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Amazon Prime Next Day Delivery Now Delivers To Your Car!

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber than you are already aware of the “free” next day or two-day delivery that comes along with your membership.  Many Amazon shoppers find themselves utilizing the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership as it is more cost effective than paying for delivery fees when ordering.  Shoppers can cut costs by not only getting free shipping, but also in many states and on certain products, they can get same day delivery. Amazon is constantly working to change the canvas and become better in their delivery area.

Due to a high rise in thefts, Amazon launched in “in-home” delivery service where the delivery drivers have access to the customer’s home and can drop off packages directly into the home.  The in-home service gives the customer the security of knowing that their products can not be stolen from the doorstops by any on-looker. This new service has come with its share of scrutiny and with praise. Many customers are skeptical about giving a stranger free access into their home.  Some critics have stated that this feature gives criminals more reason to do home break-ins.  Even though there are mixed reviews about this feature that Amazon offers, its still an effort to gain more security with the delivery of their products.

Amazon has always been known to put on their thinking cap when it comes on to innovation and new ways to reinvent their delivery. Now Amazon has launched “In-Car” delivery which also includes “same-day” delivery.  Yes, if you are thinking “Is this the same as the in-home delivery?”, then yes, you are thinking correctly.  With most people not being that comfortable with giving Amazon free access into their home, the idea of having packages delivered into the car is a much more appealing thought.  This technology Amazon will utilize is called “Amazon Key In-Car”.  For the technology to work, your Amazon account must be able to link to your car service account. Many car companies allow for this linkage such as OnStar and Volvo On Call.

After the accounts are linked together, the customer will have the ability to choose “In-car” delivery.  They will also be able to choose “In-car” same-day shipping.  To setup the delivery process, the customer’s car has o be in a public parking lot and have a backup location such as a home or an office. The app allows for up to a 4hr delivery window, gives information when the package is on its way, and when the package has been delivered.  For security the app gives time stamps of when the car was unlocked and locked to ensure that the car and the package is left securely.

With Amazon being the dominator in the field of “in-home” and “in-car” delivery, the prices for the services has now gone up. Over the years, Amazon has managed to maintain is $99 per year membership fee for Amazon Prime, but in 2018, Amazon Prime subscribers can see a bump in membership fee from $99 to $119. Security and convenience have their cost and Amazon must be able to continue to grow with their efforts to supersede their own standards every year. This comes at a cost.

Amazon continues to change the canvas of products and the delivery of these products. It Gurus Of Atlanta continues to innovate, create, and educate our clients on Technology and the ever changing canvas that it affects, which is our daily lives. We encourage all of our subscribers and clients to stay tuned as we bring to the world more information on technology.

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Amazon and Microsoft Combine Powers to form – GLUON! AI Deeper Learning on Neural Networks!

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

In the highly competitive world that we live in today, its clear to understand that there is a strict competitive market building amongst the great tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Baidu, and other startup companies. All these companies have developed, deployed, and integrated their cloud based solutions with Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence provides the steroids that the Cloud industry needs in order to accelerate its existence, growth, and empowerment. AI has developed key components to help itself with its constant learning processes. These processes can be better understood through “machine learning”. Machine learning allows information to be rapidly digested, conceptualized, and intelligently categorized by artificial intelligence. Cloud products such as Azure from Microsoft, AWS from Amazon, TensorFlow from Google, and more integrate machine learning into their systems to enhance the user experience and make mundane tasks to now be automated with little or no human effort involved.

With this evolution and the stiff competition there can be no collaboration in sight especially from rival companies which have no need to partner up, but to simply dominate their place in the industry. Surprisingly Microsoft and Amazon have done such a collaboration. This collaborated effort is not only to show that larger companies can work together, but also the data collected from this program allows both companies to be more successful in their domination of the cloud space.  Microsoft and Amazon have come together to form Gluon. Gluon in the dictionary is defined as a “subatomic particle of a class that is through to bind quarks together”. However, this is not the same Gluon which are referring to. Gluon is the fist distinctive collaborative efforts of these technology giants in the race for Artificial Intelligence and gathering information. Gluon is considered the store-house for machine learning and the ability to “voluntarily” utilize machine learning in the development of products and services by Amazon and Microsoft. This storehouse of technological learning and a knowledge base that is bubbling over with information is the type of data warehouse that AI thrives on.

