IOS

Top iOS Apps of 2017: Bitmoji Beats Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger (cnn.com) 19

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Apple has unveiled its list of most downloaded iOS apps of the year, and topping the list is free custom emoji app Bitmoji... Bitmoji soared to the top of the list, thanks to an integration with Snapchat. (Snapchat's parent company acquired Bitmoji last year for an unknown amount)... Users must download the Bitmoji app to use it with Snapchat.

Fittingly, the main Snapchat app took second place, despite a tough year on Wall Street that was attributed to slow user growth. Snapchat was the most downloaded app of 2016. Google's YouTube took the number three spot this year, while Facebook's Messenger and Instagram placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Music

YouTube to Launch New Music Subscription Service in March (bloomberg.com) 57

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube plans to introduce a paid music service in March, according to people familiar with the matter, a third attempt by parent company Alphabet Inc. to catch up with rivals Spotify and Apple. The new service could help appease record-industry executives who have pushed for more revenue from YouTube. Warner Music Group, one of the world's three major record labels, has already signed on, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private talks. YouTube is also in talks with the two others, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, and Merlin, a consortium of independent labels, the people said.
The Internet

EU Urges Internet Companies To Do More To Remove Extremist Content (reuters.com) 78

Internet groups such as Facebook, Google's YouTube and Twitter need to do more to stem the proliferation of extremist content on their platforms, the European Commission said after a meeting on Wednesday. From a report: Social media companies have significantly boosted their resources to take down violent and extremist content as soon as possible in response to growing political pressure from European governments, particularly those hit by militant attacks in recent years. But Julian King, EU security commissioner, said that while a lot of progress had been made, additional efforts were needed. "We are not there yet. We are two years down the road of this journey: to reach our final destination we now need to speed up our work," King said in his closing speech at the third meeting of the EU Internet Forum, which brings together the Commission, EU member states, law enforcement and technology companies. The EU has said it will come forward with legislation next year if it is not satisfied with progress made by tech companies in removing extremist content, while a German online hate speech law comes into effect on Jan. 1.
Facebook

Facebook and YouTube Are Full of Pirated Video Streams of Live NFL Games (cnbc.com) 230

Pirated video streams of televised National Football League games are widespread on Facebook and on Google's YouTube service, CNBC has found. From a report: Using technology from these internet giants, thousands of football fans were able to watch long segments of many contests free of charge during the league's Week 13 schedule of games last Thursday and Sunday. Dozens of these video streams, pirated from CBS and NBC broadcasts, featured ads from well-known national brands interspersed with game action. This online activity comes as the league struggles with declining ratings that have been blamed variously on player protests during the national anthem and revelations about former players suffering from a brain disease caused by concussions. Yet this illegal distribution of NFL content may also be crimping the league's viewer numbers.
Google

Google Is Pulling YouTube Off the Fire TV and Echo Show as Feud With Amazon Grows (theverge.com) 237

An anonymous reader shares a report: Three months ago, YouTube pulled its programming from Amazon's Echo Show device -- the first skirmish in what is apparently an ongoing war. Shortly after, Amazon stopped selling the Nest E Thermostat, Nest's Camera IQ, and the Nest Secure alarm system. Two weeks ago, Amazon got YouTube back on the Echo Show by simply directing users to the web version, a workaround that left a lot to be desired. But even that version won't be available after today. In a statement, Google said it has been trying to reach an agreement with Amazon to provide customers with access to each other's products and services. But, Google said, Amazon doesn't carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn't make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest's latest products. "Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon."
Youtube

YouTube To Hire More Than 10,000 Content Moderators on Staff Next Year To Stop Its Child Exploitation Problem (buzzfeed.com) 91

YouTube is adding more human moderators and increasing its machine learning in an attempt to curb its child exploitation problem, the company's CEO Susan Wojcicki said. From a report: The company plans to increase its content moderation workforce to more than 10,000 employees in 2018 in order to help screen videos and train the platform's machine learning algorithms to spot and remove problematic children's content. Sources familiar with YouTube's workforce numbers say this represents a 25% increase from where the company is today. In the last two weeks, YouTube has removed hundreds of thousands of videos featuring children in disturbing and possibly exploitative situations, including being duct-taped to walls, mock-abducted, and even forced into washing machines. The company said it will employ the same approach it used this summer as it worked to eradicate violent extremist content from the platform.
Businesses

Vidme To Shut Down On Dec 15th 2017 49

New submitter substance2003 writes: Vid.me has announced they are shutting down on December 15th 2017 citing that they could not find a path to sustainability. This news should be of concern as content creators have been getting increasingly frustrated with Youtube's algorithms that demonetize their videos and this means they have one less alternative to turn towards.
Education

Should Teachers Get $100 For Steering Kids To Google's 'Hour of Code' Lesson? 89

Tomorrow's "Hour of Code" kick-off event features Melinda Gates, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and "multiple state governors," reports theodp -- who has some concerns. With Microsoft boasting that nearly 70 million of its Minecraft Hour of Code sessions have been launched, and tech companies pushing coding and their products into classrooms, it's probably no surprise that the 2017 Hour of Code -- organized by tech-bankrolled Code.org -- seems to have presented a too-hard-to-resist branding opportunity for Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

And, in what might evoke memories of Dollars for Doctors, some teachers will even be rewarded for steering their kids to Google's Hour of Code lesson. "Thanks to our friends at Google," explains crowdfunding website DonorsChoose.org, "4th-8th grade public school teachers who engage their students in a 'Create your own Google logo' Hour of Code activity can earn a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code -- and have the opportunity to receive one of five other grand prizes (including $5,000 in DonorsChoose.org credits for your school!)."
The Courts

Free Game Company Sues 14-Year-Old Over 'Cheats' Video -- Claiming DMCA Violation (bbc.co.uk) 237

Bizzeh shared this report from the BBC: A mother has written a letter in defense of her 14-year-old son who is facing a lawsuit over video game cheats in the US. Caleb Rogers is one of two people facing legal action from gaming studio Epic Games for using cheat software to play the free game Fortnite. The studio says it has taken the step because the boy declined to remove a YouTube video he published which promoted how to use the software... "This company is in the process of attempting to sue a 14-year-old child," she wrote in the letter which has been shared online by the news site Torrentfreak.

Ms. Rogers added that she had not given her son parental consent to play the game as stated in its terms and conditions, and that as the game was free to play the studio could not claim loss of profit as a result of the cheats... In a statement given to the website Kotaku, Epic Games said the lawsuit was a result of Mr. Rogers "filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royale cheats and exploits... Epic is not OK with ongoing cheating or copyright infringement from anyone at any age," it said.

Cory Doctorow counters that the 14-year-old "correctly asserted that there was no copyright infringement here. Videos that capture small snippets of a videogame do not violate that game creator's copyrights, because they are fair use..."
Facebook

Snapchat Is Becoming the Anti-Facebook (qz.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Snap announced today (Nov. 29), that it was rolling out a redesign for Snapchat that's intended to separate users' feeds between their friends from the brands that publish content on the app. Founder and CEO Evan Spiegel published an op-ed in Axios this morning about the direction that social media has taken over the last few years, where content from brands and influencers has been given the same weight and placement as content from friends and loved ones in users' feeds. Spiegel also took to YouTube, for the second time in about two years, to explain how the new Snapchat works.

The new structure seems like a positive move. It's sort of solidifying the app, which turned down $3 billion from Facebook in 2013, as the "anti-Facebook." Facebook has muddled the line between content, news about friends, and pure internet garbage to the point where it's become nearly impossible for the average user to know what's important, or even true -- on purpose. Snapchat is reaffirming the value of staying connected to your friends, and enjoying news and entertainment content, but showing that the two activities should not be the same thing. Whether this restructuring will convince more people to start using Snapchat, however, is unclear.

Facebook

'Break Up Google and Facebook If You Ever Want Innovation Again' (theregister.co.uk) 268

Hal_Porter shares a report from The Register: If the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up, journalist and film producer Jonathan Taplin told an audience at University College London's Faculty of Law this week. He was speaking at an event titled Crisis in Copyright Policy: How the digital monopolies have cornered culture and what it means for all of us, where he credited the clampers put on Bell then IBM for helping to create the PC industry and the internet. Taplin told his audience that he'd been moved by the fate of his friend Levon Helm, The Band's drummer, who was forced to go back on the road in his sixties, after radiation therapy for cancer. Helm died broke. Today, Taplin points out, YouTube accounts for 57 per cent of all songs streamed over the internet, but thanks to a loophole returns just 13.5 per cent of revenue. "That's not a willing buyer-seller relationship," he said, referring to the UGC loophole that Google enjoys, one not available to Spotify or Apple Music. But it isn't just songwriters and musicians who are poorly paid. The average person "works for two hours a day for Mark Zuckerberg" generating a data profile. Taplin pointed out that Bell held patents on many technologies including the transistor, the laser and the solar cell, that it agreed to license, royalty free, as part of a 1956 consent decree.

Taplin saw history repeated with IBM. Under the 1956 (again) consent decree IBM was obliged to unbundle software from hardware in the 1960s. But competition authorities again opened up an investigation in 1969 which ran for 13 years. Caution made IBM ensure its first microcomputer, the IBM PC, launched in 1981, was an open platform. IBM chose three operating systems to run on the first PC but clearly favoured an outsider, from a tiny Seattle outfit originally called "Micro-Soft." Then Microsoft got the treatment. "Every 20 years we have this fight -- and we're about to have it again," Taplin told the audience. Antitrust was necessary "not because they're too big, but because there's no market solution" to Google and Facebook. The barriers to entry are now so high nobody is going bust open the ad duopoly. Taplin cited Snapchat an example of a company that tried to innovate, but refused to take Facebook's buyout offer. Facebook has simply copied its features.

Google

Google Can Tell if Someone Is Looking at Your Phone Over Your Shoulder (qz.com) 75

Dave Gershgorn, writing for Quartz: At the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California, next week, Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff will present a project they're calling an electronic screen protector, where a Google Pixel phone uses its front-facing camera and eye-detecting artificial intelligence to detect whether more than one person is looking at the screen. An unlisted, but public video by Ryu shows the software interrupting a Google messaging app to display a camera view, with the peeking perpetrator identified and given a Snapchat-esque vomit rainbow. Ryu and Schroff claim the system works with different lighting conditions and poses, and can recognize a person's gaze in 2 milliseconds. Ostensibly, this AI software is able to work so quickly because it's being run on the phone, rather than sent for processing on the company's powerful cloud servers.
Bug

iPhone Users Complain About the Word 'It' Autocorrecting To 'I.T' On iOS 11 and Later (macrumors.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors: At least a few hundred iPhone users and counting have complained about the word "it" autocorrecting to "I.T" on iOS 11 and later. When affected users type the word "it" into a text field, the keyboard first shows "I.T" as a QuickType suggestion. After tapping the space key, the word "it" automatically changes to "I.T" without actually tapping the predictive suggestion. A growing number of iPhone users have voiced their frustrations about the issue on the MacRumors discussion forums, Twitter, and other discussion platforms on the web since shortly after iOS 11 was released in late September. Many users claim the apparent autocorrect bug persists even after rebooting the device and performing other basic troubleshooting. A temporary workaround is to tap Settings: General: Keyboard: Text Replacement and enter "it" as both the phrase and shortcut, but some users insist this solution does not solve the problem. A less ideal workaround is to toggle off auto-correction and/or predictive suggestions completely under Settings: General: Keyboard. MacRumors reader Tim shared a video that highlights the issue.
Youtube

YouTube's Search Autofill Surfaced Disturbing Child Sex Results (buzzfeed.com) 155

Several users are reporting that they found YouTube autocompleting search queries starting with 'how to have' with disturbing suggestions, including 's*x with your kids' over the weekend. From a report: A YouTube spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the matter is still under investigation. "Earlier today our teams were alerted to this awful autocomplete result and we worked to quickly remove it," the company said. "We are investigating this matter to determine what was behind the appearance of this autocompletion." We tried the same query on YouTube less than an hour before publication of this story, and we found "how to have s*x in school," and "how to have s*x with kids" were still surfacing in the results.
Robotics

Famous Robot from 1956 Movie Auctioned For $5.3 Million (newatlas.com) 64

schwit1 tells us that "Robby the Robot" -- a prop from the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet -- has just been auctioned for $5.3 million, making it the second most-expensive movie prop in history. New Atlas reports: The complete Robby suit, control panel, his jeep, numerous spares, alternate original "claw" hands, and the original wooden stage shipping crates, were sold Tuesday by Bonhams in New York for US $5,375,000 including buyers premium. The only purpose-built movie prop to have ever sold for more is Marilyn Monroe's "subway dress" from The Seven Year Itch (1955) which was sold by Profiles in History for $5,520,000 (including buyers premium) in 2011.
After Forbidden Planet, Robby the Robot reappeared in a movie called The Invisible Boy, and later had a climactic showdown with the robot from Lost in Space. He also made appearances on other TV shows, including The Twilight Zone, Mork & Mindy, and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. And he even appeared in commercials, including one warning about the dangers of depleting the ozone layer -- plus a commercial for Charmin bathroom tissue.
The Internet

Taking The Profit Out Of Killing 'Net Neutrality' (cringely.com) 257

Robert Cringely has a plan to ensure that internet providers will never profit from the end of net neutrality: We are being depended upon to act like sheep -- Internet browsing sheep, if such exist -- and without a plan that's exactly what we'll be. The key to my plan is that this is a rare instance where consumers are not alone. There are just as many or more huge companies that would prefer to keep Net Neutrality as those that oppose it... Those companies in favor of Net Neutrality obviously include the big streamers like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and a bunch of others. They also includes nearly every big Internet concern including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. Those are some pretty big friends to have on your side -- our side...

So I suggest we all join ZeroTier (ZT), a thriving networking startup operating in Irvine, California. There are other companies like it but I just think ZeroTier is presently the best. ZeroTier is a very sophisticated Virtual Private Network (VPN) company that has created a Software Defined Network that goes beyond what normal VPNs are capable of. To your computer or almost any other networked device (even your smart phone), ZT looks like an Ethernet port, whether your device has Ethernet or not. Through that virtual Ethernet port you connect to a virtual IPv6 Local Area Network that's as big as the Internet itself, though the only users on this overlay network are ZT members.

The trick is to get all those big companies that are pro-Net Neutrality to join ZT. The most it will cost even Netflix is $750 per month, which is probably less than the company spends on salad bars in their Los Gatos HQ. Embracing ZT doesn't mean rejecting the regular Internet. Netflix can still be reached the old fashion way. I just want them to add a presence on ZT, too... What the ISPs won't like about this plan is that ZT traffic can't be read to determine what rules or pricing to apply. They could throttle it all down, but throttling that much traffic isn't really practical.

Space

Flat Earther's Homemade Rocket Launcher Breaks Down in His Driveway (desertsun.com) 246

The Desert Sun has an update on the progress of 61-year-old self-taught rocket scientist 'Mad' Mike Hughes: A man who believes Earth is flat, and was ready to launch himself from a rocket in California on Saturday afternoon to prove it, has canceled his plans. At least for now. Not having the required federal permits plus mechanical problems with his "motorhome/rocket launcher" forced self-taught rocket scientist "Mad" Mike Hughes to put his experiment on hold. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management "told me they would not allow me to do the event ... at least not at that location," Hughes said in a YouTube announcement, amid international attention over his plans to launch into the "atmosflat."

"It's been very disappointing," he said... "My feeling is that one of the top executives at the Bureau of Land Management called Needles, California, saying... 'What's going on? Who permitted this?'" Hughes said. Plus, as he and his team were preparing to leave Wednesday, the motorhome/rocket launcher broke down in his driveway, he said... His plan is to try again next week.

Advertising

Google Flagged Its Own Chromebook Ad As Spam On YouTube (theverge.com) 35

AmiMoJo quotes The Verge: It's no secret that YouTube's algorithm for automatically flagging videos can be troublesome -- recent issues have seen content creators getting their videos demonetized for seemingly no reason -- but Google's latest faux pas might hit the company a little closer to home. Google posted an ad for its new Chromebook Pixel that is getting flagged as spam... It's particularly telling about whatever is happening with YouTube's algorithm that even official Google content is getting removed "for violating YouTube's policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams."
Movies

A Third of Americans Still Buy and Rent Videos (qz.com) 126

An anonymous reader writes: One-third of Americans still buy and rent videos, in addition to using streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, NPD Group found in its annual Entertainment Trends in America report. The research firm surveyed more than 7,000 members of its US online panel about their entertainment consumption during August 2017. Family films are still popular buys because kids will watch them over and over again. Spotty broadband service in rural America makes buying and renting more reliable than streaming for some. And some people just like to own and collect movies. Overall, 54% of people surveyed said they still buy or rent video.
Youtube

Brands Pull YouTube Ads Over Images of Children (reuters.com) 125

An anonymous reader shares a report: Lidl, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Mars and other companies have pulled advertising from YouTube after the Times newspaper found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands. Comments from hundreds of pedophiles were posted alongside the videos, which appeared to have been uploaded by the children themselves, according to a Times investigation. One clip of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views. The paper said YouTube, a unit of Alphabet subsidiary Google, had allowed sexualized imagery of children to be easily searchable and not lived up to promises to better monitor and police its services to protect children. In response, a YouTube spokesman said: "There shouldn't be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this."

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