Monday, August 29, 2016

VMware New Cloud Plan: Sell Stuff for Rival Clouds - Bloomberg

In other "hyper-converged infrastructure" news, see Nutanix Snarfs Up Two Companies To Bolster Data Center Hardware Story (Fortune)

"On Monday, the company will announce Cloud Foundation, which combines software for storage, networking and virtualization into one package, as well as the ability to use that product as a service hosted in IBM's cloud.  The company will also preview new Cross-Cloud subscription services that let customers manage and protect applications hosted in clouds from International Business Machines Corp., as well as market leader Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. 
VMware is shifting its cloud strategy after little traction and executive departures. It is focusing more on selling products that work with existing leaders, rather than trying to establish itself as an alternative to the Amazons of the world. As more companies run applications on rented servers over the internet, rather than their own data centers, providing services that link the different technologies customers use is a growing opportunity for VMware."
VMware New Cloud Plan: Sell Stuff for Rival Clouds - Bloomberg

Twitch Could Be a $20 Billion Dollar Company Inside Amazon – Backchannel

Check the full post for a game streaming market snapshot

"Since the 2014 acquisition, Twitch has come close to doubling its monthly visitors and has greatly expanded its base of streamers. It currently has more than 100 million visitors watching more than 1.7 million streamers each month.
Twitch’s live streams still have a much smaller viewership than YouTube’s videos, according to Newzoo. But Twitch’s viewers stick around longer — seven hours per month on average versus less than five for YouTube — and they are more active, posting chat messages and questions for their favorite streamers, buying animated “cheer” emotes to display in Twitch chat, and even donating money to Twitch personalities as a way to thank them during their live streams."
Twitch Could Be a $20 Billion Dollar Company Inside Amazon – Backchannel

Friday, August 26, 2016

Here’s one place in the world you can already hail a driverless taxi - The Washington Post

A major mobility milestone; also see The world’s first network of fully self-driving taxis is up and running (Recode)
"Although Uber may soon be the first company to launch a self-driving car service in the United States, it won't be the first in the world. That honor went Thursday to nuTonomy, a Massachusetts-based company that has now officially rolled out what many analysts say will transform the future of transportation and the economy.

NuTonomy's six self-driving cars are being tested in Singapore's one-north business district, a roughly 500-acre hub the city-state built for science and technology companies. Using nuTonomy's app, members of the public will be able to request a free ride in a specially modified electric vehicle manufactured by Renault or Mitsubishi."
Here’s one place in the world you can already hail a driverless taxi - The Washington Post

Facebook Takes First Step Toward Making Money From WhatsApp Deal - Bloomberg

See Looking ahead for WhatsApp (WhatsApp blog) for the big-picture perspective; also see You can stop WhatsApp from sharing your phone number with Facebook (The Verge)
"WhatsApp announced the change to its terms of service policy today. It allows businesses to communicate with users, including appointment reminders, delivery and shipping notifications and marketing pitches. In a corresponding blog post, WhatsApp said it will be testing the features over the coming months.
The policy shift may help WhatsApp generate revenue, but also could irk users drawn to its strong stance on privacy. After it agreed to be purchased by Facebook in 2014, co-founder Jan Koum pledged the deal wouldn’t change how the company handles user data. Now WhatsApp says it will begin sharing more information about its customers with the "Facebook family." The data, including a person’s phone number, could be used to better target ads when browsing Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp said."
Facebook Takes First Step Toward Making Money From WhatsApp Deal - Bloomberg

Apple Weighs iPhone Video Editing App in Renewed Push on Social - Bloomberg

An increasingly social Apple

"The growth of Apple’s hardware business is slowing and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is looking to the company’s services business, such as the App Store and iCloud storage, as a way to generate increased revenue. Apple has failed to successfully launch social-media services in the past, including an iTunes-focused social network called Ping in 2010. Now as Snapchat and Facebook’s Instagram and Messenger apps grow atop Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, Apple is seeking to create its own features to remain relevant, particularly for younger users.
Social media’s importance can be seen in the amount of time people spend with the apps. For example, Facebook’s mobile users are on its News Feed, Instagram and Messenger an average of 50 minutes a day, while Snapchat’s 150 million daily active users spend an average of 30 minutes per day with the photo- and video-sharing app. Of the top 10 free third-party iPhone apps in the App Store, Facebook owns three, while Snapchat owns two."
Apple Weighs iPhone Video Editing App in Renewed Push on Social - Bloomberg

IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are Found - The New York Times

Thanks to Citizen Lab and Lookout; also see This malware sold to governments could help them spy on iPhones, researchers say (The Washington Post)
"Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target’s mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group’s software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user.

