Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

Siri co-founders Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer are getting ready to debut Viv, a new platform and virtual assistant that represents the latest frontier in artificial intelligence. In development for four years, Viv was recently tested by a group of engineers who were able to place an order for several pizzas — without a Google search, phone call or app — and the pizzas were delivered as requested. That success has been repeated with about 50 partners, and will be publicly demonstrated at a major industry event today. Continue reading Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

Expanding Internet Access May Be Key to Facebook’s Growth

In its attempts to triple the size of Facebook, now at 1.6 billion members, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has embraced technology based on open source (freely shared code) and is building wireless antennas. The goal is to make the Internet accessible and affordable to those who don’t yet have it, mainly rural and developing nations. In doing so, Facebook is treading into territory so far dominated by companies such as Cisco Systems and Ericsson, potentially impacting their bottom line. Continue reading Expanding Internet Access May Be Key to Facebook’s Growth

Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook debuted the Facebook Surround 360 camera for 360-degree video and VR at its F8 conference this week. The company will also freely share its hardware schematics and complex stitching software via GitHub this summer. Others share Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, including Nokia, Jaunt and Google, all of which built their own 360-degree cameras. But Facebook, by open-sourcing its plans, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, furthers its central mission of connecting everyone in the world. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook Developing Chatbots for its Popular Messenger App

Facebook is working with more than 25 companies to help them use chatbots in Messenger to order goods and answer customer service questions, without human assistance. Among its new partners are Disney, eBay, JetBlue, and The Wall Street Journal, all of which are contributing to making the Messenger app a focal point for shopping, news and entertainment. Facebook owns two of the largest messaging apps, Messenger and WhatsApp; both are piloting programs to let businesses communicate with customers. Continue reading Facebook Developing Chatbots for its Popular Messenger App

Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Since Facebook rolled out Live to everyone in December, it’s quickly built momentum, distinguishing itself from YouTube and other video platforms, and building a massive audience. Although Facebook had to overcome a range of technical challenges to enable hundreds of thousands of phones to stream at the same time, it used its expertise and engineering capacity to do so. Now, Facebook is encouraging celebrities and broadcasters to create Live content, and is also working on a business model to share eventual revenues. Continue reading Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Facebook Live Attracts Media Partners, Joins the ‘Today’ Show

Facebook Live, a pet project of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and one of the company’s top priorities, is getting a big push. Posting video there now requires a Facebook app on a mobile device, but the Silicon Valley company also plans to introduce new features and partners in early April and at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. Facebook is also gaining traction with getting media companies and celebrities to participate, most recently on the “Today” show, which launched a Facebook Live video-streaming booth. Continue reading Facebook Live Attracts Media Partners, Joins the ‘Today’ Show

Mobile World Congress Focuses on 5G, IoT, VR and Regulation

Although smartphones are becoming commodities, the mobile industry operators, developers, and Internet companies attending the 2016 Mobile World Congress aren’t worried. That’s because the focus is on the Internet, especially the upcoming 5G networks, which power not just mobile phones but all connected devices. The show is a hotspot for the new gadgets, licensing and partnership deals, frenzied competition and new entrants driving the industry to create services and devices that work seamlessly together. Continue reading Mobile World Congress Focuses on 5G, IoT, VR and Regulation

Telecoms and Silicon Valley Engage at Mobile World Congress

European telecoms and Silicon Valley giants are jousting again, at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The major carriers, including Deutsche Telekom AG and Spain’s Telefónica SA are pushing for the European Union to either lift some of the regulations imposed on them or apply similar rules to Internet-based text and voice services, such as Facebook’s WhatsApp or Google Hangouts. At the same time, several telecoms have signed on to Facebook’s TIP project, an open source initiative to design cellular towers. Continue reading Telecoms and Silicon Valley Engage at Mobile World Congress

Facebook Opens Toy Box and Looks to Make VR More Social

Just before the Mobile World Congress opened in Barcelona, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a new in-house team, led by designers Daniel James and Michael Booth, tasked with building “social apps” for the Oculus. The announcement comes weeks before the release of the long-awaited VR headset Oculus Rift, priced at $600 as a standalone headset and, paired with a PC, starting at $1,500. Facebook also launched a demo of “Toy Box,” with virtual shared games, all part of a move towards making VR more social. Continue reading Facebook Opens Toy Box and Looks to Make VR More Social

Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Facebook is turning on live streaming video broadcasting to what is potentially a nearly 1 billion-member base. With 934 million customers worldwide, Facebook will offer the live streaming capability first to iPhone users, with a global rollout over the next few weeks. The company has been testing this service with a handful of public figures for the last two months. At the same time, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s strong belief in the future potential of VR, Facebook is making strides in developing a network for it. Continue reading Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Oculus Aims for High-End Virtual Reality with $600 Headset

Despite a sticker price of $599 for its new Rift VR headset, Oculus VR has already sold out its preorders, resulting in an extension of its shipping date. The headset, over $100 more expensive than originally predicted, also requires the processing power of a PC that costs in the vicinity of $1,000. Starting in February, Oculus will sell a bundled headset/PC for $1,499. The expense of the Rift is justified, say observers, since its quality needs to sell VR to a public that has, in the main, never experienced virtual reality. Continue reading Oculus Aims for High-End Virtual Reality with $600 Headset

YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

YouTube is introducing 360-degree VR videos as well as a virtual movie theater for all YouTube videos. Anyone with a Google Cardboard headset and the Android app can begin viewing the ten or so VR videos that YouTube produced; the iOS app is coming soon. YouTube’s VR features come just before The New York Times ships 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets and its own VR documentary, “The Displaced.” YouTube’s assertive move into VR is widely seen as a way to stay a step ahead of the competition, Facebook in particular. Continue reading YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Facebook and Yahoo just made strategic deals with regard to search. Facebook, which unsuccessfully attempted search with its Graph Search feature in 2013, states it has now indexed more than two trillion posts, promoting it as a way to follow news discussions in real time. Yahoo just inked a non-exclusive deal with Google to provide search results and ads; antitrust regulators struck down a similar deal in 2008. Yahoo renegotiated an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Bing to make this latest deal. Continue reading Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Facebook Betting On VR with New 360-Degree Video Feature

Facebook introduced a new 360-degree spherical video feature this week for the social platform’s newsfeed. At launch, users can roam an immersive trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by dragging their mouse over the video in order to access different vantage points. Mobile users can change their angle within clips featuring NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and workouts by NBA star LeBron James by simply tilting their smartphone or swiping their finger across the screen. Continue reading Facebook Betting On VR with New 360-Degree Video Feature

Facebook to Track ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Buttons for Ad Targeting

Next month, hitting the “Like” or “Share” button on Facebook will do more than signal approval. Facebook’s algorithms will begin to share data on peoples’ browsing history into its ad targeting systems, which means that, depending on what a user “Likes” or “Shares,” he or she can be served related ads on Facebook, photo-sharing service Instagram or any mobile app that uses Facebook’s ad network. Facebook’s “Like” button, which adds a bit of code to the page, was first offered to publishers in 2010. Continue reading Facebook to Track ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Buttons for Ad Targeting

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