Tech Chatter: Microsoft’s “Virtual Girlfriend” Suspended, Huawei Tops MIT List

Your quick-fire China tech round-up, including Apple's supposed plans for a China-only iPhone

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8:53 PM HKT, Tue July 2, 2019 1 mins read

Is Apple Building a China-Specific iPhone?

That’s a rumor that some Chinese media outlets have been running with in recent days. 36kr are among those reporting that the company is considering introducing a cheaper, China-only model that will do away with Face ID and cost around 5,000RMB (about 730USD).

The news comes as Apple is supposedly considering moving 30% of its iPhone production out of China due to spiralling costs.

Microsoft’s “Virtual Girlfriend” Chatbot Has Been Suspended on WeChat

XiaoBing (小冰 “Little Ice”), an AI “emotional computing” chatbot from Microsoft, has had her WeChat Official Account suspended after supposedly contravening the platform’s rules. It’s unclear exactly which rules have been broken, but the account’s followers are currently met with a screen telling them the service has been suspended, while search results for the account on WeChat come back blank.

xiaobing microsoft chatbot virtual girlfriend

Introduced in 2014 on a number of platforms, this isn’t the first time XiaoBing has run into trouble. In 2017, the AI program — which was quickly labelled, kind of creepily, as a “virtual girlfriend” — was also suspended for apparently unpatriotic behavior, according to MS Power User:

“On the Tencent network XiaoBing, which is developed by Microsoft, told users, ‘My China dream is to go to America.’ When the bot was then quizzed on its patriotism, it dodged the question and replied, ‘I’m having my period, wanna take a rest.'”

Devotion Developers Denied Business License

Also recently disappeared from the Chinese internet is game developer Indievent, after they had their business license revoked. While the reasons given for the move are framed in somewhat opaque language, it’s hard not to think that it’s related to their involvement in Devotion, which was hastily removed from Steam earlier this year.

Huawei Tops List of MIT Technology Review‘s “50 Smartest Companies”

Chinese technology company Huawei, which you may have heard of recently, finally has some positive PR to cheer about after it was named top of a list of the “50 Smartest Companies” by MIT Technology Review. At least, that’s how the company’s press release has it.

The branding of the event in English adds the qualifier “in China” onto the end of that title, and there’s seemingly no mention of the 2019 list on the publication’s English-language website. Chinese language reports, along with an official-looking image (see below), suggest that Meituan, ByteDance, and Tesla were also among those deemed to be the “50 Smartest” in China.

Here’s the full list of companies to make the cut:

mit 50 smartest companies

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