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 117: Microsoft October 2016 event

A recap of Microsoft’s October 2016 press event

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Microsoft’s October 2016 press event.

Paint 3D

Microsoft Paint will never be looked at in the same way. The company stressed the future of creating in 3D. Users can take photos and turn portions of it into 3D, or turn a 2D doodle into a 3D image. All the 2D pens and pencils also work on 3D objects. Stickers can be stamped onto 2D images to make it 3D. Microsoft envisions these creations making their way to HoloLens for viewing.

People can also share work in a new community that comes with a focus on Minecraft. People can directly export form the game and 3D print their creations. The app will be available as part of the Windows 10 Creators update when it launches in the spring.

Windows 10 VR headsets

HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer will ship a line of virtual reality headsets that take advantage of Windows 10’s VR and holographic capabilities. The headsets will start at $299, and will include inside-out tracking sensors that remove the need for external cameras or laser systems.

Player-created e-sports Xbox Live tournaments

Microsoft is expanding the Arena platform introduced at E3 by letting players create their own competitive gaming tournaments. The feature will launch in 2017.

Meanwhile, players will be able to stream games from within Windows 10 with the click of a button through Beam (which Microsoft acquired in August). Viewers will be able to click buttons to offer suggestions for what the streamer does next in-game. These features will come to Windows 10 and Xbox One early next year.

Surface Book

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The Surface Book has been updated with 30 percent more battery life and double the performance of the most powerful current Surface Book. There’s an Intel Core i7 processor, redesigned cooling system with an additional fan to keep the processors cranking at full strength, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU pushing 1.9 teraflops of graphics performance, and 16 hours of battery life.

These are all shoved into the existing Surface Book frame, but it’s slightly heavier (thanks to the bigger battery) at 3.63 pounds (compared to 3.48 pounds on the original).

The Surface Book will be available on Nov. 10, with preorders open today from Microsoft:

  • 256GB: $2,399
  • 512GB: $2,799
  • 1TB: $3,299

Surface Studio

The Surface lineup is now on the big screen. Microsoft’s Surface Studio will launch this holiday in limited quantities starting at $2,999. Preorders begin today, and the desktop will be shown off at Microsoft stores ahead of its launch.

“We totally believe that Surface changes the way you produce, the way you create, the way you learn. [Studio] is all of that – but it’s one step further. It’s going to seem familiar, but it’s going to feel different.”

-Panos Panay, Microsoft devices head

The Studio has an all-in-one form factor with a 12.5mm aluminum frame, claimed as the “world’s thinnest LCD monitor ever built” by the company. There’s a 28-inch 3:2 4500×3000 (192ppi) display that outputs 13.5 million pixels (192ppi), according to Panay, which is 63 percent more than what’s on a 4K television. The Studio’s hinge allows for the display to be adjusted to a 20-degree orientation that’s convenient for drawing or marking up Word documents.

There’s also palm rejection built-in to the 10-point multitouch touchscreen, allowing users to avoid false inputs and have a comfortable experience with the Studio. On the base are connectivity options like a headphone jack, SD card slot, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and four USB 3.0 ports (one high-power). There’s also a built-in microphone array designed for you to be able to access Cortana from across the room.

“These chrome arms were meant to completely fade into the background.”

-Panos Panay

There’s also expanded color output – critical for photographers, videographers, and designers – called TrueColor with Adobe sRGB and DCI-P color settings. It’s powered by Intel’s sixth-generation processors and has a NVIDIA GTX 980M GPU in the premium model, with a 965M in the lower-priced configurations.

A variety of peripherals including the Surface Pen and radial Surface Dial support the Studio. The Dial can be placed on the Studio to trigger menus and other features like adjusting volume, screen brightness, or scrolling through a document. It can also work with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book.

The Surface Dial will launch Nov. 10 for $99, and will be included with a Surface Studio pre-order.

Here’s the rest of the spec sheet:

  • Sixth-generation Intel Core i5, i7 processor
  • 1TB, 2TB hybrid drive
  • 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M 2GB (Core i5) or GTX 980M 4GB (Core i7)
  • 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Cameras: 5MP front camera with Windows Hello support, 1080p video rear camera
  • Sound: Stereo 2.1 Dolby audio

TechSummit Rewind 110

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

New Roku streaming media players support 4K, HDR video

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Roku has announced a new line of streaming media boxes. Its streaming stick remains unchanged.

The Roku Express succeeds the Roku 1 with a 75 percent smaller form factor and double the processing power. It tops out at HD quality, but has a significantly lower $30 price tag. The Express+ features all of this with composite cables for an extra $10.

The Premiere and Premiere+ Rokus replace the Roku 2 and Roku 3, respectively. The Roku Premiere retails at $80 and supports 4K video at 60 frames per second. It also has a quad-core processor and Roku’s standard IR remote. Meanwhile, the $100 Premiere+ adds HDR support, along with an enhanced remote that includes Roku’s “private listening” feature (a headphone jack) and Ethernet/microSD card support.

Lastly, the Roku Ultra, which replaces the Roku 4, features the Premiere+’s feature set with a more advanced remote and a USB port. The $130 unit’s remote is the only one that comes with the “Find My Remote” function, as well as A/B gaming buttons.

The Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra boxes also come with a “night listening” mode that compresses the audio levels of the video you’re watching, so loud music or harsh explosions more closely match the programming’s dialogue levels. Roku’s search software has also been improved to make it a little easier to find all the stuff you want to watch.

All of this hardware is set to ship in October, from Roku and other retail partners. However, the Express+ is a Walmart exclusive.

Plex partners with Amazon to launch Plex Cloud hardware-free media server

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Plex has partnered with Amazon Cloud Drive to launch Plex Cloud, which allows you to stream hosted files from the cloud.

Files will be added on Amazon Cloud Drive, then streamed from any device using the Plex app.

The service will only be available to Plex Pass users, but requires that users already have an Amazon Drive account. This’ll set you back $59.99/year for unlimited storage of any file type.

Plex Cloud will eventually have Plex’s complete feature set, including transcoding capabilities and media player software for accessing and organizing your media library, but several features are not available at launch like camera upload, mobile sync, cloud sync, media optimizer, DLNA, and DVR.

Plex will work with accounts that aren’t in territories where Amazon doesn’t offer unlimited storage.

Interested customers can sign up for the Plex Cloud Beta here to request access to the invite-only beta.

OurCrowd raises $72M to boost crowdfunding funds

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OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based website that connects investors to a pool of mostly Israeli and U.S. startups, has raised $72M to expand its operations and invest in other businesses.

The new funds will be evenly split between the venture arm and the company itself, according to company CEO and co-founder Jon Medved, which plans to use the money to open more offices around the world.

New California law would be required to remove actors’ ages when asked

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California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law AB-1687, a bill that requires commercial websites to remove information about an actor’s age upon request, in an attempt to combat agism in the state’s film industry.

