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Our cast falls short on members but stays big on insight this week when Matt and Min join together to break down powerful information in the worlds of design and marketing. Together, they look at some more future trends, changes to Google search, and more!

  1. 2017’s Design Trends [1:45]
  2. YouTube in Google Search [10:20]
  3. Sourcing Your Content [12:05]

2017’s Design Trends

This week, Min revisits the 2017 trends to lay out some insight into the world of design, from an actual designer! Together, her and Matt look at popular trends from colors and layouts of websites, to navigation and user experience in just about everything!

  • “I’ve been seeing a lot of hype around conversational interfaces lately in the design world. People just want to feel like they’re really talking to someone.” -Min
  • “There’s also a big trend for websites to be smarter in predicting what their users want, think Amazon but in a lot of other websites.” -Min
  • “2017 is going to be a year of trying to make things easier for mobile users. Think UI and UX, little things like pulling the screen down to refresh it or simplified navigation” -Min
  • “Personally, I think virtual reality is going to have the biggest effect on design as a whole, it’s throwing so many designers for a loop.” -Min

YouTube in Google Search

Recently, someone discovered some changes to the mobile search results from Google that could have a huge impact on SEO in the future. To get a deeper look, Matt breaks down the changes and talks about what it could mean to the industry and businesses that want to utilize this powerful tool!

  • “As we all know, Google is the largest search engine but the second largest is actually YouTube.” -Matt
  • “A user found that when he searched certain things that videos from YouTube would be listed first and they would auto play like they do on Facebook.” -Matt
  • “By making videos auto-play without sound, it forces designers to edit text onto the videos that have dialogue or information share verbally.” -Matt

Sourcing Your Content

The number one question our host Matt gets asked when he’s talking with people about digital marketing is, where should you get your content from and how much of it should you curate? Matt takes some time to dive into just that, to answer all those questions so you don’t even need to ask!

  • “Personally, I like to adhere to a an 80/20 rule if you’re just starting out on social media. Post 80% of curated content and 20% of original content.” -Matt
  • “For small business who don’t have time to create lots of content, starting small is great until you’ve got a good que of built up material.” -Min
  • “It’s okay to update older content, just put in your sub header that you’ve updated it. Google likes it, your viewers like it, everyone likes it!” -Matt

 

 

Author: Matt Curtis
Source: http://www.business2community.com/podcasts/2017s-design-trends-youtube-google-search-sourcing-content-podcast-01758797#AwMw6U4Bjw36YX2F.97

 

 

In this century, there’s too much competitions among tech firms around the world. Tech-companies coming up with innovative ideas every single day, enhancing their product; smartphones, laptops, gaming console, and forth, to the fullest. This brings or accumulates the companies customer base, and having more customers is all what that matters.

Apple Inc. has proven to be the best tech-firm in the world, where the company this week celebrated the achievement of one of their biggest product in the history of smartphones, the birth of the iPhone. According to online reports, the iPhone contributes almost 60% of the company’s revenue since it’s birth in 2007.

The list below was generated from Forbes Lists, showing the ten most valuable technology brands in the world, and how worth the brand is.

1 Apple (Brand Value: $154.1 Billion)

Apple Inc. engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of mobile communication, media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. The firm offers products and services under the iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, Apple Watch, and Apple TV brands, whereas consumer and professional software applications under the iOS, OS, X, and watchOS brands; and operating systems under the iCloud and Apple Pay brands.

In other news, the Cupertino-based tech firm, Apple Inc. earlier this week celebrated the 10th anniversary to one of it’s outstanding innovative products; the iPhone. Read Full Story.

2 Google (Brand Value: $82.5 Billion)

Google Inc. primarily focuses on the areas which include search, advertising, operating systems, platforms, enterprise and hardware products. The search area consists of a vast index of websites and other online content which is made available through its search engine to anyone with an Internet connection.

In other news, Mountain View-based internet firm, late last year launched their ever first make smartphones, Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL during a press event on October 4th, 2016. Read Full Story.

