WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

When Apple’s 5-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 3 in San Jose, the company is reportedly planning to introduce an array of new apps, software features and development tools. According to those familiar with the plans, Apple is expected to introduce operating system updates for its Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The new iOS 13, codenamed “Yukon,” will offer new and updated features — while iOS14, codenamed “Azul,” will launch next year to support 5G wireless and new AR functions. Continue reading WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

New Google-Landmarks-v2 Dataset Means More AI Training

For a long while, Google’s AI research division has been on a mission to grow capable of accurate instance-level landmark recognition and retrieving images — both widely recognized as extremely difficult. To that effort, last year, it released its Google-Landmarks dataset and hosted two competitions for more than 500 machine learning researchers. Last week, it went a step further with the release of its open-sourced Google-Landmarks-v2, which contains double the photos featuring seven times the landmarks.

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YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

At IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts in New York City last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 2 billion monthly global users now watch more than 250 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily. The video hub is actively working on brand safety issues, plans to integrate Nielsen Catalina analysis to measure increases in offline sales, and — in a significant strategy shift — announced it would remove the paywall for some of its ad-supported original programming. Starting this year, all of the platform’s new original series and specials will be available for free. Continue reading YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

On the heels of a controversial quarter, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki sent a newsletter to YouTube users and creators announcing that half of all featured videos on the site’s trending tab will come from YouTube itself. This assurance is meant to alleviate worries from some of YouTube’s most popular content creators who have concerns over copyright challenges, advertising policies, and video monetization, particularly related to YouTube’s favoring of more traditional content (movie trailers, TV clips) on its trending tab.

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MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

This week, YouTube announced a new partnership with Major League Baseball that will allow the video streaming site to exclusively live stream a total of 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV for free to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Dates and times are forthcoming, but the games will stream on the MLB YouTube channel along with a temporary pop-up channel on YouTube TV specific to MLB. While YouTube and MLB have worked together in the past, they’ve never struck a deal related to exclusive streaming.

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Creative Commons Intros Search Engine With 300M Images

After more than two years of beta testing, the nonprofit organization Creative Commons publicly launched its search engine, which includes more than 300 million images indexed — a huge jump from the 9.5 million images that were available at beta launch. The engine aims to provide an easy way for users to search the organization’s archive of free content, available in the public domain to use under Creative Commons licenses. Since its beta, the engine has been updated with a redesign and faster, more relevant search functionality.

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Industry Group Updates OpenAP Advanced Ad Marketplace

An industry coalition made up of Viacom, Fox, Comcast NBCUniversal and Univision has updated OpenAP, a marketplace that offers advertisements for over-the-air and streaming TV. The new system, which was created in response to marketers’ need for advertising capabilities that included Internet platforms, will be available in time for the fall TV season. Advertisers increasingly allocate part of their marketing budget to such sites as Facebook and Google, to be able to target consumers more specifically. Continue reading Industry Group Updates OpenAP Advanced Ad Marketplace

New Reports Reveal Unsettling Facts About Voice Assistants

Microsoft reports that 41 percent of those using voice assistants are concerned about “trust, privacy and passive listening.” Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, the major voice assistant providers, rely on humans to review collected voice data — although most people are unaware of this. Bloomberg also delved into Amazon’s Alexa team following a report that the company reviews audio clips from commands. Five employees familiar with the program revealed they can “in some cases easily find a customer’s home address.” Continue reading New Reports Reveal Unsettling Facts About Voice Assistants

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet, received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first authorization to deliver consumer goods via drone. Being first is a coup for Google’s parent company and a harbinger that many other companies — Amazon among them — will soon launch drone delivery services. Not long ago, officials predicted that the FAA wouldn’t implement the first rules for unmanned aircraft delivery until 2020 or 2021. The current FAA permit for Wing Aviation only includes a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia. Continue reading FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

In January 2018, Apple earmarked $10 billion to build its own U.S.-based data centers in the next five years. In a December update, the company added that $4.5 billion of that would be spent in 2019. For now, however, Apple is on track to spend $30+ million per month on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies may be rivals, but Apple has come to depend on AWS as a way to deliver competitive online services. That’s become crucial, as sales of iPhones have slowed and the company has turned to online services to pick up the slack. Continue reading At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

Google and Amazon Use AI to Improve Speech Recognition

Google’s artificial intelligence researchers made an unexpected discovery with its new SpecAugment data augmentation model for automatic speech recognition. Rather than augmenting input audio waveforms, SpecAugment applies augmentation directly to the audio spectrogram. Researchers discovered, to their surprise, that models trained with SpecAugment out-performed all other speech recognition methods, even without a language model. Amazon also revealed research on improving Alexa’s speech recognition by 15 percent. Continue reading Google and Amazon Use AI to Improve Speech Recognition

Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Verizon announced a deal with Google yesterday that will bring YouTube TV to Verizon’s wireless, 5G Home and Fios broadband customers across the platforms of their choosing. “We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose,” said Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. YouTube TV offers 70 networks worth of live TV that is viewable on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. Continue reading Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

Facebook is bringing back FMV (full motion video) games, which use pre-recorded video files to display action. With the work of Facebook AI Research scientists, the new FMV games are much improved, with a system that can extract controllable characters from real-world videos and then control their motion, thus generating new image sequences. Facebook AI Research scientists, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, also unveiled a system that, unsupervised, converts audio of one singer to the voice of another. Continue reading Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

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