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Alphabet Stops Expansion of Google Fiber in Favor of Wireless

Alphabet is tightening up staffing at Google Fiber, sending hundreds of employees who work at the Google division Access to other parts of the company. Google Fiber, first announced in 2010, is installed in several U.S. cities, but Access revealed in October that it was pulling back on plans to expand to new locations. This isn’t the end of Google Fiber, says a spokesperson, but Alphabet is rethinking its plan moving forward. Although Fiber could be a part of the company’s future, Access has a new focus on wireless technologies. Read more

Facebook’s New Mission Statement Emphasizes Global Issues

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg just released a 6,000 word document outlining the company’s new role in “social infrastructure,” to address terrorism, disease, climate change and other global woes. He suggested ways that the 13-year old company can work with governments, nonprofit organizations and other companies. Zuckerberg revealed that the company is building products and developing tools to fight the spread of fake news, and use AI to detect terrorism propaganda as well as promote global political engagement. Read more

Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Consumers can now use the voice-controlled Google Assistant on Google Home to order products and supplies and get them delivered within a few hours. The products and delivery times vary based on where the user lives, and Google has partnered with brands such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods to supply the goods. Customers using the new feature either pay a delivery fee for each purchase or subscribe to the Google Express delivery service. The Amazon Echo smart speaker already has a voice-powered purchasing capability. Read more

Visa and IBM to Extend Digital Payments to Connected Devices

Visa and IBM are partnering to make electronic payments easier in the emerging Internet of Things era. The two companies envision a commerce-based IoT ecosystem that extends digital payment capabilities to smart devices, including vehicles, wearables, and appliances. Drivers, for example, could pay for gas, parking, or oil changes before stepping out of their connected cars. Watson’s IoT platform would handle the AI tech, while mobile payment solution Visa Token Service would address digital transactions. Read more

YouTube to Phase Out its Unskippable 30-Second Ads by 2018

Google-owned YouTube announced on Friday that it plans to phase out its 30-second, unskippable pre-roll ads by 2018. Many users reportedly find the format obtrusive, so YouTube is killing the 30-second ads but keeping 20-second clips that cannot be skipped, and its six-second bumper ad format. YouTube will also continue to offer its TrueView skippable ads, which do not come with time limits and only cost advertisers when the viewer opts not to skip them. The move is in response to the growing popularity of mobile video. “More than 50 percent of YouTube’s video views now come from mobile devices,” reports Variety. Read more

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