This week’s digital news couldn’t be more on trend.

Yes, it’s wearing its best garb from Saks (bought on a VR shopping trip) and is deciding which new semi-autonomous ride-hailing service to use.

Catch up on everything you missed this week…

Brum brum brum

It’s been a big week in the world of cars and private hire. 

  • Volkswagen has announced MOIA, a new ride-hailing division.
  • BMW plans to test autonomous taxis in Munich in 2017.
  • Uber will open an AI research lab after acquiring Geometric Intelligence, an AI startup. Areas of focus include autonomy, routing and driver-customer matching.
  • Apple has finally admitted it is working on self-driving cars.

noddy car

Image via TopDrawerSausage

Big boys of tech unite against extreme content

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube are working together to employ a technique known as hashing, in order to stamp out extremist content.

Unique numbers will be assigned to media files (likened to a digital fingerprint) in a shared database, allowing one site’s ban to be simultaneously enforced on other sites.

More on fingerprinting.

A hash function


Apple Watch doing well in run-up to Christmas?

IDC released a report saying Apple Watch sales had fallen 71% year-on-year in Q3.

But Tim Cook demurred, announcing in an email to Reuters that: “Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year.”

Further more, he said, ”Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch.”

Apple Watch sale on Black Friday

apple watch sale

Tech at heart of Starbucks expansion

Starbucks has revealed plans to open 12,000 new stores by 2021, an increase of around 50%.

Alongside new products and store formats, tech will play a part in attracting people to new stores.

Voice recognitiion for rewards program members ordering via the app is planned, as well as a WeChat partnership allowing gifting between friends.

Read David Moth’s review of one of Starbucks’ new digital concept stores.


VR collaboration

Facebook, Google, HTC, Sony and Samsung, amongst others, are set to collaborate as part of the newly formed Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA).

The group will bang the drum for VR by conducting research and sharing best practice, aiming to encourage business and consumer adoption.


Google offers VR window shopping

Google Shopping has created a virtual tour of New York’s famous store windows on show through the holiday period.

The experience, called Winter Wonderland, showcases 18 stores, including Barney’s and Saks.

Viewers can access the tour on desktop or mobile, or use Cardboard or Daydream, which will include sounds, too.

Creative directors have provided audio as part of the tour, explaining the detail and inspirations in their work.

google vr

Starbucks powers up 7,800 Pokemon GO gyms and Pokestops

The chain has also introduced a Pokemon Go edition frappuccino. Sigh.

McDonald’s has already partnered with Niantic and Nintendo in Japan, and now Sprint has also agreed a deal to include similar functionality at more than 10,000 US stores.

pokemon go

Guardian & Vice content partnership

Vice Media and the Guardian have partnered on a production unit and will share investigative news and video skills, as well as creating new content formats.

Co-branded reports will also be produced for Vice’s TV programming.

New video formats on the table include documentaries, investigative mini-series, mobile-first media, and VR.

More from The Guardian itself.

UberGiving is back

Uber will partner with Age UK for a Christmas charity collection service on 10 December.

App users in 29 cities will be able to schedule a collection of their unwanted stuff to be taken to Age UK stores.

There are similar initiatives taking a part on the same day in 83 cities across Europe and MENA.

More about UberGiving.

uber giving