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Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers
May 22, 2017
Verizon Enterprise Solutions has released Visual Interactive Calling, an SDK and platform designed to enable banks, retailers, airlines, travel and hospitality companies, and other firms to communicate visually with their customers. "The sweet spot for this solution is enterprises that have deep mobile app penetration into their customer base," said Tom Smith, a CX manager at Verizon.
Google Pushes AI, Machine Learning to the Front
May 18, 2017
Addressing thousands of developers at the annual Google I/O conference on Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined the company's new strategy to transition from mobile first to artificial intelligence and machine learning. The goal is to equip the company's line of digital assistant products and services to anticipate the needs of users, and comprehend sights and sounds in new ways.
Gadget Ogling: Amazon Gives Fashion Advice, Snacks Get Musical, and Coffee Tables Get Smart
May 11, 2017
Amazon's Echo system, which brought the company's Alexa assistant to tables and countertops as a hub for your home, now has evolved into something a little more visually minded. I don't mean the brand new Echo Show -- it's the Echo Look that has caught my eye. The Echo Look has a built-in camera that captures both audio and video. Amazon wants you to use it to help you choose your outfits.
Amazon Adds Show to Echo's Tell
May 10, 2017
Echo isn't just for sound anymore. Amazon on Tuesday announced Echo Show, a new version of its popular smart speaker that comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen, 5-inch front-facing camera and dual 2-inch Dolby speakers. With its screen, it can show YouTube videos, access home security cameras, display photos and scroll lyrics as you listen to songs from streaming services.
Raspberry Pi Fans Can Build Their Own AI Voice Assistant
May 9, 2017
Google and AIY Projects have launched an open source DIY artificial intelligence Voice Kit for Raspberry Pi hobbyists. The AIY Voice Kit includes hardware for audio capture and playback, connectors for the dual mike daughterboard and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components such as micro servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for a dedicated power supply.
Apple May Be Prepping Siri for Smart Home Duty
May 3, 2017
Odds appear good that Apple will be joining Amazon and Google in the smart speaker competition with a Siri-powered device it plans to introduce at WWDC next month. The new home-AI product reportedly will have excellent acoustics with one woofer and seven tweeters, and the processing power of an iPhone 6. Its price tag likely will be higher than Amazon's Echo, which sells for $179.
Instagram Snaps Up Rivals' Users
April 28, 2017
Instagram has reached a milestone of 700 million members while enjoying the fastest-ever growth rate in its history. The network has grown by more than 100 million members in the last four months. Its burgeoning growth can be credited to new features like Stories, live video and disappearing messages, the company said. User engagement with Stories has grown to more than 200 million people per day.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Bixby Will Be Seen but Not Heard When Galaxy S8 Launches
April 13, 2017
Samsung on Wednesday said that Bixby Voice will not be operational when its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones hit the market. Some Bixby features -- Vision, Home and Reminder -- will be active when the phones become available on April 21, Samsung said, but the Bixby Voice capability won't show up until later this spring. The delay may be due to a weakness in Bixby's English language chops.
Why VR Is Failing
April 10, 2017
As a market, we seem to have trouble learning that three key elements are necessary for a new technology to take hold: It has to appear complete, it has to be compelling, and it has to seem like a value -- that is, be affordable. Compared to what we have today, the car that opened up the automotive market in the U.S. was none of those things -- yet it was incredibly successful.
Gadget Ogling: Samsung Swings, Plus Live 360 Cameras and Smart Tuners
April 7, 2017
Samsung is back with a new pair of flagship smartphones it desperately needs to be hits in the wake of previous handsets that were a touch too, erm, explodey. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have dispensed with the physical home button and added an artificial intelligence assistant, screens that so very almost kill the bezel, and fingerprint sensors on the rear. It's a smart, striking design.
Apple Unveils Budget-Friendly iPad, Dresses iPhone in Red
March 22, 2017
Apple has announced an iPad update, a red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and a new video-editing app for iOS. The iPad upgrade has a 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel Retina display and Apple's A9 64-bit processor. The unit will come in silver, gold and space gray with a starting price of $329 for 32 gigabytes of storage and WiFi-only support. It will cost $459 for a 32-GB unit with WiFi and cellular support.
Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing
March 18, 2017
Google on Thursday announced Guetzli, a new contribution to its evolving set of tools for the open source community. Guetzli is an encoder that allows JPEG files to be compressed as much as 35 percent, resulting in much faster Web page loading. "Guetzli," which means "cookie" in Swiss German, allows users to create smaller JPEG images.
