Google Chrome Extension Alerts Users to Password Issues

To combat data breaches, Google has created a Chrome extension to provide a “password checkup” that compares users’ passwords with a database of four billion unique usernames and passwords that have been compromised. The extension works in the background, only showing a warning if it finds a match. That’s all it does: it is not a password manager that determines how weak or strong passwords are. Google accounts, often the key to a user’s email address, are breached mainly because people reuse passwords on multiple sites. Continue reading Google Chrome Extension Alerts Users to Password Issues

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote shareholders about the potential downsides of AI in April, chief executive Sundar Pichai released “guiding principles” for the company’s AI projects in June. This came after employee protests succeeded in getting Google to drop a Pentagon contract to interpret drone footage. Now, Google has released a 30-page white paper that stresses the benefits of artificial intelligence, arguing that its downsides can be avoided without more regulation “in the vast majority of instances.” Continue reading Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

According to a new “State of the Stream” report from live-streaming platform StreamElements, gaming fans watched nearly 9.4 billion hours of content on Twitch last year, a 25 percent growth rate over 2017. While YouTube Gaming’s live content viewing totaled 2.3 billion hours (or about a quarter of Twitch’s hours), YouTube’s year-to-year growth rate was an impressive 104 percent. Microsoft’s live-streaming Mixer, which launched in 2016, had almost 168 million hours watched last year, which was an increase of 179 percent over 2017. Continue reading Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Despite the widespread pushback against their privacy policies and lack of regulation, Facebook and Google are enjoying booming ad sales. According to industry analysts, robust consumer spending and the continued evolution from brick-and-mortars to online shopping is what’s keeping digital ad sales healthy. At online advertising agency Merkle, associate director of research Andy Taylor noted that, despite its woes, Facebook — especially Instagram — continues to do well among advertisers. Continue reading Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Theaters, from the experimental to the commercial, are using augmented reality, 360-degree videography and other new technologies to make their productions more immersive, even on traditional stages. In one recent production, “Hamlet 360,” technical direction by Sensorium transforms the 61-minute Shakespearean play into virtual reality. Another recent example is The Builders Association’s AR-integrated production “Elements of Oz,” where audience members use their cellphones to see a tornado approach Dorothy’s house. Continue reading Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

In light of the fact that the European Union’s Copyright Directive may soon give publishers the right to demand payment when portions of their articles appear in news search results, Google is considering ceasing its Google News service in Europe. Although the law is not yet finalized, Google public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Jennifer Bernal stated that the company could reluctantly quit Europe after it has the chance to do a close examination of the proposed law’s details. Continue reading Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

According to App Annie, in 2018 India was the country with YouTube’s biggest audience. As 4G rates in that country are below $2 per month, Indians are now streaming mobile video at rates that are 10 times and billions of hours more per year than in the last three years. Research by global consulting firm Analysys Mason boils that down to 85 gigabytes of data, potentially more than 40 hours of video per month without using Wi-Fi, more than rates in the U.S., China or Japan. The mobile video usage is transforming Indian media. Continue reading India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Google and Facebook had a rough 2018 regarding data privacy, but the advertisers haven’t abandoned the two tech giants and their profits continue to soar. This year may be even tougher as concern about privacy grows. In fact, French regulators levied a 50 million Euro (about $57 million) fine on Google, for not clearly disclosing how data collected across its sites are used to personalize ads. Experts believe the behavior of big tech companies will be a “major topic” at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Streaming games are in the news, with Verizon in alpha tests of its Verizon Gaming, reportedly currently running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box and, eventually, Android smartphones. Verizon Gaming can be played using a paired Xbox One controller. Verizon has been recruiting players for its alpha test of the service, which offers 135 games. On the heels of Razer announcing it would integrate Amazon Alexa into its gaming platform, The Information revealed that Amazon is now developing its own streaming game service. Continue reading Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

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