Author: Sarah Perez

Tumblr says it fixed the ‘Safe Mode’ glitch that hid innocent posts, including LGBTQ+ content

TECHCRUNCH Tumblr this week introduced a “safe mode” for its service, which combines the company’s previously available “safe search” functionality with a new filter that would hide “sensitive” content from the site’s main Dashboard, using an overlay. However, Tumblr quickly came under fire for hiding “sensitive” content that was anything but – instead, noted many users, Tumblr was seemingly filtering out innocent posts, including LGBTQ+ content, for no apparent reason. This wouldn’t be the first time that LGBTQ+ content got caught up in an algorithmic filter of some kind. YouTube this week also announced it had updated its policies...

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42 percent of Amazon Echo owners have bought a second device (or more)

TECHCRUNCH Here’s a promising metric for Amazon, in terms of its ability to maintain its current lead in the voice computing market: 42 percent of Amazon Echo owners have two or more devices, according to Edison Research. This figure is seemingly growing, too. Last year, there were about 1.18 Amazon Echo devices per Alexa household, but this new finding pushes that number to around 1.5 to 1.6 devices per household. The new metrics were first published by Voicebot, citing figures shared by Edison Research at the RAIN conference on Wednesday. Voicebot had also published its own independent research last year, which is where it came up with the 1.18 Echos per household figure for comparison purposes. These findings are important for several reasons. For starters, it means that a large chunk of Amazon Echo owners are sold on the benefits of voice computing – after all, you wouldn’t buy a second device if you didn’t find any use for the first. More importantly for Amazon, they’re not switching to another voice-powered speaker for their second device, like the Google Home. That would have indicated a general interest in voice computing, but an unhappiness with Echo’s implementation of the technology. Finally, it also holds promise for Amazon’s newer Alexa-powered devices, like the fashion camera Echo Look and the first Echo device with a screen, the Echo Show. The latter is launching...

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YouTube’s mobile app will soon better display all video formats, add messaging

TECHCRUNCH On the heels of a major redesign of its desktop site which delivered an overall cleaner look-and-feel and a “dark mode” for nighttime watching, YouTube this week announced it will soon roll out an update to its mobile app, as well. The new app will better support video shot in other formats and orientations, by dynamically adapting its player to whatever video you’re currently watching. As YouTube explains on its blog, “Who cares if they’re vertical or horizontal? Shot on a mobile phone or DSLR? Square, 4:3 or 16:9?” The idea is that the software itself should adapt...

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YouTube TV expands to 10 more U.S. markets, adds more YouTube Red series

TECHCRUNCH YouTube TV, Google’s $35 per month streaming service aimed at a younger demographic of cord cutters and cord-nevers, is expanding to ten more markets, the company announced this week at VidCon. The service had initially launched in April offering streaming live TV and DVR functionality to just five major metros: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. In just a couple of weeks, YouTube TV will be tripling its footprint, by offering service in Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne and Charlotte. The company also confirmed that its strategy to...

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After three days, Skype’s outage is resolved

TECHCRUNCH After three days of connectivity issues which prevented some Skype users from being able to log in, make calls, or send and receive messages, the company says it has now fully resolved the problem. What it isn’t saying – at least not yet – is what exactly happened. Microsoft’s decision to stay silent on an incident of this length and scale – the outage impacted users across Europe and elsewhere  – lends further credence to reports that a hacker group may be to blame. Generally speaking, when the issue is technical in nature – like Starbucks’ buggy update, Instapaper’s database failure, a web services outage with rippling effects, or some other technical problem – companies today tend to just admit it. Sometimes they even publish a post-mortem in order to reassure their users that whatever had caused the outage was now understood and being addressed, so it wouldn’t be an issue in the future. Skype, however, has said nothing all week – even as reports that a hacking group has claimed responsibility for the matter. As the BBC and others have noted, a group called CyberTeam has taken credit for the outage in a tweet. https://twitter.com/CyberTeam/status/876912510883872769 Whether that’s true or not, though, can still not be confirmed. There has also been chatter that a DDoS attack could have caused this. That seems possible, given the delay to mitigate the issues, along with the fact...

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Do Not Disturb While Driving feature rolls out in Apple’s newest iOS 11 beta

TECHCRUNCH With the release of iOS 11’s latest beta on Wednesday, testers can now get their hands on one of the new mobile operating system’s most important — if not most glamorous — new features: a long-needed “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. Announced in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the feature aims to combat the very dangerous practice of texting from behind the wheel, while also switching off other alerts that entice people to look at their phones while driving. Distracted driving has become a national safety crisis because of the rise of smartphones. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were attributed to distracted driving — a blanket term that broadly encompasses cell phone use, as well as other in-car activity like adjusting the radio or climate controls, for example. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed because of distracted driving, and 391,000 were additionally injured. A number of third parties have approached the problem by offering mobile applications that prevent texting while the vehicle is in motion, but these can only really be integrated at the system level on Android devices. Because iOS applications run in a “sandbox” environment, they can’t interfere with iOS functions — like preventing someone from texting. Carriers have then...

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Amazon’s Echo Show gets more practical by adding support for smart home camera feeds

TECHCRUNCH Amazon today announced a notable new trick for its next-generation Echo device, the Echo Show (aka the one with the screen), which could make it a more compelling purchase: it will be able to display the live streams from a number of smart home cameras. Already, companies like Ring, Arlo, Nest, August, EZViz, Vivint, Amcrest, and IC Realtime have created Alexa Skills that will use the new functionality, Amazon says. In addition, Amazon is introducing a Smart Home Skill API that will allow developers to integrate live video feeds from their smart home cameras with the device. The Echo...

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Virgin Mobile goes iPhone-only, offers a year of service for $1

TECHCRUNCH In attempt to woo customers away from competitors, Virgin Mobile today announced a deal with Apple which will see it transitioning to become an iPhone-only carrier. To kick of this change, the company also introduced a limited time promotion that will see it giving away a year’s worth of unlimited talk, text and data for only a dollar. There are a few caveats to this deal, of course. Like most carriers, unlimited is data is not exactly that. Customers who use more than 23 GB of data during one billing cycle will be deprioritized, Virgin says – meaning...

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