Friday Five: 2/13 – 2/17


Happy Friday! Before you head into the weekend, check out some of the top tech headlines from the week:

Facebook is about to launch a standalone TV app – Business Insider

Facebook’s newest app is strictly for television and allows users to watch videos from friends or pages they like in addition to the top trending Facebook Live videos. This television app will have features similar to YouTube and Netflix where videos are recommended based on what users have already watched. The app is expected to be available soon on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs.

Microsoft open sources a simulator for training drones, self-driving cars and more -TechCrunch

Microsoft created a beta version of a virtual training world for AI and other robotics technologies where they learn how to navigate real-world situations. This machine learning environment allows robots to encounter real-world situations that are potentially confusing such as reflections, shadows and sun glare. Microsoft claims their simulations are highly-accurate, aiming to provide an effective system for educating autonomous flight technologies.

Amazon launches Chime, its own Skype for Business – Mashable

This week Amazon launched its own video-conferencing service, Chime, in effort to deliver frustration-free meetings to companies. Chime allows users to join or “run late” to a meeting in a single click, and the solution also suppresses background noise of any meeting participants. Amazon’s service allows for internal and external meeting communications.

Apple tiptoes into producing original video but plans to pick up pace – New York Times

During the Grammys this past Sunday, Apple aired a trailer for its first original show, “Carpool Karaoke,” a spinoff of James Corden’s late night sketch. This is one of two shows Apple plans to release via Apple Music. The future of Apple in the video streaming space is also to include scripted dramas such as Planet of the Apps, a reality TV series following iPhone app developers.

You could soon make a phone call from your Amazon Echo – Fortune

Amazon and Google are bringing back “landlines.” Both companies anticipate rolling out calling capabilities this year for their Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. This means the ability to make or receive calls via the AI devices. The companies foresee roadblocks such as privacy and telecom regulation concerns in addition to issues switching from speaker to handset when a user attempts to leave the house.

Did you come across any interesting tech news this week? Tweet us your favorite story from the week @WalkerSands!

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Friday Five: 2/6 – 2/10


Happy Friday! Read on to catch up with this week’s tech and social media hot topics:

Smartwatches Grow Up – Wall Street Journal

The smartwatch celebrates its third birthday, but Apple isn’t the only one invited to the party. This week, LG debuted two new watches, starting at $250. And Samsung has also released Gear S3, an Android watch with a round face, boasting a classic spinning dial that rings up at $300. However, it will still be a while until smartwatches go mainstream. For now you can find them on the wrists of fitness and digital enhaustists.

Twitter posts big revenue miss for Q4 2016 despite user growth of 4% – Venture Beat

Twitter’s Q4 earnings missed the mark. Investors are still hopeful though. Twitter reported that it had 319 million monthly active users at the end of the quarter, up 4 percent year-over-year and up from 317 million in the previous quarter. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, made a statement explaining that 2016 was a transformative year. But analysts remain concerned about the company’s plummeting ad value. 

Snap will spend $1 billion on Amazon cloud services, amended filing shows –TechCrunch

Snap Inc. revealed that it expects to spend $1 billion on Amazon’s cloud services. This news comes after the company had also committed to spend $2 billion on Google’s cloud infrastructure over the next five years. The cloud services will be used for computing, storage, bandwidth, and other services. Snap also noted that that it may choose to build its own infrastructure in the future to reduce costs.

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Friday Five: 12/5 – 12/9


Happy Friday! Read on to catch up with this week’s tech and social media hot topics:

Apple Maps now shows EV charging stations – TechnoBuffalo
The country’s largest provider of electric charging stations, ChargePoint, recently announced that consumers will now be able to use their iPhone’s native “maps” application to find directions to any of its 31,000 charging locations. In addition, iPhone owners will be able to use Apple’s virtual assistant, “Siri,” to receive information on charging station pricing and hours of operation and Apple’s mobile wallet feature “Apple Pay” to pay for the “charging” service at the charging station.

The Top 7 Social Media Trends That Dominated 2016 – Forbes
From the introduction of Instagram Stories to the rise of live streaming video services like Facebook Live, 2016 was definitely a year for emerging social media trends and features. Certain trends, like mobile messaging, are predicted to continue to expand in 2017. For example, Apple’s introduction of new features like stickers, games and effects to its iMessage service was created in response to growing consumer interest in mobile messaging applications like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

Disney Channel Casts Social Media Influencers as TV Embraces Digitally Native Stars – Variety

The growing importance of social media influencers is no surprise. According to eMarketer, 81 percent of marketers say influencer marketing is an effective channel. Entertainment companies are recognizing the enormous impact of social media influencers and are beginning to cast them in shows to attract younger, digitally connected viewers. Disney, for example, cast Vine superstar Jake Paul to serve as the host of “Bizaardvark,” a show about two teenage girls who make vlogs. Disney has also cast other online influencers like Vine phenomenon Thomas Sanders and YouTube personality Lily Singh for appearances on the show. 

