TechSummit Rewind 158: Samsung at MWC 2017

Samsung shows off productivity-minded tablets, a Gear VR update, and teases its next flagship smartphone

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Samsung at MWC 2017.

Galaxy Book

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung has launched two new tablets that feature more improvements on the productivity tablet genre.

The new Galaxy Book 10 and Galaxy Book 12 both run Windows 10 and come with a S Pen and keyboard case. They both have slim, aluminum designs and will be available in both WiFi and LTE models. The Book 10 has a 10.6-inch 1920×1080 LCD display and an Intel Core m3 processor, while the higher-end Book 12 is equipped with a 12-inch Super AMOLED HDR display and Intel’s fanless Core i5 processor.

Both tablets have two USB Type-C ports, up to 10 hours of battery life, and fast charging features.

The keyboard case has been improved from last year’s Galaxy TabPro S with improved key travel, island-style keycaps, and backlighting. The trackpad is also 50 percent larger than the one included with the TabPro S.

The S Pen supports over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, has a rubber 0.7mm tip, and never needs to be charged. It can be used to take notes, draw, or capture screen shots. Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to put the S Pen when it’s not in use so it can be easily lost.

Galaxy Tab S3

samsung galaxy tab s3

The most mainstream of these productivity-minded tables is the Android-toting Galaxy Tab S3. The 9.7-inch model is a direct substitute for 2015’s Tab S2 and features a similar design with an all-glass back and updated specs.

The 9.7-inch 2048×1536 Super AMOLED display now supports HDR video, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. A microSD card slot also supports memory expansion up to 256GB. The tablet now has four AKG-tuned speakers and measures 6mm in thickness. Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung tweaks provides the software experience.

Included in the box is Samsung’s signature S Pen, which is larger and thicker than the S Pens on prior iterations. It has a new 0.7mm tip and over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, and supports all the features you’d expect: taking notes, capturing screen shots, and even recording GIFs from video.

However, there’s no place to actually put the S Pen like the Note line. Fortunately, the S Pen is flat on two sides, so it won’t easily roll away.

Further bolstering the productivity-minded approach ie s the optional keyboard case that attaches to the bottom of the tablet with a pogo pin. Because of this, it doesn’t need to pair to the tablet or be charged. The keyboard is made of plastic and doesn’t provide backlighting.

Gear VR controller

samsung-gear-vr-with-controller

Samsung’s Gear VR virtual reality headset has been refreshed with a physical controller accessory that provides “quicker selection and interaction,” according to Samsung. It still has a 101-degree field of view, but it’s emphasized by the Oculus-designed controller made for one-handed use, and features a touchpad for in-app gestures and a trigger that lets you “select, grab, take aim, and fire.”

According to Oculus, over 70 titles optimized for the new Gear VR controller are in development, and all existing content should also work fine since the accessory is essentially a souped-up version of the touchpad built into the headset. The one hardware difference for the headset is a strap that can hold the controller when you’re not using VR.

Galaxy S8 event

Usually, I’d be leading this recap with the Galaxy S8. However, the Galaxy Note 7 debacle has forced Samsung to rethink its approach and regain consumers’ trust. However, Samsung did close out its keynote by announcing its next one that’ll announce the Galaxy S8 on Mar. 29 in New York.

We’ll have full coverage of that event when it comes.

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

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

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

whatsapp-status

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

snap-spectacles-for-sale-online-starting-today

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

samsung-galaxy-note-7

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

 

TechSummit Rewind 147

Google Voice gets first revamp in years, Sprint buys a third of TIDAL, and Samsung keeps the Note brand alive

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

Google Voice gets revamped for first time in years

google-voice3-1280x909

Google has revamped Voice, its VOIP phone service, for the first time in years. The updates are available now on Android, iOS (over the next few days), and the web and brings it in line with the Material Design philosophy in Mountain View’s other apps. Once your mobile app is updated, the web client will automatically change over to the new design. According to Google, everyone should have it within a couple weeks.

According to Google’s blog post announcing the changes, “your inbox now has separate tabs for text messages, calls, and voicemails. Conversations stay in one continuous thread, so you can easily see all your messages from each of your contacts in one place.”

The update also brings over some feature that were previously only available for users who switched to Hangouts for some Voice functions like texting and voicemail. For one, photo MMS is now supported by Google Voice on all platforms and across most major carriers. Images show up inline in your conversations.

Group texting has also been added, with a clear label.

Voicemail transcriptions are still there, with support for Spanish transcriptions as well. Other nice touches include in-notification replies on Android, 3D Touch support for iPhone (mostly in Messages view), and a user experience that’s finally been edited.

Google has committed itself to “regular” updates and new features for the mobile apps and web client, though there’s no estimate on how often they’ll arrive. However, the company is working to implement RCS messaging in Voice.

If you’ve already switched over to Hangouts, there’s “no need to change to the new apps, but you might want to try them out as we continue to improve and add more features.”

Sprint buys 33 percent of TIDAL music service

tidal_2

Sprint has acquired a 33 percent stake of Jay-Z’s music service TIDAL.

