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How Virtual Reality tech products will kill the age of Smartphones

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By Isha Srivastva

On Monday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed the details of long awaited Apple Watch. The smart watch performs all the functions which an iPhone does.

“Apple Watch is the most personal device we have created. It isn’t just with you, it’s on you,” Cook told his audience in California.

One might argue that the device is hardly liberating as it still needs the iPhone for connectivity, however, there is no doubt that smartphones in the near future may not be our permanent accessory after all!

Birth of Virtual Reality

Back in the 90s, virtual reality had a very clouded future. In early 2014, when Facebook bought the virtual reality company Oculus, it signalled a promising possibility for VR acolytes. VR is yet to fully permeate the markets and as of now, two giants stand ahead of the pack, Sony and Oculus (owned by Facebook).

At the Mobile World Conference this year, there was a plethora of VR technology products. Samsung (teamed with Facebook owned Oculus) revealed a new version of the Gear VR that can be powered by both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge.

HTC’s VIVE VR headset (Very Immersive Visual Experience) also grabbed a lot of eyeballs during the MWC. It provides a ‘full room experience’ and comes with two wireless wand like controllers. Tracking sensors allow users to use your hands to create 3D art, and all of this without being connected to a smartphone.

The kind of leap into future technology that VR epitomises, is akin to 3D graphics technology. 3D graphics are omnipresent in so many areas like the web and the movies. Virtual Reality too, offers unlimited potential to be used for gaming, storytelling, or simply witnessing a historical event even at places you’re not physically present.

Let’s not forget that these are still prototypes and are not yet ready for public use. While Oculus is slated to arrive early next year, Sony Morpheus (which is releasing around the same time) promises to drive PS4 gaming to another level.

Computerised glasses, also called ‘augmented reality’ are rationally the next step in personal computing. The wearable tech market maybe at its nascent stage but Glass has already captured public’s imagination like no other.

 Will smartphones go modular?

Google is planning to launch its Project Ara (or Google Ara) some time in August 2015. The idea is fairly simple: you buy a basic Ara phone and parts of it can be pulled out and swapped as you please. It’s an extremely versatile computing platform which will allow you to upgrade to more powerful components, for example a better camera, from a dedicated hardware Google store. This even provides a good potential to startups for developing their own components specifically for the phone.

Smartphones may be ubiquitous for atleast a decade, but for tech enthusiasts, it is virtual reality that is already becoming an obsession. The headsets companies are still facing hurdles of position tracking, multi user experiences, social stigma and high prices before they fully penetrate domestic market.

However, It isn’t specifically about one VR headset, or an Apple Watch; these devices present the limitless nature of digital world building, almost akin to an art which will manifest itself in a new myriad of devices and technologies. The question is- what virtual worlds are we capable of creating, and how will we use this technology as a medium of progress?

 

 

 

 

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Google gets the better of Facebook as top referral source for publishers

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

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Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017
Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017. VOA
  • Google webpage traffic increases considerably
  • Facebook went down by 26% in January as compared to last year
  • Video publishing feature might has add up to the Facebook traffic

San Francisco, Dec 12,2017: Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers’ main source of external page views over the course of 2017, a new data showed.

Google used to be the main source of referral traffic for web publishers. Then Facebook eclipsed it, ReCode reported late on Monday.

According to digital analytics company Parse.ly, Google sent more traffic than Facebook to publishers — Facebook sent 25 per cent less traffic to publishers in 2017, while Google increased its traffic by 17 per cent.

In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 per cent of publishers’ external traffic which is now down to 26 per cent.

Google web traffic
Google AMP feature has helped it to add up to the web traffic

Google, which started the year at 34 per cent, generated 44 per cent of the total traffic.

Parse.ly pointed out a number of factors for this turnaround.

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

Also, Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature, where the service hosted some publishers’ content directly but promised to send more readers to the original site as well, has declined in importance, the analytics company found.

Since users can now publish videos directly on Facebook, this might have affected how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages.

Google’s “accelerated mobile pages” (AMP) feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, became more important over the year.

AMP stories – typically from news publishers – are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks. (IANS)

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Facebook Introduces Digital Training and Start-up hubs in India to Promote Digital Economy

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Facebook launched digital training in India
Facebook launched digital training in India.Pixaby.

New Delhi, Nov 23: Facebook on Wednesday introduced its digital training and start-up training hubs in India aimed at helping small businesses and people grow by giving them the digital skills they need to compete in today’s digital economy.

Facebook said it plans to train more than half a million people in the country by 2020 through these online training hubs, which are being rolled out first in India.

The learning curriculum which is personalised to the individual’s needs and available in English and Hindi on mobile, the social network, which is used by 217 million people in India, announced.

“We believe the best way to prepare India for a digital economy is by equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, Facebook, India and South Asia.

To develop the learning curriculum, the social network worked with several organisations, including Digital Vidya, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), DharmaLife and the government’s StartupIndia initiative.

The curriculum includes vital skills for digital skill seekers and tech entrepreneurs, including how to protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, what regulations and legal hurdles they need to consider, how to build an online reputation, and a host of other critical skills.

This could mean teaching a small business owner how to create an online presence; helping a non-profit reach new communities and potential donors; or it could mean helping a tech entrepreneur turn their product idea into a startup through practical business advice.

Facebook said its digital training hub would provide free social and content marketing training for anyone – from students to business owners – who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills.

According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with Facebook, small businesses use of digital translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.

Since 2011 Facebook has invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses globally.

The “Boost Your Business” and “SheMeansBusiness” initiatives have trained more than 60,000 small businesses, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, in India, Facebook said. (IANS)

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Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

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To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)