BlackBerry KeyOne brings back the physical keyboard

The enterprise-friendly smartphone has a physical QWERTY keyboard and dumps BlackBerry’s DTEK software on top of Android 7.1 Nougat.

TCL, the new manufacturer of BlackBerry’s hardware, has launched the KEYone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The enterprise-friendly smartphone has a physical QWERTY keyboard and dumps BlackBerry’s DTEK software on top of Android 7.1 Nougat. This adds access to features like BlackBerry Hub, BBM, and other apps aimed at the enterprise.

The keyboard serves as a touch-sensitive control pad for adjusting the cursor in long emails and text documents. All 52 letter keys can also be programmed to launch specific apps when you tap or long-press them (F for Facebook, U for Uber, I for Instagram, etc.). Above those keys is a 4.5-inch 1080p display powered by a 3505mAh battery and a Snapdragon 625 processor, which can be topped up with the “Boost” fast charging feature.

The KEYone will launch in April for $549 (£499/€599) through various retailers worldwide and carriers in a business-friendly black.

Here’s some other specs:

  • 8MP front camera
  • 12MP auto-focus “large pixel” rear camera

Source: BlackBerry

TechSummit Rewind 156

LTE-U wireless rolls out on T-Mobile, Windows 10’s Mail app gets improvements, & Apple’s spaceship campus opens in April

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

Recently FCC-approved LTE-U wireless rolls out on T-Mobile

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The FCC has allowed several companies to activate the LTE-U wireless technology in their base stations. If all goes as planned, devices will be able to communicate cellular data over unlicensed frequencies that technically overlap with WiFi’s.

The basic idea behind LTE-U (and the related License Assisted Access and MuLTEfire techniques) is that some 5 GHz band frequencies used by WiFi routers were going unused. Carriers and device makers proposed allowing this spectrum to augment existing base stations’ signals and potentially improve short-range connection speeds.

The devices approved today are base stations from Ericsson and Nokia already in service and compatible with both LTE-U and LAA.

“These transmitters were already approved as LTE base stations previously. The grants issued today are for the ability for the devices to operate under Part 15 rules in the 5 GHz band.”

-An FCC representative

T-Mobile appears to be the first to take advantage of this, and compatible base stations should get the LTE-U boost in the spring.

Windows 10’s mail app gets Focused Inbox, calendar improvements

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Windows 10 mail app splash screen (Image: Andrew Okwuosah)

Microsoft is updating the Mail and Calendar apps for Windows 10 with new features ported over from its mobile apps. The biggest addition is Focused Inbox, which comes over from the Outlook apps for iOS and Android.

Focused Inbox lets you separate out an inbox into two sections that filter important emails into the Focused section, and less important emails (newsletters) into the Other section. In Windows 10, it’s available only on Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts, despite being available for Gmail and Google Apps accounts on mobile.

Mentions are also coming to the Mail app. You can simply @ and tag a name into an email message, and it’ll add a person to an email thread automatically if they weren’t already added.

On the calendar side, Microsoft is adding colored categories, interesting calendars, and travel reservation and package delivery support. Colored categories let you customize calendar events with colors to make things more readable at a glance. The interesting calendars showcase calendars for sports teams, TV shows, and more, and let you add them to your calendar.

However, the most useful feature here is the ability to display travel reservations and package delivery details. If an event is on your calendar, Mail will surface a useful summary card with all the details of your package or your flight. Improvements also include tweaking of the locations feature for calendar entries and an option to add Skype for online meetings. All of these changes are available now through an update in the Windows Store.

Apple Park ‘spaceship’ campus to open in April

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

Apple’s new spaceship headquarters will open in April and will feature some public areas.

The first employees will move into the 175-acre Cupertino, Calif.-campus at this point, according to the company, while building construction and landscaping continues around the site. It’ll take six months for 12,000 employees to move from the company’s current Infinite Loop headquarters and other offices scattered throughout Cupertino into the new Apple Park campus.

The campus is the last product from co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011 after battling pancreatic cancer. He envisioned the space as a beacon of innovation and a place for the company’s employees to continue their efforts to release groundbreaking headquarters.

The site is centered with a ring-shaped, 2.8 million square foot glass-clad building that Jobs dubbed a “spaceship” when he proposed the development to the Cupertino City Council in 2011.

In honor of the late co-founder, the new campus will include the 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater. The entrance to the building will be a 20-foot-tall, 165-foot diameter glass cylinder with a “metallic carbon fiber” roof sitting atop a hill at one of the highest points on campus.

“Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us. He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come. The workspaces and parklands are designed to inspire our team as well as benefit the environment. We’ve achieved one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, and the campus will run entirely on renewable energy.”

-Tim Cook, Apple CEO

A 17-megawatt rooftop solar installation on site will be “one of the largest” on the planet, according to Apple. The main building will also be the “world’s largest naturally ventilated building, projected to require no heating or air conditioning nine months of the year.”

The landscaping will include 9,000 trees and two miles of paths for workers, along with an orchard, meadow, and pond. Employees can also take advantage of a 100,000 square foot gym.

“Steve invested so much of his energy creating and supporting vital, creative environments. We have approached the design, engineering, and making of this new campus with the same enthusiasm and design principles that characterize our products.”

-Jony Ive, Apple chief design officer

The public will be able to enter a café and a visitor center featuring an Apple Store on campus.

Fitbit paid $23M for Pebble

Fitbit disclosed that it paid $23 million to acquire smartwatch maker Pebble in the fourth quarter of 2016.

This accounts for both talent and intellectual property, according to Fitbit’s earnings statement.

HP earnings: 3.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue

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HP Inc., which houses the hardware business of HP, reported a 3.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue in the first quarter that ended Jan. 31. That’s helped largely by a stabilizing PC market.

However, the company’s net earnings from continuing operations fell to $611 million from $650 million a year ago. Earnings per share remained flat at $0.36.

Revenue rose to $12.68 billion from $12.25 billion.

Twitter tweaks brand direct messages to make them more human

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Twitter’s custom profiles feature in use by T-Mobile (Image: Twitter)

Twitter is tinkering with direct messages to let brands show customers that they’re communicating with a human, not an automated bot. With custom profiles, businesses can respond with a customer service agent’s name and photo rather than their company name to make users feel more at ease.

The first partner to use the feature is T-Mobile, which as long used the service to address customer feedback. Now when you interact with @TMobileHelp, you’ll see the real face, name, and title of the customer service agent that’s helping you.

These features aren’t being made available through the service. Instead, developers have the ability to incorporate the capabilities into their own offerings and market it to customers.

Custom profiles are available through Twitter’s Direct Message API, which remains in private beta. However, verified brands can get whitelisted by filling out this form.

 

TechSummit Rewind 155

Yahoo valuation drops by $350M, TransferWise launches Facebook Messenger bot for money transfers, & Qualcomm’s latest chip promises data that’s faster than fiber

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

Verizon, Yahoo agree to slash $350 million from merger deal

Verizon and Yahoo have agreed to drop its original $4.83 billion acquisition deal price by $350 million after the company’s public image rolled downhill from one hacking scandal after another.

“We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense. We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously so that we can quickly welcome Yahoo’s tremendous talent and assets into our expanding portfolio in the digital advertising space.”

-Marni Walden; Verizon executive vice president, in a statement

The companies have agreed to share the legal and regulatory burdens that will come from the hacks the website suffered from in 2013 and 2014.

Under the terms of the revised deal, Yahoo will have to pay half the bill for any non-SEC government investigations and lawsuits related to the hack. Any shareholder’s lawsuit over the hacks will also be Yahoo’s responsibility.

The deal is still open to adjustments, and is expected to close by June 30.

TransferWise launches Facebook Messenger bot for easy money transfers

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International money transfer service TransferWise has introduced a new Facebook Messenger bot, letting customers send money and create rate alerts directly within Facebook Messenger.

The automated customer service bot guides users through money transfers, that can be made from the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada. They can also set up rate alerts through Messenger giving you a daily update on rates between your preferred currencies.

“Our mission at TransferWise is to bring faster, cheaper, and more convenient international money transfers to everyone in the world. Building the TransferWise bot for Messenger is a great step in that direction. It’s also a powerful example of how our API can be used to seamlessly integrate TransferWise into almost any messaging, bank, or business payment system.”

-Scott Miller; TransferWise head of global partnerships, in a blog post

Qualcomm chip promises phone data that’s faster than fiber

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Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem that promises 1.2Gbps download speeds on mobile devices. That’s 20 percent faster than the company’s previous best, and enough to nearly max out the speed provided by landline services like Google Fiber. The X20 does this with more aggressive carrier aggregation (which bonds carrier frequency ranges) That lets it download 12 unique data streams of up to 100Mbps each. Upload speeds are also healthy at 150Mbps.

The chip supports the 3.5GHz airspace used by Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the U.S., which opens the door to private LTE networks. It can also handle high-quality LTE phone calls on dual SIM phones.

Unfortunately, the first shipping products with this modem aren’t expected until the first half of 2018.

Project Fi starts testing Voice over LTE support

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Google’s Project Fi wireless service has rolled out Voice over LTE support for some users, according to an announcement in its product forums. Users can tell if they’re a tester by their signal indicator remaining at LTE when they’re making or receiving a call instead of falling to H [HSPA], according to Google.

The test has been underway for a few weeks.

Voice over LTE includes higher quality calls that don’t count towards your data usage, faster data browsing while on a call, and faster call setup.

This translates into fewer dropped calls, or being able to navigate in Google Maps while on the phone without losing your connection.

The VoLTE support will only work when users are on T-Mobile’s network as Project Fi’s other carrier partners haven’t officially introduced support.

UPS tests drone deliveries

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UPS tested home delivery by drone on Monday in Lithia, Florida (a western suburb of Tampa), where the drone launched from the roof of a UPS vehicle and anonymously flew towards its destination.

The package was dropped off and then returned to the vehicle as the driver continued its normal delivery route.

There is no timeline for when drones might be put into wider use, according to company vice president of industrial engineering John Dodero, partly because federal authorities are still developing regulations on the technology.

TechSummit Rewind 154

Uber announces plans to release a diversity report, WhatsApp launches its own Snapchat Stories clone, & Snap Spectacles go on sale online

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

Uber will release first diversity report in next few months

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A day after former Uber site reliability engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti posted a detailed narrative about unwanted sexual advances from her manager and a lackluster response from Uber’s human resources department, prompting Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick to call for an investigation. Kalanick reported more detail about the investigation and informed them that it will release its first diversity report in the next few months.

In an email to employees released today, Kalanick wrote that 15.1 percent of Uber’s engineers, product managers, and scientists are women, adding that the figure stands at 10 percent at Twitter, 17 percent at Facebook, and 18 percent at Google.

“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time. What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace. It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization, where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice.”

-Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

WhatsApp launches Status Snapchat Stories clone

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WhatsApp has launched Status, a new tab for sharing decorated photos, videos and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. It’s another copycat of Snapchat Stories from Facebook, with the twist that it’s end-to-end encrypted like the messaging function.

The feature was tested for beta users in Nov., and the Status tab is rolling out now worldwide on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Users can watch updates from friends and reply privately, shoot and adorn imagery with drawings and captions and send their creations to all their contacts they’ve chosen with a persistent privacy setting. Sending media to specific friends is still done through message threads.

Status could also open up new advertising opportunities for WhatsApp, with the potential for full-screen ads in-between Statuses (a la Instagram and Snapchat).

The feature replaces WhatsApp’s AOL Instant Messenger-style away messages, which was the app’s only feature when it launched eight years ago.

Snap starts selling Spectacles online in U.S. for $130

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Speaking of Snap, the company’s Spectacles camera-toting sunglasses are now on sale online in the U.S. here for $129.99. Previously, they were only available at Snapbot vending machines placed in surprise locations and a pop-up store in New York.

That pop-up store has since closed, and according to Snap, Snapbots will “continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief nap.” Buyers should expect to wait two to four weeks to get their Spectacles once they order, and can also buy $49.99 charging cases and $9.99 charging cables (both of which are included with the Spectacles).

“Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available – especially for those in the U.S. who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”

-A Snap spokesperson

Samsung reputation tanks in U.S. after Note 7 flop

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According to an annual survey from Harris Poll, Samsung’s reputation among U.S. consumers took a major hit last year after the Galaxy Note 7 recall. The company ranked 49th in the poll’s Reputation Quotient Ratings, which ranks the top 100 most visible companies in the U.S. according to public reputation. Last year, Samsung ranked third, ahead of both Apple and Google.

Amazon topped the list for the second consecutive year, followed by supermarket chains Wegmans and Publix. Other companies in the top ten include Apple, Google, and Tesla Motors (who didn’t make the cut last year). Netflix and Microsoft each ranked in the top 20 (18th and 20th, respectively), while Facebook ranked 66th.

The results are based on an online survey of over 30,000 American adults carried out between Nov. 28 and Dec. 16 of last year. The survey analyzes brand reputation based on social responsibility, vision and leadership, financial performance, products and services, workplace environment, and emotional appeal.

Google, Bing will soon prevent pirate websites from popping up in search

Google and Bing have agreed to a new voluntary code of practice in the U.K. that will make websites known to engage in illegal distribution of content less visible in search results.

The code is aimed at improving collaboration with rightsholders and accelerating the takedown process following DMCA notices.

The code will steer Brits away from pirated content and towards certified content providers for films, music, eBooks, and sports coverage.

The changes are expected to roll out by this summer.

Microsoft nabs Flipkart for Azure

Microsoft has announced a “strategic partnership” with Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart that will lead to the company adopting Redmond’s Azure cloud platform.

“Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce, and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers.”

-Binny Bansal; Flipkart CEO, in a statement

“At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organization with technology, and key to this is forging strategic partnerships with innovative companies like Flipkart.”

-Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

 

Amazon lowers free shipping minimum to $35

It was previously $45

Amazon has brought its free two-day shipping minimum purchase back down to $35 after it was raised to $45 a year ago.

The minimum order for books has remained at $25.

This comes after Walmart introduced free two-day shipping for orders of at least $35, while Best Buy introduced its own $35, two-day free shipping promotion last July.

Source: The Verge

TechSummit Rewind 153

Caavo’s set-top box unites Amazon, Apple, everything else; Alexa adds support for Outlook.com calendars; & Makerbot layoffs

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

Caavo’s $400 set-top box unites Amazon, Apple, everything else into one TV interface

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Caavo is hoping to solve the problem of having to switch inputs with its $399 multi-port box that puts all of your streaming video apps into one interface, and even works with third-party voice control, like Amazon’s Alexa.

Company co-founders Andrew Einaudi and Ashish Aggarwal, who serve as CEO and CTO, respectively.

The Caavo – named because “un cavo” translates to “one cable” in Italian – is a 16-inch, four-pound flat box with eight HDMI inputs, an Ethernet port, two USB ports, a power port, and a 3.5mm jack for an IR extension cable. There are three different aesthetic options for the top of the box (bamboo, mahogany, and tiger wood) and a steel base to keep it in place.

The idea here is to run all of your external TV boxes (Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, cable box, etc.) through the Caavo and it will present every video option available to you in the same bare-bones interface. It supports 4K video and also comes with a capacitive touch, voice-control remote.

The box won’t ship until the fall, and is still a work in progress. It doesn’t support all DVR features right now. Dish and DirecTV DVR work, but other time-shifting features require “direct partnerships,” according to the company. The company is also still figuring out dynamic pricing to show users the cheapest option for watching movies or TV shows.

Four hundred dollars is a bit much for a streaming TV device, considering that a Chromecast sets you back only $30 and an Apple TV is half the Caavo’s asking price. However, the company assumes that you wouldn’t be afraid to spend on a better TV experience.

Only 5,000 Caavos are planned to ship in its first year of availability, citing a desire to make sure the product is “absolutely nailed” first.

Alexa now supports Outlook.com calendars

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Amazon has updated Alexa with support for Outlook.com calendars. You can use Alexa to add or review upcoming events in a calendar with commands like “what’s on my calendar?” or “add an event to my calendar.”

No update is required as the update was launched in the background. You can add it now in the Alexa app for iOS or Android and on the web under settings > calendar.

Makerbot lays off 30% of its staff as company’s scope narrows

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Makerbot is laying off 30 percent of its staff in an ongoing effort to adapt to a changing market.

“We have to make additional changes to lower costs and to support our long-term goals. As part of these changes, we will further integrate our hardware and software product development under one team.”

– Nadav Goshen, Makerbot CEO

Shopify reports bigger loss as expenses soar

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Shopify reported a bigger quarterly loss Wednesday as operating expenses jumped 80 percent.

The company’s net loss widened to $8.9 million ($0.10/share) in the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31, from $6.3 million ($0.08/share) a year ago.

The Ottawa-based company’s revenue rose from $70.2 million to $130.4 million.

Jaguar doesn’t think you should have to leave the car to pay for gas

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Jaguar and Shell are teaming up to launch a new feature that lets drivers pay for gas without leaving their car. Starting today, drivers of select models will be able to use their car’s touchscreen display to pay for fuel at participating gas stations with a cashless payment app produced by Shell. The feature, which is available in 2018 Jaguar F-PACE, XE, and XF models, uses PayPal or Apple Pay to make the secure payments with Android Pay expected to be added later in the year, according to Jaguar.

The new service will roll out globally later but will initially be available only at Shell’s UK stations. Jaguar is also working on similar in-car payment services for parking and drive-through restaurants.

“In a world where cash is no longer king, customers are increasingly using electronic payments and contactless cards. Making a payment directly from a car’s touchscreen will make refueling quicker and easier.”

– Peter Virk, Jaguar Land Rover director of Connected Car & Future Technology

Of course, you’ll still need to leave your car to actually pump gas, so the time saved isn’t going to account for much.

Signal’s newest update brings video calling, privacy concerns

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Encrypted communications app Signal has brought video calling to both Android and iOS in a new update. However, it also brings support for CallKit on iOS, which includes a privacy issue into an otherwise secure app.

CallKit, a new iOS 10 feature, makes Signal act more like the regular iOS phone app. It lets Signal calls be answered from the lock screen and lists those calls in your “Recent Calls” list. Signal notes that the added convenience could lead to some data being synced to iCloud, including who you called and how long you spoke to them. CallKit is an optional feature and will only work when both parties opt in to avoid data leakage. Video calling is also optional.

According to Wired, Signal is still assessing the feature and might only display “Signal users” in an iPhone’s call log or offer a privacy tutorial to help users understand their settings options.

FTC Disclosure: Paw Print Media, the parent company of Paw Print, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

TechSummit Rewind 152

Eddy Cue reveals more details on Apple’s original shows, YouTube cancels PewDiePie’s original YouTube Red series after Nazi controversy, Nest adds automatic door detection for subscribers, and more

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

Apple’s Planet of the Apps launching this spring

Apple’s upcoming Shark Tank-like TV show for app developers, Planet of the Apps, will launch this spring exclusively on Apple Music, according to the company’s head of content Eddy Cue. He confirmed this news at Recode’s Code Media conference Monday.

The show will feature entrepreneurs Jessica Alba, Gary Vaynerchuk, Gwyneth Paltrow, and will.i.am to advise developers’ ideas for the next big app.

Developers will have 60 seconds to deliver an elevator pitch to the advisors, who will swipe left or right to express their interest a la Tinder.

Once an app makes it through the first round, the developer will work with an advisor to firm up plans to make it a business, while also receiving guidance from talent at big tech firms like Yelp and Uber.

For the final round, developers will pitch their proposals to investors from VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners. The winners will receive significant funding and prominent placement in the App Store when it launches.

The company is also bringing Carpool Karaoke, based on the popular Late Late Show with James Corden sketch that features prominent celebrities belting out to hit songs, to Apple Music later this year. Will Smith, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane, Chelsea Handler, and Shaquille O’Neal are slated to appear on the show’s first season.

“We’re trying to do things that are unique and cultural. … We think we have a real opportunity in the TV space to do that with Apple Music and shows and the things we’re trying to do aren’t being done by anybody else. … So yes, to the extent if we wanted to do what everybody else is doing, then you’re right, we might be better off buying somebody or doing that.

But that’s not what we’re trying to do. We are trying to do something that’s unique, takes advantage of our platforms and that really brings culture to it.”

–  Eddy Cue, Apple head of content

YouTube cancels PewDiePie’s original series following Nazi controversy

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PewDiePie, arguably YouTube’s biggest star, has always flirted with controversy. However, recent use of Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic humor went too far for his corporate partners. On Monday, Disney’s Maker Studios arm announced that it was severing ties with PewDiePie, and YouTube is also cutting its business relationship with the star.

PewDiePie was set to release the second season of Scare PewDiePie, his exclusive YouTube Red show that the video giant paid to produce. That show has now been cancelled, according to a YouTube spokesperson. PewDiePie is also being removed from Google’s Preferred advertising program, which is reserved for its bigger and more marketable creators. This cuts him out from brand advertising that generates more revenue than typical YouTube advertising.

PewDiePie won’t lose his channel or his over 50 million subscribers, and he can continue monetizing videos with the traditional advertising methods. However, YouTube did remove advertising from the videos that set this uproar into motion.

Nest adds automatic door detection, animated push notifications for subscribers

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Nest has updated its mobile app with additional features designed specifically for subscribers of its Aware program. On Monday, the company announced that automatic door detection and animated push notifications are available for premium customers. The goal here is to reduce the number of irrelevant alerts while helping you get to the important ones faster.

Using that same technology, the Google-owned company is added automatic door detection so that you can instruct any supported camera to lock onto any activity around the area. It leverages activity zoning to recognize where doors are in your home and when someone walks in or out, you’ll be notified. This functionality was available before, but it wasn’t automatic like it is now through the use of pattern recognition, sensors, and deep learning algorithms.

Another new feature lets you quickly access alerts instead of having to open the app. Nest Aware customers will now receive push notifications that will show animated previews of video clips highlighting activity in applicable zones. Nest will also display live video if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected.

When you’re alerted, the company’s app will show the important things so you can either find out that it’s a false alarm and move on with your day or deal with the threat for users of Android 7.0 Nougat or later and iOS 10.

All of these features are available now.

T-Mobile improves its unlimited data plan

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A day after Verizon resurrected its unlimited data plan, T-Mobile has countered with its CEO John Legere announcing several changes that will take effect on Friday. The T-Mobile One unlimited plan will add support for HD video, an upgrade from the current 480p/DVD-quality “optimizations” currently in place. Verizon doesn’t place any limits on video quality.

As of Friday, the plan will also let customers use up to 10GB of high-speed data each month for tethering. This matches Verizon’s plan, but T-Mobile only offered up to 3G speeds unless you upgraded to the T-Mobile One Plus plan.

Lastly, Legere announced a promotion that will offer two lines of T-Mobile One for $100. A two-line family plan usually costs $120 per month. Unlike other carriers, T-Mobile includes taxes and fees in its advertised price – so that should be all you pay month to month. Verizon charges $140 (plus taxes and fees) for a two-line unlimited plan.

T-Mobile also has a higher threshold (28GB compared to Verizon’s 22GB) before its users might experience reduced speeds when the network is congested.

Yahoo Mail mobile app now does Caller ID, syncs photos

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Yahoo is rolling out a few changes to its Mail app that aim to help boost adoption of its mobile app. The app will now sync your phone’s photos to the desktop and help you identify phone numbers with a new Caller ID feature.

Caller ID works by identifying incoming phone calls and cross-referencing the telephone numbers with those from your email inbox.

On iOS, the app takes advantage of a particular caller ID and block setting (Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification). After installing the updated version of Yahoo Mail for iOS, users can toggle the switch on to enable the Caller ID function. According to Yahoo, this will also update names in your call history or when you dial the phone.

The other feature is for photo uploads, making it easier to email photos from your phone when you’re on your desktop.

The feature integrates Yahoo’s new Tripod photo and video sharing platform, born out of Flickr, that also lets you do things like search photos by keyword.

The new Yahoo Mail app on iOS and Android makes your Camera Roll’s photos available to you from your desktop Yahoo Mail account. These photos are not being made public, and can only be viewed by you when signed in.

You can also search the photos using keywords to help you find the right image. The feature’s not enabled by default, but can you switch it on through Settings > Photo Upload. According to the company, photos can be removed from Mail without affecting their Camera Roll.

Screenshots will be uploaded in their original size with all other images being uploaded at 1600px. Yahoo’s exploring 2048×1536 along with other resolutions, and may make changes in the future.

Both features are launching today in the App Store (version 4.13) and Google Play (version 5.13).

Passenger drones will start flying in Dubai this summer

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Dubai Roads & Transportation Agency head Mattar al-Tayer announced plans to introduce a passenger-carrying drone service at the World Government Summit Monday.

According to the Associated Press, the one person drones could be ferrying commuters being predetermined checkpoints by July.

“This is not only a model. We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”

– Mattar al-Tayer, Dubai Roads & Transportation Agency head

The drone itself is the all-electric Chinese-made EHang 184, which debuted at CES 2016 and conducted flight tests in Las Vegas last summer. It’s a 500-pound personal aircraft, with room for one passenger weighing up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and a small suitcase in a separate compartment.

The EHang can fly about 31 miles (50 kilometers) on a single charge, hitting top speeds of up to 100mph.

For the proposed Dubai service, the drones will be piloted and monitored from a “remote command center,” offering flights within an area of 40-50 kilometers with a typical cruising speed of 100km/h (62mph).

Microsoft releases video-capture hack for HoloLens

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Microsoft has come up with “spectator view,” a new way for HoloLens [affiliate] users to capture video from the AR headset.

The feature requires a special camera rig that has been detailed in an open-source solution on the HoloLens GitHub page.

“Mixed reality capture is kind of the equivalent of the camera on your cell phone. It’s handy, it’s convenient, it does a good job of what it’s meant to do, but it’s not designed to be broadcast quality, what you’d see on TV. We realized we needed another way show other people what the wearer is seeing.”

– Ben Reed, Microsoft HoloLens head of business strategy

Spectator view requires a camera with a HDMI output. Once the HoloLens is mounted to the camera and stabilized with a tripod (with a custom mount), it can be wirelessly connected to a PC to share positioning data.

The next step is to output video from the camera to a PC capture card with a HDMI cable. Now the PC will be able to receive both positioning data and video. All of the rendering and processing of the data is done inside the Unity gaming development software and you get video of people walking around in HoloLens headsets and the apps they’re interacting with around them.

This is something that companies like Trimble, which uses its positioning and scanning technology to make mining apps, has been looking for since “day one.”

“For our mining customers, we were looking for something that would let them visualize the mines. In the past, with the kinds of tools we were using to clarify the idea, we’d have to say, ‘Hey, what we are going to present is not really what you’ll see in the HoloLens; there are some special effects.’ We had to set expectations among the users. What we can do now with spectator view is show a live stream of the user.”

– Aviad Almagor, Trimble mixed-reality program head

FTC Disclosure: Paw Print Media, the parent company of Paw Print, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

TechSummit Rewind 151

Ford puts $1B into Augo AI, WhatsApp offers everyone two-factor authenticator, Amazon Tap gets hands-free Alexa update, and more

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

Ford putting $1 billion into Augo AI

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Ford has acquired a majority stake in artificial intelligence startup Argo AI for $1 billion.

Argo AI was founded by former Waymo (Alphabet’s car division)’s head of hardware Bryan Salesky and former Uber self-driving car division engineer Peter Rander.

This is the largest investment in self-driving technology from a traditional auto manufacturer. Ford will give out the $1 billion over five years, but will immediately become the majority shareholder.

According to Ford, Argo will maintain its Pittsburgh headquarters and operate with substantial independence. Both Ford and Argo will elect two board seats, with a fifth independent position. Ford plans to play research and development head Raj Nair and Vice President John Casea to the board.

Argo plans to eventually license its software and sensor suite to other companies.

“Our view [is that], in the future, there will be a number of players that will have systems. There won’t be just one winner. But at the same time we can offer that to other companies where it doesn’t compromise our competitive advantages. We think that’s a great opportunity to get even more scale and create some value for the companies.”

-Mark Fields, Ford CEO

“There’s a lot of advantages to having this company be independent and operate with the agility of a startup. We know that in order for this technology to be fully realized and deployed at scale, we have to work with folks that know how to do that.”

-Brian Salesky, Argo CEO

According to Fields and Rander, the biggest reason Ford didn’t acquire Argo was so the startup could attract top talent with equity offers.

