ZTE makes 5G call on prototype smartphone and end-to-end kit

ZTE has teamed up with China Unicom to complete a 5G call on a prototype 5G smartphone, as well as making a WeChat group voice call and browsing the web on the device.

The pair touted the test occurring three months after the release of the 3GPP Rel-15 specification, and used ZTE kit throughout the trial, from the core to the handset.

“This achievement has made Shenzhen field of China Unicom become the world’s first commercial test field to make the first call in the NSA mode and it is in compliance with the 3GPP Rel-15,” ZTE said.

“[The trial] showcases ZTE’s strong competency in 5G R&D and commercialization, demonstrating ZTE’s role as a reliable partner to global 5G operators, and a key player in the 5G industry.”

ZTE is likely to find its claims of being a global player challenged by the reality that multiple countries have banned it from participating in 5G rollouts.

In August, Australia officially locked out Huawei and ZTE, saying that the vendors were likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from Beijing, and that the government could not find a set of security controls that would mitigate high-risk equipment in a 5G scenario.

Must read: Dissecting ZTE: What it is and what it wants to be

Australian Signals Directorate Director-General Mike Burgess last month said his agency had recommended the Huawei and ZTE 5G ban because the stakes surrounding 5G could not be higher, as it will see telecommunications networks move to the top of critical national infrastructure lists, and because of concerns that the separation between edge and core networks has diminished, meaning vendors cannot be confined to the edge.

Last month, Japan was said to be examining a government ban on ZTE and Huawei equipment, while this week a bipartisan Bill entered the US Congress to ban the sale of technology to the Chinese pair.

ZTE was previously banned from buying US components after the company was found to have breached a US trade embargo with Iran. The ban was lifted in July, after ZTE agreed to pay a $1.4 billion penalty.

In December, Politico reported that ZTE had hired Joe Lieberman to do a national security assessment of the company, and added the failed Democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 2000 election alongside Al Gore would register as a lobbyist for the company.

Ericsson made a 5G call in September, while last week at CES, Samsung showed off its 5G smartphone prototype encased in glass.

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We've only just begun to capitalize on enterprise APIs

Where would we be without APIs?  For starters, we probably wouldn’t have the iPhones or Android-based phones that are part of our daily routines today. Their features were created by developers and engineers with access to APIs, only a couple of examples of the innovation made possible. 

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

Organizations have only just begun to capitalize on the potential APIs deliver in terms of technology agility and business growth. That’s the word from Ross Mason, founder of MuleSoft and a passionate advocate for APIs. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mason, whose company — focused on enterprise systems integration — was acquired by Salesforce in May 2018. The acquisition, Mason explains, provided a way for Salesforce to “connect the system layer to the engagement layer,” incorporating MuleSoft’s role to not only “modernize, but modernize your assets in away they can be used in Salesforce.” 

The challenge, Mason relates, is there are many on-premises systems that will be around for a long time to come. “Any company built in the last 10 years has either very little or nothing on-premise,” he says. “What we’re dealing with are companies built 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 20 years ago. There’s a lot on-premise data and systems.” While a number of companies have indicated they intend to move many of their data centers or existing systems into the cloud, this can be very time-consuming and expensive, process, he says. “The economics don’t really work out. Notice that people don’t talk about ‘lift and shift’ anymore.” Instead, Mason predicts hybrid cloud arrangements will be the rule for many decades to come. 

That’s why the API proposition is so powerful. Not just any APIs, but what Mason describes as “modern” or “productized” APIs that will bring functionality into the digital world. “A modern API has well-defined contracts, is discoverable, and is designed for reuse outside the team that has built it,” he says. “You can apply security policies separate from the implementation. Those characteristics make modern APIs suitable for lots of different scenarios.” 

Both publicly available open APIs as well as proprietary internal corporate APIs have roles to play, Mason continues. As internal APIs progress, they tend to open up to wider audiences, he observes. “Most enterprises.. start with very ad-hoc APIs that aren’t really built for reuse,” he says. “What happens is companies will have a smaller set, maybe 10 to 15 APIs internally. Then, they start to open them up more broadly — to other divisions, for instance, or third parties and development groups,” 

The challenge is bringing new capabilities and order to what Mason calls “a big ball of mud, with layers and layers of stuff just glommed on over the years. It’s nobody’s fault, its just the way enterprises evolve.”

Leveraging an API-driven enterprise means cultural change within organizations, Mason says — from mega-projects to continuous development and improvement. APIs provide “developers building blocks, things they can go and take in themselves, and build much, much faster. That drives new innovation.”

