Published at 08/03/2021

Last Week in Tech 5 - What's the future of cars and more.

Volvo’s newest car unable to get to buyers due to lack of… a software update. What’s the future of cars?

The Swedish car maker decided to release their first electric car, the "XC40 Recharge". The product did find its buyers, however, unfortunately it can’t get to them. The reason is pretty simple - the vehicle needs a software update, because currently there is a feature missing. To make things even more unusual, company’s European customers have already received their purchases.

While it’s certainly a big inconvenience, it fades in comparison to the biggest ones people have faced.

In October of 2013, a court in Oklahoma, USA, has found Toyota liable for the death of one person and a serious injury of another, after in 2007, a driver lost control of her 2005 Camry. The reason for it, according to Michael Barr, was the tragic quality of code onboard (for more details, see this post) which led to losing control of throttle.

Of course, this was a long time ago, some might say, though software issues in cars lead to issues all even now. In 2018, the semi-autonomous Tesla’s autopilot was to blame for a fatal car crash. In 2016 Volvo had to recall 59 000 cars due to an issue that could shut vehicles’ engines down, and Nissan had to recall 47 000 cars due to a battery issue that could impact braking.. If we are to include prototypes of self-driving cars, the list of fatal or harmful crashes could go on and on. Another downside is the need to update your cars, and the possibility of a hacker taking over.

On the bright side, “intelligent” cars do save lives with systems such as drowsiness and distraction detection system, lane detection system, or automatic emergency brakes, however we have to have a stricter control over software that runs in cars, to make sure it does not take lives.

Personally, I will stick to older, more “oldschool” vehicles, as if I do crash, it will be my fault, and my fault alone.

Brave attempt at competing with Google

There were, and are many companies trying to dethrone Google’s search engine. The fight was not successful to date, with the engine created by the company from Mountain View having control of 85.86% as of January 2021.

One of the competitors, Cliqz has shut down last year, and now, a browser company Brave decided to acquire Cliqz’s engine called Tailcat, to build their own search service on top of it complimenting the intended portfolio of privacy respecting services.

Could the new competitor be successful? Time will tell, however, the chances of even surpassing Bing are pretty slim, as the success of search engines seems to now be associated with how often are they a default option in devices. Brave’s proposition might be the default option in Brave… and it seems that Brave alone. If it does succeed, however, it will be due to the fact, that customer awareness of cross-site tracking is increasing yearly, and due to the fact, the the new engine could be ad-free.

Flutter 2 announced

There are few things more convenient than a good cross-platform framework. It allows you to develop apps much, much quicker for more than one platform at the same time, with minimal changes required.

On March 3rd it was announced, that Flutter 2 is now stable and available for download, which is big news for mobile app developers around the world.

New partnerships had been announced - it was revelead, that Canonical has decided to pick Flutter as their default app development framework, Toyota decided to develop its infotainment systems with Flutter, on top of companies already using it - including WeChat, Yandex, and Sonos.

From new features, we know know you can pretty much target anything that has a screen, including embedded systems, and home appliances. The web app support is now much better, although the size of the app was more of an issue, which we don’t know if it was improved.

Overall, if you need an app to be developed, Flutter is one of the best choices you can make, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The only problem with adopting the framework, is you have to know Dart to be able work with it. While it seems really familiar for JavaScript, and Java developers, it does take some taking used to (take it from somebody who did).

PayPal in talks to acquire crypto startup Curv

Cryptocurrencies may be finally crossing the chasm, as its product adoption lifecycle may have reached the early majority stage. After Tesla bought an enormous amount of Bitcoin (and then sold it earning $1 billion), we now found out that PayPal is in talks to acquire Curv - a startup enabling you to store your coins safer.

The move could potentially mean we are going to see the giant allow for easier flow of cryprocurrencies, which for a long time has been one of the main obstacles preventing a widespread adoption.

We are yet to see, however, how governments will react to such a threat - after all, their monopoly on issuing legal tenders will be threatened.