Anyone who’s traveled to another country knows how frustrating it is to be geoblocked from streaming content that’s available back at home. Due to licensing restrictions, content providers like Netflix aren’t always able to provide the same viewing experience across different countries, and so some countries get access to a worse content library than others. Hypothetically, this shouldn’t happen within the European Common Market (to which the European Union belongs), which seeks to “guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour,” but in reality there’s always some gap between theory and practice.
Snapchat is building a way for people to use their Snapchat account to connect with third-party apps. The idea, in theory, would let Snapchat users grant outside companies access to their Snapchat data to help personalize other services.
If that’s the case — and it looks like it is, based on these screenshots Mashable published on Tuesday — it would mean that Snap is building out the same kind of API that just got Facebook into a whole mess of trouble.
You can’t make these things up.
Mashable saw a beta version of Snapchat with a new section called “Connected Apps,” with text that reads, “These apps are connected to your Snapchat account. Choose an app to control what it has access to.”
Snapchat currently has an advertising API so people can buy ads through third-party dashboards, but it doesn’t let people use their Snapchat account on other apps, or help people connect with their Snapchat friends on other platforms.
Facebook does, and has for years. An old version of that API, which allowed outside developers to collect data from users without their consent, is at the center of the company’s entire Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The fact that Snapchat is considering sharing some data with outsiders is interesting in general, but particularly interesting given the recent news about Facebook.
There are a lot more questions than answers about the potential product. For example, what would connecting your Snapchat account to another app actually grant that developer? Would they have access to your contact list or private Snap messages? Would Snapchat let you post back to your account from other services?
A Snap spokesperson declined to comment, and the company is likely thinking a lot about those very questions, given the current climate around privacy sharing.
Hopefully, Snapchat will learn from Facebook‘s mistakes whenever it decides to roll this out.
Until now, Snap has stayed pretty far out of the spotlight when it comes to data collection and user privacy, probably because so many of the interactions on Snap are in private messages. (And many of its users are smartphone natives who may better understand what they’re handing over — or simply not care.) Snapchat doesn’t use private messaging info for ad targeting, and the company claims it does other things to protect user privacy. Its ads API doesn’t give personally identifiable information out to marketers, for example, and ad measurment results are only shared in aggregate, according to a spokesperson.
But Snap is also an advertising company — like Facebook — and it collects a lot of data about its users so it can show them relevant ads. You can read about some of that here.
The fact that it’s considering an API is also a reminder of why Facebook continues to collect this kind of stuff about its own user base, despite the issues it’s facing — if Facebook isn’t going to do it, somebody else will.
We are now one month out since HomePod was released, and I’ve been using Apple’s smart speaker every day since it launched. First on the road while traveling, then at home with a variety of other smart speakers.
My thoughts on HomePod have shifted over that period, but my key takeaway is this: HomePod is the best smart speaker for Apple Music subscribers in the Apple ecosystem, but the experience needs to evolve before it’s ready for the masses.
The bottom line for me is that I really enjoy using HomePod myself — for hours at a time every day — but I wouldn’t gift HomePod (or any other smart speaker) to a family member just yet. HomePod just isn’t that straightforward yet. Apple Watch crossed the family friendly threshold for me with version two, and AirPods were gift-worthy from day one for comparison.
HomePod instead feels more like the fourth generation Apple TV. That product debuted with new capabilities like Siri control and an app platform, but took a few software updates over several months to feel closer to complete with a proper remote app and basic features like dictating text in search boxes and app folders.
HomePod has a lot of that low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked — not to mention major feature additions that could dramatically improve the experience for mainstream customers — all without requiring new hardware.
Google on Wednesday revealed a slew of details about the next version of Android, codenamed Android P, including a pair of features following in Apple’s footsteps.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
The online retailer’s acquisitions by the numbers.
Earlier this week, Amazon bought smart doorbell company Ring, bringing its total number of acquisitions in the first two months of 2018 to two — the same as Apple or Google.
