Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

AI Bests Humans In Reading Comprehension Test

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

AI created by Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Microsoft have tied for first place on the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD) this month, outperforming the human score for Exact Match (providing exact answers to questions). Alibaba and Microsoft announced the news separately on Monday.

According to the SQuAD website, it is a machine reading comprehension dataset comprising of questions pertaining to a set of Wikipedia articles. Answers to questions are usually a segment of text from a corresponding reading passage.

The leaderboard on SQuAD’s website shows Alibaba’s and Microsoft’s EM scores to be 82.44 and 82.65 respectively, which put both at first place. The scores are higher than a human’s, which is 82.304.

The results may not be surprising to some since AI-based systems have proven to be formidable, with Google’s AlphaGo defeating Ke Jie as the Go world champion last year. The systems are also expected to go into hospitals and act as our assistants, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma predicted AI-powered robots will head companies in 30 years.

But not everyone will agree on how intelligent AI-based systems really are yet. Just a little more than three months ago, Chinese researchers published a study saying AI-based systems are no smarter than a six year-old. A Chinese robot called AI-MATHS which did a version of a Maths paper at China’s college entrance exams was unable to beat the national average last year. The robot’s developers explained it was unable to comprehend certain words, causing marks to be lost.

Luo Si, Chief Scientist of Natural Language Processing (NLP) at Alibaba iDST commented:

“It is our great honor to witness the milestone where machines surpass humans in reading comprehension. That means objective questions such as ‘what causes rain’ can now be answered with high accuracy by machines. We are especially excited because we believe the technology underneath can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials and online responses to medical inquiries from patients, decreasing the need for human input in an unprecedented way.”

“We are thrilled to see NLP research has achieved significant progress over the year. We look forward to sharing our model-building methodology with the wider community and exporting the technology to our clients in the near future,” Si added.

Facebook Joins Forces With Xiaomi To Launch The Oculus In China

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Facebook’s Oculus has announced that is partnering with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi Technology in a deal to manufacture its new virtual reality headset.

Xiaomi has agreed to manufacture Oculus’s new headset, the Oculus Go, which was announced in October 2017.

As part of the deal Oculus has agreed to launch the Mi VR Standalone, a version of the headset exclusive to the Chinese market built with Oculus technology. Oculus has not detailed how the Mi VR Standalone will differ from Oculus Go, but said it will share the same core hardware features and design.

Oculus also revealed it is working with Qualcomm Inc. and will use the company’s Snapdragon 821 chipsets to power the mobile VR headset.

“We’ve worked closely with Qualcomm to deliver the highest possible level of performance to meet the high computing demands of the standalone VR product category,” said Oculus in a blog post.

The Oculus Go us set to release early this year, priced at $199.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is HTC Preparing To Exit The Smartphone Market

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that HTC is slowly pulling out of the smartphone business.

Deep throats are briefing Digitimes and claim that the Taiwanese company will be limiting the number of phones it will be releasing next year. While this might have something to do with the company’s ongoing smartphone market woes, it could also be a sign of HTC’s substantial loss of resources after Google acquired a significant number of employees from HTC’s mobile division.

HTC didn’t release that many smartphones in 2017. There were as few as six models this year, not counting variants or market specific models, with the U series being most of them.

If it launched two to four models next year, it could be attempting to mirror the launch strategies of smaller companies like OnePlus. However, that is being optimistic because reduced phone numbers are usually a sign that the writing is on the wall for any company’s smartphone empire.

We are not sure that HTC will care much. It has been long rumored to be mulling over selling its mobile business, leaving it free to focus on a more lucrative VR market. Most expected Google to be that buyer, but the two might have worked out a strategy that would lessen regulation requirements and government scrutiny.

There are two HTC phones expected for 2018, one even as early as January. That would be a mid-range variant of the HTC U11+. The timeline for the company’s next flagship –  the HTC U12, is still unknown.

Courtesy-Fud

Firefox Going After Insecure Sites

December 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Firefox browsers might soon identify sites which do not run HTTPS as insecure.

The current Firefox Nightly Edition (version 59) includes a secret configuration option that when activated will show a visible visual indicator that the current page is not secure. There is a hidden preference named “security.insecure connection_icon.enabled” that when enabled will show the above strikethrough lock icon on all HTTP pages.

In its current form, this visual indicator is a red line striking through a classic lock that’s typically used to signal the presence of encrypted HTTPS pages.

There is a move within Mozilla to label all non-secure sites as insecure rather than saying a site is secure.

