Global tech roundup: Facebook unveils smart glasses, Mastercard acquires blockchain startup


This long week which eventually comes to end has been an eventful one in the world of tech. The global tech scene saw some disproportionate price rises and falls, companies releasing new features, and, of course, crypto.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the major stories from around the globe, just in case you missed them.

Facebook unveils fashionable smart glasses

Facebook has finally unveiled its long-awaited pair of smart glasses and this had a lot of people talking. The American tech giant and social networking service company has been one of the many names that have shown interest in the idea of making smart eyewear even after the massive flop of Google’s Glass almost a decade ago.

Smart Glasses Made Google Look Dumb. Now Facebook Is Giving Them a Try. -  The New York Times
Facebook/Ray-Ban smart glasses
Image: NYTimes

The company paired up with the Ray-Ban brand owned by EssilorLuxottica to create a product that comes with an embedded pair of cameras for photos and videos, speakers for listening to podcasts, and a voice assistant that makes users carry out a whole lot of activities hands-free.

The eyewear, called Ray-Ban Stories, is one of Facebook’s latest attempts to provide a solution made for public consumption. With age restrictions starting at 13 years and above, the brand hopes to provide a technology product that is not just woven into people’s everyday lives, but also more focused on fashion and novelty.

Although the glasses look more like regular sunglasses, they come in three styles with prices starting at $299. Facebook aims to use this customer-focused product to usher in an era in which people become more comfortable sharing their lives digitally, through the click of a button on what is in front of their faces.

Twitter tests bigger picture displays on timeline

Twitter, this week experimented with newer ways of displaying images and photos on its timeline by introducing an edge-to-edge display, similar to Instagram.

This microblogging platform which is always seeking to break new grounds, got some significant attention this week when it introduced a feature that will allow photos and videos embedded in a tweet to fill in the whole width of the mobile phone’s screen.

The current mobile app displays feature images indented next to the user’s profile. But the tech giant also intends to change it sometime in the future and is launching this test on iOS devices to explore new ways of providing a more immersive experience for its users. 

The company claims this new layout being tested will give the media more room to display their content, and quite a few visual artists seem to be happy with that. This feature is one of the series of tests Twitter has been seen to conduct lately.

The company also tested an upvote and downvote button, launched a ‘tip-jar feature and radically altered its image-cropping algorithms in the past couple of months, has also been noticed testing a new feature on the web version of Twitter which will allow users to remove people from following them.

PayPal to increase transaction fees between UK and Europe

The leading provider of global payment solutions, PayPal, is planning to increase the transaction fees on payments between the UK and the rest of the European countries starting from November this year.

The transaction fees, which are currently as low as 0.5%, are expected to rise to about 1.29% between British businesses and the rest of the European Economic Area.

This move came as the United Kingdom is no longer in a customs union with the European Union due to the realities of post-Brexit. This means the European rules which cap credit and debit card interchange fees at 0.2% and 0.3% can no longer apply to businesses in the whole of the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man.

Both parties are now expected to gear up for a rise in the transaction fees as PayPal said it has been incurring some extra costs, such as the rise in interchange fees between the UK and EEA.

Mastercard acquires blockchain analytics startup

Mastercard is looking to speed up its foray into the crypto space as it makes plans to acquire the blockchain analytics start-up, CipherTrace.

The payment company, which made this known on Thursday, said it had entered into an agreement to buy the startup, CipherTrace for an undisclosed amount. CipherTrace, based in Menlo Park, California, develops solutions that help businesses and law enforcement root out illegal digital currency transactions.

This latest attempt by Mastercard is a sign that shows how major companies are beginning to warm up to crypto realities.

For a sustained period of time, people have had concerns about trading in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as transactions are done anonymously. Although this crypto blockchain still retains its anonymity, CipherTrace analyzes the movement of funds to determine if the transactions are dubious or not.

Mastercard believes this deal will help its customers better protect themselves even as they plan to build out their own digital currency offerings.

You can check out some other news that happened during the week here. Do have a nice weekend.

Featured image credit: Bloomberg

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