3 tests show Facebook is determined to make Stories the default

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Facebook isn’t backing down from Stories despite criticism that it copied Snapchat and that Instagram Stories is enough. Instead, it’s committed to figuring out how to adapt the slideshow format into the successor to the status update. That’s why today the company is launching three significant tests that make Facebook Stories a default way to share.

“The way people share and connect is changing; it’s quickly becoming more real-time and visual. We’re testing new creative tools to bring pictures and videos to life, and introducing easier ways to find and share stories,” a Facebook spokesperson told me.

Meanwhile, Facebook has been fixing the biggest problems with its Stories: redundancy between Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Now you can set your Instagram Stories to automatically be reposted to your Facebook Story, and Stories on Facebook and Messenger sync with each other. That means you can just post to Instagram and have your Story show up on all three apps. That way if you want extra views or to include friends who aren’t Insta-addicts, you can show them your Story with no extra uploads.

It was a year ago that Facebook rolled out Stories. But Facebook has so many features that it has to make tough decisions about which to promote and which to bury. It often launches features with extra visibility at first, but forces them to grow popular on their own before giving them any additional attention.

Facebook is vulnerable to competitors if it doesn’t make Stories work, and users may eventually grow tired of the News Feed full of text updates from distant acquaintances. But Instagram Stories and WhatsApp’s version Status have both grown to more than 250 million daily users, showing there’s obviously demand for this product if Facebook can figure out how Stories fit in its app.

Hence, these tests:

  1. The Facebook status composer on mobile will immediately show an open camera window and the most recent images in your camera roll to spur Stories sharing. Given that Facebook has as many as 17 choices for status updates, from check-ins to recommendations to GIFs, the new camera and camera roll previews make Stories a much more prominent option. Facebook isn’t going so far as to launch with the camera as the home screen like Snapchat, or half the screen like it once tried, but it clearly believes it will be able to ride the trend and people will get more out of sharing if they choose Stories. This starts testing today to a small subset of users around the world.
  2. When you shoot something with the augmented reality-equipped Facebook Camera feature, the sharing page will now default to having Stories selected. Previously, users had to choose if they wanted to post to Stories, News Feed or send their creation to someone through Messenger. Facebook is now nudging users to go with Stories, seemingly confident of its existing dominance over the ranked feed and messaging spaces. This test will begin with all users in the Dominican Republic.
  3. Above the News Feed, Facebook Stories will show up with big preview tiles behind the smaller profile pictures of the people who created them. Teasing what’s inside a Story could make users a lot more likely to click to watch them. Facebook uses a similar format, but with smaller preview circles on Messenger. And while Instagram leaves more room for the main feed by just showing profile pic bubbles for Stories, if you keep scrolling you might see a call-out in the feed for Stories you haven’t watched using a big preview tile format similar to what Facebook Stories is trying. More views could encourage users to share more Stories, helping to dismantle the ghost town perception of Facebook Stories. This will also test to a small percentage of users around the world.

    One of Facebook’s new Stories tests shows big preview tiles behind people’s profile bubbles

If Facebook finds these tests prove popular, they could roll out everywhere and make Stories a much more central part of the app’s experience. Facebook will have to avoid users feeling like Stories are getting crammed down their throats. But the open camera, Stories default and bigger previews all disappear with a quick tap or swipe.

The fact is that the modern world of computing affords a very different type of social media than when Facebook launched 14 years ago. Then, you’d update your status with a line of text from your desktop computer because your phone didn’t have a good camera (or maybe even the internet), screens were small, mobile networks were slow and it was tough to compute on the go. Now with every phone equipped with a great camera, a nice screen, increasingly fast mobile networks and everyone else staring at them all the time, it makes sense to share through photos and videos you post throughout the day.

This isn’t a shift driven by Facebook, or even really Snapchat. Visual communication is an inevitable evolution. For Facebook, Stories aren’t an “if,” just a “how.”

