Apple's product lineup have one notable distinction - how tightly integrated the different devices are - and all the user contents are accessible across every other Apple device; which continuity allow users to easily migrate contents when switching device.

For instance, if you're not done reading an article on Safari in the office Mac, on your commute home, you can pick up from where you left on your iPad or iPhone with only a tap.

This integration between iOS devices and macOS devices can also be experienced in the Messaging apps, with iMessage conversations on an iPhone or iPad are mirrored on a Mac as long as the user is logged into the same iCloud account on both devices.

The same is also true for text messages if the option is enabled, the feature make many Apple's device users to imply they can't live without one, but now a little new bug is making may think otherwise.

While the ability to move over conversations between devices is perhaps the best thing about iPhone and Mac, Apple’s latest update to macOS High Sierra has broken this key functionality for a number of users.

As it appears, many users have not been receiving notifications when new messages arrive on their iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch even with their Mac computers powered on; which making matters even worse, the notifications on Mac are hugely delayed, that affected users don’t know when they receive messages even when working on their Mac.

According to AppleInsider, even the latest available betas still don’t fix this annoying problem, but the only thing that seem to get messaging working again on an iPhone, albeit temporarily, is to either disable Messages on the Mac or simply shut down the computer.

New Bug in Apple's iMessage infuriate iPhone users

Google announced a range of new updates coming to Firebase, its platform that allow developers to leverage the backend services to build/manage their mobile and web apps, with many of the service’s becoming core features.

While the company acquired Fabric from Twitter, along with Crashlytics, the crash-reporting tool; other enhancements coming to Firebase include: improved Cloud Messaging API, Predictions support from Google’s AI, and a revamped console for managing projects across the app cycle.

Albeit, the Crashlytics support will be rolling out in the next few weeks into the Firebase console, even as Firebase has become more of a platform over, that developers will be able to build their app crash reports into workflows.

And the revamped Firebase console is now a straightforward proposition, especially now that the service includes a far wider range of features.

The Firebase team explains it as follows:

We’ve clustered Firebase products into four main areas, based on the app development lifecycle: Develop, Stability, Analytics, and Grow, All of the products that you’re used to seeing in the Firebase console are still there; we’ve simply reorganized things to more accurately reflect the way your team works.

Google will be expanding the Firebase Cloud Messaging service to include sending notifications to its users.

It is launching a new API for this service to make it easier to send cross-platform notifications that could, for example, only include basic text for iOS users and an additional click_action for Android users.

Also, the new A/B testing framework is launching to make it easier to run variant tests and try different push notification messages. If you're a eveloper and want to get an early peek at what this will look like, you can opt in to get early access here.

Google brings Crashlytics Integration and A/B testing to Firebase

Apache PredictionIO is an open-sourced version of a project originally developed by a subsidiary of Salesforce, which is built on Spark and Hadoop framework, and serves predictions from data using customizable templates for common tasks.

The PredictionIO’s event server receive data from apps to train a model, then query the engine for predictions based on the given model.

While PredictionIO's template system is perhaps its most notable advantage, as it reduces the heavy lifting needed to set up the system to serve specific kinds of predictions.

And some templates also integrate other machine learning products, but PredictionIO can automatically evaluate a prediction engine to determine the best hyperparameters to use.

Albeit, the developer needs to set metrics on how to do this, but there’s generally less work involved than in tuning hyperparameters manually.

Apache also offers supported SDKs for working in Java, Python, PHP and Ruby. MLlib, HBase, Spray, and Elasticsearch all come bundled with PredictionIO, while data can be stored in a variety of back ends, including: Elasticsearch, JDBC, HBase, HDFS and their local file systems are all supported out of the box.

PredictionIO can accept predictions singly or as a batch, with batched predictions automatically parallelized across a Spark cluster, as the algorithms (default algorithms) used in batch predictions are all serialized.

How Apache PredictionIO makes it easier to serve Predictions from Machine Learning

Facebook has made changes to its ads policy days before the company, with rivals Google and Twitter, are scheduled to testify to the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The lawmakers on November 1, are expected to grill these tech giants concerning Russian interference in the last U.S. elections using their various platforms to spread misinformation.

With the changes in policy, Facebook intends to make political advertisements easier to spot, in an effort to promote transparency.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the changes will make it easier to see what different groups are trying to communicate around elections and will make it harder for anyone to break the rules.

While the political ads will need to be verified and identified as political, with a "paid for by" disclosure included and users can tap on an ad to view more information. Facebook will use machine learning to help identify and verify those advertisers who did not disclose themselves as political advertisers.

Also, Facebook will be adding "thousands" of people to its teams that review ads, albeit this won't stop all bad actors, but it's one of many important steps forward.

Additionally, Facebook will allow users to view all ads circulating from a Page, even if that user is not part of the targeted audience for each ad.

Initial tests have started in Canada and users will be able to view current ads that are running from a Page. But as it expands into the US during the election, Facebook will create an archive to view all election-related ads that have run in the past.

Facebook will also provide information on how much money is spent for each political advertisers, with the number of impressions garnered and demographic information about the audience reached.

The new changes will be rolling out next month and will affect all Pages, not just political advertisers.

How Facebook's new rules will ensure Transparency for Political ads

If you've ever sent a message to the wrong person or group, which in most cases may be somewhat embarrassing, WhatsApp has finally got the problem covered with the new "delete for everyone" option.

While the app’s former delete function barely removes a message from the senders side, it is fairly useless as it only removes a message for the person who sent it.

The new update affords users the option to “delete for everyone,” which rids the message(s) from the chat windows for all, with a notification explaining to the recipient(s) that the message has been removed.

The company statement reads as follows:

Messages you successfully delete for everyone will be replaced with “This message was deleted” in your recipients’ chats (*). Similarly, if you see “This message was deleted” in a chat, it means that the sender deleted their message for everyone.

You can only delete messages for everyone for up to seven minutes after sending. Once seven minutes have passed, there is no way to delete messages for everyone.

The feature is particularly useful if you sent a message to the wrong person or if the message you sent contains a mistake.

