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 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

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

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.

TechSummit Rewind 136

Dell launches a 2-in-1 XPS 13, French workers win the right to ignore email after hours, Twitter’s China head leaves the company, and more

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

Dell launches XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop

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Dell has officially introduced a new 2-in-1 version of its highly regarded XPS 13 laptop ahead of CES.

The machine features a 7th generation Kaby Lake Intle Core i5/i7 chip, Intel HD Graphics 615 integrated GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB-1TB SSD, a 720p webcam on the bottom of the display with Windows Hello support, a fingerprint scanner, a 46 watt-hour battery, and a 13.3-inch QHD+ or FHD touchscreen.

Keeping with the XPS style, that display is framed by a thin bezel. The fanless PC offers an SD card slot and two USB-C ports, along with a USB-A to USB-C adapter.

The laptop is thinner than Dell’s 2016 XPS, measuring up at 0.54 inch at its thickest point. The keyboard hasn’t been squished down however with just 0.1mm more keyboard travel on the prior XPS laptop in its 2.7-pound body.

The convertible is available starting at $1000 on Jan. 5.

French workers win right to ignore work emails after hours

French workers have been granted the “right to disconnect” thanks to a new law passed Sunday.

According to Agence France-Presse, the right demands that all business with more than 50 employees negotiate new rules of online engagement with their workers.

Twitter’s China head leaves company

Twitter HQ

Kathy Chen, Twitter’s managing director in Greater China, has left the company after eight months.

Facebook, Google dominate 2016’s top apps

apps

Apps from Facebook and Google dominated a list of 2016’s top apps released by Nielsen.

Facebook grabbed the number one spot on the list with over 146 million unique users per month and 14 percent growth compared to last year. Facebook’s Messenger (#2) and Instagram (#8) also placed within the top 10. The photocentric social app showed some of the highest year-over-year growth, up 36 percent from 2015.

Messenger had over 129 million average unique monthly users.

However, Google grabbed the most spots on the year-end chart with YouTube (#3), Google Maps (#4), Google Search (#5), Google Play (#6), and Gmail (#7) also ranked within the top 10.

Notably Amazon surged in 2016. According to Nielsen, Amazon’s mobile app saw a 43 percent increase in monthly average uniques compared to 2015.

 

TechSummit Rewind 135

Twitter adds ability to stream 360-degree Periscope streams, Ford’s self-driving cars get better vision & more compute power, Oculus acquires The Eye Tribe, and more

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

Twitter adds ability to watch 360-degree Periscope streams

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Periscope now supports 360 degree videos with a catch. Only “select partners” can create these broadcasts, but anyone can watch them live. The feature’s rolling out now and will come to more people over the “coming weeks.”

“We’ve always said that joining a broadcast is like stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Live 360 video isn’t just about taking you to places you’ve never been; it’s about connecting you with people and letting you experience something new with them.”

-Periscope, in a Medium post

Live 360 videos will be denoted with a badge on both Twitter and Periscope. When you’re viewing the video, the point of view can be modified by either moving the phone or tapping and scrolling around the screen.

Interested participants can join its wishlist.

Ford’s newest self-driving test cars have more compute power, better vision

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Ford has developed a new generation of its autonomous development vehicle, a hybrid Fusion that uses the same essential platform as its current vehicles, but with a big processing upgrade through new on-board computing hardware and improved LiDAR sensors that deliver a better field of view and improved overall vision to the sensor despite dropping two LiDAR units from the design.

The new Fusion also contains software improvements for a better virtual driver.

According to Ford autonomous vehicle chief program engineer Chris Brewer, the vehicle can gather just as much data as the previous generation. The two sensors combine to provide 360-degree coverage and can see about “the length of two football fields in every direction.”

Three optical cameras on the Fusion’s roof racks, a front-facing camera behind the windshield, short- and long-range radar complete the picture the car sees, which is used together using the onboard computing power. According to Brewer, the built-in supercomputer can generate a full terabyte of data per hour. All that virtual processing capability requires a second power converter, and also explains the use of hybrids since a standard gas-powered car just doesn’t have the energy to achieve autonomy right now.

