Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former’s commission fees for games sold in its App Store has heated up. Apple and Google both tossed Epic Games’ “Fortnite” from their app stores after Epic debuted an in-app payment system that prevented both companies from reaping 30 percent of customers’ spending. Epic Games filed a lawsuit, and Apple just filed a countersuit, accusing the software developer of “duplicity and greed” and asking a judge for punitive damages. Epic Games has seen its iOS- and Mac-based usership plunge. Continue reading Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Following a series of leaks, Microsoft has now confirmed the existence of another new game console, the Xbox Series S, which it dubs the smallest Xbox ever (60 percent smaller than the Series X). The company said the “slim, white console” will debut “soon,” provide “next-gen performance” and be priced at $299. Reports suggest that Series S and Series X will be available for purchase on November 10 and hint that many Series S features are similar to those of Series X, but with less disc drive and less powerful CPU and GPU. Microsoft stated that the Xbox Series X “will be four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.” Continue reading Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Nvidia Purchase of Arm Signals Inflection Point in Computing

If Nvidia acquires Arm Ltd. in the next few weeks, which many experts predict will happen, the company may be in the position to dominate the next computing ecosystem. Jefferies semiconductor analyst Mark Lipacis notes that, the computer industry goes through a “strategic inflection point” every 15 years, with research showing that dominant players in each era account for 80 percent of the profits. Different ecosystems are the result of “multi-pronged” strategy by those companies that come out on top. Continue reading Nvidia Purchase of Arm Signals Inflection Point in Computing

Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

Microsoft debuted a Video Authenticator tool that can analyze a still photo or video to determine the percentage of the chance that it is an AI-manipulated deepfake. For videos, Microsoft said the tool will work on a frame-by-frame basis in real time. The company’s tool is based on a FaceForensics++ public database and detects the “blending boundary” of the deepfake, with “subtle fading or grayscale elements” that may be indistinguishable by the human eye. It has been tested on the Deepfake Detection Challenge dataset. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

Nvidia Debuts GeForce RTX Chip Series With Lower Latency

Nvidia debuted its 28-billion transistor Ampere-based 30 Series graphics chips for PC gamers, ideal for Microsoft and Sony’s next-generation consoles to unveil by the holidays. The 30 Series GeForce RTX chips (available September 17) are comprised of the RTX 3070 ($500), 3080 ($700), and 3090 ($1,500), with second generation RTX (real-time ray tracing graphics). According to chief executive Jensen Huang, there are “hundreds of RTX games” in development, joining “Minecraft,” “Control” and “Wolfenstein: Youngblood,” which already feature RTX. Continue reading Nvidia Debuts GeForce RTX Chip Series With Lower Latency

ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

ByteDance is expected to soon make a deal to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to one of two groups of suitors: Microsoft, now teamed up with Walmart, or Oracle, potentially supported by a coalition of investors. According to sources, discussions are still “fluid.” Walmart entering the fray has changed the calculus; its background in digital sales could push TikTok to evolve to a platform with e-commerce integration. A sale to Oracle, however, might focus more on TikTok’s data to buttress its own advertising, cloud and data businesses. Continue reading ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

In its antitrust investigation of Google, the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are looking at whether the Big Tech company engages in “tying,” a practice of bundling products together with the aim of blocking competition. According to sources, the government officials have questioned executives at competing companies about Google’s Network, the division that sells end-to-end digital advertising services, and whether it offers advertisers enticing terms to buy into its complete ecosystem. Continue reading Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer quit the company only months after assuming the role. The company’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will become the interim chief. Sources stated that Mayer, formerly of Disney, decided to leave TikTok after President Trump issued a ban on the popular social platform unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance sold its assets to a U.S. company within 90 days. Mayer’s resignation letter stated that he had reflected on “what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for.” Continue reading New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

White House to Invest $1+ Billion in AI, Quantum Computing

The White House is planning a $1+ billion, five-year investment to fund 12 new research facilities on artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum information sciences and other emerging technologies. Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will collaborate with private partners including major tech companies such as International Business Machines, Microsoft and others. The Trump administration proposes to spend 30 percent more on these technologies in the 2021 nondefense budget. Continue reading White House to Invest $1+ Billion in AI, Quantum Computing

Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic Games can maintain access to Apple’s Developer Tools but that its game “Fortnite” will stay out of its App Store. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” wrote the judge. Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney is battling Apple and Google over their app store commissions. Apple’s response to the ruling was to state it looked “forward to making our case to the court in September.” Continue reading Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

In the not-so-distant future there will likely be services that allow the user to choose plots, characters and locations that are then fed into an AI-powered transformer with the result of a fully customized movie. The idea of using generative artificial intelligence to create content goes back to 2015’s computer vision program DeepDream, thanks to Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev. Bringing that fantasy closer to reality is the AI system GPT-3 that creates convincingly coherent and interactive writing, often fooling the experts. Continue reading AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

Next week, TikTok plans to file a suit against the Trump Administration over its executive order to block the app, claiming that it has been “unfairly and incorrectly treated as a security threat.” TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner noted that, “for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution … what we encountered instead was a lack of due process.” TikTok is also trying to encourage its 1,500 U.S.-based employees, while putting aside plans to hire 10,000 more and open new offices. Continue reading TikTok Takes a Stand, Stating Intent to Sue Trump Over Ban

Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

The S&P 500 achieved record heights via the 37 percent rise in shares of the Big Five tech companies in the first seven months of 2020. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., now account for 20 percent of the entire stock market’s total value. Meanwhile, according to Credit Suisse, all other stocks, fell a combined 6 percent. Apple’s valuation hit $2 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so, and only 21 weeks after its $1 trillion valuation. Continue reading Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok