Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple researchers investigated what people really want in a digital assistant, finding that people deem an assistant “likeable” and “trustworthy” when it mirrored their own degree of chattiness. It also found that the features that make up mirroring can be extracted from the user’s speech patterns. Amazon researchers conducted a project that found Alexa can figure out what a user wants via so-called dialogue state tracking, in which it estimates and keeps tabs on a person’s goals throughout a conversation. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

At the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino on Tuesday, Apple unveiled three new iPhones and announced the $4.99 monthly fee for its TV+ streaming video offering (to launch November 1) and Arcade video-game service (coming September 19). The iPhone 11 models — starting at prices ranging $699-$1,099 — tout updates such as new colors, improved battery life, more camera lenses, Night Mode for low-light photography, and the option to record video by simply holding down the camera button. The tech giant also unveiled an upgraded 10.2-inch iPad with A10 processor in addition to a new Series 5 Apple Watch featuring more power (starting at $399), while reducing the price of its Series 3 model about 30 percent to a low $199. Continue reading Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker by sales, plans to build Google’s apps into its vehicles’ touchscreen displays. Beginning with model year 2022, GM brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC will feature Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play app store, accessible on the vehicles’ dashboard displays. Today’s car buyers have expressed interest in an experience similar to what is available with their mobile devices, but not all automobile integration has proven satisfying. The automaker aims to create a more positive experience, with plans to eventually make infotainment systems powered by Android available on millions of its vehicles sold worldwide. Continue reading GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

Hackers Increasingly Use SIM-Swapping to Hijack Accounts

Last week, hackers took over the Twitter account of that company’s chief executive Jack Dorsey, using SIM-swapping, a technique that lets hackers access social media, email, financial accounts and other sensitive data. SIM-swapping, by which hackers take over the target’s phone, is being used to steal money and take over the “online personae” of celebrities, politicians and other notable people. In response, Twitter temporarily turned off the feature that allows users to send tweets via text message. Continue reading Hackers Increasingly Use SIM-Swapping to Hijack Accounts

Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

Samsung Electronics is prepping to unveil a Galaxy Note 10 that offers support of the Klaytn blockchain platform created by Ground X Corp., the blockchain affiliate of South Korea’s largest messaging app Kakao. The KlaytnPhone, to be sold exclusively in South Korea, is Samsung’s most significant — although not its first — foray into blockchain. In March, it unveiled some models of the Galaxy S10 and already released Galaxy Note 10 that allowed users to store and use cryptocurrencies through a separate security feature. Continue reading Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Google launched a new feature for mobile in the U.S. that offers personalized recommendations of movies and TV shows. The feature is an update to Google’s efforts to provide details involving entertainment media. The current “Knowledge Panel” that appears when conducting a Google search for a movie or TV show includes an overview, ratings, reviews, cast members, and services that offer the title for purchase or streaming. The new feature will help users who do not have a specific title in mind by answering a query such as “good shows to watch” and then directing them to content based on their taste and current subscriptions. It also works with more specific queries and gets smarter based on the amount of user data collected. Continue reading New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

After functioning as Android Q Beta for much of the year, the newly named Android 10 is now rolling out to devices, beginning with all Pixel phone models. According to Google, the company is working with other device partners to debut or upgrade their existing operating systems. Android 10 introduces fully gestural navigation (via swipe gestures), which replaces navigation buttons, thus providing more space for apps. There’s also support for a so-called dark theme which features white type against a black background. Continue reading Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

In early 2020, Samsung Electronics plans to introduce its second foldable device, this one featuring a 6.7-inch inner display that folds like a clamshell into a compact square. The company aims to make its second try at a bendable smartphone both thinner and more affordable than this year’s Galaxy Fold. Samsung has collaborated with U.S. designer Thom Browne on the new phone, attempting to make it a must-have fashionable luxury device. The phone will also have a hole-punch selfie camera at the top of the inner display. Continue reading Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

Hollywood is betting that mobile screens are ready for higher profile short content. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman founded Quibi to focus on mobile content. Together they raised $1 billion from investors that include Hollywood studios Disney, MGM and WarnerMedia among others. The goal is to recruit A-list talent, which explains why Antoine Fuqua (who directed “Training Day”) is producing “#FreeRayshawn,” starring Laurence Fishburne. The $15 million series is comprised of 10-minute episodes only viewable on smartphones. Continue reading Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

At CES 2019, even though Wi-Fi 6 had yet to launch, manufacturers including Asus, Dell and HP listed support for the next-generation connectivity, in order to future-proof their laptops and routers. The same approach was taken by Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy S10 in February, also with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 will offer incrementally improved speed, but its superpower is to handle simultaneous streaming to multiple devices. It’s also the first major upgrade of dual-band support since Wi-Fi 4 (or 802.11n) rolled out in 2009. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

Facebook is looking to take on Snapchat with a new messaging app the social giant is developing as a companion to Instagram. The Threads app reportedly intends to encourage constant sharing between “close friends” by automatically sharing data such as location, speed and battery life in addition to the usual messages comprised of video, images and text. Instagram previously had a standalone messaging app called Direct, but users were frustrated when they had to move between the two apps to send messages. A new messaging app built around a user’s close friends list could provide a viable alternative.  Continue reading Facebook Creating Companion Messaging App to Instagram

X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

X2 Games released “St. Noire,” an AI murder mystery board game that integrates Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. “St. Noire” ($40 on Amazon) lets players become private eyes and explore the eponymous, shady town to determine the culprit in a recent murder. Players ask Alexa to “examine” locations such as Black Saint Bar or Greasy Spoon, or to pretend to be a suspect during interrogation. The game, which requires the use of Alexa, is similar to the board game “Clue” in that it evolves by the process of elimination to determine the specifics of each crime. Continue reading X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Amazon first indicated its ambition to put Alexa into cars several years ago, and in 2018 introduced Echo Auto, designed to be integrated into vehicle entertainment systems. Since then, Audi and BMW began selling some models that incorporate the company’s digital assistant. But Amazon faces stiff competition from Apple and Google, which have already made inroads, and some vehicle manufacturers are loath to adopt third-party technology. Although Amazon won’t generate much revenue initially in the auto market, the company believes that opportunities will grow much larger in the future. Continue reading Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google shut down its free Mobile Network Insights service, which provided Android phone data to wireless carriers, to avert regulatory scrutiny. The service, launched in March 2017 and shuttered this April, mapped carrier signal strengths and connection speeds area-by-area, helping carriers to determine where their coverage needed to be increased or strengthened. The anonymous data was retrieved from devices using Google’s Android operating system, which accounts for about 75 percent of the world’s smartphones. Continue reading Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

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