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Samsung Scores With 5G Galaxy S20's Camera Specs, New Z Flip
February 12, 2020
Samsung has refreshed its Galaxy smartphone line, introduced a new foldable phone, and upgraded its wireless earbuds offering. Its three new flagship phones are all 5G ready. The S20 is priced at $999, while the S20 Plus will sell for $1,199, and the S20 Ultra for $1,399. The S20 is smallest of the trio, with a 6.2-inch display. The Plus' display is 6.7 inches and the Ultra's is 6.9 inches.
Oops - Google May Have Sent Your Embarrassing Private Video to a Stranger
February 5, 2020
Google misdirected a number of private videos that users of its Google Photos app intended to back up to Google Takeout, sending them instead to strangers' archives. The company emailed affected users to inform them that a technical issue caused the error. Google recommended that affected users back up their content again and delete their previous backup.
From Personal to Planetary: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 4
January 30, 2020
We asked ECT News Network's roundtable of industry insiders to reflect on their own personal tech preferences, to speculate on what popular gadgets may vanish from use in the next decade, to consider the role of wearable health tools -- and then to expand the discussion to the health of the planet, tech advances in traveling on it, and the prospect of leaving it altogether.
DoubleTake App Turns Your iPhone Into a Multi-Cam Studio
January 29, 2020
A new iPhone app allows you to capture two high-quality video streams simultaneously from any of the mobile device's cameras. Called "DoubleTake," the free software is produced by FiLMiC, which also makes a pro style video capture and editing app for the iPhone. With DoubleTake, you can shoot two 1080p video streams at the same time, in either landscape or portrait mode.
Could Ads Become Potent Weapons Against Streaming Piracy?
January 24, 2020
Though it no longer grabs many headlines, video piracy remains a major issue for pay-TV services, according to consumer research firm Parks Associates. If just 10 percent of pay-TV subscribers should discontinue paying for services by 2023, the loss in revenue to operators could approach $6 billion, according to the firm's report, "Video Piracy: Ecosystem, Risks, and Impact."
Cosmos: Possible Worlds - A Lavish, Hopeful Journey
January 22, 2020
We agree to suspend our disbelief, and they agree to entertain us. Perhaps it inspires us by communicating some kernel of wisdom about human nature. Its story may touch our emotions deeply, but we know it's the product of imagination and artistry. Cosmos: Possible Worlds delivers everything a great science fiction movie delivers, except the fiction.
Know Your Enemy: The Difficulty of Defining Deepfakes
January 21, 2020
Facebook recently promised that it would increase efforts to remove so-called "deepfake" videos, including content that included "misleading manipulated media." In addition to fears that deepfakes -- altered videos that appear to be authentic -- could impact the upcoming 2020 general election in the United States, there are growing concerns that they could ruin reputations and impact businesses.
Facebook to Kick Out Some Deepfakes
January 8, 2020
Facebook has promised to remove certain "misleading manipulated media": videos edited or synthesized in ways that likely would mislead viewers to believe that video subjects said words they did not say; products of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merge, combine, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, creating a fake video that appears to be authentic.
Disney+ Is a Wonderful World for Tykes and Geeks
November 21, 2019
Disney+ has made its official debut, with a few minor hiccups. It is widely available via a plethora of devices, offers a breadth of content, and serves quick and seamless downloads to mobile devices. However, with a heavy focus on Disney animated films, Marvel superhero movies and Star Wars, this service might not be quite the Netflix killer that the Walt Disney Company claims it is.
Disney+ Launches New Era of Streaming, With a Few Hiccups
November 14, 2019
The much-anticipated Disney+ streaming service has arrived. In the first 24 hours, the app was downloaded 3.2 million times. Demand for the new over-the-top streaming service prompted the company to announced that it had exceeded its highest expectations -- but with problematic results. Many users were unable to launch the app on its huge opening day.
New YouTube Terms of Service Create Stir
November 12, 2019
Google has published changes to YouTube's Terms of Service Agreement that have stoked fears among some users. "YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account's access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable," the new ToSA states. Many creators are deeply concerned over the prospect of YouTube changing its practices.
Researchers Use Lasers to Hack Smart Speakers
November 6, 2019
University researchers have discovered a way to issue unauthorized commands to digital assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook Portal and Siri via laser beams. The microphones in devices like smart speakers, mobile phones and tablets convert sound into electrical signals, but what the researchers found was that the mics react to light aimed directly at them, too.
Voice Commerce: It's a Natural
November 5, 2019
Consumers increasingly are shopping by voice rather than typing on a keyboard or searching on a phone. People are growing more comfortable with voice assistants, as the tech becomes smarter and more conversational every day. "Consumers appreciate the simplicity of using voice to shop," said Shilp Agarwal, CEO of Blutag. "Users can express their purchasing intent much more quickly over voice."
Evidence of War Crimes Vanishing From Social Media
November 1, 2019
A controversy has erupted over YouTube's practice of taking down videos with graphically violent content, which also may be evidence of recent war crimes. YouTube's policy -- similar to other social media platforms -- has been to remove content that contains hate speech, disinformation or disturbing images. In the past, social media services have been called out for failing to do enough.
Active Noise Cancellation a Big Draw in New Apple AirPods
October 30, 2019
Active Noise Cancellation is just one of the hot new features in the latest generation of Apple's AirPods. The new AirPods Pro, which go on sale Wednesday for $249, combine earbud microphones with software to remove background noise and improve a user's listening experience. An outward-facing mic on the bud collects environmental sound for analysis.