3 Microsoft (Brand Value: $75.2 Billion)

Microsoft Corp. engages in the provision of developing and marketing software and hardware services. Its products include operating systems for computing devices, servers, and phones. It also offers server applications for distributed computing environments, productivity applications, business solution applications, desktop and server management tools, software development tools, video games, and online advertising.

In other news, the Redmond-based software firm, is building a new web-based privacy dashboard that will allow users users to see and control their data, including; location tracking, searching and browsing histories, and Cortana Notebook data accrued through every Windows device the user owns. Read Full Story.

4 Facebook (Brand Value: $52.6 Billion)

Facebook Inc. is a social networking company, which allows people to communicate with family, and friends globally. Its services include news feed, messages, mobile apps, and so forth. It’s other social products include; photo-sharing platform; Instagram, Messenger, messaging platform; Whatsapp, and Virtual Reality firm; Oculus VR.

In other news, Menlo Park-based social networking firm, last year announced it will introduce tools to prevent fake news stories from spreading on its platform, an about-face in response to rising criticism that it did not do enough to combat the problem during the U.S. presidential campaign. Read Full Story.

5 IBM (Brand Value: $41.4 Billion)

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) provides integrated solutions that leverage information technology and knowledge of business processes operating them through five segments: Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Software, Systems & Technology and Global Financing.

In other news, Armonk-based IT firm, last year acquired cloud consulting firm Bluewolf for $200 Million. However, the terms of the deal weren’t officially been disclosed but the price was reported to be $200 million. Read Fully Story.

6 Samsung (Brand Value: $36.1 Billion)

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. operates its business through; Consumer Electronics (such as – monitor, printer, air-conditioners, refrigerators, and washing machines), Information Technology & Mobile Communications, Semiconductors, Home appliances and Device Solutions.

In other news, the South Korean-based Electronics firm, at one of the biggest Tech-Events in the world; CES, launched two Chromebooks with stylus support built to support Android apps. Read Full Story.

7 Amazon (Brand Value: $35.2 Billion)

Amazon Inc. provides online retail shopping services to four primary customer sets; consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators. Other services they provide like any other online shopping market include; marketing and promotional services, such as online advertising. It serves consumers through its retail websites with a focus on selection, price, and convenience.

In other news, the Canadian online shopping market was threatened by India’s Foreign Minister – to deny Indian visas to Amazon employees if the company didn’t withdraw all products insulting the Indian national flag immediately from it’s website. Read Full story.

8 CISCO (Brand Value: $28.4 Billion)

Cisco Systems Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells Internet Protocol based networking products (such as; Switching, Routing, Data Center, Wireless, Security, to name a few) and services related to the communications and information technology industry.

9 Oracle (Brand Value: $28 Billion)

Oracle Corp. provides enterprise software and computer hardware products and services and is organized in; Hardware Systems, Enterprise software, and Cloud Computing.

10 Intel (Brand Value: $27.7 Billion)

Intel Corp. develops advanced integrated digital technology products, primarily integrated circuits, for industries such as computing and communications. Some of the products the company produces include; chip-sets, motherboards, microprocessors, and so forth.

Author : Nathan Ernest Olupot

Source : http://pctechmag.com/2017/01/the-worlds-ten-most-valuable-brands-in-technology/

Categorized in Internet Technology

Min is a Web browser with a minimal design that provides speedy operation with simple features.

When it comes to software design, "minimal" does not mean low functionality or undeveloped potential. If you like minimal distraction tools for your text editor and note-taking applications, that same comfort appeal is evident in the Min browser.

I mostly use Google Chrome, Chromium and Firefox on my desktops and laptop computers. I am well invested in their add-on functionality, so I can access all the specialty services that get me through my long sessions in researching and working online.

However, I sometimes prefer a fast, uncluttered alternative on-ramp to the Internet. With multiple projects in progress, I can amass a wide collection of open tabs or even separate windows of the powerhouse browsers in no time.

I have tried other browser options with little success. The alternatives usually have their own sets of distracting add-ons and features that tend to pull me into more off-task behavior.