It is about now rolling out to WhatsApp's over one billion users, and requires the latest version of the messaging app, as all conversation participants must have the latest version of WhatsApp installed on their device.

WhatsApp introduces “Delete for Everyone” message recall

The power of social media in today’s competitive business environment cannot be underestimated. With so many social media platforms at your disposal today, you cannot afford to ignore their immense potential to help you market your business more effectively. Businesses across all sectors are scrambling for a piece of the pie—online car dealerships, eCommerce sites, gaming sites etc. In fact, even online trading sites such as CMC Markets are using social media to grow their ever increasing customer base.

A great majority of young people have at the very least one social media account. According to a recent study, about 33% of young people prefer to use social media to communicate with businesses. About 35% of baby boomers also use social media. This is a huge market that you should do everything in your power to take advantage of.

Social media campaigns cannot be successful if they’re run blindly and without clear goals right from the start.

With social media, the secret to success is in engagement and creativity. You need to keep your audience engaged with interesting and creative content so that you can inspire them and effectively market your brand to them. If you have been struggling to leverage the ever growing number of social media users to boost your business, you can learn a thing or two from businesses that have run very successful social media campaigns in 2017.

Using public events to your advantage

You stand to attract much more attention from social media users by centering your social media campaign on upcoming public events. This is a tried and tested strategy that has had very high success rates. You should start your campaign in good time so that it attracts as much attention as possible by the time of the event. The more people mention your brand and share your content, the more popular your brand becomes, and this is a dream come true for any business.

Creativity is key

With social media, your creativity is what sets you apart from your competition. You need to have a campaign that is interesting and unique to your brand. Your choice of social media platform is also a very significant determinant of how successful your campaign will be. If you are targeting millennials, Instagram is your best bet. You can share your content across all your social media platforms to ensure it reaches as many people as possible. The hashtags you use for your campaign also matter.

Meaningful and helpful content

While your content needs to be entertaining to keep your audience interested, it also has to be informative and add value to the viewers. You can easily combine these two aspects and have a campaign that is both informative and entertaining. Take advantage of visual content to ensure that even the illiterate can understand your campaign and take part in it. Most importantly, keep your audience engaged throughout the campaign.

Reward your audience

Use your social media pages to get information from your audience and share the same to boost your engagement levels. You can tweak this a bit by making it a competition and rewarding your audience with free products or services every once in a while. You will be surprised at how much more engaged your audience will be.

Partnering with authority brands

You can partner with an authority brand in your industry or in a totally unrelated industry and come up with a killer campaign that will benefit both brands involved. You will be able to combine your ideas and promote each others brands to each others audiences. This will significantly increase your reach and consequently boost your conversion rates.


As is evident from the above, taking advantage of social media to boost your business is not as difficult as many people think it is. The key to a successful social media campaign is to set clear goals and keep it simple. The campaign must be focused on what your audience might be interested in, and not just what you think will work. Working with other companies to promote each others brands is also a very effective strategy that is gaining popularity because of its high success rates. With the fast changing trends in SEO and social media marketing, keeping up with the trends is a must if you are to stay ahead of the competition. Otherwise, you risk sinking into oblivion.

A Reflection On The Most Successful Social Media Campaigns

Google had recently endorsed Kotlin for Android app development, allowing developers to add the language to their project; they can also create a Kotlin-enabled project using the Project Wizard.

And developers can add Kotlin to a project using the conversion tool found in the Android Studio IDE via the menu sequence Code > Convert Java File to Kotlin File.

While Android Studio provides the fastest tools for building apps on Android, with world-class performance tool, including: code editing, debugging, a flexible build system, and an instant build/deploy system allowing developers to focus on building unique and quality apps.

Android Studio 3.0 now offers these new capabilities: Support of Java 8 language, and Support the JetBrains IntelliJ Idea 2017.1 IDE, with capabilities such as Java 8 refactoring and enhanced version control search.

Also Android Profiler has replaced Android Monitor, and serve to help debug performance problems.

The app bug reporter in Android Emulator is to help document bugs, and Android Emulator supports the OpenGL ES 3.0 advanced graphics standard. And Emulator system images for Android Oreo now include the Google Play store, to enable testing of apps with Google Play.

APK files optimization through the APK Analyzer has been fitted with additional enhancements, and arbitrary APKs can be debugged as well.

The Android Studio 3.0 is now available for download from the Android Studio website.

Android Studio 3.0 now supports Kotlin; other new features

Microsoft has updated the Windows subscription service, now IT administrators won't require the rather old wipe-and-image OS deployment method any more, as the Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise will automatically upgrade on-reboot.

The "Subscription Activation" requirements includes access to Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AAD), and with a subscription-based Windows 10 Enterprise license, IT assigns that license to a new device's user through ADD, or alternately, a synced-to-ADD Active Directory.

While the morphing is possible because Windows 10 Pro actually contains all the components for the Enterprise Stock-selling Unit (SKU); with proper authorization it unlocks Enterprise's features.

Albeit, IT personnel would typically take a new device, wipe the Windows 10 Pro operating system from the system, then load the corporation's customized Windows 10 Enterprise image onto the personal computer.

Then once the user logs onto the new device, Windows 10 Pro, the factory-installed OS, automatically transforms into Windows 10 Enterprise.

But with Subscription Activation, it completely eliminates the need for devices to periodically connect to a company network to validate the product activation key used, for instance, when upgrading a PC software from Pro to Enterprise.

And when a user's subscription expires or is transferred to another user, the Windows 10 Enterprise device reverts seamlessly to Windows 10 Pro edition, after a grace period of up to 90 days.

Microsoft had promised to bring Subscription Activation to customers who want to step up devices to Windows 10 Education starting next summer.

And most likely, the company will, before then, offer subscriptions to Windows 10 Education - essentially an offshoot of Windows 10 Enterprise.

How Microsoft's Windows Subscription Activation works

Mozilla has recommended the native Firefox Developer Tools to developers to test web applications and HTML issues, with the erstwhile Firebug web tool now scheduled for discontinuation, marking 12 years since the open source add-on has held sway on the browser.

Starting with Firefox Quantum (version 57), support for the Firebug tool that lets developers to debug code in the browser, as well as inspect CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in webpages will be dropped.