The law states that commercial online entertainment service providers, like IMDB, will be required to remove “certain information [their age] regarding the subscriber’s age on any companion Internet Web site under the provider’s control if requested by the subscriber.”

AB-1687 only applies to commercial websites, which display ads or receive payment from subscribers, and doesn’t apply to websites where the general public uploads the information to the site like Wikipedia, or to news outlets.

In a note to its members, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) championed the bill, saying that “age discrimination is a major problem in our industry,” and these websites are a major part of the casting process.

Metromile raises $191.5M, acquires Mosaic Insurance

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Metromile, a San Francisco-based pay-per-mile insurance provider, has raised $191.5 million in funding – primarily through equity, according to company CEO Dan Preston. Metromile will use the money to acquire Mosaic Insurance, a Lynnwood, WA-based insurance carrier to handle the underwriting of its policies itself along with expanding to new states and continue building its platform.

For now, Metromile has acquired licenses to operate in all 50 states although it’s currently only underwriting policies in four: New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The new funding will expand underwriting to California, Illinois, and Washington.

“We will start accelerating our state rollout at the beginning of 2017. For the time being, our focus is on the huge opportunity for per-mile insurance in the U.S. but we’re excited about exploring global opportunities with partners in the future.”

-Dan Preston, Metromile CEO

According to Preston, the company will continue providing insurance for Uber with the Mosaic acquisition not impacting the ridesharing service’s drivers “for the time being.”

“We are focused on moving our personal business over first. The new claims experience is currently only available for Metromile’s personal policies. Uber driver-partner policies will continue to be underwritten by insurers in the National General Insurance Group and their coverage will not be compromised in any way.”

-Dan Preston

AppLovin selling majority stake to Orient Hontai Capital for $1.4B

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Palo Alto, Calif.-based mobile ad startup AppLovin has agreed to sell a majority stake of the company to Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai Capital for $1.4 billion.

“While this deal is a tremendous validation of the outstanding product we’ve built, it’s also particularly remarkable because it’s the most sizeable outcome for a mobile advertising company ever. We focused on building a business that could grow on its own and sustain itself, and that’s exactly what we did.”

-Adam Foroughi, AppLovin co-founder & CEO

According to Foroughi, the company will keep its Palo Alto headquarters and the “core of AppLovin remains and endures.”

Windows 10 now on 400M devices

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According to a Microsoft announcement made during the opening day of the company’s Ignite conference in Atlanta, Windows 10 is now running on 400 million active devices as of Monday.

That’s up from 300 million as of early May. “Active devices” are those that have been active in the last 28 days, including Windows 10 PCs, phones, tablets, Xbox One, HoloLens, and Surface Hubs.

Senator calls for SEC investigation into Yahoo breach

File photo of a Yahoo logo in front of a building in Rolle

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a co-founder of Nextel, has called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Yahoo properly notified the public and its investors of the security breach.

Yahoo made the announcement last week that data from 500 million user accounts was stolen in 2014 by a “state-sponsored actor.

According to press reports, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer knew about the breach as early as July, when the company was still finalizing its sale to Verizon. By law, Yahoo should have disclosed the breach to the public and its investors within four days, but Verizon wasn’t notified until Sept. 20 and its users were notified two days later.

“The public ought to know what senior executives at Yahoo knew of the breach, and when they knew it. I encourage you to investigate whether Yahoo and its senior executives fulfilled their obligations to keep investors and the public informed, and whether the company made complete and accurate representations about the security of its IT systems.

“Yahoo’s September filing asserting lack of knowledge of security incidents involving its IT systems creates serious concerns about truthfulness in representations to the public.”

-Mark Warner, U.S. senator

Warner is also asking the SEC to look into why more major companies aren’t disclosing cybersecurity problems.

“Since published reports indicate fewer than 100 of approximately 9,000 publicly listed companies have reported a material data breach since 2010, I encourage you to evaluate the adequacy of currency SEC thresholds for disclosing events of this nature.”

-Mark Warner

TechSummit Rewind 099: Intel Developer Forum

A recap of Intel’s Developer Forum.

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on the Intel Developers Forum.

Project Alloy

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Intel has fully embraced VR as its future, and Project Alloy is the latest indication of that.

“We believe the capability of Alloy and what is introduces is significant. It gives the opportunity to merge the physical and virtual world together.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

The completely wireless virtual reality headset features all the necessary cameras, sensors, and input controls built-in.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Alloy has six-degrees-of-freedom, which basically gives you free motion in VR without restrictions.

The headset relies entirely on hand-tracking for input through integrated sensors.

Intel has also partnered with Microsoft to bring the Windows Holographic operating system to the Alloy platform so developers can easily build apps for the headset. Alloy’s hardware will be made open source in the second half of 2017 so “anyone can combine the Project Alloy hardware with Windows Holographic platform,” according to Krzanich.

All Windows 10 PCs will support HoloLens apps next year

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A new partnership with Intel will make all future Windows 10 PCs compatible with mixed reality apps, according to Microsoft Windows chief Terry Myerson.

“All Windows 10 PCs next year will include a holographic shell.”

-Terry Myerson, referring to the Windows 10 SKU that runs on Microsoft’s HoloLens headset

PCs will work with a head-mounted display, according to Myerson, and run all Windows Holographic apps so wearers can interact with 2D apps in addition to 3D apps. They will be enabled through a future Windows Update, and the company’s existing Universal Windows app program.

Project Euclid

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Intel’s Project Euclid is a module aimed at bringing what’s needed to make robotics into a small, self-containted PC.

Euclid is based on Intel’s RealSense “perceptual computing” technology, according to Krzanich, and “brings sensors to any robot.”

Inside, it runs Linux and features an Atom processor, a current generation RealSense camera (as opposed to the upcoming RealSense 400), motion sensors, onboard communications capabilities, and a detachable battery.

According to Intel, Project Euclid will be available in the first quarter of 2017.

Tech Experience Labs

Lastly, Intel announced Tech Experience Labs, a Hollywood studio designed to produce 360-degree sports and entertainment virtual reality experiences.

The studio will build on the company’s existing 360 Replay technology, which froze the screen and rotated the view of action during the NBA Finals, to create new “merged reality” experiences where people can view all of the game’s action from anywhere.

“The whole field is digital. We’ll provide the technology to make it happen. You become the director of your merged reality experience.

“The idea is to be dedicated to push limits of our tech and understand how it can be used in production, to really redefine what is possible with the tech.”

-Brian Krzanich

 

TechSummit Rewind 092

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

KickassTorrents domains seized after alleged owner arrested in Poland

KickassTorrents

The U.S. Justice Department has successfully apprehended and charged the alleged founder and operator of BitTorrent distribution site KickassTorrents. Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old from Kharkiv, Ukraine, was arrested today in Poland on behalf of the United States, which has requested his extradition for crimes related to running the website.

