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Researcher Prove iOS Activation Lock Can Be Bypassed

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

ios-screen-lock-150x150Two researchers report that they have discovered a way to bypass the activation lock feature in iOS that’s supposed to prevent anyone from using an iPhone or iPad marked as lost by its owner.

The first report came Sunday from an Indian security researcher named Hemanth Joseph, who started investigating possible bypasses after being confronted with a locked iPad he acquired from eBay.

The activation lock gets enabled automatically when users turn on the Find My iPhone feature via iCloud. It links the device to their Apple IDs and prevents anyone else from accessing the device without entering the associated password.

One of the few things allowed from the activation lock screen is connecting the device to a Wi-Fi network, including manually configuring one. Hemanth had the idea of trying to crash the service that enforces the lock screen by entering very long strings of characters in the WPA2-Enterprise username and password fields.

The researcher claims that, after awhile, the screen froze, and he used the iPad smart cover sold by Apple to put the tablet to sleep and then reopen it. This is supposed to restore the state of the tablet from where it was left off, in this case, loading the WPA2 screen again with the long strings of characters filled in.

“After 20-25 seconds the Add Wifi Connection screen crashed to the iPad home screen, thereby bypassing the so-called Find My iPhone Activation Lock,” he said in a blog post.

Hemanth said he reported the issue to Apple on Nov. 4, and the company is investigating it. He tested the bypass on iOS 10.1, which was released on Oct. 24.

Last week, a researcher named Benjamin Kunz Mejri, from German outfit Vulnerability Lab, posted a video showing the same bypass, but on the newer iOS 10.1.1 version.

Kunz Mejri’s method is similar and also involves overflowing the Add Wi-Fi form fields with long strings of characters but also requires rotating the tablet’s screen in order to trigger the crash after the smart cover trick.

Apple has not yet confirmed that issue and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Nokia Smartphones Poised For A Comeback

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

nokia-hq-150x150Nokia smartphones are gearing up for a comeback after former managers at the Finnish company licensed the handset brand from Microsoft and struck up partnerships with Google and phone manufacturer Foxconn.

Nokia was once the world’s dominant cellphone maker but missed the shift to smartphones and then chose Microsoft’s unpopular Windows operating system for its “Lumia” range.

Nokia quit smartphones in 2014 by selling its handset activities to Microsoft to focus on mobile network equipment. Microsoft continued selling Lumia smartphones under its own name but this year largely abandoned that business, too.

 HMD Global, led by Nokia veteran Arto Nummela, wants to launch its first Nokia smartphone in the early part of next year using Google’s Android operating system.

Success will require a dash for scale by stealing business from Apple, Samsung and dozens of other players in a cut-throat industry.

“Consumers may be carrying different smartphones now, but are they really in love and loyal to those brands?” said Nummela in an interview.

The Nokia consumer brand lives on as the badge on cheaper, entry-level “feature phones” sold mainly in Asia, India and Eastern Europe, though Microsoft invested little to market the name in recent years. Smartphones typically cost anywhere from ten to 30 times as much as these basic phones, which sell for as little as $20.

“For a new entrant, having an established brand provides it with an instant on-ramp,” said mobile phone analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight, who suggested that phone vendors with weaker brands should not take the new challenge lightly.

“The barriers to entry for the Android phone space are low,” said Wood. “What HMD has is the Nokia brand and management experience. The key to its success will be driving scale.”

CEO Nummela, who was once responsible for Nokia’s sales and product development, does not lack ambition.

“We want to be one of the key competitive players in the smartphone business,” he told Reuters.

HMD President Florian Seiche previously worked at Siemens, Orange, HTC and Nokia. Chief Marketing Officer Pekka Rantala is a former CEO of Rovio, the maker of the Angry Birds game, as well as a Nokia veteran.

“We are not going to skip any markets in the long term,” Seiche said, adding that HMD had already set up offices in 40 locations around the world.

The NHTSA Wants To Block Mobile Apps From Drivers

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

distracted-driving-150x150The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed new guidelines that is requesting automakers to create a way to block applications on smartphones or tablets that can distract drivers.

