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Uber makes it easier for drivers to decline rides

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Uber is stepping up its efforts to win over drivers — by making it easier for them to say no to rides they don't want to take.

Today the company announced several new features meant to make it easier for Uber drivers to plan trips around their schedules. 

Now, drivers will be alerted if a ride is likely to take 45 minutes or longer, and they can opt to decline it. 

Moreover, declining rides won't negatively impact drivers as much as it did before.

This has been a sore point for many drivers as refusing to take a certain number of rides could affect their account status and their ability to take advantage of certain promotions. This will no longer be the case. Read more...

More about Tech, Uber, Apps And Software, Uber Drivers, and Tech

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Update your DJI Spark drone by September 1 — or say goodbye

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The DJI Spark is one of those fun, selfie-taking drones you'll want as soon as you see it. But if you already own one, you need to update it by September 1 — or risk never flying it again. 

On Monday, DJI announced a new firmware update for Spark drones coming later this week in response to a problem that was causing some of them to fall out of the sky while flying.

There's only one catch: People who don't update the firmware will no longer be able to use their drones. They simply will not take off anymore.

In a blog post, DJI says it "decided on the option of a mandatory firmware update in order to maximize flight safety and product reliability which [the company] consider as top priorities." Read more...

More about Drones, Dji, Battery Life, Firmware, and Consumer Tech

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Microsoft built a hardware platform for real-time AI

In many cases, you want AI to work with info as it happens. That virtual assistant needs to respond within a few seconds at most, and a smart security camera needs to send an alert while intruders are still within sight. Microsoft knows this very well. It just unveiled its own hardware acceleration platform, Project Brainwave, that promises speedy, real-time AI in the cloud. Thanks to Intel's new Stratix 10 field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip, it can crunch a hefty 39.5 teraflops in machine learning tasks with less than 1 millisecond of latency, and without having to batch tasks together. It can handle complex AI tasks as they're received, in other words.

It's considerably more flexible than many of its hard-coded rivals, too. It relies on a 'soft' dynamic neural network processing engine dropped into off-the-shelf FPGA chips where competitors often need their approach locked in from the outset. It can handle Microsoft's own AI framework (Cognitive Toolkit), but it can also work with Google's TensorFlow and other systems. You can build a machine learning system the way you like and expect it to run in real-time, instead of letting the hardware dictate your methods.

To no one's surprise, Microsoft plans to make Project Brainwave available through its own Azure cloud services (it's been big on advanced tech in Azure as of late) so that companies can make use of live AI. There's no guarantee it will receive wide adoption, but it's evident that Microsoft doesn't want to cede any ground to Google, Facebook and others that are making a big deal of internet-delivered AI. It's betting that companies will gladly flock to Azure if they know they have more control over how their AI runs.

Via: VentureBeat

Source: Microsoft Research Blog, Intel Newsroom

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GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving is retiring this year

GoDaddy said CEO Blake Irving will retire at the end of 2017, with the company’s current president and chief operating officer, Scott Wagner, replacing him. Irving will also step down from the board next June. Irving, 58, became GoDaddy’s CEO in 2013 after serving as Yahoo’s chief product officer. At the time, GoDaddy was grooming itself […]

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Ubisoft’s next ‘Anno’ game relives the age of trade and empire

The Anno RTS series focuses more on civilization-building than straight-up combat, and its later editions explored that premise centuries into the future. But the franchise's next entry casts back a couple hundred years to the past when mankind's maps weren't fully filled in. Today at Gamescom, Ubisoft announced Anno 1800, putting players in charge of nations setting sail for trade and diplomacy.

While scaling back from the far-flung future to the steam era is a serious change, the 19th century setting is a fertile period for revolutionary ideas and national ambitions. Players will get the standard campaign, sandbox and multiplayer modes from Anno's past, though not much more detail has been released, aside from a release date: Winter 2018. To alleviate the wait, the German-based Ubisoft team in charge of the game, Blue Byte, is inviting players to vote on which elements make it into the game to make them feel a bit more invested.

Follow all the latest news live from Gamescom here!