To enable this feature, users must navigate to the about: config settings section, search for the preference, and double-click to enable it.

Quite why anyone would is beyond me. It would basically tell you that most sites run by ordinary people are insecure and imply that they are unsafe. The reality is that blog sites don’t need to run HTTPS, and the configuration is not that straightforward. It is not a good idea to show a permanent warning when users are on HTTP pages as this could make users blind to more serious warnings.

HTTPS adoption has been growing, According to Let’s Encrypt data, 67 percent of web pages loaded by Firefox in November 2017 used HTTPS, compared to only 45 percent at the end of last year.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The Broadcom Hostile Takeover Succeed

December 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Over the last few weeks we’ve met with a few dozen Qualcomm and industry C level executives and of course discussed the potential Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm. The general conclusion is that this won’t happen as Broadcom might profit from it at the big expense of Qualcomm.

Qualcomm has quite a good roadmap with Snapdragon 845 and a few successors lined up for the years to come. A very important 5G NR chip should be ready for 2019. This will, without a doubt, be one of the most important technology transitions at the end of the decade.

Most analysts we talked about this matter including Patrick Moorhead and Anshel Sag of Moor Insights and Strategy, Jim McGregor from Tirias research and Bob O’Donnell from TECHnalysis Research think that Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm is a bad idea. Here at Fudzilla we’ve had a lot of discussion about the acquisition and we cannot see how can this possibly be good for the industry or for Qualcomm.

As we said earlier, Broadcom, a company with a very unsexy roadmap, would benefit a lot. It would be able to show to its investors that it acquired the world leader in 5G, Android SoC, many wireless related technologies, and a great automotive and IoT portfolio. The list goes on.

Fudzilla got quite bullied by Broadcom’s  PR agency about the last article where our colleagues from the New York Post expected that Broadcom would slash one third of Qualcomm employees.

After many talks with senior stuff at Qualcomm, we haven’t heard a single head talking positive about it. Some of these off the record conversations resulted in comments including: “they (Broadcom) would fire us all.” Of course, Us in this semantic would be Qualcomm management.

Acquisitions are a long and painful process. One side must always suffer. A few weeks back, we talked about ex ATI employees who were in AMD’s graphics division. Despite the fact that AMD acquired ATI technologies in 2006, in some ways graphics people still felt that the acquisition didn’t finalize, 11 years later.

Of course, this sounds crazy but to some extent there is always “us and them” in this equation. As Fudzilla predicted, Broadcom’s putative acquisition of Qualcomm would slow down innovation and skew the roadmap with some significant delays.

Qualcomm senior management is very clear, they don’t want the company to be acquired. We doubt that a hostile takeover with the help of board members would work out either, this is never a good idea.

Tom Horton, Qualcomm’s Presiding Director also said: “No company in the industry is better positioned than Qualcomm in mobile, IoT, automotive, edge computing and networking and to lead the transition to 5G. Qualcomm stockholders expect a Board that will support this innovation while evaluating objectively the full range of opportunities available to maximize value for all Qualcomm stockholders.”

 Fudzilla has implied that the accusation might be to give Broadcom more business and enter into an eternal peace with Apple.

Courtesy-Fud

YouTube TV App Full Roll-out Delayed Until 2018

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

YouTube TV finally has a full app, but the implementation for various TV devices is taking longer than originally planned.

The apps for Roku and Apple TV, originally slated to launch before the end of 2017, are now scheduled for the first quarter of 2018. Also planned for the Q1 timeframe, a YouTube representative told me, are apps for older smart TVs, namely Samsung sets from 2014 and 2015, and Sony TVs that use the older Linux-based operating system, as opposed to Android TV.

YouTube TV is a $35-per-month live TV service aimed at cable cord-cutters. Unlike the free YouTube you know so well, populated by cat videos, how-tos and myriad independent channels and shows, YouTube TV is a direct competitor to cable TV.

Available in more than 80 cities nationwide, it offers local TV channels such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as cable stalwarts like AMC, ESPN, the Disney Channel, Fox News and Bravo. (Disclosure: CBS is the parent company of CNET and Showtime.)

In addition to iOS and Android phones and tablets, and PC browsers, YouTube TV is currently available via the following TV-connected devices. All of them, except Chromecast, use the new big-screen app that debuted in October.

