How can texting help businesses with their marketing and operations? To find out, Text Request surveyed professionals across a wide range of ages and industries. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
Music streamer Tidal has announced that it will lay off 10 percent of its staff as part of a cost-cutting strategy detailed last month by Jack Dorsey, CEO of parent company Block Inc. The move affects approximately 40 people from multiple departments, including Tidal's playlist curation team. "We do not take these decisions lightly, and we are sincerely grateful for the contributions of our impacted teammates, a Tidal spokesperson said in an email seen by Bloomberg.
In early November, Dorsey said Block would cap its payroll at 12,000 employees, in search of "constraints we believe will lead to greater growth." That meant Block would need to lay off around 1,000 employees by the end of 2024, as it had 13,000 staff at the end of Q3 2023.
The move comes at an unfortunate time of year for employees, and follows major layoffs by Spotify. In a pre-holiday shocker on Monday, Spotify announced that it would cut 1,500 workers, or 17 percent of its workforce.
Tidal recently raised its subscription prices following similar moves by Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer. Those companies now charge $11 per month (up from $10) for an individual subscription, while Amazon Music recently bumped its individual plan from $9 to $10 per month. On the video streaming side, YouTube Premium recently went up from $12 to $14 per month, while services including Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu and Max all raised their prices. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tidal-is-laying-off-10-percent-of-its-staff-140112305.html?src=rss
Google officially introduced its most capable large language model to date, Gemini. CEO Sundar Pichai said its the first of a new generation of AI models, inspired by the way people understand and interact with the world. Of course, its all very complex, but Googles multimillion-dollar investment in AI has created a model more flexible than anything before it. Lets break it down.
The system has been developed from the ground up as an integrated multimodal AI. As Engadgets Andrew Tarantola puts it, think of many foundational AI models as groups of smaller models all stacked together. Gemini is trained to seamlessly understand and reason on all kinds of inputs, and this should make it pretty capable in the face of complex coding requests and even physics problems.
Gemini is being made into three sizes: Nano, Pro and Ultra. Nano is on-device, and Pro will fold into Googles chatbot, Bard. The improved Bard chatbot will be available in the same 170 countries and territories as the existing service. Gemini Pro apparently outscored the earlier model, which initially powered ChatGPT, called GPT-3.5, on six of eight AI benchmarks. However, there are no comparisons yet between OpenAIs dominant chatbot running on GPT-4 and this new challenger.
Meanwhile, Gemini Ultra, which wont be available until at least 2024, scored higher than any other model, including GPT-4 on some benchmark tests. However, this Ultra flavor reportedly requires additional testing before being cleared for release to select customers, developers, partners and safety and responsibility experts for further testing and feedback.
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Could MEMS be the next big leap in headphone technology?
The first affordable headphones with MEMS drivers have arrived
Creatives Aurvana Ace line brings new speaker technology to the mainstream.
The headphone industry isnt known for its rapid evolution, which makes the arrival of the Creatives Aurvana Ace headphones the first wireless buds with MEMS drivers notable. MEMS-based headphones need a small amount of bias power to work and while Singularity used a dedicated DAC with a specific xMEMS mode, Creative uses an amp chip that demonstrates, for the first time, consumer MEMS headphones in a wireless configuration. If MEMS is to catch on, it has to be compatible with true wireless headphones.
Apple and Google are probably spying on your push notifications
But the DOJ wont let them fess up.
Foreign governments likely spy on your smartphone use, and now Senator Ron Wydens office is pushing for Apple and Google to reveal how exactly that works. Push notifications, the dings you get from apps calling your attention back to your phone, may be handed over from a company to government services if asked.
Because Apple and Google deliver push notification data, they can be secretly compelled by governments to hand over this information, Wyden wrote in the letter on Wednesday.
Apple claims it was suppressed from coming clean about this process, which is why Wydens letter specifically targets the Department of Justice. In this case, the federal government prohibited us from sharing any information, and now this method has become public, we are updating our transparency reporting to detail these kinds of request, Apple said in a statement to Engadget. Meanwhile, Google said it shared the Senators commitment to keeping users informed about these requests.
Researchers develop under-the-skin implant to treat Type 1 diabetes
The device can secrete insulin to cells.
Scientists have developed a new implantable device that could change the way Type 1 diabetics receive insulin. The thread-like implant, or SHEATH (Subcutaneous Host-Enabled Alginate THread), is installed in a two-step process, which ultimately leads to the deployment of islet devices, derived from the cells that produce insulin in our bodies naturally. A 10-centimeter-long islet device secretes insulin through islet cells that form around it, while also receiving nutrients and oxygen from blood vessels to stay alive. Because the islet devices eventually need to be removed, the researchers are still working on ways to maximize the exchange of utrients and oxygen in large-animal models and eventually patients.
Continue reading.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-googles-gemini-is-the-companys-answer-to-chatgpt-121531424.html?src=rss
If you want to surprise your favorite gamer with a gift but aren't sure exactly what to get, why not let them decide themselves? Amazon is offering Xbox Gift Cards at 10 percent off, giving you some nice savings on $50, $25 and $15 denominations. letting you grab them for $45, $22.50 and $13.50 respectively some nice savings for the holidays.
