TechSummit Rewind 186

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

Apple Q3 earnings: Revenue of $45.4B, 41M iPhone sales, 11.4M iPad sales, China revenue down 10%

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Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif. (Image: Apple)

Apple has found a way to restore some of the momentum it lost in Q2. In its Q3 earnings posted today, the company’s revenue grew about six percent year over year, with profit rising 12 percent over the same period in 2016.

Leading the way is iPad, which was up 15 percent from last year. Revenue rose just two percent, suggesting that the cheaper $329 iPad was a bigger driver in the sales jump than new models of the iPad Pro. iPhone and Mac sales were both up modestly on a year-over-year basis.

In total, Apple reported $45.4 billion in revenue and $8.7 billion in profit for this quarter. The biggest growth drivers were services and “other products,” which both grew at a pace of more than 20 percent compared to the same period last year. Services were led by the App Store, Apple Music, and iCloud, while other products included the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats.

Finally, China – the region driving Apple growth for the past few years – saw its revenue drop 10 percent from last year thanks to increased competition from local manufacturers.

Microsoft launches Surface Plus subscription program for trade in upgrades every 18 months

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Microsoft is launching the Surface Plus program in the US today, spreading the cost of new devices over two years. It acts like a cellphone contract, with a 24-month payment plan at zero percent APR for the first two years and 19.99 percent APR afterwards.

Surface Plus customers can also upgrade their devices after 18 months it the existing device is returned and in “good condition.”

The Surface Plus program will also include dedicated device service and support at Microsoft’s retail stores, alongside a year of free in-store support and technical assistance.

Microsoft is also launching a business version of Surface Plus that’ll let businesses have a mix of devices including the 55-inch Surface Hub. It also includes flexibility on the length of contracts, with the ability to choose between 18, 24, or 30 month periods. Businesses will be able to upgrade devices after 12 months on a 24-month term, or after 18 months on a 30-month period.

Both programs are available now in the US.

Google Image Search now connects users to recipes, products, more

Google Image Search

Google is giving its visual search engine an upgrade with a new feature that aims to connect web users with more than just a list of photos, as before – its results will also now highlight when there’s more to discover from the image in question. For example, it will inform you if there’s a recipe available or if the photo is of something you can buy, among other things.

These newly augmented search results will be labeled with a badge that categorizes the image you’re viewing, and includes text that clarifies the action you can take. If you found a recipe, the badges will indicate if clicking through will take you to a page with the recipe for the dish in question, or if the resulting page includes a video.

Other searches may include badges for things like products you can shop or GIFs you can share.

According to Google, its algorithms will automatically identify and badge GIFs with no other further action needed on the part of the website owner. However, it’s advising publishers to add markups for specific sites of content – Recipe markups for recipes, Product markup for shopping sites, and Video markup for sites with videos.

This content can then be used to power carousels embedded in Google Search results, like the video carousel in Search or the Top Stories carousel with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project.

The feature is rolling out now on the Google App for Android and on the mobile web.

Microsoft will use Tobii eye tracking to make Windows 10 more accessible

Tobii eye tracking

Tobii’s eye tracking technology will soon come to Windows 10.

The Eye Control feature is currently in beta and leverages Tobii’s “eye gaze” technology, which uses a camera on a computer to track where you’re looking on a screen. The beta will also let you activate icons and move a cursor or targeting reticle with your eyes.

The company’s Eye Tracker 4C device is the first to support Windows 10. The integration also opens the door to native implementations of more humanized user interactions and use cases for eye tracking in broad areas like gaming and productivity.

“Adding native eye tracking support to Windows 10 is a key milestone in our mission to make this technology part of our everyday devices. Through integration with Microsoft’s operating system, it becomes possible over time to realize robust eye tracking implementations that add a range of user benefits. This collaboration clearly shows the value of eye gaze input and is a big step forward on the long-term journey to drive high-volume adoption of eye tracking.”

-Henrik Eskilsson, Tobii CEO

“Bringing Eye Control to Windows 10 will empower people using just their eyes to utilize Windows features. We are incredibly grateful for the partnership with the ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis] and MND [motor neuron disease] communities and Tobii for their active engagement and feedback throughout the development cycle. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration to further develop these features in future releases as we continue on our mission to empower people to achieve more.”

-Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft chief accessibility officer

Initially, eye gaze will be used in a set of accessibility features to enable typing and moving the mouse cursor with your eyes.

“Eye tracking support in Windows 10 has the potential to form a new paradigm that fundamentally transforms how we interact with our devices.”

-Oscar Werner, Tobii president

YouTube will hide some “supremacist” videos

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YouTube has announced some details on its progress cracking down on extremist content over the past couple months, and the company is announcing some details on its progress and a few additional policy changes. Highlighting this is that the platform is limiting the reach of videos that have “controversial religious or supremacist content” but don’t strictly violate the website’s hate speech guidelines.

Videos that get flagged by users but, on review, aren’t deemed to be in violation of YouTube’s rules may now be subject to several new restrictions. That includes being placed behind an interstitial with a warning of some sort, being unable to run ads, and the loss of community features like comments, likes, & suggested videos.

These changes will come to YouTube’s desktop site in the “coming weeks” and to mobile sometime “soon thereafter.”

According to YouTube, it’s working with 15 additional expert groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, to help flag extremist content.

However, the company says that the site’s increased reliance on machine learning has been most helpful in flagging extremist content. After launching the feature in June, YouTube has doubled the number of videos it removes for “violent extremism” and that 75 percent of those videos were removed before any humans flagged them.

 

 

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