Depending on its final valuation — which is expected to be over $ 1 billion — Ring could be Amazon’s second-biggest acquisition ever. Amazon made its biggest acquisition, the $ 13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, last year. The Ring buy could unseat the ranking of Amazon’s 2009 purchase of online shoe company Zappos.
Here’s Amazon’s biggest acquisitions:
Amazon made its first buy of the year in January, when its cloud business acquired cybersecurity startup Sqrrl. While two acquisitions so far in 2018 is competitive with Apple and Google, it’s too early to know how Amazon’s acquisition strategy will play out over the year.
Last year, Amazon had a relatively aggressive M&A strategy, buying 10 companies, according to venture capital database CB Insights.
Over its whole history, Amazon has rarely made more than two purchases each quarter — fewer than other big tech companies. In three of the last five years, Amazon has made fewer acquisitions than Google, Apple, Facebook or Microsoft.
What will Amazon buy next? Take a look at some predictions Recode’s Jason Del Rey made at the beginning of this year.
As much as it might seem like our computers are “thinking” as they perform human-like tasks, like recognizing our faces and predicting what we might say next, they don’t actually function like the human brain — at least not yet. Researchers at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed a device known as the “memtransistor,” which performs both memory and information processing functions. This makes it remarkably similar to a neuron and unlike a computer, which can only complete these processes separately. The team’s work was recently published in the journal Nature.
The memtransistor is essentially a combination of a memristor and a transistor. Memristors, or memory resistors, remember the voltage that has been applied to them but can only control a single voltage channel. By transforming such a memristor from a two-terminal to a three-terminal device in the memtransistor, the Northwestern team made this tech much more capable for complex circuits and systems.
Developing an efficient, working neural network that operates like the memtransistor would not only be more brain-like; it might also use less energy than digital computers, as it would eliminate the need to run two separate processes.
Study leader Mark C. Hersam clarified in a press release why the abilities of the memtransistor allow it to be more brain-like and effective, explaining: “…in the brain, we don’t usually have one neuron connected to only one other neuron. Instead, one neuron is connected to multiple other neurons to form a network. Our device structure allows multiple contacts, which is similar to the multiple synapses in neurons.”
The researchers believe that it will be relatively simple to scale up this technology for larger, practical use.
“Making dozens of devices, as we have done in our paper, is different than making a billion, which is done with conventional transistor technology today,” Hersam qualified. However, he added that: “Thus far, we do not see any fundamental barriers that will prevent further scale up of our approach.”
Whether this scale-up will actually take place is yet to be seen. But such technology could make the computers and smart devices that we interface with every day smarter and more capable, and even perhaps make them start to feel more organic and even human. It could also allow neural networks to advance and perhaps make futuristic tech like brain-computer interfaces much more possible.
The post Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains appeared first on Futurism.
A day after a debacle began about the HomePod silicone ring on the base of the unit was causing a stain to appear on some wood surfaces, it looks that the Sonos One has a similar issue with its own vibration-insulating feet.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
If you’re a frequent patron of your local cinemas, you’ve likely heard of MoviePass, the service that gives you a movie theater ticket a day (with restrictions, of course) for a monthly cost. If you haven’t heard of the service before or aren’t generally interested in enduring the inconveniences involved with going to a theater, maybe this will pique your interest: MoviePass has just announced a new annual plan that works out to a slight savings of $ 0.34 a month.
MoviePass announces new annual plan that costs nearly the same but includes a free year of Fandor was written by the awesome team at Android Police.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk managed to send his Tesla Roadster into space — because why not? — earlier this week, and it looks like his week (and Tesla’s) is still looking up for now following the company’s fourth-quarter results. The company slightly beat Wall Street’s expectations on the financial front, and said it’s still targeting producing 2,500 Model 3… Read More
Mobile – TechCrunch