Sprint, Jay-Z, and other artist-owners will “continue to run TIDAL’s artist-centric service” with Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure joining the company’s board of directors.

“The formidable pairing of Sprint and TIDAL will grow customers on both platforms by offering exclusive access for customers who subscribe to TIDAL.”

-Sprint, in a statement

Sprint will unveil “exclusive offers” and promotions in the near future.

Samsung sticking with Note branding for Note7 successor

samsung-galaxy-note-7

Despite the scandal that killed the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung will stick with the Note branding with the next iteration.

“I will bring back a better, safer, and very innovative Note 8.”

-DJ Koh, Samsung mobile chief

This comes despite the scandal that left an explosion (pun intended) of jokes and flight attendant warnings banning the Note 7 on all flights.

However, Koh believes that the Note has a devoted following that will stick with Samsung.

“We found through the investigative process, we knew there are lots and lots of loyal Note customers.”

-DJ Koh

Trump appoints Ajit Pai to head FCC

U.S. President Donald Trump has appointed Ajit Pai as the Federal Communication Commission’s chairman.

Pai has been a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, appointed by then-President Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Shortly after Trump took office, Pai indicated that a top priority under the new administration would be dismantling net neutrality, writing in a letter that he intended to “revisit … the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding … as soon as possible.”

Pai has a traditionally Republican stance: free market and minimal regulation, He’s been opposed to requiring ISPs to implement stricter privacy protections for consumers, increasing broadband benchmarks to promote higher speeds, and regulating mergers.

However, he did vote in favor of a bipartisan proposal that will enable the support of real-time texting for people with disabilities, allowing text to be transmitted letter by letter, rather than requiring a user to hit “send.” He also voiced support for rules that would reduce the rates inmates must pay to place calls in many states, though he voted against a proposal that would do this because of legal concerns.

Pai has emphasized his dissatisfaction with current policies on the FCC’s mandate to promote broadband deployment. He’s suggested adding tax credits and removing regulations that protect older technologies like copper wire that some communities rely on to speed up the process of closing the “digital divide between rural and urban America.”

He’s also been critical of the FCC’s willingness to pass partisan proposals under the leadership of Tom Wheeler, who was chairman during Obama’s last three years in office.

Pai will need to be reconfirmed by the Senate this year if Republicans want to keep him around. If reconfirmed, he’d get an additional five-year term that would keep him in place for Trump’s entire first term.

Google X co-founder Yoky Matsuoka returns to Nest

Yoky Matsuoka has returned to Alphabet as Nest’s Chief Technology Office.

She previously co-founded Google’s X lab and served as Nest’s VP of Technology before becoming the CEO of health-data company Quantus and joining Apple to work on Cupertino’s health-related projects.

According to the company, this is a new position.

Yahoo postpones Verizon transaction close to Q2 2017

The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale

Yahoo released its Q4 earnings Monday, saying that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company generated $1.47 billion in revenue (up 15 percent) and earnings per share of $0.17.

Yahoo doesn’t expect to close its acquisition by Verizon until Q2 2017 – previously it was expected to close this quarter. Yahoo blames this on the enormous work required to meet closing conditions.

“The company is working expeditiously to close the transaction as soon as practicable in Q2.”

-Yahoo, in its earnings release

However, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer boasted on the quarter.

“What we have achieved reflects some of the most impressive teamwork, focus, and resilience I’ve seen throughout my career. We continued to build our mobile and native businesses – delivering nearly $1.5 billion in mobile revenue and over $750 million in native revenue – while operating the company at the lowest cost structure in a decade. With our 2016 and Q4 financial results ahead of plan, and the continued stability in our user engagement trends, the opportunities ahead with Verizon look bright.”

Much of the company’s revenue continues to come from non-Mavens programs ($824 million), but the company’s solution set of mobile, video, native, and social initiatives increased 25 percent year-over-year to $590 million from 2016. More revenue continues to come from desktop than mobile, but mobile got the biggest jump – 57 percent ($459 million) compared to 2.57 percent ($955 million),

Search revenue was up 45 percent from the same time last year to $767 million.

All 2017 Chromebooks will be compatible with Android apps

Toshiba Chromebook 2

All Chromebooks that launch this year will support Android apps right out of the box, according to Google’s list of Android-compatible Chromebooks.

Chan Zuckerburg Initiative acquires, will free up Meta science search engine

meta

Mark Zuckerburg and Priscilla Chan’s Chan Zuckerburg Initiative has made its first acquisition to make it easier for scientists to search, read, and tie together over 26 million science research papers with Meta, an AI-powered research search engine startup.

The tool will be made free to all in a few months after it gets enhanced.

The key selling point for Meta is that its AI can recognize authors and citations between papers to surface the most important research instead of simply what has the best SEO. It also provides free full-text access to 18,000 journals and literature sources.

“Going forward, our intent is not to profit from Meta’s data and capabilities; instead we aim to ensure they get to those who need them most, across sectors and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of the world.”

