RCS Standard Will Bring Multimedia Capabilities to Messaging

SMS messaging is popular, be it Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. But these messaging services aren’t interoperable: a Facebook user can’t use Messenger to reach someone on iMessage, for example. A solution is on the horizon with RCS — Rich Communication Services — an online protocol adopted by the GSM Association to replace SMS, and one that adds significant multimedia capabilities. The GSMA, a trade group that represents 750+ mobile operators and others in the mobile ecosystem, came up with Universal Profile, a standard that underlies RCS. Continue reading RCS Standard Will Bring Multimedia Capabilities to Messaging

Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

Amazon revealed last month that it had spent the previous few years building a chip for use in its worldwide data centers. It’s not alone; Apple and Google also seek to design and manufacture their own chips, as part of a cost-saving strategy. Intel, which thus far hasn’t had much competition, will feel the impact as its own customers undercut the company’s annual $412 billion in sales. Amazon’s massive need for chips means it will likely continue to buy from Intel, with which it will enjoy a better bargaining position. Continue reading Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Whether it involves movies, sports events or in-the-moment activities — sharing the experience with friends can make it more enjoyable. This is what Facebook is reportedly testing with its “Watch Videos Together” feature. This feature includes the ability to watch a video within a Messenger group chat while simultaneously commenting, discussing and joking about it. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its Watch Party. Facebook is now potentially expanding its concept of the Watch Party to Messenger, the popular instant messaging app and platform. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Social Media Tops Newspapers as Preferred Source of News

In a new first, social media platforms have surpassed traditional print newspapers as the preferred news source for adults in the United States. According to a new Pew Research Center report, American adults turn to social media more than newspapers, but not more than they prefer other news sources such as television and radio. While the percentages of those who preferred social media were about equal to those who opted for newspapers last year, Pew found that 20 percent of U.S. adults now get their news from social platforms, compared to 16 percent who prefer newspapers. Continue reading Social Media Tops Newspapers as Preferred Source of News

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

Based on 250 pages of internal Facebook emails and documents from 2012 to 2015 and released by a U.K. parliamentary committee, it’s been revealed that Facebook used its massive cache of data to favor some companies, such as Airbnb and Netflix with “special access,” and punish others by cutting them off. Further, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were closely involved in decisions to “increase sharing back into Facebook” and other moves to primarily benefit the company. Continue reading Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Intel revealed that it has made progress in an anonymized, encrypted method of model training. Industries such as healthcare that need a way to use AI tools on sensitive, personally identifiable information have been waiting for just such a capability. At the NeurIPS 2018 conference in Montreal, Intel showed off its open-sourced HE-Transformer that works as a backend to its nGraph neural network compiler, allowing AI models to work on encrypted data. HE-Transformer is also based on a Microsoft Research encryption library. Continue reading Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

In India, Facebook and Reliance Industries Limited, the latter headed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, have teamed to encourage citizens to go online and join messaging service WhatsApp. India is already the world’s fastest growing Internet market, and the two companies have sent out marketing teams that use entertainment to educate and entice people to upgrade or sign up for the first time, offering cheap phones and rates with the Reliance Jio network as well as Facebook’s popular messaging service. Continue reading Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

Instagram stars excel at making their beautiful lives seem effortless, but according to one such professional, Meghan Young, it’s harder than it looks. Social media influencers who go pro receive money from companies whose products they endorse. That such a career even exists is due to billions of users eager to consume aspirational content and advertisers eager to reach a young demographic. Marketing agency Mediakix estimates that companies will spend $1.6 billion this year on Instagram influencers alone. Continue reading Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

Facebook Expands Watch Party, Playlist Makes Music Social

Facebook is expanding its Watch Party feature globally, to all Pages and all users. The company debuted the feature to all Groups in July 2018; in the following months, users streamed more than 12 million Watch Parties, which allow remote viewers to watch and comment together in real time. According to Facebook, these Watch Parties have resulted in eight times as many comments as the number generated by non-live videos in Groups, which the company regards as a “key metric” that the feature does indeed encourage engagement. Meanwhile, a new app named Playlist is bringing similar social interaction to music. Continue reading Facebook Expands Watch Party, Playlist Makes Music Social

Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

LG to Debut Google Assistant Smart Display on Black Friday

LG is introducing its first Google Assistant-powered smart display this week. The XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9, which runs the Android Things operating system for IoT devices, will be offered for a $200 promotional price during Black Friday (it is expected to run $100 more beyond the sale). The smart device was first teased at CES in January. The XBOOM AI features an 8-inch HD touch-screen display, Bluetooth streaming, a built-in 5MP camera for video calls, Google Assistant-powered AI features, and easy access to apps such as Google Maps, Google Photos and YouTube via the Android Things platform. Continue reading LG to Debut Google Assistant Smart Display on Black Friday

Facebook Deals With Criticism, Marketers Mull Over Options

In a conference call with reporters, Facebook chief executive/chair Mark Zuckerberg defended his company against charges that he and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg hid problems regarding Russian interference and other issues. Politicians have discussed opening a federal investigation into possible campaign finance violations and creating competition laws to curb the company, while shareholders have called for Zuckerberg’s ouster and activists have complained to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Deals With Criticism, Marketers Mull Over Options

Shadow VR Joins the Competition in Emerging Headset Market

New standalone VR headsets continue to ramp up competition in the emerging tech sector. HTC has introduced its Vive Focus (starting at $599) to additional markets beyond China — including Europe and the U.S. — while launching an SDK and encouraging developers to experiment with its 6DoF controller add-on. This week, it also unveiled an enterprise version of the Vive Focus. Meanwhile, the all-in-one $399 Oculus Quest headset is scheduled to launch by spring of next year. And new to the scene is Shadow Creator’s $399 Shadow VR, which recently launched globally and is the latest of 15 partners to leverage HTC’s Vive Wave platform. Continue reading Shadow VR Joins the Competition in Emerging Headset Market

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