The shift means a more evolutionary architecture, something that requires a shift in mindsets as well, Mason advises. The most pronounced change will be from mega-project thinking to ongoing flows of continuous development and continuous improvement. “Enterprise architects tend to overinflate projects, because they believe it’s the first time and last time in five years they can work on a project,” Mason says, “APIs allow you to iterate in an evolutionary architecture. The API itself is just a software building block, and if you put three or four of those together, you’re creating an evolutionary architecture. It allows them to move quicker and make changes over time, versus ‘hold the process and try to design the perfect view of the customer or the perfect view of the product.'”

Developers, architects and other professionals also will realize career benefits as they build out an API-enabled culture. “You can enable people to get at data data much quicker,” Mason says. “You give people more time for their jobs by normalizing access, and helping drive reuse and agility. You’re responding to strategic requirements. That’s great for your career. If you want a defensible job in the future, somebody who manages productized APIs.. is going to keep it for the long haul because every new technology trend leverages APIs. Every connection to IT — even augmented reality, machine learning and AI — is through one or more APIs.”

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Facebook's AR Glasses May Be Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about augmented reality glasses during the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in San Francisco.
Photo: Eric Risberg (AP)

Facebook is reportedly dumping resources into developing nifty new augmented reality hardware—but don’t put money on seeing its products anytime super soon.

Business Insider’s Rob Price has revealed in a report published Thursday that Facebook shifted hundreds of its employees from its research outfit Facebook Reality Labs over to a team—led by Michael Abrash and Andrew “Boz” Bosworth—that will specifically focus on work on AR hardware, including Facebook’s anticipated AR spectacles. The company declined a request for comment about specifically how many employees had been or continue to be shifted to this new team, but Facebook spokesperson Tera Randall told Business Insider that it was in the ballpark of “a few hundred people” and that the company planned to expand both teams this year.

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Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has for years said that AR glasses were a priority for the company, but Facebook has consistently reiterated its intention of taking its time to get it right. Zuckerberg told Recode in April of 2017 that “everyone would basically agree that we do not have the science or technology today to build the AR glasses that we want,” but that such technology may exist in “five years, or seven years, or something like that.”

It is true that we have yet to see a good version of this technology. But while we may be a while out from seeing Facebook’s own vision for AR eyewear fully realized, Price spoke with a source who claimed to have handled a prototype of the company’s glasses. The description by Price’s source appears to track with early mock-ups of how Facebook envisioned its AR glasses would look aesthetically:

The source, who had tried on a prototype of the glasses, said it resembled traditional glasses much more closely than the bulky AR headsets offered by Microsoft (the HoloLens) or Magic Leap: “They look like really high-end glasses … it’s light enough to not feel heavy on your face, and it wasn’t light enough to feel like you could just sit down and break them.”

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Ficus Kirkpatrick, who oversees Facebook’s AR and VR software, told TechCrunch during its AR/VR event in October that “the glasses that we dream of are quite a ways away,” but noted that Facebook wanted “to see those glasses come into reality, and I think we want to play our part in helping to bring them there.”

While Price’s source said the glasses could potentially see a launch around 2022 after push-backs, Randall told him that his “intel on release dates is wrong” and that the company was currently working on multiple AR products that may not even ever see official launches.

When asked about a potential release timeline for its AR glasses, Randall told Gizmodo by email that “this is still a very long term project for us and is on our 10-year roadmap.”

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[Business Insider]

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Twitter bug exposed some Android users’ private tweets since 2014

Today, Twitter disclosed a bug persisting from 2014 on its platform that affected protected tweets and accounts on Android. The company said the bug – active between November 2014 and January 2019 – switched off the “Turn your tweets private” option when users made changes to their account, like updating the email address associated with their account.

That means private tweets from your protected accounts were not actually private after you turned on the necessary setting in the Android app. The company said it has now fixed the issue. Luckily, people using the iOS app and site were not affected.

Twitter apologized for the issue said that it has informed the affected people:

We’re very sorry this happened and we’re conducting a full review to help prevent this from happening again. We’ve informed people we know were affected by this issue and have turned “Protect your Tweets” back on for them if it was disabled. We are providing this broader notice through the Twitter Help Center since we can’t confirm every account that may have been impacted.

It’s baffling that such an egregious bug went unnoticed by the company for more than four years. Good thing it didn’t involve any data more sensitive than private tweets.

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