-Sam Molyneux, Meta co-founder & CEO

“The potential for this kind of platform is virtually limitless: a researcher could use Meta to help identify emerging techniques for understanding coronary artery disease; a graduate student could see that two different diseases activate the same immune defense pathway; and clinicians could find scientists working on the most promising Zika treatments sooner. In the long run, it could be extended to other areas of knowledge: for example, it could help educators stay up to date on developmental science to better understand how children learn.”

-Cori Bargmann (Chan Zuckerburg Initiative president of Science, and Brian Pinkerton (Chan Zuckerburg Initiative president of Technology)

China makes VPNs illegal

Chinese authorities are now requiring the use of VPNs and special cable connections in China to be approved by the government, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The new rules will be active from now until Mar. 31, 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S8 not appearing at Mobile World Congress

Samsung Galaxy S7

According to Samsung’s Koh Dong-jin, the company’s S8 flagship will not appear at Mobile World Congress as it has traditionally done for the past several years.

TechSummit Rewind 141: Samsung at CES 2017

Samsung’s announcements at CES 2017

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Samsung at CES 2017.

Notebook Odyssey

samsung-notebook-odyssey-050117-4

The Notebook Odyssey is Samsung’s first dedicated gaming laptop – available in both 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch models.

The frame is black with red trim, with a matching backlit keyboard. You’ll find the usual ports here, including a single USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, HDMI and Ethernet. It’s a surprisingly portable 5.5 pounds.

The Odyssey runs Intel’s 7th generation Core i7 processor that can squeeze in up to 32GB of RAM and a multiple storage options – one machine can take up to a 256GB SSD and up to 1TB hard drives at the same time. It ships with one of NVIDIA’s full-power GTX1050 GPUs.

The 17.3-inch model will come with a multi-color backlit keyboard and a bright 300nit display. It’ll support up to 64GB of RAM and SSDs up to 512GB (along with the 1TB hard drive limitation).

The smaller Odyssey will be available for $1199 in February.

Chromebook

samsung-chromebook-pro-plus

Samsung and Google have announced the Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro, a pair of laptops that strive to present the best Chrome OS experience a user can have.

The cheaper Chromebook Plus uses an ARM processor, while the Chromebook Pro features an Intel Core M3 processor. Everything else is the same here, including a 12.3-inch 2400×1600 touch display scaled down to 1200×800. Four gigs of RAM and 32GB of internal storage round out the spec sheet, with eight hours of battery life.

These are the first Chromebooks to have Google Play pre-installed. The Chromebook Plus will launch in February with a beta version of the store. However, when the Pro launches later this spring, it’ll be out of beta with full Android Nougat support.

These are also the first Chromebooks to have support for a stylus. It’s tucked in a slot on the side of the display, and is basically akin to what you’d see in a Galaxy Note.

For note-taking and doodling, both devices can flip their screens all the way around and work as a tablet. At 2.38 pounds, it probably won’t be ideal for holding it up, but it should be fine for putting it down on the desk.

Once you get set for notes or doodling, Google Keep’s redesign shines. The app has been redesigned with handwriting in mind. Using the company’s vast amount of machine learning data, it can analyze your notes and make them searchable, so your handwritten notes are just as easy to find as things you type up. Those notes sync back to the cloud and are available and searachable in the Keep mobile apps for iOS and Android as well.

Machine learning is also helping improve handwriting recognition and latency when writing notes. By analyzing a huge sample of handwritten notes, the Keep app can predict what you’re most likely to be writing based on the first few letters you start drawing. Google claims that this will give these Chromebooks less latency than the Surface Pro when writing words.

As for ports, these go all in on USB-C for both charging and connectivity. There are only two on board, but that’s pretty standard for most Chromebooks. There’s also a microSD card slot and a headphone jack.

Lastly, they won’t come cheap. The Plus starts at $449, and we don’t know about the Pro at this point.

TVs

samsung-qled-1

Samsung has also revealed its 2017 lineup of QLED televisions, which the company claims has the “best picture quality – ever.” An “invisible connection” cable has also been added with functionality similar to something like a Chromecast, letting you display content from your phone, tablet, and other “peripheral” devices on the big screen.

“2017 will mark a major paradigm shift in the visual display industry, ushering in the era of QLED. We have been successful in solving for past inconsistencies in the viewing experience and consumer pain points, while redefining the fundamental value of TV.”

-Hyun Suk Kim, Samsung visual display business president

The quantum dot technology was announced at last year’s CES, and Samsung claims that they reproduce “100 percent color volume.”

Anyone with access to Samsung’s Smart Hub and the Smart View app can now begin watching live TV shows or videos on-demand from over-the-top services on a phone or tablet and then beam the content to their television to continue watching it on a big screen. The updated Smart View app will display notifications about when your favorite shows are airing and where you can watch them.

The new QLED TVs also support the updated “TV plus” service that has added streaming content from Fandango, along with personalized sports and music sections for viewers.

