SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Twelve-year old audio recognition company SoundHound just raised $75 million to build its speech recognition AI-based platform, Houndify, betting that voice will become the dominant form of interaction with Internet-connected devices. Although large companies like Apple, Baidu and Microsoft dominate the space, SoundHound has built its own AI technology to identify audio. In contrast to these other companies, SoundHound also plans to offer its voice AI tools to other device manufacturers. Continue reading SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

A viral campaign over the weekend to #DeleteUber took place in response to Uber’s actions or perceived actions surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. Although Uber vowed to compensate drivers stranded overseas and set up a $3 million legal fund for those drivers, users weren’t appeased and the Internet was abuzz with thousands of photos of people deleting the Uber app from their phones. As a result, on January 29 Lyft had more downloads than Uber on iOS for the first time ever, according to App Annie. Continue reading Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

Amazon Unveils Plans to Build New Air Cargo Hub in Kentucky

Amazon is taking the next step in expanding the transportation and delivery side of its e-commerce business, and lessening its reliance on carriers such as FedEx and UPS. The Seattle-based company announced yesterday it plans to build an air cargo hub for its growing fleet of aircraft. The facility, expected to create more than 2,000 jobs, will be located in Hebron, Kentucky at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. According to insiders, Amazon aims to transport and deliver its own packages and eventually branch out to other retailers while competing with traditional carriers. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Plans to Build New Air Cargo Hub in Kentucky

Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Internet service providers, Hollywood studios and record labels have opted not to extend their pact to combat peer-to-peer piracy via the voluntary program that involved issuing “copyright alerts” to offenders. The voluntary program was launched in 2013 as a means of fighting piracy without calling for congressional legislation. Internet users who accessed pirated P2P content were issued warnings, and “six-strike” repeat offenders faced penalties such as the slowing of their Internet delivery. In the end, however, the system was not equipped to deal with hardcore repeat infringers. Continue reading Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Facebook has decided it wants longer videos, and will reward videographers who create them. That’s quite a turnabout for the company that counts three seconds as a “view,” and the many publishers reporting that few viewers watch their videos to completion. Facebook still plans to count three seconds as a view, but is changing its News Feed algorithm to favor longer videos, especially those that keep viewers watching. With the new algorithm, the longer a video holds its audience, the more Facebook will promote it. The social network is also adding a feature similar to Snapchat Stories. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Whole Home Wi-Fi Devices Improve Performance, Connectivity

Wi-Fi devices are improving as part of what’s called “whole home Wi-Fi,” featuring better technology with more effective antennas, more efficient network architecture, and sleeker designs. Among the new Wi-Fi devices recently reviewed are Netgear’s Orbi, Ubiquiti Networks’ AmpliFi, and Linksys’s Velop. The move to improve Wi-Fi comes at a time when the Internet of Things and connected devices in the home grow in importance and market share. Wi-Fi routers that work seamlessly are crucial to their smooth functioning. Continue reading Whole Home Wi-Fi Devices Improve Performance, Connectivity

Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Ant Financial Services Group, China’s largest online-payments company, has announced an $880 million deal to acquire Dallas-based money-transfer provider MoneyGram International. Ant Financial split off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011 and is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. “With the deal, Ant Financial would gain a large footprint and a brand name in the U.S. and expand its global money-transfer business, ultimately bringing it into closer competition with PayPal” and others, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, the deal could be scrutinized by the new presidential administration as global competition is being called into question, despite Donald Trump’s recent discussions with Ma to help create jobs. Continue reading Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Sprint bought a one-third stake in Jay Z’s streaming music service Tidal, after beginning discussions in April 2015. Sprint has not offered details on how much it paid or what the partnership entails, although it says that its subscribers will now have access to Tidal content and that Tidal and its artists will create content specifically for them. Jay Z has stated that he and Sprint share the view of allowing artists to connect directly with fans. Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure will join the Tidal board of directors. Continue reading Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

As part of its push to ramp up software offerings for enterprise customers, Cisco Systems is purchasing software maker AppDynamics Inc. for a premium $3.7 billion, just as the company was about to go public. AppDynamics software helps companies — including airlines, banks and retailers — monitor their applications’ performance and address any potential problems across cloud services offered by Google, IBM and others. The startup was founded by engineer Jyoti Bansal in 2008. Continue reading Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Netflix is accommodating Android users who are interested in offline downloads but face storage limitations with their mobile devices. The streaming video service now allows users to store TV shows and movies on microSD cards. “The latest version of the Netflix app gives you a choice of saving things to internal storage or, if your phone supports SD, picking the external option instead,” reports The Verge. Previously, customers could only save to internal memory, which frustrated those “with 32GB of built-in space and a ton of expandable storage.” The offline Netflix content has time limits, however, and eventually expires. Continue reading Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Trump Promotes Net Neutrality Opponent Ajit Pai to FCC Chair

President Trump has named Ajit Pai as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He will replace Tom Wheeler, who stepped down on Friday. Pai, appointed as an FCC commissioner in 2012 by President Obama, has opposed many of the Commission’s recent initiatives, such as regulating cable mergers, introducing consumer privacy protection, and establishing net neutrality. In a December letter to the leaders of CTIA, NTCA, WISPA, the American Cable Association and Competitive Carriers Association, Pai and fellow commissioner Michael O’Rielly wrote of net neutrality’s “disproportionate impact … on smaller sized broadband providers,” promising to “revisit … the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding … as soon as possible.” Continue reading Trump Promotes Net Neutrality Opponent Ajit Pai to FCC Chair

SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into Yahoo’s highly-publicized data breaches and whether the company should have disclosed the massive hacks earlier. “The SEC requires companies to disclose cybersecurity risks as soon as they are determined to have an effect on investors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo’s 2014 breach, disclosed in September 2016, involved data from at least 500 million users. In December 2016, the company revealed that more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts had been breached in 2013. “The SEC has investigated multiple companies over whether they properly disclosed hacks,” notes WSJ, especially after the 2013 Target breach “that compromised up to 70 million credit and debit-card accounts.” Continue reading SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Apple plans to focus on a new business in original TV shows and movies, say sources. The content would be available to subscribers of Apple Music, the company’s $10/month streaming music service, which continues to be an underdog to Spotify. In the wake of slowing iPhone and iPad sales, Apple has been casting about for a new source of revenue; recently, it has been in discussions with Hollywood producers to buy the rights to scripted TV programs and is trying to hire studio/network marketers to promote the content. Continue reading Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

At CES 2017, LG stated that this year all of its home appliances will include “advanced Wi-Fi connectivity.” One flagship product is its Internet-connected Smart InstaView Refrigerator that supports Amazon’s Alexa; no price has been announced. Features of the webOS appliance include stickers and tags to be attached to items in the refrigerator, which will signal the consumer when a food item in question is about to expire, and the ability to remotely view the inside of the refrigerator via a camera mounted inside. Continue reading LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

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