Currently no safety guidelines exist for mobile devices when they are used while driving, the NHTSA said.

The new guidelines, which were published last week and are in a comment period, instruct automakers to create a “Driver Mode” similar to Apple’s Airplane Mode on iPhones, which takes the smartphone offline.

The new guidelines are the latest effort by the federal government to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving.

 In proposing the guidelines, the NHTSA pointed to a rise in U.S. traffic fatalities and injuries in the past two years, a good percentage of which can be connected to drivers who are distracted by mobile technology, it said.
In 2015, some 10% of the 35,092 U.S. traffic fatalities on record involved one or more distracted drivers, and those crashes resulted in 3,477 fatalities, an 8.8% increase from the 3,197 distracted-driving-related fatalities in 2014, according to the NHTSA.

Of the 5.6 million non-fatal, police-reported crashes in 2014 (the most recent year for which this data is available), 16% were distracted-driving-related crashes and resulted in 424,000 injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines distracted driving activities to include using a cell phone, texting, and using in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) technologies such as navigation systems.

In 2013, the NHTSA published Phase 1 Driver Distraction Guidelines that focused on visual-manual interfaces of electronic devices installed as original equipment, such as infotainment centers.

Those phase 1 guidelines included a definition for distracted driving as any “single average glance” that takes a driver’s attention away from the roadway for more than two seconds or “where the sum of… individual glances” are 12 seconds or more while performing a testable task, such as selecting a song from a satellite radio station.

The Phase 1 guidelines recommended that interfaces and tasks determined to be more distracting than its specified levels should not be accessible to a driver on the road.

 

Facebook Adds Popular Games To Messenger App

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fb-messenger-app-150x150For users who enjoy the popular Facebook Messenger app, it’s game time.

The social network has rolled out a feature that allows users to play hugely popular games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders, the company’s latest attempt to get users spend more time on its messaging app.

The new feature, initially rolled out in 30 countries with 17 games, will be available on the latest versions of iOS and Android operating systems.

A user, in the midst of a conversation, can tap on a game controller icon to choose a game and start playing. The feature also allows user to challenge their friends for a game.

Facebook made Messenger a standalone app in 2014, a move that initially irked many users. The app, however, gained popularity after the company added a host of features to it.

The social network has also added instant video and payment facilities to the app.

Facebook boasts of having more than one billion users for its messaging app, making it one top three apps in the world.

Its main Facebook app is the most popular, followed by Messenger and WhatsApp, the messaging service it bought in 2014.

U.S. Government Dispute Claims Of Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cybersecurity-jobs-150x150The U.S. government has publised what it claims is myth-busting data regarding the shortage of cybersecurity professionals. The data points to its own hiring experience.

In October 2015, the U.S. launched a plan to hire 6,500 people with cybersecurity skills by January 2017, according to White House officials. It had hired 3,000 by the first half of this year. As part the ongoing hiring effort, it held a job fair in July.

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “We set out to dispel certain myths regarding cybersecurity hiring,” wrote Angela Bailey, chief human capital officer at DHS in a blog post Monday.

One myth is this: “There is not a lot of cyber talent available for hire,” said Bailey. “Actually, over 14,000 people applied for our positions, with over 2,000 walking in the door. And while not all of them were qualified, we continue to this day to hire from the wealth of talent made available as a result of our hiring event.

“The amount of talent available to hire was so great, we stayed well into the night interviewing potential employees,” said Bailey.

The experience of the U.S. government seems counter to what industry studies say is actually going on.

For instance, a report released one day before the government’s job fair in July, Intel Security, in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), pointed to a “talent shortage crisis” of cybersecurity skills.

David Foote, co-founder and chief analyst at Foote Partners, is skeptical of the government’s findings, and says there’s really no unemployment among people with cybersecurity skills, “so why would they go to a job fair?”

In particular, asked Foote, why would someone take a government job that will pay less than a beltway consulting firm?

The salary for a senior cyber security specialist, with five or more years experience, in the Washington D.C. metro area is is $132,837, said Foote.