Samsung reveals curved, quantum dot monitor “aimed at gamers”

The CH711 quantum dot monitor comes in 27 and 31.5-inch sizes

Samsung has revealed the CH711, a curved quantum dot monitor built with “gamers in mind.” The 27- and 31.5-inch displays feature a 2560×1440 resolution, a pronounced 1,800R curvature, 178-degree viewing angle, and 125 percent sRGB coverage. Cables are hidden in the stand, which also lets you flip the monitor to a vertical position.

Source: Engadget

TechSummit Rewind 134

Apple gets double of Samsung’s device activations during the holiday season, South Korea fines Qualcomm $854M & Lenovo launches a bevy of new ThinkPad laptops

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

Apple gets double Samsung’s device activations during holiday season

iphone-7

Nearly half of all mobile device and app applications across the United States during the week leading up to Christmas and the beginning of Chanukah were for the iPhone, according to the Flurry analyst firm.

During the week, 44 percent of all new phone and tablet activations involved Apple devices, while 21 percent were across Samsung devices. Huawei came in third with three percent of activations, while LG, Amazon, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Motorola each got two percent of device activations.

As for device sizes, 45 percent of all smartphones and tablets activated were medium-sized, down from 54 percent last year. Phablets grew from 27 percent last year to 37 percent this year, while small tablets fell by one percent to eight percentage points. Full-size tablets and small phones were stable at nine percent and one percent respectively.

South Korea fines Qualcomm $854M for violating competition laws

china-qualcomm_fil10

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), South Korea’s antitrust regulator, has fined Qualcomm $854 million for unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales. The chip maker will challenge the decision in court.

According to the antitrust regulator, Qualcomm abused its dominant market position and forced handset makers to pay royalties for an unnecessarily broad set of patents as part of its modem chips sales.

Qualcomm also restricted competition by refusing or limiting licensing of its standard essential modem chip patents to rivals like Intel, MediaTek, and Samsung, according to the KFTC, hindering their sales and leaving their products vulnerable to lawsuits.

The regulator ordered Qualcomm to negotiate in good faith with rivals on patent licensing and renegotiate chip supply agreements with handset makers if requested.

“We investigated and decided on these actions because Qualcomm’s actions limit overall competition.”

-Shin Young-son, Korea Fair Trade Commission secretary general

Qualcomm will file for an immediate stay of the corrective order and appeal the decision to the Seoul High Court. The fine amount and the method used to calculate it will also be challenged.

Lenovo launches new ThinkPad laptops with Windows Precision trackpads

thinkpad_x270_3-0

Lenovo will be updating its line of ThinkPad laptops in 2017 with newer processors, more authentication features, and improved trackpads.

Several new laptops, including the ThinkPad X270, the ThinkPad Yoga 370, four new ThinkPad T Ultrabooks, and the ThinkPad 13, will include support for Microsoft’s Windows Precision Touchpad that launched with Windows 10.

The new ThinkPads will run on Intel’s Kaby Lake architecture, the chipmaker’s latest, and some will get authentication features like Windows Hello support. That’s mainly coming to support European customers that face stronger security requirements, according to Lenovo.

Here’s the full lineup:

  • ThinkPad X270: 12-inch display with optional touch, starting at $999, available in March
  • ThinkPad Yoga 370: Full HD 13.3-inch display, $1264, shipping in March, comes in black/white
  • ThinkPad T Ultrabook: Variety of configurations starting at $909
  • ThinkPad L: 14/15-inch display, $779/$909
  • ThinkPad 13: Aimed at small business owners/students, $674

There is also an array of new docks that support Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C. Some of the laptops also come in white (including the Yoga 370), a first for the ThinkPad lineup.

TechSummit Rewind 127

Samsung scores a decisive Supreme Court victory in its Apple patent case, President-elect Donald Trump will meet with tech leaders next week, Softbank will invest $50 billion in the U.S., and more

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

Samsung scores decisive Supreme Court victory in Apple patent case

AppleVsSamsung_AP

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down an 8-0 ruling in favor of Samsung in its ongoing legal battle against its chief competitor

The court agreed that Samsung’s damages shouldn’t agree to the total cost of the products at issue, since the dispute only applied to pieces of the product.

However, the case will go back to a lower court to reassess the damages.

Trump meeting with tech leaders next week

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Willis Glassgow)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Willis Glassgow)

President-elect Donald Trump is set to hold a roundtable summit with tech industry leaders on Dec. 14 in New York. According to USA Today, the invitation came from chief of staff Reince Priebus, Trump’s son in-law Jared Kushner, and transition team member/Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

SoftBank will invest $50 billion in U.S. under Trump

softbank-340

Speaking of Trump, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son (who runs Sprint’s parent company) made a surprise appearance at Trump Tower to confirm a deal with the president-elect to invest $50 billion in the U.S. over the next four years and create 50,000 jobs.

“I just came to celebrate his new job. We were talking about it. I said this is great. The United States would become great again.”

– Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO

Regulators approve Microsoft-LinkedIn deal with a catch

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The European Commission became the latest group to approve Microsoft’s $26.2 billion deal to acquire LinkedIn Tuesday, joining regulatory groups including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and South Africa. However, there’s a catch.

In order to receive the approval of Europe, Microsoft is doing five things over the next five years. Namely, LinkedIn competitors will still be able to receive access to participate in Office Add-in and promotional opportunities in the Office Store and the company won’t enter into agreements with PC manufacturers to pre-install the LinkedIn app or tile that would “favor LinkedIn on an exclusive basis,” among other things.

Apple launches iOS single sign-on to make logging into TV apps less annoying

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Apple has rolled out its single sign-on feature for iOS, which lets users enter account details for participating cable providers once and automatically sign into TV Everywhere apps.

That list includes the following:

  • CenturyLink Prism
  • DirecTV
  • Dish
  • GTA
  • GVTC
  • Hawaiian Telecom
  • Hotwire
  • MetroCast
  • Sling TV

Now, there are still some major names missing (namely my cable provider Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Verizon FiOS, and Optimum) from this list. However, Apple expects to add more cable providers over the coming weeks.

Single sign-on also only works in certain apps, including

  • A&E (iOS)
  • Bravo Now (tvOS)
  • E! Now (tvOS)
  • Hallmark Channel Everywhere
  • History (iOS)
  • Lifetime (iOS)
  • NBC (tvOS)
  • Syfy Now (tvOS)
  • Telemundo Now (tvOS)
  • USA NOW (tvOS)
  • Watch HGTV
  • Watch Food Network
  • Watch Cooking Channel
  • Watch DIY
  • Watch Travel Channel

Again, a lot of important apps are missing (WatchESPN, ABC, CBS, Disney, HBO Go, and many others).

YouTube pays music industry $1B from ads

YouTube-logo-full_color

According to company chief business officer Robert Kyncl, YouTube has paid over $1 billion in advertising revenue to artists, labels, and publishers in the last 12 months.

“It is clear that this creative industry has two strong engines of growth – subscriptions, and advertising – and we are honored to be a part of it.”

– Robert Kyncl, YouTube chief business officer

Anil Dash named Fog Creek Software CEO, launches Gomix platform to remove app development barriers

fog-creek-software

Fog Creek Software, the company that spawned the births of Trello and Stack Overflow, has launched Gomix, a platform that wants to democratize app building. Gomix gives people working apps they can remix, modify, host, and deploy for free. Essentially, Gomix is designed to make building things on the web as fun as it used to be, according to newly appointed Fog Creek Software CEO Anil Dash.

Prior to joining Fog Creek, Dash co-created app community and directory Makerbase, which will become a part of Fog Creek.

“On a personal level, I came to Fog Creek because this is a company that’s always fought for making tech more thoughtful and more human. Back when [Fog Creek co-founder] Joel [Spolsky] started the Joel On Software blog, he was the only one saying that tech should be treating people better, both as users and as employees. And more than 15 years later, he’s still a fierce and fearless voice about how we should be more ethical. I wanted to be part of that tradition, as well as the same creative DNA that spawned Trello and Stack Overflow and FogBugz and so much more.”

-Anil Dash, Fog Creek Software CEO

Gomix is a combination of a web app store, an in-browser tool for editing Node.js code in collaboration with other Gomix users and a cloud hosting environment to run the app. Gomix will be part of FogBugz, Fog Creek’s software development suite for teams.

All of this is part of Fog Creek’s mission to democratize app development, practice social responsibility, and help everyday people participate in the software and internet economies.

“Now more than ever, the barriers to creating tech have to be torn down, and we’re excited to take our next big step.”

–   Anil Dash

Netflix becomes top grossing iPhone app for first time

Earns Netflix

According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Netflix has become the No. 1 Top Grossing app in the iPhone App Store for the first time after introducing in-app subscriptions to its iOS app a year ago.

Since introducing in-app subscriptions, Netflix has grown its weekly net revenue from under $50,000 to nearly $2.9 million.

Google will reach 100% renewable energy for its global operations in 2017

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Google will be operating entirely on renewable energy by 2017 – including its data centers and offices.

“To reach this goal we’ll be directly buying enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity our operations consume, globally. And we’re focusing on creating new energy from renewable sources, so we only buy from projects that are funded by our purchases.

“The cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option. Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.”

– Urs Holzle, Google senior vice president for technical infrastructure

Apple will start publishing AI research

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Apple is starting to tear down the walls at Infinite Loop with its AI research. According to company artificial intelligence research director Russ Salakhutdinov, Cupertino will start letting its AI researchers publish papers and engage with the greater AI community.

According to Salakhutdinov, the goal is to help attract and retain some of the industry’s top talent.

Google placing news feed in Android’s home screen

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When Google Now launched four years ago, it promised to present you the information you need in swipeable cards. Along with transit times, meetings, and weather, Mountain View found that news cards were apparently popular.

An update to the Google app is refocusing itself more on news. Essentially, the app is splitting into two parts. On the right is “Upcoming,” which is basically the Google app you’ve come to love with the same, personally relevant news entries. But on the left is the “Feed,” dedicated to news the company thinks you’d be interested in based on your search history (and other info presumably). It’s rolling out now in the Google App on Android in the U.S., but will come soon to iOS and other regions.

GoDaddy acquires Host Europe Group for $1.79 billion to grow global footprint

godaddy

GoDaddy has acquired Host Europe Group in a $1.79 billion deal.

HEG is one of Europe’s biggest web hosting companies with a particularly strong presence in the U.K. and Germany.

GoDaddy will pay $650 million to the selling shareholders, with the rest being in assumed net debt. The deal has been approved by GoDaddy’s directors and HEG’s shareholders, but the deal still needs to pass regulators and is expected to do so in Q2 2017.

“By joining forces with HEG, we accelerate our expansion into Europe with the delivery of a broader range of cloud-based products, built on a single global technology platform, and supported by unparalleled customer care to help small businesses and web designers succeed online.”

– Blake Irving, GoDaddy CEO

Facebook begins asking users to rate articles’ use of “misleading language”

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Facebook is continuing its assault on the barrage of fake news on the platform with a survey asking users about “misleading language” in posts.

The company has confirmed the effort.

TechSummit Rewind 126

Amazon kills off the cashier with Go concept, Google’s Trusted Contacts broadcasts your location, Microsoft hits reset on chat bots & more

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

Amazon launches Go cashier-free food shopping experience

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Amazon has launched Go, a “new kind of store with no checkout required” with a single 1,800 square foot retail space in Seattle.

Customers use the Go app to enter the store, with a combination of sensors, computer vision, and deep learning keeping track of what’s taken off and returned to shelves inside a virtual cart. Once finished, the shopper simply walks out and gets charged with their Amazon account with a receipt.

According to the company, the store has been in the works for four years.

“We asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?”

-Amazon, on the Go website

In its current form, the store is built specifically around ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared on-site (by humans ironically) along with Amazon Meal Kits that split the difference with 30-minute meal prep.

Go launches to Amazon employees in beta this year. The store will open for all early next year.

Google’s Trusted Contacts app lets you share your location during emergencies

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When Google Latitude was discontinued in 2013, it never truly made a replacement for its version of iOS’ Find My Friend. With Trusted Contacts, Google’s bringing location tracking back so you can communicate with and locate loved ones in case of emergency.

Trusted Contacts lets you add people with whom you want to share your whereabouts, whether it’s your GPS location or if you’re online. During a crisis, friends and family members can request your status to see if you’re safe, and you can respond with your location to let them know you’re okay, or deny the request. If you don’t respond within five minutes, the app will automatically broadcast your location to the contact, or your last known location if your phone is offline.

The app can also be used as a virtual companion – sharing your commute with your friends so they can watch to see that you’ve made it to your final destination. When you get to your location, push the button at the top of the screen or on the lock screen to end sharing.

However, it could open yourself up to potential stalkers that can keep their eyes on your whereabouts at all times if you leave the app passively running in the background.

Trusted Contacts is free to download now on Android.

Microsoft tries out chat bots again on Kik

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According to Twitter user Tom Honsell, Microsoft has launched Zo, a chat bot that’s being tested now in the Kik messaging app. After briefly gauging your personality, it’ll participate in conversations like an overexcited teenager.

Notably, the bot steers clear of topics like politics or Hitler (unlike its previous Tay bot). It’s also uncannily knowledgeable about Redmond’s pride and joy, and is a devout Windows Phone fan.

LG Electronics makes home appliance boss CEO

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Jo Seong-jin, LG Electronics’ home appliance boss, has been promoted to the company’s vice chairman and CEO in its annual reshuffle.

Mobile head Juno Cho kept his post, along with his TV and auto component counterparts.

In all, 58 executives were promoted, the most in 12 years from the company, and compares to last year’s 38 promotions.

Volkswagen launches Moia standalone mobility company

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Volkswagen is making a significant bet on future mobility services with Moia, a new separate company that exists under the VW umbrella focused on providing mobility solutions, including fleet-based commuter shuttles and eventually autonomous on-demand transportation.

The company’s focused on solving the problems associated specifically with cities and movement within there, according to new group CEO Ole Harms. He called mobility in the city the “lifeblood” of the urban environment, and suggested that Moia will seek to be the heart in the metaphor that keeps the flow running smoothly so that the city and its residents can function efficiently.

To do this, Moia will first focus on setting up on-demand shuttle services, using original designs for small, multi-passenger shuttles that are intended to operate with electric drivetrains for maximum efficiency with maximum impact.

Users can hail shuttles from an app, and join them form designated pick-up points near their location on short notice. If users hail during a time when they’d be the only passenger, Moia is currently planning to potentially outsource that to partners like Gett or others operating ride-hailing services to ensure users can still get a ride.

Fitness trackers outpace smartwatches with consumers

Fitbit Charge 2

According to a new report from IDC, most people are wearing a fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch.