All of Ford’s work is preface to its plan to launch autonomous vehicles in a commercial setting in 2021, beginning with a self-driving ride-hailing fleet.

Oculus acquires The Eye Tribe

Oculus has acquired The Eye Tribe, an eye-tracking startup that develops eye-tracking device developer kits for computers and software that can bring gaze-based interfaces to smartphones and potentially virtual reality headsets.

FDA releases new cybersecurity guidelines for medical devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released its recommendations for how medical device manufacturers should maintain the security of internet-connected devices, even after they’ve entered hospitals, patient homes, or patient bodies.

A year in the making, the 30-page document encourages manufacturers to monitor their medical devices and associated software for bugs, and patch any problems that occur. However, the recommendations are not legally enforceable.

“Hospital networks experience constant attempts of intrusion and attack, which can pose a threat to patient safety. And as hackers become more sophisticated, these cybersecurity risks will evolve.”

-Suzanne Schwartz, FDA associate director for science and strategic partnerships

Most patches and updates intended to address security vulnerabilities will be considered routine enhancements, meaning that manufacturers don’t have to alert the FDA every time they issue one, unless someone dies or is seriously harmed because of a bug. In those cases, the FDA will need a report. Dangerous bugs identified before they harm or kill anyone won’t have to be reported to the FDA as long as the manufacturer tells customers and device users about the bug within 30 days, fixes it within 60 days, and shares information about the vulnerability with an ISAO.

Singapore to record iris scans of citizens

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Starting Jan. 1, Singapore will begin including iris scans as part of the country’s registration process for citizens and permanent residents.

This is part of efforts to improve the “effectiveness and efficiency” of operations undertaken by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the ministry, amendments to the country’s National Registration Act were passed in parliament to facilitate the move and take effect in January. The act facilitates the registration of citizens and permanent residents in Singapore, which encompasses the issue of national identity cards and other associated purposes.

The ICA would begin collecting iris images as another identifier, in addition to photographs and fingerprints, for re-registration of identify cards along with passport application and renewals.

Amazon attempts to recreate Prime Day magic with Digital Day

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Amazon is trying to recreate the magic of the Prime Day sales holiday with Digital Day, a year-end blowout sale for digital deals.

Today only (Dec. 30), the retailer is discounting over 1,000 digital items across the site to encourage post-holiday spending.

According to Amazon, hundreds of movies and TV shows are being sold for half off, a number of top music albums will go for $5, a Plex Pass annual subscription (popular among cord cutters and those with large digital libraries) will also be half off. A number of mobile games for kids will be 99 cents, while some video games will be up to 80 percent off.

Its own services are also being promoted, including its recently launch Amazon Music Unlimited with a $10 discount and Amazon Rapids kids’ reading app with a 33 percent discount.

Discounts extend to things like comics, graphic novels, ebooks, and various subscriptions like workout channel Daily Burn, Qello Concerts, and UFC Fight Pass. Software and service discounts include Microsoft Office Home & Business 2016, TurboTax, Norton, and H&R Block.

The full list of deals is much more extensive, but unfortunately you won’t find discounted Amazon Prime memberships.

One more thing…

This is the final TechSummit Rewind of 2016. Thanks for your support throughout the year of Paw Print Media. We’re going to be taking the weekend off in preparation of the busy CES week next week. Expect several special editions of this newsletter throughout the week digesting the news as it comes from Las Vegas. Happy New Year and may 2017 be ever in your favor.

TechSummit Rewind 125

Twitter & AngelList make acquisitions, Moto suspends smartwatch production, and more

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

Twitter acquires Yes, Inc.

Twitter HQ

Twitter has acquired app maker Yes in a move to encourage its users to get better acquainted with each other around events. As a result, the company’s Frenzy and WYD apps will be shuttered “in the coming weeks.”

