Facebook to Delay Smart Speaker Unveiling Amid User Data Scandal

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Facebook has chosen not to unveil its latest smart connected devices at the company’s F8 developer conference in May, in part because of the ongoing data-privacy scandal that has engulfed the social network, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg reports that Facebook’s new home products, which include a video-capable smart speaker featuring the company’s own digital assistant, are now being held back from public view, pending a deeper review into the devices’ processing of user data. Although the hardware wasn’t expected to launch until the fall, Facebook had planned to preview the devices at its annual developer summit, according to the paper’s sources.

The devices are part of Facebook’s plan to become more intimately involved with users’ everyday social lives, using artificial intelligence — following a path forged by Amazon.com Inc. and its Echo in-home smart speakers. As concerns escalate about Facebook’s collection and use of personal data, now may be the wrong time to ask consumers to trust it with even more information by placing a connected device in their homes. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

In the last few weeks, Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny over its user data practices, after reports emerged that political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica procured information on 50 million social network users without seeking permission.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress on privacy in the coming weeks, but the chief executive has so far refused a British request to appear before a parliamentary committee and answer questions about the social network’s involvement in data misuse.

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‘The Room: Old Sins’ developer explains delay in Android release

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The Room: Old Sins released on iOS back in January. The preceding three entries in the acclaimed creepy puzzler series are all available on Android, but Old Sins, so far, is nowhere to be found. Developer Fireproof Games says the Android version is coming, but it might take a while.

In a blog post, Fireproof says Old Sins is technically up and running on Android, but that “having the game running on a couple of devices in the office, and having something that we can release on Google Play are very different things.” Bugs small and major discovered after the game’s initial iOS release and the wide variety of Android devices are the main culprits in the delay, the post says: Fireproof’s last game, The Room Three, is available on nearly 14,000 different devices, and each individual device can present its own difficulties.

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‘The Room: Old Sins’ developer explains delay in Android release was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Broadcom plans to ‘redomicile’ in US to nullify Qualcomm deal’s CFIUS investigation delay

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Broadcom is looking for shareholder approval to "redomicile" back to the U.S., to side-step the effects of a pause induced by a CFIUS investigative process, which could have ultimately stopped it’s attempt to take over Qualcomm.
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Technical, Budget Problems Will Delay the James Webb Telescope Again

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Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is facing further delays and difficulties. The highly anticipated telescope will succeed the Hubble Telescope and expand our view of the universe further than ever before. Yet despite this hype and excitement, the JWST has faced a seemingly endless stream of delays.

In September 2017, the JWST launch was delayed from October 2018 to June 2019. Now, because of issues in testing and integrating the telescope’s components, this date has been pushed to an as-yet-unknown data further in the future.

It is no surprise that the JWST will be one of the costliest missions that NASA, alongside Europe and Canada’s space agencies, has ever attempted, as it’s also one of the most complex. The JWST will have a mirror more than three times wider than Hubble’s, and more than 100 times Hubble’s sensitivity. It will unfold and begin transmitting data 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, beyond the reach of repair missions if any of its advanced technologies malfunction. Altogether, the telescope is one of the most ambitious projects any space agency has ever attempted.

It is unclear how much further the James Webb launch date will be pushed back, but another delay is expected due to difficulties mating the telescope with the bus that will carry it to its launch site. If there are any delays beyond this, it’s likely that the project will exceed Congress’s budget cap. It is historically difficult for NASA, and scientific efforts in general, to find sufficient funding. If the project does reach its financial limit, it is uncertain what action Congress might take.

This month, the JWST mission’s Standing Review Board will re-assess the situation and provide a clearer confirmation of the project’s time frame and budgetary requirements. They expect to have a report completed in early April, so we will soon have a better idea of the telescope’s future.

These delays might be disheartening, but as Northrop Grumman’s JWST program manager Scott Willoughby told Science about earlier delays, “It took longer than predicted, but it’s about getting it right.” The “overabundance of caution” Willoughby describes is of the utmost importance. This telescope has been an investment of unparalleled proportions, and its success could forever change how we observe the universe. It would be a shame to rush the process and end up with a revolutionary telescope that doesn’t work.

The post Technical, Budget Problems Will Delay the James Webb Telescope Again appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple Investigating Reports Of iPhone X Call Delay Issue, Are You Affected?

Yes you read that right. Apple might issue iOS 11.2.6 download to fix iPhone X call delay issue, with the company already confirming investigation into the problem.

[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

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IT pros will be able to delay Apple updates for 90 days with iOS 11.3, macOS 10.13.4

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Apple has added a new variable for device management, allowing supervised iPhones, iPads, and Macs to put off upgrading to a new version of the system software for up to 90 days.
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Google Thinks It Can Accurately Predict Your Next Flight Delay

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Google is updating its Google Flights feature with machine learning software that hopes to accurately predict if your upcoming flight will be delayed. The company recently revealed the update in a blog post, saying “Using historic flight status data, our machine learning algorithms can predict some delays even when this information isn’t available from airlines yet—and delays are only flagged when we’re at least 80% confident in the prediction.” The post does, however, give the company a little wiggle room for predictions that don’t ultimately materialize: Google still advises passengers to arrive on time to the airport.

Image Credit: Google
Image Credit: Google

Machine learning algorithms are built to look at a set of rapidly changing data and find patterns. From there, the algorithms make predictions and then learn to make new predictions and decisions. For predicting flight delays, airlines would provide just one piece of that ever-changing dataset. The algorithm would also have to look at other factors, like location and weather, to determine the probability of delays.

More than a Novelty

It could be argued that Google’s recommendation that travelers show up on time for their flights regardless of the system’s predictions completely refutes the feature’s existence. Even so, machine learning algorithms are being deployed in other fields, too — and with applications that are far from trivial.

Researchers from institutions including Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard University have developed a system that accurately identified patients with suicidal ideation. Another system was built by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that could help doctors more easily identify high-risk breast lesions. For some tasks, the systems have proved so efficient that even employees at the Pentagon are concerned about losing their jobs to AI.

It will be interesting to see how these powerful algorithms will continue to enter the mainstream and what effect they might have on the public — whether they are aware of them or not. Algorithms are a major part of companies’ marketing strategies, allowing them to pay for your attention. It may be that the next generation of algorithms will begin to erode the clear lines between our digital and material selves.

The post Google Thinks It Can Accurately Predict Your Next Flight Delay appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple to Delay iOS 12 Features to Focus on Quality Improvements

Apple is delaying certain planned features for its 2018 operating systems to focus on performance and quality improvements, according to a pair of new reports.

Reportedly, Apple software chief Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a closed meeting earlier this month, according to Axios, which had learned of the meeting and some of its details.

Apple typically releases new software updates once a year. This year, it’s likely to release iOS 12, a successor to macOS High Sierra, and updates to watchOS and tvOS. But a handful of features originally planned for iOS 12, which is expected in the fall, have been delayed until 2019.

While Axios first reported the pushed back software features, Bloomberg corroborated the rumors with its own report released later in the day, citing sources within Apple. The latter outlet added that the delays will affect this year’s macOS release, but not the expected Apple Watch or Apple TV updates.

iOS 12 Delayed Features

For iOS 12, some of the planned-but-delayed features include:

  • A refresh of the Home screen app grid.
  • A refresh of Apple’s CarPlay interface.
  • A multiplayer mode for ARKit-enabled augmented reality games
  • Improvements to core apps like Mail.
  • Updates to capturing, editing and sharing pictures in Photos.

On the other hand, Bloomberg noted that certain planned features, like the rumored addition of cross-platform support for third-party apps on macOS and iOS, are still on track for a 2018 release.

Along with that feature, Apple is also expected to introduce a handful of other improvements across a variety of first-party apps for iOS. That might include tweaks to Health, the ARKit toolset, and parental controls meant to curb teenage smartphone screen time, Axios reported.

The delay of key features should allow Apple to focus on stability improvements and bug fixes ahead of its iOS and macOS releases. In other words, that might mean a much more stable and less buggy software release in the fall — which could be a sharp departure from the bug-laden releases last year.

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Apple’s Decision to Delay Some New Features and Focus on Software Quality Extends to Mac

Apple’s reported plans to delay some features planned for iOS 12 until next year will similarly extend to the Mac, although to a lesser degree, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News.


Gurman’s sources corroborate an earlier report from Ina Fried at Axios, which claimed that Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi disclosed the revised plans during a meeting with employees earlier this month.

While the shift in strategy appears to extend to macOS, it reportedly will not affect the development cycles of watchOS or tvOS.

The company told its software engineering groups about the change this month, one of the people said. The shift will also affect this year’s update to Mac computer software, but to a lesser degree, the person said, adding that planned upgrades to Apple Watch and Apple TV software won’t be affected.

Apple’s plans to focus on the quality of its current software platforms will presumably result in a greater emphasis on bug fixes, performance improvements, and the general stability of its operating systems.

The shift in strategy follows a few embarrassing mishaps for Apple in recent months, including a major security vulnerability that enabled access to the root superuser account with a blank password on macOS High Sierra version 10.13.1. Apple promptly fixed the critical bug in a security update.

Just weeks later, MacRumors was alerted to a security flaw in macOS High Sierra version 10.13.2 that allowed the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password. While this bug was much less serious, it was still system behavior that obviously shouldn’t have been possible.

Apple had a similar shift in strategy in 2015 with the release of iOS 9, and with some other macOS updates in recent years, according to the report, so this isn’t Apple’s first time doubling down on the polish of its software.

The report also corroborates that Apple was planning a redesigned grid of app icons on the home screen in iOS 12, but that change is now delayed until 2019 along with expanded photo management capabilities. There’s also word of a multiplayer mode for augmented reality games, but it’s unclear when it’ll be ready.

Gurman still expects some smaller improvements to the Photos app to roll out in 2018, while the original report by Fried mentioned enhancements to the Health app and parental controls are still planned for release this year.

Related Roundups: iOS 11, macOS High Sierra

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