Welcome to this week’s edition of Trending, the newsletter that features BI Prime’s greatest tech stories. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, head of the West Coast Business Insider office and global tech editor.
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This week: Facebook's space dreams have not been erased
Back in 2014, Facebook announced a plan to launch the Internet and founded an internal team called Connectivity Lab to make it possible. The idea was to use a combination of different technologies, from drones to satellites, that provide access to the Internet from heaven to grateful people on earth.
Since then, the rare updates we've heard about the project have not been promising. In 2016, a Facebook satellite literally exploded on the launch pad when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was supposed to carry it suffered a fatal "anomaly". Two years later, the social networking giant killed his Aquila drone project.
But as Rob Price reports, Facebook hasn't given up on its space dreams. Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission in December show that the company has quietly implemented plans to launch a low-Earth orbit satellite called Athena. There is no official word about when the bird will fly from Facebook. However, Rob notes that the French aerospace company Arianespace should launch a rocket next month that is exactly the vehicle that Facebook needs to transport its new satellite.
The launch of Athena is probably the first of many more that Facebook will bring. As the company has determined in the past, it must use a "constellation" of low earth orbit satellites to ensure constant coverage. That means the sky could get very full. The Starlink project by SpaceX and OneWeb have already launched hundreds of satellites on their own to create very similar broadband internet services. And Amazon is working on the Kuiper project, in which 3,200 satellites are to be put into orbit.
The launch burst has already caused complaints from astronomers who claim that the new generation of satellites leaves bright streaks in their telescopic images of the sky and "radio chatter" that interferes with space observation. And not to mention the other dangers posed by an orbit overflowing with satellites and space debris.
All of this means that when Facebook expands its activities into space, it has to deal with both a lot of competition and some resistance. That sounds a lot like the situation on earth.
Read the whole story here:
Facebook's ambitious plan to build a satellite constellation is not dead – and the first could launch in March 2020
Apple's unusually open train
What do Airbnb, Calm and Uber have in common?
They all use Swift, the programming language developed by Apple for iPhone and iPad app developers.
Apple has a reputation for being secret and doing things in its own way, but with Swift, the company is out of the ordinary. Swift is an open source project, and as Rosalie Chan writes, many Silicon Valley technicians are pleasantly surprised.
It is becoming increasingly important for Apple to win the hearts and minds of the developers. Sales in the saturated smartphone market are slowing. In the meantime, the company has turned to its own services and the services developers sell through the App Store to create a new source of growth.
Rosalie writes: "For many developers, supporting Swift as an open source is a positive sign that Apple, the company that controls the app store on which they do business, wants a friendly relationship."
Read the whole story here:
Why Silicon Valley developers rely on Apple's Swift programming language and describe it as the "future" of app development
Here are some of the latest technical highlights:
According to business experts, Uber's promise of profitability is misleading and meaningless
A VC company has hired Reddit's HR manager as a new partner and shows how important it is to have an intelligent cultural consultant
Leaked emails show that Amazon stocks products made in China because of the risk of the corona virus jeopardizing its supply chain
According to analysts, Slack's IBM deal is a signal for large corporate customers that the chat app is ready to contact Microsoft
And even more good readings from the entire BI newsroom:
Get to know Rebekah Neumann: Insiders describe the spiritual, strategic mastermind who was the driving force behind WeWork and her husband Adam Neumann
Ken Griffin, founder of the multi-billion dollar Citadel, explains why he designed his company based on the Goldman Sachs analyst program – and believes future leaders can't expect a 9-to-5 lifestyle and "great weekend."
31 hot logistics startups, which according to VCs should skyrocket in 2020
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