The discounted $50 Xbox Gift Card nearly covers three months of access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which now costs $17 per month. Alternatively, that's enough to pay for four months of Xbox Game Pass access (at $11 per month) or five months of PC Game Pass ($10 per month). Should your recipient choose to pay for Game Pass with their gift card, they'll have access to a library of hundreds of games. They could always just buy games outright, of course.
Alternatively, your gift recipient could purchase movies or TV shows or use it for in-game currency to get skins, battle passes and more. It's an option that's sure to please, but it's best to act fast, as they don't normally stay on sale for long.
Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/xbox-gift-cards-are-10-percent-off-at-amazon-right-now-115939247.html?src=rss
Metas Oversight Board says it will fast-track two cases dealing with content takedowns on Facebook and Instagram related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The cases mark the first time the independent board has opted to expedite a review, which allows it to make a decision in as little as 48 hours instead of the typical weeks or months-long process.
The group says it has seen a surge in appeals since the start of the conflict with an almost three-fold increase in the daily average of appeals related to the Middle East and North Africa. The board said it selected the two cases, one from Facebook and one from Instagram, because they address important questions relating to the conflict and represent wider issues affecting Facebook and Instagram users.
In both cases, Meta initially removed the posts but later restored them. The case originating from Instagram stems from an early November post showing what appears to be the aftermath of an airstrike on a yard outside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Meta had taken down the post, citing its rules against violent content, but restored the post with a warning screen after the Oversight Board agreed to consider the case.
The case from Facebook deals with a video of Israeli hostages filmed during the October 7 attacks in Israel. Meta removed the video, citing its dangerous organization and violence and incitement policy. According to the Oversight Board, Meta later revised its policy guidance in response to trends in how hostage kidnapping videos were being shared and reported on, following the October 7 attacks.
The Oversight Board said in a statement it expects to make decisions about the cases within 30 days. As with other Oversight Board cases, Meta is required to comply with the boards decision regarding whether the appealed content should be allowed to remain on its platform. The board will also make a series of policy recommendations to the company, though Meta isnt bound to implement those changes.
Still, the boards recommendations in these cases will likely be watched closely as Meta has faced increased scrutiny for its content moderation decisions since the start of the conflict. The company attempted to dispel accusations that it had shadowbanned Instagram users for sharing posts about the conditions in Gaza. Meta later blamed some of the issues on an unspecified bug.
The Oversight Board has previously raised questions about the companys handling of content related to conflicts between Israel and Hamas. Last year, an independent report, commissioned by Meta following a recommendation from the board, found discrepancies in the companys moderation practices that violated Palestinians right to free expression in 2021. In response to the report, Meta said it would update several of its rules, including its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/metas-oversight-board-is-fast-tracking-two-cases-about-israel-hamas-war-content-110028027.html?src=rss
Warner Bros Discover (WBD) has scored a coup by inking a "Pay-1" deal with indie darling A24 for priority streaming rights, the company announced. That means new releases from A24 like Iron Claw (above) will appear first on HBO, Max and Cinemax before streaming on any other platform. The deal also extends WBD's licensing for A24's film catalog, giving it access to titles like Uncut Gems, Everything Everywhere All At Once and others.
"Movies included in the pay-1 output agreement include Dicks: The Musical, Priscilla, Dream Scenario, The Zone of Interest, Stop Making Sense (2023), The Iron Claw, Love Lies Bleeding, Civil War, and more," Warner Bros Discovery wrote in a press release. "Between the existing and new library of A24 films, subscribers will have access to more than one hundred A24 titles over the term of the agreement."
Typically films start in theaters, then go to digital purchase/rental before heading to streaming or OTA broadcast. Pay-1 gives streaming companies exclusive access to titles for a period of 12-18 months before they had to Pay-2 for general licensing and syndication.
Paramount's Showtime has held the Pay-1 deal with A24 since 2019, but it expired in November 2022 (and was then extended a year), according to IndieWire. WBD only mentions having Pay-1 access to A24 movies released after the new deal, so anything released before that (Talk to Me, The Inspection and others) will likely remain Pay-1 on Showtime.
In any case, the deal will be a boon for A24 and viewers in general. WBD's Max and Discovery+ have a combined 95.1 million subscribers, while Paramount+ has 63 million subs, and not all of those have the ad-free "with Showtime" tier. Around the end of 2022, HBO and HBO Max gained access to some of A24's older films, but they'll now have many more, over 100 in total.
Just ahead of the A24 deal, WBD was touting the improved tech and a updated UI of the Max streaming app. Other upcoming A24 films include Tuesday (2024, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Problemista (2024, Julio Torres, Tilda Swinton and RZA). This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a24-movies-will-stream-first-on-hbo-and-max-as-part-of-a-new-multiyear-deal-104550565.html?src=rss
When LG still made phones (sigh), at one point it tried to implement a "Hand ID" unlock gimmick on the G8 ThinQ, though in our experience, there was much room for improvement. For one, you'd have to turn on the screen first to toggle hand tracking. That was dumb. Fast forward to today, Realme is bringing a similar feature back to a new phone, the GT5 Pro, with support for some seemingly practical hand gestures.
