Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter faced Congress in the past weeks to answer questions about how Russian companies and troll farms spread deceptions and inaccuracies before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The digital tech companies were also asked if there was evidence of collusion between the Russian actors and the Trump campaign, and Google was asked specifically about its commercial dealings with a Russian broadcaster that, say federal intelligence agencies, is a Kremlin propaganda outlet. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

AT&T Chief Exec Calls for Creation of an Internet Bill of Rights

AT&T, one of the winners in the recent end of net neutrality rules, is clarifying its stance. In an open letter that was published nationwide, including in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, chief executive Randall Stephenson called on Congress to establish an Internet Bill of Rights that would apply to all Internet companies and guarantee “neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all Internet users.” Continue reading AT&T Chief Exec Calls for Creation of an Internet Bill of Rights

YouTube Gaming’s Streamer Base Experiences Major Growth

A new Streamlabs report suggests that Twitch rival YouTube Gaming is gaining significant traction. While Twitch continues its lead in live streaming video, YouTube’s monthly active streamer base increased by 343 percent during 2017. Twitch attracted 27,000 concurrent streamers in Q4 2017, while YouTube Gaming had 7,000, notes TechCrunch. “Twitch also saw 788,000 concurrent viewers in Q4, up from 736,7000 in the prior quarter.” YouTube was “second with 308,000 concurrent viewers, followed by Periscope’s 80,000, Facebook’s 27,500 and Microsoft Mixer’s 5,000.” Continue reading YouTube Gaming’s Streamer Base Experiences Major Growth

YouTube Introduces Plan to Unify Artists’ Disparate Channels

YouTube debuted plans to streamline its service by consolidating artists’ channels. In doing so, it will combine separate channels for live albums, music videos, live performances, single songs and complete albums to a single site. Among YouTube’s many music partners, the new plan will especially impact Vevo channels where Official Artist Channels, marked with a musical note, will be the first thing a user sees in search. Channels can still be accessed with YouTube’s advanced channel filter in search. Continue reading YouTube Introduces Plan to Unify Artists’ Disparate Channels

Google Releases Details of Working AR Prototype on Chrome

Google has been working to integrate augmented reality into the mobile/desktop web via its Chrome browser. Google Daydream WebXR’s Reza Ali and Josh Carpenter, who work on user experience, now describe the results, which will enable users to create virtual 3D objects and place them into websites for viewing and download to the mobile platform to place them in real-world environments. Creative professionals will eventually be able to use the browser of any Android or iOS device to create and use AR experiences. Continue reading Google Releases Details of Working AR Prototype on Chrome

Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

After top Google and Facebook executives met with French president Emmanuel Macron, the tech companies vowed to invest artificial intelligence resources in that country’s capital. Google will create a Paris-based AI lab focused on research into automatic learning, language and computer vision. Facebook, which already has created an AI lab in Paris, plans to double its 50-person team there by 2022 and spend 10 million euros ($12.2 million). Both companies also pledge to train that country’s citizens on digital tools. Continue reading Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Q4 2017 marked Netflix’s biggest quarter to date; the video service signed 8.3 million new subscribers. That surpasses the 6.3 million new subscribers the company had predicted, and brings the company’s total number of global paid subscribers to 110.6 million. The news boosted Netflix shares 9 percent, and put its market capitalization above $100 billion. The growth also took place during a period in which Netflix has faced more competition, from a wide range of content distributors and producers. Continue reading Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Google has revealed plans to build three underwater fiber-optic cables for ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea, in order to speed the transfer of data and catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. The new undersea cables are slated for completion by 2019 and will also allow Google to reroute data to servers around the globe to avoid an overloaded or failed region. Although the cables will cost a significant amount — “hundreds of millions of dollars” — Google believes the move is its only option to compete in cloud computing. Continue reading Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV Experience Early Subscriber Growth

Hulu with Live TV has reached about 450,000 paid subscribers, while YouTube TV now has more than 300,000, according to sources familiar with the private figures. Neither service has reached the success of leading live-streaming services such as Dish’s Sling TV (more than 2 million subscribers) and AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1 million subscribers), but Hulu and YouTube only launched their offerings last year. Sling TV is the oldest, having launched in 2015, and DirecTV Now experienced recent growth after promotional deals offered free HBO and the option to add the service to mobile plans for $10 a month. Continue reading YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV Experience Early Subscriber Growth

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

For the last five years, Amazon’s average profit margins remained at 1 percent, and founder Jeff Bezos counseled patience. Amazon Web Services, its profitable cloud services business, drove shares up to $1,300, and now BMO Capital Markets raised its Amazon price target to $1,600 per share. That’s because Bezos’ end game is becoming clearer: a marketing platform that takes advantage of Amazon’s immense audience. Some analysts believe its shares could reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value. Meanwhile, Amazon continues plans for its second headquarters. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

After YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body hanging in a Japanese forest, YouTube again promised to scrutinize its top videos more closely, and also change the threshold for which videos can accept ads. Last year, marketers discovered their ads were being shown next to extremist videos. In response, YouTube developed new policies to give advertisers more control over the placement of their content and said it would better police videos. But the Logan Paul video shows just how challenging that can be. Continue reading YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Virtual reality made a strong showing at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Among those highlighting products were Facebook, which promoted new features in its $200 upcoming Oculus Go, a Google/Lenovo designed headset that will sell for half the price of an iPhone, and HTC, which will debut a new-gen Vive headset with more robust graphics. All of this, however, is a prelude to what many companies are planning: an entrance into augmented reality. One of those companies is Amazon, which sources say is exploring AR headset technologies. Continue reading Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

NPR and Edison Research released a report this week indicating that about one in six Americans (39 million people) now own a smart speaker, up 128 percent from last January. “Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product,” reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Google promoted their devices heavily and cut prices during the holiday shopping season. “The Echo Dot became a top seller across its site and by manufacturers through the Black Friday weekend.” Continue reading Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

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