E-Gurus: Online Guides to Personal Growth
October 25, 2019
The personal and professional growth coaching industry is exploding, thanks in part to the accessibility afforded by the Internet and digital technologies. People who want to improve themselves are flocking to Skype sessions, online classes, Facebook groups, and other venues to work with life and performance coaches, get career advice, and network with other seekers.
GoPro Max 360 Wins Reviewers' Plaudits
October 23, 2019
GoPro has begun taking preorders for its $500 360-degree camera, the Max 360. It has two 180-degree lenses that can capture 360-degree stills at 16.6 megapixels, single lens shots with a 4:3 aspect ratio at 5.5 megapixels, and arresting 270-degree "PowerPanos" at 6.2 megapixels. For video, it can capture 1440p at 60 frames-per-second with a single lens and 5.6k spherical clips at 30 fps.
Smart Speaker Apps Caught Snooping Around Homes
October 22, 2019
Flaws in Amazon and Google smart speakers can expose users to eavesdropping and voice phishing. Researchers at Security Research Labs discovered that developers could create malicious apps for the Amazon and Google platforms to turn the smart speakers into smart spies. Using the standard development interfaces for the platforms, the researchers found a way to request and collect personal data.
Google Rolls Out Pixel 4 Phone, Pixelbook, Nest WiFi and Pixel Buds
October 16, 2019
A new flagship smartphone, a slick refresh of Pixelbook Go, some home gadget improvements and a revamp of its wireless earbuds highlighted Google's annual hardware event in New York City. The latest models of Google's flagship smartphone, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, base priced at $799 and $899 respectively, will have wider distribution, as they'll be available from all major U.S. carriers.
Sonos Launches Rent-a-Speaker Pilot Program
October 8, 2019
Subscription models have taken hold in everything from software to smartphones, and now Sonos is testing the idea in the premium wireless speaker market. The Santa Barbara, California, company has launched a pilot program limited to 500 homes in the Netherlands, which allows consumers to gain access to Sonos hardware for the equivalent of about $16.46 a month.
Ballmer's Vindication: Microsoft Launches 5 Apple-Killer Surface Products
October 7, 2019
One of the last major initiatives former CEO Steve Ballmer launched before he left Microsoft was its Surface effort. It was designed to address the concern that the iPod would take over the PC world. During the Surface launch last week, it wasn't hard to see that Ballmer was right conceptually. It just took Satya Nadella to execute, showcasing that Ballmer didn't have a strategic problem.
New Surface Line Makes the Earth Move for Microsoft Fans
October 3, 2019
Microsoft has launched a slew of new devices designed to reshape the world: the Surface Laptop 3, the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Pro X, Surface Earbuds, and the upcoming Surface Neo and Surface Duo. "The next decade will be about creation, and amplifying what we can do as humans," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft Surface 2019 in New York City.
Amazon Enlists 30 Partners in Voice Interoperability Initiative
September 26, 2019
Amazon and dozens of partners have joined in a Voice Interoperability Initiative. Their aim is to support multiple, interoperable voice services on a single device so customers can access the one they want by saying the appropriate wake word. Companies involved in the initiative will work to accelerate the state of the art in machine learning and wake word technology.
Google Promises Assistant Users More Audio Privacy
September 24, 2019
Google has announced tweaks to its privacy policy following earlier reports that its Google Assistant software was eavesdropping on user conversations. Although it does not retain Assistant audio recordings by default, according to Senior Product Manager Nino Tasca, the company has increased privacy protections affecting the transcription process used to check the accuracy of responses.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Amazon Goes for the Gold With HD Streaming Music Service
September 18, 2019
Amazon has announced Amazon Music HD, which offers 50 million CD-quality songs -- 16 bits at 44.1 kHz. Customers also can stream millions more songs in Ultra HD -- better than CD quality -- with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192 kHz. Amazon Music HD will play the highest quality audio customers' devices and network conditions will support.
iPhone 11: To Upgrade or Not, That's the Question
September 18, 2019
Early reviews on the new iPhone models are appearing, and for owners of older versions of Apple's flagship mobile, an upgrade may be in order. Reviewers had plenty of praise for Apple's more expensive iPhone models -- the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. However, it was the baseline iPhone 11 that came out the clear winner in the kudos game. The iPhone 11 is the lowest-priced of the three new models.
The Pitched Battle Over Streaming Content
September 13, 2019
At Apple's annual new products and devices event earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook told the crowd gathered at its Cupertino headquarters that the new Apple TV+ streaming service will be available for $4.99 per month. Consumers who buy a new iPad, iPhone or Apple laptop will receive a year of the subscription-based streaming video service for free. It was a shot across the bow at Disney.
Google's Super-Sized Nest Hub Draws Mixed Reviews
September 10, 2019
The new larger version of Google's Nest Hub smart display has been garnering mixed reviews. It has a 10-inch screen, compared to its predecessor's 7-inch display, and it sells for $229, compared to $129 for the Nest Hub introduced in June. "I like the big screen on the Nest Hub Max, since I was able to watch a football game in the kitchen and still see the score," wrote Todd Haselton.
Rethinking the User Interface for Consumer Voice Tech
September 9, 2019
Voice can provide a simple, compelling user experience, but the path to adding voice controls to any product, service or application is complex. As dominant tech players continue to develop voice-enabled interfaces and assistants, product designers, developers and manufacturers will be forced to rethink the user experience. For many future homes, voice control will be the primary user interface.
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How worried are you about climate change?
I believe it will cause global catastrophe in my lifetime.
I'm very worried but I believe nations will come together to reverse it.
I'm very worried and I think the private sector is our best hope.
I'm somewhat worried but I don't think it will affect me much personally.
I've changed my own behavior to do what I can to help the planet.
I'm not worried -- it's a natural cycle.
I'm not worried -- it's a media hoax.