Crunch Report | Reddit Now Valued at $1.8 Billion

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Niantic postpones its European Pokémon GO Event, Discovery Communications acquires Scripps Networks for $14.6 billion, Game of Thrones materials getting released in HBO hack and Reddit is now valued at $1.8 billion. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

August 1st 2017 News, Technology

iPhone 8 Predicted to Cost a Jaw-Dropping $1200

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It’s no secret that the Apple iPhone is an expensive mobile device. The entry-level iPhone 7 is priced at $649 while the more feature-packed 256GB iPhone 7 Plus is at a whopping $969, a cost that is way higher than most other smartphones currently on the market. With the iPhone 8’s release looming around the corner, its price is once again the talk of the town.

Analysts and Apple experts believe that the new iPhone will most likely hit the $1000 mark. In addition to that, they also think the company will release not just one model this year, but three.

How Many New iPhones Will There Be?

Insiders say we should expect three phones. The first two releases will be an upgrade of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with an improved processor and upgraded camera. The third one, it seems, will be the long-awaited iPhone 8 which is rumored to be priced at $1,200 or even more.

Will the iPhone 8 Features Justify the Cost?

Apple’s iPhone 8 is set to open up a new “luxury” tier since its cost will be $550 more than the previous model. Its features will be a screen that uses OLED technology, wireless charging, a 3D camera that can be utilized for augmented reality and facial recognition, and an edge to edge screen.

However, these features are not really that new in the smartphone industry. Apple’s rival, Samsung has recently released the Galaxy S8 at $749, which already has the features that Apple is currently planning.

Since the Samsung Galaxy S8’s release, it has eaten quite a chunk of Apple’s market share. But if that is the case, why would Apple put such a high price tag on its phone?

Reports have surfaced that Apple is having production issues with the iPhone 8 and launch date delay is a real possibility. In addition to that, the new OLED screens are more expensive than Apple’s prior LCD screens. The high demand, limited supply, and higher production cost are the likely culprits of the phone’s rumored hefty price.

Who’s Really Going to Buy a $1200-iPhone?

Apple will be at a significant disadvantage if they try to release the phone at such an insanely high price, according to reports. However, Apple has no shortage of loyal followers that are willing to pay almost any price for the company’s latest offering, guaranteeing the success of the product. In fact, Apple is betting that the iPhone 8 will break previous sales records which saw iPhone unit sales of 78.3 million, up 5 percent from the previous year.

Right now, there is no official price for the iPhone 8 and many analysts believe Apple will have a more reasonable pricing strategy for its buyers.

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July 18th 2017 Technology

Crunch Report | Fastest Drone Ever World Record Set

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The world record for the fastest drone is set, an artificial heart is 3D printed and luxury phone maker Vertu shuts down. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

July 15th 2017 News, Technology

Crunch Report | DraftKings and FanDuel No Longer Merging

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Uber is merging with Yandex.Taxi in Russia, DraftKings and FanDuel call it quits on their merger, Amazon is working on a premium Echo Home and gives New Yorkers smart locks for their home deliveries. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

July 14th 2017 News, Technology

Google Unveils PAIR Initiative to Improve Relationship Between Humans and AI

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Google announced Monday a new initiative geared towards improving the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence (AI).

The project, called People + AI Research (PAIR), will see Google researchers analyze the way humans interact with AI and the pieces of software it powers. The team, to be led by Google Brain researchers and data visualization experts Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, will work to determine how best to utilize AI from the perspective of humans.

“PAIR is devoted to advancing the research and design of people-centric AI systems. We’re interested in the full spectrum of human interaction with machine intelligence, from supporting engineers to understanding everyday experiences with AI,” the website for the initiative says.

The thrust of PAIR is to have AI in a form that is more practicable to humans, or to make it “less disappointing or surprising,” as described by Wired.

An application of this idea would be the use of AI as an aid for professionals like musicians, farmers, doctors and engineers in their vocations. Google, however, did not go into detail on how it will go about putting this idea into practice.

The researchers also hope to help form impressions of artificial intelligence that will enable people to have realistic expectations of it.

“One of the research questions is how do you reset a user’s expectations on the fly when they’re interacting with a virtual assistant,”  Viégas said.

Viégas and Wattenberg, along with the 12 full-time members of the PAIR team at Google, will also be working with experts from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

PAIR, according to Google, will “ensure machine learning is inclusive, so everyone can benefit from breakthroughs in AI.” Nevertheless, as Fortune points out, there have been questions of whether tech giants like Google and Facebook are keeping AI knowledge to themselves after hiring many highly regarded researchers in different areas of AI such as deep learning.

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July 11th 2017 Google, Technology

Waymo Streamlines Case Against Uber by Dropping 3 Patent Claims

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The battle between Waymo’s Alphabet and Uber is far from over, despite the former dropping three out of their four patent claims. In their defense, Waymo is saying that they are dropping the claims because it has been agreed upon that Uber will be abandoning the use of LiDAR, the autonomous driving technology in question.