“Our team has always admired Twitter, a product that brings the whole world closer. From elections to revolutions, Olympics to arts, it connects people across the globe around the events that are happening right now. Twitter also speaks to our love of working at a global scale.”

–  Yes, in a blog post

Company founder Keith Coleman will be joining Twitter as its’ vice president of product.

AngelList acquires Product Hunt

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AngelList, the company that helps investors find startups to invest in, has acquired Product Hunt, the company that lets people share and discover new products posted by other users.

According to Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, the site will continue under its own brand as a part of the AngelList umbrella.

“The word that AngeList has been using to some extent is ‘continuity.’ Over time, we’ll explore ways of doing direct integrations. We probably won’t see anything in the short term, but down the road you might see some of the talent pieces of AngelList come over to Product Hunt and maybe some of the Product Discovery aspects go to AngelList.

“[Building a revenue stream] requires a whole new focus within our company and a lot more resources to actually make that work, not only from a product perspective but also from a sales and marketing perspective. We’d basically be building some of the same things [AngelList] would be doing to some extent. So on the revenue side that’s a large accelerant.”

-Ryan Hoover, Product Hunt founder

According to Hoover, “most” of Product Hunt’s 14 employees will join AngelList with Hoover reporting to AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant.

Moto indefinitely halts smartwatch production

2015 Moto 360

Moto has confirmed that it won’t be releasing a new smartwatch for the launch of Android War 2.0.

According to Moto head of global product development Shakil Barkat, the company doesn’t see “enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] at this time.”

“Wearables do not have broad enough appeal for us to continue to build on it year after year.

“We believe the wrist still has value and there will be a point where they provide value to consumers more than they do today.”

–    Shakil Barkat, Moto head of global product development

Nokia-branded Android smartphones arriving in first half of next year

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HMD Global, a Finnish company created to return the mighty Nokia name to smartphones, has taken the wraps off plans to add Nokia-branded Android phones to its existing feature phone lineup in the first half of next year as part of a branding deal with Nokia.

“We see this as a brilliant opportunity to solve real life consumer problems and to deliver on the quality and designs that the Nokia brand has always been known for. Our talented and passionate team is uniquely placed in this modern setup to deliver our promise of reliable, beautifully crafted, and fun Nokia phones for consumers around the globe.”

– Arto Nummela, HMD Group CEO

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

yahoo-mail-relaunch

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.

TechSummit Rewind 109

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

Google launches Trips personalized travel planner

google-trips

Google has launched Trips, a new app designed to help you better plan your travels. It pulls in data from Google Maps and crowdsourced contributions from other travelers to offer a personalized travel guide that helps you keep track of your trip, reservations, points of interest, tourist attractions, restaurants, and more.

On the home screen, you’ll see a search box with a “where do you want to go?” prompt for planning new trips, and other cards to help you keep track of current and upcoming travels.

Each city you visit during a trip can have its own tab within the larger “Trip” section, and a simple toggle switch is all that stands between you downloading all the information about that destination for offline use. On each city’s screen, a variety of colorful cards help you jump into various sections like “Saved Places,” “Day Plans,” “Food & Drink,” “Getting around,” “Things to do,” “Reservations,” and more.

According to Google, Trips can show you the most popular day plans and itineraries for 200 cities worldwide. This information is based on historic trip data from other travelers, which Google assembles into lists that includes the most popular sights and attractions.

You can add a spot you want to visit to your plans, and tell the app if you only have the morning/afternoon available for the outing. The app can then show you other attractions near the original spot, so you can take it other sights worth seeing without having to commute too far.

There’s also some automation involved: you can tap and pin a spot you have to visit to your itinerary, and Google Trips will automatically fill the rest of the day for you. Meanwhile, you can also tap a “magic wand” button for more options of nearby sights, then pin those you like to further customize your itinerary

The app can also track flight, hotel, car, and restaurant reservations.

Trips also automatically gathers reservations from your Gmail and organizes them into trips on your behalf.