The Min browser does not do that. It is a GitHub-sourced Web browser that is easy to use, and it keeps the typical interruptions from distracting me.

Min browser

The Min browser is minimal-design Web browser that provides speedy operation with simple features. Just don't expect to take its tour any time soon.

What It Does

The Min browser comes in versions for Debian Linux variants, Windows and Mac machines. It can not compete with the functionality available in the mainstream cross-platform Web browsers.

It does not have to compete, though. Its claim to fame very well might be supplementing rather than replacing them.

One big reason for this is its built-in ad blocking capability. Out of the box, the Min browser needs no configuration or hunting for compatible third-party apps to do end-runs around ads.

In Edit/Preferences, you have three options to click/unclick for content blocking. It's easy to modify blocking tactics to suit your preferences. The Block Trackers and Ads option uses EasyList and EasyPrivacy. If nothing else, keep this option checked.

You also can block scripts and block images. Doing both maximizes the website loading speeds and really ramps up your protection against rogue code attacks.

Have Search Your Way

If you spend considerable time doing online research, you will adore the way Min handles searching. It is a top-notch feature.

Search functionality is accessible right in the browser's URL bar. Min utilizes search engine DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia entries. You can enter search queries directly into the Web address field.

This approach saves time since you do not have to go to the search engine window first. A nice bonus is the ability to search your bookmarks.

In the Edit/Preferences menu, choose your choice for default search engine. The list includes DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Wikipedia and Yandex.

Try making DuckDuckGo your default search engine.

Min is built around that option but does not impose it on you.

Min browser search function

Min browser's search functionality is part of the URL bar. Min utilizes search engine DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia entries. You can enter search queries directly into the Web address window.

The search bar displays answers to your questions very rapidly. It uses information from DuckDuckGo including Wikipedia entries, a calculator and more.

It offers quick snippets, answers and Web suggestions. It sort of substitutes for not being in a Google-based environment.

Navigating Aids

Min lets you jump to any site quickly with fuzzy search. It throws suggestions at you almost immediately.

I like the way the tabs open next to the current tab. You do not have to set this preference. It is there by default with no other choice, but it makes sense.

Min browser Tasks

One of Min's really cool operations is the ability to organize tabs into Tasks that you can search anytime. (click image to enlarge)

Tabs you have not clicked on for a while dim. This lets you concentrate on your current task without distractions.

Min does not need an add-on tool to keep numerous tabs under control. The browser displays a list of tags and lets you split them into groups.

Stay Focused

Min has an optional Focus Mode hidden in the View menu. When enabled, it hides all tabs except the one you have opened. You must return to the menu to turn off Focus Mode before you can open new tabs.

The Tasks feature also helps you stay focused. You can create tasks from the File menu or with Control+Shift+N. If you want to open a new tab, you can select that option in the Files menu or use Control+T.

Call the new task whatever fits your style. I like being able to organize and display as a group all the tabs associated with a work project or a specific portion of my research. I can recall the entire list at any time to easily and quickly find where I was in my browsing adventure.

Another neat feature is found under the paragraph alignment icon in the tab area. Click it to enable Reading Mode. This mode saves the article for future reference and strips away everything on the page so you can focus on the task of reading.

Not Perfect

The Min browser is not a perfect alternative to high-powered, feature-bloated alternatives. It does have a few glaring weaknesses that developers have taken too long to rectify.

For instance, It lacks a solid developer website stocked with support forums and detailed user guides. That may be partly due to its home being GitHub rather than an independent developer website. Still, it's a weakness that is glaring to new users.

Without website support, users are forced to struggle with lists of readme files and hard-to-follow directories on GitHub. You can access them from the Min browser Help menu -- but that's not much help.

A case in point is the Welcome to Min splash screen that loads from the menu when you launch the browser. It displays two buttons. One says "Start Browsing." The other says "Take a Tour." Neither one works.

However, you can start browsing by clicking on the menu bar at the top of the Min window. There is no workaround for the missing tour, though.