While the company commenced the migration of Firebug features to the built-in Firefox debugging tools in 2016, with the native Firefox developer tools now including a page inspector, web console, JavaScript debugger, and network monitor.

Albeit, Firebug still has over one million people using it, stated Jan Honza Odvarko, head of the Firebug project.

Mozilla's goal, however is to make debugging native to Firefox, even as many extensions built for Firebug were actually extensions for Firefox. The company has made available a detailed guide on migrating from Firebug to Firefox Developer Tools.

To try out Firefox Developer Tools, you'll need to download Firefox Quantum: Developer Edition or update to the current Firefox browser.

Mozilla recommends Firefox Developer Tools for testing web applications

Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce platform has announced a new shipping service called Amazon Key, that will enable customers to receive their packages direct in the home.

The service which would be launching next month in 37 US metropolitan areas, marks what may perhaps become the biggest push by any online company to rule the home delivery verticals.

It incorporates the company's "Cloud Cam" security camera, a smart door lock and a new Key app, exclusively available for Prime membership holders.

The service can also be used to allow in guests and will let customers schedule in-home visits from local services/businesses on Amazon Home Services, including house cleaners and dog walkers.

Hitherto, packages delivered at customers' doorsteps often get stolen or perhaps get damaged by rain.

Amazon Key is a step to averting such negative occurrences associated with delivery services, even as some customers may be concerned about their privacy; the company strive to maintain privacy and security by training drivers not to enter a home and providing shoppers with a minute-by-minute notifications through the delivery process.

Additionally, customers are afforded the option to turn off in-home deliveries for any package or service via the Key app.

Amazon Key to deliver customers' packages right inside their homes

WebAssembly is an offshoot of Mozilla research project, first announced in mid 2015; a low-level programming language for in-browser client-side scripting, designed to be faster to parse and execute than JavaScript.

It provides a binary code format that is smaller over the wire, loads faster, and has better performance than JavaScript as regards executing computationally intensive operations in a browser.

The emerging technology presents a road-map to improve its language support via garbage collection, threads, better debugging, and a SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) extension.

WebAssembly garbage collection

Garbage collection is currently in the proposal stage of the WebAssembly roadmap, and necessary to efficiently allocate and manipulate managed objects, while WebAssembly should allow tight integration with the Web, it should not bake in details or Web standards dependencies that prevent execution in a non-Web embedding.

To realize the high-level goals of (1) integrating well with the existing Web platform and (2) supporting languages other than C++, WebAssembly needs to be able to efficiently allocate and manipulate GC objects directly from WebAssembly code.

Thread support for WebAssembly

WebAssembly now offers basic debugging capabilities, but with the planned SIMD extension, it will gain support for instructions used in image and video processing and cryptography.

Additionally, the “zero-cost” exception-handling for C/C++ will eliminate overhead, and improve debugging, even as the developers are working on capabilities for source maps and memory inspection.

While it's possible to use other languages with WebAssembly, the languages cannot currently achieve the ideal performance, memory utilization, or DOM integration. As such it will require enhancements to support languages using higher level garbage collection, such as Java, C#, and Python.

WebAssembly currently can be used with JavaScript in applications, with JavaScript used for scripting and WebAssembly for computational performance. Now, what’s next for WebAssembly, the portable stack machine?

What's the New features planned for WebAssembly?

Google announced Trusted Web Activities at the Chrome Dev Summit, which is to enable a greater user experience in certain applications, allowing Android apps to directly include “app-like” content from the provider’s own site served with the benefit of custom tabs running fullscreen.

It offers a way to integrate trusted web content into native Android apps, so that developers can leverage the installed Google Chrome web renderer to power contents directly from the web in their apps.

The capability ensures up-to-date content, and helps smooth out native-to-web transitions sharing experience.

Albeit, Trusted Web Activities are similar to Chrome Custom Tabs, but offer greater control over the web experience, while the Custom Tabs are intended for generic web content.

As Trusted Web Activities are meant for content related to a specific app, it completely eliminates the need to show the browser toolbar.

Google will be including Trusted Web Activities in Chrome’s canary and developer channels, with APIs provided in Android support library, so other browsers can provide the capability as well.

This new method of rendering content will potentially allow for a better user experience, and perhaps is the future for web apps.

Google's Trusted Web Activities to allow a WebView for Apps content in fullscreen

Another ransomware attack is about now spreading across Europe, with the "bad rabbit" moniker, first detected in Russia and Ukraine, but as at Tuesday evening the infections have been reported in Turkey, Bulgaria, Japan, Germany, Poland, South Korea and the United States.

While security researchers, including Kaspersky and ESET have identified NotPetya or WannaCry ties to the malware, as it uses similar method to those used in the WannaCry attack.

The Bad Rabbit ransomware requires the victim to download and execute a bogus Adobe Flash installer file, which it leverages to infect the system.

It is initiated when a network user runs a phony Adobe Flash Player installer posted on the hackers' website, albeit the initial infections came from Russian-language news sites only, then the Bad Rabbit malware enters the enterprise networks.

And once it has infected the initial machine in a network, Bad Rabbit uses the open-source tool MimiKatz to find any login credentials stored on the machine, then tries to use those credentials to spread to other machines on the network.

The victims are directed to a .onion Tor domain where they are asked to pay .05 Bitcoin or roughly $276 USD in exchange for their data.

However, infected victims have been recommended not to pay the ransom, as there’s no guarantee they’ll get the data back and refusing to pay discourages such future ransomware attacks as well.

The "Bad Rabbit" Ransomware on the loose

Facebook’s idea presented at an AI conference is a system that generates the best possible representation of a given face, using machine learning to create the best possible match of real face to one in a custom emoji generator.

It works through computer vision, which looks for such facial features like freckles, then matches it to the corresponding piece of art from its database; albeit it’s largely reliant on human input for defining the features.

So whether it’s emoji, Bitmoji (shudder), or a VR face generator, it could still accomplish the task.

And it accomplishes this by juxtaposing both the face and the generated representation by the same analysis and feature identification algorithm, as if the two pictures were the same person.

