Apple’s Echo Rival Could See You with Built-In Camera

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Apple’s rival to the Echo could know who you are just by looking at you.

The consumer electronics giant has explored putting a camera in its device, which could come in the form of a smart speaker like Amazon’s Echo, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. The device would be “self-aware” and notice who is in the room using facial recognition technology. That would let the device mechanically pull up a person’s preferences, such as the music and lighting they like, the sources said.

The hardware could be released by year’s end, but it’s more likely to be available in 2017. They cautioned, though, that Apple could change its plans to comprise a camera – or even scrap the device entirely.

Apple declined to comment.

Twitter Profile Pictures To Decode Your Personalities

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So far, we have only used the profile pictures on our Twitter accounts to show how attractive we look. But researchers at University of Pennsylvania, US, say that the type of profile picture you upload says a lot about your personality. Through the use character assessment software, the researchers analyzed the profile pictures of 66,000 Twitter handles and conducted a psychological survey of further 434 people. The respondents were sorted into five categories, based on their personality- Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion and Openness to Experience.

The study found, neurotic people who have trouble controlling negative feelings are more likely to set a photo of something other than their face, as their profile picture. On the other hand, agreeable people will feature a colorful photo with the person laughing, playing with others or smiling broadly.

IPhone 8 to Have an All-Glass Display

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Rumors about the new iPhone keeps coming out, with the latest stating that the iPhone 8 will be an all glass affair, according to an Apple manufacturer. Allen Horng, chairman and chief executive officer of iPhone maker Catcher Technology, said at least one of the models of the upcoming 2017 iPhone will sport an all glass casing. This also spins off rumor about Apple planning to bring out multiple versions of the iPhone 8.

Horng mentioned that the move would likely to prove expensive for the smartphone giant and it would need some “advanced processing technology” for the brand to pull it off. The glass casing may need to be reinforced by a metal frame, he added.

Apple Silently Ramping Up?

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Natural language digital assistants were a priority on major developer conferences this year. Facebook F8, Google I/O and Microsoft Build, all delved on how natural language communication through voice or text input is becoming the primary way humans engage with machines. Now that Apple’s WWDC is just around the corner, the news sites are buzzing with rumors, insider information and speculation of what new announcements Apple may have at its annual developer conference.

Brian Roemmele, who has been tracking Apple’s developments in AI right from the start, put up a blog post on Medium explaining how Steve Jobs pushed for natural language communication capabilities in his last days at Apple. The post clarifies Apple’s involvement in the changing human computer interaction scenario. The primary driver for Apple’s new natural language processing capabilities is apparently VocalIQ, a company that Apple acquired in October last year. The contextual understanding by VocalIQ is permanent and persistent. It is demonstrated to learn quicker than competition, and is allegedly better at handling noisy environments. VocalIQ was learned by Apple before they could release an application.

Facebook Can Decide the Price of Your House

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Social networking platforms like Facebook can not only get you more likes, it can also influence the price of your home if you plan to sell one, say researchers. House prices rise can spread through social networks like a virus and your Facebook friends can have too much of an influence on what one pays for a house. According to researchers from the US National Bureau of Economic Research, people whose friends are experiencing house price rises were keen to pay more for a house.

The study, done by Facebook economist Michael Bailey, Harvard University’s Ruiqing Cao and Johannes Stroebel and Theresa Kuchler from New York University’s Stern School of Business, combined Facebook survey data with public record information on housing transactions. They looked at friends who were “geographically distant” and their social networks to find the effects, nzherald.co.nz reported.

Apple Releases iOS 9.3.3 Beta to Public Testers

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You can now check out a new beta version of Apple’s mobile software if you’re a member of the company’s testing program.

A day after Apple rolled out the first iOS 9.3.3 beta to developers, it pushed out the software to public testers. The beta is available to all members of the program, with one exception.

Users with an 9.7-inch iPad Pro can’t yet get their hands on the new beta. That’s because iOS 9.3.2 caused trouble for owners of that tablet by bricking the device, meaning that installing the update locked up the devices and prevented them from restarting.
The first beta of iOS 9.3.3 apparently does not contain a fix for this problem, though the final product likely will. Apple has said it’s investigating the problem.

