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Google Unveils Its First Smartwatch and New Pixel 7 Phones

Google debuted its new flagship smartphones, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, powered by updated Tensor G2 processors. The company also showcased a new Pixel Watch with built-in Fitbit. The devices were touted at Thursday’s Made by Google event in Brooklyn, following months of leaks after a developer conference preview in May. The phones run on the updated Android 13, which was rolled out to the Pixel 6 in August. The new gear ships October 13, and Google says the new phones pack five years of security updates. With 8GB of RAM, the entry level Pixel 7 phone costs $599, while Pixel 7 Pro pricing starts at $899 with 12GB of RAM (with configurations up to 512GB). Read more

Facebook, Instagram and Messenger Offering New Ad Units

Meta Platforms is expanding its advertising inventory with new units in Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Advertisers now have a new way to feature ads on Instagram’s Explore page, which displays content based on user preferences and routines. The Profile pages for all adult Instagram users will also carry advertising and select influencers will be eligible to push ads into their feeds as a way to potentially earn revenue. Messenger is going to use machine learning to program ads to likely purchasers. And Facebook Reels are getting “post-loop ads,” which creators and brands can slot between short videos. Read more

Chinese Game Company Appoints AI CEO and Invests in AR

Online game company and mobile app developer NetDragon Websoft has invested $40 million in Rokid, maker of 5G-friendly AR glasses for business applications. Both companies are based in China. NetDragon has been in the news this past month when it became the first company to appoint an AI as its “rotating CEO.” Following the Rokid announcement, it appears the firm may be interested in developing lifelike AI characters to inhabit its games and augment teaching and enhance its AR initiatives, though to hear NetDragon actual CEO, Liu Dejian tell it, the company can learn a lot from its new c-suite addition, Tang Yu. Read more

White House Creates a ‘Blueprint’ of AI Rights for Consumers

The White House has issued a “blueprint” for consumer protections with regard to artificial intelligence. Aimed at guiding federal agencies while setting the bar for future legislation, the voluntary directive offers five areas of focus — safety, algorithmic discrimination protection, data privacy, notice, human alternatives — and a section on applying the rules. “Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public,” begins the bill, which says such tools are “too often used” to limit opportunities and prevent access to critical resources or services. Read more

CSA Releases Global Connectivity Spec for Internet of Things

The Connectivity Standards Alliance has announced the release of the Matter 1.0 specification, a global connectivity standard for the Internet of Things, simultaneously opening the product certification program, administered through authorized test labs. Member companies “now have a complete program for bringing the next generation of interoperable products that work across brands and platforms to market with greater privacy, security, and simplicity for consumers,” said CSA. The Matter standard was developed so the devices from companies including Google, Apple and Amazon can communicate with each other via a local controller device. Read more

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