Vaulin faces two counts of criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. All of KickassTorrents’ domains are in the process of being seized, while access to the site has been halted.

“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”

-Leslie Caldwell, Justice Department criminal division assistant attorney general

Skype drops support for Windows Phone, old Android versions

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Over the past few years, Skype has been slowly transitioning to the cloud, and Microsoft has unveiled some changes to the Skype apps it supports as a result. While Microsoft will continue to support Skype on iOS 8, Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and Windows 10 Mobile, any users stuck on Windows Phone 8 or any Android version older than Ice Cream Sandwich will no longer receive access to Skype updates. This will eventually render some of the apps useless.

“At times, unforeseen issues have cropped up, like messages not syncing across devices, or delayed notifications. Knowing the impact of these issues for our users, we fix these issues as quickly as we can.”

-Gurdeep Pall, Skype chief

Facebook Messenger hits a billion users

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger has hit one billion monthly users.

According to Facebook, the messaging app is “one of only a handful of apps worldwide that touch so many lives.” The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company created a video to celebrate the occasion and encourage users to send balloon emoticons in their messages.

Microsoft debuts Bookings Office 365 service for online appointment scheduling

Microsoft Bookings

Microsoft has announced Bookings, a new service in the Office 365 suite that allows customers to schedule appointments with a business online. Bookings also manages other aspects of appointment management, including sending out confirmations and reminders and handling re-scheduling and cancellations.

Businesses are provided with a unique webpage that works on both desktop and mobile where customers can select their dates and times based on current availability. Here, they’ll enter in their contact information and book the appointment. The system then automates the rest of the process.

It’ll automatically send an email confirmation to the customer, as well as a reminder email ahead of the appointment time.

Customers can return to the scheduling site by clicking a link in their email to choose a different time or cancel. According to Microsoft, businesses can avoid last-minute cancellations by controlling how much advanced notice is required to cancel an appointment.

Once created, the bookings are synced to a centralized booking calendar where businesses can then reschedule them, cancel them, or reassign them to other staff members if necessary. You can also input new bookings in the calendar for in-person or phone arrangements.

Split view shows which staff are booked at which times by letting you view schedules side-by-side. These appointments are also synced to staff calendars (on Office 365 Outlook, Outlook.com, or Google Calendar).

The system also creates a contact entry automatically when a customer inputs their info into the online system. The contact card contains the customer’s personal information (name, address, phone, email) along with notes.

According to Microsoft, a standalone app for Bookings will launch in a few weeks for on-the-go appointment management.

As a business grows, it can add more staff and create additional booking pages at no extra cost. Staff isn’t required to have individual Office 365 subscriptions to use the service, according to Microsoft, with only one master Office 365 Business Premium subscription required.

Bookings is initially launching for those who are in the Office 365 Business Premium First Release program, with a worldwide rollout planned in the “coming months” through the Office 365 app launcher.

Airbnb hires Eric Holder to craft anti-discrimination policy

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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is joining Airbnb to fight discrimination on the rental platform, according to company CEO Brian Chesky.

“We are honored that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to join our team to help craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy. While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this policy to be stronger. And we will require everyone who uses our platform to read and certify that they will follow this policy.

“I know we’ve failed on that front previously. We weren’t fully conscious of this issue when we designed the platform. After speaking to many of you, I have learned that there have at times been a lack of urgency to work on this, and we need to rectify that immediately.”

-Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO

“I’m looking forward to working with Airbnb to develop and implement a world-class anti-discrimination policy. Airbnb is committed to building a community where everyone can belong, no matter who they are or what they look like. I’m eager to help them craft policies that will be the model for companies who share Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

-Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 designed to survive epic smartphone drops

Gorilla Glass 5

Corning has unveiled the newest version of Gorilla Glass, the chemically strengthened super glass used in dozens of consumer electronics makers’ devices.

Gorilla Glass 5 was formulated to improve drop performance from gadgets dropped onto rough surfaces from waist height to shoulder height. According to the glassmaker, Gorilla Glass 5 survives up to 80 percent of the time when dropped from 1.6 meters.

SwiftKey unwraps emoji prediction app

Swiftmoji

Swiftkey has launched Swiftmoji, the keyboard app maker’s first new product as a member of Microsoft.

The emoji-predicting keyboard app is available now for download on iOS and Android, supporting only English for now.

Predictions are crowdsourced based on Swiftkey’s keyboard usage data, but will also draw on each user’s emoji preferences over time.

Swiftmoji offers emoji suggestions based on what the user has typed, so you won’t have to waste your precious time searching for the French flag.

Tapping on one of these suggestions adds it to the text. There’s also “emoji storm,” a feature that will add the entire stack of emoji predictions in one long line when you hold down on the “add emoticon” key.

On iOS, there’s a frequently used emoji feature that puts your favorite emoticons one tap away along with a popular screen to surface trendy emoji based on Swiftkey’s usage data. A third screen organizes all emoji into easy to navigate categories such as people, food & drink, sports, etc.

The Android app is a full keyboard replacement with emoji predictions positioned in a line above the keyboard. According to SwiftKey, the differences are due to the different frameworks iOS and Android have for managing keyboards.

Mozilla will block Flash in Firefox starting next month

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According to Mozilla, Firefox will start blocking Flash content “not essential to the user experience” starting next month. The company will also adopt a new click-to-activate policy starting in 2017, requiring users to approve the use of Flash for any content on a page, advising sites that use the Adobe plugin or Microsoft Silverlight to “plan on adopting HTML technologies as soon as possible.”

According to the company, the change is expected to reduce Flash-related crashes and hangs in Firefox by up to 10 percent, and give users “enhanced security, improved battery life, faster page load, and better browser responsiveness.” Mozilla data shows that Firefox plugin crashes dropped when both YouTube and Facebook switched to HTML5 by default.

French authorities serve notice to Microsoft for Windows 10 privacy failings

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The French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice against Microsoft, ordering the company to “stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent.”

The complaint also demands Microsoft to “take satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data.”

CNIL based the complaint on seven investigations conducted between April and June of this year, as well as interviews with Microsoft representatives to ensure that the company was following the French Data Protection Act.

The CNIL notice accuses Microsoft of the following violations:

  • Irrelevant or excessive data collected: According to the CNIL, “collecting diagnostic and usage data via its telemetry service” was acceptable, but it also found that the default Windows 10 settings, which collect additional information, go too far. The complaint says collecting “information on all the apps downloaded and installed on the system by a user and the time spent on each one” is “excessive.”
  • Lack of security: The option to secure a PC with a four-digit PIN is insecure, but it doesn’t limit the number of attempts to enter the PIN.
  • Lack of individual consent: Microsoft’s advertising ID enables Windows apps and third party apps to monitor browsing and offers targeted ads without proper consent.
  • Cookies: Microsoft puts cookies on users’ websites without sufficient consent.
  • Data transfer outside the EU: Data from French Windows users is being transferred to the U.S. on a “safe harbor” basis, which should have stopped after a decision issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Oct. 6, 2015.

