Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the first U.S. companies to send their employees home as the coronavirus spread. Now, as they reopen their campuses, they are also allowing some of employees to continue to work from home. If that policy becomes widespread, it will be a major change from the college-like corporate campuses the companies built to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions. Working from home will be its own perk and allow companies to broaden their search for workers. Continue reading Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Continue reading Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Continue reading Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

Marc Andreessen and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists are behind Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app that allows them to meet virtually. Still in beta, the invite-only app counts celebrity MC Hammer and activist DeRay Mckesson among its first members. According to sources, Andreessen Horowitz also beat out other venture firms to invest in Clubhouse, agreeing to infuse $10 million and pay $2 million to buy shares from the app’s existing shareholders. With the financing, Clubhouse is now valued at almost $100 million. Continue reading Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton advised Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that, if he and his company do not redouble efforts to rid the platform of disinformation, they will be subject to tougher rules. “When you are the [chief executive], at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” said Breton at an online event organized by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).  The two had a face-to-face meeting two months ago in Brussels. Continue reading EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Banned from buying U.S. technology, Huawei Technologies is still struggling to replace Google apps, which it utilized for ten years. Although all demand for smartphones is down during the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei’s phones are seeing a 35 percent slowdown of shipments outside of China. According to Canalys, that’s more than double the drop faced by its rival Samsung Electronics and four times that of Apple. The slide threatens to topple Huawei from its No. 2 position in global cell phone brands. Continue reading Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Last summer, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put together a 623-page report that pointed to Facebook and Google as the reason for the precipitous decline in local news and public policy reporting. Commission chair Rod Sims, who wrote the report, stated that, “global tech companies are not beyond national laws, especially when there is so much at stake.” He and French regulator Isabelle de Silva are challenging those two tech behemoths for carrying news organizations’ content without paying them. Continue reading Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

Although most home robots have failed, iRobot’s Roomba, the autonomous vacuum cleaner, became the most successful one thus far. People began to relate to the device like it was a person, even giving it names. Former iRobot chief technology officer Paolo Pirjanian explains, “there’s something innate in our mind that triggers when we see something move on its own.” He is now founder/chief executive of Embodied, which is in beta with Moxie, a robot designed to help children improve basic social and cognitive skills. Continue reading Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

TiVo launched Stream 4K, its first device that focuses on streaming video. The Stream 4K dongle, which plugs into HDMI and hangs from the bank of the TV set, was announced at CES 2020 and is shipping today for $50. It uses Google’s Android TV system to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and other familiar apps and provides 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR if available from the app. Stream 4K will compete with Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+. Continue reading TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Google introduced Web Vitals, an initiative providing performance and user-experience metrics aimed at web developers and website owners. Google has described it as “essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.” Web Vitals is just one of the tools that Google has offered over the years to help developers, advertisers and business owners improve the user experience of their websites. All those tools, however, have become an information overload that confuses its target demographic. Continue reading Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

In Q1 2020, YouTube reported $4.04 billion in ad revenue, up 33 percent from 2019. Last year, YouTube earned $15.15 billion in ad revenue, up 36 percent. Its parent company Alphabet — which first broke out numbers for YouTube in Q4 2019 — generated $41.16 billion in revenue, a 13 percent year-over-year growth, with an adjusted net income of $6.84 billion or $9.87 per share. Those figures exceeded analyst expectations for revenue of $40.38 billion, but missed its EPS of $10.33; shares rose 8+ percent in after-hours trading. Continue reading Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Despite a decline in iPhone sales, Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent in its fiscal Q2 (ending March 28) to $58.3 billion, with profit falling about 3 percent to $11.25 billion or $2.55 a share. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple projected more than $63 billion, but the numbers still exceeded analysts’ expectations of almost $55 billion in revenue. Due to an uncertain economy in the wake of the pandemic, Apple would not project Q3 sales, the first time it declined to do so since it began offering such guidance in 2003. Continue reading Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

As a result of the global shutdown, personal and business Internet usage is way up. SimilarWeb reported that users spent an additional 5 billion hours of screen time in March — a 13 percent leap over February — on the 100 most popular sites, including Facebook and Google. Likewise, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube are thriving. That’s led to a surge in demand for chipsets. Micron Technology chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said his company is shifting production of its chips away from smartphones and towards data-center products. Continue reading Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

The group video chat app Zoom has been No. 1 in the Apple store for more than a month, growing 740 percent in the last month, according to App Annie. The company, valued at $47 billion, now boasts 300 million daily participants. Success spurs competition, and Zoom is now in the crosshairs of Big Tech and telecommunications companies. After Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged a focus on completing its video chat projects, the company launched Messenger Rooms for as many as 50 people. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

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