New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Following an announcement in August that it had settled a class action lawsuit, Apple has introduced new App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, Apple now permits its registered developers to communicate to customers how they may pay for iOS apps using payment means outside iOS and Apple’s App Store. The guidelines now explain developers may request customer information, including name and email, but must permit customers to provide that information at their discretion. The third change is how to use a new Apple feature called in-app events that Apple says is unrelated to litigation. Continue reading New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Next Generation Smartwatches: From Fitness to Full-Service

In less than 10 years, the smartwatch has reached a tipping point, able to oversee many meaningful aspects of life. From home security to keeping tabs on your biometrics, wearability and design distinguish smartwatches from other devices — the closest approximation to cybernetics within reach of the average person with $300 to spend. Prices range from about $800 to $1,170 for Montblanc’s Summit 2+, a collaboration between Verizon, Qualcomm and the German luxury goods firm. An array of brands, including Samsung, Apple and Garmin have made it their business to redefine the smartwatch. Continue reading Next Generation Smartwatches: From Fitness to Full-Service

Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

San Francisco-based Unity Technologies, maker of the cross-platform Unity game engine has launched in beta Unity Gaming Services, a turnkey solution to make it easier to develop and maintain cross-platform multiplayer titles. New are tools for monetization, customer acquisition and player engagement. Statistics from a Unity study indicate 71 percent of multiplayer gamers do so from a mobile device, and 61 percent engage from consoles, while 40 percent say they play on both. The survey indicates 56 percent of Americans play multiplayer games, one in five having begun within the past year. Continue reading Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

The U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidelines specifying how to ensure virtual currency transactions comply with the government’s sanctions policies, a move by the Biden administration to thwart ransomware attacks, money laundering and other abuses. The new rules emphasize using geolocation tools that block IP addresses from sanctioned countries, ongoing monitoring of sanctioned entities and individuals and periodic review of transactions involving blacklisted virtual currency addresses. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has had virtual currency rules in place since at least 2011, but this update gives the directives new teeth. Continue reading Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

Mixed Snapchat Picture Results in Stock Dive on Q3 Results

Snapchat is blaming Apple’s new digital advertising policy for what it predicts will be a slow Q4. Changes including an iOS rule letting users opt-out of ads make it difficult for advertisers to test campaigns and measure results, Snapchat claims. The prediction came as Snap Inc. released Q3 results, announcing $1.067 billion for quarterly revenue, just short of the $1.07 billion expected. Snap exceed its Q3 goal for daily active users, which hit 306 million, beating by 5 million its Q2 estimate. Despite a 57 percent revenue year-over-year increase, Snap stock value dropped significantly. Continue reading Mixed Snapchat Picture Results in Stock Dive on Q3 Results

Cloud Gaming: Nvidia Rolls Out Its GeForce NOW RTX 3080

Nvidia is introducing its next-generation cloud gaming platform, GeForce NOW, which offers GeForce RTX 3080-class gaming online. GeForce NOW RTX 3080 will make available to users what Nvidia describes as “the most powerful gaming supercomputer ever built,” ready to take on Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming’s xCloud. Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang said the company has spent the past decade improving GeForce NOW cloud gaming “to bring the best gaming platform to anyone with a computer,” thanks to second-generation GeForce NOW SuperPOD servers. Continue reading Cloud Gaming: Nvidia Rolls Out Its GeForce NOW RTX 3080

FinTech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

PayPal is on an expansion path according to media reports of an offer to purchase of Pinterest at $70 per share in a $45 billion deal, mostly in stock. PayPal as of its most recent quarterly report, issued July 28, had $311 billion in receipts for Q2. PayPal’s share price fell 5 percent on the news, ending at $258.36 per share Wednesday. The move marks a decisive interest by PayPal to stake its claim in the space where content meets e-commerce. Pinterest, meanwhile, has launched a $20 million Creator Rewards fund and added more video features to its site. Continue reading FinTech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

