Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

Snap has inked a deal for Google Cloud services worth $400 million annually over the next five years, for a total of $2 billion. The deal is a continuation of a partnership that dates back to 2013. Analysts say the $400 million will give Google a “hefty annual bump.” Google doesn’t report numbers specific to its cloud business, but rolls it into all non-advertising revenue. In Q4 2016, Google’s non-advertising sector earned $3.4 billion in sales. The partnership could presage future alliances or mutually beneficial projects. Continue reading Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

Google, Facebook Take Steps to Combat Fake News in Europe

Google and Facebook are improving their efforts to put an end to fake news, especially in light of looming elections in Europe. First Draft News, which is financially supported by Google, has engaged Le Monde and Agence France-Presse, among 15 French news outlets in a new program, CrossCheck, to verify online content in the lead-up to France’s April presidential election. Google reports that a similar program is “under discussion” for Germany, which will hold federal parliamentary elections in September. Continue reading Google, Facebook Take Steps to Combat Fake News in Europe

Snap Inc. Files for IPO, Describes Itself as a Camera Company

In its IPO filing, Snap Inc. revealed that an average of 158 million people use the Snapchat app — sending more than 2.5 billion messages and images — every day. The company’s annual revenue grew from $58.7 million in 2015 to $404.5 million last year. Nearly all its revenue comes from advertising, especially on mobile. Expected to seek a market valuation of $20 billion, Snap may receive $4 billion, which, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence would make the company one of the biggest tech offerings ever in the U.S. Continue reading Snap Inc. Files for IPO, Describes Itself as a Camera Company

Artificial Intelligence Now Powers Photo Searches on Facebook

Facebook’s Lumos computer vision platform, which was originally created to help visually impaired members of the social network’s community, is now being used for a more sophisticated image search. It allows users to find images on Facebook via key words that describe content, rather than a search that is limited to tags and captions. “Facebook trained an ever-fashionable deep neural network on tens of millions of photos,” explains TechCrunch. “The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos” and “ranks its output using information from both the images and the original search.” Facebook may apply the tech to videos in the future and potentially raise the bar on its targeted ad offerings. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Now Powers Photo Searches on Facebook

FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

FaceApp relies on neural networks to paste a smile on a person’s photo or change his gender or age. The iOS app doesn’t always work reliably; if the person’s face is large, has a beard or isn’t looking straight at the camera, for example, the results can be unconvincing. Switching genders can produce convincing results, but can only be accessed in “collage” mode, for a very small image. But FaceApp, similar to the Prisma app that uses artificial intelligence to make selfies look like famous paintings, proves that AI is making it easier to manipulate photographs. Continue reading FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

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

Snapchat Preps for IPO with Metrics, Stricter Publishing Rules

Snapchat just updated its guidelines for publishers, who are now restricted from posting on Discover so-called questionable pictures devoid of news or editorial value, or providing links to or reports of fake news, stressing that all content must be accurate and fact-checked. In Feburary, Snapchat will offer publishers a tool to “age-gate” content, with the option for preventing minors from seeing some content altogether. These guidelines are being introduced as parent company Snap Inc. is preparing for an IPO. Continue reading Snapchat Preps for IPO with Metrics, Stricter Publishing Rules

CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

Kodak’s digital Super 8 camera was not the company’s only nostalgic throwback showcased in Las Vegas. The camera company has finally entered the mobile market with its own Android smartphone – or at least a phone that licenses the Kodak name. Tech company Bullitt Group is behind the Kodak Ektra, which borrows its name from Kodak’s Ektra camera from the 1940s. That makes sense, since the phone is designed to mimic a point-and-shoot camera, featuring a 21-megapixel rear cam (but no optical zoom) and vintage leather finish. Continue reading CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

$499 Kodak-Branded 360-Degree Camera Adds Second Lens

The original Kodak Pixpro 360 and Pixpro SP360 4K cameras were largely well received, but garnered some criticism regarding image quality. To address the limitations of a single lens and sensor system, the upgraded Kodak-branded 360-degree camera now features a more efficient dual-lens setup. The new Kodak Pixpro Orbit360 4K VR was unveiled at Photokina last fall by JK Imaging Ltd., the company licensing Kodak’s name, while pricing and availability details were revealed this week at CES. The new 360-degree camera will run $499 when it hits shelves later during Q1 2017. Continue reading $499 Kodak-Branded 360-Degree Camera Adds Second Lens

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

CNN just made a deal to acquire Beme, a social media app founded by Casey Neistat, who has a huge millennial fan base, and Matt Hackett, former Tumblr vice president of engineering. As part of the deal, Beme’s 12 employees will join CNN. The idea behind Beme was to share “more authentic” video on social platforms, via four-second bursts that don’t allow the creator to edit the content. CNN is betting that Neistat’s idea — that authenticity draws in a younger demographic — proves true under their aegis. Continue reading CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Instagram just debuted two new features for live streaming video and ephemeral messaging, both of which reflect the popularity of such features in Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope. By doing so, Instagram has heated up its competition with Snapchat and now competes more directly with Periscope. Instagram, which will roll out the new video features to a small group before a wider launch, also recently introduced Instagram Stories, which apes Snapchat Stories.  Continue reading Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing site plans to add live video streaming. Systrom believes live video could help strengthen user relationships; however, he did not specify how or when Instragram would introduce the feature. “Reports indicate that Instagram has already been testing live video streaming with some of its users, displaying live streams from contacts similar to the way it currently surfaces the recently-launched Instagram Stories feature,” explains Variety. Introduced in August, Instagram Stories is similar to Snapchat in that its images and videos disappear after 24 hours. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

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