In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update."
IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are Found - The New York Times

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Future iPhones might collect fingerprints, photos of thieves (AppleInsider)

Check the full post for flowcharts and other details

"As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's invention covering "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification" details the simple but brilliant — and legally fuzzy — idea of using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief.

In practice, the proactive security system works in much the same way as existing Touch ID verification processes."
Future iPhones might collect fingerprints, photos of thieves

Is China's Super-Bus a Scam? - Bloomberg View

Investors taken for a ride on the Transit Elevated Bus

"The bus bust has thus become a symbol of a different -- and far more damaging -- kind of Chinese ingenuity. The TEB's promoters promised investors 12 percent returns on their money, despite the fact that the prototype bus seemed likely to tip over, couldn't clear most urban bridges and wasn't tall enough to accommodate most vehicles underneath it. They could get away with it in part because those kinds of numbers are par for the course in China's P2P lending industry, which averaged returns of 13.3 percent in 2015.

Demand for such loans has exploded in recent years, growing in volume from $4.3 billion in 2013 to $71 billion in 2015. The appeal is twofold. First, China's big state-owned banks have traditionally focused their attention on other companies in the state sector, at the expense of consumers and small businesses. A budding entrepreneur, or a young couple looking to pay for a wedding, often had to rely on the goodwill and deeper pockets of friends and family, loan sharks and, more recently, unregulated "shadow" lenders that specialized in expensive, short-term loans."
Is China's Super-Bus a Scam? - Bloomberg View

Rights and the Evolution of Music Streaming | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

On a related note, see Amazon’s rumored cheaper music service illustrates its smart-home ambitions (The Washington Post)

"One interesting thing about this market is there are two major sets of players – those who make their money solely from these music services and those who make the vast majority of their money elsewhere. Spotify and Pandora can’t afford to keep losing money in this business because it’s the only business they have. Amazon, Apple, Google, and others, however, can afford to subsidize these offerings or run them at low margins because they feed the other parts of their businesses and generate additional revenues indirectly. Apple may be in the strongest position of all here because it has a user base willing to pay for content and they can afford to run the music business at a relatively low margin, while Amazon’s customer base is highly driven by saving money and Google’s true customer base is its advertisers, not its users. Much has been made of Spotify’s lead over Apple in on-demand streaming, but Apple offers the flavor of streaming the labels like and has already signed up half as many paid subs as Spotify. That’s the key number to watch – the labels have a stake in Spotify but would arguably benefit much more in the long-term from an industry that takes a dramatic turn toward paid streaming, a goal which Apple seems a lot more likely to help them achieve."
Rights and the Evolution of Music Streaming | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

An Exclusive Look at How AI and Machine Learning Work at Apple – Backchannel

From an extensive Apple + AI reality check by Steven Levy

"This story of Siri’s transformation, revealed for the first time here, might raise an eyebrow in much of the artificial intelligence world. Not that neural nets improved the system — of course they would do that — but that Apple was so quietly adept at doing it. Until recently, when Apple’s hiring in the AI field has stepped up and the company has made a few high-profile acquisitions, observers have viewed Apple as a laggard in what is shaping up as the most heated competition in the industry: the race to best use those powerful AI tools. Because Apple has always been so tight-lipped about what goes on behind badged doors, the AI cognoscenti didn’t know what Apple was up to in machine learning. “It’s not part of the community,” says Jerry Kaplan, who teaches a course at Stanford on the history of artificial intelligence. “Apple is the NSA of AI.” But AI’s Brahmins figured that if Apple’s efforts were as significant as Google’s or Facebook’s, they would have heard that."
An Exclusive Look at How AI and Machine Learning Work at Apple – Backchannel

Uber offers drivers free retirement planning before robots eventually take their jobs | The Verge

Perhaps Uber drivers should max-out their IRA plans for the first few years...
"Uber is touting the new services as part of its ongoing effort to help its drivers save money and plan for the future. Meanwhile in the background, the company is waging a costly fight to keep drivers classified as independent contractors, arguing that it is a technology platform that connects drivers to riders, not an employer in the traditional sense. The class action lawsuit challenging that classification appeared headed toward a $100 million settlement, until last week when a judge rejected it as unfair and inadequate.
Uber’s efforts to speed up the adoption of self-driving technology throws another wrench in drivers’ long-term prospects. Previously, CEO Travis Kalanick had said the transition between human drivers and robotic ones would be a multi-decade process. But earlier this month, the company said around 100 self-driven Volvos (which for now would include a trained driver and engineer to monitor the process) would be picking up passengers in Pittsburgh within the next few weeks."
Uber offers drivers free retirement planning before robots eventually take their jobs | The Verge

This Day in History: August 25, 1996: Netscape Creates Navio to Compete with Microsoft

Proto-Chrome OS, twenty years ago, when IE still mattered...