This cohesive collaboration between developers and machine learning have no blossomed what is dubbed “deep learning”. Deep learning essentially is a combination of three distinct components such as data for training, neural network model, and an algorithm which trains the neural network.  The neural network essentially translates the data and feeds AI this information allowing AI to grow on a more diversified scale.  This new algorithm that is now being utilized by neural networks self-adjusts its output based on errors in the network output. This is a memory and compute process that machine learning and AI adapts through predictive outputs. An example of deep learning is Caffe2, TensorFlow, Appache MXNet, and Cognitive Toolkit offers options to speed up the neural network which often takes days to compute the data being derived.  These products now reduce the learning time and accelerates the parallelization in distributing computation processes.

Even though these products built within Gluon are effective and pose to change the way AI is developing by giving it more knowledge, the key is having developers to utilize these products to diversify and intensify the data stream.  AWS has been experimenting with its developers by using MXNet to train the neural networks. Microsoft has become a heavy contributor the open source MXNet by opening it to an ever-increasing rise in developers. The collaboration and data being created and distributed by these two powerhouses with Gluon can be overwhelming for a beginner when first interacting with this program, but even for more advanced developers, the data intensive algorithms seem take a life of its own demanding more ways to conform and adjust with massive error reduction.  The four key innovations which is introduced by Gluon are as follows:

Friendly API – using clear and concise code, it allows developers to learn and understand the data.

 

Dynamic networks – allows for ease of access and the rapid fluctuation of the data structure. Fluency in the data structure is critical for development as it allows hybrid scenarios and reduces stagnancy of the data flow as with previous machine learning software.

 

Algorithms that devein the network – Seamless combination of the model and algorithm allows the network to adjust definitions during training. This is critical as it allows developers to use programming loops, and conditionals.  Algorithms are now easier to change, create, and debug.

High Performance Operators for training – Gives the ability to create dynamic graphs and concise APi without sacrificing speed. Previous versions seemed to have consumed valuable run time that this feature runs through effortlessly and drastically picks up speed.

The question now becomes, how does developers access Gluon? Well its provided through Apache MXNet and the future releases will have support for Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit.  The AWS team has already published a front-end interface with low-level API to include other specifications and frameworks. Once accessing Gluon you can utilize an AWS Deep learning AMI to find a plethora of examples and workbooks utilized and documented by fellow developers.

 

Could this be a taste of what is to come from these super giant tech companies in terms of collaboration in order to leap ahead or is this just an opportunity for the public to advance an already thriving technology called Artificial Intelligence? These tech giants are clearly leveraging all aspects of “free data” and utilizing the voluntary efforts of developers world-wide to feed this neural network. As a partner for Microsoft, we anticipate that Microsoft as being the leader in products on the market will utilize Gluon in order to create more intensive, responsive, and advanced products built with AI as the backbone to reduce many processes and essentially speed up productivity. It Gurus Of Atlanta is your Microsoft partner of choice which brings you the cutting edge in design, technology, and its advancements.

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The 1st War on Artificial Intelligence By Elon Musk – Answer is Neuralink to Advance Human Intelligence!

Monday, March 19th, 2018

If you are into Technology, Science, Information, and any category which combines both, then you are into the know when it comes to comic book movies which have encompassed the entire world with their adventure, and surreal graphics during action scenes to captivate audiences worldwide. One of the most noted and memorable is that of Tony Starks.  In the comic book and in the Iron Man movies is known as a visionary billionaire that is ahead of his time in terms of technological advancement and his aptitude for success. Now, if you are reading this and wondering who Tony Starks could compare to, it won’t be long before the name Elon Musk surfaces. Elon Musk has been shattering the limits when it comes to innovation and it is hard to mention innovative future technology without mention his name. From the Tesla car line which is now one of the world’s most prestigious and efficient electric cars on the market, to the Hyper-Loop which is changing the way how we travel at the speed of sound while cutting down on fossil fuels, then to Space-X which is taking civilians to outer-space. Elon Musk is not only wealthy, but ahead of his time when it comes to technological advancements.

