Breakfast Briefing: Apple delays new iTunes, BT’s “lovely monopoly” and Google’s Siri lookalike

This morning’s technology stories include Apple pushing back iTunes, demands for more public wireless access, Hurricane Watch and how robots might dream.

Breakfast Briefing: Apple delays new iTunes, BT's

Apple pushes back iTunes release

Apple’s executive shake-up yesterday may have heralded a new culture in the company. Following on from the recent apology over the mapping problems in iOS, the company has now also delayed the release of the next version of iTunes. The software that offers more cloud integration was due to launch this month, but has been pushed back until the end of November.

“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,” spokesman Tom Neumayr told All Things Digital. “We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”

TalkTalk calls BT a “lovely” monopoly

TalkTalk’s CEO Dido Harding took a shot at BT, saying the current superfast broadband rollout was marching the UK down the road to a monopoly. “I don’t think that we should live in a world where that [superfast broadband] is an unregulated product provided by the admittedly very talented and lovely monopolist [BT’s Openreach boss Liv Garfield sitting] on my right,” she told The Register at a Huawei-sponsored broadband event.

The event was held to release a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by the Chinese telecoms firm, which claimed rolling out superfast broadband offers little economic boost, despite government and industry claims that faster downloads will help pull the country out of financial difficulties.

Google launches Siri-like voice search for iOS

Google has released a Siri-like voice search tool for iOS devices claiming it’s the company’s most advanced vocal service yet. “Fast and accurate voice recognition technology enables Google to understand exactly what you’re saying,” the company said in a blog. “Getting an answer is as simple as tapping on the microphone icon and asking a question like, ‘Is United Airlines flight 318 on time’?” The company said that if an answer is “short and quick… Google tells you the answer aloud”.

Call for open wireless networks

Network World reports that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and nine other organisations are pushing ahead with plans for a more open wireless internet that promotes sharing web connections. The Open Wireless Movement wants everyone – businesses and individuals – to open wireless networks to traffic to spur innovation and communication.

“We envision a world where sharing one’s internet connection is the norm,” said EFF activist Adi Kamdar. “A world of open wireless would encourage privacy, promote innovation, and benefit the public good, giving us network access whenever we need it.”

In a series of FAQs on its website, the website says it doesn’t believe there would be liability issues for people providing bandwidth. “Will opening my network make me liable for others’ illegal actions?” it asks “This one is a bit more complicated, but the short answer is: ‘We don’t think so’.” That’ll be news to authorities in France, who last month fined a user €150 for failing to secure his connection.

The first hurricane radar broadcast

Whenever a major news event happens, stories pop up about how tech is involved – the massive number of Instagram’d pictures or tweets, how websites are falling over alongside buildings, and the in-depth looks at how technology lets us track or manage such catastrophes.

While all those stories have appeared following the massive storm hitting New York and the rest of the US East coast, our favourite so far has been this one from The Atlantic, explaining the story behind the first broadcast of hurricane radar images. In 1961, famed US news presenter Dan Rather held a rather low-tech transparency sheet with a hand-drawn map over a computer display with live radar of the storm at the US Weather Bureau, broadcasting it live – giving the Texans facing down Hurricane Carla their first view of exactly what they were facing.

I dreamed about being human

How does a robot dream? Does a robot dream, and what about? These are some of the questions that arise from a bewildering project called “I dreamed about a human being” exploring algorithms for identifying objects in images.

“As part of its assessment I needed to see all the images statistically described by their average, median, maximum and minimum,” said Fran Simó on the project’s site. “On seeing the pictures I thought: “Is this how a robot would imagine us?” If nothing else the project has some interesting insights into photography and artificial intelligence.

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