Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

When Nintendo Switch Online debuts today, gamers will have a multiplayer option similar to Xbox Live and PSN. The new service allows users to save online games in the cloud and offers a library of NES games. Subscription prices range from $4 per month, $8 for three months, to $20 for a year and $35 for a family plan with at least two accounts. Gamers can also sign up for a seven-day free trial. Some games, such as “Fortnite,” will not require a subscription to play online. The service will debut with 20 games. Continue reading Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

As Congress considers how to regulate technology companies’ handling of personal data, the Internet Association, whose members include Google and Facebook, and BSA/The Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft and Oracle, issued their own proposals. Among the six principles that the Internet Association endorsed is data portability, which allows consumers to take their personal information from one service to another that provides a similar service. BSA/The Software Alliance issued a 10-point framework. Continue reading Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Mozilla announced that future versions of its Firefox browser will automatically block tracking codes placed by advertisers, third parties or any other company that is not the website publisher. Also blocked will be trackers that take too long to load. Best of all for users, they will not have to download or install new software or change settings to enjoy this increased privacy. According to Mozilla, the new feature is already being tested and will be included in a Firefox version later in 2018. Continue reading Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and other tech companies are lobbying to begin work on a federal privacy law, with the goal of creating regulations that would favor them more than the strict law passed in June by California. The California law, a benchmark in the U.S., gives users the right to know what information tech companies are collecting and why, as well as with whom they’re sharing that data. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said its tech company members want to be “a constructive part of the process.” Continue reading Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

After months of planning, Microsoft has announced its Xbox All Access service (formerly codenamed Project Largo) that will include the Xbox One console with Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass. As of now, the company will offer the subscription service at its retail stores and is also working to bundle it with other PC manufacturers. According to the Microsoft announcement, the company will offer the Xbox One S with Xbox All Access for $21.99 per month, and the Xbox One X with Xbox All Access for $34.99 per month, both deals for 24 months. Continue reading Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

vETC 2018: How Would You Store a Zetta-Byte of Cold Data?

Imagine your entire film archive stored on small cubes of glass or as DNA? Now imagine that it could potentially last for hundreds or even thousands of years, and for the lowest cost ever achieved before. It may sound like science fiction, but, at Microsoft, it’s already a reality in one of their R&D labs. This fascinating presentation by Austin Donnelly and Karin Strauss shows you the future of long-term, cold storage. Continue reading vETC 2018: How Would You Store a Zetta-Byte of Cold Data?

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

AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the workplace via the back office, automating tasks in accounting, billing, payments and customer service, and is capable of scanning documents, filling out spreadsheets and checking accuracy of records. In early projects, AI bots are following simple rules, observing and making yes-no decisions rather than high-level choices. Bigger things are coming, especially from tech companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, which partner with robotic automation startups. Continue reading AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

According to Forrester Research, many blockchain-based software projects are ending this year and 90 percent of them will never be integrated into the companies’ operations. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies advocate Nasdaq stated in 2016 that it would deploy blockchain for voting in shareholder meetings, but has yet to deploy any large-scale project. The initial enthusiasm over blockchain seems to be dying down, while some traders are manipulating cryptocurrency prices to enrich them but leave investors in the cold. Continue reading Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Although Q3 is typically Apple’s weakest quarter, the company revealed stellar revenue, proof of its success in finding ways to grow in a diminished global smartphone market. Chief executive Tim Cook said the company is reaching into emerging markets and expanding its services business, to achieve “strong double-digit growth in revenue.” According to Apple finance chief Luca Maestri, demand for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus have been steady. On Tuesday, Apple’s market value hit $950 billion. By Thursday, Apple had become the first U.S. company to exceed $1 trillion in market value. Continue reading Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

Amazon posted $2.53 billion in profit for the first time, with the highest profit margin ever, the result of the company’s more recent service businesses, including cloud computing, advertising and other services for sellers. The Q2 profit compares to $197 million a year earlier, and represents three straight quarters of profits over $1 billion, forever changing Amazon’s former profile as a company that posts either red ink or bare bones income. Alphabet and Microsoft, however, still deliver much bigger profits. Continue reading Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

At this week’s Google Cloud Next conference, Israeli company Plataine demonstrated a new app for Google Glass, pointing to artificial intelligence as the technology that will drive the success of the spectacles. The easy-to-use app, which is aimed at factory workers, understands and replies in spoken language. Plataine’s clients already include Airbus, Boeing and GE, and the company is now working on adding image recognition capabilities to the app, which was built using Google Cloud AI services and support from the tech giant. Continue reading New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have announced the Data Transfer Project (DTP) to help people move data more easily between online services. DTP was formed last year with plans “to create an open-source, service-to-service data-portability platform” that any online service could join. While numerous services allow individuals to download data, only few allow uploading data to multiple accounts. If successful in creating universal data portability, the project could dramatically impact the tech industry and its current business models. Continue reading Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Microsoft Azure Grows to the No. 2 Spot in Cloud Computing

Amazon has thus far dominated the cloud computing business, but Microsoft is now a strong No. 2. The latter, in a quarterly financial report, indicated that its Azure cloud computing unit grew 89 percent over the same period a year ago and demonstrated growth in other cloud offerings. Synergy Research Group reports that the overall “core cloud business” is valued at $60 billion a year, having grown by 50 percent in Q1 2018. Amazon is responsible for a 33 percent share, which had held steady since the end of 2015. Continue reading Microsoft Azure Grows to the No. 2 Spot in Cloud Computing

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