EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

On May 25, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. Although the law bans companies from forcing its users to give up personal data as a condition of service, it allows for exceptions, such as when the information is necessary to fulfill a contract. Those exceptions are the new battlefield over privacy issues, including what “freely given” consent means. At the crux is “behavioral advertising,” worth billions of dollars annually, that targets users based on their Internet activity. Continue reading EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Less than a month ago, the U.S. Commerce Department sanctioned U.S. firms from supplying components to Chinese firm ZTE, claiming that the telecom equipment company had violated terms of a settlement regarding sales to Iran and North Korea. By last week, ZTE had closed its operations and, now, in a surprise intervention, President Donald Trump is stepping in to prevent ZTE’s bankruptcy, tweeting that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping. ZTE had made a request for a stay of the sanctions order, and the Commerce Department is reviewing it. Continue reading U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

In the next year, Walmart may invest $3 billion in India-based, Amazon rival Flipkart by purchasing new shares at the same price as the purchase transaction, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The all-cash deal is groundbreaking as the world’s largest e-commerce transaction, in which Walmart will buy $2 billion new shares and a stake worth $14 billion from Flipkart investors. Amazon, meanwhile, has invested $2 billion in June 2014 and $3 billion in June 2016 in India. Continue reading The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple plans to make it easier for viewers to watch its TV app, and boost its use on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. Rather than make users purchase subscriptions through various apps in its App Store, Apple will sell subscriptions to some of these services directly through its own TV app, and also centralize streaming from its own app, rather than through third parties. Sources say the feature will roll out next year. Apple has focused on growing its services business, which is slated to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021. Continue reading Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Apple and Goldman Sachs Group are readying the launch early next year of a joint credit card branded with Apple Pay. This will be Goldman Sachs’ first credit card, and it will also replace Apple’s current rewards-card with Barclays. Apple Pay, which generates revenue with every transaction, has been slow to take off, and Goldman’s move into consumer banking is intended to compensate for a significant dip in securities trading. In 2016, Goldman Sachs also debuted Marcus, retail banking for online savings and personal loans. Continue reading Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

Amazon has ceased purchases of ads at the top of Google search results, a much-prized position for which advertisers and retailers pay handsomely to place eye-catching images. Google runs online auctions for these slots, dubbed products listing ads (PLAs) and Amazon, which began bidding in late 2016, found itself in competition with rival Walmart there. On April 28, Merkle, a marketing firm that analyzes Google Shopping ad data, first noticed that Amazon was missing from those coveted slots. Two sources confirmed the news. Continue reading Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Chinese telecom equipment and systems company ZTE, which has about $17 billion in annual revenue, has ceased “major operating activities” in the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on it using U.S.-made components for the next seven years. Trading in its shares has been suspended for weeks, and its workers in the Shenzhen factory have little to do but attend occasional training sessions. New guidelines tell its staff to reassure clients, but not discuss the details of the U.S. technology the company is currently banned from using. Continue reading ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation selected 10 local, state and tribal governments to test drone commerce in partnership with Intel, Uber, FedEx and Qualcomm, among others. The Integration Pilot Program, promoted by the Trump administration to speed up approvals of longer-range unmanned flights, has enthused drone companies, including startups such as Flirtey and AirMap. Notably missing from the list, however, is Amazon, which has a project in development to deliver packages to people’s homes. Continue reading Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

In the wake of criticism over data privacy issues and in anticipation of the European Union’s stricter data regulations, Facebook has formed a new team devoted to privacy. The 300-person team, headed by product director David Baser, is tasked with integrating stronger privacy features into all Facebook products. The first such tool is Clear History, which the company introduced at last week’s F8 conference. This feature allows users to opt out of Facebook collecting and matching their browsing history to their profile. Continue reading Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

TaTaTu is a new blockchain-based platform that integrates entertainment viewing with social media. The brainchild of producer Andrea Iervolino, TaTaTu rewards viewers for watching content including movies, TV shows, sports, and gaming — and adds rewards when their friends also watch. The first platform, without social media, will be released in three weeks; the complete version will debut Q1 2019. AMBI Media Group will be amongst the first content providers (Iervolino is AMBI Media’s co-founder and CEO). Additional partnerships will be announced soon. Continue reading TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

As Google opened its annual developer conference I/O, the company debuted Android Things, a version of its operating system for smart devices, offering SDKs to hardware and software developers. According to Google product management director Venkat Rapaka, with Android Things, such devices can now be built “faster, cheaper and more secure.” Android Things will also provide a consistent interface for users. Until its formal debut, Android Things had been in beta, with several partners already developing IoT products. Continue reading Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

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