The resulting images generated are a close resemblance, once the two are visually similar to a sufficient degree. As long as there are good representations and bad ones, the system will match them with the actual face and able to figure out the difference.

This system could be expedient for many useful purposes — perhaps most appropriately a bespoke emoji system, as it could update automatically when you put up a new picture. The avatar-matching could also be done for other sites — sign into whatever VR game with Facebook and have it immediately create a convincing version of yourself.

Facebook is tinkering with Avatar-matching automated system

Qualcomm, a leading chipset manufacturer plans to unveil the first 5G Smartphone, even with the 5th generation mobile speed not yet out for mobile phone usage, but Qualcomm has assured Smartphone users that the speedy network will be available soon.

According to Qualcomm, the 5G mobile internet speed is faster than the existing broadband and carries more bandwidth to ensure vast web traffic handling.

Qualcomm is very proud of this demonstration and believe it marks a major milestone in the world of mobile internet speed. Considering that 1 Gbps equals 1000 Mbps, the 5G speed will allow you to download a 60-minute TV programme in 6 seconds or less.

Is 5G Practical or Just a Myth?

According to Prof William Webb, the author of the popular 5G Myth book, this does not appear as a big deal. He says, “The network is not 5G yet and so it’s premature to argue it is.” Prof William does not buy into the claim and argues that faster phone internet speed has been achieved in 4G, and the 5G is still a myth.

Generally, the 5G subject is evoking mixed reactions in the world of mobile internet speed. There are those who are open to the idea and there are also those who consider the innovation is premature like Prof William Web.

As for Qualcomm, they are on course to deliver the first internet speed for phone use and they are not perturbed by the negative publicity. When making the announcement, Qualcomm’s spokesman said, “When the product is ready to be shipped to the Smartphone manufacturers, everyone will be able to use the 5G.” Qualcomm claims that the product’s demonstration at the San Diego laboratory showed massive speed potential.

They had employed the 5G technology in various chipset tests and the results were positive. For this reason, they are optimistic about their 5G innovation and are determined at fulfilling all the remaining steps before the product is ready for Smartphone consumer use.

“This announcement demonstrates the steps we are adapting to prove the skeptics such as Prof Webb wrong, “said the spokesman. To Qualcomm, the skeptics will always be there but their allegation cannot deter them from unleashing the newest Smartphone internet speed. The company insists on the practicality and viability of their 5G innovation. The steps they have taken demonstrate their dedication to the innovation, and they are determined to take this product to the market. To those who’ve bought into the idea, Qualcomm has achieved a lot and they are showing progress in realizing the 5G dream. For this reason, they can’t wait to use 5G.

The Shift from 4G to 5G

Today’s fastest internet speed 4G employs sub-6GHz frequency levels. At the moment, the levels waves are heavily crowded. Most mobile operators don’t have the capacity to accommodate and handle the web traffic created by billions of consumers around the globe. The exact specifications of 5G have not been outlined by 3GPP, the world mobile standardization body. For this reason, different companies are employing various technologies hoping that the 5G dream will be realized before 2019. What most companies are doing is trying to optimize the 4G network. They try to make the movement of data efficient so as to offer more capacity and fast speed to the mobile user.

There are also many technology firms that are advocating for the use of the current 28 GHz plus 39GHz spectrum bands. They believe that the spectrum offer better bandwidth when compared to the sub-6GHz. Prof Webb argues, “There are different forms and definitions of the 5G in existence and majority of them will be implemented before 2019.” The professor believes that 5G is achievable, only that the time is not yet right. Qualcomm had looked closely at this analysis and insists on the capability of their speedy technology. They are planning to have the new chipset working on Smartphones before July 2019.

In conclusion, the 5G dream is no longer a myth, despite the skeptic analysis, the company is not ready to throw in the towel, and they are adamant about launching the 5G smart chip sooner than later. They've already laid the foundation, and it’s just a matter of time before you start using 5G internet speed.

Qualcomm set to unleash Smartphone with 5G Internet speed soon

Facebook’s plan for media companies to sell subscriptions has hit a hitch, as the company and Apple failed to reach agreement on terms, so the subscription tool will only launch on Android for now.

While the subscription tool was supposed to raise a paywall around articles from select publishers in Facebook’s news feed, and require users to buy subscriptions from the publishers’ sites for access.

Apple had demanded 30 percent of any subscription revenue Facebook generates from the service, of which Facebook wants all the revenue to go to publishers.

As Apple deducts about 30 percent of subscription revenue from all “in app” sales, in accordance to the company’s rules about subscriptions sold on its platform. The hitch stems from the fact that even though Facebook had required that users sign up for subscriptions outside of its apps; that is, on publishers’ own websites, Apple still consider that as “in-app” purchase, since the transaction is initiated inside the Facebook’s app.

Google, on the other hand wouldn’t demand any cut of the subscriptions from its users signing up for the service on Android operating system.

Ironically, it's not every publisher that likes the Facebook’s subscription idea, as some publishers had complained about been unable to set the terms of the paywall, instead of allowing Facebook to determine how many times readers can view their articles for free.

Albeit, Facebook had declined to comment on the dispute with Apple, but outlined its plan to launch the subscription tool on Android.

Facebook’s plan for Subscription in its Mobile App hits a hitch

Instant Apps are designed to get apps running within seconds, allowing users to try out Android apps without actually installing them. Google, in the past week launched the Instant Apps SDK 1.1, bringing a faster and leaner overall experience, making the Instant Apps almost ready for the initial spotlight.

While the Instant Apps will be integrated right into the Play Store in the coming weeks; if an app that's Instant App compliant is viewed in the Play Store, you’ll also have the option to take it for a spin without actually installing it.

As the native app is running on your smartphone, it's actually powered by Google’s cloud infrastructure, which is how it plans to make Play Store apps safer, speedier, and easier to find.

Eventually, all apps will also be available as Instant Apps, and users will have the option to choose whether to run an app as Instant App or download the app, instead.

Google has also launched a bug bounty program that will reward developers up to $1,000 for each vulnerability that is resolved. And there will be new tools to help identify crashes and vulnerabilities before any app is launched.

