ShinyShiny tech round up: TikTok world’s most downloaded app

was the world’s most downloaded app in 2020 as it took the top spot from Facebook Messenger, according to digital analytics company App Annie. The Chinese video-sharing platform is the only app not owned by Facebook to make the global top five of downloads. In its home country, TikTok’s owner ByteDance also holds the top spot with the Chinese language video app Douyin. TikTok’s continued popularity emerged even after former US President Donald Trump tried to ban it in America. Facebook-owned apps have held the top spot since the survey started in 2018 and the company still dominated the chart. BBC 

The UK’s government is calling on the country’s innovators to find ways to feed fibre optic cables through water pipes to help speed up the rollout of gigabit broadband to rural areas. A £4 million fund has been made available, part of which will go towards technology that can identify and repair water leaks. Traditional infrastructure development involves the installation of poles and ducts, which can account for up to 80% of the cost of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks, according to the government. To sidestep this, the government has proposed routing fibre optic cables through the existing water pipe network, provided a cost-effective solution is offered up by the broadband industry. IT Pro

One of the best media streamers could be about to get even better, because it looks like Google is gearing up to launch a new Chromecast. Earlier this week, a new Google gadget billed as a “Wireless Streaming Device” appeared before the FCC for approval. And if the rumours circulating online are anything to go by, model number GJQ9T is a new Chromecast. The mysterious new device seems to feature wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a USB connection for 5V charging, all of which points to a new Chromecast TV streamer of some sort (possibly a replacement for the ageing Chromecast Ultra). The FCC filing also suggests that the physical FCC ID will be positioned on the back of the device, meaning it’s less likely that GJQ9T will sport a display. Again, that seems to be consistent with a new Chromecast streaming dongle. What HiFi

A start-up that offers peer-to-peer car sharing through an Airbnb-style service has secured the backing of Saracens Rugby Club owner Nigel Wray. Karshare, which was founded by entrepreneur Andy Hibbert as Car & Away in 2016, has raised £3m from Mr Wray, Fullbrook Thorpe and angel investors Adjuvo. The start-up began with car rentals from airports but now also allows users to rent cars from people’s driveways. The car-sharing company allows users to loan out their vehicles, which can be booked online and unlocked with only a smartphone. Taking inspiration from Airbnb’s model of short term holiday lets, Karshare lets its users loan out their cars, making them up to £550 per month. Cars on its service are fitted with keyless technology, installing a small box that means customers hire a car without needing to physically pick up the key. Telegraph 

Scientists have discovered a new lineage of carnivorous plants found in close proximity to urban areas on the Pacific coast of North America. Charles Darwin studied carnivorous plants as part of a series of works related to his theory of evolution by natural selection, but since his time only 11 independent lineages had been recognised.Now researchers have found a new lineage with a unique trap for capturing its prey, and say that its proximity to major urban centres suggests that similar plants may remain to be discovered. Sky News

Chris Price