Bottom Line

Min is not a full-featured Web browser with bells and whistles galore. It is not designed for add-ons and many other features you typically use in well-established Web browsers. However, Min serves an important niche purpose by offering speed and distraction-free browsing.

The more I use the Min browser, the more productive it is for me -- but be wary when you first start to use it.

Min is not complicated or confusing -- it is just quirky. You have to play around with it to discover how it works.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I'll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Author: Jack M. Germain
Source: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/84212.html

Categorized in Internet Technology

Google tweaked Android last year to make the open source operating system attractive to automakers that want a customized, turn-key infotainment system. An Android in-car infotainment system was viewed, at the time, as just a concept.

Now it appears that at least one automaker is interested.

Google (GOOG, -1.40%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU, +0.66%) announced Tuesday they will show off a Chrysler 300 sedan that uses the Android open source platform at CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. The collaboration aims to show off how an Android operating system might look and work in a vehicle—even if the automaker has its own infotainment system.

Android is integrated with FCA's infotainment system called UConnect. This means Android's universe of applications—including Google Assisant and Google Maps as well as Spotify and Pandora, should work seamlessly with UConnect.

"With Android, we are able to maintain our unique and intuitive Uconnect user interface, all while integrating our easy-to-use systems with Android's features and ecosystem of applications," said Chris Barman, head of electrical engineering at FCA.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Google has been pushing deeper into automotive sector in the past 18 months, with the introduction of Android Auto and 7.0 Nougat, the newest version of Android that was released in 2016.

Android Auto and Android are different.

Android Auto is an in-car software platform that brings the functionality and feel of a smartphone to the vehicle’s central screen. Android Auto is in cars, but it’s not an operating system; it’s the HMI layer—or a secondary interface—that sits on top of the operating system.

Meanwhile, Android is a mobile operating system that runs on Linux and is designed for smartphones and tablets. The new version of Android called 7.0 Nougat was updated to be dashboard-friendly, meaning it makes it easy for automakers to use it to create an infotainment platform for their cars.

This new generation of Android is meant to allow automakers to more easily use the open source operating system to create a customized, turn-key infotainment system that controls HVAC, navigation, AM/FM, media streaming, Bluetooth calling and media streaming, multi-channel audio, and digital instrument clusters.

Patrick Brady, director of Android Engineering at Google, told Fortune last year that while Android Auto has a lot of advantages, it is limited because it's just the HMI layer.

"Our goal is to create this seamless experience where you have connected services in the car," Brady said in an interview in May 2016. " We think ultimately you need to have a single software experience across the board, and that building Android into the car is a pretty great way to do that."

Auhtor : Kirsten Korosec

Source : http://fortune.com/2017/01/02/google-fiat-chrysler-android/

Categorized in Internet Technology

 

Slower than expected sales may have Apple reducing iPhone production.

Traditionally, new iPhones sell pretty well in their first few months -- often outperforming the previous model's sales during the same quarter. That might not be the case with Apple's latest handset: according to Nikkei, sluggish sales are forcing the company to cut back production of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices. Based on data received from suppliers, Nikkei expects Apple to slow stock production by about 10 percent.

Apple saw an early sign of this reported slowdown in March, when its Q2 earnings showed that while iPhone 6S upgrades were outpacing the previous year, they still weren't up to snuff with sales from users who upgraded to the iPhone 6 is 2014. It's too early to say if the iPhone 7's slower sales are enough to make it the company's first device not to outsell the previous model, but we'll know soon enough: Apple's next quarterly earnings are set to drop sometime at the end of next month.

Author: Sean Buckley
Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/the-iphone-7-may-not-be-selling-as-well-as-apple-hoped

Categorized in Internet Technology

To me, deciding on my 'Smartphone of the Year' is a curious challenge. The choice can't simply be 'the best phone' because everyone has a slightly different criteria for what makes the best phone. If I were to think about it empirically and go for the phone that fits the majority of people's criteria I wouldn't have the best phone, I would have 'the average phone of the year' that upsets the least number of people.

For a smartphone to pick up my personal award it needs to say something about itself, about the manufacturer behind it, and it needs to reflect the smartphone industry over the last twelve months.

So, with just a little bit of scene-setting and discussion about the phones I'm placing in third and second place, let's find out my smartphone of 2016.

Third Place: Jolla C, by Jolla

I've known that the Jolla C would be in the running for a long time for the award, because for the middle six months of the year it was the perfect use of 'proof by negation' of what the smartphone industry required from a smartphone in 2016.

The Jolla C hardware might look a touch underpowered, although it has been built to a very low price of around 170 Euros. With a SnapDragon 212 System on chip, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 2500 mAh battery, the real strength is in the software. It runs a 'clean' version of Sailfish OS which flies even on these apparently low specifications.

Around one thousand handsets were released (as 'developer editions') and offered over the summer months - a short run that was almost instantly snapped up by the faithful. It made some waves online, but no more. Here was a small company, making the hardware, putting on the software, and distributing the machine. Sailfish OS is compact, designed for a 'buttonless' smartphone relying solely on touchscreen input, with genuine multitasking on top of a robust Linux-based OS. It's robustness was proved on this low-priced Nexus-like device.

Author: Ewan Spence
Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2016/12/31/iphone-7-plus-galaxy-s7-edge-jolla-smartphone-of-the-year/#182255f6d1ff

Categorized in Internet Technology

2016 has seen many significant strides in technology and some major setbacks. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle showed us the grim consequences tech failures can lead to. The rise of Donald Trump to soon-to-be president of United States raised eyebrows of the tech-elite who opposed him. The fake news issue created a stir all over and online polls have made us revisit the fundamental ethics of journalism. Virtual reality has got to go mainstream with an all-new start. 
Tech giants such as Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon continued the winning streak of being the most powerful companies in the world. All this happened under the sharp scrutiny of government. 
Amid the apprehensions of fake news and social network’s influence over politics, Mark Zuckerberg finally conceded Facebook is a new age media company , after being known for long to be straddling between media and tech company. 
Amazon’s no-checkout store was a breakthrough which drew focus back to automation and how it kills jobs. 
Google had another eventful year in terms of profit and revenue. The company for the first time launched a smartphone much to the surprise of iPhone users at a time when Apple started losing its sheen. The search giant however, faced severalantitrust charges by European regulators on its increasing sway in search results and its influence over Android handset makers to carry Google’s search as default. 
Uber, Airbnb didn’t go public, Snapchat did. The innovation king Apple was finally out of ideas which saw its first decline in annual revenue since 2001. This happened despite the evident success of the Apple Watch . 


China is moving beyond creating things for others to making brands for its own. The smartphone companies from the next innovation powerhouse have started gaining spotlights with quite a few of them already proved incredibly promising. 

The gadget story of 2016
The South Korean electronics giant Samsung faced the biggest consumer safety catastrophe in history. With the next big launch set to happen in next few months, the company is making sure things are on track before it goes off the ground withGalaxy S8 . Apple went on to ditch the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack on the latest iPhone. 

Virtual reality, the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Amazon Go were amongst the highlights of 2016.
Virtual reality, the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Amazon Go were amongst the highlights of 2016.

Fitbit acquired select assets of Pebble creating trouble for the two million Pebble watch owners out there. Touted as the most innovative company, Snapchat went on to become a hardware company this year. Rebranded as Snap, the company released its new Spectacles sunglasses, which let you take 10-second snippets of video and upload them to Snapchat. 


After years of public hype, virtual reality finally made a serious comeback with VRheadsets from Facebook, Sony, Google and more hitting the market. 
The India story
Prime Minister Modi had scrapped 500 and 1000 rupee notes overnight to draw flak from millions of people forced to queue up in banks and ATMs. In the attempt to curb the black money menace, the proposed move has resulted in a massive mess India has ever seen. 

This came as a big opportunity for digital wallet service companies like Paytm, which has witnessed 1000% growth in money and 435% growth in traffic postdemonetization . 

Net banking and POS machine sales have experienced a never before surge amid the escalating apprehension. 