From June through September, fitness trackers made up 85 percent of the wearables market and drove all the growth in sales. Smartwatches meanwhile fell in popularity during the same time period.

Fitbit took first place on the list of popular wearables brands, followed by Xiaomi, Garmin, Apple, and Samsung. According to IDC, Fitbit shipped 5.3 million fitness trackers in the period.

The firm expects sales to remain strong as the holiday season approaches.

“Simplicity is a driving factor, and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device.”

-Jitesh Ubrani, IDC senior research analyst

TechSummit Rewind 118

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Twitter discontinuing Vine mobile app in “coming months”

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Twitter is discontinuing Vine, the short-form video app that it hoped would complement its flagship text network.

For now, Vines that have been posted won’t be deleted.

“We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch the incredible Vines that have been made.”

-Twitter, in a Medium post

Twitter Q3 2016 earnings: Revenue of $616M, 317M MAUs

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)

Meanwhile, the San Francisco-based company got a tad bit of good news in its Q3 earnings. Twitter reported earnings of $0.13/share and revenue of $616 million, with the service growing to 317 million monthly active users.

“To capture this large opportunity, and drive daily active usage across the millions of people at the top of our funnel each day, we’re refining our core service in four key areas: onboarding, the home timeline, notifications, and Tweeting. We’re rapidly iterating across these four areas and encouraged by the direct benefit we’ve seen from recent product improvements that are driving results in Q3, following the inflection in Q2.”

-Twitter, in a statement

“While our efforts are beginning to drive growth in audience and engagement, we believe there is still significant opportunity ahead. To get a better sense of the size of this opportunity: consider that each day there are millions of people that come to Twitter to sign up for a new account or reactivate an existing account that has not been active in the last 30 days.”

-Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

However, Twitter also announced that they were laying off nine percent of its staff as part of restructuring. Most of the cuts are targeted at sales, marketing, and partnerships, according to the company.

Qualcomm acquiring NXP Semiconductors for $47B

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Qualcomm will acquire NXP Semiconductors for $47 billion ($110/share) in cash. The deal will be funding with cash on hand along with new debt.

“If you look at our growth strategy, it’s to grow into adjacent markets at the time that they are being disrupted by the technology of mobile.”

-Steven Mollenkopf, Qualcomm CEO

Mollenkopf claimed that he’ll aim to combine the two companies and their products as quickly as possible and make sure that the company’s combined management has representatives from both sides.

Samsung Q3 earnings: Profit plummets 30% after Note 7 recall

Samsung CES 2014 booth

Samsung’s operating profit plunged 30 percent compared to last year as the Galaxy Note 7 recall made its financial presence known.

Samsung announced operating profit of $4.6 billion for the third quarter of 2016, down a third from this time last year. Revenue came in at $42.03 billion, down 30 percent from last year.

“Regarding the mobile business, the company will focus on expanding sales of new flagship products with differentiated design and innovative features, as well as regaining consumers’ confidence.”

-Samsung, in a statement

Facebook launches Halloween-themed masks for live video

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Facebook is beginning to roll out its answer to Snapchat’s animated lenses to its live streaming service. The masks will be available within the Facebook app and the Mentions app for verified users.

The feature allows you to add animated overlays to your livestreams, and will be periodically swapped out for different styles (the initial set are Halloween themed).

Masks are starting to roll out now to iOS users in the U.S., U.K., and New Zealand, and will hit Android and additional countries “in the coming months.”

The company is also rolling out “limited edition” Halloween-themed reactions to its app and website, swapping out the standard icons for those inspired by the spooky season like a ghost and pumpkin.

Uber adds surge pricing to UberEats in select cities

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UberEats, the ride-hailing company’s food delivery service, will be applying surge pricing to food deliveries in times of high demand when couriers are in short demand.

The exact surge amount will appear above the menu, according to Uber, and as a separate line item before checkout and on the order receipt.

“The extra money from these orders goes toward financial incentives for delivery partners as well as our other operational costs. These partner incentives look at past patterns and aim to predict where and when there will be high demand and to encourage more people to get on the road in these locations.”

-Ben Dreier, UberEats product manager

The first cities to get the increase are Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Washington, Miami, and Atlanta (sadly).

MIT launches The Engine incubator with $150M first fund

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MIT wants disruptive entrepreneurs to remain in its hometown of Boston. Accordingly, the university has started The Engine, an innovation network designed to support startup companies with the potential to change the world, according to an MIT News Office report.

The Engine will provide space, funding, and expertise to scientific and technological innovation startups that can have “transformative societal impact.”

“If we hope for serious solutions to the world’s great challenges, we need to make sure the innovators working on these problems see a realistic pathway to the marketplace. The Engine can provide that pathway by prioritizing breakthrough ideas over early profit, helping to shorten the time it takes these startups to become ‘VC-ready,’ providing comprehensive support in the meantime, and creating an enthusiastic community of inventors and supporters who share a focus on making a better world. We believe this approach can offer exponential growth to regions that pursue it successfully – and we want Greater Boston to lead the way.”