The overhauled Play Store with the new changes will be rolling out to all users, with new home for games, including two options for discovery: Premium (paid games) and for upcoming and trending games.

Instant Apps as Google's first step towards the future Play Store

The financial services industry is agog, as MasterCard unveiled its own blockchain distributed ledger for cross-border payments, which follows some leading banks early adoption of the emerging payments system.

J.P. Morgan had recently created what is arguably the largest blockchain payments networks, the Interbank Information Network (IIN), to significantly reduce data-related inquiries that delay international payments.

The MasterCard blockchain network is to enable partner banks and merchants to make cross-border payments faster and more securely.

It can also speed transaction settlement by eliminating administration tasks using smart contract rules.

The credit card giant's deployment of blockchain-based cross-border payment networks, means clearing credit card transactions will get even more faster. And MasterCard has scheduled for the Money20/20 Hackathon, where it will make the MasterCard Blockchain API available for participating developers.

The company is encouraging other financial firms to embrace transaction settlements through its blockchain APIs, which it says can ease some of the friction experienced during cross-border payments processes.

MasterCard has also intensified effort to gain intellectual property rights around its uses of blockchain technology, as the company is looking into a uniform payment settlement system, that would utilize blockchain as a vehicle for B2B payments.

Blockchain gains traction as MasterCard expands to B2B Blockchain Payment

Google on Thursday announced AVA, short form for "atomic visual actions" as new labeled data set of human actions taking place in videos, which will apply to solve problems in computer vision.

While machine learning to understand human actions in videos is a fundamental research problem in Computer Vision, it's essential to applications such as personal video search and discovery, sports analysis, and gesture interfaces.

Recognizing human actions remains a big challenge, due to the fact that actions are, by nature, less well-defined than objects in videos, making it difficult to construct a finely labeled action video dataset.

Google's AVA consists of URLs for publicly available videos from YouTube, annotated with a set of 80 atomic actions (e.g. “walk”, “kick (an object)”, “shake hands”) that are spatial-temporally localized, resulting in 57.6k video segments, 96k labeled humans performing actions, and a total of 210k action labels.

The video segments, pulled from publicly available YouTube videos, is labeled manually using a potential list of 80 action types like walking, kicking or hugging.

Google analyzed a 15 minute clip from each video, and uniformly partitioned it into 300 non-overlapping 3-second segments, which strategy preserved sequences of actions in a coherent temporal context.

The uniqueness of AVA reveals some interesting statistics that are not available in other existing datasets.

Google promises to continue to expand and improve AVA, and eager to hear feedback from the community to help guide the future directions.

A look into Google’s atomic visual actions (AVA) data set

Twitter has gone public about progress in its approach to make the social network a safer place, and it is opening up its safety calendar of the upcoming changes to the Twitter Rules.

The Twitter Rules is based on the rights that people should have the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. But to protect the experience and safety of people who use Twitter, there are some limitations on the type of content and behavior that it allow.

This is the first time Twitter has shared this level of visibility into its work, and how they communicate with people who violate them, and how its enforcement processes work.

While Twitter has been under fire for allowing abusive and hateful behavior on its platform, the company going forward has pledged to real-time updates about its progress on thwarting trolls.

And the company has handed its Trust and Safety Council a list of new rules it plans to enforce to curb abuse. Twitter also confirmed that it will update the way it reviews reports from people who say they witness violations.

It urges all users to adhere to the policies set forth in the Twitter Rules, as failure to do so may result in the temporary locking and/or permanent suspension of account(s).

Twitter Rules to make the social network a safer place

Blockchain's secure architectural design, as distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance, with decentralized and inherently resistant to modification of the data, makes it an ideal platform for cross-border payment settlements.

As an open distributed ledger, Blockchain can serve as record for transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

J.P. Morgan is toeing the path, as it creates what is arguably one of the largest blockchain payments networks, the Interbank Information Network (IIN), will significantly reduce the number of participants needed to respond to compliance and other data-related inquiries that delay international payments.

And the Royal Bank of Canada, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group are the first banks to join the new blockchain network.

While the IIN represent a narrowed-down cross-border payment volumes, IBM unveiled their own cross-border blockchain payments service, which has been heralded as able to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of making global payments.

The IBM's Blockchain Platform, is a cloud-based service that will enable the electronic exchange of 12 different currencies across Pacific Islands as well as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Backed by the KlickEx Group, a United Nations-funded, Pacific-region financial services firm, and, a nonprofit organization that supports an open-source blockchain network for financial services, the IBM's platform also allow consumers in developing nations to transfer funds directly to mobile wallets.

Though cross-border payments processing is complex and includes multiple layers of communication among payment participants to verify transactions – an operation known as payment and settlement, blockchain technology could reduce infrastructure costs for eight of the world's 10 largest investment banks by an average of 30%, "translating to $8 billion to $12 billion" in annual cost savings for those banks.

The technology will ultimately eliminate the need for reconciliation, confirmation and trade break analysis as key parts of a more efficient and effective clearance and settlement process.

Blockchain’s ingenious capabilities to facilitate cross-border payments

WhatsApp, the Facebook owned messaging app has joined the live location sharing bandwagon, as the feature will be available for both Android and iPhone with the latest update of the app, and will be accessible as you’d normally send your messages.

It’ll afford users the option not just to pin their location on the map, but also allow them to be tracked continuously for a duration of their choosing.

While other messaging platforms like Snapchat and Messenger have their own versions of live location sharing, but WhatsApp's somewhat unique twist allow you chose duration between Fifteen minutes, an hour and 8 hours, though of course you can also turn off location sharing manually if you wish to conceal your location.

As location sharing is a great way to leave a traceable mark to explain that you’re on your way, it's actually helpful in making sure someone gets home all right, and you can also turn off location sharing manually if you reach your destination.

And it's an easier way to keep track of someone if you can’t walk or drive them home yourself.

The fact that WhatsApp is a widely used cross-platform app, makes it the best fit for everyday messaging and the location sharing space. WhatsApp Live Location will be rolling out in the app in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp latest update brings Live location sharing to Android and iPhone

Microsoft's Windows 10 default browser, Edge has scored above Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, in thwarting phishing and socially-engineered malware (SEM) attacks according to security analysts, NSS Labs.

