Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Over the last ten years, Facebook inked agreements with at least 60 phone and device manufacturers to share access to troves of users’ personal information. Among those manufacturers are Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, in addition to several Chinese electronics companies. These data-access partnerships started before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones. As a result of these deals, Facebook increased its influence as a social media platform, and device makers offered popular features including “like” buttons, messaging and address books. Continue reading Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Qualcomm Debuts Snapdragon 850 for Windows PCs and IoT

Qualcomm has built numerous specialized chips for the Internet of Things and, at Computex 2018, it unveiled the Snapdragon 850 processor designed for Windows devices. The goal is for the chip to enable Qualcomm’s many partners to build a new generation of Windows-on-Snapdragon devices for the holiday season. Samsung already stated it is working on a Snapdragon 850-enabled 2-in-1 PC. The new chip is intended for devices larger than a smartphone and offers the ability to run at higher clock speeds without overheating. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts Snapdragon 850 for Windows PCs and IoT

Asus Introduces ROG Phone Optimized for Hardcore Gamers

At Computex 2018, Asus announced its ROG (Republic of Gamers) Phone, with gamer-oriented design and a 90Hz display, which means the screen refreshes 90 times per second for smoother animation. The ROG Phone will compete with the Razer Phone, another mobile device prized by gamers. Asus ups the ante by adding a “specially selected 2.96GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip” to each ROG Phone, ensuring it will be the speediest one around. The phone also offers vapor cooling and a special attachable fan accessory. Continue reading Asus Introduces ROG Phone Optimized for Hardcore Gamers

Facebook Drops Trending Topics, Tests Other News Features

Facebook is removing Trending Topics next week, saying that the feature has become “less useful” over time and that pulling the plug on it will “make way for future news experiences.” The feature accounted for an average of less than 1.5 percent of clicks to publishers from Facebook. Conservatives also decried the feature saying it proved Facebook’s liberal bias, an accusation the company is still trying to get out from under. Facebook now plans to pay some news outlets to produce daily and weekly news show for Watch. Continue reading Facebook Drops Trending Topics, Tests Other News Features

Spotify Tweaks Contentious Policy on Hate Content, Conduct

Spotify introduced a “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy in May and, due to the dismay and confusion it sparked, the company is changing its policy, specifically canceling the portion related to the decision to remove artists from playlists if they were involved in “controversies.” Kendrick Lamar’s record label felt so strongly about the policy that it threatened to remove his music from Spotify, and company chief executive Daniel Ek was forced to admit the company could have done a better job in explaining the policy. Continue reading Spotify Tweaks Contentious Policy on Hate Content, Conduct

Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Influenced by employee discontent, Google will not renew a contract with the Pentagon’s Project Maven when it expires next year. Google Cloud business head Diane Greene, who won the contract, was the one who announced the company’s decision in a weekly employee meeting. The Maven project uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and, among its potential uses, could be employed to improve drone attack targeting. Many Google AI researchers worried aloud that it was a step towards using AI for advanced weaponry. Continue reading Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Google Ad Sales Flourish Over Small Exchanges Post-GDPR

Since the European Union’s new GDPR privacy law took effect, Google is prospering; the company has gotten individuals to sign off on targeted advertising at much higher rates than other online ad services. Because of that, Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), a tool ad buyers use to purchase targeted online ads, is now directing more ads to its own marketplace rather than smaller ad exchanges because Google says it can’t verify that smaller firms have gotten consent of individuals who will see the ads. Continue reading Google Ad Sales Flourish Over Small Exchanges Post-GDPR

Pew Research Reports on Teens and Social Media Platforms

A Pew Research Center survey revealed that Facebook no longer rules the social media landscape among U.S. teens aged 13 to 17. Although 51 percent of teens do use Facebook, that number is lower than those who use YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. The Pew Research Center’s last survey on teens and technology was in 2014-2015. Since that earlier survey, now 95 percent of teens own smartphones, or have access to one and 45 percent report being online nearly constantly. The survey was conducted March 7 – April 10 this year. Continue reading Pew Research Reports on Teens and Social Media Platforms

Nintendo, Pokémon Company Reveal Four Games for Switch

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have announced four new games, three of which will debut this year: kid-friendly “Pokémon Quest” is free to download now on Nintendo Switch and soon for iOS and Android devices; $60 casual games “Pokémo: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” and “Pokékon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” will debut for Nintendo Switch starting November 16. A fourth game, planned for 2019, will be a new entry in the “core” Pokémon series. Enthusiastic fans have already put the two “Let’s Go!” games atop Amazon’s best-selling videogame chart. Continue reading Nintendo, Pokémon Company Reveal Four Games for Switch

Panavision: Lenses for Drones, New Filter Tech, 8K Workflow

Panavision made its Cine Gear Expo debut of the Millennium DXL2 8K camera, 8K workflow improvements, a customized optics system for specific use with drones and gimbals, four new large-format lenses and a technology demonstration of a major advance in filter technology. The new products, said Panavision chief executive Kim Snyder, are intended to evolve the ecosystem surrounding the Millennium DXL2. “We’re building a bridge between products and processes,” said senior vice president of innovation Michael Cioni. Continue reading Panavision: Lenses for Drones, New Filter Tech, 8K Workflow

Helios and Matheson to Buy EFO Films Library, Current Slate

Helios and Matheson Analytics, MoviePass’ parent company, has the exclusive option to acquire the film library and production slate of Emmett Furla Oasis (EFO) Films, which produced “Lone Survivor” and “End of Watch.” The company would use EFO Films’ assets and expertise to debut its own production company, MoviePass Films. EFO founders Randall Emmett and George Furla would be co-chief executives of the new venture. Helios and Matheson chief executive Ted Farnsworth said the deal signals MoviePass’ continued viability. Continue reading Helios and Matheson to Buy EFO Films Library, Current Slate

Japanese Startup Breaks News Stories With AI, Social Media

JX Press Corp., a news technology startup founded in 2008 by Katsuhiro Yoneshige, broke the news in Japan of Kim Jong-nam’s death. What’s remarkable is that the company doesn’t employ any journalists or have any international bureaus. Instead, it got the scoop — 30 minutes before big media outlets including TV stations — with a combination of artificial intelligence and social media. Yoneshige and his team used machine learning to build a tool that finds breaking news in social media posts and writes it up as news reports. Continue reading Japanese Startup Breaks News Stories With AI, Social Media

California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

It’s not just Europe that’s battening down the privacy hatches with the recently activated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). California voters in November will likely be able to weigh in on the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, an initiative that would provide the state one of the broadest online privacy laws in the country. One of this initiative’s most significant backers is San Francisco real estate mogul Alastair Mactaggart, who put more than $2 million of his own money into getting it on the ballot. Continue reading California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Dish subsidiary AirTV just launched a new device, also dubbed AirTV, that lets its subscribers watch free live content from broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox, on TVs and mobile devices. AirTV is a networked tuner that comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Priced at $120, AirTV also comes with a $25 credit for Dish’s Sling TV streaming service, which mainly provides access to cable channels. With AirTV, Sling TV subscribers can access over-the-air channels via their Sling TV app. Continue reading AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Consumers buying smart home and other Internet of Things devices don’t often understand the wider implications of their purchases. The tech companies building these devices are creating ecosystems that could, among other things, determine the future of retail. For example, buying a smart speaker to play music will likely become the consumer’s “access point” for a range of services, including shopping options. Consumers opting into one company’s products may be unknowingly opting out of other companies’ offerings. Continue reading Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

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