Google Assistant has continued its catch up with Amazon's Alexa, as Actions on Google is expanding to support more developers worldwide, with availability in seven new languages: Hindi, Thai, Indonesian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch.

While Alexa boasts of huge collection of "skills" which is perhaps its edge over other rivals, the Google Assistant’s version of what Amazon calls ‘skills,’ Actions on Google is gradually measuring up to speed.

Along with the formerly supported languages for developers, which includes: French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian, the new language additions will equally be available on Google’s Dialogflow - a tool for building conversational interfaces.

Google has also made it easier to translate Actions by letting developers export their directory listing information as a file.

Other new features coming to developers is the ability to create a deep link to an Android app from Google Assistant Actions, which may benefit users from the versatility of the Android app for particularly complex or highly interactive tasks.

And through connecting Actions to the Google Places API, developers can include conversations about places.

According to Google product manager, Brad Abrams, by the end of the year Google Assistant will reach 95 percent of all eligible Android phones worldwide, and Actions remains a great way for developers to reach those users to help them get things done easily over voice.

Google opens up Actions for its Assistant to more developers

Dart, a general-purpose programming language originally developed by Google, that's easy to learn, scalable and deployable everywhere is now rebooted for client-side web and mobile development in Version 2 of the language.

The cleaned-up syntax and rebuilt developer tool chain in Dart 2 has positioned it as a potential replacement for JavaScript in the browser, with strengthened type system and ability to run on VM with a just-in-time compiler, enabling hot reload during mobile development.

And developers will have advantage from fast development cycles whereby code can be edited, compiled, and replaced in apps running on a device.

Google has demonstrated the use of the language in building applications for iOS, Android, and the web. Dart can also be compiled to native code for ARM and x86 platforms.

The version 2 of the language boasts of such nifty features as definition UI as code for faster context switching between a UI markup language and the programming language, and strong typing to catch bugs earlier, boost quality and improve applications run by a team.

Google has made available a beta version for developers on GitHub or the Dart SDK, so that you can try out the beta of Dart 2 in Flutter.

Google positions Dart for Client-side Web and Mobile development

The Chrome browser ad-blocking feature which took effect on Feb. 15, has been received with mixed feelings both from the side of web users and advertisers, as effectively serving to forestall more users from turning to third party ad-blockers.

While Chrome would not eliminate all ads from websites, it will target ads that the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) says violate what the industry group calls its "Better Ads Standards," then expunges such ads from websites.

That's quite distinct from conventional ad blockers functionality baked-into-the-browser software that scrubs all online ads from website pages.

The Coalition for Better Ads standards have identified several ad types on the personal computer desktop and on mobile devices that CBA-released research claimed are the most annoying of all online advertisements. And Chrome will squash a mix of ads from about a dozen originally scrutinized formats running on the Android and iOS devices.

The browser targets for four ad categories out of six considered by the panel: pop-ups, ads that automatically play video and audio, "prestitial" ads accompanied by a countdown clock, and those dubbed "large sticky ads" On PCs.

Thus, Chrome filtering is on a site-by-site basis, not ad-by-ad, something most critics failed to mention.

Chrome also does look-up from a set of ad "fingerprints" caged from EasyList, the open-source ad-identification-and-removal rules list that forms the backbone of most browser ad blockers, including Adblock and Adblock Plus.

The scrub on advertisements from any site will last for at least 30 days, while review submissions cannot be made until 30 days have elapsed. With failing-grade sites added to a list that Google maintains on its servers.

And Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a 'failing' status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days, which according to Google, just about 1.5% of 100,000 sites it evaluated prior to the ad filtering launch failed to meet CBA standards.

Why Google Chrome's ad blocker functionality is rather just ad filtering?

Google has finally brought all its different payment tools under one umbrella, Google pay, though the Android Pay app still maintains its distinct identity. But, the company has gone ahead to launch Google Pay for Android.

While the Google Wallet app has been redesigned for sending and requesting money, and it’s now called Google Pay Send and existing users on Android Pay will get updated over the course of the next few days.

Google is also introducing some new functionality that will make its payment service ubiquitous across all platforms.

