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

Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Amazon unveiled Echo Show 5, the third generation of its Alexa-enabled Echo Show, which offers a 5.5-inch 960×480-pixel diagonal smart display and built-in far-field microphones. Although in numerous ways, the Echo Show 5 resembles past generations of the device, it differs in that it includes a mechanical slide that lets the user close the shutter on the device’s front-facing camera. To assuage consumers’ privacy concerns about Alexa, Amazon has also added the “Alexa Privacy Hub,” an online collection of privacy settings. Continue reading Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

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

Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

As the trade war between China and the U.S. escalates, the Trump administration’s order preventing telecoms from using foreign-made hardware that could threaten national security has placed Huawei under increased scrutiny. As a result, a number of major tech companies — including ARM, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Xilinx — as well as carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the U.K. have stalled business with Huawei. Since Google plans to cut off Android support for new Huawei phones, the Chinese company faces significant trouble in Europe where it historically has been very successful. In response, Huawei is taking matters into its own hands and was granted a trademark last week for a smartphone OS to replace Android. Continue reading Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Instagram launched IGTV last year with plans to exclusively offer long-form vertical videos for mobile devices. Landscape video uploads would not be included. However, enthusiasm on the part of video creators failed to gain traction, and now IGTV is changing its vertical video policy. As of last week, users can upload horizontal landscape videos that can easily be viewed full-screen by turning a mobile device on its side. “Ultimately, our vision is to make IGTV a destination for great content no matter how it’s shot so creators can express themselves how they want,” the company explained. Continue reading IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

Carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have stopped accepting pre-orders for Huawei’s newest 5G-enabled smartphones, fearful that the U.S.-China trade war could impact the functioning of the phones. Google has stated it would not permit Huawei to use its latest Android operating system and future phones will lose access to popular Google services. ARM, Huawei’s chip supplier, confirmed it has ceased doing business with the Shenzhen-based Huawei. If the U.S. Commerce Department does not issue a waiver, Huawei could be in serious trouble. Continue reading Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Beijing-based ByteDance plans to debut a paid music service for its video app TikTok in fall 2019, aimed at poorer countries where the industry’s dominant services, Apple Music and Spotify, have not yet taken root. Executives at India’s two largest labels, T-Series and Times Music, reported that ByteDance has already acquired rights. TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin, have been downloaded more than 500 million times; TikTok popularized the world’s No. 1 song for the past month, “Old Town Road.” Continue reading ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Etsy Turns to Google Cloud to Improve Search, Boost Sales

Etsy, the online crafts marketplace, boasts more than 60 million unique items and is using Google’s machine learning technology to help boost sales. Because more than 80 percent of its search-based purchases come from the first page of results, it is crucial to provide relevant items on that page. With that in mind, Etsy started a move to Google Cloud in 2017, motivated by the platform’s artificial intelligence capabilities. About three-fourths done with the migration, it’s already seen $260 million in incremental gross sales.

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Google, Intel, Other U.S. Tech Firms Stop Selling to Huawei

Alphabet’s Google has ceased transfer of hardware, software and services — except those available via open source licensing — to Huawei Technologies. Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm, and Xilinx have also obeyed the Trump administration’s order to freeze business with China’s largest technology company (based on potential threats to national security). This action will also likely impact U.S. tech companies such as chipmaker Micron Technology and other firms that depend on China for their own growth, as well as slow down the worldwide rollout of 5G networks. Continue reading Google, Intel, Other U.S. Tech Firms Stop Selling to Huawei

Spotify’s Soundtrap Aims to Simplify Podcast Editing for All

Spotify-owned music-editing software company Soundtrap is launching a new product this week designed to make podcast editing as easy as using Google Docs. Dubbed “Soundtrap for Storytellers,” the web-based production tool allows users to do everything in one place, including recording, editing and mastering audio. As just one example of how easy the product aims to make podcast editing, it will allow users to cut words out of automated transcripts of their recorded conversations and hear the changes reflected in the audio itself.

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Oculus Quest to Launch With YouTube VR’s Million Videos

When Facebook’s Oculus Quest debuts on May 21, Google’s YouTube VR and its more than one million public VR videos will be available as an app. The app — first launched in 2016 — is already released for Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View. YouTube VR will allow Quest headset wearers to search for videos via voice and find VR (and non-VR) YouTube content with a “VR-optimized interface.” The VR movie theater Bigscreen will also launch on Oculus Quest and the Rift S headsets. Continue reading Oculus Quest to Launch With YouTube VR’s Million Videos

Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Facing new threats from video game rivals, Microsoft and Sony announced something that some might find surprising: they’re teaming up to work on cloud and game-streaming technologies together. Through the partnership, Sony will consider using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for streaming its game content, acknowledging the need for a strong cloud solution for game makers. There’s also room within the agreement for a potential collaboration involving Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and Sony’s image sensor clips.
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Adobe Study: Most Companies Are Investing in Voice Tech

According to a study released by Adobe this week, nine out of 10 companies are currently investing in voice technologies, including things like voice-based commerce. Of the 401 companies surveyed, just over one-fifth have already released a voice app, while 44 percent plan to release one this year. A total of 88 percent are building apps for both Amazon and Google smart speakers and other voice-enabled devices, while only 39 percent are building for Apple’s iOS ecosystem; even fewer are building for Microsoft’s Cortana or Samsung’s Bixby.

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