Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Brazil and the U.S. state of Texas both banned social media companies from removing certain posts containing political viewpoints. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s ban is temporary, and focuses on content in which he claims the only way he will lose next year’s election is if the vote if rigged. Legal experts say this is the first time a national government stopped an Internet company from taking down content that violates their rules. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill forbidding social media platforms from removing posts because of political views. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among those expected to fight the Texas legislation. Continue reading Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

Facebook and Luxottica Group’s luxury sunglass manufacturer Ray-Ban unveiled new smart glasses that enable the user to record via cameras hidden in the frame. The Ray-Ban glasses — priced at $299 — are based on the classic Wayfarer model, with the addition of a very small recording light, two 5-megapixel cameras, three microphones and four gigabytes of storage. The glasses, which will come in 20 style combinations and either clear or prescription lenses, are powered by Facebook technology. Both Facebook and Ray-Ban parent Luxottica stated that, “privacy is built into the product.” Continue reading Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

The Federal Trade Commission released Comscore figures showing Facebook’s marketplace dominance. From September 2012 through December 2020, the network generated 92 percent of the monthly time U.S. users spent on social media. In contrast, the combined market shares of Snap, Google+, MeWe and Friendster never exceeded 18 percent in any month during that time frame. A federal judge dismissed the case in June noting that the FTC did not offer details of its monopoly claim; these findings are now part of the FTC’s lawsuit. Continue reading FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

Australian Court Holds Media Firms Liable for User Comments

The High Court of Australia upheld a lower court ruling that found media companies — including newspapers and TV stations — that post on Facebook are liable for Facebook users’ comments on those posts. It stated that, by creating a public Facebook page, media outlets “facilitated and encouraged comments” from users and are responsible for defamatory content. News Corp Australia, a subsidiary of News Corp, and Nine Entertainment, which owns the Sydney Morning Herald, called for legislators to protect them from liability. Continue reading Australian Court Holds Media Firms Liable for User Comments

Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Amazon plans to open two “Just Walk Out” Whole Foods stores in 2022, in Washington D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, leveraging the same technology used in its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. The company also offers the technology for sale to other retailers. This marks the first time that Amazon is using its cashierless technology at the 500-store Whole Foods, which it bought in 2017. Shoppers enter and leave the store by scanning a QR code in Amazon or Whole Foods apps and motion sensors track their shopping choices. Continue reading Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Intel Announces Plans to Build Two Chip Factories in Europe

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger announced plans to build two semiconductor factories in Europe valued up to $95 billion, as part of an effort to ease the current worldwide chip shortage. Gelsinger added that Intel could expand the investment over a decade to the equivalent of “as much as €80 billion.” At an auto event in Munich, Gelsinger said, “this new era of sustained demand for semiconductors needs bold, big thinking.” Meanwhile, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. also plans to spend $100 billion in the next three years to increase chip production and Samsung is making similar moves. Continue reading Intel Announces Plans to Build Two Chip Factories in Europe

Apple’s Autonomous Vehicle Chief Accepts New Post at Ford

Tesla veteran Doug Field joined Apple in 2018 to lead the tech giant’s self-driving car initiative. Now, his abrupt departure to join Ford Motor Company as its chief advanced technology officer brings the future of Apple’s project into question, including the progress it has made thus far. Field is Apple’s fourth executive to lead the project in its seven-year history. Other notable manufacturers pursuing autonomous vehicles — including Tesla, Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber Technologies — have had a difficult time advancing the technology. Continue reading Apple’s Autonomous Vehicle Chief Accepts New Post at Ford

Federal Judge Rules AI-Enabled Machines Are Not Inventors

U.S. District judge Leonie Brinkema just ruled that an artificial intelligence-enabled computer cannot be listed as an inventor on patents and that only humans can be inventors under U.S. law. That’s because, according to Federal law, an “individual” must take an oath that he/she is the inventor and the term “individual” is legally defined as a natural person. The ruling was in response to University of Surrey law professor Ryan Abbott’s effort, the Artificial Inventor Project, to get a computer listed as an inventor. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules AI-Enabled Machines Are Not Inventors

Substrate Shortage Is Adding to Problem of Producing Chips

The chip shortage has highlighted the role of substrates that connect chips to circuit boards and the companies that make them. Substrate manufacturing offers low profit margins, so investment in this sector has also been low. Now, the lack of substrates has added to the problems of churning out enough chips to serve the global market. Substrates — panels of resin embedded with wiring onto which chips are affixed — connects the die at the heart of a chip to the motherboard, delivering power and data. Continue reading Substrate Shortage Is Adding to Problem of Producing Chips

Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

In its first major ruling against social media giant Facebook, Irish authorities fined the company’s WhatsApp messaging service almost $270 million (225 million euros) under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Those authorities stated that WhatsApp was not transparent about how data collected by those using the app is shared with other Facebook properties, including Instagram. WhatsApp said it would appeal the decision. Since established three years ago, the GDPR has not resulted in any major fines or penalties for Facebook until now. Continue reading Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

After an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), Apple agreed to let Netflix, Spotify and some other companies use payment methods outside Apple’s App Store when users sign up for subscriptions. Analysts dub the move a “strategic retreat” from what has been a huge source of revenue for Apple. During Epic Games’ lawsuit against the tech giant, lawyers revealed that 81 percent of the App Store’s 2016 revenue came from games, 3 percent from music and 4 percent from other forms of entertainment. Continue reading Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

Twitter Plans to Test Social Privacy Features for User Control

Popular microblogging service Twitter plans to test new “social privacy” features in order to allow people to better control their identities and thus feel more comfortable using its social network. Among the features under consideration are the ability to edit followers’ lists and archive old tweets after an amount of time designated by the user, making it easier to hide tweets than a manual deletion. Staff researcher Svetlana Pimkina said Twitter determined through internal research that many Twitter users don’t understand the site’s privacy basics. Continue reading Twitter Plans to Test Social Privacy Features for User Control

Turner Classic Movies Promotes Logo and Content Makeover

Warner’s pay-TV network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is unveiling a new logo, colorful on-air promos, new sets for Ben Mankiewicz and other hosts, new openings for shows including “The Essentials” and “Noir Alley,” and new branding that explores the interplay between past and present cinema. The aesthetics update will not change the vintage movie collection but intends to “help the cable channel stay relevant and reach a wider audience.” TCM executives are also weighing the future of a linear cable channel in a growing streaming media ecosystem. Continue reading Turner Classic Movies Promotes Logo and Content Makeover

Twitter Rolls Out Latest Monetization Feature: ‘Super Follows’

Twitter debuted a new feature called Super Follows, which allows some users to make money by charging for access to subscriber-only content. Users who qualify for the program must be over the age of 18, based in the U.S. and have 10,000+ followers as well as having tweeted more than 25 times in the past 30 days. The payout, powered by payments platform Stripe, will range depending on the Super Follows price and number of followers who sign up. A user who charges $4.99 per month for Super Follows and has 2 percent of 13,000 followers sign up will make $900 a month. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out Latest Monetization Feature: ‘Super Follows’

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