Google Chrome Will Block Auto-Play Video

It is finally really going to happen!

Chrome 66 to finally gain the ability to block autoplaying video content

NeoWin – By: Boyd Chan – “Earlier this month we saw the public release of Google Chrome 65 just a couple of months after its predecessor. Despite a slew of refinements over these last couple of browser versions, including improved pop-up blocking, one highly anticipated feature was notably absent, specifically the measure to tackle autoplay videos. The feature had been scheduled for release in Chrome 64 after having been foreshadowed in September last year but now it appears that it will soon see the light of day.

It’s worth restating that the feature won’t stop all videos from autoplaying, as per Google’s original outline, such as muted or video-only content. or if you’ve indicated an interest in the site by clicking on the site during the current session. The implementation will harmonize the behavior of how video content is handled by Chrome on both mobile and desktop. However, if you still find specific websites audibly annoying, you can permanently mute them with your preference persisting between sessions.

Chrome 66 is already in the Beta channel and is expected to hit the Stable channel somewhere around April 17, 2018. The forthcoming version of the browser will also revoke trust of certificates previously issued by Symantec before June 1, 2016, following the leak of private keys that compromised the security of up to 23,000 certificates.

Source: Google via The Verge”

Google Android Wear is Now Wear OS

Wear OSFrom OS News:

“Google renames Android Wear to Wear OS

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all – the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares – has the name really been changed?”

YouTube Bans Some Gun Videos

Gun VideosLooking for reviews and info on guns, YouTube may not be the place to go much longer…

YouTube to Ban Videos Promoting Gun Sales

New York Times – By: Niray Chokshi – “YouTube said this week that it would tighten restrictions on some firearm videos, its latest policy announcement since coming under scrutiny following last month’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

The video-streaming service, which is owned by Google, said it would ban videos that promote either the construction or sale of firearms and their accessories. The new policy, developed with expert advice over the past four months, will go into effect next month, it said.

‘While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories, specifically, items like ammunition, gatling triggers, and drop-in auto sears,’ YouTube said in a statement.

YouTube, which described the move as part of ‘regular changes’ to policy, notified users in a Monday forum post. The company had previously banned videos showing how to make firearms discharge faster, a technique used by the gunman who killed 58 people in Las Vegas last fall.

The announcement comes days before planned student-led protests against gun violence on Saturday. It was met with frustration from gun rights advocates.

‘Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square,’ the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a private group representing gun makers, said in a statement. ‘The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.’

The policy shift comes as YouTube and other technology platforms face increased scrutiny after the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Days after that massacre, a video promoting a baseless conspiracy about a shooting survivor became the top-trending video on YouTube, prompting a crackdown on such videos. YouTube’s chief executive also said that the platform planned to fight misinformation by working in partnership with Wikipedia, the nonprofit user-run online encyclopedia. But Wikipedia said it knew nothing about that plan.

Other businesses have also made changes amid growing pressure following the Parkland attack.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger all raised the age limit for firearm purchases to 21. The retail chains REI and Mountain Equipment Co-op suspended orders of some popular products because the company that owns those brands, Vista Outdoor, also manufactures assault-style rifles.

In 2016, Facebook announced a ban on private gun sales on its flagship website as well as on Instagram, the photo-sharing social network it owns. Anti-gun activists have complained that sellers still found ways around Facebook’s ban.”

Huawei Hurt by Trade War

HuaweiBest Buy will stop selling Huawei Phones.

Huawei dealt a blow, loses Best Buy as smartphone retailer

c|net – By: Roger Cheng – “It’s going to get harder for Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to sell its smartphones in the US.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer, has ceased ordering new smartphones from Huawei and will stop selling its products over the next few weeks, according to a person familiar with the situation. Best Buy made the decision to end the relationship, the person said.

‘We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,’ said a Best Buy spokeswoman.

A Huawei spokeswoman called Best Buy a valued partner. But ‘as a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships,’ she said.

The move is a critical blow to Huawei, which is the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor behind Apple and Samsung but has struggled to establish any presence in the US. Best Buy was one of Huawei’s biggest retail partners, and one of the rare places you could see its unlocked smartphones in person. Huawei’s Android-powered phones aren’t sold by any US carriers, which is how a majority of Americans typically buy their phones.

Global Data analyst Avi Greengart called it ‘devastating for Huawei.’

Huawei was widely expected to announce a partnership with AT&T in January at CES to carry the Mate 10 Pro smartphone, but the carrier reportedly backed out because of political pressure. A few days later, Verizon reportedly nixed its own plans to sell Huawei phones. Instead, Richard Yu, CEO of the company’s consumer business, spent his time talking about the phones, which were already in the market elsewhere, as well as touting the Porsche Design variant of the smartphone.

While on stage during his CES keynote in January, Yu acknowledged that the lack of a carrier partner hurt, but said that it was ‘a bigger blow to consumers’ who lose out on a strong alternative for an Android phone in the Mate 10 Pro. CNET editor Andrew Hoyle called it ‘a beautiful, big-screen bruiser’ that earns its place among other high-end smartphones. The Mate’s features include a front-facing camera that can shoot portrait mode-style photos and that has a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.

