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Facebook enables Continuous Live Video to power puppycams and more

Live mobile video is evolving beyond selfie-stream rants and citizen journalism. Facebook will now allow non-stop, long-form broadcasting as long as the creators don’t mind that they won’t be able to permanently save and share the video. The new Continuous Live Video API enables persistent streams like nature feeds, 24-hour windows into major landmarks or cameras trained on a pit full of puppies, Facebook revealed to me.

This is just one way Facebook has attracted broadcasters to its Live API. It had 12 partners when it launched at F8 in April, but has grown to more than 100 today. Instead of just streaming from their phones, the API lets more professional broadcasters use their own high-grade cameras, mixing boards and effects suites, plus control who sees their Live videos.

The Continuous Live Video launch represents a breakthrough for Facebook’s engineering team. Previously, Live streams could only be up to 90 minutes. That means you couldn’t broadcast a whole conference, sporting event or party, let alone leave the camera running day and night. But now Facebook has figured it out.

The only trade-off is that unlike normal Facebook Live stream, there’s no option to let people replay the stream later or rewind to earlier. That relieves Facebook from the server costs of having to host insanely long videos.

Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo tells me, “We’ve already seen some interesting use cases — for example, it was used by explore.org to power nature cameras — and we’re looking forward to seeing what Live API developers come up with in the future. We expect developers and publishers to get creative with this new capability.”

Another new feature luring broadcasters to the Live API platform is geogating, which lets creators “access the same control and customization options we offer for regular videos,” Simo tells me.

Geogating lets publishers make a video visible only to people in a particular location if that’s where it’s most relevant or they only have limited broadcast rights. They can also set a video to expire after a certain time if they want to achieve added urgency or it only made sense soon after an event happened. There’s also age-gating so only users over a certain age can see a video, which could be important to brands in restricted industries like alcohol who might want to use Live for marketing.

Other options like on-screen graphics and multi-camera broadcasts that are now supported in the Live API have pulled in additional partners to Facebook’s platform. Bleacher Report is answering questions about the NFL Draft, Disney gave viewers Live looks at celebrities on the red carpet at the movie premiere of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” and CSPAN brought viewers inside the White house Correspondents’ Dinner.

Facebook is racing to make Live the most robust real-time video platform available. Today we wrote about how Facebook is starting to show engagement graphs on Live video replays so you can see when the most exciting moments were and skip there.

Facebook foresees Live as a huge part of the future of video, but it’s still trying to establish itself as the leader in the space after launching several months after Twitter’s Periscope. With a clear imperative from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and enormous resources, Facebook is quickly advancing the fledgling medium.

Google plans to bring password-free logins to Android apps by year-end

Google’s plan to eliminate passwords in favor of systems that take into account a combination of signals – like your typing patterns, your walking patterns, your current location, and more – will be available to Android developers by year-end, assuming all goes well in testing this year. In an under-the-radar announcement Friday afternoon at the Google I/O developer conference, the head of Google’s research unit ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) Daniel Kaufman offered a brief update regarding the status of Project Abacus, the name for a system that opts for biometrics over two-factor authentication.

As you may recall, Project Abacus was first introduced at Google I/O last year, where it was described as an ambitious plan to move the burden of passwords and PINs from the user to the device.

Today, secure logins – like those used by banks or in the enterprise environment – often require more than just a username and password. They tend to also require the entry of a unique PIN, which is generally sent to your phone via SMS or emailed. This is commonly referred to as two-factor authentication, as it combines something you know (your password) with something you have in your possession, like your phone.

With Project Abacus, users would instead unlock devices or sign into applications based on a cumulative “Trust Score.” This score would be calculated using a variety of factors, including your typing patterns, current location, speed and voice patterns, facial recognition, and other things.

Google has already implemented similar technology on Android devices (running Android 5.0 and higher) called “Smart Lock,” which lets you automatically unlock your device when you’re in a trusted location, have a trusted Bluetooth device connected, when you’re carrying your device, or when the device recognizes your face. (Smart Lock for Passwords, meanwhile, simply saves passwords to websites and apps, and auto-fills them for you upon your next visit.)

Project Abacus is a bit different. It runs in the background on your device to continually collect data about you to form its Trust Score.

This score is basically about how confident it is that you are who you say you are. If your score isn’t high enough, apps could revert back to asking for passwords. ATAP had also said previously that apps could require different Trust Scores. For example, your bank might require a higher score than a mobile game.

“We have a phone, and these phones have all these sensors in them. Why couldn’t it just know who I was, so I don’t need a password? I should just be able to work,” explained Kaufman Friday afternoon at Google I/O, describing the problem with password-based authentication.

He said that engineers in Google’s search and machine intelligence groups have since turned Project Abacus’s ideas into something called “Trust API,” and this API is entering testing with banks starting next month.

In June, “several very large financial institutions” will begin their initial testing of the Trust API, said Kaufman.

“And assuming it goes well, this should become available to every Android developer around the world by the end of the year,” he added.

