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WHATSAPP WILL INTRODUCE ADVERTISEMENTS IN APP

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Advertisements will finally be making its way into messenger service WhatsApp, in its ‘Status’ section.

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.

 

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AT&T PLANS BUYING GUIDE: WHICH ONE IS THE BEST FOR YOUR NEEDS?

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So, you’ve been thinking about biting the gun and becoming an AT&T customer?

Good thinking, but which plan to choose? Clearly, the abundance of options in AT&T’s roster don’t make the choice any easy, but we are here to help.

A couple of weeks ago, we walked you through all the different plans in Verizon’s lobby, but now it’s time to subject AT&T to the same treatment.

Unlimited plans

AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced and AT&T Unlimited Choice Enhanced

Ever since AT&T caved in and finally offered truly unlimited plans last year, its Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan has positioned itself as the most-loaded out plan. This plan is perfect for families due to the flexibility of the included line options and the loadout of features, compromise with speed, streaming quality, or the ability to use a mobile hotspot.
Meanwhile, AT&T Unlimited Choice Enhanced is mostly the same unlimited data/text/voice calls ordeal, but it comes with less features and is a bit more affordable. Both plans are perfect for family usage scenarios, and choosing one over the other would highly depend on your stance towards video streaming quality, mobile hotspot, and speed throttling.
Here’s a rundown of the pricing of the different lines, and after that we’d rundown other notable features of the plan. Note that the prices below have AutoPay and Paperless billing discounts applied to them.

* – Prices after discount with AutoPay and Paperless billing.

It’s obvious that the more, the merrier.

As you can see, once you start adding new lines to the AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan, prices become more and more affordable, making them more and more palatable for the regular family of up to four out there, and overall, a better deal.

With prices out of the way, let’s see what the two unlimited data plans offer as far as data allotments, features, and speeds are concerned.
Common strengths of both plans:
  • Free HBO for life: Both plans give you HBO for life. That’s undoubtedly a boon for all fans of A+ TV shows from the likes of Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Wire and many others as HBO has one of the most loaded-out subscription services out there. Have in mind that the actual promotion will start within 2 monthly billing cycles. Of course, if you drop your Unlimited Choice or Plus plan, you automatically forfeit the HBO benefit.
  • Unlimited roaming in Mexico & Canada: Pretty self-explanatory, but with either Unlimited Plus or Choice you get unlimited roaming in both neighboring countries.
  • Unlimited texting from USA to 120+ countries: With either Unlimited Plus or Choice you can text, send pictures and video messages via MMS to more than 120 countries around the globe at no extra cost.
  • AT&T THANKS: AT&T’s benefit program allows you to get insider access to special events, various forms of entertainment like movies and music, as well as get expert help, and many others at no extra cost. The majority of these benefits can be explored and used from the dedicated AT&T THANKS app on the app stores.
  • Military discounts: If you’re qualified military personnel or a veteran you get 15% discount at every monthly bill.
Our verdict: If you want the absolute best unlimited plan on AT&T, you should certainly go for Unlimited Plus Enhanced. It has the most bells and whistles and you shouldn’t worry about throttling that much. Well, at least until you don’t go over 22GB of LTE data per line per month as you’re likely to experience temporary throttling at busier times. Additionally, the 15GB mobile hotspot allotments is well worth it, especially if you use your device to cast Internet in your immediate vicinity. Conversely, if you’re perfectly fine with a bit more throttling in busier time windows and don’t use your device as a mobile hotspot, you will also be fine with AT&T Unlimited Choice Enhanced.

Limited & Prepaid Data plans

If you’re looking for something else than an unlimited data plan, AT&T’s prepaid ones are here to help. But which one to choose – the eponymous AT&T Prepaid plans or the Mobile Share Flex ones? Let’s highlight all the features and intricate differences and help you make up your mind.

AT&T Prepaid

The good ol’ Prepaid plans are a perfect match for people that value flexibility over anything else. With no annual plan, credit check, or even an activation fee in sight, it’s as close as you can get to freedom when dealing with large corporations. You can have AT&T Prepaid in a variety of flavors, ranging from $30 to $85 per month, depending on your loadout and discounts. Here’s a rundown of the prices and features:
No matter which plan you choose, we highly recommend enrolling into the AutoPay program, which will automatically charge your eligible credit or debit card every billing period. With AutoPay, you eliminate the possibility of having your service terminated after not paying on time. That’s a great thing to have on its own, but the discount on the prepaid plans is another boon to consumers’ wallets.
You can save even more if you bundle multiple prepaid plans together. For a second and a third additional lines, you get $10 off on your total monthly bill, while for a fourth and fifth additional line you get $20 off. This means that you can save up to $110 per month if you combine five Prepaid Unlimited Plus plans, or $1,320 per annum. You can check out the interactive AT&T configurator right here.
Our verdict: From the get-go, we wouldn’t recommend the $65/mo plan as it’s pretty hampered when compared to the others. Sure, it comes with unlimited data in tow, but we don’t like the lack of mobile tethering functionality as well as its inability to stream 1080p video. Albeit pricier, the top unlimited data plan is definitely better value on all fronts. When it comes to the ‘cheaplings’, it all comes to whether you can live with as low as a gigabyte of fast-speed data per month and whether you travel to Mexico and Canada often – if no, you should probably go for the $40/mo plan, but if you are okay with less data and no free-of-charge roaming allotment.

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INSTAGRAM READY TO GIVE INFLUENCERS AND CELEBS SPECIALIZED TOOLS VIA CREATOR ACCOUNTS

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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.

 

 

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SAMSUNG IS BUILDING SOFTWARE TO CONTROL YOUR TV WITH YOUR BRAIN

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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-brain-reading-tv
Ricardo Chavarriaga (left), a senior researcher at the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and Martin Kathriner, head of public Affairs, Samsung Electronics Switzerland GmbH, have been working on controlling a TV using brainwaves.

Shara Tibken/CNET

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.

Brain power

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 launched Neuralink, a company dedicated to creating “neural lace,” which involves installing tiny electrodes in the brain to transmit thoughts.

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Samsung’s Project Pontis collects brainwaves to decide if the user wants to select a particular movie.

Angela Lang/CNET

And neuroscientists around the globe have been researching ways to make a digital interface for the brain. 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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Source:  https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-is-making-a-tv-you-control-with-your-brain-at-sdc-samsung-developer-conference/

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