The Google Pay app runs Google’s own Material Design, albeit it's basically similar design with Android Pay, but one notable change, is that the Google Pay home screen displays relevant stores around you where you can pay with Google Pay.

And the list is personalized, based on your location and previous stores where you've used the service. Additionally, it displays all of your recent purchases and you can add all of your loyalty cards to the app.

For now, only users in the U.S. and UK will be able to use the Google Pay app for sending and requesting money. Such users can also set up Google Pay right from their bank’s app without having to install Google Pay, and they can pay with Google Pay both on online and offline stores.

Google has made available the Google Pay API to help developers that want to integrate the payment system with their app or website, and then, they can accept payments through Google Pay.

Enter Google Pay: The Unification of all Google's payment tools

While Microsoft's Cortana offered essentially the same capabilities across various platforms, the key weakness was that it just isn’t a great smart home controller, as it lacks many of the services supported by rivals.

Now, Microsoft has added support for IFTTT to Cortana, bringing the power of conditional web-based service chains of simple statements, with the new smart-home controls available from the Invoke, and also from Windows 10 PC or even the Cortana apps for Android and iOS.

The Invoke support for Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Philips Hue, Wink, and Insteon was announced late last year, and now, the support have expanded to cover products from Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, LIFX, TP-Link Kasa, and Geeni.

Albeit, there's still the problem of Cortana's relatively small number of “skills,” or third-party services support, but IFTTT will provide its own app interactions, and thus expand Cortana’s reach.

The IFFTT expanded smart-home support may not still bring Cortana up to par with Alexa or Google Home-powered devices ecosystem, but certainly, it will help to elevate Cortana’s standing.

Microsoft and IFTTT published a list of suggested Applets on a dedicated Cortana channel, which those who want to give it a spin can download and apply. To enable for Windows 10, you’ll need to open Cortana on Windows 10, click the Notebook, then open the Connected Home submenu, and add your smart-home account to Cortana.

Microsoft brings IFTTT Support to Cortana smart home

Google’s Go Language (Golang) version 1.10, which is the next version of the popular open source language has brought performance improvements without any substantive changes to the code base.

The new update, Go 1.10 offers compiler tool chain along side some other key features that offers improvements for code generated by the compiler across supported architectures.

While Go 1.9 released in August 2017, helped speed up the garbage collector with better-generated code, and core library optimizations to make programs run a bit faster, further enhancements in Go 1.10 is the unicode package upgrade from 9.0 to version 10.0, adding 8,518 new characters, including a bitcoin currency symbol and 56 emojis.

Go 1.8 brought new compiler front end as a foundation for future performance enhancements, and shorter garbage collection pauses by eliminating "stop the world" stack re-scanning. And the Go 1.9 retained the previous versions’ go command’s support for parallel compilation of separate packages.

Albeit, the linux/ppc64le port now requires external linking with any programs using the cgo command, with go build command able to detect out-of-date packages based on the content of source files, specified build flags, and metadata in stored packages.

And the go install command now only installs packages and commands listed on the command line.

For scalability, Go 1.10 support for type-alias declaration for code repair remains unchanged, as type aliases support gradual code repair while moving a type between packages, which is helpful for code repair during large-scale refactoring, moving a type from a package.

The prodyctin version of Go 1.10, the next version of the popular open source language can be downloaded from the Go Project website.

Google's Go Language offers more improvements with compiler toolchain

The game streaming platform, Twitch has launched a social feature called “Rooms” - an always-on chat room available for both the Web and mobile users worldwide.

While the launch was delayed from last year-end, as the company had announced back at its developer event TwitchCon in October, 2017. The launch follows some major changes on Twitch, like the update to the community policies to crack down on harassment and sexual explicit content.

Twitch Rooms, which are rather custom chat groups are available from the channel page, and anyone with Twitch account can set up a room, though creators can host up to 3 Rooms. And channel owners can create a “Room” for any specific group of users – including their channels’ subscribers, moderators, followers, or others with shared interests.

Albeit, the use case could be to present topics that would rather make sense to hide from the publicly accessible main group chat.