Salesforce Tops Leading CRM Software Vendors In 2015

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Worldwide customer relationship management (CRM) software totaled $26.3 billion in 2015, up 12.3 percent from 23.4 billion in 2014, according to Gartner, Inc.

“The merger and acquisition activity that began flowing through the market in 2009 continued in 2015, with more than 30 notable acquisitions, Julian Poulter, research director at Gartner. “This has resulted in increased competition at the top end of the CRM market, with the constant focus of global vendors’ sales forces driving good growth worldwide in all CRM subsegments but only for cloud or software as a service (SaaS) applications.”

Overall, the top 5 CRM software vendors accounted for more than 45 percent of the total market in 2015 .The top five vendors had very little change in ranking compared with 2014, although Adobe jumped into the fifth position, displacing IBM, as it continues to lead the CRM marketing segment with a focus on marketing agencies and the chief marketing officer (CMO).

Facebook Bids Goodbye

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Social networking giant Facebook is supposedly planning to close FBX — an ad exchange that permits advertisers to buy desktop ads, media reports said on Thursday. According to Tech Crunch, Matt Idema, vice president of monetization product marketing at Facebook confirmed to them that this is part of Facebook’s shift to mobile.

“Mobile is now a essential component of effective marketing campaigns, and Facebook is helping millions of businesses understand their customers’ purchase path across devices,” he said. “Dynamic Ads and Custom Audiences have mobile at their core and are delivering excellent results for businesses, so Facebook Exchange spending has shifted towards those solutions,” he added.

Twitter To Remove Counting Mentions

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Responding to trends in the way tweets are composed, Twitter is changing what counts towards the 140 character limit. Twitter is making it easier to treat each tweet as a canvas instead of a message. Username mentions in replies and multimedia attachments such as gifs, videos or photos will no longer count towards the limit of 140 characters.

The removal of a limit on mentions means that more people can be tagged in a tweet, and larger groups can be formed. There seems to be no limit mentioned about the number of people that can be tagged, but this can lead to spammy situations. Similarly, there seems to be no limit to the number of multimedia attachments in a tweet. Videos, polls or quote tweets will not use up any characters.

Microsoft Accused Of Windows 10 Upgrade?

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Microsoft has faced criticism for changing the pop-up box encouraging Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10.

Clicking the Red Cross on the right hand corner of the pop-up box now activates the upgrade instead of closing the box.

And this has caused misperception as typically clicking a red cross closes a pop-up notification

The upgrade could still be cancelled, when the scheduled time for it to begin appeared, Microsoft said.

The change occurred because the update is now labeled “recommended” and many people have their PCs configured to accept recommended updates for security reasons.

Apple Rehires Prominent Security Pro

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Apple Inc, which has resisted pressure from U.S. law enforcement to unlock encrypted iPhones, this month, rehired a top expert in practical cryptography to bring more powerful security features to a wide range of consumer products. Jon Callas, who co-founded several well-respected secure communications companies including PGP Corp, Silent Circle and Blackphone, rejoined Apple in May, an Apple spokesman said.

Callas had worked at Apple in the 1990s and again between 2009 and 2011, when he designed an encryption system to protect data stored on a Macintosh computer. Apple declined to detail his new role, and Callas declined to comment. The Cupertino, California-based company has clashed with the U.S. government over whether Apple should help law enforcement access encrypted customer information stored on its devices.

Google Provides New Features To Local Search Ads

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You might start seeing more ads when getting directions from Google’s popular mapping service.

The ads, called “promoted pins,” will highlight restaurants and other merchants located along your way. They’ll show up inside the directions map as Google routes you to your destination.

Google has displayed text ads alongside its online maps for several years. But the change announced marks the first time the Internet Company has inserted the equivalent of a digital billboard into the directions map itself.

Facebook’s New “Engagement graph”

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Facebook is introducing a new “Engagement graph” for Facebook Live, a simple-to-understand visualization that discloses which parts of live clip viewers have engaged with the most. According to Facebook, this will permit users to skip all the filler and get “right to what might be the most interesting or exciting points of the video.” The engagement graph, rolling out today, appears when you start watching a previously live video — it’d be rather hard to do this on the fly — or any time you skip to a different section of a clip.