The salary range for an IT specialist in cybersecurity ranges from about $65,000 to to $120,000, depending on skills, experience and educational attainment.

Foote said the appeal of getting a security clearance may have motivated some to apply for a government job. A security clearance can open up subsequent private sector jobs.

But Foote suspects that the U.S. is focusing on hiring people it can train, and not on hiring someone with experience and who would command much higher salaries than can government offer.

In cybersecurity, experience is critical, said Foote. “Cybersecurity is something you have to do, you have a develop an instinct and you only do that with hands on,” he said.

 

Japan Aims For World’s Fastest Supercomputer

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

supercomputer-150x150Japan aims to construct the world’s fastest-known supercomputer in a bid to arm the country’s manufacturers with a platform for research that could help them develop and improve driverless cars, robotics and medical diagnostics.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on the previously unreported project, a budget breakdown shows, as part of a government policy to get back Japan’s mojo in the world of technology. The country has lost its edge in many electronic fields amid intensifying competition from South Korea and China, home to the world’s current best-performing machine.

In a move that is expected to vault Japan to the top of the supercomputing heap, its engineers will be tasked with building a machine that can make 130 quadrillion calculations per second – or 130 petaflops in scientific parlance – as early as next year, sources involved in the project told Reuters.

At that speed, Japan’s computer would be ahead of China’s Sunway Taihulight that is capable of 93 petaflops.

“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s ‎National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be built.

The push to return to the vanguard comes at a time of growing nostalgia for the heyday of Japan’s technological prowess, which has dwindled since China overtook it as the world’s second-biggest economy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for companies, bureaucrats and the political class to work more closely together so Japan can win in robotics, batteries, renewable energy and other new and growing markets.

 

Self-driving Scooter Makes Its Debut In Singapore

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

self-driving-scooter-150x150Researchers in Singapore have developed a solution to cut down on accidents involving phone-obsessed walkers, a self-driving mobility scooter that drives single pedestrians along footpaths.

The one-seater, four wheel, 50 kg (110 lbs) vehicle travels at a top speed of 6 kmh (4 mph) and has laser sensors to help navigate around obstacles.

The scooter, developed by the National University of Singapore (NUS), is the city-state’s latest experiment with driverless vehicles as it pushes ahead with its vision of using autonomous technology to help deal with the challenges of its limited land and labor.

 The scooter has undergone successful tests on campus and developers said it can help improve mobility for all ages, cut down on the need for cars and also lower accident rates.

“I’m sure you have experienced people who just use their handphone while walking, and almost run into you … so it would be nice if you are just sitting down and checking your emails,” said NUS Associate Professor and project leader Marcelo Ang Jr.

“We just give you more choices.”

Ang Jr said that the scooter would be able to work in tandem with other driverless vehicles in Singapore, where robo-taxis are being tested and trials are planned for self-driving buses.

He said the scooter was meant for use on narrow pathways which larger vehicles cannot access.

Currently the scooter takes a few seconds to calibrate a different route when it nears an obstacle – something Ang Jr. said the team was looking to improve.

Users, though, did not seem too bothered by the brief pause.

“It goes really smoothly and travels very safely,” said student Kevin Xiangyu Hui, who tested the scooter.

The project, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and NUS will be further tested and is not for sale.

Nearly Half The World Makes It To The Internet By End Of 2016

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

worldwide-internet-users-150x150Once 2016 comes to an end, nearly half of the world’s population will be using the internet as mobile networks grow and prices fall, but their numbers will remain concentrated in the developed world, according to a United Nations agency.

In the world’s developed countries about 80 percent of the population use the internet. But only about 40 percent in developing countries and less than 15 percent in less-developed countries are online, according to a report by the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

In several of Africa’s poorer and more fragile countries, only one person in 10 is on the internet. The offline population is female, elderly, less educated, poorer and lives in rural areas, said the union, a specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

 Globally, 47 percent of the world’s population is online, still far short of a U.N. target of 60 percent by 2020. Some 3.9 billion people, more than half the world’s population, are not. ITU expects 3.5 billion people to have access by the end of this year.

“In 2016, people no longer go online, they are online. The spread of 3G and 4G networks across the world had brought the internet to more and more people,” the report said.

Telecoms and internet companies are expanding as more affordable smartphones encourage consumers to browse the internet, causing demand to grow for data-heavy services. However, less-developed countries – LDCs – still trail the rest of the world.

“Internet penetration levels in LDCs today have reached the level enjoyed by developed countries in 1998, suggesting that the LDCs are lagging nearly 20 years behind the developed countries,” the report said.

It blamed the cost of services and of extending infrastructure to rural and remote customers and the high price of mobile cellular use.

Is The Mobile Gaming Space Difficult To Succeed?

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

There’s something quite noble about Phil Larsen, Luke Muscat and Hugh Walters, and their reasons for turning their collective backs on Halfbrick.

The trio had been partly responsible for some of the biggest games in the smartphone space, including Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, but they felt they had nothing left to learn working at the developer, so took the gamble to go it alone.

“There weren’t too many more challenges, and the challenge of starting something new and being small and agile seemed like a smart idea,” says Phil Larsen, who is the MD at the studio. “And we are all basically in our early 30s, and we thought that maybe we wouldn’t get another chance. So we decided to go for it.”

The team left Halfbrick at the start of 2015 and attended GDC with “no money, no game, no nothing”. Although Larsen felt the newly formed team, named Prettygreat, had the capacity to pull in some big investors, they instead decided to aim a little lower, and accept funding from the founders of Crossy Road makers Hipster Whale.

“Matt [Hall] and Andy [Sum], being so successful with Crossy Road at the time, wanted to put some investment into other studios, and they were the perfect fit for us,” Larsen explains. “They were other developers who understand what we do, they trust in us as a team because we’ve done it all before, and it just helped us get everything off the ground. It has basically been the best possible decision we could have made.”

Prettygreat has only been going for 18 months, but it’s already created two games, with a third deep in development. The firm initially made the modestly popular smartphone title Landsliders, a casual collect ’em up project that it managed to pull together in just four months.

“Although we’d worked together before, working on our first game is always going to be tricky, you’ll be understanding each other and finding a new approach,” Larsen explains. “The way we did that was to try and create something a little bit unique, a bit weird, with some control innovation… as a game, it was profitable, which is good. It wasn’t the mega hit of the year or anything like that, it wouldn’t have reached any Top Ten charts in terms of downloads, but we made that game in four months, and we supported it for six months after launch, which we wouldn’t have done if there wasn’t profit to be made. The game has about 5m downloads so far, which is not bad. We’ve come from a place where 200m or 300m downloads were the norm, so we’re scaling back, which is fine. But Landsliders is a first game that says: ‘hey, this is what we can do. Make a game fast and make it successful’.”

It may seem like a rapid turnaround, but Prettygreat managed to outpace that with its second game, Slide the Shakes, which was designed and released in just six weeks.

“Basically, we had about three weeks left at the end of last year, because we’d done everything for Land Sliders. So we just decided to make a game. It also made a profit and had 3 or 4m downloads already. That was also a game where we understood its scope and potential, so we invested the appropriate amount of time – which was six weeks, but I think our quality level for that was quite high.

“We are game strategy agnostic, for want of a better way of expressing that. We are not sitting here saying we’re going to make triple-A games on mobile, or make six months projects every time. We are going to pick projects that we like and we are going to develop it to the level that we think it will be successful – and if that means it is six weeks, fine, if it is six months, which is our current project, then we will do that. We just want to make all sorts of crazy ideas. We don’t have any specific business model or genre.”

The Prettygreat team seem to know a thing or two about building sustainable smartphone games, which is difficult in a market where discoverability is difficult and the competition is plentiful. Even some of the world’s biggest mobile developers struggle to enjoy repeat success in this space. It’s a fact that’s not lost on Larsen, but he says if developers are smart, plan carefully and make sure the projects are in tune with the team’s talents, then success is not necessarily that hard to come by.

“A lot of people talk about how competitive it is, which is true. And they talk about how hard it is to make a whole bunch of money, which is true. But a misconception that a lot of people have is that you have to be making Clash Royale money, or you need to be spending loads of money, or you need to take years making the games,” Larsen begins.

“There is a lot of competing factors as to what makes a business successful. For a while it was Angry Birds, and building a brand, and merchandise. Then it was all about free-to-play. We have been through all of that at Halfbrick. Our perspective is, it is competitive but you need to pick the right business model for your team, and you need to pick the right approach for you. With three dudes at the start of a company, we weren’t saying: ‘Let’s do a Candy Crush and make $1m a day.’ No. We will pick something that we know we can get out there in a short amount of time, know generally what monetisation trends that are happening, and what is the easiest way of getting some revenue going for our games.

“Yes it is hard, but it is not impossible. A lot of people say it’s impossible, but no, you just need to be smart about how you approach it for your team specifically. If we had taken AUS$2m in funding when we started, or attacked it in a bigger way, then people would be expecting us to make a Candy Crush. But we didn’t want to do that.

“Our biggest strength as a company is scoping products right, and making them for the right people at the right time. It is very easy for an indie team to say mobile is hard, but that’s possibly because they’ve spent 18 months making the game – that might be hard to recoup as an investment. We would sooner spend four months on a game.

“Having a team that works together really well, and approaching it with a clear focus, then you can make money. We haven’t made millions of dollars yet, but that’s ok, you don’t need millions to pay three people.”

Prettygreat’s next product is currently not announced, although Larsen says it is an online multiplayer project that will be unveiled soon. This title has a much bigger scope and has already been in the works longer than its previous projects. However, Larsen is reluctant to suggest the team will continue to make bigger, more ambitious projects. He tells us that the following game could take six weeks again, or four months.

Yet don’t take this to mean there is a lack of ambition on the part of the former Fruit Ninja makers.

Larsen concludes: “I don’t want to be perceived as just three guys making stuff for the hell of it, and it’s all crazy and whatever happens, happens. That’s true to an extent, and day-to-day things are very fun and casual. But we are very serious about success financially, and our reputation is very high and we want to keep that going. The path we take is sometimes a bit unconventional, and it doesn’t necessarily have a simple six month or 12 month goal, which is what the bigger investors want to see. But we still have our eyes on the prize. We are probably not going to become a 100-person studio anytime soon, but the idea that we can create some of the biggest games in mobile and strategically scale to support them, then that’s fine. If that happens, then we will make that happen.

“We have come from a place where we were working on Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, which were some of the biggest mobile games ever for a few years. We are not strangers to that environment. We haven’t started a studio to figure out how to do mobile, we absolutely already know how to do that. We’ve been through the highs and lows of some of the biggest things out there. We know what to expect and we are definitely aiming for it, but we are not going to compromise quality or our studio culture to get there.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Symantec Agree To $2.3 Billion Acquisition Deal For LifeLock

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

symantec-150x150Symantec Corp announced plans to acquire U.S. identity theft protection services company LifeLock Inc  for $2.3 billion, in a deal that it hopes will prop up sales at its Norton cybersecurity unit.

Symantec’s security software often comes bundled with personal computers. As a result, the company has suffered as consumers use mobile devices more than traditional computers. While Norton remains profitable, its sales have been falling.

“(Norton) had been declining with the declines in PC market share. This acquisition brings $660 million in revenue to the consumer business and returns it to longer sustainable growth,” Symantec Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview.

Reuters was first to report earlier on Sunday that Symantec was in the lead to acquire LifeLock.

Symantec’s purchase of LifeLock is in line with its efforts to diversify its offerings. In August, it bought Blue Coat Inc, which helps firms maintain security over the internet, in a $4.65 billion deal. Clark previously held the top job at Blue Coat, and made the switch after the deal closed.

Based in Tempe, Arizona, LifeLock offers services such as monitoring new account openings and credit-related applications in order to alert consumers about unauthorized use of their identity. It also works with government agencies, merchants and creditors to remediate the impact of identity theft.

Fran Rosch, executive vice president of Norton Business Unit, said that Symantec had dabbled in identity security but had nowhere near Lifelock’s 4.4 million members.

“We had to extend our value proposition. It was a no brainer for us to get back to growth,” Rosch said.

Symantec expects to finance the transaction with cash on balance sheet and $750 million of new debt.

The Mountain View, California-based company has been moving away from what is sees as more commoditized services, selling its data storage business Veritas in January to private equity firm Carlyle Group LP for $7.4 billion. Technology-focused firm Silver Lake Partners has also made a $1 billion investment in the company in two parts this year.

Symantec said the LifeLock deal is not expected to have a material impact on its financial results next year, and reaffirmed its fiscal year 2017 and 2018 guidance. The deal also represents a victory for activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, which had pushed LifeLock to explore its options.

Will The iPhone 8 Go OLED?

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Hopes that Apple might sex up its iPhone 8 with OLED technology could be dashed by the fact that its suppliers can’t make enough of the technology.

After producing an iPhone 7 which was more or less the same as the last one, Apple had been expected to do something special with the iPhone 8. OLED screens were being touted as a way that the tax-dodging cargo cult might pull that off.

However according to the IB Times  suppliers may not be able to meet the demand.

This could force Apple to release limited next-gen iPhone units in 2017 with the rest using the older LCD technology. In other words it will be regurgitating the same technology it has used for years meaning that the iPhone 8 will look and feel like the iPhone 7, which looked suspiciously like the iPhone 6, which was not much of an advance from the iPhone 5.

Samsung Display, LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display cannot mass produce enough units as demanded by the smartphone industry. OLED screens are difficult and time-consuming to produce and it is likely that this constraint will spill over to 2018.

Samsung is reported to be the chief supplier for iPhone’s OLED panels in 2017 but it is facing low yield rates along with its high demand. Apple ordered an initial round of 100 million units for 2017 but Samsung is likely to produce only a portion of that.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple may resort to releasing a fair amount of units featuring screens that use older LCD technology.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon To Sell Fiat Chrysler Cars Online

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

amazon-shopping-150x150Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)  said it has joined forces with U.S. internet giant Amazon to begin selling cars online offering an additional discount.

Initially only Italian buyers will be able to purchase their cars with a simple click online and the offers on Amazon.it will be limited to three models – the 500, the Panda and the 500L.

FCA said the choice was deliberate because the Panda is Italy’s biggest selling car, while buyers of the 500 and its larger 500L version embody the young and adventurous nature this initiative is trying to appeal to.

“The time has arrived to give consumers a new, more efficient and transparent way to choose a new vehicle,” Gianluca Italia, responsible for Fiat Chrysler in Italy, said during an online press conference.

The manager at the world’s seventh largest carmaker said the partnership will appeal to buyers looking for deals from the comfort of their own home, adding that existing promotions will be improved by up to 33 percent for online customers.

He said research had revealed that half of Italians were willing to buy a vehicle online but 97 percent still preferred to pick it up at a traditional dealer.

So, after making their clicks online, buyers will be contacted by Amazon to decide on a dealer where they can finalize their purchase and pick up the car. The vehicle should be ready within two weeks of the initial click.

 

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics

November 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fb-logo-3-150x150Facebook has purchased FacioMetrics, a facial image analysis company, as it attempts to give users new features to add special effects to photos and videos.

The technology developed by the startup also includes capabilities for face tracking and recognizing emotions, which could potentially open up other applications for Facebook.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Facebook will discontinue the products, which are no longer available on app stores. The FacioMetrics website only has a message about the acquisition.

“How people share and communicate is changing and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways,” a Facebook spokesman wrote in an email Wednesday. “We’re excited to welcome the FacioMetrics team who will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos and build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook.”

FacioMetrics, a startup that was spun off from Carnegie Mellon University, was launched to meet the interest and demand for facial image analysis with applications such as augmented and virtual reality, animation, and audience reaction measurement, the company’s founder and CEO Fernando De la Torre wrote on the company’s website.

