Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

When the European Parliament grilled Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s many missteps, one of their concerns was that it has become a monopoly. The reference was to Facebook owning the world’s two largest chat applications, Messenger and WhatsApp, and their suggestion was that Facebook spin off those and the photo app Instagram. Facebook has countered with the argument that, by controlling so much of the world’s communications, it helps keep consumers safe across all these services. Continue reading Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Snap Introduces its Second, Enhanced Version of Spectacles

Snap’s first version of its Spectacles was not a big hit, and the company is trying again with its second version, stating its commitment to hardware. Snap began working on this second iteration when the first one launched. The form factor of the second version Specs is slightly different: no more yellow rings around the lenses and much thinner temples. The Specs, priced at $150, also come in new colors with two variations on mirrored lenses. But the big changes address all of the criticisms of the first Spectacles. Continue reading Snap Introduces its Second, Enhanced Version of Spectacles

SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Pioneering online photo-sharing community Flickr, created in 2004 and sold to Yahoo in 2005, has now been sold again. As first reported by USA Today, Verizon’s Oath, Flickr’s owner since 2017, just sold the company to SmugMug, a Silicon Valley photo-sharing and image-hosting service. Chief executive Don MacAskill, who founded the company with Chris MacAskill in 2002, has vowed to “move heaven and earth to thrill … photographers everywhere.” Flickr reportedly has more than 100 million unique users. Continue reading SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Snapchat is making moves to become more conversational, more “sticky,” and to keep users engaged for longer periods of time, according to Variety. The social sharing company announced a new chat feature that allows up to 16 users to video chat through its app, and added mentions to its Snapchat Stories, allowing users to easily tag others (much like they would via Twitter). The chat feature will roll out across the globe this week and will come with filters and the ability to join by audio only as desired. Users can also reply via text messages.

Continue reading Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Sprint is currently developing AI-powered software to help call center representatives better handle customer service. Sprint plans to use data related to customer calls to create “interaction assistants” that provide employees with best next steps. This effort is part of the company’s digital transformation project, which involves a partnership with Adobe Systems Inc. “Our focus has been about evolving and really becoming a digital company across all facets,” said Sprint CIO Scott Rice. Data has “become core across all our infrastructure and we really are changing our mindset.”

Continue reading Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

Snap Inc. is planning to launch a second version of its video recording glasses this fall followed by a more ambitious version in 2019 that will include two cameras and other features. In addition to new colors and water resistance, the second version aims to fix bugs and provide needed performance improvements. The potential price tag would be around $300, which is more than double the $130 cost of the first version. News of additional versions comes just months after Snap announced it lost $40 million on the original. Continue reading Snap Planning to Release Updated Spectacles Later This Year

Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

Amazon-owned game streaming platform Twitch introduced a new feature yesterday called “Rooms.” First announced at TwitchCon in October, the always-on chat room feature is now available for web and mobile (for now, creators can host up to three public or private Rooms). Individuals with a Twitch account have the ability to create custom chat rooms accessible from the Stream Chat feature on channel pages. Channel owners can specify which users get access, such as followers, moderators or subscribers. The rooms can also be created based on shared interests, such as spoilers. Continue reading Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

Apple Works On Software Bugs, Google Adds Notch to Android

For the next two years, Apple will focus on updates rather than new features to its iPhone and iPad operating system, say sources. Although software will be updated annually, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi and his team will be able to hold off adding features that aren’t honed to perfection, rather than race to fulfill an annual update. Apple has received user complaints for buggy features. Google is also updating its Android software, aping Apple’s “notch” at the top of the iPhone X. Continue reading Apple Works On Software Bugs, Google Adds Notch to Android

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

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

Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

Facebook has introduced Messenger Kids, a new messaging app for children aged 6 to 12, in response to safety concerns from parents about Messenger. Some experts, however, are dubious that children that young should have any social media access at all. Messenger Kids is a standalone chat and messaging app that lets children send texts, messages and videos to contacts that have been approved by parents, who download the app on a child’s tablet or smartphone and control it from their own Facebook accounts. Continue reading Experts Voice Concern About Facebook’s Social App for Kids

Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

Snap Inc. just unveiled a remake of Snapchat that, thus far, has been identifiable for its posts that disappear after 24 hours, smaller social circles and human editing and curation. In its new incarnation, Snapchat separates the social and media into two parts. On the left side of the app, users will see chats and stories shared with friends. On the right side, they’ll find content from DIY creators, publishers, celebrities and Snap-curated content. Part of the reason for the redo is Snap’s disappointing user and revenue numbers. Continue reading Snapchat Redesign Aims to Curb Fake News, Boost Revenue

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