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Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Read more

Demise of Google+ Points to Facebook’s Social Dominance

Google is shutting down its Google+ social network in the wake of revelation that a software bug exposed the data of up to 500,000 Google+ users since 2015. The company also debuted tools that give users more control over the data they share with Google-connected apps and services. The demise of Google+ is in stark contrast to its 2011 launch, when it represented an “exclusive club” that required a private invitation to enter. In following years, Google discovered running a social network is trickier than it appears to be. Read more

IFPI: Music Streaming Continues its Growth, As Does Piracy

According to an annual report released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), music streaming is continuing to rise, with 86 percent of respondents ages 16-64 in 20 top global markets opting for streaming. The report notes that 57 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds use a paid audio service. While nearly half of the time consuming on-demand music is via YouTube, the report finds that terrestrial radio is still relevant. And even though popular streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have brought growth to the industry, piracy still remains a problem. Read more

Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Given compelling issues of privacy breaches and data hacks, Senator Nancy Pelosi became convinced that a set of principles that everyone in the tech industry agreed to would be a good step toward adhering to values. She asked Democratic legislator Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, to create such a list. He consulted with Apple, Facebook, Google, think tank Center for Democracy and Technology and individuals including Nicole Wong and Tim Berners-Lee, and just recently released the resulting Internet “Bill of Rights.” Read more

Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

As the number of options for watching great content has grown, the ability to search and find that content has lagged behind. An ideal TV guide, from a single remote control (or smartphone), would offer search, sorting and personalization, and suggest the next program we might want to watch. One such possibility is the $100 Caavo Control Center, which enables up to four devices to be plugged in to a single remote control. A second is the Reelgood smartphone-based streaming guide that tracks over 50 streaming services. Read more

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