Do You Know Twitter’s Latest Alpha Release?

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For those who have trouble reading, writing and sending tweets in the dark, a new alpha build of the Twitter app for Android reveals a night mode setting. With this feature, users will be able to navigate their way around the app in the dark. Night mode automatically makes the screen dark blue with white lettering, reversing the usual dark lettering on white background usually employed by the social media app. Even though a dark mode for Android was removed in Android N Developer Preview 3, developers can still have their apps automatically go into night mode depending on the time and the location of the app’s user.

The night mode feature for the alpha version of the Twitter for Android app comes on top of a redesign which adds tabs for Timeline, Moments, Messages and Notifications. Some users have seen a hamburger icon with a slide out menu, while others have a three dot overflow menu. This happens during A/B testing, where two different versions of an app are being tested to see which one user prefer.

Microsoft Officially Releases Skype Integration for Third-Party App Developers

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Skype for Business could soon find its way to custom apps as Microsoft has formally released the Skype for Business software development kit (SDK) for download. Skype for Business permits users to meet and collaborate remotely through dedicated servers and infrastructure, apparently making it faster and more secure than the free-to-download version.

The company announced on Office Blogs on Thursday that the new SDK would permit developers to integrate instant messaging as well as audio and video experiences into custom third-party apps.

Google to Trust You Soon

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At the recently-concluded IO conference Google said that its experiments with Project Abacus, which hopes to eradicate passwords in Android phones, was progressing well and that company hoped to bring it to consumers by end of this year.

Google engineers, using phone sensors, usage attributes like typing speed and facial recognition have developed a “trust API”, which will help apps identify a user without demanding password.

Oracle Sues Google

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Oracle Corp filed a multi-billion-dollar copyright lawsuit against Google because Oracle failed in its own efforts to enter the smartphone market, a Google attorney said in closing arguments on Monday.

In a retrial in federal court in San Francisco, Oracle Corp has claimed Google’s Android smartphone operating system violated its copyright on parts of Java, a development platform. Alphabet Inc’s Google unit said it should be able to use Java without paying a fee under the fair-use provision of copyright law.

Google’s Allo app dangerous?

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has called Google’s forthcoming messaging app Allo dangerous and unsafe, on Twitter, suggesting people to avoid it for now. Snowden has criticized the app over the ‘end-to-end’ encryption, which has been disabled by Google by default. However, the end-to-end encryption can be used in the app’s Incognito mode.

Microsoft Avoids Google’s mistakes?

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When Google introduced its Google Glass smart glasses four years ago, it turned to Glass-sporting skydivers buzzing a San Francisco convention center, Glass-adorned models at a glitzy fashion show and a Twitter campaign to notify early “Glass Explorers” of their luck in snagging a pair.

This year, when Microsoft showed off an early edition of its HoloLens augmented-reality goggles, it took the opposite approach: targeting the software developers it needs to make the device useful. No stunts. No fashion spreads. No consumer marketing at all.

The discreet launch reflects the daunting hurdles challenging the nascent industry of augmented reality, known in the industry as AR. Such devices overlay images as holograms onto a user’s real-life field of vision, with the goal of improving efficiency at businesses ranging from doctors’ offices to factory floors.

To halt smartphone slide, Samsung rewrites playbook

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From the way it chooses smartphone components to the models it brings to market, Samsung Electronics has undergone a painful process of breaking from its past to reverse a slide in its handset business. For example, the world’s largest smartphone maker tormented over camera specs for its flagship Galaxy S7 until the last moment – ultimately defying industry convention by opting for fewer pixels in exchange for improved autofocus features and low-light performance, a move that contributed to early success.

It also pared back its product line-up, overcoming internal resistance, allowing it to streamline production, an executive said. The handset business has now stabilized, and had its best profit in nearly two years in January-March, though historically low smartphone industry growth still leaves Samsung looking for the “next big thing”. “We’ve now gotten to a point where we can secure a baseline profit even if the market stagnates, so long as we don’t make a bad mistake,” said Kim Gae-youn, vice president in charge of Samsung’s smartphone product planning. “I’m confident we can hold our ground.”