Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

YouTube Adds Visuals and Multi-Language Results to Search

Google’s YouTube revealed a plan to release improvements to its search functionality that will use visual appeal to provide a better sense of what videos contain, making it easier and more efficient for users to find their desired video content. In the YouTube app, both the Android and iOS versions, users will be able to see a snippet of video rather than a mere thumbnail while scrolling through the content. A section below the videos will also show all chapters, if relevant, enabling the user to click on a specific chapter of the video. Continue reading YouTube Adds Visuals and Multi-Language Results to Search

App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

App Annie predicted that mobile game and app spending will have grown 25 percent to $112 billion in 2020. Director of market insights Amir Ghodrati added that the company will likely revise these numbers upwards at the end of December. Both iOS and Android showed record-breaking growth, with 65 percent of spending going to the former and almost 30 percent to the latter. Apple iOS and Google mobile app and game downloads are expected to reach 130 billion in 2020, up 10 percent from 2019. Continue reading App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

According to sources, ByteDance and the U.S. government are discussing avoiding a full sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Although President Trump issued an executive order for ByteDance to do so by a November 12 deadline, the Chinese government restricted the export of AI technology, making the sale more difficult. One possibility is that TikTok will partner with a U.S. company that would help secure its data. Sensor Tower reported that, again, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in August 2020. Continue reading TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

In its last fiscal year, which ended in March, Alibaba Group’s 654 million customers bought $835 billion worth of goods, with revenues of $56.2 billion, cementing the company’s credentials as the world’s largest e-tailer. Put another way, the company handled more business than Amazon and eBay combined. Notably, 66 percent of Alibaba’s revenue — $36.9 billion — came from China. But translating that success to other countries has proven elusive — a mere 5 percent of the company’s revenue came from international locations. Continue reading Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

According to App Annie, consumers downloaded 11.2 billion mobile games for iOS and Android in Q2 2019. Games served as 35 percent of global downloads, but were responsible for almost 75 percent of consumer spending on iOS and Google Play. Overall, mobile apps had a record quarter: 30.3 billion apps were downloaded, while iOS and Google Play saw $22.6 billion in consumer spending. Arcade, action and casual games collectively represented the third-largest category for Google Play Q2 growth year-over-year. Games served as the top contributor to download growth for iOS, led by arcade, action, and puzzle games. Continue reading Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

Netflix is strategizing ways to court the hundreds of thousands of people in places like India that are glued to watching YouTube on their mobile phones. Only a few months, ago, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said sleep was Netflix’s biggest competitor. But since his company is also eyeing India for its next 100 million Netflix subscribers, that country’s focus on YouTube is concerning. Netflix and Amazon, both of which have spent billions to produce original content, still find it difficult to crack emerging markets. Continue reading Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

In India, Facebook and Reliance Industries Limited, the latter headed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, have teamed to encourage citizens to go online and join messaging service WhatsApp. India is already the world’s fastest growing Internet market, and the two companies have sent out marketing teams that use entertainment to educate and entice people to upgrade or sign up for the first time, offering cheap phones and rates with the Reliance Jio network as well as Facebook’s popular messaging service. Continue reading Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

Microsoft Chatbot Xiaoice Excels at AI-to-Human Engagement

Unlike Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s own Cortana, the latter’s social chatbot Xiaoice (pronounced “Shao-ice”) isn’t constructed simply to answer questions or resolve problems but can also tell jokes, write poetry, and exhibit “empathic computing” abilities. In China, Xiaoice resided on Huawei smartphones and was a weather reader on Dragon TV, a Shanghai TV station. Debuted in China in May 2014, Xiaoice has had more than 30 billion mainly text conversations with 660 million people around the world. Continue reading Microsoft Chatbot Xiaoice Excels at AI-to-Human Engagement

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

App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

App Annie has released new stats regarding the first 10 years of Apple’s App Store. According to the analytics and market intelligence firm, there have been more than 170 billion downloads from Apple’s iOS store through December 2017, which represents in excess of $130 billion in spending. An increasing number of apps have exceeded the $1 million and $10 million consumer spending milestones, with “plenty more to come,” predicts App Annie. The U.S. leads the world with 40.1 billion downloads and $36 billion in consumer spending, followed closely by China and then Japan. Continue reading App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

LINE, known for its popular WhatsApp-style mobile messaging platform, has released a $125 smart speaker in Japan named Clova Wave, beating Amazon and Google to market. LINE has more than 220 million messaging users in the region. The company first announced the speaker device at a conference in June, after unveiling its new digital assistant, Clova. LINE also earlier announced a smart speaker called Champ, based on the LINE Friends characters, but no release date was revealed. LINE is a subsidiary of Naver Corp., South Korea’s largest web operator and search portal. Continue reading LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

Uber, Government Examine the Company’s Asia Operations

Uber Technologies, with its law firm O’Melveny & Myers, is studying its Asia operations as the Justice Department determines whether the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to sources, Uber already notified the department about questionable payments made by its Indonesian staff, and is working with its law firm to interview employees and examine foreign payment records. Potentially problematic activities took place in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea, among other Asian countries. Continue reading Uber, Government Examine the Company’s Asia Operations

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Continue reading Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Qualcomm is rolling out its 205 Mobile Platform, designed for basic feature phones that will operate on faster 4G networks. Aimed at consumers in markets such as India, Latin America and Southeast Asia who cannot afford higher-end smartphones, the platform includes the Qualcomm 205 SoC in addition to feature phone hardware components and software, and offers longer battery life and faster access to social media and other content. Unlike feature phones for 2G and 3G networks, usually priced between $15 and $50, feature phones with Qualcomm’s new chip will cost about $50. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones