TechSummit Rewind 102

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Apple adds 2TB iCloud option for $19.99/month

iCloud_mini_MBA_iPhone5s_iPhone5c_PRINT

iCloud users can now pony up $19.99/month for 2TB of storage from Apple.

Amazon Dash Buttons expand to U.K., Germany, Austria

Amazon Dash Replenishment

Amazon has launched its Dash Buttons program in the U.K., Germany, and Austria.

The Seattle-based retailer’s Dash Replenishment Service is also launching in the aforementioned markets to let device-makers connect their devices to Amazon to reorder physical goods automatically.

Jeff Jones joins Uber as ridesharing president

Uber_Logobit_Digital_black

Uber has hired Jeff Jones as its president of ridesharing. According to company CEO Travis Kalanick, he’ll be responsible for the company’s operations, marketing, and customer support globally.

Jones succeeds Ryan Graves, who will become the company’s “resident entrepreneur.”

“It’s super clear to me that Jeff understands scale, operational excellence, innovation, and storytelling – and that’s he up for learning and testing his limits. Most of all I love Jeff’s optimism about, and enthusiasm for, our mission.”

-Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

Jones was previously Target’s chief marketing officer.

Sonos partners with Amazon, Spotify for enhanced music control

Sonos

Sonos has announced software partnerships with Spotify and Amazon.

Spotify users can now control their Sonos speakers in the Spotify app, essentially turning them into Spotify Connect systems.

However, the Amazon partnership is a little more interesting. Sonos speakers can now use Alexa to request songs and modify the audio with your voice. However, you’ll need to use an Amazon product to make the requests.

Commands include “Alexa, play me music,” “Alexa, skip,” and “Alexa, what’s playing.”

The Spotify features are launching in October, while the Alexa integration is coming in 2017.

Transmission linked to Mac malware again

BEST security researchers have pinpointed keydnap, a form of malware taking advantage of Mac BitTorrent app Transmission to infect Mac users.

The malware uses a modified version of Transmission planted on the developer’s site without its knowledge to attack your computer.

The modified app has since been pulled from the developer’s website.

Beats lawsuit claiming fraud before Apple sale dismissed

apple-beats-music2

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Fahley has dismissed the heart of a lawsuit against Apple-owned Beats Electronics that claimed that the Santa Monica, Calif.-based headphone maker’s co-founders conspired to sever the headphone line from Monster before Apple bought the company.

The trial, which is scheduled for next week, will now focus on forcing Monster to pay its attorney fees, and other costs, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit claimed that Beats “fraudulently acquired” the headphones line and its technology with a “change of control” clause when HTC acquired a 51 percent stake in Beats in 2011, depriving the company of hundreds of millions of dollars. Less than a month after the HTC purchase, Monster alleges that Beats repurchased half the interest HTC acquired.

According to Monster, the Brisbane, Calif.-based company lost millions in a “sham” transaction.

Corning wants Gorilla Glass on your next smartwatch

samsung-gear-s2

Corning has developed Gorilla Glass SR+, which is a scratch resistant glass coming to smartwatches.

Google starts rolling redesigned Google+ out

Google-Plus-Logo

Google is rolling out a trio of Google+ updates now: a redesign, a few new features, and its addition as a core Google for Work service.

If you’re not already using the new Google+ web redesign, which was first shown off last November, you’ll be bumped to it “over the next few days.” You’ll still be able to revert to the classic Google+ with the “Back to classic Google+” link in the bottom left-hand corner.

As for new features, you can now add links and photos to comments, Community owners and moderators can turn on approved posting (to control who posts what), and there’s a new notifications center where you can see and manage your recent Google+ activity. They’ll be rolling out across Android, iOS, and the web “in the coming weeks.

Lastly, Google Apps users already using Google+ will also start getting the new experience when they sign in.

“The new experience makes it easier to focus on the features our Apps customers tell us they find the most useful.”

-Google, in a statement

Over the next few weeks, Google+ will become a core Google for Work service. At that point, Google Apps customers will no longer be able to revert to the classic interface.

Snapchat unpublishes Facebook page

snapchat_uhoh

Snapchat has unpublished its official Facebook page.

Navigating to the page will give you a generic “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now” error message.

Before being pulled, Snapchat’s app page had over 6.5 million Likes. However, Posts were published many months apart.

Snapchat releases web tool for making custom geofilters

Snapchat geofilter tool

Snapchat is now rolling out a tool to create on-demand geofilters from the web, using templates for weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. The filters, which can cost as little as $5 for a small geographic area, will appear alongside the other geofilters inside the app when guests post snaps during the event. Snapchat’s tool lets you customize the filter’s color palette and text, as well as offer preview images to show you what guests’ snaps could look like once the filter’s in use.

A new update to the app makes a handful of things easier:

  • You no longer have to long-press on your face to view custom lenses. Now, you can just tap once and filters will load.
  • When you’re adding a caption to a snap, you can now long-press to bold, underline, and italic
  • Captions can be animated like emojis, by “pinning” them to an object inside a video snap by long-pressing the caption after recording your video.

You can also preview a person’s public stories before adding them as a friend. The update is live now in the iTunes App Store, and is coming soon to Android.

Pebble firmware update brings improved health app, interface enhancements

PebbleSteel1

Pebble has released version 4.0 of its smartwatch firmware, which upgrades its entire lineup with new features and interface tweaks.

For starters, Pebble Health has been revamped with new activity cards that display your step and sleep performance, and you can quickly access them by pressing Up from the watchface. You can also press Right from each activity to see detailed info and performance comparisons.

The watch interface now has Quick Views (on Pebble Time and newer devices) that shows you what’s next on your agenda from your watchface in a small strip at the bottom of the screen.

You’ll also find App Glances, which surfaces app info without having to launch them. To get to frequently-used apps quickly, you can now assign them to the Up, Down, Back, and Select buttons.

In addition, iOS users can now act on their emails: functions like Delete, Archive, Mark as Read, Reply All, and Star emails received from Gmail accounts are now available. As with other messages, you can reply using canned responses or send a voice reply.

Lastly, Pebble’s iOS and Android apps have been redesigned with easier to understand Health graphs and an overhauled interface for faster performance.

The Pebble app can be updated to version 4.0 from Google Play or the iTunes App Store. If you’re using a Pebble Time, Time Steel, or Time Round, you can update in the Pebble app under Menu > Support > Update Your Pebble.

These features will be available when the Pebble 2 launches in November.

FCC backs down from municipal broadband case

The Federal Communication Commission has decided not to pursue another review of a case to keep local competition in high-speed internet service.

In early 2015, an FCC order attempted to circumvent laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevented municipal broadband companies from expanding beyond their city or county lines. The FCC argued that it had a congressionally bestowed duty to promote local competition and new investments in telecom infrastructure. The court didn’t agree, and shot down the FCC’s order, stating that Congress never gave the Commission any power to preempt state laws.

However, an FCC spokesperson told Ars Technica Monday that the commission won’t be appealing the case because doing so “would be the best use of Commission resources.”

Twitter paying users to create videos

The reception desk at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)
The reception desk at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)

Twitter is planning to sell video ads alongside creator videos and share that ad revenue with content creators.

70 percent of revenue is going to creators, with the rest going to Twitter.

Approved creators will simply need to click a rev-share button when uploading video.

The split applies only to Twitter videos, not those on Vine and Periscope.

Twitter is not requiring content exclusives as part of the deal, meaning that content creators can post the same video from Twitter to other platforms.

The San Francisco-based company will not provide any advance funding to creators as incentive for trying the program.

Anyone can apply for the program starting today, though it’s only open to U.S. users.

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