WhatsApp offers two-step verification to everyone

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WhatsApp is now rolling out two-factor authentication to its iOS, Android, and Windows apps. It’s an optional feature that you can set up by heading to Settings, followed by Account and Two-step verification inside the app. You’ll be asked to create a six-digit passcode, which will then be required every time you try to register your phone number with WhatsApp (like when setting up your account on a new smartphone).

You can also designate an email address which, in an emergency, can be sent a link to disable the feature. WhatsApp highly recommends this as a fallback if you forget the code. To help you remember, WhatsApp will ask for your code “periodically.”

Amazon Tap gets hands-free Alexa update

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Amazon has rolled out an over-the-top software update for its portable Amazon Tap (Amazon affiliate link) that makes Alexa work without having to tap a button. The new hands-free mode is enabled through the Alexa mobile app and requires the Bluetooth-equipped Tap to be connected to WiFi.

Even with this new function, the Tap should get about eight hours of continuous battery life, according to Amazon, and can be put into sleep mode by pressing the power button. The speaker will also support “echo spatial perception,” which will let you have two or more Alexa-equipped devices in the same area and the speaker closest to you will respond.

Quora clamps down on anonymity by reviewing content, restricting actions

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Crowdsourced Q&A site Quora will begin cracking down on spam and harassment by reviewing all anonymous content before it’s distributed on its network, according to the company. Anonymous users will also no longer be able to unduly influence other aspects of the Q&A process, as anonymity will now only be supported for asking questions or sharing answers.

According to Quora, anonymous users can no longer upvote, comment, merge questions, suggest edits, send thanks, edit answer wikis, revert edit log operations, or send answer requests.

The changes were made in an effort to make anonymity work better on the site. Many people have found that being anonymous allowed them to seek out or share more personal or sensitive experiences in their questions and answers. But, the company acknowledged that “anonymity on Quora is not without its faults.”

Anonymous content will now be untraceable. Before, Quora’s internal system would associate user accounts with the anonymous content they would produce. That would leave a record that isn’t publicly exposed, and could have also hindered sharing.

Now, Quora will remove these existing connections in its systems to use an anonymous edit link instead, requiring users that have previously posted anonymous content from the site to use an anonymous edit link instead. According to the company, no existing anonymous content is being removed as part of the changes.

All of these changes will go into effect on Mar. 20.

Users who have posted anonymous content will receive an email with more details about the transition in the next few days. The site has also published a FAQ about the changes to address specific points of concern over the changes.

FTC Disclaimer: Paw Print Media, the parent company of Paw Print, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

TechSummit Rewind 150

Companies oppose Trump immigration order, Uber hires Mark Moore to develop flying cars, & Google and Facebook’s program to help French newsrooms combat “fake news”

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

97 companies file opposition to Trump immigration order

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Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and other tech companies have filed an amicus brief voicing their opposition to President Trump’s immigration executive order on the grounds that it is discriminatory and has a negative impact on business.

The companies filed the brief in a case brought about by Minnesota and Washington state challenging the order. The Trump administration appealed the case to the 9th Circuit after a Seattle federal judge halted the immigration ban over the weekend.

Other notable participating companies include:

  • Airbnb
  • com
  • Apple
  • Asana
  • Atlassian
  • Autodesk
  • Automattic
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Flipboard
  • GitHub
  • Google
  • GoPro
  • Indiegogo
  • Intel
  • Kickstarter
  • LinkedIn
  • Lyft
  • Medium
  • Mozilla
  • Netflix
  • Netgear
  • Patreon
  • PayPal
  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Salesforce
  • Shutterstock
  • Snap
  • Spotify
  • Square
  • Squarespace
  • Strava
  • Stripe
  • SurveyMonkey
  • TaskRabbit
  • Thumbtack
  • Uber
  • Wikimedia Foundation
  • Y Combinator
  • Yelp
  • Zynga

The amicus brief highlights the contribution of immigrants to the tech industry while stressing the immigration controls already in place. The brief states that Trump’s immigration policies will make it more difficult and expensive for companies to hire new employees from around the world, and will make it more difficult for companies to conduct business because of travel restrictions on their employees. The companies also argue that the discrimination enshrined in the order will also trickle down to themselves – if job applicants can’t travel to the United States, employers might be forced to discriminate against them, according to the brief.

The Trump administration is also criticized for the order’s haphazard rollout, with the Department of Homeland Security and other enforcement agencies receiving little notice. The ultimate result, according to the companies, is that skilled workers will no longer seek employment in the United States.

“Skilled individuals will not want to immigrate to the country if they may be cut off without warning from their spouses, grandparents, relatives, and friends – they will not pull up roots, incur significant economic risk, and subject their family to considerable uncertainty to immigrate to the United States in the face of this instability.”

-The amicus brief

Notable absences include several companies that met with Trump before his inauguration: Amazon, Oracle, IBM, SpaceX, and Tesla. Oracle CEO Safra Catz is serving as an advisor to the Trump transition team, while SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his decision to remain on Trump’s advisory council.