Google Trips is available now on Android and iOS.

Facebook buys Nascent Objects

nascentobjectsteaser

Facebook has acquired Nascent Objects, a small Bay Area startup that offers what the company calls a “modular electronics platform” – essentially a software problem to help expedite the process for building physical gadgets, including 3D-printed hardware.

Nascent will join Facebook’s Building 8, the company’s research lab headed by former Google advanced technology and products team head Regina Dugan.

“Together, we hope to create hardware at a speed that’s more like software.”

-Regina Dugan, in a video posted Monday

According to a Facebook spokesperson, Nascent Objects founder and CEO Baback Elmieh is joining Facebook along with “other key members” of the startup.

Thalmic Labs raises $120M from Intel, Amazon

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Thalmic Labs, the Waterloo, Ontario-based wearable technology company, has announced a $120 million Series B funding round led by Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund, and Fidelity Investments Canada.

“This investment will be used to fuel continued growth and development of future products already in the pipeline, and will help us realize our vision of a new era of computing, where the real and digital worlds will blend seamlessly.”

-Stephen Lake, Thalmic Labs CEO & cofounder

“In the three years since Intel Capital first invested in Thalmic, they’ve made tremendous breakthroughs in technology. These innovations augment Intel’s strategy for wearable technology and align with our vision to bring new and exciting experiences to users.”

-Josh Walden, Intel New Technology group senior vice president & general manager

Oracle unveils new cloud infrastructure

Oracle

Oracle has unveiled its second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in the company’s data centers at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

The Dense IO Shape, one particular virtual-machine type, offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, at a price of $5.40/hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services, specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, according to executive chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison.

“Amazon’s lead is over. Amazon’s going to have serious competition going forward.”

-Larry Ellison, Oracle executive chairman and chief technology officer

The new offering takes advantage of regions, each of which contains three separate “availability domains,” or connected data centers.

Ellison “respects” Amazon for being the “first mover” in the cloud infrastructure business, launching its EC2 service for renting our VM instances by the hour in 2006.

“Now, we’re aggressively moving into infrastructure, and we have a new generation of data centers that we’re building around the world.”

-Larry Ellison

Ellison also announced Cloud@Customer, a new service that lets customers place identical servers to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure in their own on-premises infrastructure. According to Ellison, these servers have the same pricing structure as their cloud counterparts.

Twitter removes photos, videos, GIFs, polls, quote tweets from 140-character limit

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)

Photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and quote tweets no longer count towards Twitter’s 140-character limit. However, links remain in the county.

The company is also testing out some replies changes, like no longer counting @names towards the character count.

Google Photos adds themed ‘concept movies,’ in-app sharing

Google Photos

Google Photos is launching “concept movies,” which are algorithmically generated videos based on their content.

The first concept movie is “They Grow Up So Fast,” and it organizes your children’s hundreds of Google Photos appearances into movies. According to Google, only your best photos will be chosen, disqualifying any images where your kids are blinking or out of focus.

The company’s also following up with “Summer of Smiles” on Thursday, which finds your happiest photos from the summer and stitches them into a montage. Soon after, there’ll be “Special Day,” which turns recent uploads from weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations into movies. Depending on the amount of content Google uses, each movie runs between 20 seconds and two minutes.

“You can imagine where this goes. All the things that people do, we can make special movies around them.”

-Tim Novikoff, Google product manager

This is part of a broader update to Google Photos that adds in-app sharing. If your friends and family have the app installed, you can share your photos and videos with them through the app’s share sheet. Tap it and your contacts will appear below the traditional sheet, and any contacts with Photos installed will have an app icon next to their face.

Once you share with your friends, they’ll receive a Google Photos notifications. Opening it will unlock everything you’ve sent them, and from there they can add the photos to their own libraries or leave a comment. You can also share with contacts who don’t use Photos by receiving a link to the web album via SMS or email.

TechSummit Rewind 102

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Apple adds 2TB iCloud option for $19.99/month

iCloud_mini_MBA_iPhone5s_iPhone5c_PRINT

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

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

Amazon Dash Replenishment

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

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

Jeff Jones joins Uber as ridesharing president

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

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

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

-Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

Jones was previously Target’s chief marketing officer.

Sonos partners with Amazon, Spotify for enhanced music control

Sonos

Sonos has announced software partnerships with Spotify and Amazon.

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

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

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

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

Transmission linked to Mac malware again

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

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

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

Beats lawsuit claiming fraud before Apple sale dismissed

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

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

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

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

Corning wants Gorilla Glass on your next smartwatch

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

Google starts rolling redesigned Google+ out

Google-Plus-Logo

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

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

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

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

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

-Google, in a statement

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

Snapchat unpublishes Facebook page

snapchat_uhoh

Snapchat has unpublished its official Facebook page.

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

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

Snapchat releases web tool for making custom geofilters

Snapchat geofilter tool

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

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

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

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

Pebble firmware update brings improved health app, interface enhancements

PebbleSteel1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FCC backs down from municipal broadband case

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

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

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

Twitter paying users to create videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TechSummit Rewind 097

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Google Fiber set to test wireless service across U.S.

googlefiberspace

According to a new FCC filing, Google Fiber is set to test its experimental wireless service in up to 24 U.S. locations.

Google would spend two years testing the service, though it’ll be limited to employees and “trusted testers.” Similar technology is being experimented with in Kansas City, Fiber’s first market.

“We are working to test the viability of a wireless network that relies on newly available spectrum. The project is in early stages today, but we hope this technology can one day help deliver more abundant Internet access to consumers.”

-A Google Fiber spokesperson

Carvana raises $160M Series C to expand dealership, car vending machines nationwide

Carvana

Carvana has raised $160M in Series C to expand its model of selling used cars online across the United States.

With the new funding, the Phoenix-based company plans to have readily available inventory available in over 20 markets by the end of the year. Carvana will also need more physical locations to store cars in each of those markets.

Google removes Google+ requirement for posting Play Store reviews

Google Play Store

The Google Play Store no longer requires users to have a Google+ account to write reviews.

The rollout of this change is still ongoing.

“People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.”

-Bradley Horowitz, Google VP of Streams, Photos, & Sharing

Tilt launches one-to-one payments

Tilt_Logo

Tilt, an app geared towards crowdfunding events, is adding one-to-one payments to its service.

“In our abstinence from [one-to-one payments], we’re much more interested in building products that unlock ideas in heads, as opposed to others, which are payments [relating to] the past. We were much more in the DNA of future-oriented types of objectives and much more social group minded activities.”

-James Beshara, Tilt CEO

According to Beshara, one-to-one payments aren’t intended to become the app’s primary focus, but instead aims to make Tilt more of a staple in users’ minds. In an initial test, the user base with one-to-one payments enabled increased activity on the app by around 34%.

“One of the best things we’ve ever done [is] to spur more public participatory discovery content. That’s gonna be the most important thing for us, one-to-one payments in general is notoriously a low margin if any margin business. The only sense for us is ‘does it actually drive the activity and the content that we really want.’ You come into the platform and see, man, my friends are already using this. It’s very similar to other content creation platform, something like Snapchat – if only four of your friends are on it, you’ll be less likely to create content than if 40 friends are on it.”

-James Beshara

Twitter now lets advertisers create own stickers

Twitter stickers

Twitter is now letting advertisers offer sponsored stickers, which’ll appear up front in the sticker list, that users can place on their photos.

Pepsi kicks off the ad format with eight custom stickers, six of which being smiley faces, one of them being a trophy, and the last one being a Pepsi logo. Twitter will let advertisers buy either four or eight stickers at time, which will all appear in the “featured” section that first pops up when adding them to a photo.

Promoted stickers will also be searchable, so you’ll be able to quick on the Pepsi graphic to see what people are using it for.