AT&T declined to comment on the reports, but noted it has never publicly committed to selling a Huawei phone. Verizon couldn’t be reached for comment but has previously declined to weigh in on the matter.

Security concerns have long dogged Huawei in the US. In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Huawei and fellow Chinese vendor ZTE of making telecommunications equipment that posed national security threats, and lawmakers banned US companies from buying the gear. Sprint, for instance, has earlier considered using Huawei to supply equipment to its network, but opted not to work with the company.

Following the report’s release, the committee stressed that the report didn’t refer to its smartphones.

Huawei had spent the last few years slowly building a fan base by selling unlocked phones through retailers like Best Buy, Amazon and Newegg. But most US consumers have still never heard of the company — or even know how to pronounce its name.

The tolerance for its smartphones has changed in the last few months. Following the reports of political pressure exerted in January, the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA all expressed their concerns about the risks posed by Huawei and ZTE phones during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month.

Huawei, for its part, has noted that its products — both telecom equipment and phones — are sold elsewhere around the world and with different global companies.

‘Our products and solutions are used by major carriers, Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of millions of consumers in more than 170 countries around the world,’ said a Huawei spokesman. ‘We have earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain.'”

Zuck Apologizes for Facebook!

Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes For the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Says He Isn’t Opposed To Regulation

Mark ZuckerbergVia SlashDot, from The Verge – “An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:

Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday evening for his company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Zuckerberg’s comments reflected the first time he apologized following an uproar over how Facebook allowed third-party developers to access user data. Earlier in the day, Zuckerberg wrote a Facebook post in which he said the company had made mistakes in its handling of the Cambridge Analytica data revelations. The company laid out a multipart plan designed to reduce the amount of data shared by users with outside developers, and said it would audit some developers who had access to large troves of data before earlier restrictions were implemented in 2014.

Zuckerberg also told CNN that he is not totally opposed to regulation. ‘I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” he said. “There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.’

Other highlights of Zuckerberg’s interviews:
-He told multiple outlets that he would be willing to testify before Congress.
-He said the company would notify everyone whose data was improperly used.
-He told the New York Times that Facebook would double its security force this year, adding: ‘We’ll have more than 20,000 people working on security and community operations by the end of the year, I think we have about 15,000 now.’
-He told the Times that Facebook would investigate ‘thousands’ of apps to determine whether they had abused their access to user data.

Regarding moderation, Zuckerberg told Recode: ‘[The] thing is like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?’ Zuckerberg said. ‘I guess I have to, because of where we are now, but I’d rather not.'”

Dropbox is Partnering with Google for G Suite Integration

Dropbox‘Bout time!

Dropbox to add native G Suite integration in new partnership with Google

TechCrunch – By: Ron Miller – “It’s been an eventful week for Dropbox coming off its announcement last Friday that it was finally going public, but that doesn’t mean the business stops. The company announced plans to partner with Google today to bring native G Suite integration to Dropbox storage.

The fact is that more than 50 percent of Dropbox users have a G Suite account — which includes GMail along with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides. To this point, there hasn’t been a way to store these files in Dropbox. That has required a Google Drive account, but customer requirements can sometimes make for strange bedfellows and Dropbox and Google have been working together to bring this integration to fruition because it’s something both companies’ customers have been asking for, Quentin Clark, SVP of Engineering, Product and Design at Dropbox explained.

‘Dropbox is increasingly building out its content collaboration functionality with the freedom to use whatever tools [customers] want to use on whatever platform that they want to use. This partnership is another step on that journey,’ Clark told TechCrunch.

Clark points out that Dropbox has been in the process of building out these partnership deals for the last couple of years with partnerships with Microsoft, Autodesk and Adobe already on the books. This fills in a major content type that had been previously (conspicuously) missing.

He said that the two companies are in the process of working out the details of how the integration is going to work, but he expects the integration to be completed by the end of the year. When it’s done users should be able store, open and start G Suite documents in Dropbox. ‘The way that integration looks and feels, that’s the stuff we are finding our way together,’ he said.

Clark, who has had past stints at Microsoft and SAP, says that he has learned over time that it’s incumbent upon vendors like Dropbox to focus on the needs of the users over the needs of the company. That’s why two companies that sell online storage services are willing to work together. ‘It is enabling best of breed and recognizing that you are going to hire your product to do a certain job and may be hiring other products to do other jobs, and you have to be at peace with that,’ he said.

While the timing may seem to be close enough to the IPO announcement that it is related, the fact is the partnership has been in the works for some time. Perhaps the company wanted to put it out there to enhance their enterprise street cred prior to the IPO, but if that were the case, they weren’t saying during the legally required quiet period prior to going public.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that Google has teamed up with another company to provide third-party storage. In fact, Diane Greene, who is head of Google Cloud, announced a partnership to make Box a third-party storage partner for Google content at the 2016 Boxworks customer conference.”

Amazon to Stop Selling Nest

Nest DoorbellThese “product wars” are getting silly!

