5 things you need to know in Australian tech today


Today’s 5 Things you need to know in Tech are brought to you by Tower One, International Towers Sydney. Innovation is undoubtedly at the core of business success. Discover why business leaders are looking to Barangaroo to future-proof their enterprises.

Driverless cars didn’t turn out that well for Tom Cruise. Source: Minority Report.

G’day and welcome to the end of the working week for some. Here’s what’s going down.

1. Travis Kalanick spoke to Business Insider about Uber’s bet on self-driving cars. And we’re not talking 2021 – he’s doing it next week. On Thursday, Uber announced that in Pittsburgh they’ll be trialling free rides in the self-driving cars, albeit with two highly-trained engineers in the front seats documenting every move and ready to take the wheel.

We spoke to Kalanick about what an Uber that relies on self-driving cars looks like — and what will happen to all of those drivers the company championed as winners in the new sharing economy. Spend five minutes reading what he had to say here.

2. SPOILER ALERT: Samsung’s newest phone is its best phone ever. So says Gizmodo’s Campbell Simpson having spent some quality time with the $A1349 Samsung Galaxy Note7. Read his full review here.

3. Hands up if banks and ad agencies spring to mind when you think innovation. The AFR has put together its list of Australia’s 50 most innovative companies for 2016 and it’s bound to be a talking point. The Commonwealth Bank, with 52,000 employees, is third on the list, mainly because of its CommBank Property app.

Topping the list for the third year in a row is a product development company, Planet Innovation, with just 132 employees. Ad agency M&C Saatchi makes the top 10, and you’ll find plenty of other madmen types in the top 50 too.

The people who gave us WiFi, the CSIRO, just scrape into the top 10 at 9 for doing cool things with steel.

BI’s Chris Pash put together this list of the top 10 and what they were recognised for.

    1. Planet Innovation – product development consultancy for work on testing for infectious diseases.
    2. Ivy College – Creating software to forecast the success of students in vocational education.
    3. Commonwealth Bank of Australia – Australia’s biggest bank and its app for home buyers.
    4. Sendle – A virtual courier service, taking advantage of the excess capacity of large courier networks.
    5. Dyesol – Solar cell technology.
    6. M&C Saatchi Group – The international advertising agency’s campaign on testicular cancer, Game of Balls.
    7. AbbVie – Developed a web-based platform to help people with Hepatitis C.
    8. Claim Central Consolidated – Developed ClaimLogik to manage insurance claims.
    9. CSIRO – Australia’s peak science body for developing a new process called thin twin roll casting which creates stronger, higher quality and lighter metal sheets.
    10. CSBP – The chemical supplier is pioneering the use of drones and robotic rovers to inspect potentially dangerous facilities.

4. The scam of the week winner is a Netflix phishing email. Scammers are sending out a fake email, often with the subject line of “Netflix Membership On Hold”, containing a link to a fake sign-in page that looks pretty damned close to the real thing. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is warning everyone to watch out, saying the scam is targeting Australian and overseas Netflix users, aiming to steal the subscriber credentials.

It’s been a hectic week for scammers, who’ve also been sending out fake Australia Post and AGL invoices with TorrentLocker ransomware to extort payments to unencrypt files.

The fake AGL email has the subject line “Electricity usage” and a number up to eight digits long. The email body includes a dollar amount for charges and “AGL reference number” that’s the same as the email subject line. There are two web links: one that purportedly to details of usage charges and one to ‘view current bill’. Click on them and the ransomware takes over.

And add a fake SMS supposed from the ANZ urging customers to click on a link to stop the bank suspending their accounts to the list of things you should delete straight away.

Stay safe out there people.

5. That high-pitched noise you hear is banks screaming at the ACCC. The competition watchdog is taking it slow and steady over the joint application by the CBA, Westpac, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide banks for permission to collective negotiate with/boycott Apple over Apple Pay. The ACCC decided not to grant the banks’ request for interim authorisation.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said entire authorisation process usually takes up to six months.

“The ACCC has considered interim authorisation within a short timeframe at the request of the applicants. However, given the complexity of the issues and the limited time available, the ACCC has decided not to grant interim authorisation at this time. The ACCC requires more time to consult and consider the views of industry, consumers, and other interested parties,” he said.

The ACCC says in saying no, it took into account the potential for continuing effects on competition in the market, the extent of urgency for the request, any possible harm to the applicants or other parties if interim authorisation is granted or denied, and possible public benefits and detriments.

A final decision on what the banks want in their bid to force Apple to come to their table is still 4-5 months away.

See you Monday. I’m on Twitter at @simonthomsen.

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