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How heating, hissing and intruding have put the Big 3 of tech world in turmoil

business Updated: Sep 23, 2016 21:15 IST
Suveen Sinha
Suveen Sinha
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7. (AP)

This is not a great time to be Samsung. Certainly not a great time to be Samsung and fly.

Most frequent fliers treat airlines’ safety announcements and demonstrations as a banality. “Yes,” they say to themselves, “we will first fix our oxygen mask before helping others do it.” And then they bury their gaze a little deeper into their smartphones.

But these days if that smartphone happens to be a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you will feel your back prickle at the end of the safety demo. The last line these days is that if you have a Note 7, you must keep it switched off through the flight, while the other phones can run in airplane mode. And whatever else you do, do not, under any circumstances, try to charge your Note 7 in the plane. This is done under instruction from the aviation regulator, after some of these phones were found to burst into flames when charged.

Well, if you are carrying one, you just hang your head a little lower, and take solace in that someone somewhere would be calculating the damage to his brand image.

Under normal circumstances, this would have made Apple ecstatic. The iPhone maker has been brawling with Samsung in various courts, having accused it of stealing stuff from the iPhone. The rejoicing still might be happening, but perhaps not too loud. You can put that down to a hiss.

News outfits and tech blogs are full of reports of users complaining of a hissing sound when they use their iPhone7, which Apple calls the best iPhone ever (which it may want to be read as the best phone ever). Apparently the noise comes from the back of the iPhone near the Apple logo.

There is a bit of a frenzy out there to figure out the reason for this supposed hiss, and how it might interfere with the use of the phone, particularly video and sound recording. Some have now come forward to say that the older versions of the iPhone and the iPad also make similar noises, only to different degrees of loudness.

Is it louder in the iPhone 7? Is that why it has become a talking point? We will know soon – HT’s tech writer has just got hold of an iPhone 7.

Getting back to normal circumstances, the hissing, or anything bad about Apple, should have sent a wave of cheer in Google. Didn’t Steve Jobs talk of waging a thermo-nuclear war against the internet giant? Except that Google’s latest baby, the chat app Allo, is mired in its own sorrows.

As Fortune.com reported, many reviewers have been underwhelmed by the chat app, though it has a virtual assistant that may be one up on Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. But the underwhelmed reviews will not worry Google as much as the charges of flouting privacy norms.

Allo does not encrypt the chats end-to-end. (This is where WhatsApp shines in comparison, having encrypted its chats end-to-end just a little before Allo came out). So the Allo chats can be read by Google’s virtual assistant -– a thought that revolts privacy advocates.

“What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request,” tweeted Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who in 2013 leaked secret information about the United States’ surveillance activities.

When Allo was first announced earlier this year, it was meant to raise privacy levels. But the version that has come out is seen to do the opposite.

So where are the top tech companies of the world going? Well, wherever they might be, they are going hissing, heating, and grappling.