In a statement, Uber has clarified that they are no longer using the technology and have no plans of using it in the near future, Waymo, however, is reserving their right to refile any of the dropped claims if necessary.

Waymo, Google’s self-driving project that now runs under its own business patent Alphabet,  stands by their decision of dropping three out of the four patent infringements in order to streamline their defense and strengthen their case.

The heated court battle stems from the alleged theft of over 14,000 files by then Uber employee Anthony Levandowski shortly after leaving Waymo. Levandowski supposedly used the information he obtained to build his own autonomous trucking company, Otto, which was later purchased by Uber for $680,000,000 in stock.

Uber is firm in saying that they had no prior knowledge that the data on which Otto was based was stolen from the Waymo server. Levandowski may face criminal charges for the alleged theft of data but has refused to testify, invoking his right against self-incrimination.

Without Levandowski’s testimony, it may seem like Uber is at a loss for defense, but the company remains confident that the cases filed against them lacks evidence and that the claims are not rooted in facts.

Waymo insists that the focus of the lawsuit does not solely rely on the patent infringement but rather the trade secrets which then Waymo engineer Levandowski stole from their server.

Despite recommendations by Judge William Alsup to drop the entire case, Waymo is persistent in pursuing the claims they made against Uber. The trial date is scheduled in October of this year.

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July 10th 2017 Technology

Microsoft Exec Confirms Delay of Windows 10 Timeline Feature

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Microsoft launched an exciting demo at Build 2017 in May. It showcased, among other things, a convenient and useful Timeline feature in its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

This feature was supposed to work in conjunction with the Pick Up Where You Left Off feature, allowing users to move across different platforms by syncing their work between Windows 10 devices, along with Android phones and iPhones in some cases.

The Fall Creators Update will hopefully arrive around September or October, but this Timeline feature will not be a part of it. This was confirmed on Twitter by Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for the Operating Systems Group, in response to a tweet by Tom Warren. He did comment that this feature would be released on Windows Insiders “shortly after” the Fall Creators Update.

A concept like the Timeline feature is not new. The iOS and macOS systems by Apple have a similar feature for users to start and resume their work across multiple devices. Microsoft’s promised Timeline, however, seeks to enable resuming work across competing operating systems.

Another aspect of the much-awaited Timeline feature is the ability to view an earlier version of your desktop. The work progress will also be displayed on a “cards-style interface,” thereby making it convenient to jump right into an ongoing task. Since the testing of this feature would only come about after the next update, this functionality is also not available for now.

Reviewers are not surprised, as this is not the first time an announced feature was delayed by Microsoft. The Fall Creators Update carries with it the MyPeople experience, which was supposed to have been a part of the last Windows rollout. Nevertheless, studies have shown that Microsoft’s operating system progress is still in good shape. The Fall Creators Revision is deemed to be a welcome update for Windows user, with insightful changes and useful tools.

As is the norm, Microsoft users would eventually have to upgrade their systems for their own security and privacy. The upgrade is also necessary for a proper balance between user control and convenience.

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July 10th 2017 Technology

Can AI Replace Your Customer Service Representative?

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Businesses are quickly changing the way they operate by automating menial tasks with the help of Artificial Intelligence or AI. More companies are now using chatbots to help users accomplish tasks that would, in the past, require the assistance of a customer service representative.

Despite the rapid progress, however, experts say that there is still a glaring need for development before machines can fully replace humans in providing customer support. In order for machines to provide full value in addressing real-life customer concerns, they must first understand human semantics.

Chatbots as Customer Service Reps

Using chatbots in place of actual customer service representatives is a good idea, in theory. For one, you can teach a chatbot to answer thousands of possible questions consistently. They even have the capacity to decode questions with grammatical errors, misspellings, and a certain level of colloquialism.

This autonomy and intelligence are some of the characteristics that have made current chatbots a possibility. But while this holds a lot of promise, there are limitations to machine learning that prevent AIs from fully learning semantics.

A simple question can have several different interpretations depending on tone and emphasis, and teaching all of that to a bot can be tedious and time-consuming. To provide users with adequate responses, bots need extensive chat log histories that can train them to understand real-life scenarios.

Companies who want to deploy bots at the foreground of customer support either have to input all of the possible data manually or do away with a bot that doesn’t have sufficient input.

This is the very reason why we hear stories of bots who’ve gone rogue minutes after deployment. Without access to properly labeled and extensive chat logs, bots don’t have the full capacity to pair questions with their underlying intent. In that sense, they only have semi-autonomy in dealing with customer concerns.

AIs Working in Conjunction With Real Life Customer Service Reps

Today’s AIs have the capacity to understand basic questions and provide entry-level responses. Anything more complex would still require the understanding of a living and breathing customer service representative. This slight limitation, however, doesn’t mean bots can no longer provide customer support. Many brands and businesses are already making significant investments to integrate AI into their customer service operations.

The real and imminent possibility at the moment is to deploy AIs and machines to work with people on the front lines of customer support. This advancement on its own can make customer support more accessible and decrease call traffic for most support hotlines.

Once developers find a way to fully optimize AI in handling real-life scenarios without going rogue, it’s quite certain that using bots as customer service representatives is in our near future. For now, studies and further work need to be done to ascertain if bots can provide customers with a satisfactory resolution to their complex concerns.

The hype surrounding AI doesn’t mean humans will be obsolete in the customer service sector. This just means businesses can allocate more of their resources and manpower to more demanding aspects of business operation.

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July 7th 2017 Technology

Tips for Building the Perfect Chatbot for Your Business

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Chatbots are becoming more sophisticated and are changing the way people communicate on the internet. Although relatively new, chatbots hold a lot of promise and are bound to change the way business owners conduct online marketing.

Building the perfect chatbot for your business requires proper research and flawless execution for a seamless user experience.

Learn how you can build the perfect chatbot that will take your business to a whole new level below.

Define Your Purpose

The perfect chatbot is designed with a purpose to serve your business in the best way possible. Right now, there are two main types of chatbots that are being used by brands: utility and conversational chatbots.

Utility chatbots are designed to help users complete simple tasks such as taking an order or making a reservation. Conversational bots are bots that simulate communication with the user and are far more complex compared to the former.

Before designing a chatbot for your business, you must first identify what your requirements are. A chatbot can be designed to carry out a variety of functions, but in order for it to execute its task, its objectives must be clear from the beginning.

Develop a Personality

A chatbot’s purpose is to simulate human interaction in the closest way possible. You should make sure that your chatbot embodies your brand image and has the ability to engage with its users in a naturally flowing manner.  

Developing a personality will help you provide a better user experience. You can use machine learning and advanced natural language processing (NLP) to help your chatbot build a more human-like vocabulary.

Through advanced data labeling, you can help your chatbot discern colloquial and conversational nuances to come up with the best possible response to the user. Think of your chatbot as a perfect brand ambassador. That way you can easily picture how they should speak and interact with your customers.

Make it Experimental

A chatbot can only be beneficial to your business if it manages to give its users exceptional interaction. Your goal is to create a chatbot that will raise customer satisfaction. The key in making chatbot interactions more experiential lies on execution.

You should make sure your chatbot has the ability to mimic a flowing conversation and can share insights with the user. Chatbots are supplemental marketing assets that should add value to the services you offer your customers, both existing and potential.

Invest in Development

Because chatbots are still in their early stages, you can safely assume that building one might require a hefty amount of investment. If you want to create a chatbot that can represent your brand and provide users with excellent experience, you must be willing to invest in development.

Building and maintaining a chatbot will require time, money, and manpower. It also involves continuous experimentation. As a business owner, you should expect that there are major learning curves that come with integrating them into your current marketing strategy.

Brands are quickly using chatbots to change the way they interact with their online audience, isn’t it about time that you do the same?

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July 6th 2017 Technology

Will the New iPhone Come With Facial Recognition Technology?

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There are several ways to unlock and secure your mobile phone. When it comes to the iPhone, the fingerprint scanner is one of the most popular options available. However, this method has its limitations, which is why Apple has been considering facial recognition for more than a year now.

This feature would not only be convenient but also more secure than the fingerprint scanner, possibly overshadowing it. The Apple facial scanner would be able to scan a face from a distance using a depth sensor, making it faster and safer to unlock the phone rather than using the fingerprint scanner, a pattern, or a number code.

Apple is apparently testing out frontal 3D facial scanning, retinal scanning, and depth recognition. They are also focusing on a high level of speed and comprehensive accuracy with the new technology. The aim is to give the iPhone owner the ability to unlock the device, within a few milliseconds at the most, just by glancing at it. It could even work if the phone is lying flat on a table.

The security of the face recognition feature would not only exceed that of the Touch ID sensor, but also the iris scanner found on the Samsung Galaxy S8. Upon release of the Galaxy S8, hackers were able to unlock the phone with an easy-to-execute tactic that involved holding a photo image of the iris in front of the phone’s sensor. Sensing depth, the 3D feature on the new iPhone would be able to collect more biometric data to reduce the possibility of being deceived by a photo. 

An added bonus of the new feature is that your face will not only be able to unlock your phone, but also make payments, launch apps, log into social media accounts, and much more. It is not clear if the 3D scanner will replace the Touch ID as Apple’s representatives have yet to respond to the rumor.

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July 5th 2017 apple, iphone, Technology