Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple researchers investigated what people really want in a digital assistant, finding that people deem an assistant “likeable” and “trustworthy” when it mirrored their own degree of chattiness. It also found that the features that make up mirroring can be extracted from the user’s speech patterns. Amazon researchers conducted a project that found Alexa can figure out what a user wants via so-called dialogue state tracking, in which it estimates and keeps tabs on a person’s goals throughout a conversation. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Apple and Microsoft signed on as premier members of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), founded in 2018 to promote the use of open source software in the movie industry. By joining ASWF, Apple and Microsoft pushed annual funding for the organization over $1 million. Microsoft also joined ASWF’s governing board and technical advisory council. ASWF is a joint project of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation. ASWF executive director David Morin welcomed both companies into the fold. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

Apple signaled its steps toward augmented reality with a feature found in both iOS 13 and Xcode 11. Developers Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo discovered StarBoard, a stereo AR feature that appears to be similar to iOS’s CarPlay feature, which relies on an iPhone to generate graphics for a vehicle’s external touchscreen. But whereas CarPlay outputs a single image for a 2D display, StarBoard can apparently output two images for a 3D stereo headset, paired with a touch-based AR navigation controller. Continue reading Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple’s video game subscription service Arcade, due to unveil September 19, is based on an established model for casual mobile games — with a twist. Ordinarily, the games are free to download and play, but the companies make money with ads and sales of in-game purchases. Apple is charging $5 per month for those free games, but shedding the ads and digital add-ons. The question is if Apple can change an industry’s typical business model. Microsoft and Google have tried the subscription model, but for higher end games. Continue reading Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

At the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino on Tuesday, Apple unveiled three new iPhones and announced the $4.99 monthly fee for its TV+ streaming video offering (to launch November 1) and Arcade video-game service (coming September 19). The iPhone 11 models — starting at prices ranging $699-$1,099 — tout updates such as new colors, improved battery life, more camera lenses, Night Mode for low-light photography, and the option to record video by simply holding down the camera button. The tech giant also unveiled an upgraded 10.2-inch iPad with A10 processor in addition to a new Series 5 Apple Watch featuring more power (starting at $399), while reducing the price of its Series 3 model about 30 percent to a low $199. Continue reading Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Facebook is trying to make good on two key promises: to protect users’ privacy and to allow them to move their data elsewhere. But the two goals may not be compatible, and Facebook is looking outside the company to get ideas on how to deliver both. The European Union and California passed laws that require Facebook to make users’ social media profiles easy to move to a competing platform. At the same time, Facebook agreed to enforce data protections as part of a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Study Suggests Early Interest in Disney Streaming Service

According to a new study by UBS, more U.S. consumers plan to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service than the company earlier projected. The study found that 43 percent of respondents plan to subscribe to the service, which is rolling out November 12. Of the 43 percent, UBS learned that 57 percent plan to cancel at least one other subscription service after they sign up for the new Disney offering (37 percent said they would likely cut pay TV; only 19 percent referenced dropping networks such as HBO or Showtime). Meanwhile, Disney revealed that consumers who sign up for the D23 Official Disney Fan Club and are willing to commit to a three-year Disney+ subscription, will be offered a significant discount. Continue reading Study Suggests Early Interest in Disney Streaming Service

GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries requested the U.S. International Trade Commission impose an import ban on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), part of a multi-front attack. An import ban would impact iPhones, Lenovo laptops and other electronic devices. The company has also filed 25 complaints in courts in the U.S. and Germany, alleging that TSMC violated 12+ patents for chips and chipmaking methods. Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Broadcom, Xilinx, Lenovo and Motorola are also named in the suit. Continue reading GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Twitter has purchased Lightwell, an app creation engine originally debuted two years ago by Hullabalu, an interactive storytelling startup. In its Twitter account, Lightwell said its work would focus on conversations and that its toolset, which has required a subscription, will be available for free this week as part of the purchase. Without the need to create an account, Lightwell users will be able to “layout, prototype, and export to iOS.” Lightwell also announced that it would no longer support or add new features to the toolset. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Continue reading Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Amazon first indicated its ambition to put Alexa into cars several years ago, and in 2018 introduced Echo Auto, designed to be integrated into vehicle entertainment systems. Since then, Audi and BMW began selling some models that incorporate the company’s digital assistant. But Amazon faces stiff competition from Apple and Google, which have already made inroads, and some vehicle manufacturers are loath to adopt third-party technology. Although Amazon won’t generate much revenue initially in the auto market, the company believes that opportunities will grow much larger in the future. Continue reading Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

YouTube has agreed to stop targeted ads that appear during videos that children are likely to watch, said sources. The Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating whether YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), reached an agreement with the company but hasn’t made its terms public yet. It isn’t clear whether YouTube’s move to end targeted ads in children’s videos is in response to the settlement. The move is expected to impact ad sales, and sources said YouTube’s plans could change. Continue reading YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

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