Snapchat Offers Tools for Parents, AR Studio for Advertisers

In the wake of a Congressional inquiry regarding the safety of minors using online platforms, Snapchat is preparing to debut “family engagement” tools, according to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. Speaking at WSJ Tech Live, Spiegel said the features will allow parents greater control as to how children use the service. Spiegel emphasized privacy as built-in to Snapchat, noting “we never market our service to people under the age of 13.” Keen to market to millennials and Gen Zers, Snap also announced this week it’s launching Arcadia, a global creative studio focused on developing augmented reality advertising and experiences for brands. Continue reading Snapchat Offers Tools for Parents, AR Studio for Advertisers

Samsung Invites Users to Design Their Galaxy Z Flip3 Phone

Samsung used its Galaxy Unpacked Part 2 streaming event to share details of a new Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, Galaxy Buds2 and Galaxy Watch4. Samsung invited users to customize their mobile devices by making design choices on their Galaxy Z Flip3 using the online Bespoke Studio, which provides a 360-degree preview of different color and style combinations. Owners of the Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition can sign-up to replace the colors on their device panel, freedom that “allows consumers to express their unique personalities through technology.” Continue reading Samsung Invites Users to Design Their Galaxy Z Flip3 Phone

Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

Riding the momentum of Washington hearings and media criticism, legislators are pushing forward various bills to regulate Big Tech. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led fellow Senators in pushing legislation that would prevent tech platforms from favoring their own products and services, lending weight to efforts already progressing in the House. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have put forward their own proposal to prevent social-media companies from boosting circulation of harmful content. At the forefront are initiatives to limit the collection of personal info from minors, as well as restrictions on marketing to children. Continue reading Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

‘Squid Game’ Propels Netflix to Strong Q3 Subscriber Boost

Netflix added 4.4 million subscribers for the third quarter, beating by 20 percent its forecast of 3.5 million. The company attributed the strong performance of new hits including “Squid Game.” Netflix now boasts a total paid global subscriber base of 213.6 million. Last year, Netflix added only 2.2 million memberships in the third quarter, underperforming expectations. South Korean export “Squid Game,” a dystopian 9-episode drama series, debuted on Netflix in September, becoming a global phenomenon. TikTok videos of people replicating the games went viral, while retailers began stocking show-themed Halloween costumes. Continue reading ‘Squid Game’ Propels Netflix to Strong Q3 Subscriber Boost

Flagship Pixel Phones Now Powered by Google Tensor Chip

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro smartphones are here, complete with a profound hardware upgrade, capably showcased in the camera system, which benefits from a processing boost thanks to Google’s new Tensor mobile chip. Basically, Google has completely redesigned its flagship phone, adding bold colors and improving the camera to a degree that should make it competitive with other high-performance phones. While it’s been noted that some of what are being billed as the camera’s Android 12 features exclusive to Pixel 6 have previously been offered on other phones, Google’s configuration appears to be unique. Continue reading Flagship Pixel Phones Now Powered by Google Tensor Chip

Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Apple unveiled the long-awaited upgrade to its MacBook Pro, which comes in 14- and 16-inch display configurations with mini-LED screens (what the company calls Liquid Retina XDR). The new laptops are powered by Apple’s homegrown M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which the company calls “the first pro chips designed for the Mac.” Improvements such as stronger battery life, ports galore and eradication of the dreaded Touch Bar have been largely well-received by Mac bloggers. Apple says the 32 GPU cores on the M1 Max provide power that rivals the Nvidia RTX 3080 high-end gaming class laptop chip. The 14-inch model starts at $1,999 and the 16-inch at $2,499. Continue reading Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, is urging the U.S. government to step up innovation and more actively police cyberthreats. In a year beset with security breaches attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers, Pichai says it’s time to draft a Geneva Convention for technology, outlining international legal standards, safeguards and behavioral norms for the connected age. Pichai also made an appeal for state-sponsored innovation in the face of competition from China, where the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to advance artificial intelligence and develop a proprietary semiconductor sector. Continue reading Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech

Although Facebook leadership has suggested that artificial intelligence will solve the company’s challenge to keep hate speech and violent content at bay, AI may not be a thoroughly effective near-term solution. That evaluation comes as part of a new examination of internal Facebook documents that allegedly indicate the social media company removes only a small percentage — quantified as low-single-digits — of posts deemed to violate its hate-speech rules. Algorithmic uncertainty as to whether content violates the rules results only in that it is fed to users less frequently, rather than flagged for further scrutiny. Continue reading Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech