Friday Five: 4/10-4/14


Happy Friday! Check out the latest tech stories before kicking off your weekend:

Facebook adds new features to Instant Articles to encourage email sign-ups and Page Likes – TechCrunch

On Monday, Facebook rolled out an improvement to its Instant Articles feature that now lets publishers include call-to-action units in their articles. In hopes of better connecting with readers, Facebook aims to encourage email sign-ups and Page Likes. The feature allows readers to share their email address directly with the publisher in order to receive email newsletters or other email updates.

Snap Want to Help Brands Track When Ads Drive People to Locations – Wall Street Journal

Helping advertisers leverage unique data, Snap Inc. will roll out Snap to Store – a new set of data and tools for advertisers. Marketers and advertisers will now be able to use the tool to measure whether their Snapchat campaigns actually drive users to specific locations including stores, restaurants and theaters. Although Snap has been testing this tool since last year, it now wants to expand Snap to Store to a wider variety of brands — think retail, fast food, automobile and more.

Comcast Said to Plan Online Rival to Netflix Using Hit NBC Shows – AdAge

Comcast Corp. is planning to introduce and online video service offering top shows from NBC Universal in the next 12-18 months. The new service could include shows from Comcast cable channels Bravo, Syfy and USA. The online service could help Comcast adapt to a TV industry that has transformed, as tens of millions of customers continue signing up for services from Netflix and Amazon.

Google Home can now help you find the cheapest time to fly – The Next Web

Starting today, Google Home users can ask their device to find and track flight prices, hands-free. Google will generate a quote for approximately two weeks from now, and then ask for specific dates in mind. Rather than blurting out every price, it just signs users up for the price tracking feature Google introduced last year. The device is can answer a few other travel-related questions including currency conversion rate or whether you need a visa to enter a country.

Google Disabled Burger King’s Ad Hijacking  Google Home, but BK Got Around That Too – AdWeek

Burger King’s latest ad stunt (a TV spot) was designed to hijack people’s Google Home device by saying, “OK, Google” and asking about the Whopper. Google blocked the ad, however BK would a way around.

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

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Friday Five: 4/3-4/7

The weekend is near, but there’s no time like now to catch up on some of this week’s top tech stories.

Pepsi Pulls Ads Accused of Trivializing Black Lives Matter – The New York Times

Pepsi released a controversial, two-minute ad which has now been pulled. In hopes of aiming to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding, the ad, featuring Kendall Jenner, received intense criticism after making light of current real-world problems. “Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” said the company on Wednesday.

YouTube TV Arrives Today – Promising, But A Work In Progress – Fast Company

Debuting in five markets (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area), YouTube TV has arrived. For $35 a month, users can view up to 50 plus channels, and the service is available on Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, and the web. YouTube TV will allow up to six accounts and three simultaneous streams. The twist? Viewers can only watch on a TV via Chromecast.

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Friday Five: 3/27-3/31


TGIF! Before you kick off your weekend, check out some of the top tech stories from this week.

Google’s AI Hasn’t Passed Its Biggest Test Yet: Hunting Hate – Bloomberg

Companies are halting their YouTube spending for monthly ads. Earlier this month, companies’ ads were found alongside hateful and extremist videos. Google parent company, Alphabet Inc., may lose less than 1 percent of its sales this year as a result. Google is working to solve YouTube’s problem by using AI to monitor content and ad placement.

Soon your pizza will be ordered, made and delivered through robots – Venture Beat

This week, Domino’s Pizza revealed a new project to a number of Dutch and German cities. The pizza restaurant chain is working to use ground drones to deliver food orders that are within a one mile radius. Domino’s partnered with Starship Technologies to make this robot a reality.

New High-Res Oculus Home for Gear VR Boosts The Mobile Experience – Fast Company

Oculus VR, an American tech company owned by Facebook has completely revamped Samsung’s mobile VR experience. They has taken Samsung’s Gear VR and brought it closer to high-end VR systems. The gear will now feature clearer graphics and incorporate more user participation with connected controllers.

Starbucks is going to try out a mobile order only store – TechCrunch

Starbucks is working toward improving its mobile ordering and recently added a feature that allows customers to order ahead and pick up their coffee. And because Starbucks mobile ordering is such a hit, the company has plans to open a mobile order only location in Seattle. The mobile order only coffeehouse will have a different design including a more prominent pick-up window.  The location will be open starting next week.

At Digit, All That Spare Change Is Adding Up–To $500 Million in Deposits  – Fast Company

The money-saving app, Digit, helps users save money without even thinking about it. Once connected to your bank account, it studies your spending habits and income history. Then it takes money that you don’t really need for your daily spending and puts it into a FDIC account. Last year Digit had a total of $75 million in deposits and this year they hit a milestone of $500 million.

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


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Friday Five: 3/20-3/24


TGIF! Check out some of the top tech headlines from the past week before you head out:

Walmart Is Launching a Tech Incubator in Silicon Valley – Fortune
To stay ahead of retail tech trends, Walmart has launched its own tech incubator, Store No 8. The Silicon Valley center, coined as an “innovation cluster,” is encouraged to grow, think and invent independently of the nation’s largest retailer and its influence. Walmart hopes this incubator will modernize e-commerce strategy with the production of robots, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other tech trends.

Instagram now has 1 million advertisers, will launch business booking tool this year – VentureBeat
Instagram announced Wednesday that it now hosts more than 1 million advertisers on the app each month, which is a 400 percent increase from last year’s numbers. This growth has inspired the app to create innovative ways for businesses to interact with consumers, such as the ability for users to book appointments directly through the app, which is set to appear later this year. Technology and improvements that convert fans and followers into paying customers are the app’s “next steps.”

Here’s everything Apple announced on Tuesday – Business Insider

Tuesday saw the release of multiple new Apple products – unaccompanied by a large media event. The company instead unveiled a handful of new products and some “refreshes” of existing models on their website. Among the new offerings were a 9.7-inch iPad, a special edition iPhone 7 (RED) benefiting HIV/AIDS prevention and research and product updates to Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases. Most notable was the release of Apple’s new app, Clips, which is described as a hybrid of both iMovie and Snapchat.

Facebook tests an enhanced local search and discovery feature offering business suggestions  – TechCrunch 
Facebook’s newest search feature is essentially an in-app Yelp. The enhanced search capabilities allow users to inquire about “dinner nearby” or “best bars in Chicago” within the app itself. The search results also come with star-ranked reviews, pricing, location and a list of friends that have visited – all similar to services like Yelp, Foursquare and Google Maps. This is currently in the testing stage, but users can expect to see it in the coming months.

AT&T and Johnson & Johnson Pull Ads From YouTube – New York Times
YouTube has found themselves in a not-so-pleasant situation. Industry giants Johnson & Johnson and AT&T have both opted to pull their ads from Google properties after being paired with sites that promote hate speech and extremist views. This comes after a series of European entities (the British government, The Guardian and GSK) pulled their ads for similar reasons. Google has promised an “extensive review” of their ad policies and pledges to give brands more control over ad placement in the future.

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

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Friday Five: 3/13-3/17


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.

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

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