Facebook Is Criticized for Continuing to Collect Data of Teens

After Facebook promised in July that it would limit its algorithms that track online behavior of users under 18 as a step toward curtailing a method used by advertisers to target children and teenagers, the social giant is again being accused of collecting such data. Facebook was found harvesting data of young users through its ad delivery system, according to a report published by advocacy groups Fairplay, Global Action Plan and Reset Australia. The research suggests that Facebook is maintaining the ability to track younger users so that it can maximize engagement and increase advertising revenue. Continue reading Facebook Is Criticized for Continuing to Collect Data of Teens

Nvidia Brings Power Gaming to the Cloud with GeForce NOW

GeForce NOWs six-month $100 tier that let’s players game using the equivalent of an RTX 3080 rig has officially been proclaimed “a big deal” by tech media, due to the fact that the top-rated $700 graphics card is virtually unavailable for legions of would-be purchasers (described as camping out at stores and resorting to truck heists to obtain them). After Google’s Stadia service was shuttered in February, some questioned whether cloud gaming had a viable future. First movers in the game space seem to feel GeForce NOW has provided a quality option. Continue reading Nvidia Brings Power Gaming to the Cloud with GeForce NOW

AI Firm Cerebras Systems Raises $250 Million in New Funding

Cerebras Systems has raised $250 million in a series F funding round, bringing the Sunnyvale, California-based firm’s value to more than $4 billion, according to the company. Cerebras makes what is described as the world’s fastest chip, the Wafer Scale Engine 2 (WSE-2). Investment from Alpha Wave Ventures and Abu Dhabi Growth Fund will allow Cerebras to make the CS-2 AI accelerator compute system designed around the turbo-charged WSE-2 chips available to new customers globally in what co-founder and CEO Andrew Feldman describes as the “democratization of AI.” Continue reading AI Firm Cerebras Systems Raises $250 Million in New Funding

Premium Twitter Blue Now Available in U.S. and New Zealand

The premium service Twitter Blue is opening to users in the U.S. and New Zealand, after having launched this summer in Australia and Canada. The Blue program is available for $2.99 per month on iOS, Android and the web. Blue subscribers gain a range of features, including the ability to undo tweets within 30 seconds of posting, categorizing saved tweets into topical bookmark folders, using a reader mode for turning threads into easy-reading text, and adding a custom range of app icons. Additional features available only to iOS users include mobile color themes, a customizable navigation bar, and the ability to pin conversations. Continue reading Premium Twitter Blue Now Available in U.S. and New Zealand

Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity has agreed to acquire the technology division of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for a price reported at $1.625 billion. The San Francisco-based creator of the popular 3D game platform says the Academy Award-winning VFX firm will “continue as a standalone entity” renamed WetaFX, which Unity predicts will become its largest customer in the media and entertainment space, delivering tools Unity says will “unlock the full potential of the metaverse.” Weta and Unity have already been deeply involved over the years, collaborating on a host of tools used for films, games and immersive experiences. Continue reading Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Global Chip Shortage Reshuffles Industry’s Balance of Power

The global shortage of computer chips has been widely documented, impeding sales of everything from cars to appliances, game consoles and medical devices, among other things. As a result, Taiwan’s giant TSMC has seen its revenue and influence increase, but scarcity has also bolstered the clout of less famous manufacturers, including Infineon, Microchip Technology, NXP, Onsemi, Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics, which supply a variety of chips for thousands of customers. Companies are using their newfound leverage to gain favorable terms, like long-term commitments or upfront payment as a means of helping to increase production. Continue reading Global Chip Shortage Reshuffles Industry’s Balance of Power

Niantic Releases Lightship Tools for a ‘Real-World’ Metaverse

Niantic, the San Francisco tech firm best known for publishing the wildly successful mobile AR app “Pokémon Go,” is opening a version of its platform to the world with the release of the Lightship augmented reality developer kit, designed to enable AR experiences for “the real-world metaverse.” Niantic CEO John Hanke, who led Google’s geospatial division through the transformation of Google Maps and Google Earth, says Lightship will incorporate a “visual positioning system” that interoperates with glasses to place objects in the real world. In March, Hanke teased an image of Niantic-branded glasses created by Qualcomm. Continue reading Niantic Releases Lightship Tools for a ‘Real-World’ Metaverse

Facebook Groups Launches New Tools to Empower Creators

Meta is offering new tools for Facebook Groups to help admins further develop and engage the communities they manage. New features introduced at last week’s Facebook Communities Summit include subgroups, fee-based subscription groups, real-time chat for moderators, personalization tools and community fundraiser enhancements. Group admins will be able to customize the look and feel of groups, including greetings, colors, fonts and backgrounds, as well as the emoji available for content reactions. Facebook said the changes combine “the best of Pages and Groups into one place,” while making it easier, safer and more fun to collaborate. Continue reading Facebook Groups Launches New Tools to Empower Creators

Corporate Migration to Metaverse Not Waiting for Zuckerberg

The metaverse, a virtual world where people embody avatars and live their lives online, was largely the purview of gamers and sci-fi movie fans until Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it part of the everyday lexicon, prompting a media assessment of how the metaverse is accessible now. Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a new Mesh app for augmented reality and virtual reality experiences using various goggles, including its own HoloLens. E-commerce platform Shopify has launched a browser-based game, “Shopify Party,” that lets employees appear as avatars for team events. Other companies are also considering a future in the metaverse. Continue reading Corporate Migration to Metaverse Not Waiting for Zuckerberg

Google Looks to Improve Security with 2SV Auto-Enrollment

Google says that by the end of 2021 it will automatically enroll about 150 million Google users and 2 million YouTubers in the company’s two-step verification program. Users will be required to not only enter a log-in password, but also to enter a code sent via text or app or security key. Google declined to say how many of its users had voluntarily enabled the extra security step prior to Alphabet’s new mandate. The move comes as a result of what many describe as consumer apathy in the face of heightened digital dangers. Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all urged users to adopt two-step verification with lackluster results. Continue reading Google Looks to Improve Security with 2SV Auto-Enrollment

Global Chip Shortage Is Causing More Delays, Sales Slumps

The global computer chip shortage is worsening and expected to extend through next year, with longer delays for receipt of orders, rumors of hoarding and companies like Amazon and General Motors reporting lower than expected sales as a result of products or parts being unavailable. Apple warns that supply-chain disruptions negatively impacting manufacturing of iPhones and other products could affect the holiday shopping season. With semiconductors integral to making everything from televisions to washing machines, production shortages are creating myriad problems for factories already running at full capacity. Continue reading Global Chip Shortage Is Causing More Delays, Sales Slumps

Amazon Ships Its First Fire TV-Branded 4K Smart TV Models

The first Amazon-branded televisions are now available. The Amazon Fire TV 4-Series models start at $370, while the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series — which come Alexa-enabled for voice control — start at $410 for a device marketed as an all-in-one entertainment solution for streaming, subscription TV, gaming, music and more. Amazon’s branded TV launch comes as Comcast throws its hat in the ring with its XClass sets built by Hisense. They join an already vibrant field, with players including Apple, Google, Roku, TCL, Samsung, LG and Vizio competing for market share. Continue reading Amazon Ships Its First Fire TV-Branded 4K Smart TV Models

Amazon Establishes Quantum Computing Facility at Caltech

Amazon has officially opened the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, a two-story building on the northeast corner of the Caltech campus in Pasadena that both the technology company and the university hope will transform the future of computing. Amazon announced in 2019 it was building the center to “bring together the world’s leading quantum computing researchers and engineers in order to accelerate development of quantum computing hardware and software.” The AWS CQC will be run by Oskar Painter and Fernando Brandao, physics professors on leave from Caltech to help Amazon establish the new facility. Continue reading Amazon Establishes Quantum Computing Facility at Caltech

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

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