Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Elon Musk Envisions Future Los Angeles with Hyperloop Travel

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, Space Exploration Technologies, and Boring, tweeted how Los Angeles residents will be able to take advantage of an integration of all three of his companies’ endeavors: drive their electric car to an electric pod in a Boring tunnel that will take them to the Port of Los Angeles where SpaceX will have rockets that he hopes will fly to Mars. Musk aims to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic,” with autonomous pods that will travel at 600 miles per hour through a network of tunnels. Continue reading Elon Musk Envisions Future Los Angeles with Hyperloop Travel

HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Against the backdrop of eroding live TV viewership and the expansion of video games and Web video, acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “The Knick”) has directed “Mosaic,” an interactive series with branching narratives. Co-developed by Soderbergh and former Universal Pictures head Casey Silver with screenwriter Ed Solomon, “Mosaic” is a multi-episodic mystery that allows audiences to choose the story threads they experience. The series is now available for free download from Android and Apple stores and for viewing with Apple TV. Continue reading HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

Google aims to take on Uber and Lyft more directly with the expansion of its carpool service on the Waze navigation app. Instead of riders hailing cars, the Waze service relies on drivers to pick up people heading in the same direction. The price is much lower than Uber because riders pay up to 54 cents a mile, the IRS’ reimbursement rate for business travel. Google plans to bring the Waze car-sharing service to several cities in the U.S. and Latin America over the next several months. Continue reading Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report from the 11 companies with state permits to test autonomous vehicles as of end of 2015, and they have all made rapid progress. The report, which covers December 2015 to November 2016, recounts how many times humans had to take over driving tasks. Google and General Motors in particular have excelled, with cars that can drive hundreds of miles at a stretch without a hitch. Nissan has gone from needing intervention every 14 miles — to assistance needed after 247 miles. Continue reading California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

President Obama and MIT Media Lab Director Talk Future of AI

Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich recently sat down with President Barack Obama and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito in the White House to discuss the numerous possibilities and potential implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. “It’s worth thinking about because it stretches our imaginations and gets us thinking about the issues of choice and free will that actually do have some significant applications for specialized AI,” said Obama. “If properly harnessed, it can generate enormous prosperity and opportunity. But it also has some downsides that we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of not eliminating jobs. It could increase inequality. It could suppress wages.” Continue reading President Obama and MIT Media Lab Director Talk Future of AI

Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

Amazon announced it will sell its Amazon Echo device with office supply chain Staples; however, it will only be available online. The Echo, a voice-activated speaker with the ability to answer questions, dim lights, and play music and more will be available for $179.99. The decision to sell the product through a third party has received mixed feedback, because the device still lacks a retail presence. While Staples carries Kindles, Fire TV and the Fire tablet, the Echo will not be showcased in stores. Continue reading Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

Snapchat Adds New Tool to Share News from ‘Discover’ Portal

Snapchat is finally letting users share stories with their friends directly from the app’s news portal. Users simply have to hold down a news story, add a comment or some emoji, and then send it to friends just like a regular Snap. The Discover portal has seen viewership drop since it debuted earlier this year, and Snapchat is betting on sharing to attract more loyal viewers. Many other media companies such as BuzzFeed rely heavily on social sharing to drive Web traffic. Continue reading Snapchat Adds New Tool to Share News from ‘Discover’ Portal

Google’s Search Criteria Now Includes ‘Mobile Friendliness’

Google has revamped its search criteria to make sure sites at the top of its search rankings are mobile friendly. The change went into effect earlier this week, along with other criteria that could dock a site for having hard-to-click links or a lopsided layout that requires too much scrolling. Google announced the new search criteria two months ago to give companies time to improve their mobile performance. The secret algorithm has about 200 factors that determine a site’s ranking. Continue reading Google’s Search Criteria Now Includes ‘Mobile Friendliness’

Netflix Beats Projections for User Growth In U.S. and Abroad

Netflix added 4.88 million subscribers in the most recent quarter, exceeding expectations for growth of its user base. The company had forecast 4.05 million new subscribers. Netflix believes its popular original programming like “House of Cards” helped attract more users both in the U.S. and internationally. The streaming service is continuing to expand overseas and plans to encrypt its video streams in order to protect the privacy of its now 62 million-strong user base. Continue reading Netflix Beats Projections for User Growth In U.S. and Abroad

Social Trend: Facebook Changing the Direction of Journalism?

Facebook, which reaches around 1.3 billion people monthly, currently makes up 20 percent of traffic to news sites. The social media platform provides around 30 percent of U.S. adults with news, acting as the leading news source for many consumers. Facebook, which sees itself as a personalized newspaper, is hoping to lead the change in how readers consume journalism. The company, along with other social media sites, could potentially control the future of certain news sites. Continue reading Social Trend: Facebook Changing the Direction of Journalism?

Instagram’s Audience Engagement is Triple That of Facebook

Social media shop Shareablee discovered that marketers are very active on Instagram, despite the fact that most cannot run ads on the photo- and video-sharing service yet. During the second quarter, Instagram had 56 percent more total actions than Facebook. While Instagram is four years old, and Facebook went live in 2004, it is not surprising that the brand activity is growing much faster on the mobile app. However, Instagram is also bringing in three times the engagement per post. Continue reading Instagram’s Audience Engagement is Triple That of Facebook

Sprint Introduces $12 Wireless Plan for Use of Specific Apps

Sprint is in the process of introducing Virgin Mobile Custom, a cheaper wireless plan that allows users to access only specific websites. For $12, subscribers can choose between sole access to either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. For $22, users can have unlimited use of all four. For an extra $5, subscribers can have access to a music app with unlimited streaming. The program is expected to help customers that have less money afford wireless Internet access.

Continue reading Sprint Introduces $12 Wireless Plan for Use of Specific Apps

Despite Blockades, The Pirate Bay’s Numbers Are Increasing

The Pirate Bay’s visitor count has doubled since 2011 despite repeated attempts to block the website. Courts around the world and entertainment industries have pushed for Internet providers to block subscriber access. Meanwhile, about 9 percent of the site’s users connect to it through a proxy, showing that some people are willing to bypass court-ordered blockades. The numbers do not prove that blockades are ineffective, however, since the increased traffic could be from different countries. Continue reading Despite Blockades, The Pirate Bay’s Numbers Are Increasing

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