Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

In a hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed on the need for legislating privacy for online users, but not everyone is on the same page as to what such laws should cover. Amazon and Google executives, whose companies depend on user data for revenue, warned that some kinds of regulation could have the unintended consequence of limiting the services they’re able to provide. What has become clearer is that hammering out the details of the legislation could take a long time. Continue reading Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

Getting back into China after an eight year absence isn’t going to be easy for Google, even though the company developed a mobile search app capable of employing censorship. President Trump is threatening to dramatically expand existing tariffs against China, which could retaliate by blocking the operation of U.S. businesses there. Recently, Qualcomm ended its attempt to buy NXP Semiconductors after China withheld approval; China also sidelined Facebook’s plan to build an innovation hub there. Continue reading Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

LinkedIn is introducing two new features: the ability to use QR codes for quickly sharing profiles and contact details, and a “See Translation” button that will translate posts into different languages. Currently available for iOS and Android, the QR codes offer users a quick option for accessing someone’s profile or sharing their own code via messaging apps, email, websites or printed materials such as business cards, conference badges and company brochures. The translation tool, available for more than 60 languages, is offered through LinkedIn’s desktop and mobile web versions (and soon via iOS and Android). Continue reading LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Sensor Tower has found that iPhone users in the U.S. increased in-app purchase spending by 23 percent last year over 2016. Active users spent an average of $58 in 2017 using Apple’s in-app purchase or subscription options. The figures do not reflect e-commerce spending via sites like Amazon or payments for services such as Lyft or Uber. At roughly 62 percent of average spending, mobile gaming leads the charge in this sector. Subscription-based streaming services, and music, dating and lifestyle apps also contributed to the rise in spending. Continue reading iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Studios Take on Dragon Box in Latest Streaming Piracy Battle

Amazon and Netflix have joined major studios including Disney and Warner Bros. in suing Dragon Box, claiming that the company’s $350 streaming device makes it easy for consumers to access illegal streams of TV shows and movies. The lawsuit alleges that some of the titles, such as Disney’s “Coco,” are still in theaters. Variety reports: “Dragon Box has advertised the product as a means to avoid paying for authorized subscription services, the complaint alleges, quoting marketing material that encourages users to ‘Get rid of your premium channels … [and] Stop paying for Netflix and Hulu.’” Continue reading Studios Take on Dragon Box in Latest Streaming Piracy Battle

Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

According to data collected by Apple, the typical iPhone owner uses his or her phone 80 times a day, which equals 30,000 times over the year. Now scientists are researching what happens to our minds when our phone is a constant companion that dominates our perception and cognition. What they’ve discovered is that, as our brains become dependent on the phones, our intellect becomes weaker, an effect that continues even when we aren’t using them. There are some in Silicon Valley that are increasingly concerned by the unintended consequences of smartphone and app use. Continue reading Studies Show Smartphones, Social Media Cause Brain Drain

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

According to new data from Pew Research Center, 67 percent of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” up from 62 percent in 2016. Facebook is most popular for news, followed by YouTube and Twitter. While percentages did not significantly change year-over-year for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr, an increasing number of adults are turning to Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Interestingly, millennials do not represent all new social media news consumers. The research found that 55 percent of today’s Americans age 50 or older say they get news on social media sites, a 10 percent increase over last year. Continue reading Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

LinkedIn Rolls Out Feature That Allows Users to Post Videos

Following a period of testing, LinkedIn is launching a “video” button on its iOS and Android apps, debuting it globally over several weeks. The button will allow users to record a new video or upload an existing one. According to the company, which is a subsidiary of Microsoft, it will allow users to share aspects of their professional lives in a new way, and to a professional audience. The addition of video on LinkedIn takes place as companies such as Apple, Facebook and YouTube are investing in original video content. Continue reading LinkedIn Rolls Out Feature That Allows Users to Post Videos

Google Brings Customized Feed to Its Search Landing Page

Google is introducing a new look for its search product that will appear just beneath its search box. The user will find a feed of news, entertainment and other content customized to her searches, video views and other personal information, including her location, email and digital calendars. Available first for the desktop, the new Google search page will eventually be available for mobile web browsers as well. Since Google launched in 1998, it has kept its landing page simple, only tweaking it in minor ways. Continue reading Google Brings Customized Feed to Its Search Landing Page

Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Become Latest Hacking Target

Hackers are reportedly targeting third-party sellers on Amazon by using stolen email and password credentials (available for purchase from previous hacks via the “Dark Web”) in a scam to post fake product deals online and pocket cash. Thieves have changed the bank info of active sellers on Amazon to steal amounts up to tens of thousands from each and have hacked less active sellers to post merchandise that does not exist, offering products at steep discounts. While PayPal and eBay have been targeted by hackers in the past, cybersecurity experts indicate that Amazon is becoming a new target. Continue reading Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Become Latest Hacking Target

Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Facebook’s Workplace is a social networking tool designed for the enterprise, enabling an efficient chat and collaboration platform for employees. It is similar to the Facebook used by friends and family members, but instead is meant to foster interaction between co-workers. Now, Facebook is introducing a free version intended for smaller businesses that are not as interested in the administrative and analytical features offered to subscribers. (It is still being tested, so the release is limited.) The new version will be named “Workplace Standard,” and the paid version will go by “Workplace Premium.” Continue reading Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Gen X Now More Obsessed with Social Media Than Millennials

A new report from Nielsen notes that Americans 18-34 years of age are less reliant upon social media than some older consumers. “Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes a week for their younger counterparts,” reports The New York Times. “More predictably, adults 50 and over spent significantly less time on social media, with an average of 4 hours 9 minutes a week on the networks.” Not surprisingly, the report stressed how important smartphones have become to people of all ages. The most popular mobile platforms, in order: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat. Continue reading Gen X Now More Obsessed with Social Media Than Millennials

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