The CNIL public notice stresses that “formal notices are not sanctions and no further action will be taken if the company complies with the Act within the specified timescale, in which case the notice proceedings will be closed and this decision will also be made public.”

Microsoft has three months to comply with the complaint.

“We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL over the next few months to understand the agency’s concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable.”

-David Heiner, Microsoft vice president & deputy general counsel

Intel Q2 earnings: Sales of $13.5B, $0.59 EPS

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

Intel has posted its Q2 earnings, with revenues of $13.5 billion with earnings of $0.59/share.

The company had net income of $1.3 billion.

“Second-quarter revenue matched our outlook and profitability was better than we expected. In addition, our restructuring initiative to accelerate Intel’s transformation is solidly on-track. We’re gaining momentum heading into the second half. While we remain cautious on the PC market, we’re forecasting growth in 2016 built on strength in data center, the Internet of Things, and programmable solutions.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

Among its divisions, Intel’s Client Computing Group posted revenue of $7.3 billion, down three percent from last quarter. The Data Center Group had sales of $4.0 billion, up one percent on last quarter.

The Internet of Things Group posted revenue of $572 million, down 12 percent from last quarter. Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group had revenue of $554 million, down one percent sequentially.

The Programmable Solutions Group posted revenue of $465 million, up 30 percent from last quarter.

eBay raises forecasts

eBay Argos 084

eBay has raised its revenue and profit forecasts, as efforts to lure new shoppers gain traction.

The San Jose, Calif-based company’s revenue will be between $8.85 billion and $8.95 billion, up from a previous forecast of $8.6 billion to $8.8 billion.

Full-year profit, excluding certain items, will be between $1.85 and $1.90/share, compared to a January forecast ranging between $1.82 and $1.87/share. Adjusted third quarter profit will be between $0.42 and $0.44/share.

Sales in the current quarter will be between $2.16 billion and $2.19 billion, according to the company.

According to eBay, the company’s board has approved a $2.5 billion share buyback, compared to a $500 million buyback in the second quarter.

eBay’s revenue increased six percent to $2.23 billion in the second quarter, with its customer base increased to 164 million active accounts, up four percent from a year ago.

According to eBay, gross merchandise volume increased four percent to $20.9 billion in the second quarter compared to a year ago.

Revenue from concert and event ticket marketplace StubHub gained 40 percent to $225 million in the second quarter.

“I’m not ready to jump on a table and start dancing for eBay, but it looks like they’re moving in the right direction.”

-Vic Anthony, Axiom Capital Management analyst

Qualcomm releases Q4 forecasts

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Qualcomm has released its fourth-quarter forecasts that are helped by higher royalties and a jump in chip orders from Chinese customers.

Revenue in the quarter that ends in September will be between $5.4 billion and $6.2 billion, according to the San Diego, Calif.-based company. Profit before certain items will be between $1.05 and $1.15/share.

Net income in the third quarter that ended June 26 rose to $1.4 billion ($0.97/share) from $1.18 billion ($0.73/share) a year earlier. Excluding certain items, profit was $1.16/share.

Sales increased to $6.04 billion, up 3.6 percent from a year ago to break a year-long quarterly double-digit percentage decline.

“It was a really strong quarter – it was strong in both businesses, in particular the license business. We got some money a little earlier than we would have thought.

“In China, the chipset business has done a good job of growing. We’re on track and executing.”

-Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm CEO

China temporarily bans highway testing of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are no longer welcome on Chinese highways. According to Bloomberg, the country’s auto industry is working with police to create new regulations for autonomous vehicles – with automakers being ordered to keep them off the roads until they go into effect.

Doppler Labs raises $24 million led by The Chernin Group

Doppler Labs Here One

Doppler Labs has closed an additional $24 million in funding led by The Chernin Group, which will support the company’s preparations for the launch of its Here One wireless listening system.

The company intends to spend capital on hiring more engineers while improving its Here One platform.

The company has also raised funds from investors Kevin Efrusy, David Geffen, Dan Gilbert, Henry Kravis, and Anton Levy.

“Doppler is trying to create a new product category that improves how we experience our auditory world. It’s this discipline and ambition that attracted me, and both tend to be the key ingredients for consumer breakthroughs, along with some luck.”

-Kevin Efrusy, Accel partner

Seagate unveils 10TB hard drive for home PC

Seagate Barracuda Pro

Seagate has released a trio of 10TB hard drives (primarily focused on networked and surveillance storage) that includes one designed for your desktop. The new Barracuda Pro is a standard 3.5-inch, 7200RPM disk that will set you back $535.

TechSummit Rewind #061

A recap of the top technology headlines

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Windows Ink, Cortana improvements arrive in latest Windows 10 build

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Microsoft has rolled out a new Insider build of its PC and mobile OS, allowing users to try Windows Ink for the first time.

Ink includes the ability to create sticky notes, draw on whiteboards and in a sketchbook, annotate and draw on web pages in Microsoft Edge, Maps, and more, and is also integrated with Office. With the update, those using a device with an active pen like the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book can use the Windows Ink workspace, which is now enabled by default. According to Microsoft, this is accessible in the taskbar’s notification area if/when an active pen is paired with your device (or by right-clicking on the taskbar).

From the Workspace, you’ll be able to sketch out drawings and ideas on a blank canvas, pull up a digital ruler for drawing straight lines, then save and share your work. A new Screen Sketch feature lets you draw on screen captures of your desktop, which allows for collaboration on documents/photos. With the feature, you can draw, crop, and mark up images, then share them with others.

Also arriving today is a new Sticky Notes experience, which you can customize the size/color of, then save. However, these notes will get a lot smarter with Cortana and Bing integrations. That means that you’ll be able to write down phone numbers that are then ready for calling, turn items into checklists, write down flight numbers updated with flight info from Bing, and more.

Finally, the Workspace will display a “Get Pen Apps” link, so you can discover pen-enabled apps.

For non-touch users, the most visible feature is a new, visual Start experience that merges the “Most Used” and All apps lists into a single view on the top of the user interface. Key functions (power, settings, file explorer) have also been moved around to be always visible in the Start menu.

The Recently Added section has been tweaked to show three entries instead of one, and a way to expand it, while additional folders configured to show up will now be immediately available on Start instead of requiring you to open the hamburger menu to access them.

The full-screen All Apps list also makes a return for tablet users.

Cortana is now available on the lock screen, so you can bug the virtual assistant without having to unlock your device. The lock screen will also offer access to Media Controls, and no longer display your email address.

Instead of having to set up or sign in, you can start using Cortana right away to ask questions, perform searches, tell jokes, or look for documents. Reminders have also been made easier, and cross-device features should now work properly. You can also search across OneDrive for files in the cloud, instead of just those on the device.

Windows 10 insider build 14328 is now available to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.

Microsoft, Google agree to stop complaining to regulators about each other

Microsoft and Google have recently reached an agreement where they will drop pending regulatory complaints against one another across the globe. The pair also agreed to attempt to work among themselves to settle future issues before going to regulators.

Amazon won’t sell non-Prime members certain popular movies/video games

Amazon logo

Amazon won’t sell non-Prime members certain video games and movies, like the Blu-ray version of Birdman or Grand Theft Auto V.

Non-Prime members can still buy these titles from third-party sellers on Amazon’s platform.

A partial list of affected games includes:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Far Cry Primal
  • Minecraft
  • FIFA 16
  • Dishonored: Definitive Edition
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • Farming Simulator

All Apple Watch apps must be native starting June 1

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Apple has informed developers that starting on June 1, all watchOS apps submitted to the App Store must be native apps built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later.

Facebook usage over Tor passes a million monthly users

Facebook_Logo

According to Facebook, the number of people using anonymizing browser Tor to access Facebook has passed the million users/month mark for the first time this month.

The growth of Tor over the past few years has been “roughly” linear, according to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, noting that roughly 525,000 people access the service via Tor in June 2015.

“This growth is a reflection of the choices that people make to use Facebook over Tor, and the value that it provides them. We hope they will continue to provide feedback and help us keep improving.”

-Facebook

Twitter integrates with Yelp for UK/Japan location tags

Twitter HQ

Yelp has announced a Twitter integration in the UK and Japan that will give Twitter users the option of selecting places provided by Yelp when they tag a location in their tweets. When users click on places when reading tweets, they get a separate card with more details like address and Yelp rating, along with a deep link to go directly to view that venue on Yelp itself.

The integration is live now on Twitter’s iOS and Android apps and is coming to Twitter on the web soon, according to Yelp.

Facebook adds ability to turn off live notifications

Facebook is rolling out the option to turn off live video notifications.

“We are starting to roll out a new setting that lets people turn off the Live notifications, through their Notifications settings, that will be available to all people soon.”

-A Facebook spokesperson

Uber will pay $100 million to settle lawsuits in two states

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

Uber has settled a pair of class-action lawsuits from California and Massachusetts drivers, which will pay $84 million to the plaintiffs, along with an additional $16 million if the company goes public and its valuation exceeds a set amount.

The San Francisco-based company will continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, and provide more info to drivers on their ratings and how they compare to other drives and explain what can get drivers banned. Finally, it will also form a driver’s association in these states, and meet with them quarterly to discuss issues.

Microsoft earnings: Surface up, Windows Phone down

Microsoft-campus.jpg

Microsoft’s Q3 2016 earnings are in, with the company making $3.8 billion in net income on revenue of $20.5 billion. Both are down from the same period last year, but the company’s services and cloud products continue to help generate revenue.

Surface-related revenue is up 61 percent year-over-year to $1.1 billion. Both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book helped push sales. However, Microsoft’s phone woes continued with the company’s Lumia sales dropping 73 percent year-over-year to 2.3 million. This caused Microsoft’s revenue from phones to decline 46 percent.

Windows OEM revenue declined two percent, which outperformed the rest of the PC market. According to the company, it was due to a “higher consumer premium device mix.”

Office commercial and cloud services grew seven percent this quarter, thanks to Office 365. Consumer versions of Office grew six percent, with 22.2 million customers using Office 365 subscriptions. Server products and cloud services revenue increased 5 percent, with Azure revenue increasing 120 percent.

Microsoft Build 2016 event recap

At Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference in San Francisco Wednesday, company CEO Satya Nadella and Windows and Devices group executive vice president Terry Myerson addressed thousands of developers on the work being done to “embrace the new era of conversational intelligence and create more personal computing,” according to the company.

Windows 10

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According to Microsoft, 270 million devices are now running Windows 10 roughly eight months after its launch. That’s the fastest adoption pace for any version of Windows.

According to the company, users have spent over 75 billion hours in the OS, and over 500 new devices have been built for the platform.

Anniversary Update

Microsoft’s Anniversary Update, which has been internally dubbed under the ‘Redstone’ banner, will launch this summer for free to all Windows 10 users, including Xbox One.

Windows Ink will be “front and center” in the update, to help people “ideate and collaborate better, according to Microsoft’s Bryan Roper. There’s a new Ink workspace that features your most-used Ink apps with tips, tricks, and other suggested apps. Cortana and Bing are integrated with Microsoft’s handwriting recognition, so for example, when you write a note for “tomorrow,” Cortana will identify the date on your calendar. Bing can also look up locations to help automate things. The Ink workspace also includes extra tools, like a digital ruler that can be rotated and resized, and the ability to work above the lock screen so you can sketch and take notes without unlocking your device.

Microsoft also pointed out that apps like Starbucks, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger are coming as part of Microsoft’s Universal Windows platform.

The company will also launch a single unified store between Windows and Xbox One, and bring Cortana and background music support to the game console.

Skype

Skype will soon be able to book trips, shop, and plan your schedule by chatting with Cortana.

“Cortana is brokering the conversation with a third-party bot,” Skype program manager Lilian Rincon said.

Basically, Skype will know the company/service you want to talk to, bring a bot into your chat to help you, and then get rid of the bot when you’re done.

“We will also be bringing intelligence into real-time video,” Rincon said.

Bots launch today in the latest update for Skype.

Cortana

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Not to be left out of the mix, Cortana also received some enhancements. The digital assistant is getting broader integration with the Outlook email and calendar apps, along with smarter time and activity request recognition. Other new features include the ability to reply to text messages from an Android phone on a Windows PC and smart tasks, like submitting expenses based on incoming email.

Developers can integrate Cortana into their apps, so you can perform actions with voice commands and other functions.

Some of these features, like support from the lock screen, will be included in the aforementioned Anniversary Update, with other features coming down the line.

HoloLens

Lastly, Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality headset developer kit is available now for $3,000, with the new Galaxy Explorer example project available to buyers.

The example project visualizes planets and shows off the HoloLens’ features.

TechSummit Rewind #043

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Dell buys EMC in $67 billion deal

Dell

Dell has acquired EMC for about $67 billion to create the technology industry’s largest acquisition.

Dell plans to pay $24.05/share in cash plus tracking stock in EMC’s publicly-traded VMware, valued at about $9 for each EMC share, according to a statement from the companies.

Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell will run the combined company that’s funded by him, Dell’s MSD Partners investment vehicle, Silver Lake, Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings, debt financing, the aforementioned VMware tracking stock, and on-hand cash.

Pepsi launching smartphones in China

Pepsi

Pepsi is working to license its name for a line of smartphones and accessories in China over the next few months.

The Purchase, NY-based company doesn’t plan to get into the smartphone business, according to a PepsiCo spokesperson.

Snapchat shuts down Snap channel, lays off team, changes content plans

snapchat_uhoh

Snapchat has permanently shut down its own Snap Channel, leading to the departure of several employees like product planning and development head Marcus Wiley.

“Given that we are winding down the Snap Channel, it’s natural that Marcus would want to explore other opportunities. He is a tremendous talent, and we wish him well.”

-Snapchat, in a statement

Newest Windows Insider build brings Skype integration, Cortana inking

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Microsoft has unveiled its latest Windows 10 preview build (build 10565) to Windows Insiders.

The Redmond, WA-based company launched a new Messaging app with Skype integration that gives you access to features like Skype messaging, video, and audio in integrated apps. The new Messaging app is identical to OS X’s Messages app with a two-panel interface and circular UI for contacts. Microsoft has also started linking Skype usernames with mobile numbers to make it easier to find friends who use the service without having to know their user UI.

Alongside this integration, Microsoft brought inking support to Cortana, allowing you to generate reminders by creating notes with a stylus on the platform.

Its Edge browser has also been improved with a new tab preview feature that lets you hover over tabs and get a preview of what’s on the page. Syncing favorites and reading list items is now supported in the browser, allowing you to have the same bookmarks on other Windows 10 machines once you sign in with your Microsoft account.

Lastly, the company continues to tweak the basic operating system interface. There are more vibrant title bars that pick up the color from other UI elements like the Start menu and taskbar that can be enabled in the personalization settings. Improved Start menu context menus create a closer match with the overall Windows 10 theme, and the Device Manager and Registry Editor get long overdue icon updates.

If you’re a member of the Windows Insider program, build 10565 can be yours from Windows Update.

Salesforce earmarks $100M for investment in European Cloud Startups

Salesforce Ventures

Salesforce Ventures, the cloud services giant’s investment arm, has announced the earmarking of $100M to invest in European startups.

“It’s now the right time for us in Europe. Europe is adopting the cloud very rapidly, and the opportunities are immense for us with an enormous pipeline for us to invest in.”

-John Somorjai, Salesforce EVP of corporate development and Salesforce Ventures

Five investments have already been made out of SV’s $100 million budget that will be announced in the next couple of months, according to Somorjai.

“Qubit and New Voice Media [both European startups already in Salesforce’s portfolio] are more advanced and late stage so we will be funding them with larger growth capital in their next rounds, but we will be doing a lot of Series A and B rounds, too.”

-John Somorjai

Typical European funding will be between $1M-$5M, according to Somorjai.

Tag Heuer teases Intel-powered Android Wear smartwatch for 11/9 launch

Tag Heuer Intel-powered smartwatch

The Android and Tag Heuer Twitter accounts are both tweeting about the Swiss luxury watchmaker’s upcoming Android Wear watch.

According to its Tag Heuer Connected teaser site, the watch is “developed in partnership with Google and Intel.”

“TAG Heuer is pushing the Swiss avant-garde limits even further with the TAG Heuer Connected. Tradition meets innovation, craftsmanship meets savoir-faire, and bold style meets breakthrough technology. The clock is ticking to a major breakthrough.”

-Tag Heuer, in a description

A countdown clock on the site is counting down to November 9th.

Adobe updates Document Cloud with Dropbox integration, improved eSign services

Adobe Document Cloud

Adobe has launched a number of new features for its Document Cloud service, including Dropbox integration and a number of other updates.

This integration allows Adobe Acrobat DC (Acrobat’s ‘pro’ version) and Acrobat Reader users to access PDFs from Dropbox from these apps and edit them. Any changes made to these files from the Web, desktop, or in the Acrobat mobile apps will automatically sync back to Dropbox. This integration also enables collaborative editing of PDFs stored in the cloud service.

“The requirements of our customers have constantly evolved over time; today, mobile has become the rule and people expect to complete work quickly and simply wherever and whenever they need. Our work with Dropbox, as our first file sync and share partner, will help Adobe Document Cloud customers and people around the world be more productive with the documents at the center of their daily lives.”

-Kevin Lynch; Adobe senior VP, Document Cloud general manager

The San Jose, CA-based company has also added updates to its eSign services as a new tool for designing signature workflows, for example, as well as the ability to build custom apps for automating business steps like onboarding new hires or finalizing sales contracts.

Adobe also allows its users to comply with the EU’s stricter signing requirements, and it’s launching two new Document Cloud data centers in Ireland and Germany by the end of the year to get closer to its European users.

Document Cloud’s eSigning solution also features an updated mobile app for enterprises that lets businesses manage access to the app through tools like Android for Work, Good Technology, and Microsoft Intune. Employees can now use the app to take a photo of their signature once and reuse that to sign all documents going forward.

The company also partnered with partners like Workday, Salesforce, and Ariba to integrate Adobe’s workflow into their apps.

Google Cardboard expands to 39 languages in 100 countries in SDK updates

Google Cardboard

Google has announced that its Cardboard virtual reality app is now available in 39 languages across 100 countries, and that the Cardboard developer documentation is also now being published in 10 languages to help more developers build experiences with the VR platform.

The Mountain View, CA-based company’s Cardboard SDKs for Android and Unity have also been updated to “address [developers’] top two requests: drift correction and Unity performance.”

Google has also brought Cardboard support to its standalone Street View application for Android and iOS.

TechSummit Rewind #036

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Windows 10 available now in 190 countries

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Windows 10 is available now in 190 countries.

To upgrade, if you have a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device, a new notification on your taskbar will alert you when your upgrade is ready to be installed. For business customers, Windows 10 can be deployed now, and starting August 1, organizations with volume licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education. Windows 10 IoT is also available today.

Devices with Windows 10 pre-loaded are available for purchase today from Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Acer at retailers worldwide.

If you’re a Windows Insider, today isn’t going to be as exciting as you thought it was. Build 10240, the program’s latest build, is the build that the general public is getting today. You simply need to check for updates in Windows Update for any final updates.

Twitter reports Q2 2015 earnings

Twitter HQ

Twitter has announced their Q2 2015 earnings. Revenue was up 61% year-over-year. There was a Q2 GAAP net loss of $137 million ($0.21share) and non-GAAP net income of $49 million ($0.07/share).

Advertising revenue totaled $452 million, a 63% increase year-over-year. Mobile advertising revenue was 88% of total advertising revenue. Data licensing and other revenue totaled $50 million (an 44% increase year-over-year). US revenue totaled $321 million (an 53% increase year-over-year). International revenue totaled $181 million (an 78% increase year-over-year).

“Our Q2 results show good progress in monetization, but we are not satisfied with our growth in audience. In order to realize Twitter’s full potential, we must improve in three key areas: ensure more disciplined execution, simplify our search to deliver Twitter’s value faster, and better communicate that value.”

-Jack Dorsey, Twitter interim CEO

Average Monthly Active Users (MAUs) were 316 million for Q2, up 15% year-over-year (compared to 308 million in Q1). The vast majority of MAUs added in the quarter on a sequential basis came from SMS Fast Followers. Excluding SMS Fast Followers, MAUs were 304 million for the second quarter, up 12% year-over-year, and compared to 302 million in the previous quarter. Mobile MAUs represented approximately 80% of total MAUs.

Jackson, Oestlien out at Twitter

Following the announcement, Twitter’s director of product management Todd Jackson has left the company for Dropbox to become the company’s first VP of product.

Christian Oestlien, Twitter’s former head of growth, also jumped ship for YouTube.

Nokia’s Ozo is a 360 degree VR camera for professionals

Nokia Ozo

At an event for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles Tuesday night, Nokia announced Ozo, a camera for capturing audio and video in 360 degrees. The Espoo, Finland-based company intends for the device, which is now in its preproduction phase, to become the default mode of shooting virtual reality experiences for Hollywood, and the media and advertising industries. A formal launch, along with a final sale price, is planned for the fall, but Ozo is not a consumer camera – the device is expected to sell in the mid-five figures.

For Hollywood, Ozo lets them make VR in real time, thanks to two key features: live monitoring, where directors can view footage as it’s being shot on a headset, and rapid playback, which allows Ozo to render lower-resolution video for playback in a few minutes, according to Nokia.

The camera is a spherical rig the size of a large cantaloupe that weighs roughly six pounds, with eight optical image sensors spaced roughly an eye width apart. Audio is captured in three dimensions by eight microphones embedded in the camera, and the result is audio that helps to locate you in space.

Ozo affixes to a standard tripod and outputs video in standard formats. You can watch video from the device on the Oculus Rift or as a 3D video to a site like YouTube.

Janut VR, a VR studio that’s building its own camera, has agreed to be one of Nokia’s first customers for the device. Ozos will be at its studio, where it works with companies like Conde Nast to produce VR film.

Amazon unveils proposal for drone-only airspace

Amazon Prime Air

At NASA’s UTM Convention, Amazon announced details of a plan to create a multi-tiered superhighway in the sky, one in which all drones flying above 200 feet would have the ability to communicate with other aircraft.

Amazon’s proposal creates a slow lane for local traffic below 200 feet and a fast lane for long-distance transport between 200 and 400 feet. Altitudes between 400 and 500 feet would become a no-fly zone, and anything above that is already banned by FAA regulations for hobbyists.

In Amazon’s vision, there would be a central command and control network that’s similar to the FAA’s Air Traffic Control that takes in data about the position of each drone and shares it with every other vehicle connected to the network. There would also be vehicle-to-vehicle communication, similar to what’s in autonomous cars. Access to different layers of the airspace would be governed by how well your drone can communicate with its pilot, the command and control network, and other drones.

“Everyone can have access to the airspace. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hobbyist or a corporation. If you’ve got the right equipment, you can fly.”

-Gur Kimchi, Amazon Prime Air program head

If you’re operating a radio-controlled quadcopter with no internet connection, you would be relegated to the area below 200 feet.

“Amazon’s proposal to create a commercial airspace dedicated to drones is smart thinking for the future of its business proposition. The uptake of drones means that regulation will need to change to adapt; however, given the utility of personal-use application of drones, regulation must be careful not to regulate commercial use in such a way that drones become too costly to deploy and inaccessible to consumers, as this will in turn create a bar to their usage and adoption.”

-Antoine Level, Squadrone System CEO

“Right now, the standard is an aircraft that can basically fly itself, with a human at the controls to take over at anytime. But with UAS, there won’t be a single operator for every drone. We need a lot more automation than we have with the traditional model.”

-Gur Kimchi

The drones will automatically adjust their path if they are on a collision course with something, and warn one another about obstacles, according to Amazon.

“I am from Seattle, there are many seagulls. Our drone would automatically get out of the way and also alert others in the area.”

-Gur Kimchi

The new air traffic control system would also link UAS with traditional aircraft. If a fire department helicopter needed to fly low over an emergency, for example, it would be able to communicate with command and control, warning drones that it was in the area, and creating a geofenced area around itself that would become a no-fly zone.

Amazon’s plan also includes airspace for open flying fields where anyone is welcome to operate, regardless of their equipment. This would be a safe space to fly at great heights without meeting all the command and control requirements, as the airspace would be marked off and avoided by commercial flights.

“We need a predefined low-risk area where people can experiment. We don’t have any plans to fly at 12,000 feet, but if that is something you are interested in, go for it!”

-Gur Kimchi

 

Razer will pay what Ouya owes to indie developers

Razer

Razer will pay over $600,000 in funds indie developers are owed as part of Ouya’s Free the Games initiative, according to company CEO Min-Liang Tan.

Earlier this week, Razer acquired ownership of Ouya’s software, online store, and name.

“We only acquired the team, the platform and the assets of Ouya. We didn’t look at the debts because that’s not how the deal was structured for us.”

-Min-Liang Tan, Razer CEO

Nintendo swings to first-quarter operating profit

Nintendo E3 2013

Nintendo has booked a profit for its April-June quarter due to a weaker yen and strong amiibo sales.

The Kyoto, Japan-based company had a profit of $9.3 million, compared with a loss of $76.6 million a year earlier.

Nintendo also cited strong Nintendo 3DS console sales, and strong Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzles & Dragon Super Mario Bros. Edition sales. The company also sold 16.2 million copies of Wii U shooter Splatoon.

LG posts slim Q2 2015 profit as smartphone shipments slip to 14.1M

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LG shipped 14.1 million smartphones in Q2 2015, which translates to $3.33 billion in sales (a 1% increase year-over-year).

The Seoul-based company increased revenue in North America by over a third, because of its mid-range devices, while selling a record 8.1 million LTE smartphones in the quarter.

LG will “more aggressively implement its dual strategy focusing on both premium devices as well as mid-range smartphones.”

Overall, the company’s revenue fell 7.6% year-over-year, but its mobile business was a highlight. Its home entertainment business struggled as LG “lost ground” on its competition. The company’s home appliances unit reported sales up 10% compared to last quarter, and a six percent annual rise in operating profit. Its vehicle business also sale sales rise 18% compared to Q1 2015 to help steer LG to a $206 million profit overall.

Moto Match press event recap

Motorola 2015 smartphone lineup

At simultaneous events Tuesday in Sao Paulo, London, and New York, Motorola unveiled its 2015 smartphone lineup.

The lineup continues Motorola’s strategy of embracing a “pure,” unaltered version of Android.

Moto X Style

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The Lenovo-owned company unveiled the Moto X Style (Moto X Pure Edition, in the US) as its flagship smartphone. The phone comes with universal LTE banding in the United States, allowing it to work with any US carrier. The Style comes with a 5.7-inch quad-HD display, the ability to charge 34% of its battery in 15 minutes, and a soft grip back. Like other Motorola smartphones, it will be customizable through the Moto Maker program. It will cost $399 unlocked when it launches in September through Motorola’s website and retailers like Amazon instead of through carriers.

