Friday Five: 2/20-2/24

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Happy Friday! Here’s a quick roundup of tech news from the past week:

Here’s How You Can Buy Snapchat Spectacles Online – Fortune

Snap Inc announced the online sale of its Spectacles headset, available to U.S. customers for $129.99. An alternative to queueing at the pop-up vending machines, shoppers can now snag Spectacles from the comfort of home. However, this doesn’t mean buyers won’t be left waiting – delivery could take two to four weeks. The announcement conveniently precedes Snap’s IPO debut as a “camera company,” projected to occur Thursday, March 2.

The next iPhone could have a bigger display and more battery – TechCrunch
The next iPhone is rumored to be even bigger – and it’s reflected in the price. In addition to new versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, a high-end “iPhone Pro” could retail at over $1,000. The mysterious new addition is rumored to feature a 5.8-inch OLED display – requiring Apple to eliminate borders around the screen. Apple is also doing away with physical buttons in lieu of virtual ones, like the Touch Bar seen on the new MacBook Pro.

WhatsApp’s New Feature Continues Facebook’s Snapchat Mimicry – New York Times

Snapchat wouldn’t be bought out by Facebook, so Facebook made its own. On Monday, new features rolled out on Facebook-owned Whatsapp, which are eerily similar to Snapchat’s “Stories” features. The new “Status” feature allows users to share images, GIFs and videos which will last for 24 hours only. This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to emulate Snapchat – this August Instagram unveiled its own “Stories” feature. Spokespeople from both camps declined to comment on the similarities.

Apple’s futuristic new HQ will be called Apple Park, employees start arriving in April – VentureBeat

Apple revealed the April opening of its new 175-acre campus, Apple Park. The 2.8 million-square-foot campus will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy and feature a 1,000-seat “Steve Jobs Theater,” commemorating their late founder. Apple Park is surrounded by workspaces and parklands that are designed to inspire innovation “for generations to colme.” The entire process of relocating the company’s 12,000 employees will take about six months.

Bitcoin is hovering near all-time highs – Business Insider

Bitcoin is making a comeback. The cryptocurrency hit its highest high for the second day in a row today. This comes amid speculation that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will finally approve Bitcoin-focused exchange-traded funds. The recent surge of more than 20 percent in the first week of 2017 is due to the heavy buying interest coming out of China.

What was your favorite tech story from the week? Tweet us @WalkerSands!

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Team Spotlight: Tim Morral

Meet Tim Morral, director of editorial content for digital and PR at Walker Sands. Tim began his career at Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and now brings over a decade of content experience to the company as our fearless content leader, working remotely from New York!

I sat down with Tim to learn more about content at Walker Sands. Here’s what he had to say:Tim-Morral

1. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start working at Walker Sands?

I’m originally from rural Pennsylvania and took a nontraditional approach to a career in this industry. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics, I spent time doing a variety of nonprofit, technology and publishing work. I started working for Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and have been full time for about six years.

2. What is your current role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like?

No two days are ever the same for me, which I think is true for most of us at Walker Sands. I’m directly involved in content development and creation for many of our clients. I also spend a lot of time coaching and working with our other content experts, both on the PR and digital teams.

3. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?

The biggest change I’ve experienced is our growth. When I joined Walker Sands, I was the only content person on staff. When I visited the office, I could walk around and talk to the entire company in just a few minutes. Now, we have an entire team dedicated to content, and I see new faces every time I visit.

The past several years have been an exciting time at Walker Sands. It’s been great to be part of the development of our content team and our growth has enabled us to deliver high-quality work for our clients. We’ve really become trusted partners to our clients and are committed to continuing to grow our teams across all creative service practices to meet client needs.

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The Storynomics Seminar takes a New Approach to Marketing: Storytelling

If there’s one thing we know that works when driving a brand message, it’s storytelling. Storytelling is something we talk a lot about in marketing, and are very aware that the right narrative can take your brand from ho-hum to resonating with an audience of thousands.

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In an effort to expand my storytelling skills and knowledge, I will be attending the Storynomics masterclass with acclaimed film and TV project consultant and author of Story, Robert McKee. After years of creative success, he’s taken his storytelling approach and adapted it to a set of teachings to help marketers transform their stories from interruption to entertainment. In addition to the hands on training McKee will provide, Tom Gerace, CEO of Skyword will also be presenting on how to use storified messaging to achieve marketing and brand goals.

I’m looking forward to attending the seminar and embracing the learn part of Walker Sands’ three pillars, learn, support, do. If you care to join me on March 29 in Chicago, register here using code WALKERSANDS.

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Can’t make the Chicago seminar? No worries. You can also find Storynomics in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

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Friday Five: 2/13 – 2/17

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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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Andrew Cross Partners with Lightswitch to Kick Off 4-Part Innovators Video Series

Video plays an important role in marketing, and has gained momentum in recent years. One scroll through Twitter and Facebook and it’s apparent that videos are resonating with consumers.

As a B2B marketing company, we understand the potential for success in videos for our clients. To reflect this, we’ve grown our video service offerings and partnered with outside parties, like Lightswitch, to bring the best in video technology and marketing into our agency.

To kick-off a four part video series with our video partner Lightswitch, Andrew Cross, VP of Public Relations, weighed in on the positive business implications we’ve witnessed with video on B2B marketing. In the first video of the series, Cross notes that more and more companies are investing in video content to tell their story and provide added value to prospects. Likewise, they see ROI in having owned video assets.

With video technology on the rise, we’ve made strategic moves to swiftly join the ranks of other agencies offering video services. Our comprehensive in house team works with clients every step of the way to create videos that share their stories and great work with the online world.

Take a look at our robust video content library here and find the first video in the four part series here. Stay tuned for the next three videos in the series!

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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