The new anti-malware service built into Windows 10 afforded the Edge browser extra power to record a higher percentage of blockade against malware and phishing attacks in the test.

Microsoft Edge automatically blocked 92% of all in-browser credential phishing attempts and stymied 100% of all SEM attacks, according to the security researchers.

While the test included a wide range of attacks, the common characteristic of them all remains that they tried to trick users into downloading and installing malicious software.

The SEM attackers deployed links on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and bogus in-browser notifications of computer infections or other problems, whereby Edge bested Chrome and Firefox by decisive margins in the test.

And Google's Chrome recorded 74% blockade of all phishing attacks, with 88% of SEM attacks, while, Firefox came in third in both tests, thwarting 61% of the phishing attacks and 70% of all SEM attacks.

The Microsoft browser also topped the list in blocking newly spotted malware, and successfully stopped nearly every attempt from the first moments a new attack was detected. Google's Chrome and Firefox, halted 75% and 54% of the new attacks, respectively.

Albeit, the NSS Labs are known to be favorable to Microsoft's services, with regards to past test records, as even the buggy Internet Explorer (IE) scored higher is all such past tests.

The results were obtained between August 23 and September 12, by continuous monitoring of Windows 10 personal computers running Edge, Chrome or Firefox.

Microsoft Edge scores high in blocking malware/phishing attacks

Google has just recently endorsed Kotlin for Android development, and Java-based app developers could be in for a close race, as analysts have predicted that Kotlin will overtake Java on Android by next year ending.

When Google endorsed Kotlin in mid-2016, Kotlin accounted for merely 7.4 percent of Android apps, while 92.6 percent went for Java, according to reports by Realm.

But a year later, it climbed to 14.3 percent, with Java at 85.7 percent; and the growth was tied to its modern appeal to developers.

Kotlin is easier to understand, and write, and a little higher in abstraction than Java; also it's designed with mobile in mind from the ground up. In fact, any Android developer without Kotlin skills is at risk of being seen as old fashioned pretty soon.

Kotlin adoption rates, however show the US might be quicker when it comes to Android languages, and might give US developers a leg up in the future on the platform.

Realm also predicted that Kotlin may even change how Java is used on the server side.

The report is based on anonymized assessment of 100,000 developers using its database, with languages been used, determined by the developers’ selection of SDKs.

How Kotlin could overtake Java for Android App development

The Microsoft owned professional network, LinkedIn has launched its video ads system, which just like other videos on the platform will autoplay in the feed, and serve as a new way of monetization.

According to the company, video outperforms other content strategies, and video posts are shared 20 times more frequently than other posts.

It claims that as video ads are more expensive than other type of ads, that companies can earn more through their ads.

While the company has taken up its ads strategy slowly, and now allowing users to upload their own videos, LinkedIn late entrance into the game may mean its offerings will take more time to gain traction.

Albeit, LinkedIn also makes money from selling subscriptions and offering job recruiters special spots.

The new video ads system will commence with a small test group made up of select marketers, but will eventually be available to all advertisers.

Finally, LinkedIn autoplay Video Ads goes live

Microsoft's cross-platform initiative, the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) now supports the .Net Standard 2.0 specification for .NET unification, extending to Windows 10 app development for PCs, the Xbox game console, and the HoloLens.

The move is perceived as attempt to foster development of apps across multiple devices all running Windows 10, even as Microsoft revealed pulling the plug on its Windows Mobile platform.

While Microsoft is expanding support for Android and iOS in its various development tools, the UWP has been criticized for being a “closed platform” with backward compatibility problem.

But with spring 2017 UWP update and .NET Standard 2.0 support, Microsoft has shown its resolve to succeed in the project.

The UWP support for .NET Standard 2.0 comes via a set of APIs for all .Net platforms, including .NET Framework 4.6.1, Mono 5.4, and Xamarin; and now at parity with other .NET implementations.

It updates through the Visual Studio 2017 15.4 IDE, and will be available with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Microsoft brings .NET Standard 2.0 support to Windows 10 platforms

GitHub, the popular code-sharing site is adding several enhancements to help developers manage code dependencies and improve on overall security, with a dependency graph that give developers insight into projects that depend on their code.

The dependency graph also works vice versa, and capable of showing the users what projects depend on other projects as well as offer security alerts.

The alerts will associate the graph tracking dependencies with public security vulnerabilities, and provide alerts based on those connections, as well as GitHub fixes.

Thereby allowing developers to see which applications and packages they are connected to without leaving their repository.

As the graph relies on package managers to draw out dependencies when there are dependency manifest files, GitHub recommends projects to use a manifest file format to find these dependencies.

GitHub, however is working to extend the dependency graph service for projects that do not have manifest files.

The graph service is now available on for public and private repos; and coming to GitHub Enterprise, a paid service for enterprises, in early 2018.

How GitHub dependency graph give insight into developers' code-related projects

The e-commerce giant, Amazon has launched a new program specifically for teen shoppers, ages 13 to 17, which give the teens more autonomy to shop for goods on Amazon under parental supervision.

While the parent can add up to four teens to their Amazon Household account for free and set a payment method, as well as shipping addresses.

Albeit, the new feature is US-only for now, and available under Amazon Household, a service that lets families share their Prime membership benefits and manage parental controls for their kids' Amazon devices.

The new service will also make life a little easier for parents, as it allows them to create separate Amazon log-ins for their kids.

As parents previously might have had to share their log-in credentials, along with their credit card numbers with their teen, or set up separate accounts for their children that they'd likely have to check regularly.

However, parents with Prime membership can share Prime two-day shipping, Prime Video and Twitch Prime with their teens' accounts.

But support aren't yet available for Prime Now and AmazonFresh through the new teens program.

Amazon's new Program offer Teens more freedom to shop

Before now, Amazon Echo couldn't distinguish one voice from the other, in which case homes with multiple users won't be able to get customized experiences, based on voice recognition. Amazon on Wednesday started rolling out customized voice detection to Echo devices, with the ability to recognize multiple voices.