“Now, we’re taking a big step forward by joining the team at Facebook, where we’ll be able to advance our work at an incredible scale, reaching people from across the globe,” De la Torre added.

In 2003, De la Torre joined the Robotics Institute at CMU, where his research interests were in the fields of computer vision and machine learning. In December, the Human Sensing Laboratory at CMU released to fellow researchers its IntraFace software for tracking facial features and recognizing emotions. “Now it’s time to develop new applications for this technology. We have a few of our own, but we believe there are lots of people who may have even better ideas once they get their hands on it,” De la Torre said at the time.

Facebook has acquired companies in the past to enhance its photo and video capabilities, as it competes for users with services such as Snapchat. The acquisition of Masquerade Technologies in March brought technology that allows users to add special effects to faces in photos and videos.

Facebook Launches Metrics FYI To Provide Insights Into Its Video Ads

November 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

facebook-advertising-150x150Several months after Facebook Inc acknowledged it had inflated the average time it told advertisers that users were watching their video ads, the company is promising better data to give ad buyers a clearer picture of how they are spending their money.

The world’s biggest online social network on Wednesday launched a new blog on its website called Metrics FYI, where it will share updates and corrections for its data.

“We want to ensure our clients trust and believe in the metrics that we are providing,” Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global market solutions told Reuters.

 Getting advertisers to buy more video ads is key to Facebook’s continued revenue growth, as they fetch higher rates from advertisers than text or photo-based ads.

Facebook, along with Alphabet Inc’s Google and other large digital companies, has been criticized for a lack of transparency in how it measures the performance of videos.

Particularly, the lack of a universally agreed method of calculating how much time people are watching online video has been a sore spot for advertisers.

Shares of Facebook were down 2.5 percent at $114.30 in premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

In September, Facebook told advertisers that the average time users spent viewing online ads was artificially inflated, because it was only counting videos that were watched for at least three seconds, its benchmark for a “view.”

Facebook left out those who watched for less than three seconds, or who did not watch the video at all, which gave advertisers the impression their videos were performing better than they really were.

Since the admission and ensuing criticism from advertisers, Everson said Facebook has been in contact with clients and ad community trade groups, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Facebook also said  it is in the process of forming what it called a ‘Measurement Council,’ which will include measurement experts from clients and ad agencies.

One of Facebook’s prominent advertisers, Swiss food and drink company Nestle SA, is already on board, Everson said, and the council should be up and running by early 2017.

The ANA, which represents Procter & Gamble Co, AT&T Inc and other major advertisers, has called on Facebook to get its metrics accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC), an independent media measurement audit group.

While Facebook’s internal metrics are not accredited by that group, it does use MRC-accredited third-party vendors, such as Nielsen and comScore, to help advertisers verify certain data.

China Asks Apple To Investigate Mysterious iPhone 6 Shutdowns

November 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

 

iphone-6-150x150A consumer protection group in China has made a request to Apple to investigate an issue with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S units that are automatically shutting off.

Recently, iPhone customers in the country have complained about the problem to the China Consumers Association, the group said in a statement on Tuesday. The shutdowns occur when the phone’s battery charge drops to between 60 and 50 percent.

The problem will persist despite upgrading to the latest version of iOS. It will also occur in both cold environments and at room temperature.  After the automatic shutdown, the phones will also fail to turn on without connecting to a power supply.

A “considerable number” of consumers have contacted the China Consumers Association, and many have the same problem, the group said. It made the statement as the local press in the country have written stories about the shutdowns.

Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the matter.

Prior to Tuesday’s statement from the consumer association, affected iPhone users in the country also took to local social media services to express their complaints.

“When the battery is at 60 percent it shuts down,” wrote one user on Sina Weibo. “On restart, the phone will display no battery. Then when I turn it on again, it will be normal, only to automatically shut down again.”

Local Chinese media have posted the letter the China Consumers Association sent to Apple. It asks that the company reply within 10 days.

The association is asking Apple what the problem is, whether the phone’s battery is responsible, and what steps the company will take to address the issue.

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