Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

Facebook is adding its name to Instagram and WhatsApp as part of a decision to unify its apps by branding them with the parent company’s name. The Facebook moniker will be visible on marketing and within the apps. Some Facebook employees purportedly oppose the move. The rebranding will bring the two popular apps in line with the naming conventions of Oculus, Portal and Workplace. The move to rebrand the two apps was first discovered in March, but at the time Facebook said it was just “testing the change” on a handful of users. Continue reading Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

Companies Support the Khronos Group’s OpenXR Standard

After launching an experimental version of the OpenXR specification several months ago, the Khronos Group consortium debuted the official version of the standard aimed at enabling cross-platform AR and VR applications. The Group said it will continue to improve the spec and maintain “full backwards compatibility.” Microsoft quickly embraced OpenXR, releasing it in its store before the official version was introduced. Any user of Windows Mixed Reality or HoloLens can install it to run any OpenXR-based app. Continue reading Companies Support the Khronos Group’s OpenXR Standard

Facebook-Funded Brain-Interface Study Publishes Results

Facebook has invested in university research with the goal of creating a device that can analyze brain signals. Two years ago, the company stated it wanted to develop a headband that would translate a person’s thought into typing, at a speed of 100 words per minute. Funded by Facebook, a University of California, San Francisco paper describes research, led by neuroscientist Edward Chang, into “speech decoders.” The research could demonstrate the feasibility of a wearable brain-analysis device. Continue reading Facebook-Funded Brain-Interface Study Publishes Results

Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent to $53.81 billion despite a 12 percent decline in iPhone sales, for the quarter ending June 29. Profit also slumped for the third straight quarter — 13 percent to $10.04 billion. At the same time, per-share earnings of $2.18 surpassed analyst predictions. Apple was able to achieve positive revenue despite lagging iPhone sales by growth in iPad and Mac sales as well as App Store sales, mobile payments and device insurance, which rose 13 percent to $11.46 billion. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Tech Companies Join Forces to Ask FCC For Faster Wi-Fi

Apple, Broadcom, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Marvell, Microsoft and Qualcomm are all petitioning the FCC to approve a Very Low Power (VLP) category of Wi-Fi, which would allow them to take advantage of the FCC’s recent opening up of the 6GHz band for unlicensed activity. VLP would enable short-range, point-to-point connections between two devices that travel below a specific power threshold (14 dBm EIRP); they say they can deliver 2Gbps at a distance of three meters — and that VLP is necessary for the proliferation of 5G. Continue reading Tech Companies Join Forces to Ask FCC For Faster Wi-Fi

Facebook Agrees to Record FTC Fine, Extensive Oversight

In addition to fining Facebook $5 billion for violating a 2011 privacy settlement, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Facebook to create an independent privacy committee on its board and appoint compliance officers and an outside assessor to oversee how data is handled. Further, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives must submit to regular privacy audits. The FTC commissioners approved the measures in a 3-2 vote; the fine is the largest ever levied by the federal government against a tech company. Continue reading Facebook Agrees to Record FTC Fine, Extensive Oversight

SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Facebook $100 million to settle a case related to Cambridge Analytica, which in 2014-2015 collected Facebook data — including names, genders, locations, birthdays and “page likes” — of about 30 million Americans to create “personality scores” and ultimately use it for Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign. When Facebook discovered this misuse of data in 2015, it didn’t reveal what had happened for two years, during which time it presented the issue of data misuse as hypothetical. Continue reading SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

Twitter LiveCut Helps Publishers Create, Share Video Clips

In its push for more video content, Twitter is launching a new tool named LiveCut to replace its SnappyTV third-party live video-editing tool. LiveCut, two years in development and now integrated within content management platform Twitter Media Studio, is designed to help marketers and brands easily create video clips of live broadcasts, distribute them via Twitter, and monetize them through Twitter Amplify, the platform’s video ad product. SnappyTV, which Twitter acquired in 2014, will shut down December 31. Continue reading Twitter LiveCut Helps Publishers Create, Share Video Clips

Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

Much of the focus has been on Amazon, Facebook and Google in recent weeks, obscuring the fact that Microsoft is in fact the largest tech company and the largest publicly traded company, with a market capitalization if $1+ trillion. Its quiet success continued with the company’s latest quarterly report indicating sales grew 12 percent to $33.7 billion. The company also enjoyed $13.2 billion in profits in the same quarter, in part due to $2.6 billion in one-time tax benefits and inked its “largest commercial deal ever” with AT&T. Continue reading Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

For the second time in 18 months, the European Union levied a fine on Qualcomm, this time for €242 million ($272 million). European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager stated that Qualcomm drove a competing supplier of baseband chips out of business, an antitrust violation. The EU started its formal investigation into Qualcomm in 2015, when U.K. chip manufacturer Icera accused it of “predatory pricing” between 2009 and 2011, to drive it out of business. Nvidia subsequently purchased Icera. Continue reading European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk and his startup Neuralink’s scientists showed off a new brain-computer interface they say will advance therapeutic devices treating various neurological conditions with a new level of precision. The technology, in development for two years, will soon be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on human subjects. The company thus far has received $158 million in funding and has about 100 employees. Musk stated that one goal of the announcement is to recruit more talent. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

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