Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Google Takes a Major Step in TV Ad Delivery With CBS Deal

In pursuit of a piece of the $72 billion U.S. TV advertising market, Google has its first big win in getting TV and video companies to embrace its video ad tech software. The company inked a partnership with CBS to provide the technology to deliver ads for its latest original “Star Trek: Discovery” series, the main attraction for CBS All Access, its new streaming subscription service. The new deal is a hoped-for win-win for both Google and CBS, and a challenge to other ad tech systems. Google also debuted an ad buying software tool last spring. Continue reading Google Takes a Major Step in TV Ad Delivery With CBS Deal

DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses

Cloud computing startup DigitalOcean, based in New York City, is taking on industry leaders Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud by targeting smaller developers and startups. According to CEO and co-founder Ben Uretsky, DigitalOcean is offering simple and flexible solutions for smaller companies that may not necessarily need the same business-class services as larger companies. While it is not currently planning an IPO, DigitalOcean indicates it is on a $175 million annualized run rate (ARR) for this year. Continue reading DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses

Amazon’s Alexa Now Recognizes Up to Ten Different Voices

Amazon stated that an Alexa-enabled device can create a Voice Profile by the user reciting ten phrases to the Alexa app, which allows it to then recognize that individual’s voice. The AI-powered assistant will then deliver results based on the user’s profile or previously enacted preferences. This capability will first be available for shopping on Amazon, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, news briefings, calls and messages (not including SMS messages). More features will be unveiled in the future. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Now Recognizes Up to Ten Different Voices

Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Alphabet’s Waymo, once a Google unit, has begun a campaign assisted by Intel to educate the public, even as it prepares to debut its first commercial ride-hailing service with Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Dubbed “Let’s Talk Self-Driving,” the campaign includes safety and disability advocacy groups, promotes its self-driving car pilot program in Arizona and seeks to educate the public about the technology behind autonomous vehicles. Intel will run an ad with LeBron James about self-driving cars. Continue reading Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Google is developing new tools for publishers and will end the “first click free” policy to help them boost subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Financial Times keep their online articles behind a paywall, but savvy readers get around that by googling a headline or search terms, and then clicking for free access. Google’s new program, “flexible sampling,” allows publishers to determine how many free clicks they want to provide. The “first click free” policy required them to provide three free articles per day. Continue reading Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

SoftBank Group wants to buy 17 percent to 22 percent of Uber Technologies, via a combination of share purchases from the company and a tender offer to employees and investors. The deal would only work if SoftBank can convince Uber’s shareholders to sell their stock at a discount. According to sources, the bank’s investment could total as much as $10 billion, which would make it the largest-ever single investment in a private venture-backed startup. SoftBank also wants two board seats, adding to Uber’s nine current directors. Continue reading SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

For years, Google has encouraged publishers to partake in its “first click free” policy, which allows its search engine users to circumvent news website paywalls for a limited amount of content. Publishers have complained that the policy hurts subscription growth, but that if they don’t participate, Google will list their sites further down in search rankings. Now, in response to long-standing publisher opposition, Google is ending that policy, letting publishers determine how users access their sites from search results. Continue reading Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

Adobe Debuts AI-Powered Service to Monetize Vehicle Data

Adobe Systems debuted services utilizing Sensei, its AI feature, to provide analytics, marketing and aid in automating audio ads from cars connected to the Internet. The data thus far is provided via in-car voice assistants and infotainment apps, but will ultimately include entirely autonomous vehicles. The new service puts Adobe at the head of the pack in offering this kind of data analysis; the company is relying on its experience providing similar digital marketing assistance for computers and smartphones. Continue reading Adobe Debuts AI-Powered Service to Monetize Vehicle Data

OpenSlate Helps Firms Run Ads With Safe YouTube Videos

Numerous brands suspended ad spending on YouTube after they discovered some of their ads were appearing alongside videos featuring objectionable content. Video analytics firm OpenSlate is now offering an auditing service to address the issue. Ad companies such as Horizon Media, Magna Global, Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Media are using the service, hoping “to reassure marketers that their ads on YouTube are appearing alongside content that’s safe for their brands,” reports The Wall Street Journal. OpenSlate also provides “a deep analysis to ensure clients are getting what they pay for when they buy ads on YouTube, such as reaching the right target audience.” Continue reading OpenSlate Helps Firms Run Ads With Safe YouTube Videos

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Continue reading Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Despite earlier concerns over censorship and a cyberattack traced to Chinese hackers — and the fact that its search engine can only be accessed in the region by using VPNs (due to the government’s filtering system) — Google is reportedly ramping up its presence in China. Its careers web page lists nearly 60 open positions in Beijing and Shanghai. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four of the engineering positions involve artificial intelligence, “including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.” Continue reading Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

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