Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Following last month’s updates making search and Lens functions more easily accessible via the home feed of Pinterest’s app, the popular photo-sharing and discovery platform has now added the ability to zoom inside Pins for a closer look at images and GIFs. The new feature (presently available for iOS and coming soon to Android) is one of the app’s most user-requested features. It is also joined by an updated visual search for finding specific objects. Interestingly, the same image search is available starting this week without a Pinterest account, via the Chrome browser extension. Continue reading Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Essential Products, the smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, has amassed $300 million from several investors, including China’s Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The company, which plans to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, also stated that Best Buy and Amazon will be its first partners for distributing the new $699 titanium-encased Essential phone. What Essential did not reveal was the date the phone will launch. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Apple’s current Watch requires wireless connection to an iPhone to function, but the tech giant is on track to release a new version that connects directly to mobile networks, according to sources. This new smartwatch, at least a few of which will be released by the end of 2017, is made possible by LTE modems supplied by Intel, which has waged a persistent effort to get its technology into more Apple mobile devices. Up until now, Qualcomm has been Apple’s primary modem supplier for its mobile devices. Continue reading Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Developers digging through the firmware of Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, HomePod, found evidence that the company’s iPhone camera may soon use machine learning to recognize objects and scenes and adjust settings to create the best photo, all in real-time. That’s the information made public in a HomePod firmware leak. Unclear is whether that feature will be introduced with the iPhone 8 this fall, although developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered details that suggest it will debut as “SmartCam” capability. Continue reading Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Although the June quarter is typically Apple’s weakest, the company’s revenue was up 7.2 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to increased sales of iPads and Macs. The growth was the best in seven consecutive quarters, also in part due to 1.6 percent growth in Apple iPhone sales, representing 41.03 million devices. The growth in sales of iPads and Macs was unanticipated since consumers have focused more on smartphone purchases, with 1.9 percent growth for the former and 6.7 percent growth for the latter. Continue reading Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Adobe has finally pulled the plug on Flash, an application that Steve Jobs excoriated as far back as 2010 for being too insecure and proprietary for the iPhone. Adobe stated that it would no longer update and distribute the Flash Player at the end of 2020, and many in the industry will cheer its demise. In fact, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari have been blocking Flash for the past year, but many sites devoted to gaming, education and video still use Flash, whose infamously weak security has been exploited by malware. Continue reading Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

For Apple iPhone users looking forward to augmented reality, there will soon be another option to looking at images on the phone’s screen. Due to launch later this year, the Mira Prism, which looks like a sun visor or welder’s mask that fits over the user’s head, will reflect AR’s 3D images in front of the user’s face — and only costs $99. The visor comes from Los Angeles-based company Mira, founded by students from the inaugural class of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Continue reading Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Now out of beta, Amazon launched a new social feature in the U.S. yesterday that is designed to return social activity surrounding products back to the Amazon site while hopefully improving product discovery for its users. Similar to the approach of Instagram’s shoppable photos, Amazon Spark allows users to post images, new ideas and related posts regarding products they find interesting. To foster social interaction, other users can respond with their own comments and “smiles” — Amazon’s take on “favorite” and “like” buttons. Continue reading Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Alphabet’s Google began releasing augmented reality tools in 2014, but Apple now plans to put AR software in up to one billion mobile devices by the end of 2017. That is nearly certain to give Apple an advantage, since the company’s ecosystem will easily integrate devices and software. Google, with its Tango AR software system, has put AR in the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR smartphones. Apple also just introduced its ARKit, which lets developers build AR apps for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple will open its first data center in southwest China, in response to a new Chinese law that requires companies to store data within its borders. The data center, which will be operated in partnership with a local data management company, is part of a $1 billion investment Apple will make in the Guizhou province. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have built data centers in Germany, France and the Netherlands among other countries for technical reasons and in response to security concerns of governments and customers. Continue reading Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

In an effort to help consumers better understand the benefits of Apple HomeKit products, Apple has installed interactive smart-home displays in 46 of its retail locations worldwide. Apple customers can use the Home mobile app via an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to perform functions such as turning on Philips Hue light bulbs and controlling Hunter ceiling fan speeds. Apple’s Home app allows users to control HomeKit-enabled smart devices from a single location (or even collectively with a single command) by tapping the screen or interacting with virtual assistant Siri. Continue reading Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

Apple’s iTunes Store continues to lose market share for video viewers. In 2012, say sources, the company was responsible for well over 50 percent of movie rentals and sales; that figure has now decreased to between 20 percent and 35 percent. The figures are uncertain because no trade group or company tracks market share of digital movies, but several Hollywood studios have reported a decline in the amount of business with iTunes. An Apple spokeswoman said the company is targeting subscription services, an area experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

Apple 3D Sensor to Power Face Scanning, Replace Touch ID

According to sources close to the project, Apple is in development on a feature that will let users unlock their iPhones with facial recognition, to be released with the iPhone to go on sale later in 2017. Powered by a 3D sensor, the new security system will let users do a variety of tasks, including logging in, authenticating payments and launching security apps via face scanning. The 3D sensor is said to be able to unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds. Apple is also reportedly testing eye scanning technology. Continue reading Apple 3D Sensor to Power Face Scanning, Replace Touch ID

Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

Facebook wants to help mobile consumers locate accessible Wi-Fi networks by expanding its “Find Wi-Fi” option, initially launched last year on iOS in select countries. Facebook announced that the feature would be made available worldwide on both iOS and Android devices to help users find public Wi-Fi networks, useful when traveling or in areas where cellular data is scarce. This could help Facebook’s “2 billion monthly users stay connected to the network and spend more time in its app — something that directly impacts Facebook’s bottom line,” notes TechCrunch, and “the tool also serves as another way to discover local businesses” as a possible alternative to Google Maps. The feature can be found under the “More” tab in the Facebook app. Continue reading Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

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