Amazon is listed as a witness in the Washington lawsuit brought against the ban, and according to a company spokesperson, Amazon was advised by the Washington Attorney General not to sign the amicus brief because of that status.

Uber hires Mark Moore to develop flying cars

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Former NASA advanced aircraft engineer Mark Moore is joining Uber as its director of engineering for aviation, with the primary goal of working on the company’s Elevate flying car initiative.

“I can’t think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) market real.”

-Mark Moore, Uber director of engineering for aviation

Uber envisions that people will take conventional Ubers from their pickup point to a nearby “vertiport” that dots residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. These air taxis will only need ranges between 50 and 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. He also predicts that we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next three years and human pilots for the foreseeable future.

However, many obstacles remain. According to Moore, each flying car company would need to independently negotiate with suppliers to get prices down, and lobby regulators to certify aircrafts and relax air-traffic restrictions.

Google, Facebook to help French newsrooms combat “fake news” ahead of election

Google and Facebook will help a host of French news organizations combat the growing tide of fake news ahead of the upcoming French presidential election campaign.

Through the CrossCheck program, Google has partnered with First Draft and Facebook to support a coalition of notable newsrooms including Le Monde, Agence Frence-Presse (AFP), France Televisions, BuzzFeed, Global Voices, and Les Echos, to help the French electorate “make sense of what and who to trust in their social media feeds, web searches, and general online news consumptions,” according to Google News Lab’s France lead David Dieudonne.

“With combined expertise form across media and technology, CrossCheck aims to ensure hoaxes, rumors and false claims are swiftly debunked, and misleading or confusing stories are accurately reported. With the French presidential election approaching, journalists from across France and beyond will work together to find and verify content circulating publicly online, whether it is photographs, videos, memes, comment threads, and news sites.”

-David Dieudonne, Google News Lab France lead

Vizio settles FTC lawsuit, agrees to get viewer consent before tracking TV habits

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Vizio will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it collected customers’ TV-watching habits without their permission.

The lawsuit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of New Jersey, alleging that Vizio began using software in 2014 built into over 11 million smart TVs to capture “highly-specific, second-by-second information about television viewing.” Vizio then allegedly worked with another company to associate demographic information with each household, so viewing habits could be paired with information like a viewer’s “sex, age, income, marital status” and more.

Vizio will now also have to obtain clear consent from viewers before collecting and sharing data on their viewing habits. It’ll also have to delete all data gathered by these methods before Mar. 1, 2016.

“The data generated when you watch television can reveal a lot about you and your household. So, before a company pulls up a chair next to you and starts taking careful notes on everything you watch (and then shares it with its partners), it should ask if that’s okay with you.”

-Kevin Moriarty, FTC attorney

Google makes it easier to see, share publishers’ real URLs from AMP pages

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Google is making a change to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), so users can easily view and share links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than Google’s copy of the content.

Now, the URL field of a browser will continue to show a Google URL. However, the AMP header area will display a link or chain icon that it calls the “anchor” button. Clicking on this will make the publisher’s direct URL appear, so that it can be easily copied and pasted.

For those who hold down on the anchor button, according to Google, it will trigger the native share feature of the browser being used. In Safari, this will give you easy access to things like Twitter or Facebook and well nothing for Chrome (since it lacks native share).

Next to the anchor button, the three dots that Google calls the “overflow” icon brings up help information about how AMP is displayed.

For those using Google’s iOS search app, native sharing is already enabled. According to Google, those searching through its app or natively on Android will get sharing features in the coming weeks.

South Korea to strengthen battery safety rules after Note 7 rules

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, lithium-ion battery safety requirements will be strengthened and inspected regularly to avoid repeats of fires caused by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 batteries.

Manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries would be subjected to greater oversight and regular inspectors, according to a ministry statement. Devices using lithium-ion batteries will also be subjected to more regular safety tests.

“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation.”

-Jeong Marn-ki; South Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy vice minister

The government will also specifically monitor Samsung’s efforts to improve battery safety, such as x-ray testing and stricter standards during the design process.

Recall-related requirements will also be strengthened by broadening the types of serious product defects that manufacturers should report to the government, and seek legal charges to allow the government to warn consumers to stop using certain products even if they hadn’t been recalled.

Vespa makers design robot to carry your stuff

Piaggio has built the Gita cargo robot that has the same “braking, balancing and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle.”

Piaggio, the makers of the Vespa scooter, has built Gita – a bright-blue orb-shaped cargo robot that the company claims has the same “braking, balancing and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle.”

Gita has a top speed of 22 miles per hour, and can either follow its owner around or navigate environments on its own.

According to the company, Gita is going to be more about augmenting jobs that require a lot of equipment (think maintenance or gardening) than making deliveries.

Source: The Verge