Amazon has just matched one of Google Home's killer-feature in the roll out of Echo’s voice recognition support.

The Echo's voice recognition feature is compatible with Flash Briefings, shopping, Amazon Music’s family plan and Alexa to Alexa calling.

That means the update will allow the voice assistant to recognize voices in order to route requests: such as Calls/messages, allow access to shopping without a confirmation code, play Flash briefings and access Amazon Music Unlimited Family plan based on the individual concerned.

The update is about now rolling out to the Alexa app, so if you want to set up your own voice profile, you'll need to go through the Amazon app.

While on the app, go to your account settings and tap voice, then tap on your profile name. If you want to place calls or send messages to your contacts, you'll have to give the app permission to upload those contacts to the Amazon service, and you'll need to say some phrases out loud.

The company claims it will “get smarter” as more people use it, and promises adding more functionality in the future.

Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa gets support for voice recognition

While the split-screen mode for apps made debut with Nougat, its Oreo that actually makes video playback easier with the picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, as a feature designed with video playback in mind.

The PiP mode takes the hassles off watching a video on your phone, but the feature needs learning on how to use it, as you need to be watching a video or other live content that is enabled for PiP.

And once the PiP mode is active, the floating video window can be dragged around the screen, but the video will be borderless, and the controls hidden to save space.

Albeit, the PiP mode won't start if you have a video paused and on tapping the home button, but the video can be paused at any time and you can return to it later without opening the full app again.

Though still in the early days, it's mostly Google apps that work with PiP such as YouTube, but only for the YouTube Red subscription service. Google Maps will also use PiP for navigation if you tap the home button.

Additionally, Chrome, Play Movies, and Duo all do PiP for videos, and support for picture-in-picture mode will be added to more apps over time.

Android Oreo makes Video Playback easier with picture-in-picture (PiP) mode

The big names in tech, including Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft are partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to curb online harassment, in what they called Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab.

The cyberhate Lab is to afford them a hub to exchange ideas and develop strategies to try to thwart hate speech and abuse across the internet.

It's coming on the heels of the social media giants including Facebook and Twitter ramping up their own efforts in response to trolling, and to curb hate speech and abuse on the companies' various platforms.

While the world's largest social network, Facebook along has more than 7,500 people monitoring what users post, including violent videos and graphic images.

Albeit, it's hard to quantify how pervasive online assaults have become, but obviously the numbers are on the increase.

The ADL, however can confirm that about 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets were targeted at Jewish journalists between August 2015 and July 2016 with over 1,500 online accounts responsible for 68 percent of the tweets.

Twitter's efforts to fight harassment are improving in part because of work of groups like the ADL to identify abusive behavior and help people report it.

How the Anti-Defamation League, tech firms join in fight against cyberhate

Snapchat's latest feature, Context Cards aims to make the platform a hub for information sharing and discovery, thereby helping users stay informed on the popular social network. The Context Cards feature is also able to provide basic information about a restaurant or store nearby, with reviews and a map.

The information sharing is made possible through a host of partners including TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, Goop, Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, Resy and Bookatable.

And its accessible by simply swiping up on any Snap that says "More" to see the Context Cards, you'll be able to see travel tips and reviews on places near your location.

Albeit, some locations may have curated Snaps Stories integrated into their Context Cards, so as to allow you have an idea about the place when you're deciding on your preference.

The feature will be quite handy in such instances like when you're out and about visit a new location, simply swipe to see reviews, hail a ride or make a reservation.

The roll out of Context Cards for Snapchat on iOS and Android will begin with the U.S., UK and Australia, as well as Canada and New Zealand in the coming weeks.

Snapchat wants to be the Center of Social discovery with Context Cards

Swift language for MacOS and iOS app development as the so-called successor to Objective-C, began to gain a foothold with developers back in the days. But lately, developers are leaving the Apple-only Swift/Xcode development environment for frameworks that build multiplatform mobile apps such as Microsoft’s Xamarin and Apache Cordova.

Then it was quite normal to program Android apps in Java and iOS apps in Swift/Objective-C, but this is becoming cumbersome as developers have to maintain two code bases that are doing almost the same.

Nowadays, Multiplatform frameworks are becoming very popular, since they help get rid of having to maintain two code bases.

Although there has been discussion about using Swift for Android development, but Google has thrown its weight on Java, C++, and recently, Kotlin, as the languages for building Android apps.

While Swift’s focus is on Apple’s platforms only, albeit it has an improved package manager and compatibility modes, it certainly won’t change the situation.

Still Swift remains ranked 10th in the alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which assesses how often language tutorials are searched on Google, which could be attributed to Apple's mobile devices garner of momentum.

How Apple's Swift lost to multiplatform frameworks

If you've ever wanted to privately save a tweet for later reference, and couldn't find an easy way to go about it, maybe you've tried DM-ing it to yourself, or even retweeting; Twitter has been working to have you covered with a new bookmarking feature.

The company has sort the contribution and feedback from its community of users, given that building “with” user input is how Twitter used to develop features borrowed from the community.

Even as Twitter users had resorted to various ways to try to privately save tweets to reference later, including bookmarking them with the heart.

Albeit, these shortcuts aren't as quick as simply clicking a button to save the tweet, with the exception of the “heart” icon, but still such saved tweets could be easily lost in your Favorites.

While the bookmarking feature appeared under the tweet’s “More” icon, with a new “Add to Bookmarks” option, as revealed in a prototype built during HackWeek.

Twitter’s other enhancements like the @reply format or more recently the increase in tweet counts character was as a basic architectural upgrade to the social network’s 140-character limit problem, than actual user experience.

The bookmarking tool as confirmed by a Twitter spokesperson isn't an experimental feature, but no word on how soon the feature will roll out.

Twitter set to launch bookmarking tool for favorite tweets

Facebook has deployed satellite imagery to identify areas of need in Puerto Rico and using artificial intelligence, in partnership with the Red Cross to bring relief to the hurricane-whipped island.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO leveraged on virtual reality represented by his cartoonish avatar on Oculus VR, to take Facebook users on a 360-degree video tour of the devastated island.

Puerto Rico, devastated by Hurricane Maria is in serious need of relief workers, and it's really important that they have access to the internet, so they can coordinate with each other and know where people need help the most.

According to Zuckerberg:

We use artificial intelligence to build what we call 'population maps' so you can look at satellite imagery of an area and get a sense of where it is that people actually live and the density of different places and where there's infrastructure going to in those places. That's going to help the Red Cross figure out where people are who need help.

He also said Facebook had already sent several employees to the island to help ensure networks were operating properly.

While the company has championed VR as a way to innovate on teaching, even as it prepares to host Oculus Connect, the annual Oculus developer conference.

How Facebook taps VR for relief efforts in distress zone

Workplace by Facebook is a collaborative platform launched in 2016, now the company has rolled out a desktop chat app for its Workspace enterprise costumers, with the macOS and Windows supporting desktop apps as business version of Messenger.

The new chat app is part of the Workplace enterprise social network, which is used by over 14,000 organizations worldwide.

In addition to the standard chat functions and ability to share photos, videos, voice clips, emoji and GIFs, the desktop chat app allow users to screenshare their entire display or just portions of it when using a specific app.

The screen-sharing function is key as it shows that Facebook wants to offer clients an all-in-one collaboration app, while the competitors had focused on individual user features.

The chat app works with 64-bit Windows systems running Windows 7 and above or Macs running macOS 10.9 (Mavericks) and above.

And it works with Standard and Premium versions of Workplace, and requires a corporate email address. As it requires the creation of a corporate account, and individual logins using corporate email addresses.

According to Facebook, the app will automatically update, so beta testers wouldn't be required to manually update to final version when available.

Facebook targets Enterprise users with Workplace desktop chat app

While much have been said about Apple's latest software iteration, iOS 11 concerning privacy; the new OS will give users more flexibility and power over apps that are try to impede their right to privacy, more specifically from accessing their location data.

For instance, Apple now force Uber to bring back an option marked "While Using the App" under its location settings, and users will get it back even if they haven't updated to the latest software.

The Uber app, though has followed up on its promise to restore its users ability to block the app from tracking their location when they are not using it.

But for iOS 11 users, that option to choose between "Always" and "Never" access to location data is even more enhanced as every app that asks for "Always" permission, also has to provide an option for "While Using" it.

Albeit, Uber never actually implemented always-on location tracking for iOS, according to the company's security chief John Sullivan.

The former gives the app permission to track location even when users are not using it, while the latter switches off location tracking altogether when not in use.

Though, switching off tracking makes the app a lot hard to use, since it won't save the addresses of places they frequently visit. Still, by giving them the power to block it, users can ensure their own privacy.

Apple iOS 11 Privacy options promises more flexibility and power over apps

While still in its early developmental stages, Stamp platform would allow publishers to create visual media content similar to Snapchat’s Discover portal, with publishers including The Washington Post and Vox Media, amongst others.

According to an insider source, Google is now giving the publishers incentive: as it's offering payment for some publishers to allay the costs publishers incur as they build content for the new platform.

Albeit, the actual amount been paid to publishers on the platform remains unknown, but Google doesn't seem to have plans to sell direct ads on the platform, at least for now, so publishers would need to generate revenue themselves.

The multimedia platform, though supposed to debut this month, with launch plans for the format to be available to a small percentage of mobile users at first, and eventually to all, may have been delayed by Google.

It's purportedly built on the open-source, fast-loading "AMP" mobile format developed by Google a couple years ago.

Stamp will serve as multimedia slide format, optimized for phones, that would live on Google's main site, and also to surface at the top of Google's search results. And it will allow both video/images and text, similar to Snap's Discover and Instagram's Stories.

Though publishers will be able to keep 100 percent of the revenue they generate, they won't have much inventory to sell, since the ads format won't be widely supported.

What's Google's plans for the Stamp platform and its publishers?

Just as Facebook admitted running over 150 political ads on Russian-operated Pages during the last U.S. election, Google too, have uncovered first evidence that Russian agents used Google to try to influence the presidential election.

Google investigation reveals that Russian agents spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail and Google search last year.

Albeit, the Google ads did not originate from the Kremlin-backed operations that's tied to the ads across Facebook and Instagram, which perhaps suggests that a number of different agents could be attached to the Russian political machinery.

The investigation came as pressure from the U.S. Congress mount on the tech giants, following their unforeseen role in ads that fueled hoax stories in people's news feeds, to determine the extent to which Russian-backed agents infiltrated the social media across the Web.

Google as the world's largest online advertisement platform, couldn't have been more involved in the propagation of the fake news than many realize.

Along with representatives from Facebook and Twitter, Google is expected to testify on the issue in front of Congress on November 1.

Google's YouTube admits running Russia-backed ads too

Apple introduced new photo compression technology in iOS 11 with the HEIC image format, a version of technology called HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format), that requires less storage space than the decades-old JPEG format.

The new photo compression technology means your photos take up half the space they used to, and enabling other enhancements like Apple's portrait mode.

While the HEIC format has compatibility problems, Apple implemented some safeguards to warn app developers to take precautions.

The problem stems from HEIC images conversion to JPEG, that is when a photo is cross-posted to Facebook or email, it can't be displayed on incompatible devices like Windows laptops, Android phones or Macs that don't run the latest macOS software.

As an internal format, HEIC images get converted into JPEG when it's time to post a photo outside the confines of iOS 11 or the latest macOS software.

Other way HEIC photos could leak out is with file-sync apps like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive, but luckily, those tools have have the compatibility issue covered.

Albeit, some free online tools like can help you convert HEIC images into JPEG if you're stuck with one you can't handle. And if you want to convert HEIC photos on Windows or Mac PC, the free iMazing app can also help.

Apple Photos can also be configured to convert HEIC into JPEGs; simply tap on "Photos" in the iOS settings app, find the "Transfer to Mac or PC" section, then select "automatic" option.

The problem, however remains an issue with the general adoption of the HEIC and HEIF photo technologies, similar to Microsoft's JPEG XR and Google's WebP and may remain so until it's widely adopted by the tech companies.

How Apple's photo tech solves HEIC Format compatibility problems