Big Tech Offers Financial Aid, More to Help During Pandemic

Tech companies are stepping up to offer much-needed resources and financial support during the global coronavirus pandemic. TikTok recently announced three funds with plans to provide $250 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in addition to $125 million in advertising credits for health organizations and small businesses. Apple and Google have joined forces to introduce contact-tracing apps for COVID-19, while both tech giants are using a number of their apps and services to help share valuable information with the public and assist with relief efforts. Other tech companies are also offering financial help, donating medical supplies and leveraging their popularity and services to provide support. Continue reading Big Tech Offers Financial Aid, More to Help During Pandemic

In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Facebook and Google’s ad businesses appeared to be unstoppable, tripling over the last five years and accounting for more than half of online advertising expenditure. That long run appears to be over with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the global economy. Wall Street is now projecting that annual revenues for the two companies will decline for the first time in their histories, due in part to record low prices for advertising. Even so, prospects are even more dire for the overall digital advertising industry. Continue reading In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

Apple is readying the fall release of its new iPhone line-up, including the redesign and the addition of 5G to two high-end phones and two less expensive models to replace the iPhone 11. Sources report that among the redesign of the top-tier phones are flat stainless-steel edges and flat screens. Yesterday, the company delivered a virtual unveiling of its new iPhone SE, featuring a design similar to its older iPhone 8. Apple also plans to release a new version of its HomePod speaker that is smaller and cheaper than the original, in addition to Apple Tags for tracking keys, wallets and other objects. Continue reading Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

China Battles for Dominance in Tech Sectors, Standardization

The U.S. has long been dominant in technology, but China, the world’s second largest economy, has made huge investments in several sectors, threatening American hegemony. The Trump administration is battling that with tariffs and export controls and is currently considering ways to hinder China from making its own high-end semiconductors. That’s one of the technologies at stake, in addition to 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and autonomous vehicles. China also aims to control international tech standards. Continue reading China Battles for Dominance in Tech Sectors, Standardization

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

Apple just submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a light field panoramic camera system for next-generation iPhones, iPads and head-mounted displays (HMD). With the camera, the user will be able to capture images (as well as position and orientation information) by holding up the device. Processing the images for relative positions and depth information, the light field panorama will allow a viewer to explore 3D views of the image with 6 degrees of freedom (DOF). Continue reading Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong

The Trump administration wants to revoke licenses used by China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary to act as a common carrier, connecting domestic and international networks. The U.S. Department of Justice, leading the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, requested that the FCC permanently rescind these licenses. The administration stated that China’s technology interests are a threat to U.S. security. Citing the same concerns, U.S. gave Google permission to open a high-speed Internet link to Taiwan but not Hong Kong. Continue reading U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong

Social Media Campaign Aims to Link Coronavirus to 5G Tech

One conspiracy theory making the rounds on the Internet connects the coronavirus outbreak to 5G technology. Although actors Woody Harrelson and John Cusack are among those endorsing the misinformation, researchers indicate the majority of online activity around this theory is coordinated and possibly state sponsored. That’s the conclusion of Marc Owen Jones, a researcher at Qatar’s Hamad bin Khalifa University, who analyzed 22,000 Twitter interactions and found a large number displaying “inauthentic activity.” Continue reading Social Media Campaign Aims to Link Coronavirus to 5G Tech

Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google is offering free gaming on Stadia, which ordinarily costs $130 for a game controller, Chromecast streaming device and game access, opening access to millions of people in 14 countries. With most people now confined to their homes, gaming has shot up, and even the World Health Organization has gotten into it, supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether. By making Stadia free, Google may also gain ground in cloud gaming against its competitors Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Tech Leaders Focus on ‘Low Code’ and ‘No Code’ Software

Amazon, Google and Microsoft are targeting “low code” and “no code” software to enable business people to develop their own apps. Microsoft’s Power platform, which offers this capability, is the company’s fastest-growing business app ever. The company predicted that 500 million such apps will be built in the next five years, more than the total built in the last 40 years. Google Cloud just purchased Seattle-based AppSheet, a big player in this software market and rumor has it that Amazon Web Services will soon debut a similar product. Continue reading Tech Leaders Focus on ‘Low Code’ and ‘No Code’ Software

MANRS Group Intends to Ramp Up Internet Routing Security

A group of Big Tech companies — including Akamai, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix — have signed on to Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS), a group designed to improve the Internet’s routing security. The ability to hijack Internet connections has proven too tempting and too easy for some evildoers, and MANRS is intended to tighten up security in an environment that has emboldened criminals and nation-state spies to create ever-bigger, more dangerous disruptions. Continue reading MANRS Group Intends to Ramp Up Internet Routing Security

Amazon Takes Steps to Become the Next Major Game Player

Amazon is readying the launch of Relentless Studios, the company’s video-gaming division. In May, it will introduce its first original game “Crucible,” a big-budget sci-fi shooter. It is also in development on its new cloud gaming platform, code-named Project Tempo and developing more casual games for its Twitch streaming service. With these new efforts, Amazon is competing on another front with Google and Microsoft, which have increased their gaming offerings. Video-gaming has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Takes Steps to Become the Next Major Game Player

FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

On April 23, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on allowing Wi-Fi devices to access 6 GHz spectrum to ramp up its speed, an effort largely opposed by broadcasters and utilities. With the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans are at home using devices that have slowed down Wi-Fi. If the FCC does approve the plan, consumers could enjoy much faster Wi-Fi as soon as late 2020. FCC chair Ajit Pai noted that an approval “would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five.” Continue reading FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Although news media have seen a rise in digital subscriptions during the coronavirus, advertising has plummeted. Facebook has stepped in with the announcement it will provide $25 million in grants to local news outlets, as well as spend $75 million in marketing. Examples of outlets hard hit include BuzzFeed and American Media, which are cutting employees’ salaries, and alt-weeklies that have laid off as much as 75 percent of their employees. Facebook fact-checkers, meanwhile, are fighting coronavirus misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Coronavirus Disruption Leads to Jump in Cloud Services Use

Amid the disruption of the coronavirus, cloud-computing services have become crucial in keeping people online and connected. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others also provide the foundational technology for e-commerce, workplace collaboration tools like Slack Technologies, streaming video services such as Netflix and streaming game services. In fact, cloud services are pushed to their limits in some areas. In Australia, Microsoft advised some customers that Azure cloud is running out of capacity in some regions. Continue reading Coronavirus Disruption Leads to Jump in Cloud Services Use

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