  • Chromecast (including Chromecast built-in TVs from Vizio and others)
  • Xbox One
  • Android TV (including Nvidia Shield and newer Sony TVs)
  • Samsung 2016 and 2017 smart TVs
  • LG 2016 and 2017 smart TVs

Meanwhile, YouTube TV’s competitors, including Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, are all currently available on most of the same devices, as well as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. The YouTube TV representative told me there are currently no plans for Fire TV or PlayStation apps.

Separately, YouTube has said it will pull its main, free YouTube app (the one with the cat videos and stuff) from Fire TV devices by the end of 2018.

Sony Focuing On Its Sensor Business For Growth

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp is on track to report its highest-ever profit this year on strong sales of image sensors after years of losing ground in consumer electronics and hopes to develop the technology for use in robotics and self-driving cars as competition heats up.

The results will mark a significant turnaround for the conglomerate, once famed for leading the world in consumer gadgets such as its Walkman music player, but now finding a new focus on image sensors and gaming.

Sony  forecasts that operating profit in the year through March will more than double to 630 billion yen ($5.6 billion) compared with the year earlier and expects the chips division, most of which is made up of the image sensors business, to be the conglomerate’s biggest growth driver.

Executives say a technological breakthrough in image sensors and sea change in the company’s thinking are behind the success. The breakthrough, creating a sensor that captures more light to produce sharper images, coincided with soaring consumer demand for better smartphone cameras for sharing photos on social media.

The breakthrough, which involved reconfiguring the sensor layout and known as backside illumination, allowed Sony to grab nearly half of the market for image sensors.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to win if we did what our rivals were doing,” said Teruo Hirayama, technology chief of Sony’s chip business, recalling initial skepticism around the technology that is now used widely.

Japanese names such as Hitachi Ltd,  NEC Corp and Fujitsu Ltd,  which dominated mainstream chips through the late 1980s, have lost business to Asian rivals such as Samsung Electronics.

 Sony’s success “is really a function of having decided a long time ago to focus on that niche within semiconductors,” says Andrew Daniels, a Tokyo-based managing director at Indus Capital, an investment management firm. He declined to say whether his fund owns Sony shares.

“The process technology is very much that kind of ‘takumi-no-waza’,” he said, using a Japanese phrase for the pursuit of manufacturing perfection.

T-Mobie TV Coming Next Year

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc announced that it would launch a new streaming television service next year after buying startup Layer3 TV for an undisclosed amount.

The moves come as competitors seek ways to provide content to win over customers in a saturated mobile market, and after the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier and No. 4 rival Sprint Corp ended merger talks last month.

 T-Mobile Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter said last week at an investor conference that the company would now focus on smaller, “tuck-in” acquisitions.

T-Mobile plans to launch a subscription service with advertising next year using Layer3’s technology platform and relationships with content providers. The company will create a “variety of offers,” some low cost, its executives said on a conference call with reporters.

While T-Mobile will not rule out original content, it will not be a focus to start, Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert said.

Sprint in November said it would offer unlimited data plan customers free subscriptions to the streaming service Hulu LLC, two months after T-Mobile introduced a similar offer with Netflix Inc.

AT&T Inc, which is in the process of buying Time Warner Inc for $85.4 billion, has already started bundling the premium channel HBO with wireless service.

T-Mobile’s service will enter a crowded market for online television streaming that includes competitors such as AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV.

The wireless carrier said it expected its 17,000 retail stores and more than 30 million smartphone shipments per year to help drive customer trials.

 “We believe the near-term revenue and profitability outlook will be more muted as T-Mobile scales the product and integrates it with their wireless customer base,” said Jennifer Fritzsche, analyst at Wells Fargo, in a research note. “But we would not underestimate T-Mobile longer-term in the TV space after the disruption they’ve caused in the traditional mobile ecosystem.”

Twitter 280-Character Limit Is Popular, According To Report

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Perhaps Twitter’s character expansion was a good gamble after all when it doubled its signature 140-character limit.

In November, Twitter expanded the length allowed for tweets to 280 characters from the original 140 characters. When it happened, the company was roundly criticized and mocked, not just for the new length limit, but also for the silliness of the whole exercise or out of concern that Twitter wasn’t focused on more important issues like tamping down on harassment. The event became such a topic of conversation that #Twitter280 began trending.

Now, early data indicates the change is being well received after all.

“If a tweet can hook you in the first few words, we’ll read all of it,” said Frank Speiser, co-founder of the social media analysis firm SocialFlow, which conducted a study of Twitter’s usage. In a nutshell, he found: “We want to read longer tweets.”

