streets. See The BBC for the full story. 

TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is developing a Clubhouse-like app for China, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the global success of the audio-only platform inspires others to copy the service. At least a dozen similar apps have been launched in the past month, with momentum picking up after Clubhouse was blocked in China in early February.

Chris Price