Mobile – TechCrunch

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iPhone X/8 Plus Crush Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ in Battery Life Tests

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Despite being equipped with much larger Li-ion battery packs, new tests have revealed that the battery life performance of Samsung’s latest Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices pale in comparison to Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus. Independent battery performance tests conducted by PhoneArena revealed that even despite their voluminous superiority, Samsung’s S9 and S9+ are […]
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Genius tests out swipe-able ‘song story’ explainers

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Genius, which you might remember from its slick Behind The Lyrics feature on Spotify, is now introducing an even richer, Instagram Stories-style feature, with some YouTube assistance. Song Stories folds together Genius artist interviews, social media…
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ESA tests its giant Mars mission parachute

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The European Space Agency has put one of ExoMars' landing parachutes to the test for the first time. And while it was deployed from a helicopter merely less than a mile above the ground, its successful descent is a major milestone for the mission. Th…
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Home Genetic Tests Could Be Giving You False Results

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Home genetic tests like 23andMe have grown more popular, and so too have stories of people surprised by their results. Sometimes they’re whimsical, like the German family that discovered they’re actually Scottish; other times they call whole identities into question, like the man who discovered his father had another son he didn’t know about, which led his parents to divorce.

But a new study suggests that some of those “surprises” might just be mistakes.

Ambry Genetics, a company that interprets data from consumer DNA tests, examined the raw data from 49 patients that had already received results from at-home tests. Its re-analysis, recently published in the journal Naturefound that 40 percent of the variants reported to patients were not actually present at all.

Particularly cringe-worthy, MIT Technology Review reports that many of the false-positive calls were related to genes that are related to an increased cancer risk — meaning that tests could have given families a big scare for no reason. And this high error rate is particularly concerning given that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved 23andMe to sell genetic tests for cancer risk.

Sophisticated technology has made genetic testing more accessible than ever, giving us another way to sate our desire to know more about ourselves. Whether it’s our risk of developing Alzheimer’s or confirming a family legend about Native American relatives — or even our supposed “genetic compatibility” with a potential date — we’ve come to believe that genetics will tell us everything we might want to know.

Yet these mistakes highlight what scientists and genetic counselors have warned the public about for years: that home genetic tests should be interpreted with the help of an expert, particularly when it comes to disease risk. Because of the complex interplay that happens between genetics, environment lifestyle, and health, genetic risk is not a definite.

The same is true of consumer genetic tests that interpret ancestry — they’re not as straightforward as companies assert. As NPR’s Gisele Grayson recently discovered of her own genes, the process of genetic recombination (when your embryo is formed from sperm and egg) means that you might have a genomic makeup that’s quite different from your parents or siblings.

At-home genetic testing companies also base their information on that of all of the people they’ve already tested, meaning that their data on under-tested populations (that’s generally people of color) could be flawed; “the smaller the percentage of a population within a continent that is in the database, the less certain [genetic analyses] are,” Grayson wrote.

If all of this really squashes your hope of using genetics to find out “who you are,” it might be useful to remember that human beings are a closely related species as it is. Mathematics and genetic research alike has found that every human currently alive shares a common ancestor as recently as 3,400 years ago.

Yes, genetic tests are, disappointingly, imperfect. But don’t worry, in the long-run of human history, your genetic “ancestry” doesn’t mean all that much anyway.

The post Home Genetic Tests Could Be Giving You False Results appeared first on Futurism.


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Arizona governor suspends Uber’s self-driving car tests

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As the investigation into last week's fatal crash where an autonomous Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ, the state's governor has suspended Uber's permission to test its cars there. While the company had already halted testing nati…
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The Galaxy S9+ you can’t buy is even faster than the iPhone X in real-life speed tests

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Galaxy S9 Plus vs. iPhone X Speed Test

The Galaxy S9 hit stores a few weeks ago, and that’s when the first reviews and comparisons with iPhone X popped up on YouTube, including the real-life speed tests that we were all expecting.

