TechSummit Rewind 085

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology stories.

Twitter adds stickers for photos, lets you search them like hashtags

Twitter stickers

Twitter will begin letting you add virtual stickers to the photos you post. Hundreds are available at launch, according to the San Francisco-based company, including the standard Unicode emoji and original work from Twitter.

The company’s also collecting collections of stickers that are pegged to the time of year and events – right now, there are stickers of graduation and “the start of summer.” Twitter’s twist is that you can search them like a hashtag. Tapping a sticker inside a tweet will take you to a new timeline that shows you how it’s being used worldwide.

The feature’s similar to how stickers work on Snapchat, as they can be resized, rotated, and multiplied. Stickers can be added from the Twitter iOS and Android apps, and viewed/searched from the web. According to Twitter, the feature is now rolling out and will be available to everyone in a couple weeks.

Amazon grows education footprint with Inspire learning materials platform

Amazon Inspire

Amazon has launched Inspire, an online education resource platform for teachers to source free learning materials for students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, starting with a beta in the U.S.

The site lets users sort content by relevance, user ratings, and popularity, along with criteria specifically pertaining to the materials at hand (level, skill, etc.)

Inspire’s content is a mix of “crowdsourced” resources from teachers and other educations – uploaded in an interface similar to Amazon’s self-publishing platform, along with primary content from third parties like the Folger Shakespeare Library (which initially adds 100 plays, related lessons, and teaching modules), and Washington’s Newseum.

“Our early partnerships indicate that educators are more than happy to contribute content. Entire districts and states are contributing to Inspire, whether they are creating or curating materials.”

-Rohit Agarwal, Amazon K-12 Education GM

According to Agarwal, the impetus for Inspire is the fact that educators are looking for more places to source learning materials, and share some of their own.

“There are more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., and when we’ve talked to them, one thing we heard over and over again is that they have created resources or they have gone out and found that others have created them through sites and blogs.”

-Rohit Agarwal

According to Amazon, teachers spend around 12 hours a week looking for course materials.

“If we could enable every teacher to contribute resources or help discover them, we could collectively raise access for the 3 million-plus teachers out there.”

-Rohit Agarwal

Inspire has no fee to join and no cost to use the materials on the platform.

The program has already garnered endorsements from the states of Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont, along with the Visalia, Calif.; Mineola, NY; Pittsburgh; El Cajon, Calif.; Missouri; Nashville; Tullahoma City, Tenn.; and Virginia Beach school districts.

Wisconsin’s sentencing algorithm faces court battle

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Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is close to ruling on an appeal from Eric Loomis, who claimed that the justice system relied too heavily on its Compas algorithm to determine the likelihood of repeat offenses and sentence him to six years in prison. His attorneys claim that the code is “full of holes,” including secret criteria and generic decisions that aren’t as individually tailored as they have to be. For instance, predictions will be skewed based on your gender or age.

Mobcrush livestreaming app, gaming community launches across platforms

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Mobcrush’s livestreaming app and gaming community is officially launching for a global audience on the Google Play Store, iOS App Store, and Mac App Store.

Beyond being a livestreaming app, a community for avid gamers to share and broadcast their gameplay.

China tightens controls on paid-for internet search ads

According to China’s internet regulator, search engines should tighten management of paid-for ads in search results, making clear which results are paid-for and limiting their numbers.

“Internet search providers should earnestly accept corporate responsibility toward society, and strengthen their own management in accordance with the law and rules, to provide objective, fair and authoritative search results to users.”

-Cyberspace Administration of China

According to the regulator, users have particularly been concerned with medical ads, which threatened people’s health.

“Some search results contain rumors, obscenities, pornography, violence, murder, terrorism, and other illegal information. Some search results lack objectivity and fairness, go against corporate morals and standards, misleading and influencing people’s judgement.”

-Cyberspace Administration of China

Google makes educational tools more powerful

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Google has announced several new tools, and expanded capabilities for existing educator tools.

Starting with Cast for Education, which lets students and teachers share their screens from anywhere in the classroom to the computer that’s plugged into the projector. Teachers turn their main computer into a Cast destination and approve requests from students on a case by case basis. According to Google, the feature aims to expand the user of the projector to those other than the teacher to foster improved interaction with students. Cast for Education is designed to work with schools’ complex wireless networks and allows for video and audio sharing. The program’s available in beta as a Chrome app for Chrome OS, Mac, and Windows for free.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is also expanded its Forms feature by directly integrating quizzes. According to Google, it’s one of teachers’ most popular tools for feedback and many have been requested the ability to deliver quizzes through it. Quizzes in Google Forms let teachers automatically grade multiple choice and check box questions and can provide immediate feedback to students when they make an incorrect answer.

Google is opening up the virtual reality Expeditions tools that were originally launched in a trial run last year to everyone with an Android device today, with availability for iOS devices in the near future. Expeditions are guided VR tools that use Google Cardboard to link up a group of people in the same experience. According to the company, there are over 200 Expedition experiences to choose from.

Lastly, Google is offering a bundle of creative apps for schools, including Explain Everything, Soundtrap, and WeVideo, for their Chromebooks at a discounted price.

Microsoft shutting down Xbox Fitness

Xbox-Fitness-Screen-workout

Microsoft is shutting down Xbox Fitness after two years of operation.

“Given the service relies on providing you with new and exciting content regularly, Microsoft has given much consideration to the reality updating the service regularly in order to sustain it. Therefore, the decision has been made to scale back our support for Xbox Fitness over the next year.”

-Erica Bell, Xbox Fitness community manager

Starting today, the app won’t be available for purchase on the Xbox store, though current users will be able to continue to use Xbox Fitness for the next year, ending Jun. 30, 2017. On Dec. 1, the Xbox Fitness 30-day free trial for Xbox Live Gold subscribers will no longer be available. Finally, on Jul. 1, 2017, Xbox Fitness and all of its content will no longer be available to anyone.