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Friday Five: 11/28 – 12/2


Happy Friday! Check out this week’s tech news before you head out for the weekend:

AWS tries to protect its customers from DDoS attacks with new service – CIO

DDoS attacks were particularly brutal this year with a record-breaking hack on the BBC. Amazon introduced a new service called Shield at AWS re:invent to fight back and protect its customers from DDoS attacks. Starting Wednesday, Dec. 7, the free tier of Shield will be enabled on any web application that runs on AWS. The service kills two birds with one stone by increasing AWS’ cloud security and compelling customers to finally migrate their business applications to the cloud.

AMD will sneak-peek its high-end Zen CPU in December, starting a new CPU war – PCWorld

AMD CPU’s have struggled to keep up with its rival, Intel, for the past decade. Despite more affordable pricing, AMD’s performance is considered to be lackluster compared to the power and efficiency of the pricier Intel processors. Things may change once AMD’s long-awaited, high-end Zen CPU hits the market. In terms of performance, the shockingly powerful 8-core Zen impressed the CPU world by revealing it could keep up with Intel’s high-end 8-core Broadwell-E chips. Will a new powerful and cost-efficient AMD processor answer the company’s critics and regain lost market share?

JustEat is now delivering takeout with self-driving robots in the UK– TechCrunch

Drones and robots could be the future of food delivery. Following Domino’s first drone-delivered pizza, self-driving bots from Just Eat have been serving Greenwich, London residents with takeout from nearby restaurants. Provided by Starship Technologies in a partnership with Just Eat, the robots are specifically designed for delivery purposes. The self-driving bots are tamper-proof and unlock with a code sent to customers, which also means no free meals for curious passerbys.

66% of organizations won’t recover after cyberattack, study says TechRepublic

It’s no secret that cyberattacks have the potential to be devastating to an organization, but according to an IBM and Ponemon Institute study, a majority of them fail to recover. The issue lies with “cyber resiliency,” which is the capability of a company to keep its core purpose in the event of an attack. According to the study, 32 percent of IT and security leaders rated their company with high resilience compared to 35 percent in 2015, which shows that resilience could be trending downwards if no changes are made. Poor planning and preparation is said to be one of the main culprits, which will need to be addressed in the future of IT security strategies.

Facebook developing artificial intelligence to flag offensive live videos – Reuters

Facebook has seen its fair share of criticism over the past month regarding fake news and censored content. Using artificial intelligence aims to solve these problems that can be littered with human error. The social media giant’s problems stem from user reports, which it relies on to flush out offensive posts. However, the process is slow and posts have to be double checked by Facebook employees. AI provides another reliable check to filter Facebook’s content while being an objective party.

Tweet us your favorite tech stories from this week @WalkerSands!

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Friday Five: 11/21 – 11/25


Happy Black Friday! Here are some of the top headlines in tech news from this past week:

This is Snapchat’s new Spectacles store in New York City – TechCrunch 
Snapchat Spectacles are now available at a pop-up retail storefront in New York City. Previously, the eccentric smartphone-connected glasses, which allow users to post to Snapchat’s platform in first-person style, were only available from randomly located specialized vending machines. From Venice Beach to Oklahoma and elsewhere, the vending machines would pop up unannounced, and attracted long lines during each appearance. Snapchat made waves in various media outlets for not distributing the glasses to the press prior to releasing them to the public. But the rollout has proved to be a wise move, as the lines to buy the company’s first physical product are long. The store, located at the southeast corner of Central Park, right across the street from the Apple store, will be open until New Year’s Eve.

Instagram Introduces New Features That Mimic Twitter and Snap Tools – The New York Times

Instagram, the ever-hip social media platform owned by Facebook, launched a new live streaming option for users. More importantly, these live streams can only be watched in real-time, unlike Facebook’s live streaming platform, where the video is saved to a user’s profile for later viewing. Also included in the update is the option to send self-destructing direct messages to other users, akin to Snapchat messages. Developers hope these new features will lead to more content being posted by users who are not celebrities or public figures. Recently, Instagram and Facebook have updated the respective platforms with features directly out some of their competition’s playbook, Snapchat and Periscope. Time will show how popular these features end up being among users, but we are getting closer to an all-out development war between some of the most popular social media platforms.

Google will tell you how crowded your favorite bar is in real time – The Verge

Google will now be able to tell you how crowded your favorite restaurant, bar, or coffee establishment is in real-time. The feature takes anonymous user location data into account, allowing for internet browsers to see if the venue is considerably busy at any given moment. Google has previously implemented a feature showcasing the times when a location has historically been busy, but this nifty new addition will certainly help consumers make a more successful decision on where to get that vanilla latte during the morning rush hours.

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