Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

At this week’s WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple introduced an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking the user’s location, in an attempt to gain the high ground among big tech companies targeted by regulators for privacy issues. Apple also differentiated itself from Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on tracking users’ behavior and activity. The company’s next mobile operating system, iOS 13, slated to debut this fall, will allow users to log into apps without giving up any personal information and generate “automated and random” email addresses. Continue reading Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced yesterday that it plans a change to its advertising strategy that involves more sponsored ads from social influencers. Instagram will offer brands the ability to promote creators’ branded content in users’ feeds, regardless of whether or not those users follow the influencers creating the content. The move could be lucrative for popular influencers who generate revenue promoting products and services, but may prove frustrating to average users who will subsequently see more unwanted ads in their feeds. Continue reading Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Determining the impact of screen time isn’t easy. It’s almost impossible to put together a “control group” of people living non-digital lives, and there are no baselines for such factors as “average daily Facebook usage.” Stanford University professor of communication Byron Reeves, in a paper in Human-Computer Interaction, suggested a new approach that eschews the term “screen time” as hopelessly ambiguous. Instead, he argued, scientists should analyze what people are watching — but this data doesn’t exist. Continue reading Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

The British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), which analyzes signals and cracks codes, has proposed eavesdropping on encrypted chat services. The backlash has been strong, with 50+ companies, security experts and civil rights organizations calling it a “serious threat” to human rights and digital security. Apple, Google, Microsoft, WhatsApp and Privacy International are among those encouraging GCHQ to drop the “ghost protocol” proposal first put forward in November 2018. Continue reading U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

Google has doubled-down on a change made in January to Manifest V3, Chrome’s extensions system, that would prevent the effective functioning of current ad blockers. Despite backlash to the change by extension developers and power users, the company said that only enterprise users will be able to continue to use such ad blocking software. Manifest V3 includes other changes, such as a tweaking of the permissions system. Now, all extensions must use the “minimum set of permissions necessary” when requesting access to data. Continue reading In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

The California Assembly introduced a law that would require Amazon Flex, Postmates, Uber and other similar companies to treat their gig economy contractors as employees, with the wages and benefits of that classification. The bill, which was approved 53 to 11, comes only a few weeks after Uber’s IPO was met with a brief strike by ride-hail drivers around the world protesting their low pay and contractor status. The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled state senate where it is likely to be signed into law. Continue reading California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

Apple is hoping that its new App Store website will help curb accusations regarding antitrust and anti-competition practices. Ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, the company launched a new App Store site with details about how apps are carefully reviewed and curated, and the different business models that are available to app developers. “We created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers,” the company detailed on the site. Continue reading Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

NBC News is introducing its free, ad-supported streaming video service with an eight-hour programming day (3:00-11:00 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday) and a mix of news content. “NBC News Now” hopes to attract a new generation of information aficionados with a blend of short-form “Briefly” updates, live reports and in-depth stories. “We want to be the premiere place for viewers who are news junkies — news savvy, digitally savvy, but may not be watching on traditional platforms or have access to cable service,” explained Rashida Jones, SVP of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, who is overseeing the initiative. Continue reading NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

Google Uses AI Classifier to Sanitize YouTube Home Page

Google is using artificial intelligence software to remove misleading and objectionable videos from YouTube’s homepage and the app’s home screen. The software reportedly is able to analyze massive amounts of video footage, pick out the offending clips and blocks them — all without human assistance. Sources state the software, whose internal name is “trashy video classifier,” was first tested in 2015 but was widely deployed in 2017 after a series of inappropriate videos aimed at children were posted to the popular video-sharing platform. Continue reading Google Uses AI Classifier to Sanitize YouTube Home Page

Amazon Testing Wearable That Recognizes Your Emotions

Amazon is working on a new wearable, codenamed Dylan, that reportedly can discern human emotions. The voice-activated gadget, developed by Amazon in collaboration with Lab126 and the Alexa voice software team, is worn on the wrist and is meant to address health and wellness. Lab126 previously worked with Amazon to build its Fire phone and Echo speaker. According to sources, the wearable includes microphones that pair with software and work with a smartphone app to glean the user’s emotional state via the sound of his/her voice. Continue reading Amazon Testing Wearable That Recognizes Your Emotions

New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

Meta View, a new spatial computing company backed by Olive Tree Ventures and BNSG Capital, has acquired the IP assets of Meta Company, a pioneer in AR head-mounted displays that shut down earlier this year. Meta Company previously generated a lot of buzz regarding its Meta 2 headset and wide field-of-view display system. To run the new San Mateo, California-based company, Meta View has hired former Qualcomm VP Jay Wright as CEO. Wright co-founded Vuforia, where he served as president and GM cultivating the popular AR platform. Continue reading New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

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