‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

As use of Zoom Video Communications’ conferencing services have soared, the company’s chief executive Eric Yuan has had issues scaling up the popular app. The nine-year-old tool, once a favorite in the business world, is now ubiquitous among a wide swathe of consumers, educators and others. Issues with privacy and hacking have arisen, and Yuan admitted he “messed up” on security, especially with the claim — proven false — that Zoom offered end-to-end encryption. Yuan said the full encryption feature will be available in a few months. Meanwhile, some users are switching to other platforms. Continue reading ‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

On April 23, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on allowing Wi-Fi devices to access 6 GHz spectrum to ramp up its speed, an effort largely opposed by broadcasters and utilities. With the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans are at home using devices that have slowed down Wi-Fi. If the FCC does approve the plan, consumers could enjoy much faster Wi-Fi as soon as late 2020. FCC chair Ajit Pai noted that an approval “would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five.” Continue reading FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

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 Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft rolled out its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, to be available April 21. The plans, which will replace and enhance current Office 365 plans, are priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) plans and $9.99 per month for Family (up to six people) plans. Both of the new plans include Office and access to a Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers, both of which will debut later this year. Other new features will continue to be unveiled over time. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

With the advent of the coronavirus, companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google quickly responded, featuring links to “high-quality information” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Big Tech has now donated thousands of N95 masks to healthcare providers and continues to highlight accurate news. Facebook committed $100 million in small business grants and Amazon put out the call for 100,000 new employees. Overall, Big Tech isn’t just doing good but doing well, with business holding steady. Continue reading Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

With the coronavirus in full force, Apple is one of many companies finding it challenging to predict consumer demand, even as it readies the release of its low-price iPhone model and 5G-enabled iPhones. Apple closed factories in China and its Silicon Valley headquarters as well as stores in Europe, impacting iPhone sales, which peaked in 2015. The new model was scheduled to debut this month but might be delayed; 5G phones are expected to unveil in September. Meanwhile, Huawei is also testing the demand for new flagship phones. Continue reading Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Apple has always had strict limits on apps that users can access on its devices. For gaming, that means its 1+ billion iPhone/iPad users have one option: Arcade, the subscription service Apple unveiled in September. The App Store guidelines also ban streaming from the cloud, which limits Arcade’s capabilities. Still, software developers need to be on Apple’s iOS if they want to reach a maximum number of users. According to Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store was responsible for 65 percent of all global app spending last year. Continue reading Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Starting three years ago, Stanford University researchers began the Human Screenome Project to create a digital map with detailed information about how people use their phones. Stanford School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Thomas Robinson, one of the lead researchers on the project, is focused on the portion of the project on adolescents. Although the iPhone first debuted over ten years ago, said the researchers, we have very little information about how such screens impact this cohort’s well-being. Continue reading Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the purchase of hundreds of small startups made by Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft to determine if they have become too powerful. In 2019, a record-breaking 231 artificial intelligence startups were snapped up, which in many cases ended public availability of their products. According to CB Insights, that number compares to 42 AI startups acquired in 2014. Apple has been the No. 1 buyer of these startups since 2010. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

The French Competition Authority fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) after determining that the company unfairly divided products and customers between two wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, and forced them to charge the same prices as those offered in its own retail stores. The Authority president Isabelle de Silva stated that doing so had the effect of “sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products.” Tech Data and Ingram Micro were fined 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros, respectively. Continue reading French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers

As the coronavirus fuels a rise in online sales, Amazon plans to hire 100,000 more workers and raise pay for all employees in the U.S. and Canada by $2 an hour. The company’s starting wage is currently $15 per hour in its U.S. fulfillment centers. In the U.K., wages will rise £2 ($2.45) per hour and approximately €2 ($2.24) an hour in many European Union countries. At end of 2019, Amazon employed almost 800,000 full-time and part-time workers. Other companies are also seeing increased online sales as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers

Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, Apple closed its retail stores outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The move will shutter 450 stores in 21 countries until March 27. Apple chief executive Tim Cook noted that, “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” Employees of the stores will continue to be paid. The company is also paying special attention to apps related to the coronavirus, to weed out misinformation and inappropriate content. Continue reading Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Magic Leap is exploring the possibility of a sale, according to sources. The Florida-based startup raised $2.6 billion to create augmented reality products, and now has hired an adviser to consider “strategic options” for moving forward. In addition to the potential of a sale, Magic Leap could sell a stake in the company or form a strategic partnership. The company is valued at $6 billion to $8 billion. Among the company’s largest investors are Alphabet’s Google and China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Continue reading Magic Leap Is Considering a Sale, Stakeholder or Partnership

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

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