California bill would force Twitter and Facebook to identify bots

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Facebook and Twitter are plenty aware that Russian-backed actors have been using troll accounts to manipulate online discourse. Despite introducing transparency tools and purging lists of bots, California lawmakers don't think the companies are doing…
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US’ proposed China tariffs would target robotics and satellites

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The US Trade Representative has published the list of Chinese products that would be subject to its proposed tech tariffs, and there are a few clear themes. The move would hike the costs of about 1,300 products, including industrial robots, communic…
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Tim Cook Says Apple Would Never Have a Scandal Like Cambridge Analytica

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The tech industry really wants to unfriend Facebook.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal, tech industry insiders have been quick to criticize Facebook for inadequately protecting users’ private information. The latest to join their ranks is Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook is not just critical of Zuckerberg’s enterprise — he asserts Apple would never make the same missteps.

On March 28, Cook sat down with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to film a live interview for an upcoming MSNBC special: “Revolution: Apple Changing the World.” The program won’t air until April 6, but it’s already generating buzz, and blowback from Zuckerberg.

When Swisher asked Cook what he would do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the Cambridge Analytica, he responded, “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

That sounds somewhat dismissive, but Cook may have a point. During the interview, he touched on two fundamental differences between Apple and Facebook that could prevent the former from ever finding itself in the same situation as the latter.

Firstly, Apple makes its money from products, not people.

You’ve probably heard some version of the saying, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re the product,” and that’s essentially how Facebook earns a profit. You don’t pay for Facebook. Advertisers pay Facebook for you. Well, access to you and your information anyways.

Apple sells smartphones, watches, computers, software programs, cloud storage, entertainment downloads, and more. With so many products, it doesn’t need to sell user data to turn a profit. So it doesn’t.

“The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that,” said Cook during the interview.

Second, Apple has long prided itself on collecting far less data on its users than competitors tend to do, and protecting that data as much as possible.

Apple uses end-to-end encryption on iMessage and FaceTime, ensuring as much as it can that those communications stay between the parties involved. When possible, Apple also stores users’ information directly on their devices rather than some centralized Apple server that could be more easily hacked.

The company also attempts to protect the privacy of users from third-parties. As Cook noted during the interview, Apple carefully reviews every third-party app sold in its store to ensure it meets the company’s expectation of privacy. In 2016, Cook even refused a request from the FBI to create a software program that could bypass an iPhone’s security system as the agency worked to investigate a terrorist attack.

On Friday, Zuckerberg defended himself against Cook’s criticisms during an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein. According to Zuckerberg, a company can have an advertising-supported business model and still “care about” its users.

As campaigns like #deletefacebook continue to circulate and Facebook continues to suffer from PR nightmares, the big question is whether those users (and the rest of the tech world) will still care about Facebook.

The post Tim Cook Says Apple Would Never Have a Scandal Like Cambridge Analytica appeared first on Futurism.

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This 2011 visual novel predicted how privacy would change in 2018

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It can be difficult to find time to finish a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our biweekly column Short Play we suggest video games that can be started and finished in a weekend.

I played Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story for the first time shortlyafter it was released about seven years ago. It’s a game that’s stuck with me ever since. That’s partly because of the metafictional way the story of the game is told, which sort of circumvents the visual novel presentation of the game. But it’s also because of what it says about privacy on the internet and in social networks. In 2011, it felt like an interesting extrapolation of what the next generation’s attitudes could be having…

Continue reading…

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Would you like the iPhone X more if Apple stole this feature from Huawei’s new iPhone clone?

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Apple iPad Event

On the plus side, Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone X is the most significant iPhone redesign Apple has ever launched. But on the downside, it’s also the most divisive iPhone Apple has ever released. The first Apple smartphone to start at $ 1,000 features a bold new design that represents Apple’s unique take on the “all-screen” trend currently sweeping over the smartphone industry. Well, it was Apple’s unique take… but now the “notch” is everywhere you look because it’s being ripped off so aggressively and shamelessly by dozens of Android phones.

Speaking of Android phones that aggressively and shamelessly copy Apple’s iPhone X, Huawei on Tuesday unveiled a pair of new iPhone clones. They look pretty nice, though we’ll never see them in the United States since the current administration forced wireless carriers and Best Buy to stop selling Huawei phones. Though the new Huawei P20 and P20 Pro are indeed iPhone copycats, they also introduce a few nifty features, like the P20 Pro’s triple-lens rear camera. But there’s another new feature that users are probably going to like even more, and it could have solved a few problems for Apple had it been included on the iPhone X.

