AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

After acquiring DirecTV six years ago, AT&T has spun it off and, along with AT&T TV and U-verse, formed a new company it will co-manage with TPG Capital. AT&T received $7.1 billion in cash and a 70 percent interest in the new company, and TPG contributed $1.8 billion and owns the remaining 30 percent. In 2015, AT&T had paid $49 billion to acquire DirecTV, absorbing another $18 billion in debt, becoming the largest U.S. pay-TV provider with 26 million customers. It then lost almost 40 percent of its TV subscriber base. Continue reading AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google is adding new features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service, to personalize 90-minute news feeds from each user’s preferred sources. The goal is to create a seamless listening experience akin to a customized song playlist. Each news playlist, similar to those on public radio, will begin with short clips about the major headlines moving into longer stories. The end product, available only in the U.S., will compile radio, podcast clips and text-to-speech translations tailored to the individual user. Continue reading Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Facebook’s AI Technique Deletes 32 Billion Fake Accounts

Facebook has been under fire for abuse on its platform, although chief executive Mark Zuckerberg often said that its AI tools have been successful at diminishing such problems. It turns out that he’s right: Facebook’s recent Community Standards Enforcement Report revealed that it removed 32+ billion fake accounts between April and September, compared to “just over 1.5 billion” during the same period last year. Largely responsible for the improvement is deep entity classification (DEC), a machine learning framework. Continue reading Facebook’s AI Technique Deletes 32 Billion Fake Accounts

Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

In an effort to make its Tomatometer ranking of movies and TV shows even stronger, popular review aggregation service Rotten Tomatoes made a move this week to add more female and minority reviewers. By revising its criteria for new critics, the service aims to include a wider range of voices, including those from the increasing number of reviewers gaining audiences via podcasts and YouTube. In order to be more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has adjusted its requirements that have thus far been based largely on employment duration and scale of publishing. As a result of the changes, 200 new critics were added to the site yesterday. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Local news is already in sad shape, and Facebook and Google now aim to cover it rather than national news. But two editors of digital outlets are proposing a different model for invigorating local news, especially in urban areas that where the local press has been destroyed by digital technology. In this model, very good journalists would cover the news that no one else is covering — and ignore everything else that isn’t local news, including the Super Bowl, movie reviews and the stock market report. Continue reading Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Google to Launch Health Data Aggregation Service Google Fit

Google Fit, a health data aggregation service, is expected to launch at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco next week. The service will compete with Apple’s new HealthKit app framework, which launched last week. It will also compete with Samsung’s Sami, a similar biometric data platform. Google Fit aims to store data from wearable activity tracking devices — including Fitbit, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand — along with the related smartphone apps.

Continue reading Google to Launch Health Data Aggregation Service Google Fit

Sprint Delivers Increased Speed with New 4G LTE Networks

Sprint is bulking up with an enhanced LTE, promising “unprecedented speeds” for its mobile subscribers. The company announced the new 4G service Spark this week, as well as two new LTE networks, which offer a vast improvement upon current speeds. In a lab test, Sprint showed off an LTE link with 1Gbps, promising speeds would continue to go up. With multiple antennas and carrier aggregation, it’s using a full spectrum of frequencies that average 50 to 60Mbps. Continue reading Sprint Delivers Increased Speed with New 4G LTE Networks