Amazon to stop sales of all Nest products as battle with Google intensifies

AppleInsider – By: – “Citing sources familiar with the matter, Business Insider reports Amazon informed Nest in a conference call late last year that it would not sell the firm’s newest products, which includes devices like the Nest Cam IQ and forthcoming Hello video-enabled doorbell.

Amazon said the decision came ‘from the top’ and had nothing to do with Nest’s product quality, leading some Nest employees to speculate it was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who made the call, the report said.

In response, Nest has resolved to discontinue dealings with Amazon, meaning currently available items like the Nest Security Camera and third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat will disappear from Amazon’s digital shelves once existing stock runs dry. A source said Nest wants to present customers its entire lineup or nothing at all, the report said.

The move comes as Amazon looks to leverage its prominent market position to push into the connected home space. Riding on a wave of success from its Alexa virtual assistant ecosystem, the e-commerce titan recently purchased connected doorbell and security device manufacturer Ring.

Ring’s Video Doorbell and outdoor Floodlight Cam both compete against products from Nest, though Amazon’s decision does not smack of anticompetitive behavior. The online retailer currently sells a number of similar devices from various manufacturers.

It is Amazon’s ongoing battle with Google that might be to blame. Google this month announced plans to absorb Nest into its Google Home division, a strategy it says will ‘supercharge’ Nest’s mission to create a more ‘thoughtful’ home.

‘By working together, we’ll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home that’s safer, friendlier to the environment, smarter and even helps you save money — built with Google’s artificial intelligence and the Assistant at the core,’ Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh said in a blog post.

Amazon’s Alexa and Echo series of speakers is challenged by Google Assistant and Google Home, which multiplied last year with the release of Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.

In line with its recent decision to ban new Nest products from its site, Amazon does not carry Google’s Home line, Chromecast hardware or Pixel smartphone. Likewise, Google in December blocked YouTube compatibility with Amazon’s FireTV platform and Echo Show device.

Amazon is in a precarious position as it both courts and competes with major tech companies. The firm had a similar tiff with Apple.

In 2015, Amazon yanked Apple TV from availability, saying the device was removed because it did not ‘interact well’ with Amazon Prime Video. At the time, the company refused to develop a Prime Video channel for Apple TV, assumedly due to Apple’s mandated 30 percent cut of content sales.

Most recently, however, Amazon reinstated sales of Apple TV in December and released a Prime Video app for tvOS.

Today’s report suggests the same thawing of relations could happen with Google, as Amazon plans to reboot Chromecast sales in the near future. Whether the olive branch is enough to get YouTube working on FireTV — and ultimately Nest products back on Amazon shelves — remains to be seen.”

Rumor: New Macbook Air?

This is a “maybe”… but it would be a smart upgrade.

Apple is reportedly planning to release a cheaper MacBook Air later this year

The Verge – By: Andrew Liptak – “Apple hasn’t done much with its ultra-thin MacBook Air in recent years, opting to slim down some of its other offerings instead. But the computer is reasonably popular, and according to Apple analyst KGI Securities (via 9to5Mac), the company is reportedly planning to release a cheaper model at some point in the second quarter of 2018.

According to 9to5Mac, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects that Apple will release a 13-inch MacBook Air ‘with a lower price tag,’ later this year, and that the lower price could help boost Apple’s laptop sales.

While the line celebrates its tenth year in 2018, the line has largely only received incremental updates, the last of which came last summer, when Apple updated it with a faster 1.8GHz Intel processor. Apple currently sells the MacBook Air for $999.

The report also says that Apple will likely refresh its AirPods, and that the HomePod has been met with ‘mediocre’ demand.”

Amazon Pays a Billion for Ring

Ring Video DoorbellI saw Ring debut on “Shark Tank” – Boy! They really missed this one! Fox Business Channel reports that Amazon will pay one BILLION for the company!

Amazon is buying smart doorbell maker Ring

TechCrunch – By: Greg Kumparak – “With Nest’s first smart video doorbell right around the corner, Amazon is busy buying up the competition.

After acquiring Blink just two months ago, Amazon is now acquiring Ring, makers of the self-titled Ring doorbell (plus a bunch of other security gear, like solar security cameras, floodlight cams and an in-home alarm system).

GeekWire broke the rumor this afternoon, and we’ve just received independent confirmation.

Details on the deal are still pretty light; the financial terms of the deal, for example, haven’t trickled out just yet. Update: Reuters is reporting, via tweet, that the sale price was more than $1 billion. The company had raised around $209 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

This acquisition makes plenty of sense. Amazon has already built a few connected cameras of its own — but hardware is, as they say, hard, and that’s not going to change. With nearly a dozen solid products to its name, the Ring team has proven themselves more than capable of building hardware (and I’m sure its array of patents doesn’t hurt, either.) With Amazon, Google, Apple et al. all duking it out for physical space in and around your home, someone was going to make a big offer — and I’d be surprised if Amazon was the only bidder in the mix. Plus, who on earth is responsible for more doorbell presses than Amazon?

(Fun bit of trivia: Ring debuted to the world on Shark Tank back in 2013, then known as ‘DoorBot.’ They wanted $700,000 for 10 percent of the company, but no one took the deal.)

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