SocialFlow tracked approximately 30,000 thousand tweets between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 and found tweets longer than 140 characters were being retweeted 26.52 times on average, compared with 13.71 times for shorter ones. It also discovered that longer tweets were being liked on average 50.28 times, compared with 29.96 times for shorter tweets.

BuzzFeed reported on SocialFlow’s findings earlier on Friday.

The findings come about a month after the social network officially decided to let its 330 million users tweet up to 280 characters after a “successful” trial run with a select group of users in September. Now, it appears many Twitter users, including President Donald Trump, are regularly using long tweets to get their messages out.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company’s November blog post when the 280-character limit was broadly released. The company said then its internal data indicated people who wrote longer tweets were retweeted more often, got more followers and generally “spent more time on Twitter.”

YouTube Rumored To Unveil Paid Music Streaming Service

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

YouTube is gearing up to launch a new music subscription service in March, according to Bloomberg, a move that would be Google-parent Alphabet’s third attempt to challenge rivals Apple and Spotify.

The new streaming service, tentatively called Remix, will feature on-demand streaming and incorporate video clips from YouTube, sources described as familiar with the company’s plans told the news outlet. Major recording label Warner Music Group has already signed on, but YouTube is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, Bloomberg reported.

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

YouTube would be taking its third swing at the music-streaming business. Google introduced an audio-only streaming service called Google Play Music in 2011. Three years later, Google launched YouTube Music Key, a subscription service that offered music videos and ad-free songs on YouTube for $10 a month. Google changed the name to YouTube Red in 2015 and expanded it to all kinds of YouTube videos.

YouTube has a long way to catch up with Apple and Spotify, though. Spotify has more than 60 million paying users as of July, while Apples Music has about 27 million subscribers.

Amazon’s Alexa For Business Eyes The Enterprise Market

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Much as smartphones did in the late 2000s,voice-activated A.I. assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant appear ready to migrate from homes into the workplace. That’s the the idea behind this month’s launch of Alexa for Business by Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services.

The virtual assistant, unveiled at the company’s Re:Invent conference, is aimed at automating and simplifying a variety of tedious office tasks. It allows users to check calendars, reorder supplies, set up meetings and kick off video conference calls using voice commands directed at its Echo devices.

Amazon is not the first to target its intelligent assistant for workplace uses. Cisco, for example, announced its Spark Assistant last month; it’s designed specifically to take some of the pain out of organizing video conferences.  Microsoft, meanwhile, has integrated Cortana with its Office 365 applications.

All of those moves serve to highlight the emergence of natural language processing and voice recognition and the potential for a new way of interacting with workplace software.

“Voice will very much have a big part to play in how we collaborate and work over the next 10  years,” said IDC research director Wayne Kurtzman. “The Alexa and Cisco announcements are both key indicators of that.”

There are already tens of thousands of Alexa skills available to consumer users that are now accessible with Alexa for Business; beyond that, Amazon expects companies will start to build their own skills for internal purposes.

Capital One, for example, has built a skill that enables IT staff to quickly check the status of corporate systems and receive updates on high-severity incidents.

Another user, WeWork, has placed Amazon Echo devices around offices at its headquarters as part of a pilot project. The WeWork set-up, touted by Amazon. allows employees to reserve meetings rooms, start meetings and file help-desk tickets.

A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow are also integrating their applications with Alexa for Business. Users can also access corporate applications through their home devices, in effect giving them the ability to ask Alexa what important meetings are lined up on a given day, and make changes to personal work schedule.

All of those moves serve to highlight the emergence of natural language processing and voice recognition and the potential for a new way of interacting with workplace software.

“Voice will very much have a big part to play in how we collaborate and work over the next 10  years,” said IDC research director Wayne Kurtzman. “The Alexa and Cisco announcements are both key indicators of that.”

There are already tens of thousands of Alexa skills available to consumer users that are now accessible with Alexa for Business; beyond that, Amazon expects companies will start to build their own skills for internal purposes.

Capital One, for example, has built a skill that enables IT staff to quickly check the status of corporate systems and receive updates on high-severity incidents.

Another user, WeWork, has placed Amazon Echo devices around offices at its headquarters as part of a pilot project. The WeWork set-up, touted by Amazon. allows employees to reserve meetings rooms, start meetings and file help-desk tickets.

A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow are also integrating their applications with Alexa for Business. Users can also access corporate applications through their home devices, in effect giving them the ability to ask Alexa what important meetings are lined up on a given day, and make changes to personal work schedule.