Source: Ubisoft

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Attention app publishers: Mobile ad dollars for the taking (VB Live)

In-app advertising ad revenue is expected to generate $53.4 billion dollars by 2020. Learn how to maximize its potential when you join our latest VB Live event. You’ll gain insight into innovative monetization tools and tactics, the pitfalls to avoid, and find how to discover where the money is. Don’t miss out! Register here for […]

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WhatsApp adds colorful text-only updates to Status

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WhatsApp's Snapchat Stories clone is getting a new text-only feature.

Now, instead of just photos and videos, you can update your WhatsApp Status with colorful, meme-like text posts.

The feature, which is rolling out now, is a lot like Facebook's colorful status updates: write a snippet of text, pick a background color, and customize the font. You can also link out to other websites from within a text post.

Image: whatsapp

This feature is specifically for the Snapchat Stories-like version of Status, and is different from the old-school text-only statuses the app re-introduced earlier this year. Those text-only updates still only allow you to share simple messages like "busy" or "available." Read more...

More about Tech, Facebook, Apps And Software, Whatsapp, and Tech

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The iPhone 8 could recognize your face in ‘millionths of a second’

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The iPhone 8 is expected to launch in September and will likely be packed with a bunch of new hardware including facial recognition technology.

Now, a new report from the Korean Herald claims that the facial recognition technology used in the device will only take "millionths of a second" to scan a person's face.

"The new facial recognition scanner with 3D sensors can deeply sense a user’s face in the millionths of a second," says the Korean Herald report, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter. 

"Also, 3D sensors [will] be adopted for the front and rear of the device to realize AR applications, which integrate 3D virtual images with user’s environment in real time," it adds. Read more...

More about Apple, Iphone, Facial Recognition, Iphone 8, and Facial Recognition Technology

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CNN is the latest to make a daily news show for Snapchat

NBC isn't the only major US broadcaster hopping on the Snapchat daily news show bandwagon. CNN has launched The Update, a survey of events that will run in the Shows section of Snapchat's Stories at 6PM Eastern. Each regular episode will cover five or more stories in a quick, just-the-facts format. Logically, there will be out-of-cycle updates for breaking news. CNN's Snapchat news output has so far been limited to infographics and story links, so this is a much more concerted effort to court the mobile crowd.

CNN isn't shy about why it's making this move: it wants to tap into a "young audience" and start "speaking their language." To put it another way, the outlet is concerned that it might miss out on a generation that depends on its phones and rarely if ever watches TV to get their news. The Update isn't about to become a primary source of news, but it may keep CNN in people's minds at a time when viewing habits are changing rapidly.

This could be a big deal for Snapchat, too -- it's struggling to add more users as Facebook imitates many of its core features. If you're interested enough in news to keep returning to Snapchat on a regular basis, you may stick around for more of its content and, of course, the messaging that defined Snapchat in the first place.

Source: CNN

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Google might launch a reborn Chromebook Pixel and smaller Home

Do you still have a Chromebook Pixel-shaped hole in your heart months after Google pulled the plug? Good news -- Google might be bringing it back. A source speaking to Android Police claims that a "Pixel-branded Chromebook" will launch alongside the next Pixel phones at an event this fall. Details are scarce, including whether or not this is the fabled laptop that would run Andromeda, the long-rumored cross between Android and Chrome OS. That system was supposed to be a convertible PC with a tablet mode, a 12.3-inch display and an optional Wacom stylus, but there's no certainty that this design is the one that launches. We certainly wouldn't count on the originally planned $799 pricing.

This wouldn't be the only hardware bonus in store. Reportedly, there would also be a smaller version of the Home smart speaker. Although there isn't much to say about that, either, it stands to reason that this would be a competitor to Amazon's Echo Dot, which ditched all but the most basic of built-in audio in the name of price.

Android Police's sources tend to be accurate, but we'd take this scoop with a grain of salt as there's a lot that could change. However, it would make sense for Google to launch both products. Now that Microsoft's Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S are gunning after Chrome OS, Google might want a riposte that gives Surface buyers a reason to think twice. Likewise, Google may want to expand its smart speaker roster before Amazon conquers the space with its rapidly growing lineup. One thing's for sure: if any of this is true, Google is going to be very, very busy toward the end of the year.

Source: Android Police

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