In one such video, we got to see the Snapdragon 845-powered Galaxy S9+ defeat the iPhone X in a regular speed test thanks to the extra bump in memory. It turns out that the Galaxy S9+ version you can’t buy in North America, the one that has an Exynos 9810 chip inside, is actually much faster than the iPhone X.

On paper, the iPhone X’s A11 wipes the floor with both the Snapdragon 845 and Exynos 9810 chips. There’s no question about it. But in these real-life tests, it’s the Galaxy S9+ that comes on top.

In the first EverythingApplePro clip, the Galaxy S9+ completed the two app-loading laps faster than the iPhone X. That’s even though the iPhone X won the first round thanks to its speed at processing 4K videos.

In case you’re not familiar with these speed tests, we’re looking at two phones that have the same app setup. Each phone has to load the same sequence of apps twice. The first lap measures how fast each phone goes through that particular app selection. The second lap then measures how fast each app opens from memory.

In the second video, available at the end of this post, the Exynos 9810 chip outperforms the A11 in the same 4K processing test, which means the Galaxy S9+ wins both laps. That effectively makes it the first Android phone to beat the iPhone in both tests, according to EverythingApplePro.

That said, the Snapdragon 845 is even faster than the Exynos 9810 when it comes to opening individual apps. It’s just that Samsung’s own processor seems to handle 4K clips better than Qualcomm’s chip. Watch the full video below, which include comparisons of boot speed, biometrics authentication speed, benchmarks, and wireless speeds.

Apple – BGR

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Jaguar Land Rover tests autonomous parking on public roads

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Plenty of cars will help you park, but the biggest challenge is frequently finding a spot in the first place — it's no fun to circle the parking lot for 10 minutes. Fully autonomous cars can ultimately take care of this, but Jaguar Land Rover is dem…
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Uber halts all self-driving car tests after pedestrian killed

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NEWSBYTE: Uber has halted tests of its self-driving cars in North America after a woman was killed on Sunday night by an Uber Volvo.

The incident in Tempe, Arizona, is believed to be the first fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian. Uber is testing driverless cars in the city, and in three other locations, including San Francisco.

Last month California approved the use of fully driverless cars on public roads – in other words, with no safety driver onboard. Meanwhile, Waymo began testing a fleet of driverless trucks in the US last week.

According to Arizona police, the Uber car was operating autonomously, with a safety driver onboard, when the woman crossed the road in front of it. The car struck her while travelling at about 40mph, and she later died in hospital.

The victim has been named as Elaine Herzberg, 49.

The fatality comes almost exactly a year after another Uber Volvo was involved in a three-vehicle collision in Tempe, which left the vehicle lying on its side.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a Twitter post: “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

The incident is the latest in a series of brand-damaging problems for Uber, which include the loss of its licence in London, and an acrimonious legal dispute with Waymo over patent infringement , which triggered the departure of Uber’s co-founding CEO, Travis Kalanick.

Internet of Business says

While the cause of the tragic accident is unknown at present, how the loss of life is dealt with will inevitably set legal and cultural precedents, both for the industry and for society as a whole.

Let’s hope that other driverless car companies also suspend tests as a mark of respect.

A serious concern with all AI systems, and not just smart vehicles, is that establishing liability for accidents or mistakes may prove difficult, and even push the onus of responsibility onto victims, inverting normal legal principles. That would be unacceptable.

The public mood will be a critical factor from now on. While most citizens are intrigued by driverless cars, drones, and similar technologies, there is clearly a suspension of disbelief involved, for those outside of the technology sector.

Driverless cars and pilotless planes are counter-intuitive concepts, and it’s conceivable that, however many billions of dollars are poured into these technologies and however sophisticated they may already be, the public may simply decide that the idea is unacceptable. The industry needs to be prepared for that outcome.

Read more: Waymo turns the ignition on self-driving trucks

Read more: Analysis: Why Uber and Waymo parked their self-drive dispute

Read more: Volvo to supply Uber with driverless car fleet

The post Uber halts all self-driving car tests after pedestrian killed appeared first on Internet of Business.

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