Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Amazon stated that it would allow third-party developers to create widgets for its Alexa devices, or what it said will be “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.” It won’t be an advertising service, according to Amazon Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, but users will see personalized results based on the signals they send Alexa. Comedy Central will be one of the first featured skill cards. Amazon also announced that most Echo smart speakers will support the Matter open standard for smart home devices. Continue reading Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Amazon rival Shopify, which hosts online stores, announced it would no longer take a cut of the first $1 million that a developer makes on its app store. This follows similar moves by Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft that reduce app store fees for some developers, as the Big Tech companies are scrutinized by regulators and lawmakers over potential anticompetitive behavior. From August 1, developers on Shopify will keep 100 percent of their revenue from their first $1 million; the company said the benchmark will “reset” each year. Continue reading Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

In a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court took Google’s side in a copyright battle with Oracle over the former’s use of Java APIs in its Android operating system. Oracle, which had purchased Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems, sought billions of dollars in damages for what it claimed was copyright infringement. Google argued that free access to the Java software interfaces was important to innovation. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that Google made “fair use” of the Java code. Continue reading Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Deepfakes, in which a person in a video is swapped for another person via AI-enabled tools, are on the rise. Deeptrace reported that, between October 2019 and June 2020, the number of deepfakes on the Internet jumped 330 percent, reaching 50,000 at the peak. Deepfakes have been used to place celebrities in embarrassing and inappropriate content, defraud a major energy producer and many other disruptive or criminal uses. Tools to create deepfakes are readily available, and a recent study said deepfakes can reliably fool commercial facial recognition services. Continue reading Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook for anticompetitive practices. But it is also looking at how Facebook leveraged user data to both lure and control third party developers, relying heavily on data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs). MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy director Sinan Aral noted that the upcoming cases could set a precedent for any platform that shares data via an API and has conditions on that data sharing.

Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

Last month Nvidia launched Maxine, a software development kit containing technology the company claims will cut the bandwidth requirements of video-conferencing software by a factor of ten. A neural network creates a compressed version of a person’s face which, when sent across the network, is decompressed by a second neural network. The software can also make helpful corrections to the image, such as rotating a face to look straight forward or replacing it with a digital avatar. Nvidia is now waiting for software developers to productize the technology. Continue reading Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

REMINDER: Virtual Production Webinar Slated for This Week

The next ETC Digital Town Square — Breaking Down “Ripple Effect”: A Case Study on COVID-19 Safety Protocols, Advanced Workflows and Virtual Production — will be hosted by Equinix and the Entertainment Technology Center@USC on November 19, 1:00-3:30 pm PST. Free and open to the public, the webinar will dive into “Ripple Effect,” a recent live-action short produced by ETC that leveraged Safetyviz as well as remote and virtual production to improve safety in the return to media production. Register today for your virtual front row seat to this important webinar. Continue reading REMINDER: Virtual Production Webinar Slated for This Week

Ripple Effect: Webinar Covers Virtual Production Case Study

The next ETC Digital Town Square — Breaking Down “Ripple Effect”: A Case Study on COVID-19 Safety Protocols, Advanced Workflows and Virtual Production — will be hosted by Equinix and the Entertainment Technology Center@USC on November 19, 1:00-3:30 pm PST. Free and open to the public, the webinar will dive into “Ripple Effect,” a recent live-action short produced by ETC that leveraged Safetyviz as well as remote and virtual production to improve safety in the return to media production. Register today for your virtual front row seat to this important webinar. Continue reading Ripple Effect: Webinar Covers Virtual Production Case Study

Supreme Court Weighs Future of Software in Copyright Case

The Supreme Court just heard a multi-billion-dollar case regarding Google and Oracle’s long-running battle over smartphone software that some have called “the copyright case of the decade.” Google v. Oracle America, Case No. 18-956, is scrutinizing Google’s reliance on 11,000 lines of Java code in its Android operating system. Oracle acquired Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems and accuses Google’s use without permission as tantamount to copyright infringement. Google argues it is “fair use.” Continue reading Supreme Court Weighs Future of Software in Copyright Case

Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Instagram users have embedded images in their posts, believing that they were protected against copyright claims. Facebook now explains that, “while our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API.” In other words, a user who embeds someone’s Instagram post on her website has to ask the poster in advance for a separate license to the post’s images. Those who don’t could be subject to a lawsuit. Professional photographers will be able to better negotiate with publishers based on these terms. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft is debuting DirectX 12 Ultimate, giving developers access to the hardware features on the Xbox Series X and PC. As its next-gen DirectX gaming APIs for Xbox and Windows, DirectX 12 Ultimate enables several methods for improving performance and visuals and brings together Microsoft’s latest development and hardware features while retaining backward compatibility with older consoles and GPUs. Among the improvements are new capabilities for ray tracing, variable rate shading and sampler feedback. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Rancho Mirage, California, Thompson Coburn partner Jim Burger presented his annual update on activities in Washington D.C. relevant to the media and entertainment business. Among the numerous copyright issues that Burger examined was the long-running case of Oracle America v. Google, which is centered on whether or not Oracle’s Java APIs are copyrightable. Google used early versions of the APIs to create its Android operating system. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

Facebook is dealing with yet another privacy situation. Since April of last year, the company has been reviewing how individuals use the network to share data with third parties. In the process, Facebook opted to remove or restrict some of its developer APIs, including the Groups API. These changes were intended to improve the interface between Facebook and any apps used to integrate with groups. However, the ongoing review discovered that about 100 third-party app developers had access to the personal data of members of several groups, and “at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days,” according to Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, head of platform partnerships for Facebook. Continue reading Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

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