Kaufman quickly moved on to other ATAP projects, like its connected clothing, modular smartphone, radar sensors, and more. And while the other technologies are fun to contemplate, this “Trust API,” as it’s called, could introduce more of a real-world change in how users interact with apps on their smartphones. Plus, it offers a new way of securing the content in apps – if someone who was not you gained access to your phone and was able to unlock it, all the apps could be locked down automatically simply because that person, as determined by the software, was not you.

Last year, the company said that Project Abacus was in trials with 33 universities across 28 states. Bringing it to banks is a significant step forward. And by making it something Android developers can implement in their own apps by year-end, Google could have its own unique advantage in terms of user authentication to compete with rival systems, Apple’s fingerprint-based TouchID.

Moto Z trademark application spotted at the USPTO

It seems that we can very nearly confirm Evan Blass’s reporting on Motorola using the “Moto Z” brand in some way. The company has a trademark application filed at the US Patent and Trademark for the term dated May 17.

In his VentureBeat article, Blass detailed how the Moto Z term would replace the Moto X branding on the company’s flagship smartphones, including ones produced for Verizon Wireless under a line called “DROID“.

As Motorola is likely to get hold of the term, it may simply become a matter of “use it or lose it” come the next major smartphone launch on June 9.

Source: US Patent and Trademark Office
Via: Phone Arena

Tim Cook just acknowledged that the price of iPhones may be too high

Apple CEO Tim Cook just gave his most detailed commentary yet on the effect the high price of the iPhone has on the device’s declining sales. In an interview with NDTV’s Vikram Chandra in India, Cook was asked a tough question about whether the iPhone — which costs about $600 in the US but is more expensive almost everywhere else in the world — was really worth its price.
iPhone sales fell 16% in the most recent quarter, and the iPhone is losing market share to Android almost everywhere. Analysts believe iPhone sales will continue to decline all through this year.

Cook replied that he did think the iPhone might be priced too high in India, and he said the company would consider lowering the price: “I recognise that prices are high. We want to do things that lower that over time to the degree that we can.”

That is a significant acknowledgement.

Apple’s mantra has been that the company makes the best products and doesn’t want to compete on price. That is how Apple maintains its enormous profit margins. So any notion that Cook may try other strategies that include lowered prices, especially in a market the size of India, would be important.

Previously, Cook only hinted in a vague way, back in January, that the high price of the iPhone was hurting the device’s sales.

While the US price of the iPhone is about $600, currency fluctuations and local taxes increase the price to the equivalent of $931 in Brazil, $784 in India, and $671 in the UK. That makes the iPhone leagues more expensive than Android models whose functionality is similar to that of the iPhone. Here’s a comparison chart from Deutsche Bank:
Tim Cook just acknowledged that the price of iPhones may be too high (2)

Chandra’s question really summed up Apple’s problem in a nutshell. Not only is the price high, but a lot of Apple services — like iBooks — don’t actually work in India. That makes the iPhone look like a bad deal. Here’s the crucial part of the NDTV interview:

Chandra: It’s expensive. Even in dollar terms it’s expensive because you have taxes in India and then you don’t necessarily have all the functionality that you would in the US. So you’ve got an iPhone here which is more expensive than it is in the US, with less functionality than you would have in the US, and in a country where purchasing power is a fraction of what it is in the US.

Cook: The challenge there is the duties and the taxes and the sort of compounding of those, it takes a price and it makes it very high. Our profitability in is less in India, materially less. But still I recognise that prices are high. We want to do things that lower that over time to the degree that we can, so we’re looking at a number of different things. What we wouldn’t do is lower our quality bar.

Cook later went on to repeat Apple’s historical position, which is: “We’re only going to make a product that we think is a great product. And that means we are not going to compete in some of the other price bands.” But then he went back and repeated his statement that iPhone prices could come down:

Cook: But I want the consumer in India to be able to buy at a price that looks like the US price. That would be my objective. And I want the user experience to have all the services.

That statement would suggest that Cook wants to see a 24% cut to the average price of the iPhone in India.

Clearly, none of this is a cast-iron guarantee that Apple will start competing on price. Cook was playing to an Indian audience, which doesn’t want to hear why it’s OK that Indians pay a 31% premium for their phones compared with Americans.

Nonetheless, it shows that Cook is aware of one of the key problems holding the iPhone back: The smartphone market is no longer growing, and Apple has already fully captured the high end of the market. Yet Apple needs to grow, and it’s difficult to see where that growth will come from if a billion people in Asia can’t afford the product.

Here is the entire interview:

Snapchat is adding pizzazz to your selfies with non-emoji stickers

It was only a matter of time: Snapchat now lets you attach stickers to your photos and videos.
Or what we normally consider ‘stickers’ anyway. Previously, Snapchat stickers only included a standard set of Unicode emoji.

While more illustrated stickers appeared in conversations a couple of months ago, this is the first time you’ve been able to attach them to your ephemeral snaps.

As with emoji, you add the stickers by click on the Post-It-looking button on the top right. The new stickers now occupy the first page, but emoji are still available by swiping to the sides.

The collection includes the entire set of stickers included in chats, so you’ll have plenty of options to customize your snaps.