"Netscape Communications Corp. announced it had created a software company to enter an alliance with IBM, Oracle, and four Japanese electronics companies: Sony, Nintendo, Sega, and NEC. The new company, Navio Corp., is intended to compete with Microsoft Corp. in creating a new operating system. Netscape and Microsoft remain locked in a bitter battle over Microsoft's linking of its Internet Explorer World Wide Web browser with its Windows operating system, taking customers away from Netscape's Navigator browser. Netscape hoped the new company would develop a variety of computer applications, including video game systems, televisions, and network computers that would use its cheaper technology rather than Microsoft applications."
This Day in History: August 25 | Computer History Museum

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Google will punish sites that use annoying pop-up ads | The Verge

Check Helping users easily access content on mobile (Google Webmaster Central Blog) for details

"Google is about to deal a small blow to some of the most annoying ads on mobile: pop-ups and interstitials. It’s not a stretch to argue that readers don’t like these ads. So Google is making a call that websites that use pop-ups and interstitials are worse search results and may rank them lower because of it.

There are a "hundreds of signals" that go into Google’s search result rankings, so it’s not like every website that uses these ads will feel pressured to remove them overnight. If a site with a pop-up still has the best information, it’s still likely to appear first. But this change ought to benefit one site over another when those two sites appear roughly equal otherwise."
Google will punish sites that use annoying pop-up ads | The Verge

Tesla’s new 100 kWH battery makes it the third-fastest accelerating car ever - Recode

Charging forward; also see Why Elon Musk Built a Tesla That's Race-Car Quick (Slate)
"In an industry first, the battery also enables the car to drive an estimated 315 miles on a single charge. This is the first electric vehicle to go above a range of 300 miles, according to Tesla.

“Looking at the bigger picture here, it’s just amazing that an electric car is now the fastest car in production in the world,” Musk said on a call with reporters. “I think it’s a great message to the world and really speaks to the fact that electric cars are the future. That’s just a very positive message for the electric vehicle industry as a whole beyond just Tesla.”"
Tesla’s new 100 kWH battery makes it the third-fastest accelerating car ever - Recode

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happy 25th birthday, Linux | TechCrunch

A big week for anniversaries; also see Happy Internaut Day: 25 years ago today the World Wide Web opened to the public (VentureBeat)

"Linux will turn 25 years old on August 25, the day Linus Torvalds sent out his fateful message asking for help with a new operating system. “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things),” he wrote in the comp.os.minix message board. And the rest, as they say, is history."
Happy 25th birthday, Linux | TechCrunch

Apple Acquires Personal Health Data Startup Gliimpse | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Investing in "a personal health data platform that enables any American to collect, personalize, and share a picture of their health data"

"The acquisition will bolster Apple’s efforts in digital health. In recent years, Apple has delved into the sector with a range of services (HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit) that allow patients, clinicians, and researchers to access important health and wellness data via a range of mobile devices. That's in line with Gliimpse's mission of uniting disparate streams of health information.

What stands out about the deal is that Gliimpse is intended for patients with diseases like cancer and diabetes. Apple recently hired a top pediatric endocrinologist who developed a HealthKit app for teens with Type 1 diabetes, signaling an increased interest in applications for chronically ill users."
Apple Acquires Personal Health Data Startup Gliimpse | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Why Microsoft's New Deal With Lenovo Matters (Fortune)

Also see Lenovo bloats up Android with Microsoft Office and Skype (ZDNet)

"Microsoft makes a lot of money from Android, thanks to its patents being used in Google’s operating system. That income has recently been faltering due to a fall in shipments of smartphones whose manufacturers have struck licensing deals with Microsoft.

However, Microsoft is still striking patent deals, and the latest one is with Lenovo. Apart from the cross-licensing nature of this agreement, announced Monday, Lenovo will also preinstall core Microsoft apps on some of its premium devices."
Why Microsoft's New Deal With Lenovo Matters

The Pentagon Takes Aim at Bomb-Carrying Consumer Drones - Bloomberg

Disconcerting drone dynamics

"“That’s the same quad copter you can get on Groupon or go down to Sam’s Club and buy for $400,” U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller said last week at a Washington forum on future warfare. The elusive nature of small drones is one reason the federal government has designated the District of Columbia a “national defense airspace” and prohibited drone flights there. A recent spate of drone-related incidents, including one last year in which a drone crashed on the White House lawn, probably didn’t help, either.
But the problem is no longer about enthusiasts with a bad sense of direction. Weaponized to various degrees of sophistication, such unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now being used in the Syrian civil war and along parts of Lebanese and Syrian borders with Israel, where Hezbollah holds sway."
The Pentagon Takes Aim at Bomb-Carrying Consumer Drones - Bloomberg