Amazon Prime Video Makes It Apple TV

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc teamed up to offer the Amazon Prime Video app to Apple TV in more than 100 countries, the companies announced.

The news came a day after Alphabet Inc’s Google said it would block its YouTube video streaming application from two of Amazon’s devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook had said in June that Amazon’s streaming service would be available on Apple devices later this year.

Apple TV, a device for watching movies and television over the internet, will also start featuring live sports from its own Apple TV app this week, Apple said in a blog post on Wednesday.

While live sports were previously available on Apple TV in apps from ESPN and the National Basketball Association, the new additions to Apple’s own app enable features like sending alerts to connected iPhones and iPads when a big game is about to start or when a user’s favorite teams are locked in a close game.

Wednesday’s announcement followed a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site.

DirecTV Now Streaming Service Passes 1M Subscribers Mark

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

It took little more than a year for AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming video service to hit its first million subscribers.

The Dallas telecommunications provider confirmed that more than 1 million consumers have subscribed to its service, which offers a mix of live television channels and on-demand content over the internet to your phone, tablet or TV box like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick.

The figure marks solid progress for the upstart service, though it still lags behind Sling TV, which Comscore said in June had more than 2 million customers. DirecTV Now launched last November, while Sling TV launched in February of 2015.

“This milestone is an incredible testament to the thousands of hours many people spent working to bring this product online and continually improving it during the past year,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Entertainment Group, in a statement.

DirecTV Now is a critical component of AT&T’s strategy to transform from a company simply offering internet and wireless service to one creating as well as distributing your favorite entertainment. After gobbling up satellite TV provider DirecTV, AT&T is fighting the Justice Department for the right to complete its acquisition of Time Warner, home to “Harry Potter” and “Batman.”

AT&T teased further improvements to the service, including a digital video recorder in the cloud, more concurrent streams, the ability to download shows, and 4K and HD video.

Google Blocks YouTube On Amazon Devices

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A growing public spat in the technology industry escalated even further when Google said it would block its video streaming application YouTube from two Amazon.com Inc devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.

The feud is the latest in Silicon Valley to put customers in the crossfire of major competitors. Amazon and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Google Home and Amazon Echo Show.

 The stakes are high: many in the technology industry expect that interacting with computers by voice will become widespread, and it is unclear if Amazon, Google or another company will dominate the space. Amazon’s suite of voice-controlled devices has outsold Google’s so far, according to a study by research firm eMarketer from earlier this year.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said. “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon said in a statement, “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

It said it hoped to resolve the issue with Google as soon as possible but customers could access YouTube through the internet – not an app – on the devices in the meantime.

The break has been a long time coming. Amazon kicked the Chromecast, Google’s television player, off its retail website in 2015, along with Apple Inc’s TV player. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon.

Amazon and Apple mended ties earlier this year when it was announced Prime Video would come to Apple TV. Not so with Google.

 In September, Google cut off YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show, which had displayed videos on its touchscreen without video recommendations, channel subscriptions and other features. Amazon later reintroduced YouTube to the device, but the voice commands it added violated the use terms and on Tuesday Google again removed the service.

The Fire TV loses access to its YouTube app on Jan. 1, Google said. Amazon has sold that device for longer than the Echo Show, meaning more customers may now be affected.

Verizon Launching 5G Wireless Network Next Year

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon confirmed that it will to launch wireless 5G service in up to five US cities by the end of next year.

Sacramento, California, is expected in the second half of the year to be the first city to get access to the 5G network, which promises to be 10 to 100 times faster than Verizon’s speediest existing cellular connections. Information on other market deployments is expected to be revealed later, the company said in a statement.

“Verizon estimates the market opportunity for initial 5G residential broadband services to be approximately 30 million households nationwide,” the company said.

5G networks were previously expected to arrive in 2019. The conventional wisdom is that the early examples will be for what’s called “fixed wireless” connections, bringing fast broadband to your house without the need to dig a pesky trench for a fiber-optic cable.

The announcement comes after Verizon, one of many companies trumpeting its work in 5G, completed trials of the technology in 11 US markets earlier this year. Verizon said the launch was made possible by its confidence in new technology powered by millimeter-wave spectrum — very high frequencies that can carry large amounts of data and transfer signals with minimal delay.

Verizon isn’t the only company racing toward 5G. AT&T has already tested 5G as a broadband replacement in an Intel office in Austin, Texas, and has tested its DirecTV Now video service over 5G in that city as well.

Next Page »