Gadget Ogling: Note-Taker Triumphs, Classic Nokia Returns, and Audio Thrills
March 14, 2017
Transcribing speech is tedious, but until voice recognition truly can handle all manner of accents and verbal tics, it's a necessary evil. Hands up, everyone who thinks I wouldn't want a machine to take care of that for me. No one? Good. Titan Note records and transcribes audio, with a particular trick up its sleeve: It can discern different speakers when it's transcribing.
After Blowout IPO, Is Snap a Keeper?
March 3, 2017
Shares of Snapchat owner Snap Inc. soared higher on Friday, following Thursday's successful initial public offering. After debuting at $17.00 on the New York Stock Exchange, Snap shares rose 44 percent to $24.48 on Thursday, well above analyst expectations, placing the company's value at $28 billion. The stock continued to trend upward on Friday, trading at $27.16 by mid-day.
YouTube Jumps into the Live TV Streaming Fray
March 1, 2017
YouTube has jumped headfirst into the growing market for live streaming television with the announcement of YouTube TV, a service aimed squarely at cord cutters. The $35-a-month service will offer live sitcoms, dramas, news and sports from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, CW, Telemundo and other networks. It will include local TV stations offering news and sports in broadcast areas where customers live.
Rich Content Makes WhatsApp Look a Lot More Like Snapchat
February 22, 2017
Facebook has rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat's share of the mobile app messaging market. The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app's status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption -- a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors.
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
AWS Unveils Chime Conferencing Service
February 16, 2017
AWS on Tuesday introduced Amazon Chime, a cloud-based unified communications offering that lets users engage in high-quality audio and HD video meetings across Windows and Mac desktops, and iOS and Android mobile devices. Companies just have to download the app; they don't need to make upfront investments in hardware or software. Users can switch seamlessly between desktop and mobile apps.
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
Facebook Aims to Carve Out a Spot in the Living Room
February 2, 2017
Facebook is working on a video app for set-top boxes, according to a Wednesday report. The social network wants to deliver longer-form video content -- and with it video ads -- to the living room TV, the one screen it has been unable to reach. The Facebook app soon could be available on a variety of set-top boxes, including Apple TV. The initiative reportedly began in earnest last summer, after incubating for years as a concept.
Gadget Ogling: The CES Spectacular Edition
January 12, 2017
Trust Razer to come up with something completely ridiculous that I need in my life immediately. Project Ariana is a projector that incorporates Razer's full-spectrum lighting system, Chroma. It uses a wide-angle lens to project images. Its 3D depth-sensing cameras detect objects in a room and adjust for them accordingly so that it still projects a flat image.
Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes
January 6, 2017
LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The "Levitating Portable Speaker" has as descriptive and accurate a name as the "Small Transparent Speaker" from last month's edition of this column. You can call it "PJ9" if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.
Crowd Forms on Alexa Bandwagon
January 5, 2017
New additions to Amazon's growing ecosystem of Alexa-based products are making a splash at CES this week. With a growing number of home appliance, computer and electronics makers announcing integrations with the company's digital assistant technology, the transformation to automated homes and home offices appears to be taking place before our eyes. Among the most notable integrations is Lenovo's Smart Assistant.
Lenovo Surprises With Home Tech Play
January 4, 2017
Lenovo watchers expected the company to announce a number of new laptops when CES rolled around, but the company surprised on Tuesday when it also unveiled new products aimed at the home technology market. "The Smart Assistant and Smart Storage line probably caught everyone off guard," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers
December 22, 2016
Bose's latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like "focused conversation," "gym," "airplane" and "television." You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.
Apple AirPods Finally Good to Go
December 14, 2016
Apple has begun taking online orders for its wireless AirPods, and said it would start delivering the $159 earphones to customers, Apple Stores, resellers and carriers next week. At the iPhone 7 launch in September, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said the AirPods would be available in October. Missing the deadline for release of any hot product is bad news for a company.
Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones
December 13, 2016
RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It's a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you'd like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It's designed with protecting your records in mind.
Microsoft and Intel's Project Evo Ups the PC Game
December 9, 2016
Microsoft and Intel have announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in AI, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo's ambitious plans at the WinHEC event in China.
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What best sums up your attitude toward Facebook?
It's a wonderful communications tool if used responsibly.
It has way too much power for any one company.
It does a lot of good beyond connecting people.
It has changed the world for the worse.
Can't live with it, can't live without it.
I don't have time for it.
I have no interest in it.