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Friday Five: 2/13 – 2/17

Alexa Ohm


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!