The Rooms can equally be used for any other topic of the creators’ choosing, whether related to gaming or not, just like the main Stream Chat which can host any unrelated messages, memes, or even outright jokes.

Twitch allow the channel’s community to stay connected and chat even when the creator isn’t streaming, and it also allow people to move messages back-and-forth of the main chat to a sub-chat or even make invisible to general viewing.

Though moderator chats are always private, the creator can choose to allow all viewers to preview their Subscriber chat Room, even if they can’t participate. The design, according to Twitch is based on requests from the community, but Twitch will not tolerate any hateful content.

Twitch goes social with always-on Chatrooms for the Web and mobile app

Google's push with its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) platform, isn't slowing down a bit, as the company now pitches AMP email for better engagement, and actionable email experiences.

While the email has undergone some changes over the decades, the basic idea of simplicity has remained unchanged, and since its general standardization in the late 90s, interoperability and privacy has become baked into the email system.

Now, the email works more reliably and available on virtually all platforms cum operating system, on every device. Albeit, emails generally are somewhat static because messaging are so, as the concept of communication via the internet is based around the telegraphic model of exchanging one-way packets with static payloads.

The crossroad between email's design and websites/apps are overwhelmingly the interaction possible with the later.

And the email doesn’t actually download stuff on its own, as it doesn’t run scripts, and attachments are discrete items, unless served as images in the HTML, which is rather optional. Google, however wants to change all that, by essentially allowing applications to run inside emails.

Google aim to make the content itself as part of the AMP system it has defined, employing its privileged position as the means through which people find content online.

For instance, as Gmail users leave the platform to go to online stores, social media, and other places; Google intends to bring the everyday tasks inside Gmail, and exerting control over the intimate details, while defining what other companies can and can’t do inside the email system.

But critics already sees AMP as a blight on the web, and equally posit that it will be bad for email too. And the fears stems from the fact that ads and trackers stick around the content, thus undermining the users privacy.

AMP Email is currently available to developers who request preview access, though Google plans to roll it out to all users later.

Google pitches AMP Email for Interactive and Actionable Experiences

Google has been hard at work in surfacing relevant news stories, especially on mobile search, with the Stamp news system allowing publishers to create visual media contents, and now, the company has launched what it calls AMP Stories.

The AMP Stories will allow publishers to create visual-oriented stories in a mobile-friendly format similar to the Snapchat’s Discover portal. While the publishers will also be able to try out a developer preview of AMP stories, which feature swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos.

It's built on same code from Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, a framework that allows webmasters to create webpages that load much faster than conventional pages on the mobile web.

Albeit, the AMP format have been criticized by some webmasters as too bare bones to allow for the full spectrum of digital ads, reducing their revenue per page view. And publishers have been eager to make money from the growing consumers viewing their content on mobile devices, with products designed to aggregate news and speed the loading of articles on mobile, such as Facebook’s Instant Articles.

Google is perhaps still in the process of building support for ads for the AMP stories format, but would the initial lack of monetization stall its adoption among publishers?

Google's track record in delivering relevant ads in all its platform is ingenuous, though AMP stories isn't revenue driven already, several publishers have already expressed willingness to experiment with the format.

AMP stories is currently been rolled out to users, you can find the stories by searching for one of the participating publishers (including: CNN, Cosmopolitan, Wired, Mashable, Vox Media, and The Washington Post) on Google Mobile search.

AMP Stories Visual storytelling debut on Google Mobile

While the Java Development Kit (JDK) 10 first release candidate hit base on February 12, with the second release candidate scheduled for March release date, it's pertinent to explore the new features and improvements expected in the JDK 10.

The key improvement as proposed is perhaps the local type inference, which enhances the language to extend type inference to local variables.

Other nifty improvement includes: a “clean” interface for garbage collection, which is intended to improve source-code isolation of different garbage collectors, and better modularity for internal garbage collection code in the HotSpot virtual machine to make it easier to add new garbage collector.

Find below the detailed features expected in JDK 10?