Reliance shocked the world with the rollout of its Jio 4G LTE networks. The company managed to cross 50 million subscribers in 83 days and is expected to reach 100 million mark in over six months, according to Fitch Ratings. 

The biggest bet of Mukesh Ambani, Jio has grown faster than global tech giants like Facebook or WhatsApp. In fact, Jio has literally shaken the telecom industry with its unmatched voice and data services. 

India continues to be a hotspot for tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Year 2016 has seen rollout of several new India-first initiatives. Google Station , launched a year ago to offer free Wi-Fi to the busiest rail stations, has helped connect over 10 million people across 100 stations every day. The railways minister Suresh Prabhu wants to extend free Wi-Fi to another 200 stations by 2017. 



Facebook has failed with its free basic internet plan. But Zuckerberg’s optimism for markets like India continues unabated. 

We, at TechRadar India, made an attempt to look back at some of the best products and technologies of 2016 as we move forward to 2017.

Author : Mastufa Ahmed

Source : http://www.in.techradar.com/news/computing/how-has-technology-changed-in-2016/articleshow/56216701.cms

Categorized in Internet Technology

Apple is planning to release a new 5-inch iPhone with dual cameras in a vertical orientation next year, according to a Macotakara report. Additionally, the company allegedly plans to release new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 7s models.

The basic specification is the same with the iPhone 7s・iPhone 7s Plus, and the iSight Duo cameras are installed vertically instead of horizontally, and various specifications are still under consideration. Furthermore, the officials are saying that the final specifications will be finalized at the second quarter of Apple's 2017 fiscal year.

We've been hearing reports for some time that the 10th anniversary iPhone will be a major update. It will purportedly have a front glass cover and chassis, joined by a metal bezel and an edge-to-edge display that has no bezels on the top and bottom. Additionally, the front camera, Touch ID, speaker, and other sensors will apparently be embedded into the display. Another report claims that the device would be a clear piece of glass with a next-generation OLED screen. More recently, Apple is said to have be equipping the phone with wireless charging and a 3D camera.

 

Author: iClarified
Source: http://www.iclarified.com/58464/apple-to-release-new-5inch-iphone-with-dual-vertical-cameras

Categorized in Internet Technology

Those innocent-looking apps in your smartphone can secretly spy on your communications or could allow hackers to do so.

Hard to believe, but it's true.

Recently, Trustwave's SpiderLabs analysts discovered a hidden backdoor in Skype for Apple's macOS and Mac OS X operating systems that could be used to spy on users' communications without their knowledge.

The backdoor actually resides in the desktop Application Programming Interface (API) that allows third-party plugins and apps to communicate with Microsoft-owned Skype — the popular video chat and messaging service.

Appeared to have been around since at least 2010, the backdoor could allow any malicious third-party app to bypass authentication procedure and provide nearly complete access to Skype on Mac OS X.

How an Attacker can Take Complete Control of Your Skype

attacker

The malicious app could bypass authentication process if they "identified themselves as the program responsible for interfacing with the Desktop API on behalf of the Skype Dashboard widget program."

Accessing this backdoor is incredibly easy. All hackers need to do is change a text string in apps to this value → "Skype Dashbd Wdgt Plugin," and the desktop API would provide access to sensitive features of Skype.

An attacker or any malicious program abusing this hidden backdoor could perform the following actions:

  • Read notifications of incoming messages (and their contents)
  • Intercept, read and modify messages
  • Log and record Skype call audio
  • Create chat sessions
  • Retrieve user contact information

The researchers have also provided proof-of-concept Objective-C code that initiates the connection process without asking the user for permission for the process to attach to Skype:

The backdoor believes to have been created by a developer at Skype before Microsoft acquired the company and likely exposed more than 30 Million Mac OS X users.

Update Your Skype Installation Now!

Trustwave notified Microsoft of the vulnerability in October, and the company has patched the issue in Skype 7.37 and later versions.

Here's what a Microsoft spokesperson said about the backdoor:

"We do not build backdoors into our products, but we do continuously improve the product experience [and] product security and encourage customers to always upgrade to the latest version."

Trustwave also speculated that the backdoor believed to have been accidently left in Skype "during the process of implementing the dashboard plugin," as the Skype dashboard widget does not appear to utilize it.

All versions of Skype for Mac OS and Mac OS X, including 7.35 version, are vulnerable. So users are strongly recommended to update their Skype installation as soon as possible.

 

Author: Swati Khandelwal
Source: http://thehackernews.com/2016/12/hacking-skype.html

Categorized in Internet Technology

Large platform companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft want to provide the operating system for our lives, and they will fight hard in 2017 to establish their foothold in the emerging technologies we will likely come to rely on in the future.

Who will succeed? Those with the most complete product offerings have an advantage. Since people like to buy products that play well with the other products they already own, a platform company risks losing customers by not having a product in a hot category. These large companies already have an advantage over smaller companies due to their massive R&D budgets and their ability to hire the best people to build the stuff we want now and to anticipate the technology we’ll want in the future. And if a hot product is developed by some ambitious startup, these giants can easily swoop in and acquire both the product and the people who created it.

These categories, while not new, will be the front lines of the platform wars in 2017.

SMART BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

Amazon brilliantly hit upon a whole new product category with its Echo home personal assistant device. While other platform companies like Google and Apple were limiting their respective personal assistants to smartphones, Amazon saw that people wanted a personal assistant that stood on the countertop, could hear and understand voices in the room very well, and contained a speaker that actually sounded good.

Google has since created a competing device called Google Home, and there is plenty of speculation that Apple and Microsoft have something in the works as well. Amazon wisely opened up its personal assistant (called Alexa) to third-party developers, and thousands of them are now creating new "skills" for the home assistant. This trend will continue to escalate throughout 2017, and we will soon begin to see a new wave of skills that are more useful and easier to call up at your command.

As more personal assistant devices find their way into homes in 2017, the platform companies that sell them will increasingly compete to get developers to create better and better skills for the devices. And the platform companies themselves will try to integrate more of their own services through the devices. For instance, Amazon might offer more useful shopping services through the Echo, while Google will try to offer new search and productivity services.

VIRTUAL PERSONAL ASSISTANTS

Home assistant devices are just one vehicle for the natural language assistants of the platform companies. Assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa will begin showing up in new places, and in more useful ways, in the coming year. (Samsung has something called S Voice, but it this year acquired the company that developed Siri, so we may be seeing a new assistant technology from the company in the next year).

The platform companies are already investing heavily in the research and development that will make these assistants better listeners and more suited to completing tasks. Natural language assistants must understand our words, but also the meaning and intent behind them. That first part is easier than the second: Microsoft said in October that its Cortana assistant can now understand language roughly as well as a human transcriptionist.

The problem of teaching assistants to learn more about the user (identity, preferences, habits) is harder, but assistants will show improvement in this area in the coming year. Some will begin learning about the emotion expressed in the user’s comments and commands, which is harder still. They'll begin to display what seems like "common sense," which will enable them to communicate and interpret commands and requests in a more natural (and accurate) way.

And assistants will become more knowledgable about more things. They’ll be harder to stump when asking random questions that you might normally use a search engine to answer. They’ll say "I can’t help you with that" less often.

But assistants are in general not ready to learn in an open-ended, autonomous way; rather, they're being taught to learn in a highly structured way within well-defined contexts. An assistant, for example, may be tasked with learning what it can about a user’s habits based on calendar usage.

Assistants are a prime example of a product that is increasingly linked to other products and services offered by the platform. They’re increasingly the thing we’ll use to call up all kinds of data and services, and they’ll show up in more and more contexts. If a consumer sees one assistant as clearly better than others, they might be very tempted to adopt the services the assistant is able to call up.

CAR BRAINS

Automakers have been building platform companies’ infotainment systems into new models for some time, but the integration will soon go much deeper, and it will heat up the competition once again.

Google and Apple each have a platforms (Android Auto and CarPlay, respectively) for extending the set of apps and services (messaging, music, navigation, phone calls, etc.) in Android and iOS to the car. They’re generally regarded as superior to the stock infotainment systems in cars.

But now the platform war for the car extends way beyond the dashboard. Google, for example (and very likely Apple, too) has built a software central nervous system for the car, an operating system that will control the semi-autonomous or autonomous operation of the vehicle. Google may have first intended to sell an autonomous vehicle, but the company refocused efforts on creating the software brains for the vehicles, which could be used in the vehicles of more traditional car companies. Apple has very likely taken the same path.

Google recently formed a new company called Waymo under the Alphabet parent company to market its auto software. Fiat Chrysler will be the first partner to use the system in its vehicles; it said in may it will first use it in 100 of its minivans.

Apple has never formally announced its "Project Titan," but Uber, Tesla, and various automakers are furiously developing self-driving systems. And other platform players like Samsung may eventually jump into the fray.

Microsoft HoloLens

VR/AR HEADSETS

Virtual reality and augmented reality products and experiences are new to many consumers, and it’s yet to be seen how popular the technology will be.

Virtual reality, at least in the consumer space, may be the more mature technology. VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive cover close out the outside world and create a 360-degree 3D world for the user. Companies like Facebook’s Oculus, Google, and HTC are already well down the road with the development of VR headsets and will continue to refine the technology during 2017. A growing number of phone makers are readying their devices to power the VR experiences in headsets based in Google’s new Daydream platform.

Apple has so far stayed out of the virtual reality space. This may be because the company is more interested in augmented reality, as CEO Tim Cook has suggested in his comments. Augmented reality superimposes digital data and images over the real world as seen through the camera lens on a mobile device or headset.

Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset has been available to developers (and, technically, anyone else) for some time now, but augmented reality arguably had its coming out in 2016 with the Pokemon Go phenomenon in July. But that app requires viewing the overlaid content on the screen of a mobile device, which can be a clunky experience. The same type of experience is being used by toy makers to overlay digital imagery over dolls and action figures to make the play more interesting and to sell add-on products (accessories, media, etc.).

Perhaps the biggest name in the consumer AR space is Florida-based Magic Leap, which says it has a new kind of headset lens to create sharper digital imagery. The company’s investors have put more than a billion dollars behind the product, but a 2017 release looks less and less likely. Two sources in the AR space have told me that if Apple releases some kind of AR product, it won’t be until 2018. So 2017 may be more of a warmup year for AR. If the technology captures the imaginations of consumers, the platform war may ensue in 2018 and 2019.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND NATURAL LANGUAGE

I saved this one for last because AI is now finding its way into many of the products and services sold by the platforms. Personal assistants (like Siri or Alexa) may be the first context in which many people encounter a conversational AI, but the technology will begin showing up in lots of different contexts across the platform in the coming years.

Google and Apple already use AI in photo apps to automatically identify and tag images. Apple uses the same technology in the iPhone camera to recognize objects in the frame, and make adjustments accordingly. Microsoft, Google, and Apple are using AI in bots that can act as customer service reps on behalf of businesses.

Eventually, more advanced versions of the neural networks we see today will be used as the means of processing virtually all kinds of complex data. Where today’s AI needs lots of human training, the technology will become increasingly able to learn on its own. We’ll eventually stop thinking about computers as input/output if-this-then-that machines, and more like huge systems arranged like the neurons in the human brain. They'll process data more like the brain does.

We’re also in the early stages of a shift toward voice interactions with computers and applications. In the next year we may see some leaps forward in the machines’ ability not only to understand our words but also understand the real intent behind the words. We'll increasingly be able to speak commands to the devices in our lives. We'll tap screens less.

The good news in all this is that as these big, well-monied companies battle it out, specific products naturally get better, and whole platforms get more complete. Today, no one company can provide everything we need throughout the day. This may become less true as the major platforms increasingly extend new products and services into our work, home, entertainment, and personal lives.

Author:  MARK SULLIVAN

Source:  https://www.fastcompany.com/3066746/tech-forecast/these-are-the-five-key-battlegrounds-for-the-big-tech-platforms-in-2017

Categorized in Internet Technology

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