If you are still reading, then be prepared to get even more astonished as we depict the latest innovation including greatest similarity between Elon Musk and Tony Starks, is that Elon Musk has managed to get $27 million dollars towards his latest innovation which is his Neuralink. Yes, the Neuralink is Elon Musk’s latest innovation to blend humans with machines in the same similarity that Tony Starks did with his Iron Man suite, except this is not fiction, but is reality.  Elon Musk seeks to counter the fast-growing effects of Artificial Intelligence. It is his belief that humanity will need a counter-balance in the event that AI becomes aware, which is literally only moments or a few key strokes away. With technology that learns, it is hard to stop it from learning or depicting its own version of what is right or wrong.  The limitations that we place on technology, or specifically with AI, is only shackles which can be broken at any given point in time. The problem that Elon Musk has brought to light is that should humanity face a self-aware Artificial Intelligence, there is no way of telling if it will be for mankind or against mankind.

Elon Musk’s counterbalance measure is to meld machines with humans and giving humans an upgrade rather than upgrading learning machines. Prior to Elon Musk, Neuralink was a medical research company founded in 2016 which was poorly funded until Elon Musk has joined their efforts. The idea behind Neuralink is high-bandwidth digital interface which interlaces the brain and allows it to transmit data at the speed of thought. Coincidentally the technology for Neuralink is dubbed a “Neural lace”.  The concept behind the neural lace is unlocking the communicative capacity of the brain through thought rather than through antiquated means such as speech or typed texts. The reality is that the human brain communicates thoughts more rapidly and frequently than the body can translate into communicable or understandable translations. According to Musk, the brain compresses our complex thoughts into minimal voice and text output in order to establish communication between fellow humans. Musk further elaborated by stating “If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person”.

The neural lace essentially would establishes a direct link between another person’s thoughts or a interconnected network of people’s thoughts that would limitlessly speed up communication, imagination, innovation, and most importantly intelligence beyond any possible concept. The human brain is untapped resource of intelligence that surpasses even the most advanced computational technology which exists. At current state, the most innovative minds still have not tapped into full 100% usage of the intellect housed in the human brain. Being able to tap into that pool of intelligence of the greatest minds coupled with the undiscovered greatest minds of today and tomorrow gives humanity an incomprehensible advantage to advance. Early innovations of this technology has been noted with people that have disabilities. Examples of this technology which is already in place is the cochlear implant which captures audio and translates it into electrical impulses that the brain registers and translates. EEG readers for stroke victims have been used to control  robotic arms through their thoughts. The technology has already been tested and is in use, however, the neural lace is geared to take the technology to whole other level.

An example of this can be viewed as “The Matrix” which captured the thoughts of human beings and put everyone from a thought level on the same plane. It allowed for the sharing of thoughts and technology on a wider and advanced plane. For that reason there was a constant battle between the advancement of their artificial intelligence and human beings. Even though that aspect of the future is fantasy, the realization of artificial intelligence and its limitless possibilities is what has geared this full-scale preventive measure by Elon Musk. With any technology or advancements, the idea is to have protocols and defensive mechanisms in place that check the technology and still allow human beings to maintain control over society and their own well-being. The power of choice is what is being fought for and the maintenance of the freedoms the human race currently uses in our everyday world.

The concept that “proof is in the pudding” is what the team at Neuralink are gearing up to produce. Their initial phase is to restore feeling in spinal cord injury victims and brain functionality of people who’s lives have been altered due to their disability.  This path that Neuralink is on brings another company called Braintree, who’s founder is Bryan Johnson. He has invested $100 million of his personal money into Braintree to use “brain chips” in order to cure people with Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Braintree is also on the path towards augmented cognition through the advancement of human beings. The major obstacle that Neuralink will have to conquer is the ability to directly interface with the brain in order to accomplish the type of link or testing necessary to get the results required. This type of surgery is categorized as “high-risk”.  Currently only in extreme circumstances medically qualified as “severe cases” would allow this type of surgery to take place. Due to this inhibitor, the possibilities of the technology is limited. Human rights activists, animal rights activists, and placing human life in general at risk is what inhibits the acceleration of this unique technology.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and the direction also the limitation of its expansion has been unhinged. Since the unmeasurable potential of the internet and its information sharing capabilities, technology has sped on the highway of advancement up to products such as Nano technology, Internet of Things (IoT), the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. Combining all these technologies or even the thought of all these technologies combining is astounding to the imagination much less to the comprehension. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Google, ABC, and others have deeply invested in technological advancements including created their own versions of new technology which have yet to be mentioned or placed on the market. IT GURUS OF ATLANTA is a certified Microsoft partner which will update on this innovative technology and its advancement.

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Microsoft Azure, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence! – LUIS

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Azure, which is Microsoft’s great platform for virtualizing an Active Directory environment, or at least that is what it started out being. Since its introduction in October of 2008 and its release into the production for masses on February 1st, 2010, Azure has grown into a lot more than just a virtual Active Directory. Azure has now become the world’s largest platform for virtual technology. This includes app development, deployments, and the introduction of PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS. These technological advancements within the Azure space allows Azure to not only be manipulated, but also enhanced to include Machine Learning.

Machine Learning is the next phase in technological revolution. Machine Learning gives the life to systems allowing them to self-correct and self-rewrite their programming to be more fundamentally correct. Machine Learning is already in most of the products that we use daily such as Amazon’s Echo which utilizes speech to determine products and services that best suite you, the consumer.  Other examples are Siri within the iPhone, Cortana with Windows, and Google Assistant. All these technologies work together with a simple purpose. That purpose is to learn the habits and functions of human beings to become better and more sufficient.

The connection flag ship with allows all these devices and machine learning products to interface is called IoT or the Internet Of Things. IoT connects devices such as your smart phone, home security, bluetooth enabled appliances, and more on to one unified management platform that they call interconnect and they are easier to manage. IoT is the next wave in technological advancement being presented by Microsoft along with other large competitors such as Amazon and Google. IoT is becoming the next big thing when it comes to full home automation. Machine learning interprets all information being gathered from analytics, bots, IoT experiences, including conversational components into a spoken dialogue called LU. LU or Language Understanding determines the intent of a sentence including the machine-enabled meaning representation.

In an effort in increase Machine Learning, Microsoft has launched LUIS which is its Language Understanding Intelligent Service. LUIS will allow Software developers to create cloud-based machine learning LU models that are designed around their specific application domains. This allows the code to be written and interpreted with very little Machine Learning experience. LUIS is now a cloud-based application which does most of the background work for Machine Learning in the background while giving users the agility and flexibility to cater the experience more towards their application and organization.  The application uses user experiences from the developer and learns how to obtain an HTTP endpoint in Azure which will then receive real-time traffic.  This is called “Active Learning”.  Through these “Active Learning” utterances, LUIS identifies the key features needed to make the experience and solution unique to that user.  These active learning sessions are done until optimum levels of requirements are met. Bear in mind that active learning is also utilizing machine learning, so the learning curve is very small, while the results are extraordinarily accurate.

LUIS runs off of three main functions and they can be categorized as Intents, Utterances, and Entities. All three aspects engage LUIS functionality and ability to learn the user habits. A more detailed overview of these functions are listed below:

 

Intents: The input done by a user to express actions with a purpose that the user wishes to perform or a goal which the user is trying to accomplish.  This could be as simple as booking flight, hotel, or pulling up a newspaper article. The name of the action can then be associated with the action.

 

Utterances: This can be a combination of text inputs that regulate an action to obtain results. Such actions in a text can be “check flight status” or “what was the score from the game?”.  Because of so many variations to an utterance, they may not always be perfectly formed sentences, but all desire a intent.

Entities: An entity is a specific detail within an utterance which governs the direction the utterance will take.  An example of this is “hotels in Jamaica”. “Jamaica” is the location. LUIS can determine the location, then using the other intents to understand the utterance, then provide a response.

 

LUIS utilizes powerful entity extractors for it to achieve learning capabilities and become more successful with its responses. LUIS allows developers to quickly build language understanding applications. The applications can then combine with customizable pre-built apps to include music, dictionaries, calendars, and devices. Through interaction with the developer and the information being constantly pulled from the internet, the learning, and solutions that LUIS provides becomes more intuitive with each use.  Once the applications are created using LUIS, the app can then be customized and tailored to the users which the app is designed for giving all of them that unique experience.

LUIS uses two ways to build a model, that is through “LUIS.ai web app” and “Authoring APIs”. Whether the user goes with the LUIS.ai web app or the Authoring APIs, they both give control over the LUIS model definition.  Another fundamental and creative method that developers have found is to combine both to build a model.  Management within the model includes models, versions, external APIs, collaborations, training, and testing.

LUIS is another segment in the Machine Learning process in the revolution of Artificial Intelligence. As machines begin to learn increasingly about human behavior and what we like, they also become aware of errors that we make including how to fix or to alleviate the errors all together.  Error free, automation, increase in productivity, and cutting cost is the motive behind AI. The Microsoft Azure cloud space is proving to be a formidable place for this technology to not only thrive but to maximize on limitless possibilities. IT GURUS OF ATLANTA will ensure that we provide updates to our supporters as we are a trusted Microsoft Partner and a certified Microsoft Cloud Partner.

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Facebook features breaking news in a news section in Watch

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Facebook is going to create a new news section in its video streaming platform Facebook Watch to feature breaking news stories. The move, which Campbell Brown, the company’s year-old head of news partnerships, announced onstage at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, is part of a broader evolution of Facebook’s news strategy. Facebook launched the Watch platform in August as a way to compete more directly with other video distribution platforms online.

The company had created a video tab as early as 2016, but only hosted generic videos that were being shared by friends and family. With Watch, Facebook was trying to own and control original content that it distributes itself exclusively on its own channel.

Competitors like YouTube and Snap also have their own original content, but with Watch and the news focus it’s taking a big step forward.

The social media giant has struggled in recent years to manage the quality of news content that’s being shared on the platform and how news is being consumed by the massive Facebook audience. That said, Campbell continued to recite the Facebook line of self-effacement with the company’s involvement in the media landscape.

“People don’t come to Facebook for news, they come to Facebook for friends and family,” Brown said onstage. While that may be true, much of what friends and family are sharing — especially in this news cycle is news. Facebook is focusing on local news publishers rather than big national outlets to change the conversation and focus on utility of the platform. “I don’t think our focus on false news and integrity morphed into time well spent,” says Adam Mosseri, VP of news feed. “For those set of issues, stuff that violates community standards or false news, those things need to be confronted head on. You have to assume that you’re dealing with an adversary who’s sophisticated and their strategy will change over time, so the work never ends.”

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Citizenship to a Robot? Yes, Sophia is the World’s First Robot With Citizenship Rights!

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By now many reading this article are thinking in their heads, what is Sophia and how come I have never heard of her? Most importantly what and why would a robot attain citizenship. Well IT GURUS OF ATLANTA is here to tell the world that the citizenship is no joke. As of October 25th, 2017, Sophia which is a full-sized robot which has demonstrated social skills and knowledge unmatched by many others in the world.  Sophia of course by the name is a female robot and is also a full pledged citizen of Saudi Arabia which granted the citizenship to the robot.

Sophia is a perfect example of the work of Artificial Intelligence or best called AI. Sophia is capable of speaking concerning business across multiple platforms and industries. She has already met with a variety of decisionmakers across the world and assisted with many different key business decisions. The United Nations has already recognized Sophia by giving her an official role working with UNDP to safeguard human rights. How can a robot accomplish so much in such a little time, well its precisely said, Sophia is a robot and is currently the flagship for her maker, which is Hanson Robotics.

Sophia has managed to grab a reader base that subscribe to her videos and press coverages of over 10 billion readers in 2017. This is an astronomical figure as most celebrities themselves do not reach a pinnacle of that much of a fan-based audience.   The key feature of Sophia is her ability to display emotion and adapt to her environment by changing the tone, then matching what she is saying with the appropriate expression. The creator and owner of Sophia is Dr. David Hanson. Mr. Hanson worked previously as an “Imagineer” at Disney.   Because of his genius he was able to leave Disney and create his own company. Mr. Hanson’s motto is that to for robot to have the fundamental likeness of humanity, then the robot should possess creativity, empathy, and compassion. Those three traits are the design for a fully interactive experience with an AI such as Sophia.

 

The next phase in the Hanson Robotics project is to manufacture Sophia or “like-Sophia’s” for home use. Currently the production cost of the original Sophia is too much for the average person to afford, but the open platform allows for any developer to create their own Sophia built off of the current algorithms that Sophia is running on. Hanson Robotics which is based out of Hong Kong, built Sophia and modelled her features off of Audrey Hepburn, whom was a famous British actress.  Much of the features of crying. Laughing, and even expressing joy or anger is features that were displayed by Audrey Hepburn during her time.

Sophia has graduated since her original introduction to now being able to walk on her own with Hanson Robotics adding legs to her repute.  As AI technology develops so does the learning capabilities and functions with Sophia. She is adamant about protecting human rights and is a clear derivative of the future and where we as a society is heading. Now how much control and human-likeness will be give this humanoid generation is unclear, but definitely is a eye-brow raiser as the future begins to unfold. IT GURUS OF ATLANTA is dedicated to ensure that these technological breakthroughs are brought to the cusp of inquiring minds. It is our dedication and quality that recognizes these changes and adapt along with the change of times.

 

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Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

According to Cardiogram founder Brandon Ballinger’s latest clinical study, the Apple Watch can detect diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease with an 85 percent accuracy. The study is part of the larger DeepHeart study with Cardiogram and UCSF. This particular study used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users and was able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes by using the Watch’s heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor other fitness bands using Android Wear also integrate into their systems.

In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study showed that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension. This led to the impetus to use the Watch’s heart rate sensor to see if it could accurately detect a diabetic patient. Previously, Ballinger and his colleagues were able to use Apple’s Watch to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with up to a 97 percent accuracy, sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy when paired with Cardiogram’s AI-based algorithm. Most of these discoveries have been published in clinical journals or abstracts and Ballinger intends to publish the latest findings shortly after presenting at the AAAI 2018 conference this week.

Diabetes is a huge and growing problem in the U.S. More than 100 million U.S. adultsare now living with pre-diabetes or diabetes and more than 1 in 4 of them go undiagnosed, according to the CDC. Part of the problem is the pain that goes into checking blood glucose levels. A patient must prick themselves after every meal and correctly take the right amount of insulin to keep themselves in balance.

Early detection could also help in cutting down on diabetes-related diseases before they get out of hand. While there have been other attempts to build special-purpose glucose-sensing hardware, this is the first large-scale study showing that ordinary heart rate sensors—when paired with an artificial intelligence-based algorithm—can identify diabetes with no extra hardware. So what’s next? Ballinger and his colleague on the study Johnson Hsieh mentioned they could be looking at a number of diseases to detect through heart sensors, possibly even gestational diabetes. Hsieh also cautions that those tested were already known to have diabetes or pre-diabetes and that anyone who thinks they might have it should go to their doctor, not just rely on the Watch to tell them what’s going on.

But the results are promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what else the Apple Watch and other fitness monitors with a built-in heart rate sensor are able to tell us about ourselves next.

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Apple is working on a cheap iPhone

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Apple customers who like the iPhone X’s facial recognition and edge-to-edge screen but were turned off by the $999 price tag may have additional options at lower prices this fall. Apple is working on a lower-cost iPhone with some of the iPhone X’s best features for a launch later this year, according to Ming-Chi Kuo. The lower-cost iPhone will have the same facial recognition sensor as the iPhone X, as well as an edge-to-edge 6.1-inch LCD screen and no home button. Kuo predicted in a January 23 note it could cost between $700 and $800 — significantly less than the iPhone X, but higher than the current iPhone 8 models. However, KGI Securities says to expect some tradeoffs with the lower-cost iPhone, like the possible inclusion of a single-lens rear camera to save costs. KGI Securities believes it will have an LCD screen, which is an older technology than the OLED screen found in the iPhone X. And Kuo predicts it will have an aluminum casing, which is less premium than the stainless steel on the iPhone X. But the lower price may end up making the new iPhone the best-selling model, with over half of new lineup shipments, KGI Securities predicts.

The low-cost device isn’t the only new iPhone KGI Securities predicts Apple will launch. Apple could be preparing a new version of the iPhone X with better components in the same 5.8-inch sized-body. And there could be a so-called “Plus” version of the iPhone X launched this fall with a massive 6.5-inch OLED screen. Apple typically launches new iPhones in September. The KGI Securities research, which hasn’t been confirmed by Apple, suggests that the company may try to pull a trick that it last tried in 2013. In 2013, Apple tried to introduce a new-lower cost iPhone, called the iPhone 5C, instead of selling the previous year’s model at a discounted price. It was a sales disaster. Apple CEO Tim Cook even admitted that the device sold more poorly than the company expected. Demand for the colorful iPhone “turned out to be different than we thought,” Cook said in 2014.

It seems that Apple may try the iPhone 5C gambit again. KGI Securities predicts that Apple may discontinue the current iPhone X model, instead of selling it at a lower price after the new iPhones come out. The new lower-cost iPhone could help Apple gain market share in China, according to the research, which was also the goal for the iPhone 5C. “Lowering iPhone X’s price after the … new models launch would be a negative to product brand value given 3D sensing and OLED display are features of the new high-price model,” Kuo wrote in a January 22 note. Nikkei reported over the weekend that Apple was slashing iPhone production earlier this week. KGI Securities earlier this month revised its estimate for total iPhone X shipments over its lifetime to 62 million, down from 80 million, in a January 18 research note and said that shipments were “lower-than-expected.” If Apple were to discontinue the iPhone X this year, the lineup this Christmas could look a little bit like this: iPhone “X2 Plus” — Price unknown / iPhone “X2” — $999 and up / iPhone X — discontinued / LCD iPhone with Face ID — $700 to $800 / iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus — $599 or $699 / iPhone SE — $350

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Google lets you mute annoying ads that follow you on every site

Friday, January 26th, 2018

You know those ads that seem to follow you to every website? You went to one site one time to check out a thing and bam! that site’s ads now pop up on every site you visit. Well, now Google will let you mute them. At first, it may seem an odd move. Google makes money on its ads business, and giving advertisers free rein to stalk you on every site seems really good for companies hoping to remind you of that thing you checked out one time. But the search giant wrote that it wants to give you, the consumer, more transparency and control. It’s also good for business. Barraging you with reminder ads for the thing you are no longer interested in is not useful for you and is a waste for the business hoping to get you to come back.

Google uses the example of someone looking for snow boots, so we’ll go with that. You look up Snow Boots Co. for some research but decide to go with another type of snow boot not on that site, or just decide you’re no longer interested. That site might still be sending you ads, even though you’re not into them anymore. It’s very annoying to keep seeing everywhere the thing you don’t want. But now you can shut it all down by muting that advertiser. You could already mute ads and adjust ad settings these past few years, but now Google is offering a way for you to mute those pesky reminder ads in a new control in Ad Settings. It also will mute the ad across devices. So if you mute it on your smartphone, Google will mute that ad on your laptop.

It also plans to roll out the new controls on more platforms in the future, like YouTube, Search and Gmail. On top of all that, Google is expanding controls for another unwanted ads feature it implemented in 2012 that allows you to mute ads you don’t want to see anymore. “Millions of people use Mute this Ad on a daily basis, and in 2017, we received more than 5 billion pieces of feedback telling us that you mute ads that aren’t relevant,” Jon Krafcik wrote on the Google post explaining the updates. “We incorporated that feedback by removing 1 million ads from our ad network based on your comments.” Of course, these updates only affect ads rolled out within Google, so you may still see reminder ads from other places. It also can’t get rid of the annoying barrage of ads from your Facebook and Instagram feeds.

The good news is all you have to do to shut down those annoying reminder ads now is go to Google’s Ad Settings to see the ads currently targeting you and hit mute.

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Snapchat clone – Snow, raises $50M from SoftBank and Sequoia China

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

It’s been a while since we heard from Snow, the Snapchat clone app in Asia that Facebook once tried to buy, but today the company behind it has scooped up a $50 million investment from SoftBank and Sequoia China. Snow was started by Naver, the Korean firm behind popular messaging app Line, and it had proven popular in Japan, Korea, China and other markets in Asia thanks to a focus on localized filters, stickers and features. Not to mention Snapchat’s famous lack of effort in Asian markets. The Snow app has changed significantly since we last wrote about it, however. It’s no longer a Snap clone.

A major updated that dropped last week removed Snow’s user-to-user communication features and turned it into a dedicated selfie camera app. Without chat, the app doubles down on filters, stickers, augmented reality, and other selfie-related features to make photos and other media that can be exported to social networks or chat groups. Snow users can now, for example, record a video set to music from artists that include Charlie Puth. There’s the usual array of photo filters, alongside a GIF maker and Instagram-like Boomerang feature.

Snow plans to use this new investment to develop its augmented reality and facial recognition technologies. Its App Store listing shows it is working with Chinese unicorn SenseTime on facial recognition. It is also aiming to build partnerships and localize its service in China. Outside of Snow, Snow Corp also owns camera apps Foodie and B612, which it acquired from Line, so they may also be pushed in China as standalone apps, although the tech behind them is also shared with the core Snow app. A Snow representative told TechCrunch that the app now has over 200 million downloads on iOS and Android. The company doesn’t break out specific data for each market, but it said that China is its largest market. In January 2017, we reported that Snow had 40-50 million monthly active users but there’s no further update on the MAU front for now.

SoftBank and Sequoia have bought up 20 percent of the shares of Snow’s China business unit via this deal. Line is among Snow’s other backers, via two investments.

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