  • A Parallel full garbage collection for the G1 garbage collector to improve worst-case latencies by implementing parallelism.
  • HotSpot to allocate the object heap on an alternative memory device, such as an NVDIMM memory module, as specified by the user. 
  • Consolidated repositories of the JDK forest into a single repository, to streamline development. 
  • Application class-data sharing to reduce the footprint by sharing common class metadata across processes.
  • A default set of root certificate authority certificates in the JDK.

Albeit, there are still additional phases for the development of JDK 10 before the final release. With February 22, 2018 as the data for final release candidate.

Oracle, however has mapped out the upgrades for Java, including Java 18.3 due in March 2018 as part of a new, six-month release schedule for standard Java. And JDK 10 is an implementation of Java Standard Edition 10, due for release on March 20, 2018. Join the early adopter program by downloading the beta versions of JDK 10 to give it a spin.

What's expected in Java Development Kit (JDK) 10 set for March release?

Against the long rumored "dislike" button, Facebook is about now testing a new "downvote" feature that allow users make a negative reaction to comments, which is an opposite of the decade-old positive reaction option, the thumbs-up.

The feature which was first spotted in the US, among a small number of people using the social network's app on Android phones, is already generating a lot of buzz.

While Facebook had acknowledged the feature in a statement, that it's exploring a feature for people to give feedback about comments on public page posts. And the downvote button offers more reporting options like "offensive," "misleading" and "off topic" tags, which is perhaps other ways Facebook is hoping to spur more interaction on the social platform.

It will also serves as easy ways for people to mark "offensive" and "misleading" comments, which may help quell users' concerns about harassment, and spread of fake information.

Albeit, the thumbs-up "like" button, which was rolled out in 2009 has continued to receive some criticism from people arguing that the "like" feature only allows users to express their approval, without the option to also show their disapproval, thus limiting their power of expression.

Even though, the reaction options were expanded to include laughing face, an angry face, a "wow," a sad face and a heart, yet it just wasn't enough.

The downvote button is more about giving feedback to Facebook, as the company aims to give users a way to flag inappropriate, uncivil or misleading comments, to keep its users safe. And won't affect a post's ranking, as users won't even see how many people downvoted a comment.

Facebook testing 'downvote' button to mark Offensive/Misleading comments

YouTube announced a more concerted effort to sanction any creator that engages in videos that are potentially harmful to viewers, or advertisers, and through it’s predefined standards, may permanently bar such channels from serving ads on the platform.

While the significant of the changes are not just that it hit hard at creators, but that it also point to a real shift for the platform, which formerly is conceived as a hub for prank-filled videos and potentially offensive content, in the name of freedom of expression.

The company has employed AI to track the content of what’s being posted, and in cases where videos fail it’s advertising guidelines, or pose a threat to its wider community, may result removal of the channel’s eligibility to be recommended, such as appearing on the home page, trending tab or watch next.

Also it will remove monetization options on the videos, and specifically deny them access to its advertising programs.

YouTube has outlined potential penalties it may deem necessary as follows:

  • Content Recommendations: The removal of a channel’s eligibility to be recommended on the platform, including appearing on YouTube home page, trending tab or watch next.
  • Monetization: The suspension of a channel’s ability to serve ads, and potentially removal from the YouTube Partner Program, including creator support and access to YouTube Spaces.
  • Content Development Partnerships: The removal of a channel from YouTube Original creators, and Google Preferred contents.

The changes are coming on the heels of Google's effort to raise the overall quality of what is posted and shared and viewed by millions of people on its various platforms, which was necessitated by the proliferation of "fake news" that marred the last U.S. presidential elections.

Albeit, the majority of creators on YouTube will not be impacted by the changes as many contents are not on the wrong side of the rules.

The penalties will only apply as a last resort and often a temporary bar, though it may last indefinitely, pending if the creator has made amendments or altered the infringing content.

YouTube's clampdown on Channels posting offensive videos

Google has released the beta of Android KTX, as extensions designed to ease coding in Kotlin, while the API layer works on top of Android’s framework and have library support.

Android KTX is perhaps the first time Google is making a library specifically for Kotlin developers, albeit it isn't bringing any new features to the Android APIs. Kotlin was openly endorsed by Google as a preferred language for Android development last year, the KTX beta extensions is meant to improve on the Kotlin development experience.

