Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Niantic, the company that released “Pokémon Go,” just acquired Matrix Mill, a U.K.-based computer vision/machine learning startup, with the goal of expanding its augmented reality capabilities. Niantic chief executive John Hanke also stated that the company this year will release a “major update” to its “Ingress” game as well as a new AR game, “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” and reveal additional games in the next few weeks. At an event, developers and journalists were able to try out the platform powering these games. Continue reading Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Google, Nvidia Train Neural Networks to Post-Process Video

Google researchers have created a machine learning system that adds color to black & white videos, and can also choose which specific objects, people and pets receive the color treatment. The technology is based on what’s called a convolutional neural network, which is architecturally suited for object tracking and video stabilization. Meanwhile, Nvidia has debuted an algorithm that slows down video, without the jitters, after it’s been captured, by using a neural network to create “in between” frames required for smooth motion. Continue reading Google, Nvidia Train Neural Networks to Post-Process Video

AT&T to Purchase AppNexus, Plans Global Ad Marketplace

AT&T is reportedly paying about $1.6 billion to acquire AppNexus, which offers automated software to help advertisers buy ads across apps and websites. Now, AT&T chief executive of advertising and analytics Brian Lesser revealed that the purchase is aimed at creating a platform that connects advertisers not simply with AT&T’s own content, but with competing media outlets in television and digital video. The result would be a pioneering marketplace and give AT&T more leverage against Facebook and Google. Continue reading AT&T to Purchase AppNexus, Plans Global Ad Marketplace

Uber Wins Appeal, Regains its License to Operate in London

Uber won an appeal yesterday that will allow the company to operate in London for 15 months. A judge overturned a ban so that Uber will regain its taxi license, after agreeing to increased government oversight. Regulatory agency Transport for London withdrew the company’s license last fall and Uber has been unable to operate during the appeals process. Transport for London had accused Uber of showing a “lack of corporate responsibility” regarding “public safety and security.” The decision marks a victory for Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced Travis Kalanick last year. Continue reading Uber Wins Appeal, Regains its License to Operate in London

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to obtain data showing the location of cell phone users. Similar to rulings made in 2012 and 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that police should have the same access as investigators do in order to examine business records held in banks or conduct physical surveillance. The ruling stated the “world of difference” between 1970s decisions allowing the limited personal information obtained in accessing business records and today’s digital records. Continue reading Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Instagram is launching IGTV, a standalone app that allows users to post vertically shot videos up to an hour long. The move puts the Facebook-owned platform in direct competition with Google-owned YouTube and its own parent company. Instagram has allowed one-minute videos to be posted since 2012, when Facebook acquired it for $1 billion. Instagram also aped Snapshot with disappearing posts dubbed Stories. The company says it now has one billion monthly users, compared to YouTube’s 1.9 billion and Facebook’s 2.2 billion. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

A European Parliament committee just voted on Article 13, a controversial provision in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that wasn’t in the final draft but was re-introduced on May 25, the day it went into effect. Article 13 requires Internet platforms to vet uploads such as news articles and music videos for copyright infringement. Such filters could encourage platforms to block more content and place an undue burden on smaller platforms, argue the critics. Worse, they continue, filters could be modified to block content critical of governments. Continue reading Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google hasn’t had its own podcast app since it discontinued Google Listen in 2012. Now, it is unveiling Google Podcasts, an Android app that includes a “For You” section that keeps track of podcasts the user is subscribed to, and includes recommendations of top and trending podcasts and categories such as comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports, religion & spirituality and the arts. Clicking on any podcast, the app will recommend related podcasts. It also offers an option to add the podcast to the user’s home screen. Continue reading Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google Plans to Invest $550 Million in China Retailer JD.com

As part of its efforts to expand in Asia and compete with Amazon, Google is investing $550 million in Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com. The partnership will include the Google Shopping advertising platform promoting JD.com products, which should help the Beijing-based Jingdong (formerly 360buy) reach beyond China and Southeast Asia markets to the U.S. and Europe. Google has been ramping up investments across Asia. The company recently invested in Indonesian ride-hailing company Go-Jek, and is reportedly considering an investment in Indian e-commerce upstart Flipkart. Continue reading Google Plans to Invest $550 Million in China Retailer JD.com

Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Since Apple’s publicized showdown with the FBI following the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, after the company refused to unlock a suspected killer’s iPhone, law enforcement agencies have been turning to third parties in order to access information from iPhones. Now Apple has indicated an upcoming software update, designed to enhance security, will block access to an iPhone’s Lightning port one hour after it is locked. Some authorities believe the update also impacts their ability to access phone data in criminal investigations, which could reignite the privacy debate that followed San Bernardino. Continue reading Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Noted venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker recently released her annual Internet Trends report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Among the 294 slides, Meeker explained that smartphone shipments did not grow in 2017, and Internet user growth slowed to 7 percent (more than half the world is already online). However, people are spending more time online. Of the 5.9 hours per day that U.S. adults spent on digital media last year, 3.3 were spent on mobile, which is leading the charge in digital media consumption. Continue reading Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

A recent deal between Google and Huawei Technologies now has some influential Congress members looking into the relationship between the two behemoths. Google and Huawei, which have an operating-system partnership, recently struck a deal to upgrade capabilities on Huawei smartphones, which run Google’s Android operating system. After Congressional scrutiny, another Silicon Valley giant — Facebook — said it will end its relationship with Huawei and three other Chinese electronics manufacturers. Continue reading Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner wrote to Alphabet and Twitter to raise questions about their relationships with Chinese vendors. Now, he and other top Committee members want to call in Facebook, Google and Twitter chief executives to a public hearing about their platforms’ security, especially with regard to their relationships with Chinese telecommunication companies. Warner also asked Google for information about its partnership with Tencent for patent sharing and future technology development. Continue reading Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Influenced by employee discontent, Google will not renew a contract with the Pentagon’s Project Maven when it expires next year. Google Cloud business head Diane Greene, who won the contract, was the one who announced the company’s decision in a weekly employee meeting. The Maven project uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and, among its potential uses, could be employed to improve drone attack targeting. Many Google AI researchers worried aloud that it was a step towards using AI for advanced weaponry. Continue reading Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Google Ad Sales Flourish Over Small Exchanges Post-GDPR

Since the European Union’s new GDPR privacy law took effect, Google is prospering; the company has gotten individuals to sign off on targeted advertising at much higher rates than other online ad services. Because of that, Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), a tool ad buyers use to purchase targeted online ads, is now directing more ads to its own marketplace rather than smaller ad exchanges because Google says it can’t verify that smaller firms have gotten consent of individuals who will see the ads. Continue reading Google Ad Sales Flourish Over Small Exchanges Post-GDPR

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