Rather than using a time-of-flight camera and an infrared light, the Realme GT5 Pro utilizes its 32-megapixel selfie camera to detect your palm print. In the above demo, you can see how the screen wakes up automatically when the palm moves away from it. I highly doubt that the front camera stays on all the time, so I'm willing to bet that this is working in conjunction with an ultrasonic proximity sensor most likely by Elliptic Labs, which is present on many Android handsets.
Realme said palm unlock is faster than face recognition, partly thanks to machine learning using over 10,000 models. The company even went as far as claiming that this security feature passed a penetration test involving over 10 million attacks. Still, the good-old under-display fingerprint reader is still there, so palm unlock is just an extra option probably the most convenient for when you're cooking or driving.
Like the LG, the Realme GT5 Pro also supports several hand gestures. A pinch gesture would toggle the recent app list, and from there you can gently brush left or right to browse through the recent apps. Holding up your index finger will toggle cursor control, and hovering over a spot triggers a click. A three-finger palm gesture takes a screenshot. Flipping your palm around takes you back to the home screen. Pointing your thumb to the left toggles a "back" action. Finally, moving your palm towards the screen switches it off.
The phone itself is otherwise a standard flagship affair. It packs Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, a 6.78-inch curved AMOLED panel from China's BOE (2,780 x 1,264, 144Hz, 4,500 nits), a generous 5,400mAh battery which supports 100W fast charging (12 minutes to 50 percent charge) or 50W wireless fast charging, USB-C 3.2, NFC, dual speakers and infrared remote. As part of its nine-layer thermal structure, Realme threw in a three-layer vapor-cooling chamber, which apparently has the industry's largest cooling surface area. The device is also rated with IP64 for dust and liquid protection.
Photography-wise, you get a 50-megapixel main camera (powered by a Sony LYT-808 sensor; as found on the OnePlus 12), an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and the same 50-megapixel, 3x periscopic telephoto camera (with a Sony IMX890) as the one on the Oppo Find X6 series. You can already tell the synergy between Realme, Oppo and OnePlus within the BBK family here.
The Realme GT5 Pro is available in China starting from 3,298 yuan or about $460 for the 12GB RAM with 256GB storage model, and maxing out at 4,198 yuan or $590 for the 16GB RAM with 1TB storage model. Color options include black for the glass body, and orange or gold for the vegan leather options.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/realmes-gt5-pro-phone-can-unlock-itself-by-reading-your-palm-091320182.html?src=rss
It was reported in late November that Google Drive for desktop (v22.214.171.124-126.96.36.199) had a sync issue, which caused months or even years of files to disappear. If you were unfortunate enough to be part of this "small subset" of users, there's finally some good news. In the latest version of Drive for desktop app (version 188.8.131.52 or higher), you'll be able to access a file recovery tool via a few steps: go to the menu bar or system tray, click the Drive for desktop icon, press and hold the "Shift" key and click "Settings," and then you'll be able to hit "Recover from backups."
From there, you should see a notification saying "Recovery has started," and hopefully you'll get a "Recovery is complete" message after a while. You'll then find a new folder named "Google Drive Recovery" containing the unsynced files on your desktop.
Good luck, though, as Google doesn't expect this method to work for everyone. "If youve tried to run the recovery tool and are experiencing issues, submit feedback through the Drive for desktop app with the hashtag '#DFD84' and make sure to check the box to include diagnostic logs," the company said on the support page. There are also instructions for those who prefer trying with command line interface, Windows backup and Time Machine backup.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/updated-google-drive-for-desktop-offers-a-recovery-tool-for-missing-files-042758933.html?src=rss
Today, Meta has unveiled what it calls "the biggest set of improvements to Messenger since it was first launched in 2011." First and foremost, end-to-end encryption is now a default for private chats and calls on Messenger and Facebook, meaning your secured communication can't be spied on by others not even by Meta itself, apparently. Once updated, Messenger will ask users to set up a PIN, in case they need to recover messages on a new device later. The global rollout may take a few months to complete, due to the fact that the app has over a billion users.
End-to-end encryption became an option for Messenger in 2016, but Meta is obviously stepping up its safety efforts a sensible move given the company's other recent scandals, especially with child predation content. Meta added that "this has taken years to deliver because weve taken our time to get this right," and also "to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up."
In addition to a set of new privacy, safety and control features, Messenger is getting improved image quality for photos and videos. Meta says it's currently testing HD media sharing with a small test group, before rolling this out "in the coming months." Messenger is also receiving other handy tools that are seemingly inspired by WhatsApp, namely message edit (for up to 15 minutes after sending), voice message playback speed options, continued voice message playback outside the chat or app, read receipts control and disappearing messages (after 24 hours; this is now available to all chats since end-to-end encryption has become a default).This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/facebook-messenger-update-sets-default-end-to-end-encryption-for-chats-and-calls-032841879.html?src=rss