The KTX package begins with androidx, which is a new prefix used in latest versions of the support library. And the proponents hope it will make it more obvious which APIs are bundled with the platform and which are static libraries for developers working with different versions of Android.

According to the KTX developers, the APIs could change during the course of the beta period, but pledges that when KTX reaches 1.0 production status, maintaining API compatibility will be more thorough.

Some advantages of KTX in simplification of coding is as follows: Useful in SharedPreferences, which provides an interface to modify preference data, as the KTX code is shorter and more natural to read and write.

Also, the Android String class will enable more-natural conversion of strings to URIs through KTX extension, and less code would be required when translating the difference between two paths in an Android program.

The source code for the part of Android KTX that works with the Android framework can be downloaded from this Github repo. And developers who wish to give it a spin, can get started from the binary file from Google’s Maven repository and add the dependency androidxcore:core-ktx:0.1 in the build.gradle file of their Android Kotlin project.

How Android KTX Extensions make coding in Kotlin easier

Facebook Messenger is evolving into an all-in-one messaging platform, and now a new feature is in the works that let users overlay a chosen emoji on their Messenger profile picture for 24 hours as a way to let people know their current status without necessarily requiring an outright post.

While users emoji can be found in the Active tab on Messenger, the new feature could potentially expand "Your Emoji" to show up even within the inbox and message threads.

Matt Navarra, director of Social Media for TheNextWeb shared screenshots about the new feature which is currently been tested: the ability for people to add an emoji to their profile photo in Messenger to let their friends know what they’re up to or how they’re feeling in the moment.

It allows for offline meetup opportunity just like AOL Instant Messenger’s old away messages, and there’s a ton of other potential behavioral tags like "red circle" which could mean don’t interact, or GPS dot-style blue diamond could mean out on the town. While the moon emoji can be used to signal an after party is going down later.

Facebook aim to position the messaging platform as all-in-one hub for meaningful interactions, not just passive media consumption, by opening up better signals to help conversations.

And perhaps, Messenger is the best-poised app to make an offline meetup tool, to spur conversation and hang outs in ways never before thought possible.

Facebook testing new "Your Emoji" status for Messenger

Over the last couple of decades, a merger and acquisition fever has swept through the Internet's largest businesses. It seems that major companies such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Microsoft, to name a few, are all addicted to buying the rights, assets and control of other smaller (but by no means small) companies.

The truth is, most of the Internet's most popular websites and services are owned by only a handful of companies we are familiar with. Did you know, for example, that when you buy a pair of Beats headphones, some of your money gets funneled back to Apple? It is true, and it may surprise you to learn just who owns some of the Internet's most popular websites.

Here is our list of four major internet companies that dominate the market and are addicted to acquiring other companies.
  • Google 
Google is obviously the most widely-known name on the entire internet; you probably found this article because of a Google search. Although Google began as just a search engine, it has grown into one of the world’s largest companies that has, over time, taken over other large companies and brands.

For example, Google owns YouTube which it acquired in 2006, and operates smartphone brands such as Pixel and Nexus phone brands.

  •  Expedia
Although you may be surprised to learn that Expedia, the travel website, plays a big role in mergers and acquisitions, it’s true; it is the core of their growth strategy. Expedia have historically bought a large number of other travel-related companies.

Over time, Expedia has taken over travel websites such as Trivago, and HomeAway. It also owns, the car-rental company. It is clear that Expedia is determined to keep its place as the travel market leader.

The company is famous for providing its competitive and low-cost booking service for flights, hotels, vacations and other services. Expedia offers and discount codes have made it wildly successful and millions of people use it each year.

  •  Facebook

Started at Harvard by Mark Zuckerberg as a campus-based photo book of other students, Facebook is now a worldwide household name which pretty much everyone uses.

It is not just the social network which Facebook operates, though. The company owns other big names such as WhatsApp, Oculus Rift and Instagram.

  •  Microsoft

One of the pioneers of early modern computing is Microsoft and this has always given it a competitive advantage when it comes to growth and expansion.

The Microsoft brand has grown massively over the years and it now owns and operates brands such as XBOX, Skype, LinkedIn and Mojang, the company which created Minecraft.

