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Week in tech: 5G smartphone shipments and the cost of climate disasters in 2022

A weekly round-up of interesting updates and developments from the world of science, technology and environment

Customers browse Apple Inc. iPhone 14 smartphones at a JB Hi-Fi Ltd. store in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022. (Bloomberg)

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A weekly round-up of the most interesting updates and developments from the world of science, technology and environment.

Pin more chats on WhatsApp soon?

As things stand, WhatsApp users can pin a maximum of 3 chats. But that might be changing soon. According to a Mint report from earlier this week, WhatsApp users may soon be able to pin up to five chats. “At present, the Meta-owned instant messaging platform allows users to pin up to three chats. But, according to WaBetaInfo (an independent portal on beta news for Android, iOS, Web, Windows), this could be increased to five,” the report said. The ability to pin chats on WhatsApp is available on both its mobile and desktop app.

2022's worst climate disasters cost the world billions of dollars

Earlier this week, a new report on the worst climate disasters of 2022 highlighted the need for the world to act decisively to fight the climate crisis. According to the UK-based charity organisation Christian Aid, the ten biggest climate disasters this year resulted in damages of at least $3 billion each. The report, Counting The Cost: A Year Of Climate Breakdown, stated that the human cost of lives lost and displacement cannot be quantified. The report also pointed out that much of the financial cost is based only on insured losses, which means that the real cost of these disasters was much higher. Read more on this report in the Climate Change Tracker here.

5G smartphone shipments could trump 4G phones

India's 5G smartphone shipments will exceed that of 4G shipments by the end of next year, driven by the mass adoption of the high-speed network and the rise in sale of handsets in the lower-price bands, market research firm Counterpoint said earlier this week. According to a Reuters report on the same development, although India's overall smartphone shipments are estimated to see a yearly decline this year due to component supply issues and macroeconomic factors, 5G will continue to push smartphone demand in 2023 as well. 5G data speed in India is expected to be about 10 times faster than that of 4G, the Reuters report added.

US to consider testing airline wastewater for COVID variants

The explosion of covid-19 cases in China has all other big nations on alert. According to a Reuters report, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering sampling wastewater taken from international aircraft to track any emerging new variants of the COVID-19 virus. In the near past, testing sewage and wastewater has proved an effective mechanism to track the spread of the virus. Two years ago, Stanford researchers devised a method that also tracks whether infection rates are trending up or down.

– Compiled by Nitin Sreedhar

Also read: From quantum computing to AI, why 2022 was a great year for tech

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