NAB Program to Look at Machine Intelligence, Content Creation

As part of the Next-Generation Media Technologies education track at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas, a half-day conference produced by Rochelle Winters will examine the latest trends in Machine Intelligence and Content Creation (Tuesday, April 10, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm). The program will examine how studios, creative service companies and filmmakers are using machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence to help produce content. Leading technologists, production execs and content creators will share the latest research and case studies involving machine intelligence. Continue reading NAB Program to Look at Machine Intelligence, Content Creation

Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

In an effort to catch up to Google’s classroom dominance, Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad on Tuesday “aimed at classrooms and other education tools,” reports The New York Times. It has a faster processor and the ability to support its education-minded stylus, the Apple Pencil (which previously only paired with pricier iPads), as well as 200 gigabytes of storage. It’ll be priced at $299 for schools and $329 for consumers. Additionally, Apple announced new classroom software and new curriculum.

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Google’s Machine-Generated Speech Will Sound More Human

According to members of Google’s Brain and Machine Perception teams, researchers at the tech giant have developed “ways to make machine-generated speech sound more natural to humans,” even providing examples of the more expressive speech in a company blog post, reports VentureBeat. Google also announced the release of its Cloud Text-to-Speech services, which could “be used to bring more natural speech to devices, apps or digital services that utilize voice control or voice computing,” the article explains.

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Google Initiates Rollout of its Mobile-First Indexing of the Web

After a year and a half of testing, Google is rolling out its mobile-first indexing of the web. According to TechCrunch, Google first detailed its plan in 2016, aiming to “change the way its search index operates, explaining how its algorithms would eventually be shifted to use the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages, as well as to understand its structured data and to show snippets from the site in the Google search results.” The move caters to Google Search users, the majority of whom search via mobile devices.

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Household Brands Are Competing to Put Tech in Your Kitchen

Brands like Whirlpool, Samsung and Bosch are in a race with tech companies like Google and Amazon to get into your kitchen, a room often considered the heart of a home. According to The New York Times, the goal is to get “Internet-connected appliances and cooking gadgets” like “refrigerators embedded with touchscreens, smart dishwashers and connected countertop screens with artificially intelligent assistants that react to spoken commands” into your home first as the promise of the connected smart home comes closer to reality. But these things remain a hard sell with consumers.

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Google’s New Shopping Actions Aid Competition with Amazon

Google recently launched Shopping Actions, a new program to help retailers compete with Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. The program allows companies to list “products across Google Search, in its Google Express shopping service, and in the Google Assistant app for smartphones and on smart speakers, like the Google Home,” reports TechCrunch. It offers a universal cart no matter what device shoppers are using and Google earns money via a pay-per-sale model. The program is now open to any retailer in the U.S.

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Mozilla and Others Pull Facebook Ads Over Privacy Concerns

Following the now widespread reports of Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook user data, some companies are pulling ads from the social media giant, in large part due to “consumer backlash and questions from lawmakers” over the company’s privacy policy, reports Engadget. Mozilla has pulled its ads, claiming to have taken a closer look at Facebook’s current privacy settings, particularly related to third-party apps. Many other companies around the world are considering a similar ad-related move, according to the article.

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Google Is Developing Its Own Blockchain-Related Technology

Google is one of the largest information holders in the world, and while it’s security is strong, there is still room for improvement. To that end, Google is working on its own “blockchain-related technology,” according to Bloomberg. Sources close to the project say that Google is working to develop its own “distributed digital ledger that third parties can use to post and verify transactions.” Essentially, it would project consumer information stored on its cloud services. No release date has yet to be announced.

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Access Android Games Immediately With Google Play Instant

The age of instant gratification just got even more addictive thanks to Google’s new Google Play Instant, which comprises Android apps and games that do not need to be installed before people can try them out. The tech giant announced the upgrade at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Available games include Supercell’s “Clash Royale,” Zynga’s “Words with Friends 2,” King’s “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” and Hothead’s “Mighty Battles.” These and more are already available on over 1 billion Android devices.

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Google Pledges $300 Million in Effort to Clean Up Fake News

Google has set its sights on combating fake news on the Internet, pledging to spend $300 million over the next three years in support of what The New York Times calls “authoritative journalism.” The Google News Initiative’s goals include making it easier for Googlers to subscribe to news and providing publishers with tools for fast-loading mobile pages. In partnership with Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft initiative, Google will also create a “Disinfo Lab” to identify fake news, particularly during moments when it’s breaking.

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Revealed: For First Time, Apple Developing Its Own Screens

With the promise of making devices brighter, thinner and less demanding of battery power, MicroLED displays use different compounds than today’s widely used OLED displays. According to sources familiar with the situation, Apple is currently developing its own MicroLED displays, in secret, at a manufacturing facility near its headquarters in California. The company is producing only small numbers of the displays for testing, and it marks the first time Apple has developed its own screens.

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Google, Ubisoft Partner on Open-Source Game Server Project

Multiplayer game servers are notoriously difficult to build and maintain, but as the popularity of multiplayer games increases, Google Cloud aims to tackle the issue with the advent of Agones (Greek for “contest” or “gathering”), its new open source project developed through a partnership with French gaming company Ubisoft. Dedicated servers are important for multiplayer games to reduce delays, stop cheating in its tracks, and provide a better overall experience for those connecting to play. Google is currently seeking more partners for Agones.

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Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

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Google to Ban Cryptocurrency and ICO Ads Beginning in June

Google announced its intention to ban advertisements related to risky financial products, including any that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), beginning this June. This is part of an update to Google’s policy and seems to closely resemble a similar ban announced by Facebook in January. However, reports indicate that ad makers have found workarounds within Facebook (like typing “Bitc0in” with a zero instead of “Bitcoin”). Google plans to anticipate these sorts of workarounds in advance of the ban.

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Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Audiobook sellers like Amazon-owned Audible are competing for the ears, not eyes, of book lovers. And they’re showing promise. In 2016, audiobook sales climbed to $2.1 billion, representing an 18 percent jump from the previous year (the format experienced a 26.2 percent sales increase during the first three quarters of 2017). Audible represents about 41 percent of all audiobook sales, and when paired with Amazon, which sells audiobooks directly through its website, the two make up more than half of the market. Audible’s library includes 400,000 titles and its annual subscriber growth is in the double digits.

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