Android phone makers have been copying Apple’s iPhone for nearly a decade now, but things have certainly reached an entirely new level this year. Companies large and small have decided to toss out any semblance of originality and just blatantly rip off Apple’s latest iPhone design. That goes for small China-based phone makers as well as large companies like LG and Asus. In fact, Huawei, the latest company to steal Apple’s iPhone X design, is one of the biggest smartphone companies in the world.

One would think the company’s success would help it afford a fairly decent team of designers, but apparently that isn’t the case. So instead of designing its own flagship phones for the first half of 2018, Huawei outsourced the new design of its P20 and P20 Pro smartphones to Apple. Here’s how they came out:

As an aside, Huawei wasn’t satisfied with only copying Apple’s iPhone X design, so it also ripped off Apple’s AirPods design. Seriously… look at this picture from The Verge and try to keep a straight face:

Ugh.

Anyway, Huawei is a copycat. We get it. That said, the company has an interesting software solution tied to its display notch that some Android fans are going to love. Even though just about every Android company is stealing Apple’s iPhone X design this year, plenty of Android fans hate the new design. Perhaps that’s why Huawei came up with a solution that offers users the best of both worlds.

As we covered a few weeks ago and then again a few days ago, there’s an option in the settings on the P20 and P20 Pro to hide the notch. Here’s what it looks like in the settings app:

 

Now that the phones have been announced and bloggers have had a chance to play with them, we can see what the option to hide the notch looks like in action:

It’s a solution that seems so obvious. In fact, rumors ahead of the iPhone X’s release suggested that the phone would look just like the P20 does with the notch hidden, with a background that’s always black. Apple decided to fully embrace the notch though, and the iPhone X wears it like a badge of honor… for better or worse.

Many Apple fans like the iPhone X’s design. In fact, even some people who hated the notch when they first saw the iPhone X in leaks have since come around to really like the design once the began to use the phone (cough, cough). Still, there are plenty of other people who hate the look of the notch, and I’ve spoken to a number of Apple fans who refused to upgrade to the iPhone X solely because of the design.

If Apple included an option to hide the notch like Huawei did on its iPhone clone, would it have a meaningful impact on sales? We’ll never know. But considering all the reports that have suggested iPhone X sales have been far lower than Apple was expecting, an option to hide the notch certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

Apple – BGR

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Proposed law would insist on work-life balance for New Yorkers

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With all of us connected to our phones day and night, it's pretty easy to respond to work requests after official office hours are over. European countries like France have passed laws allowing employees to ignore employers after hours, giving citize…
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Amazon’s Latest Patent Would Make Drones Responsive To Yelling and Arm-Flailing

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Amazon is finally making a delivery drone that doesn’t just keep attacking flying at you if you’re yelling and waving your arms.

Some context: in an effort to fuel our endless addiction for same-day delivery, Amazon and its competitors have been looking to the skies to skip highways and roads congested with delivery trucks and morning commuters.

Amazon Prime Air — the retail giant’s drone delivery system concept — has been in the works since December of 2013, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos promised the company wuld make 30-minute deliveries of packages up to 5 pounds (2.25 kg). In 2016, the first public trial took place in Cambridge, England.

If Amazon has its way, drones are going to be delivering those nose-hair clippers you ordered, lickety-split. But what’s not yet clear is how those drones are going to fit in with the rest of society. The U.S. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is still catching up, creating and modifying its regulations to allow for drones to operate commercially.

Now, Amazon has filed a patent for a delivery drone more responsive to the humans around it. The drone would be equipped with technology that would make it responsive to the frantic calls and hand-waving of nearby humans. According to GeekWire, the concept dates back to 2014, and is a continuation of an earlier patent intended to smooth over UAV-human interaction.

A quick glance at the patent’s A+ illustrations indicates the huge comedic potential of having your neighbor yelling “SIT!” and “LAND!” while waving his arms at the UAV delivering his electric toothbrush.

 

Image Credit: USPTO

To do this, a drone would have to be equipped with a host of sensors, from depth sensors and infrared, along with extremely sensitive microphones.

But the drones already on the market today are nearly there. For instance, the DJI Spark released in 2017 can be controlled Jedi-mind-tricks-style with a raised arm.

According to the patent, Amazon drones will be able to do this, plus follow bystanders’ directions from the roof of the delivery vehicle to the recipient’s home (though it’s hard to imagine that neighbors would necessarily know that you ordered something 30 minutes ago, or, if they’re like mine, that they would, you know, actually be helpful).

Image Credit: USPTO

But the patent raises more questions than answers. Could the drone still deliver to your home when you’re not there? What if, when you flail your arms to get the drone to back off, it kept going and chopped off your arm instead? Would Amazon cover the return shipping of your medical bill?

As with countless other patents of this kind, there’s a pretty decent chance this technology will never see the light of day. After all, we’re still waiting on Amazon’s self-destructing delivery drone and a giant floating fulfillment center.

The post Amazon’s Latest Patent Would Make Drones Responsive To Yelling and Arm-Flailing appeared first on Futurism.

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How relationship therapist Esther Perel would diagnose Melania Trump

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Based on what she knows about him, Perel isn’t interested in having the president as a client.

Sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel hasn’t met Melania Trump — but, if she had to guess, she has a hunch about what’s going on between the First Lady and President Trump.

Perel spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher at South By Southwest, in part to promote her new book “The State of Affairs” and the second season of her podcast, Where Should We Begin? Their full interview is the newest episode of our podcast, Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher.

“I don’t know a clue about this woman,” Perel said of Melania Trump. “But I have a feeling from the little bit I’ve listened to her that she actually — this is the way I sometimes say it — ‘when you pick a person, you pick a story.’ And sometimes you’re recruited for a play that you didn’t audition for.”

Perel, who was born in Belgium and educated in Israel, said she was sympathetic to the reality that Melania may not have expected to be in the media spotlight every day when she moved to America and married Donald Trump.

“I see this woman like she’s in the wrong play,” she added. “It’s not the character she wants to be. Like, how the hell did she find herself — she just wanted a green card! And I’ve been there! I also wanted a green card one day. And then she maybe wanted someone with whom she could have an arrangement, and everyone’s entitled to their relational arrangement. But this, this is not a play that she auditioned for.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Perel also talked more generally about the #MeToo movement that has exposed harassers, abusers and rapists across tech, media, politics and beyond. The president has been dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct from 19 women, and two others have recently sued to be released from nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing consensual affairs they allegedly had with the President.

As a therapist, Perel said, men like Trump who wind up on her couch “look at me with contempt” and don’t want to be helped. People who use their wealth or title as a means of getting others into bed are acting on deep-seated insecurities, she said.

“Sexually powerful men don’t harass, they seduce,” Perel said. “It’s the insecure men who need to use power in order to leverage the insecurity and the inaccessibility or the unavailability of the women. Women fear rape, and men fear humiliation.”

“Underneath the use of power lies a deep sense of powerlessness,” she added. “And then you manipulate the power that you have in order to cover that.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.


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Would you let an app mine cryptocurrency on your Mac in exchange for premium features? [Poll]

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Over the last week, we’ve reported on Calendar 2, an app from Qbix that seemingly added cryptocurrency mining as an alternative to paying for premium features. Qbix itself acknowledged issues with the model and Apple said such practices are not allowed in the Mac App Store, but that almost certainly won’t stop developers outside of the Mac App Store from doing it.

Would you be willing to let an app mine cryptocurrency in the background in exchange for premium features?

more…

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AI Translates News Just as Well as a Human Would

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Translation was traditionally considered a job in which the magic human touch would always ultimately trump a machine. That may no longer be the case, as a Microsoft AI translator just nailed one of the hardest challenges: translating Chinese into English with accuracy comparable to that of a bilingual person.

Chinese is so difficult a language that it takes years for a non-native speaker to just about manage the 3,000 characters needed to read a newspaper. Previous attempts at automatic translation have amused the world, with gems such as “hand grenade” to indicate a fire extinguisher or a mysterious “whatever” dish on a restaurant menu.

“For alphabetic languages, there’s what they call a virtuous loop between the writing, speaking and listening — those three categories constitute one composite skill,” linguist David Moser told the Los Angeles Times. “But the problem with Chinese […] is it breaks that loop. Speaking does not necessarily help your reading. Reading doesn’t necessarily help your writing.” These are three different skills that, when learning Chinese, have to be mastered in parallel.

After years of working on what it seemed a nearly impossible feat, Microsoft engineers finally achieved the so called “human parity” in translating a sample of sentences from Chinese news articles into English.

The team used a sample of 2000 sentences from online newspapers that had been previously translated by a professional. Not only did they compare the machine’s job with that of the human translator, but they also hired a team of independent bilingual consultants to keep an eye on the process.

“Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had,” Xuedong Huang, a technical fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation told the company’s blog. “We just didn’t realize we’d be able to hit it so soon.”

Teaching a system to translate a language is particularly complex because two different translations of the same word may sound equally right. People choose different words depending on context, mood and who they are communicating with.

“Machine translation is much more complex than a pure pattern recognition task,” Ming Zhou, assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia told the Microsoft blog. “People can use different words to express the exact same thing, but you cannot necessarily say which one is better.”

The next challenge, he said, will be to test the new AI translator on real-time news articles.

The post AI Translates News Just as Well as a Human Would appeared first on Futurism.

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