“We know that many of you have used Xbox Fitness to begin your fitness journey, to supplement it, or as a way to redefine your own fitness story. We’re glad we could be a part of the journey.”

-Erica Bell

Facebook launches human-curated Featured Events list

Facebook Featured Events

iOS users in 10 U.S. cities will see a new Featured Events list in a carousel atop their list of upcoming excursions. Curators at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company will peruse each city’s top art, entertainment, family, festival, fitness, food & drink, learning, community, music, and sports events, and select a few capable of handling some extra foot traffic.

“You can think about it like a weekend or weekly digest of cool stuff that you can do in your city.”

-Aditya Koolwal, Facebook Events product manager

The first cities with access are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Highly engaged Events users will also receive a push notification, according to Koolwal, which gives them “enough time to see what the Featured Events are, reach out to friends, and see if they want to go.”

“What we do is have a team of people who are basically looking at events on Facebook that have broad appeal, that a lot of people could go to, and they’re highlighting ones they think will be good to list out.”

-Aditya Koolwal

Users will also see specific event categories like “Music” or “Food” and time frames like “This weekend” where they can explore algorithmically aggregated events. Frequent event hosts will also benefit from a new tab that helps them see who typically is/isn’t responding to their invites so they can avoid sending spam and ensure they don’t waste their allotted 500 invites/event on people who don’t come.

According to Koolwal, Facebook still has no plans for a standalone Events app.

“The cost to installing an app is high. If we can build a lot of discovery features into Facebook and get people to use them, that’s a huge win.”

-Aditya Koolwal

Facebook rolls out Slideshow movie-maker

Facebook Slideshow

Facebook is now rolling out its Slideshow movie-maker to iOS users worldwide.

If you’ve taken more than five photos/videos in the past 24 hours and go to post a status, Facebook will now suggest creating a Slideshow. It may also give you the option to “Try It” when viewing a friend’s Slideshow.

Each Slideshow is composed automatically, with a combination of photos/videos, themed music, and transitions. You can edit the content, and change the theme to one of 10 (Nostalgic, Playful, Night Out, Birthday, Epic, Thankful, etc.).

HP Enterprise CTO Martin Fink steps down

Martin Fink

HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman has announced several organizational changes to the company, including its CTO departure.

Martin Fink is retiring as the company’s CTO and head of Hewlett Packard Labs after over 30 years with HP. With the departure, HPE is moving Hewlett Packard Labs into the Enterprise Group under Antonio Neri to “further accelerate” the division’s work from R&D to commercialization, according to Whitman. This should specifically help align R&D on The Machine, HPE’s attempt to overhaul computing architecture, with the company’s business roadmap.

“In addition to making HPE more competitive – with faster growth, higher margins, and stronger free cash flow – the move also provided a unique opportunity for us to reimagine our internal organization.”

-Meg Whitman, HP Enterprise CEO

HPE is also consolidating its sales teams into a single unit led by Peter Ryan, who’s currently the company’s EMEA senior vice president and managing director. The company is also consolidating its product marketing, e-commerce, and customer advocacy groups into a single marketing division under the leadership of Henry Gomex, who’s currently chief marketing and communications officer. The company’s IT and cybersecurity teams will be handed over to HPE chief operating officer Chris Hsu.

“We’re living in a world where continuous improvement is essential to long-term success.”

-Meg Whitman

HPE chief customer officer John Hinshaw is also leaving the company at the end of the year.

Uber launches ad-free Pandora partnership

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Uber is launching Pandora support in its driver app, giving drivers an alternative to traditional radio and six months of ad-free music.

Within the app, drivers can listen to the streaming service by authenticating with Pandora. Then, hook up the app to their car’s stereo and begin playing any station. The offering is available only in Pandora’s operating markets (U.S., Australia, New Zealand).

“Many drivers already use music to get their day started on the right note, but it can be challenging to find high-quality music that both drivers and riders love – without radio ads and interruptions to the music. This integration will make it easier for drivers and riders to listen to the music they love.”

-Bob Cowherd, Uber music & media senior product manager

Twitch Cheers enable fans to fund livestreamers with premium emotes

Twitch Cheers

Twitch has launched Cheering, which allows spectators to show support for broadcasters with animated emotes.

Spectators can type in “cheer” followed by a number in the chat window, Higher numbers use more Bits, which users can purchase with real-world currency.

Starting today, viewers can cheer for dozens of partnered channels involved in the beta. The feature will eventually have a broader layout, as it gets refined based on community feedback.

Bits can be purchased through the Bits icon at the bottom of the chat window. Based on the amount of Cheering done in chat, they can earn badges that make them more visible to the community. Bits are available for purchase now, starting at $1.49/100 Bits.

At launch, third-party integrations will be available from Muxy, TwitchAlerts, and Design by Teak, among others.

“Our community loves to support their favorite broadcasters, and Cheering using Bits provides a fun way to level up their appreciation. If channel subscriptions are the equivalent to holding season tickets for your favorite sports team, Cheering is like getting a crowd wave started during the game.”

-Emmett Sheat, Twitch CEO

Streamers participating in the beta include Bacon-donut, brotatoe, cobalstreak, cohhcarnage, dansgaming, Ezekiel_iii, Femsteph, futuremangaming, Giantwaffle, goldglove, iijeriichoii, itmejp, Joshog, lirik, Lolrenaynay, omgitsfirefoxx, pianoimproman, professorbroman, reynad27, sevadus, Streamerhouse, Swiftor, timthetatman, and over a dozen others.

For the full list, visit the Twitch blog.

 

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