Week Ending: 21st August - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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In the height of summer, you could be forgiven for missing the latest headlines in the I.T. and tech industry. We’re here to bring you right up to date. Catch up on why Google’s services caused disruption amongst billions of homeworkers, how your wearable Bluetooth device could soon be a Covid-19 tracker, and, find out about the latest on self-driving cars.

Google services disrupt billions

On Thursday 20th August at approximately 6.30am, Google suffered an outage across its services, including Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs, affecting over two billion users of its G Suite products, both businesses and individuals.

It is still unclear what caused the serious issues that left users unable to work or use its services for some hours.

The faults for Gmail users included the service crashing when customers attempted to compose a new email, whilst others were finding themselves unable to upload files either as attachments to emails or to Google Drive. In a statement on its dashboard, Google said:

"We are continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by 10.38am detailing when we expect to resolve the problem."

The company's customer service representatives were also responding to user complaints on Twitter, particularly about the disruption to Gmail.

Google then provided a summary of the problems its services were experiencing. These included Gmail sending issues, Meet recording issues, creating files in Google Drive, CSV user upload issues in Admin Console and the ability to post messages in Google Chat.

Were you affected by the outage? Read more about it here.

Wearable Bluetooth devices to become Covid-19 trackers

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group that manages the Bluetooth wireless standard, is devising a new specification that will allow wearable devices, such as FitBits and Apple Watches, to become Coronavirus trackers. The Group said it wants to take the existing smartphone-based contract-tracing system, the Exposure Notification System, and develop it to include Bluetooth powered wristbands.

Currently, all the public contract-tracing systems, including the ones created by government health agencies, use the Exposure Notification System which relies on Bluetooth technology in smartphones, to notify people if they've been in close contact with someone diagnosed with the virus.

However, not everyone owns a smartphone, primarily children. Now, if your child owns a fitness tracker or smart watch, going forward they will be able to join in an Exposure Notification System. As a result, through the use of their Bluetooth wearable, they can be notified if they've been near someone with Covid-19.

The body said in a statement:

"It can better address population groups where smartphone usage remains low, including children in primary school and older adults living in care facilities. An initial draft of the specification is expected to be released and available for review within the next few months. “It is incredibly inspiring to see the Bluetooth community’s collaboration in finding and creating innovative ways to leverage Bluetooth technology to address the Covid-19 pandemic.”

More than 130 companies have already joined a new Bluetooth SIG Exposure Notification Working Group with the promise of adding support to their wearable devices. Do you own a wearable Bluetooth device?

Discover more about it here.

Self-driving cars could take to the roads in 2021

According to recent reports, self-driving cars could take to motorways next year as motorists may be allowed to let their cars drive themselves. Using automated technology, proposals are currently under consideration by the UK government.

Car manufacturers are expected to roll out the next generation of collision-avoidance and lane-keeping technology in new car models early next year. They will develop from providing alerts and driver assistance, to taking full control, and even be responsible for speed and steering.

While the technology has been imagined in a bid to help navigate traffic jams at low speed, the government is also considering legalising automated driving for use at speeds of up to 70mph, only in the slow lanes of motorways, with the cars automatically staying in the specified lane and slowing down for vehicles in front.

The big question that the government faces with the new innovation, is in the event of an accident, will the driver be held legally responsible for the car, or will the car be classified as an automated vehicle?

Albeit, the driver must be ready and alert to take over when prompted by the vehicle, however it could be ruled that the technology manufacturer would be legally responsible when the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) is engaged in the event of an accident or malfunction.

Would you invest in an automated vehicle? Find out more here.

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.