Friday Five: 3/13-3/17

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Happy Friday and St. Patrick’s Day! Before you head out for the weekend, check out some of this week’s tech stories:

RIP Siri? You can use Alexa in Amazon’s app now, and it’s really smart – Mashable

Amazon launched Alexa in its official shopping app, which offers shopping suggestions and provides answers to any questions. (Some say its responses are better and more informative than Siri’s). The in-app A.I. technology is familiar to anyone who already has an Echo device and when asked a question reads out the answer instead of displaying text.

Vevo aims for more traction with Watch Party, a chatroom for queuing, watching videos – TechCrunch

Vevo, a leader in the music video hosting industry, introduced a new feature called Watch Party. This new social feature allows users to chat with each other, queue up songs and vote for songs in a collaborative group playlist. These are also seen as virtual “rooms” for listening to music so, bringing people together via a group-listening platform. This is the company’s attempt to draw users to its own properties instead of using Vevo only through YouTube.

Google starts flagging offensive content in search results – USA Today

Google is enlisting over 10,000 independent contractors to work as “quality raters.” These individuals aid Google algorithms by helping steer search results away from certain types of content, and this week Google announced the new task for these contractors is hunting for “upsetting-offensive” content. According to the company, this means limiting content such as hate or violence against a group of people, racial slurs or graphic violence to name a few. The goal is to deliver the most accurate information to users and provide less inflammatory results.

Twitter goes after Facebook and YouTube with streaming video move – Fortune

Twitter recently announced it will open up its application-programming interface allowing outside services to connect to the Twitter network to publish and push streamed video content. This solidifies the company’s promise after it shut down Vine last year that it wanted embedded video streaming instead of a standalone app. This move puts Twitter in the video industry alongside competitors like YouTube and Facebook.

Microsoft is infesting Windows 10 with annoying ads – The Verge

Microsoft is known for its up-to-date operating systems that often come at the expense of user control. However, the constantly updated systems are now embedded with more ads than ever. The newest Windows 10 update includes ads in the file explorer and task bar. These ads that come via notification when using built-in features are being seen as a distraction more than ever.

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