Microsoft Designer Adds AI Editing, Launches Mobile Release

Microsoft has officially moved its AI-powered Designer app out of preview, making the Canva competitor available to iOS and Android users. The app uses text prompts to generate images and designs for items such as logos, greeting cards, stickers and invitations. Powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 image model, Designer is available as an app in Windows and as a free mobile app. New capabilities include the ability to edit existing designs and the addition of “prompt templates” to help users who are starting the design process with a blank canvas. “Just describe what you want to see, and Designer can create it for you,” explains Microsoft. Continue reading Microsoft Designer Adds AI Editing, Launches Mobile Release

LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

LinkedIn’s experiments on users have drawn scrutiny from a new study that says the platform may have crossed a line into “social engineering.” The tests, over five years from 2015 to 2019, involved changing the “People You May Know” algorithm to alternate between weak and strong contacts when recommending new connections. Affecting an estimated 20 million users, the test was designed to collect insight to improve the Microsoft-owned platform’s performance, but may have impacted people’s career opportunities. The study was co-authored by researchers at LinkedIn, Harvard Business School, MIT and Stanford and appeared this month in Science. Continue reading LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

WhatsApp to Introduce Admin-Controlled Community Chats

WhatsApp is adding tools so groups of users can come together en masse for private conversations. Called Communities, the feature will enable separate groups to unite under one conversational umbrella supervised by an administrator. Community members will be able to receive updates sent to the entire Community and easily organize smaller discussion groups on topics of specific interest. Rolling out in the coming weeks, Communities will contain powerful admin capabilities, including announcement messages sent to everyone as well as filtering controls that target subgroups. Communities will have the end-to-end encryption of all private WhatsApp conversations.  Continue reading WhatsApp to Introduce Admin-Controlled Community Chats

Google Rolls Out New Features, Updates for Android Mobile

Google is debuting a host of new features for its Android mobile phone interface. Reactions between iPhone and Android users will now appear as emoji in text messages. Videos will be experienced by all recipients in the same resolution as when sent through Google Photos links in a conversation, a feature the company says will soon be available for photos, too. The Portrait Blur now available to Pixel users and Google One members through Google Photos is expanded to work on pets, plants and food, and will soon be rolled out to Android users. Continue reading Google Rolls Out New Features, Updates for Android Mobile

Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Google stated that, on January 18, a day before the release of Chrome 88, it will require that every extension publicly display its privacy policies and developers will be limited with what they can do with the collected data. Meanwhile, Apple stated that its mandatory app privacy “nutrition labels” program applies to its own apps as well as those from third-party developers. Apple and Google also banned data broker X-Mode Social from collecting location information from mobile devices using their operating systems. Continue reading Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Apple Releases iOS 14, Bundles, Watch Series 6, New iPads

Apple’s fall event was all about bundling, with discounts for customers who sign up for multiple plans with recurring payments. The new Fitness+ package, for example, offers workouts that tie in to “all of your Apple equipment” and an Apple One subscription bundles Arcade, Music, TV+ and iCloud. There was no new iPhone or mention of AR, but the Silicon Valley company did unveil iOS 14, a new Watch, a new iPad, and an upgraded entry-level iPad. Apple is also experimenting with an Express store for product pick-ups. Continue reading Apple Releases iOS 14, Bundles, Watch Series 6, New iPads

WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

At WWDC this week, Apple officially announced its plan to move from Intel chips to ARM-based “Apple Silicon” chips. With its own chips, Apple will no longer have to rely on Intel’s update cycles. It also means that Apple will be able to bring its customized neural engines to Macs for tasks that use machine learning. Apple stated that developers will be able to create apps that run on ARM-based Macs in Xcode’s new version, which will also continue to support Intel x86 Macs. Additionally, the company announced iOS 14 (with home screen widgets), iPadOS 14 (with Scribble handwriting-to-text conversion), macOS and Safari upgrades, spatial audio for AirPods Pro, Apple TV updates, and more.  Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

Apple Card Debuts with 70 Percent of U.S. Retail On Board

This month, Apple will officially launch Apple Card, a credit card for iPhone users, according to chief executive Tim Cook. The credit card, which will be situated in Apple’s Wallet app, allows contactless payments and includes no fees, lower interest and cash rewards. According to the Silicon Valley company, Apple Pay has 70 percent “retail acceptance” in the U.S. and 90 percent in Australia. It can be used wherever Apple Pay is available and is expected to be in 40 countries by the end of the year. Continue reading Apple Card Debuts with 70 Percent of U.S. Retail On Board

Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

Apple is hoping that its new App Store website will help curb accusations regarding antitrust and anti-competition practices. Ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, the company launched a new App Store site with details about how apps are carefully reviewed and curated, and the different business models that are available to app developers. “We created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers,” the company detailed on the site. Continue reading Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

Instagram Co-Founders Transitioning From Leaders to Users

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who co-founded Instagram in 2010 and sold the app to Facebook two years later for $1 billion, announced in a blog post that they would be leaving the company. The two men were responsible for shaping the culture and products of Instagram — Systrom serving as CEO and product visionary, and CTO Krieger actively running the engineering team. They built the company to over a thousand employees and the user community to more than one billion. “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” wrote Systrom. “Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.” Continue reading Instagram Co-Founders Transitioning From Leaders to Users

WWDC 2018: Apple Announces Improvements and Upgrades

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California yesterday and, as expected, the major announcements focused on upgrades and improvements rather than new hardware reveals. With the company’s iOS 12, available this fall, Apple is “doubling down on performance,” according to SVP Craig Federighi. Following user complaints that a previous update slowed older iPhones, the new iOS will make devices faster, with improved integration across devices. The company emphasized macOS Mojave, its digital assistant Siri, and a push into augmented reality, as well as a new version of its suite of machine learning apps for iOS devices and tvOS 12’s support for Dolby Atmos. Continue reading WWDC 2018: Apple Announces Improvements and Upgrades

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Samsung’s digital voice assistant Bixby just arrived on millions of the company’s Galaxy S8 phones. According to Samsung head of mobile software R&D Injong Rhee, the inspiration for Bixby was super-hero Tony Stark (“Iron Man”), who only needs to voice orders to activate all kinds of systems. Similar to Stark, Samsung wants to use Bixby to activate all kinds of devices, from dishwashers to TVs. While Bixby cannot control all apps yet and, like other digital assistants has some limitations, early reviews suggest it excels at function-based commands. Continue reading Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

In a few cities last week, Snapchat introduced a new search tool that relies on machine learning to collect text and visual metadata, enabling users to find content, even from users they do not follow. Previously, users only saw Stories from others they followed or that Snapchat served up. This is Snap Inc.’s first major change to its Snapchat software since the company went public in early March; in January, Snap added a search function allowing users to search for friends and publisher content. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning