1. India Hinders E-Commerce
The Indian government shocked large American companies like Amazon and Walmart with new rules preventing them from selling products by affiliated companies on their shopping websites. Additionally, it banned exclusive products and discounts in India, which is a top emerging market. Potentially, these rules could force Amazon to refrain from competing with independent sellers or offering products like Echo smart speakers in India. India is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, and these rules stem from fear that their country could possibly be overtaken by American companies. The rules take effect on February 1.
2. Insta Bug Creates Horizontal Layout
Yesterday morning, an Instagram update was added that caused a major uproar from app users. The app’s format was temporarily changed to a horizontal feed that users tapped through rather than the standard vertical scrolling that users were familiar with since the app’s initial launch. Essentially, the feed transformed into one, large Instagram story encompassing all of the posts an individual account follows. Instagram users voiced their discontent with the new layout, and the company confirmed that a bug caused these changes to be made accidentally. An Instagram spokesperson states, “Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, reports the horizontal feed was intended to be tested on a few users’ accounts. However, the bug took over more accounts than planned. Users can be rest assured that the changes will be reversed simply by restarting the app.
(Source: TechCrunch, The Verge)
3. NASA Spacecraft Zooms Past Pluto
On New Year’s Day, shortly after midnight, NASA’s unmanned New Horizons probe will extend its distance to the space rock, Ultima Thule, located approximately 4.1B miles from Earth (1B miles beyond Pluto!). The spacecraft has been traveling space for the past 13 years and is known for being the first object to visit Pluto. This space rock is located in the icy Kuiper Belt and will be the farthest distance in the solar system explored by humans. It is roughly the size of New York City and is incredibly cold, with degrees of 35 Kelvin above absolute zero. There is no exact precedent of the discoveries to be made at this rock, but Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons mission, is hopeful that history will be made. “I don’t make predictions,” says Stern. “The only prediction I made at Pluto is we’d find something wonderful, and we did. I think the fun of this is we don’t know what we’re going to see.”