These are just four of the many internet companies who, between them, own and operate a substantial amount of companies on the internet. eBay, Amazon, TripAdvisor and Apple have all played their part in taking over a huge number of the Internet's most popular websites, brands and services.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn more about who owns who in the online world!

The Web World - Who Owns Who

INFOGRAPHIC: The Web World - Who Owns Who?

While Snapchat had previously neglected the emerging markets, even to the extent of publicly admitting having no intentions of pushing for its adoption in India, to the infuriating of the Asian country.

Snapchat's total users outside the U.S. stayed worryingly flat at 39 million as at Q4 2016, as a result of Instagram stealing of its followership in the international market.

Snapchat growth rate has revived going from 2.9 percent to 5 percent, as it hit 187 million daily users. Snap recorded about 8.9 million daily active users, to reach 187 million, with a quarter-over-quarter growth rate of 5.05 percent percent in Q4, compared to 2.9 percent in Q3.

And revenue expectations is on the high too, as losses shrank, with turnover at $285.7 million, up 72 percent year-over-year, with earnings per share of -$0.13 adjusted compared to estimates of $253 million and a -$0.16 adjusted.

The growth is tied mainly to the emerging markets, as the regions brought over 3 million daily users to reach 47 million, just as much as the European and North American markets.

That’s quite a bit of a surprise, considering Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel seemed to care only about U.S. teens, ignoring the rest of the developing world. And Snap once wrote that “although our products work with Android mobile devices, we have prioritized development of our products to operate with iOS, thus sidelining the clear smartphone leading OS, Android.

So, what could have effected this huge turn around in Snapchat's growth? Perhaps, the engineering advances that led to a 20 percent increase in Android user retention, or may be the launch of partnerships with wireless carriers in over a dozen markets to reduce the cost of data Snapchat usurps?

Even more growth is anticipated, as Snapchat’s biggest makeover is happening in this Q1 2018, and is about now reaching all users up from 40 million currently.

Snapchat gains in the International Market following revived adoption

With new programming languages development landscape becoming harder by the day, thus forestalling the improvements on existing ones, like Mozilla’s Rust, Apple’s Swift, and Jetbrains’s Kotlin, among other several new languages with different range of choices for speed, convenience and portability, and so forth.

Low-Level Virtual Machine (LLVM), is an open source project developed by Swift language creator Chris Lattner as a research project at the University of Illinois, to help in that direction.

While LLVM provide tools for automating the most tasking parts of language generation: compiler creation, porting the code to multiple platforms and architectures, and coding to handle common language exceptions.

It also makes it easier to enhance the development of existing programming languages, and the liberal licensing makes it freely reusable as a software component or as a service.

Both Apple’s Swift language and Rust uses LLVM as its compiler framework, or as a core component of its tool chain, with many compilers haven an LLVM edition, such as Clang, the C/C++ compiler (C-lang), which is a project directly allied with LLVM.

Kotlin, on the other hand, is nominally a JVM language, which means it's developing a version of the language called Kotlin Native that uses LLVM to compile to machine-native code.

Albeit, the most common use case for LLVM is as a ahead-of-time (AOT) compiler for a language, even though some situations require code to be generated on the fly at runtime, rather than compiled ahead of time.

For developers who are curious about how to use LLVM libraries to build new language, there's a detailed tutorial for LLVM, using either C++ or OCAML, to guide you through creating a simple language.

How Compiler Framework for generating Machine-native Code makes it easier to roll out new Languages

While Microsoft took a big step forward with the introduction of Microsoft 365, a new product suite that brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, Office 2019 will have one big setback when it goes into preview next quarter: only supported on Windows 10 systems.

And with barely two years before the end of extended support for Windows 7 and Office 2010 (January and October 2020, respectively), and new details on the next perpetual release of Office and Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release of Windows.

Microsoft have stated categorically that preview versions of the apps will be released during the second quarter, albeit it's still uncertain of new features that will be available in the new apps.

The restricted support for Windows 10 and its specifics on current supported version which is to be updated on a semi-annual basis with new feature updates — basically Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, became imperative to move the software to a more modern cadence, according to the company.

