New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Following an announcement in August that it had settled a class action lawsuit, Apple has introduced new App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, Apple now permits its registered developers to communicate to customers how they may pay for iOS apps using payment means outside iOS and Apple’s App Store. The guidelines now explain developers may request customer information, including name and email, but must permit customers to provide that information at their discretion. The third change is how to use a new Apple feature called in-app events that Apple says is unrelated to litigation. Continue reading New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Consumer Privacy Concerns May Affect Future of Digital Ads

Apple and Google are introducing privacy protections to thwart marketers from gaining access to consumer data when displaying ads, a change that is expected to seriously impact the online advertising schema that is the bedrock of ‘free’ apps and websites like Facebook and TikTok. In April, Apple iPhones debuted a pop-up window that asks people for permission to be tracked by apps. Google has outlined plans to disable a tracking capability in its Chrome web browser. And Facebook announced last month that is working on a new type of ad display that will not rely on personal data. Continue reading Consumer Privacy Concerns May Affect Future of Digital Ads

YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Google’s YouTube announced that its masthead — which appears at the top of its app and website — will no longer run ads related to alcohol, gambling, “prescription drug terms” or politics. Gambling includes sports betting and casino games, and politics references ads that endorse political candidates. According to Google, the move is aimed to “lead to a better experience for users.” The masthead is a very visible rectangle across the top of YouTube’s homepage and is usually the platform’s most expensive and desirable ad unit. Continue reading YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Google’s YouTube infrastructure team has built a Video (trans)Coding Unit (VCU) to streamline the transcoding of videos into the many versions required for a bandwidth-efficient and profitable website. Google software engineer Jeff Calow said the Argos chip offers “up to 20-33x improvements in compute efficiency compared to our previous optimized system, which was running software on traditional servers.” The VCU package is a full-length PCI-E card with two Argos ASIC chips under an aluminum heat sink. Continue reading New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

At the very end of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially provides online platforms with immunity from liability based on third-party content. He failed, but Congress has received 20 proposals to update or change the section. On February 5, three Democratic senators introduced a bill to make social media firms accountable for enabling cyberstalking, harassment and discrimination. More recently, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) plan to reintroduce the PACT Act, a proposal to jumpstart change. Continue reading Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

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

New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Google announced it has developed URL2Video, an AI-enabled system that automatically converts webpages into short videos by extracting text and images. The system also harvests design styles such as colors, fonts, graphics and layouts from HTML sources and organizes all the elements into a sequence of shots that looks and feels similar to the original webpage. Google is targeting businesses with websites for their products and services, enabling them to easily create marketing videos out of existing resources. Continue reading New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Facebook has long collected information about its users’ browsing behavior, even when they weren’t using its platform. Now, it’s introduced a tool, Off-Facebook Activity, that lets users see and control the information gathered outside of the social network. The tool gives users a summary of the third-party websites and apps that share data with Facebook. The company noted that people generally have 80+ apps on their phones and use about half of them per month, making it difficult to track the data’s use. Continue reading Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Amazon is launching a new service called Amazon Personalize in select regions of the U.S., Asia and Europe, with additional locations to be added. The service, first revealed at last year’s re:Invent conference, aims to personalize the customer experience by helping developers build apps, websites, email marketing and content management systems that provide product recommendations and personalized search results. “We are excited to share with AWS customers the expertise we’ve developed during two decades of using machine learning to deliver great experiences on Amazon.com,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of machine learning. Continue reading Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

PayPal Holdings’ Q1 earnings report revealed that 40 million people used its digital money transfer service Venmo in the last year, making it one of the most popular financial apps in the United States. Venmo is also growing dramatically in overall volume with the total number of payments made on its platform skyrocketing 73 percent to $21.3 billion in Q1 2019. Most Venmo transactions are between two people, with the company swallowing the processing fee. But PayPal prizes the app since a younger, more active cohort favors it. Continue reading PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

Social Media Tops Newspapers as Preferred Source of News

In a new first, social media platforms have surpassed traditional print newspapers as the preferred news source for adults in the United States. According to a new Pew Research Center report, American adults turn to social media more than newspapers, but not more than they prefer other news sources such as television and radio. While the percentages of those who preferred social media were about equal to those who opted for newspapers last year, Pew found that 20 percent of U.S. adults now get their news from social platforms, compared to 16 percent who prefer newspapers. Continue reading Social Media Tops Newspapers as Preferred Source of News

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue

In an effort to grow its stalled user base and generate more revenue, Snap Inc. announced it will encourage 20 publishing partners such as CNN, Cosmopolitan, NBC News and Viacom to create curated collections of user posts called Our Stories. Each collection of snaps will center on a specific event and will be made available via Snapchat’s Discover section. Snap has been generating revenue through ad sales by curating Our Stories for events such as concerts, awards shows and sports. While these have been curated by Snapchat employees, Snap is now asking media companies to build the collections. Continue reading Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue