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Telegram App Adopts Disappear Messages Like Snapchat

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Telegram, which gained notoriety for its encrypted messaging service, just upped its privacy game for users.

The app now lets you send your friends “self-destructing” photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds, the company said in a recentblog post. How long it takes for the media to go away depends on how long you set the timer for.

If this update sounds all too familiar, that’s because it’s similar to Snapchat’s ephemeral pictures and video. Snapchat isn’t unfamiliar to having its features cloned by other apps, however. In the last year, Facebook has rolled out a similar feature to Instagram, WhatsApp and its the Facebook app.

While self-destructing messages are automatic on Snapchat, Telegram requires you to set a timer (anywhere from one second to a minute) telling it when to work its magic before you send the selected media, which can only be viewed on the devices used to send and receive it. The feature doesn’t work on its Web platform.

The app’s latest move, billed as a way to improve privacy, may come at a bad time, given some governments believe the app offers a safe haven for terrorists to spread extremist ideas and plot attacks. After troubles in Russia, Telegram last week found itself banned in Indonesia, where authorities said they detected “thousands of communication activities [on Telegram] leading to terrorist activities.”

 

Amazon Jumps Into Social Media Shopping With Spark Launch

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc has rolled out a social feature called Spark that encourages members to showcase and purchase products on its platforms, the retail giant’s first clear move into the world of social media.

Spark, which is currently only available for Amazon’s premium paying Prime members, encourages users to share photos and videos, just like popular social media platforms Instagram and Pinterest. The new feature publicly launched on Tuesday for use on mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system.

Spark users can tag products on their posts that are available on Amazon and anyone browsing the feeds can instantly find and purchase them on the platform. Users can also respond to posts with “smiles,” equivalent to Facebook’s “likes.”

“We created Spark to allow customers to discover – and shop – stories and ideas from a community that likes what they like,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.

“When customers first visit Spark, they select at least five interests they’d like to follow and we’ll create a feed of relevant content contributed by others. Customers shop their feed by tapping on product links or photos with the shopping bag icon.”

Amazon has also invited publishers including paid influencers and bloggers to post on Spark. Their posts are identified with a sponsored hashtag.

Does Google Truly Invade Your Privacy

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

John McAfee has been polled for his opinion on Google. The good news is he has one, it isn’t positive and he is apparently very pleased to give it up.

McAfee is probably at his best when he is passionate about something, and he is obviously passionate about disliking Google. The video, recorded for telly and put on YouTube by John McAfee, shows our man in passionate privacy protection mode.

It’s called “Stop Endangering Our Humanity Or I’m Coming For You,” and is aimed squarely at Google, a firm that he reckons has obsequiously crept its way into our minds, lives and privacy

The good news is, this is just like Invasion USA, the film with Chuck Norris. Though in this case Russia is Google, the USA remains the same and John McAfee is Chuck Norris.

“There is nothing wrong with creating great products, or even building a large company. Success should be rewarded, and never punished. But when success gives way to pure, venal greed we all suffer. Google has become so large, and so powerful, that their greed now threatens to destroy us all,” says the trailer voiceover video description.

“John McAfee has put Google on notice: change your ways or at least one person will be standing in your way. You don’t want to miss this!”

The video, which is something of a tirade, shows McAfee talking about Sentinel a security cure-all that he says could have a switch that turns off Google spiders and its ability to index, and its ability to exist. He does not mince his words.

The video starts with a voiceover clip from mind-bending “I am not a number” show The Prisoner, which sets the tone. Then McAfee compares Google to smoking cigarettes and says that Google has sacrificed privacy on the altar of Mammon and removed his, and your, human dignity.

“I am seriously ticked off about Google’s lack of conscience,” he says. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that the objections of the world are laid squarely at the doorstep of Google.”

McAfee has also posted a photo to Twitter (above) with the message “Are you ready Google.” In it, his tattooed torso is shirtless and he is wearing a scary mask.

We wouldn’t want to be Google.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung Finally Launches Bixby Voice App For Galaxy S8

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally officially launched voice capabilities for its Bixby smart sidekick in the US, about three months after the artificial intelligence technology first became available on its new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus phones. The company had delayed the launch and missed its own promised “later this spring” deadline, at least in the US.

Owners of its newest phones will be able to access Bixby Voice after downloading a software update, rolling out at 9 p.m. PT. South Korean users, who’ve had access to Bixby Voice in the Korean language since May 1, will also be able to now access the English language capabilities. The company didn’t say when Bixby Voice will be available in other countries.

Bixby is Samsung’s new digital voice assistant that debuted on its latest smartphones. It has its own dedicated button on the side of the device, letting you communicate with the artificial intelligence like you’d use a walkie-talkie. The only problem is the voice part of the assistantdidn’t actually work when the Galaxy S8 hit the market in April. What did work with Bixby was its “Vision, Home and Reminder” functions that identify objects in photos, help you track your day and remind you about upcoming events on your calendar.

Rather than launching voice capabilities right away, Samsung said it needed more time to get Bixby ready for mainstream consumers. It has been testing it out with over 100,000 Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus users in its early access preview program. Those participants generated more than 4 million commands and helped Samsung refine Bixby’s capabilities.

One benefit includes “increased comprehension on command variations.” You can, for instance, ask what the weather is like by saying “Show me today’s weather,” “What’s the weather like today?” or “What’s the forecast today?” Samsung says it has improved Bixby’s response times, increased hands-free operations and included a new “read aloud feature.” You can ask it to read the latest email you’ve received.

Samsung also has worked to make Bixby interact better with third-party apps. If you’re using Google Maps, you can use Bixby to change the location of your origin or destination.

Bixby is the latest entrant in the crowded field of digital assistants that already includes Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Every tech heavyweight is investing in these assistants because they’re heralded as the future of how we’ll interact with our gadgets. The hope is to build a relationship with you now and ultimately get you to buy more of their products later.

Will WhatsApp Face Competition From Amazon

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Just when you thought the messaging app market couldn’t get any more crowded, along come the rumors that Amazon wants a piece of the action.

According to AFTV News, Amazon has begun surveying customers about the new messaging service to gauge which features are most important them.

Called Anytime, the rumored app will apparently be a one-stop-shop focused on voice and video calls, alongside a photo sharing feature with @mentions, as well as some highly-original real-time filters for photos and video with “special effects and masks.”

So yes, that will almost definitely mean more basic dog-eared AR seflies *eyeroll emoji*.

If the rumors are true, the service would also keep chats private and allows users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details”, allowing them to converse with businesses, make reservations, and – in true Amazon style – virtually shop until they drop.

“Based on the images I’ve been provided, Anytime by Amazon seems to be an all-in-one feature rich service that could even rival social networks,” the AFTV report stated. “[It] will also provide tasks that can be done in groups, like playing games, listening to music, and ordering food.”

There’s no word on how long the app will take to get into the phone-wielding hands of the masses, but a customer said the survey implied it was “a ready product”.

Are you surprised that Amazon is making a move on the messaging app market? We’re certainly not. The firm is desperate to get in on any kind of action these days in its plan to take over the world and be the go-to for everything.

Don’t be shocked when the company launches its own dating service, where we would expect you could get a dinner date with Alexa as part of a Black Friday deal.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Virtual Reality To Expensive For The Masses

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The current generation of virtual reality is not dead, but it’s not exactly full of life, either. What once was a pulsating buzz has faded into the background of an industry, not because there are newer, shinier toys to play with, but simply because for all the newness and shine of VR, there has been little evidence that a significant audience exists for the experiences we can deliver at this time.

Earlier this week, Oculus instituted a temporary $200 price cut of the Rift, dropping the headset and its Touch controllers to a $400 bundle that comes packed with seven free games (including Lucky’s Tale, Medium, Toybox, and Robo Recall) and an Xbox One controller for good measure. That’s in addition to the $200 price cut Oculus rolled out in March for the headset and Touch combo, meaning the company has slashed the price by 50% in just four months.

On its own, this could actually be an encouraging sign, but taken in context of the rest of the news coming out of the VR sector, it’s more concerning than convincing. For one, Oculus looks to be bringing up the rear among the three major high-end VR options on the market, despite being a first mover and having the significant financial backing of Facebook. Through the first half of this year, tracking firm Superdata put the Rift’s installed base at just 383,000 units, compared to HTC Vive’s 667,000 units and PlayStation VR’s 1.8 million.

Even ignoring its relative sales position, Oculus is already in a tough spot in the enthusiast VR fight, technologically a step behind the more expensive Vive, but still more expensive (when considering the cost of a VR-capable PC) and less mass market than the PSVR. That’s a difficult problem for marketing anything, doubly so when what you’re selling is an experience that by its nature needs to be experienced to be fully understood, triply so when you’re drastically scaling back the number of demo units in retail locations where interested customers could get their first taste of VR.

I also question Oculus’ decision to shutter its in-house Story Studio, which was set up with Pixar veterans to show how VR could shift the medium of film as much as it could games. The studio’s Henry won an Emmy in 2016. Its follow-up, Dear Angelica, premiered at Sundance earlier this year to rave reviews and has been submitted for Emmy consideration at this year’s awards, which are still a few months away. In short, Story Studio was exactly the sort of investment in a potentially disruptive medium you would expect a company with long-term ambitions to keep. Instead, they cut it loose, with head of content Jason Rubin essentially saying it was time for external filmmakers to pick up the narrative VR ball (albeit with some $50 million in funding from Oculus).

There’s a bit of a theme there. Just a couple months before closing Story Studio, Rubin pointed out for GamesIndustry.biz at GDC that Facebook–and by extension, Oculus–isn’t a content creation company.

“Facebook’s not a media company,” Rubin said. “So there may be a day where Facebook says we’re going to head towards our core competency… That’s why I don’t have internal teams. I have exactly one group of three people besides Story Studios because that didn’t exist outside.”

Facebook didn’t pay $2 billion for Oculus in 2014 because it wanted to make games. It wanted VR to be a popular thing it could leverage for its social network. If HTC Vive or Sony or Microsoft can make VR work better than Oculus, that still gets VR where the social network wants it to be. That’s not ideal for Facebook, but after the Rift’s slow start, the hundreds of millions it already owes in court judgments, the hundreds of millions more it might be made to pay in the future, and seeing the face of the VR revolution leave under a cloud of controversy, one could understand if the company’s commitment to VR began to waver.

Speaking of the competition, I’m not terribly optimistic with what they’re bringing to the table. Sony’s PSVR is leading the pack, but I’m still skeptical whether the company’s interest in the hardware will be any longer lasting than its support for Vita, or Wonderbook, or PlayStation TV, or Move, or EyeToy, or stereoscopic 3D. Sony’s E3 conference featured some promising games in Polyarc’s Moss, two titles from Until Dawn developer Supermassive, and Skyrim VR, but little that stands out as a system-seller the way that Resident Evil 7, or even the prospect of last year’s Batman and Star Wars VR experiences might have. When asked at E3 about whether that lineup would boost PSVR adoption, Sony’s Jim Ryan was unsure.

“I think we are still really just learning about VR,” Ryan said. “When hopefully we meet in a year’s time, I will be able to give you a better answer to this question. It still won’t be a perfect answer, but I’ll know more.”

That’s not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence from PlayStation’s chief marketer. I’m not sure I want to bet the future health of VR on Sony’s continued support for a market that is (for now, at least) peripheral to its core business.

The situation with HTC and the Vive underscores another issue when trying to establish an emerging field like VR. Vive launched at the cutting edge, but since then has rolled out object tracker peripherals and a wireless adaptor, respectively giving developers more options and addressing a key complaint around high-end VR. In both cases, they would be better served as being part of the core hardware package rather than optional add-ons for what is already the most expensive option on the market. For the next generation of VR, perhaps they’ll be standard.

But who will invest in the next generation of enthusiast VR–on either the consumer side or the manufacturer side–if this generation disappoints? How long does a VR generation need to be before someone who spent $800 on a Vive (not to mention the cost of a VR-capable PC) feels they got their money’s worth and would re-up for a successor? How many great games does it need to have? How many generations does an HTC or Facebook need to take a bath on before the business turns around and justifies the continued investment?

Then there’s Microsoft, which will enter the fray this holiday season with its “mixed reality” VR headsets for Windows that are cheaper and require less of a set up than Oculus or Vive, but appear to make compromises on the technical side to get there. It’s telling that even with Microsoft launching the high-end, VR-capable Xbox One X this year, it is foregoing any sort of console VR push and relying on higher resolutions and better frame rates for Xbox One games as the sales pitch for a One X. Phil Spencer told us at E3 that VR was still years away from the mainstream for gamers, suggesting the company was waiting to launch its console VR until it had a proper wireless solution ready.

At this point, it seems more likely to me that the current enthusiast VR market is an expensive R&D exercise that won’t produce successful systems, but will lay the groundwork for the actual mass market VR, which will instead evolve both in audience and use-cases from the mobile VR world. (We call it mobile VR, but I don’t think I’m alone in having never once seen someone using a mobile VR headset on the subway, in the security line at the airport, or in the waiting room at a dentist.)

A number of the VR developers I’ve spoken to have mentioned wires, price, system-selling software, and installed base as key issues VR needs to tackle to become truly mainstream. As Google Daydream and the Oculus-powered Gear VR have shown, the first two are all but solved problems in mobile VR thanks to the use of existing smartphones. As for the other two, when your system is only $100 or so, the definition of a system-seller changes dramatically, which then has plenty of beneficial implications for the installed base. (Promotions like Samsung giving away Gear VR with new Galaxy phone purchases don’t hurt, either.)

All mobile VR really needs are better interfaces and more powerful phones. The Gear VR motion controller is a good first step for the former, and the latter is improving all the time. If VR is really going to go mass market, doesn’t it make more sense for it to grow not from the high-end early adopter market who would have dropped $600 on a PS3, but from the masses who made a compelling novelty like the $250 Wii a phenomenon?

Courtesy-GI.biz

Former MIT Professor Predicts Telepathy On The Horizon

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A former MIT professor and engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google claims she is close to making communicating telepathically happen relatively soon.

Mary Lou Jepsen quit her job heading up display technology for the Oculus virtual reality arm of Facebook to develop new imaging technologies to help cure diseases.

Shortly thereafter she founded Openwater, which is developing a device that puts the capabilities of a huge MRI machine into a lightweight wearable form.

Openwater is creating a device that can enable us to see inside our brains or bodies in great detail. With this comes the promise of new abilities to diagnose and treat disease and well beyond – communicating with thought alone.

This week Jepsen went further and suggested a timeframe for such capabilities becoming reality. She said that it should take less than eight years until telepathy is possible.

Jepsen, who has also spent time at Google X, MIT and Intel, says the basic idea is to shrink down the huge MRI machines found in medical hospitals into flexible LCDs that can be embedded in a ski hat and use infrared light to see what’s going on in your brain.

“Literally a thinking cap. The idea is that communicating by thought alone could be much faster and even allow us to become more competitive with the artificial intelligence that is supposedly coming for everyone’s jobs very soon.”

She said that the tech is close. “If a person is put into an MRI machine it is possible to tell you what words you’re about to say, what images are in your head, music you’re thinking.”

All that is required is to shrink all that down. If it were that easy, why did the US bother with waterboarding?

Courtesy-Fud

Red Digital Cinema Announces 3D Smartphone

July 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Red Digital Cinema Camera Co. said that it will be offering what it described as the “world’s first holographic media machine,” a smartphone with 3D image capabilities.

Red, known for its professional high-definition cameras used for filming movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and The Hobbit, said its new Hydrogen One Media Machine smartphone will ship in the first quarter of 2018.

The Hydrogen One Media Machine has a 5.7-in “retina-riveting” holographic display, runs Google’s Android OS and incorporates a new high-speed data bus and an “ever-expanding modular component system.”

What the company called “nanotechnology” will allow the smartphone to seamlessly switch between traditional 2D content, holographic multiview content, 3D content and interacting games, which can be viewed in both landscape and portrait modes.

“Wearable displays not spoken here,” the company stated in a press release. “It is no longer necessary to carry (or charge) another device to enjoy multi-dimensional content.”

Red said it has also created its own file type, called “Hydrogen 4-View content.” Like Apple’s iCloud service, video and photos will automatically be stored via the company’s Red Channel, which also users to stream holographic games and movies.

The company also created a proprietary firmware algorithm that converts stereo sound into multi-dimensional audio. “Think 5.1 on your headphones,” the company stated in its marketing material.

Because of its modular design, the smartphone will be able to incorporate future attachments for shooting higher-quality motion and holographic still images. The smartphone will also integrate into the Red camera program, enabling it to work with the company’s Scarlet, EPIC and Weapon line of 8K cameras to act as a user interface and monitor.

The Hydrogen One will come with a USB-C cable and charger and an expandable micro SD card slot.

The Hydrogen One comes unlocked and with a steep price tag: $1,195 for the “Aluminum” model, and $1,595 cost for the “Titanium” version.

Samsung To Delay Bixby Voice Assistant Again

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The consumer electronics giant announced to the Korea Herald that the English version of its digital assistant will be delayed — again — because it lacks enough big data to teach it to work properly. Bixby Voice was supposed to launch in late April before it was pushed back to “later this spring” and then to June. It’s unclear when Bixby will launch.

Samsung did launch parts of Bixby in April in the US, including the “Vision, Home and Reminder” components that offer features like image recognition and home controls. But the central part of the service — enabling a person to use voice to control and navigate Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone — is still only available in Korean.

The delayed launch of Bixby comes at a time when virtually all of the major tech companies are rolling out their own voice-activated digital assistants. Everyone from Apple to Google to Amazon sees speech as the next significant way to interact with your devices and is keen to develop a relationship with you. The hope is your loyalty to an assistant like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Samsung’s Bixby will better tie you to their products and services.

Samsung faces entrenched competition. Amazon leads the market with nearly 71 percent share, thanks to its family of Echo speakers with Alexa, according to eMarketer. Google is No. 2 with almost 24 percent share due to its Google Home speaker with Google Assistant.

Creating a digital assistant that actually, well, assists you takes a lot of data and examples of human interactions. These assistants get smarter with only time and experience, and Samsung’s delays underscore how complicated creating one can be.

Amazon has flooded the market with cheap Alexa-infused speakers over the past couple of years to get more people using its digital assistant. In its attempt to catch up, Google is relying on its treasure trove of data from billions of search queries to power Google Assistant. Microsoft’s strategy is to add its Cortana digital assistant to all Windows 10 devices.

Six years after Siri launched on the iPhone 4S, Apple is just starting to make it more useful but the company has a base of millions of iPhone users to instantly tap.

Samsung doesn’t have that luxury. When the Galaxy S8 phone launched in the US in late April, Bixby was notably missing, especially considering the time Samsung spent talking it up during the launch presentation. The Korea Herald said that early beta tests with US consumers showed mixed results.

“Samsung is continuing to dominate hardware, but once again its shortcomings in software and particularly artificial intelligence are laid bare for all to see,” said Richard Windsor, an analyst at Radio Free Mobile.

The Korea Herald report, citing unnamed sources, also said that the complexities of US engineers communicating with management in Korea has led to slower progress than with the Korean-language version.

A spokesman for Samsung wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Is The High-End PC Market The Most Profitable

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Acer has been focuing on flogging high-margin PCs including gaming notebooks, ultra-thin models and 2-in-1s, and it appears to be paying off.

Acer CEO Jason Chen said that each segment has been doing well this year. Acer’s revenues from its gaming PC business reached $300 million in 2016 and Acer has been outperforming the market average in many product lines.

Chen said that during the first five months of 2017, Acer’s gaming PC sales went up 80 per cent  from the same period a year ago, while the market’s average was only around 30 per cent. Acer is also seeing the same trend for its Chromebook business with first-five-month sales growing 80 per cent from a year ago. In this case the market’s average growth was only 20 per cent.

Acer’s strategy since falling from the peak of its operations three and half years ago, has been focusing on maintaining its profitability. Currently, Acer’s product ASP is up 14 per cent from before and gross margins reached 10 per cent in 2016, the highest in the past 10 years, Chen detailed.

Acer also sees gold in  virtual reality (VR), content and artificial intelligence (AI). Acer has partnered with Starbreeze to establish a joint venture for VR applications and has started seeing profits since the second half of 2016. The company’s high-performance PC for AI applications also recently acquired procurement orders from Thailand, and the company has already received a total of seven related procurement projects for 2017.

Acer’s VR arm is  focusing on gaming- and movie-related content and is also looking to merge the two concepts. Acer recently partnered with ZeroLight to develop high definition car VR solutions. The company has also been pushing its VR technologies into industries such as real estate, aerospace and training.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Announces Return Of ‘Prime Day’ Sales Bonanza

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

If you missed last year’s sales extravaganza, Amazon has good news for you.

The e-commerce titan has officially announced its third annual Prime Day will be July 11. The sales day will include hundreds of thousands of deals worldwide and run for 30 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on July 10. As usual, these deals will be available only to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year in the US and can sign up for £59 in the UK until July 3, for unlimited two-day shipping and other perks.

The sale will also expand to more countries to include Mexico, China and India, where Amazon launched its Prime membership program over the past year. The US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria are also included.

Amazon has found huge success creating the sales holiday in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary. The company even broke its single-day sales record during Prime Day last year. But, as Amazon’s dominance continues to grow, Prime Day serves as another example of the online seller gobbling up more market share as traditional retailers file for bankruptcy or close stores. The company last year accounted for 43 percent of all online sales in the US, according to researcher Slice Intelligence.

Perhaps aware of its increased influence, Amazon mentioned in its announcement Wednesday that 40 percent of its “Lightning Deals” promotions on Prime Day will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Since its first year, Prime Day has also gotten knocked for offering undesirable deals along with low inventories of the most popular items. Responding to that criticism, the company increased its stocks of big-name items last year and decided to embrace the sometimes oddball or unexpected nature of the deals offered. These changed seemed to work, with Adobe Digital Insights reporting that customer sentiments on social media was more positive last year than during the first Prime Day.

The company is also doing more this year to better organize deals and make it easier for customers to track and shop for sales.

Amazon will be continuing its “countdown deals” in the run-up to Prime Day, offering sales starting today. Those include discounts on memberships for Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Audible.

Twitter Detects Crime Faster Than Police, Says Researchers

June 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Social media may be a useful tool in helping law enforcement maintain peace and order.

Twitter can identify riots and other violent activities minutes or even over an hour before the police are notified, according to a study released Tuesday by Cardiff University.

Researchers at Cardiff University analysed 1.6 million tweets relevant to the 2011 London riots. In the town of Enfield, police received reports of disorder an hour and 23 minutes after computer systems could have picked up the same information from Twitter, according to the study.

“In this research, we show that online social media are becoming the go-to place to report observations of everyday occurrences — including social disorder and terrestrial criminal activity,” said co-author of the study, Dr Pete Burnap.

He added that, while the study demonstrates that new technologies can be leveraged to support “more established policing methods,” social media will “never” replace traditional resources.

Social media has increasingly been used by the police in crime fighting efforts. In 2013, police turned to social media and called for the public to submit information about the Boston Marathon Bombing to aid in investigation. More recently, in Thailand, the Immigration Bureau received a tip-off from the Line messaging app in May, which led to the arrest of two Vietnamese suspected of overstaying their visas. In New Hampshire, a video posted to Facebook by the police earned them “dozens of tips” that helped identify a suspect in a crime, it was reported last week.

Facebook Hits Two Billion Users Milestone

June 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc announced this week that 2 billion people are regularly using its flagship service, marching past another milestone in its growth from a college curiosity in the United States to the world’s largest social media network.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg disclosed the number to his followers in a Facebook post. “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you,” he wrote.

The user base is bigger than the population of any single country, and of six of the seven continents. It represents more than a quarter of the world’s 7.5 billion people.

Facebook defines a monthly active user as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through its website or a mobile device, or used its Messenger app, in the past 30 days. It does not include people who use the Instagram or WhatsApp networks but not Facebook.

The company said in May that duplicate accounts, according to an estimate from last year, may have represented some 6 percent of its worldwide user base.

The social network’s user population dwarfs that of similar companies. Twitter Inc  reported in April monthly active users of 328 million, while Snap Inc’s Snapchat had 166 million daily users at the end of the first quarter.

WeChat, a unit of Tencent Holdings Ltd and a widely used service in China, said in May that it had 938 million monthly active users in the first quarter.

Facebook had 1.94 billion people using its service monthly as of March 31, an increase of 17 percent from a year earlier. It reached 1 billion in October 2012.

The company, which Zuckerberg started in 2004 in his college dorm room, uses its huge size advantage to lure advertisers, offering them highly targeted marketing capabilities based on its data about users.

The number of advertisers topped 5 million in April, the company said.

Facebook’s growth has increasingly come from outside the United States, Canada and Europe. Three years ago, those regions accounted for some 38 percent of users, compared with about 30 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Was The iPhone Originally Suppose To Copy An Android Features?

June 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Steve Jobs wanted the iPhone to be more like Android and have a back button in addition to a home button, however the designers over ruled him.

Brian Merchant’s new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, said that if Jobs’ designers had managed to pull it off, it would have meant that the iPhone would have the same look and feel of the Android products which replaced it as the number one operating system.

Much has been made skipped over by the Apple Press about how super-cool and wonderful the iPhone is because it does not need a back-button and only has a single home button, but apparently this idea went against what Jobs wanted.

The book names Imran Chaudhri, a veteran Apple designer who spent 19 years working on Apple’s Human Interface Team.

Jobs’ original vision was to have two buttons as he correctly felt that users would need a back button for navigation.

However, the designers were less practical and argued that it was all about generating trust and predictability. If you have a back button it means that you do not really trust where the operating system is taking you.

In other words, they wanted Apple users to believe that the phone could not make mistakes. Having a back button implied that you could do that and end up in the wrong place. The back button would be too complex to factor in.

“Part of the problem with other phones was the features were buried in menus, they were too complex. A back button could complicate matters too, he told Jobs

Apparently, Jobs backed down and agreed that the design concept based around “we know what we are doing” was far more important that what users would actually need.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Teach Chatbots To Negotiate

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Chatbots are being taught how to drive a hard bargain in a new AI experiment carried out by Facebook’s Labs.

According to New Scientist, the research could lead to more effective personal assistants able to negotiate on our behalf, sorting out calendar clashes and the like.

French website Julie Desk is already offering this kind of AI diary management, but now Facebook has jumped on the bandwagon, looking at perhaps getting you a good deal on your next holiday, according to Mike Lewis from the social network’s boffin division.

The team trained bots on a database of over 5,000 text conversations between people playing a game where they had to divvy up an inventory of “things”. Each “thing” was assigned a value, with the values unique to each player and each item. So, for example, a ball might be worth four to one player, but only two to another.

The object of the game, as in most games, is to score the most points, by acquiring the most objects with the highest personal value.

After learning, the bots were further trained with more matches, some against each other, some against humans. Working in natural language often led to a crappy deal. Working in totally selfish terms often led to a great deal, but often one made in utter gobbledegook.

The trick, therefore, was to find a way of combining techniques to produce something that would allow the bots to communicate with humans in a real world scenario. The result was a good (but not brilliant) negotiator who can work with humans on their terms.

Beyond doing work for you, a bot might be able to give you useful tips when doing a deal that perhaps you don’t want to hand over. Say you’re negotiating a house price, it could be able to tell you how much of your hand to play and what not to say.

Oliver Lemon at Heriot-Watt University explained that the use of natural language was essential as a user would need to be able to go back to a deal and work out why it did what it did – in other words, justification is important when you’re a bot.

Late last year we reported on UCLA students who had created a Judge Rinderbot.

Courtesy-TheInq

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