The Moto X Style pushed to improve the camera with faster focus, the ability to capture more light, and reproduce better color. The Style will have a 21-megapixel rear camera, and a five-megapixel front camera with a wide-angle lens.

“It’s the best we’ve ever built.”

-Jim Wick, Motorola head designer

Moto X Play

The Moto X Play boasts longer battery life than the Style, but features a smaller 5.5-inch 1080p screen. The Play has a 3,630mAh battery that can last two days on a single charge, and the phone can get up to eight hours of battery life in a 15-minute charge with its turbocharging capability. It also has a 21-megapixel rear-facing camera and five-megapixel front-facing camera.

The Play will launch in August, and will sell for $300-$400 less than the standard flagship phone. It can also be customized via Moto Maker.

Moto G

Motorola has improved the Moto G to add a waterproof coating on the device. In addition, the camera got a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as a five-megapixel front camera. The phone will also come with 4G LTE standard. The Moto G will also be customizable with Moto Maker. The revamped Moto G is available now for $179.99.

Accessories

Motorola also unveiled two accessories: the Moto Pulse, a $59.99 over-the-ear headphone, and the Moto Surround, a $69.99 band that wraps around your neck with ear buds that can be extended to your ears. Both are wireless accessories that connect to the phone via Bluetooth.

TechSummit Rewind #029: June 23, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Apple will pay artists for free Music streams

Apple Music

After Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple threatening to remove her latest album from its catalog, Apple has completely reversed its position on paying artists for streams done during Apple Music’s three-month free trial.

“#AppleMusic will pay artist[s] for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period,”

-Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, on Twitter

“I am elated and relieved. Thank [Eddy Cue] for your words of support today. [Apple] listened to us.”

-Taylor Swift, on Twitter

“[The decision]’s something we worked on together. Ultimately, we both wanted to make the change.”

-Eddy Cue

Apple will pay rights holders for the entire three month trial on a per-stream basis, according to Cue.

“I did reach out to Taylor [Swift] today, and talked to her, and let her know that we heard her concerns, and wanted her to know that we were making changes. She was thrilled to hear from us, and that we were making the change, and we were grateful for that.”

-Eddy Cue

Docker rivals join forces in open container effort

Docker

The Linux Foundation is now home to the Open Container Project (OCP), bringing Docker, CoreOS, and others together to advance open-source containers.

The founding OCP members include the following:

  • Docker
  • CoreOS
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Apcera
  • Cisco
  • EMC
  • Fujitsu
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Google
  • HP
  • Huawei
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Joyent
  • The Linux Foundation
  • Mesosphere
  • Microsoft
  • Pivotal
  • Rancher Labs
  • Red Hat
  • VMware

“The idea of trying to set up an industry standard with Docker Inc. contributing really started about three weeks ago, and it started picking up steam in the last week.”

-Ben Golub, Docker CEO

“By participating with Docker and all the other folks in the OCP, we’re getting the best of both worlds. We’re getting the contributions from Docker with the format and runtime that underpin container usage, and then we’re also getting the shared standard and vendor neutrality aspects that we’ve designed with app container.”

-Alex Polvi, CoreOS CEO

Microsoft clarifies free Windows 10 upgrades

win10_windows_spartan_Web

 

After saying that Windows Insiders will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 RTM, drop out of the Insider program, and maintain their license and backtracking: Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul clarified once again Monday what will happen to Insiders on July 29th.

If you want to continue as a Windows Insider, nothing will change. You will still get builds based on whether you’re in the Fast or Slow ring. ISOs will continue to be provided, so you can recover if necessary.

If you want to opt out of the program on July 29, you would follow the existing Windows 10 offer for Genuine Windows 7/8.1 machines. If you upgraded to Windows 10 from a Genuine Windows 7/8.1 machine, it will remain activated, but if not, you will need to roll back to your previous OS or get a new Windows 10 license before the build expires. It is unclear if you needed to update from Windows Update, but we have contacted Aul and will update this post when we can confirm that information.

Anti-virus software attacked by NSA, GCHQ

nsa

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software to track users and infiltrate networks, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The spy agencies have engineered software products, and monitored web and email traffic in order to thwart anti-virus software and obtain intelligence about security software and its users. One software maker specifically mentioned is Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which has over 270,000 corporate clients, and over 400 million consumers using their products.

British spies aimed to thwart Kaspersky software through a technique known as software reverse engineering (SRE), according to a warrant renewal request. The NSA also studies Kaspersky’s software for weaknesses, obtaining sensitive customer information by monitoring communications between the software and Kaspersky servers, according to a draft report. The U.S. spy agency also appears to have examined emails inbound to security companies flagging new viruses and vulnerabilities.

“If you write an exploit for an anti-virus product, you’re likely going to get the highest privileges with just one shot. Anti-virus products with only a few exceptions, are years behind security-conscious client-side applications like browsers or document readers. It means that Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Word, or Google Chrome are harder to exploit than 90 percent of the anti-virus products out there.”

-Joxean Koret, Singapore-based information security consultancy Coseinc researcher

Google intros News Lab to provide journalist tools

Google has unveiled the News Lab, a way to provide resources for journalists to do their jobs with the company’s products.

Google wants to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help map out the future of media, according to the company in a blog post. The site features best practices for newsrooms using apps like Maps, Search, YouTube, and Trends to better track stories in real time, tell stories using data, and distribute them with Google’s channels.

In addition, the company is working on partnerships with newsrooms to work on specific data projects, and partnering with media startups like Matter and Hacks/Hackers to developer new ideas and tools for journalists.

Instacart reclassifies part of company’s workforce

Instacart

Instacart, the online grocery delivery service, is converting a large part of its contractor workforce into part-time employees. The company has already made the change for staffers in Boston and Chicago, with more cities coming soon.

The San Francisco-based company serves about 10,000 shoppers in 16 cities across the U.S., delivering items from Whole Foods Market, Costco, and Petco, among others.

The newly employed shoppers will work 20-30 hours a week and make above minimum wage, but their exact pay will vary based on their city, according to Instacart spokeswoman Andrea Saul. Workers who wish to remain independent contractors will also have the ability to become members of its driver fleet, which delivers goods from supermarkets to customers’ homes.

The change is designed to improve customer service and the quality of items, according to Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta.

“Grocery shopping is not easy. A Whole Foods location can have between 30,000 to 50,000 items, depending on the size of the store. It takes nuance and skill to pick the best items. What we found is that our shoppers require training and supervision, which is how you improve the quality of the picking. You can’t do that when they are independent contractors.

“In the short term, this is going to impact us negatively. In the long term, as a result of trust and loyalty we will build with customers, it should be the right thing to do.

“This was primarily for the customer experience, but we are in this awkward phase where we have millions of people working in this new economy, and the laws are not clearly defines. It would be helpful for everyone in this space for there to be clear regulation.”

-Approva Mehta, Instacart founder and CEO