-Rafael Reif, MIT president

The Engine hopes to find a “steady state” of supporting 60 local startups in the innovation incubator for 12 months. The Engine will have 26,000 square feet at its headquarters in Cambridge, Mass with plans to expand to over 200,000 square feet in adjacent neighborhoods.

MIT is investing $25 million as a limited partner and is seeking another $125 million in a related venture capital fund. The capital will be used to provide long-term support to assist startups transitioning from initial concept phases to commercial success. According to MIT, the Engine’s venture arm will keep more equity with the company’s founders.

The enterprise will also provide access to a network of resources to support and lend expertise and connections to startup companies with the goal to keep them in the Boston area.

“We want highly disruptive entrepreneurs to stay in Greater Boston. This is where the boldest ideas in the world should find their home.”

-Israel Ruiz, MIT executive vice president & treasurer

TechSummit Rewind 112

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Google will launch dedicated search results for mobile

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Within months, Google will create a separate index for mobile that will become the “primary” index used for responding to search queries. A separate desktop index will be maintained, however it won’t be as up-to-date as the mobile index.

Facebook updates Instagram Windows 10 app to support PC, tablets

new Instagram web interface

Facebook has updated its Windows 10 app for Instagram to support PCs and tablets. The new version is available now in the Windows Store.

The app has its own Live Tile that shows you new photos and notifications right on your home screen. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the Instagram apps for iOS and Android, including the ability to post and edit photos (only on devices with a touchscreen and rear-facing camera), get notifications, chat with Instagram Direct, and use Stories and the bevy of other features you’d expect.

Google News rolls out “fact check” tag for stories on web, mobile apps

google-news-fact-check

Google News has launched a new fact check feature in search results for news stories.

Fact check will now appear as a label among news search results, alongside other labels like opinion, local source, and highly cited.

Fact-checks are algorithmically being connected with live news stories partly based on Claim Review. According to Google, fact-checking services can apply to have their service included.

“We’re excited to see the growth of the Fact Check community and to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin.”

-Google, in a blog post

Fact check labels are visible in the expanded story box on Google News’ website, on iOS and Android, and will roll out first in the U.S. and U.K.

Amazon opens limited beta for Alexa to manage lists; Any.do, Todoist now work with Echo

amazon-echo

Amazon has opened up a limited beta that adds the ability for lists to be managed with the company’s Echo speaker.

Any.Do and Todoist have baked in support, which lets you add items to your to-do or shopping list with your voice. Those lists are then synced to the app.

The list API lets you specify which to-do list service you want to add your item to. Once Any.Do/Todoist is connected to your Alexa account and set as the default list app, adding items to your list becomes as simple as saying “Alexa add Oreos to my shopping list” or “remind me to get the oil changed.” You can also ask Alexa for a summary of what’s on your to-do list.

The API is currently in private beta, and integration is available now with Any.Do and Todoist.

Yahoo revives email forwarding

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Yahoo has flipped back on automatic mail forwarding after disabling it earlier this week. According to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, “previously planned maintenance to improve its functionality between a user’s various accounts” caused the issue.

Verizon starts selling 30-minute unlimited data sessions

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Verizon has announced PopData, an option for pay-as-you-go unlimited data that sets you back $2 for a 30-minute session and $3 for an hour-long unlimited data binge.

Samsung expects to lose another $3.1 billion after Note 7 recall

samsung-galaxy-note-7

According to Samsung, the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7 will cost the Korean company another $3.1 billion over the next two fiscal quarters.

“The company already allocated the expected direct cost from the discontinuation of Galaxy Note7 sales in its third quarter earnings guidance revision announced on Oct. 11, but expects the drop in revenue from the discontinued sales to continue to have a negative impact on operating impact for the next two quarters. The negative impact is estimated in the mid-2 trillion-won range in the fourth quarter of 2016 and at approximately 1 trillion won for the first quarter of 2017.”

  • Samsung, in a statement

Salesforce rules out Twitter takeover

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)

Salesforce has confirmed that it will not make a bid in Twitter.

“In this case we’ve walked away. It wasn’t the right fit for us.”

-Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

Shazam adds in-app music video channels

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Shazam has added videos to its arsenal thanks to a partnership with music video platform Vadio. When you ID a song, a curated music video channel will now pop up and play within the app.

“We continually look for new ways to expand the ways in which our users can discover music. We want to give fans a great reason to spend more time with Shazam by giving them access to a rich and immersive music video experience. In turn, this creates new revenue opportunities for artists and, moreover, powerful ways of gaining exposure for brands.”

-Fabio Santini, Shazam chief product officer

The new feature will be available everywhere the app is active.

Naspers sells Allegro to Permira consortium for $3.3B

allegro_pl_ecommerce_online_retail

Media and internet holding company Naspers has agreed to sell off Polish online auction business Allegro to a consortium of private equity firms that includes Cinvne, Permira, and Mid Europa for $3.25 billion.

Comparison shopping business Ceneo.pl was also included in the transaction.

According to Naspers, the deal is still subject to antitrust clearance.