It also stated that the new Office won't be shipped using the older MSI installer — the apps will use the Click-to-Run installer, employed in Office 365.

And businesses can essentially refuse upgrades — known as the Long Term Stable Channel (LTSC) — but, the LTSC versions of Windows won’t be eligible for the perpetual Office updates after Jan. 14, 2020.

Microsoft, however will provide five years of mainstream support and additional two years of extended support for Office 2019, ending on October 14, 2025.

What's the changes coming to Microsoft Office 2019?

In the wake of the Russia meddling in the past U.S. elections, and following the grilling of the social media giants, including Google for their roles by the U.S. Congress; Google has implemented changes to YouTube services that will offer viewers more transparency around where news broadcasters get their funding.

Going forward, YouTube will now include a notice below any video that's uploaded by creators believed to be receiving funding from the government.

While the notice isn't restricted to only government funded YouTube broadcasts, as broadcasters sourcing funding from the public will also be highlighted, to serve as additional information to help users understand the sources of news content that they watch on the service.

The content labeling is initially taking off in the U.S., and will most likely impact popular sources like the United State’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); also the visibility around foreign state news organizations, like Russia’s RT may be impacted too.

Google hopes the change will help to tackle the growing “fake news” issue that’s spamming the web, albeit the labeling may not always be accurate.

And where propaganda are often given equal visibility and attention as legitimate news sources, the new label may perhaps be effective in thwarting it, even as YouTube has made addressing the fake news problem one of its several goals for 2018.

The company claims progress has already been made in the area of better surfacing of content from authoritative news sources on the homepage in the new “Breaking News” section.

YouTube to label State-sponsored News broadcasts in the U.S.

Snap, the Snapchat company has launched an in-app eCommerce platform for brands, Snap Store, which is now live in the Snapchat app’s Discover section.

While Snapchat has been grappling with revenue issues lately, still this isn’t quite a serious monetization scheme, as it's aimed at the community, and to help them drive brand loyalty, according to the company. Albeit, Snapchat merchandises like a $20 Dancing Hot Dog Plushie or a $30 Dog Lens T-Shirt earns Snap some free marketing as people wear the gear.

And Snapchat users can scan the Snap Code with the camera to open the store to buy exclusive items that will only be available for a limited time.

The Snap in-app merchandise could be a potential revenue system for the company to explore, through developing a revenue stream around charging brands a cut of what they sell on Snapchat or getting them to buy ads promoting their stores.

For now, Snap is running its own sales off the third-party manufactured merchandise, and perhaps it curled everything off of Amazon.

But with the next product drop which is expected to happen around first week of February, Snapchat may be poise to attract top brands who aims to reach the growing millennial audience in a way that makes shopping part of the seamless social experience.

Snapchat app’s Discover section to let users buy merchandise

Microsoft is pushing its Office services to the cloud, which will enable users to store data with the ability to sync files across different platforms, and the enterprise targeted cloud offerings like Azure.

While Microsoft had reassured analysts that it still has a consumer strategy in place: with Xbox, PC gaming, and devices powered by its digital assistant, Cortana. Albeit, the demise of consumer products like the Zune music player, Groove Music Pass and Windows phones, got most customers wondering if Microsoft does indeed have a consumer strategy in mind.

Microsoft’s aim is to unify the platforms: and through the Game Pass subscription service (Xbox-only for now); and its Mixer streaming service, gamers can stream as they play either PC or Xbox games, with the overall goal of offering subscription services and streaming services across all devices.

The company also plans to tap Azure to assist in gaming, with the purported acquisition of PlayFab, a company that help simplify the back-end services needed to run online games.

Thus, Microsoft is encouraging the development of AI, including speech and image recognition or dialogue management skills that bridge work and play, as its wooing developers on other devices to port them to Windows: Amazon’s Alexa, inclusive.

Microsoft ambition is to embed Cortana into a number of consumer devices, like cars, and with the capability of Azure’s cognitive services, thus create a wholly “intelligent cloud, with intelligent edge” over the consumer market.

Whither Microsoft consumer business is dead?