Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress made it clear that U.S. legislators are concerned about the power wielded by big technology companies, and believe that such companies may need to be reined in with regulations. Now, according to a survey from market research firm HarrisX, we learn that about 53 percent of Americans think the federal government should regulate big technology companies — even though only 31 percent believe the government is capable of doing so. Continue reading Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

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

Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

Following arguments in February, the case of United States v. Microsoft, No. 17-2, ended in a draw, or, as the court said, “no live dispute remains between the parties.” Federal prosecutors wanted to force Microsoft to turn over digital data stored outside the U.S., but a new federal law, agreed both sides, made the case — based on whether a 1986 law applied to digital data — moot. During arguments, some justices had suggested that Congress, and not the court, should define privacy in a new digital world. Continue reading With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

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

Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

The recently developed Playa Vista neighborhood on Los Angeles’ Westside near Marina del Rey is now home to numerous technology companies including Electronic Arts, Facebook, IMAX, Microsoft, Yahoo and YouTube. In fall 2018, Alphabet’s Google will move into a 319,000-square foot office space, adjacent to 12 acres of land the company bought in 2014. Playa Vista is also adjacent to the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands, home to hundreds of bird species, and against the Westchester Bluffs. Currently 5,000 to 6,000 people work there. Continue reading Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Microsoft is reportedly downgrading the scope of its Windows franchise to “reorganize its business around its growing Azure cloud-computing operations and its stalwart Office productivity business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The move is designed to focus Microsoft on its biggest areas of growth. In its latest quarter Azure revenue jumped 98 percent while Office 365 grew 41 percent … In the same period, the More Personal Computing unit, which includes Windows, gained 2 percent to $12.17 billion.” Continue reading Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

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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Microsoft Claims Brainwave Pushes Bing’s AI 10 Times Faster

Microsoft’s Brainwave system, which is “specialized hardware for AI computation,” was able to “get more than 10 times faster performance for a machine learning model that powers functionality of its Bing search engine,” reports VentureBeat. Brainwave is designed to run trained neural networks as quickly as possible with minimal latency and with the goal of providing “roughly real-time artificial intelligence predictions for applications like new Bing features.” This news was shared with a handful of Bing updates announced Monday.

Continue reading Microsoft Claims Brainwave Pushes Bing’s AI 10 Times Faster

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.

Continue reading Google Is Developing Its Own Blockchain-Related Technology

NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

NBCUniversal is inviting developers to create games leveraging its popular television and film properties such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Back to the Future” and “Jaws.” Through the Universal GameDev Challenge — co-sponsored by Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft — Unity game engine developers can submit pitches to be selected to build out their full vision in PC game form. Winner and runner-up win a consulting contract with Universal, Microsoft and Unity, along with a combined $250,000.

Continue reading NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Continue reading Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

Google is in development on a game streaming service for compatible Chromecast devices (or potential future home consoles). Dubbed “Yeti,” the service would be similar to Sony’s PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming services, which means that users wouldn’t download software but stream from a Google server. Users could play Android games on a consumer TV via existing technology, but it isn’t clear if that would be Google’s sole strategy. The company recently hired game industry veteran Phil Harrison. Continue reading Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

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