Google announced that it has acquired Toro, a startup that helps developers promote their apps on Facebook. The company is led by Amitt Mahajan and Joel Poloney and was formally known as Red Hot Labs. Financial details have not been disclosed. The San Francisco-based startup Toro is known to offer services and tools to help software engineers promote their user numbers. Amitt Mahajan and Joel Poloney previously co-founded MyMiniLife, which played a key role in the creation of FarmVille, as pointed out by TechCrunch. The report also adds that the main aim of the company is to make launching and optimizing a Facebook ad campaign, super easy for mobile app developers to use. A Google spokesperson confirmed the acquisition and said that Toro will be joining the mobile ads team. Recommended Link: How To Control Your MacBook With Android Smartphones: 8 Tips And Tricks The blog by Toro says that the company will continue to optimize campaigns and update dashboards for existing marketing, customers but as of now, the campaign creation has been suspended. The company recommends to work with an alternative Facebook PMD (Preferred Marketing Developer) for new campaigns. In their announcement, Toro also added that joining Google will give team members access to more resources and distribution, allowing them to continue their mission of making the lives of app development easier. Toro had earlier raised $1.5 million in funding from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, SV Angel, General Catalyst, Keith Rabois, Chris Dixon, Bill Tai and Guitar Hero co-creators Charles Huang and Kai Huang, points out the report.
INSTAGRAM READY TO GIVE INFLUENCERS AND CELEBS SPECIALIZED TOOLS VIA CREATOR ACCOUNTS
Instagram plans to offer high-profile influencers special tools that will provide them with a deeper insight into various data regarding their followers. These tools will be delivered in the form of Creator Accounts, which will only be available to select Instagram users (i.e. influencers, celebs).
An Instagram official recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the company wishes to make sure that “Instagram is the best place, and easiest place, to build fan communities and also build creators. personal brands.”
These creator accounts are meant to function like business-focused profiles and will offer growth insights, including information about follows and unfollows. Influencers will also be able to see weekly and daily data about their followers count changes so that they can better understand what might have caused a decline in their fan base or a spike in new followers.
Also, direct messaging tools that will enable Instagram users to filter notes from brand partners and friends will be available as well. Furthermore, influencers will be allowed to choose how they want to be contacted via flexible labels.
According to Instagram. these new features are being tested with a small beta group at the moment, but they are expected to be rolled out to everyone sometime in 2019.
WHATSAPP WILL INTRODUCE ADVERTISEMENTS IN APP
Outlook India reports that WhatsApp’s vice-president Chris Daniels confirmed the move, though he did not provide a timeline for when it would be rolled out or how the ads would work.
“We are going to be putting ads in ‘Status’. That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp,” he said.
Like with Instagram stories, WhatsApp’s ‘Status’ feature lets users to broadcast text, photos and videos which disappear after 24 hours.
Users will be able to see status updates by their saved contacts in the ‘Status’ column, between ‘Chats’ and ‘Calls’.
WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion global users and maintained its ad-free status until now, although it did experiment with an annual subscription fee several years ago.
Facebook Inc acquired the messaging apps four years ago for US$19bil (RM79.47bil) and it appears it’s finally going to monetise the service through ads.
WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton had opposed monetisation via targeted apps, telling Forbes that it would compromise the assurance of encryption in the app’s messaging.
SAMSUNG IS BUILDING SOFTWARE TO CONTROL YOUR TV WITH YOUR BRAIN
Samsung has created smart TV software you can control with your brainwaves.
The research, called Project Pontis, aims to make Samsung’s televisions more accessible for people with physical disabilities like quadriplegia. The company wants to enable “users with physical limitations to change channels and adjust sound volume with their brains.”
Samsung’s Swiss operations started the project three months ago in partnership with the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. The company demoed its second prototype TV on Thursday at its developer conference in San Francisco.
“How can we provide accessibility to people who cannot move or who have extreme limitations on their movements,” Ricardo Chavarriaga, a senior scientist at EPFL who’s working on the project with Samsung, said during a panel at Samsung Developer Conference.
“We’re making tech that is more complex, that is more intelligent, but we should not forget this tech is being made to interface with humans,” he added.
The first step in making the brainwave-controlled TV software is to collect a sample of how the brain behaves when the user wants to do something like select a movie. Samsung and EPFL combine indicators from both the environment and brain scans to build a model and apply machine learning to let the user select shows using eye movements and brainwaves.
To collect the brainwaves in the prototype, a user wears a headset covered with 64 sensors while looking at an eye tracker. The headset is connected to a computer that’s mirrored to the TV.
The current prototype uses eye tracking to determine when a user has selected a particular movie. The system then builds a profile of videos the user gravitates toward, making it easier to provide lists of content in the future. The user ultimately makes a selection using eye tracking.
Samsung and EPFL are also working on a system that goes further and relies on brain signals alone for users who aren’t able to control their eyes or other muscles reliably, Chavarriaga said.
“One thing we have to take in account is everybody is different,” he said. Currently, the technology has to be tailored to each person because of variations in brains. “We believe we have to do the best for the person, so we have to personalize,” Chavarriaga told CNET.
Samsung this week has been hosting its annual developer conference in San Francisco. SDC reflects Samsung’s big push to get developers to make software specifically for its devices. In the past, that’s meant making apps that work on the edge of Samsung’s curved smartphone displays or take advantage of its S Pen stylus. This year, that focus has turned to Bixby and artificial intelligence. But Samsung also has pushed developers to make apps for its other products, like its TVs and home appliances.
While developers aren’t yet making apps that can be controlled with the brain, Samsung’s doing research into the area. And it’s not the only company trying to use brainwaves to control devices. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March 2017, a company dedicated to creating “neural lace,” which involves installing tiny electrodes in the brain to transmit thoughts.
And neuroscientists around the globe have been researching ways to. The technology is still early days, but it could one day replace touch screens and voice assistants in devices. Currently, most brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are currently being created only for people who have suffered debilitating injuries that left them partially or completely paralyzed.
While Samsung’s first prototype also is targeted at accessibility, it’s too soon to say whether we’ll all one day be controlling our devices with our brainwaves, said Martin Kathriner, head of public affairs for Samsung Electronics Switzerland GmbH. There are limitations with the current hardware. The sensor helmet requires a layer of gel applied to the head, something consumers likely aren’t going to do at home.
“To us it’s an accessibility idea,” he told CNET after Samsung’s SDC panel. “If it’s applicable to us one day as pro couch potatoes, I have no idea.”
Samsung initially considered building the technology into a smartphone but opted for the TV in part because of its bigger screen and because most homes have a TV, Kathriner said. He added that TVs also can be used as smart home hubs, which could be attractive for the brainwave technology.
Samsung plans to work on its second prototype through the first quarter of 2019 and then start tests in Swiss hospitals “where we start to explore how this situation, currently a prototype, … is perceived by patients,” Kathriner said.
Originally published at 3:05 p.m. PT
Update at 4:30 p.m. PT with additional details and executive comments.
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