The leaked Instagram long-form video hub has been confirmed to be launching soon as IGTV, which will be accessible from the Explore tab, and will allow users post longer-formed video of ten minute length and above.

Instagram has been wooing online content creators to the new platform to create videos that are at least 10-minute long, instead of the 1-minute maximum videos allowed currently on the app.

While the photo-cum-video sharing service has witnessed exponential growth in the past few years, it's still grappling with discovering the turnkey feature that will permanently sway users to its side against the fierce competition from Snapchat.

Albeit, the growth projection puts Instagram as adding 100 million users every four months, and with the recent announcement of 800 million in September 2017, Instagram may be hitting 1 billion monthly users this second quarter.

The IGTV videos will be similar to what's available in YouTube rather than a direct competion to the likes of Netflix, and will offer a link-out option for creators to drive traffic to their other web properties. It will be full-screen with a resolution of up to 4K, and users will be presented with a collection of recent videos, popular titles and the ability to continue watching clips from where they stopped.

Instagram may also be adding a direct monetization avenue for the creators, which perhaps will include revenue sharing, though no official confirmation about the possibility.

The overriding idea is to enable these creators express their style of content and also leverage their already sizeable audience on the platform, to expand the IGTV footprint on mobile platforms rather than the more regular publishers and TV studios.

Instagram's longer-form video service launching as IGTV, accessible from the Explore tab



Google has announced the rolling out of Messages for the Web, with features including GIF search and smart replies as part of an updated messaging experience for Android users.

While the company had earlier renamed its Messenger, Android Messages, which now serve as the default messaging app across all Android phones, with works in progress to bring Rich Communication Services (RCS) to Android Messages for better messaging experience.

Google had also moved the team behind its messaging App, Allo to work on Android Messages, with the aim to offer features such as receipts that show when a message has been read, stickers, maps and more.



The roll out of Messages for Web is part of an updated messaging experience for Android users in response to Apple's iMessage, with Android Messages now in a better position to compete with the web support.

As Apple's iMessage can be accessed on Mac using a dedicated app, Google aims to make Messages for web similar by offering the Web access to messages, allowing Android users to view and respond to conversations on desktop, even when not with their Android smartphone.

Google is also prepping additional features for Android Messages like previewing of web links in conversations; and the ability to copy one-time passwords with a tap or perhaps two taps – both the copy and the paste functions – is now a lot easier than before.

Albeit, Android users are required to download and install the latest version of the Messages app from Google Play to enjoy these new features.

Android Messages arrives to the Web, with GIF Search and Smart reply



The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) has announced the successor to their popular image format with the same moniker, called JPEG XL, which aims to offer substantial improvement in compression efficiency than existing image formats.

JPEG XL will feature desirable web distribution capabilities and offer about 60% overall improvement compared to the legacy JPEG format, coupled with efficient compression of high-quality images.

And the announcement is coming on the heels of JPEG 25 years anniversary, a remarkable achievement indeed for the legacy image format, and to celebrate JPEG's birthday, the organization behind it deems it wise to draw up the future roadmap.

With billions of images captured, stored and shared on daily basis, increasingly applications, websites and UI experts are relying on those images to share experiences, stories, visual information and put up appealing designs.

Therefore, an efficient image compression format is highly invaluable, to this end, the JPEG Committee issued a Call for Proposals following its 79th meeting in April 2018, with the objective of seeking technologies that fulfill the objectives and scope of a Next Generation Image Coding.

The Working Group is hopeful to see JPEG XL as an important format for imaging products and services as its predecessor was; the popular legacy JPEG format which has been in service for a quarter of century now.

It has given an August 15, 2018 deadline for expression of interest, registration and submissions to the Call due September 1, 2018. To stay posted on the action plan for JPEG XL, you can follow up on the project website at jpeg.org.

JPEG XL: the Next generation of the JPEG image coding format



Exemplar GAN (ExGAN) are a type of conditional GAN that utilize exemplar information to reproduce quality personalized in-paintings. While GAN is a class of artificial intelligence algorithms in unsupervised machine learning, implemented through a system neural networks contesting with each other in a zero-sum game framework.

Facebook research attempt to replace closed eyes with open ones in a remarkably convincing manner through In-Painting Eye with Exemplar Generative Adversarial Networks. This is an instance of intelligent “in-painting” when a machine fills in a space with what it thinks should be at the point.

ExGANs successfully produced photo-realistic personalized in-painting results that are both perceptually and semantically plausible by applying them to the task of closed-to-open eye in-painting in natural pictures.

Facebook researchers were able to include “exemplar” data showing the target person with their eyes open, from which the GAN learns not just what eyes should go on the person, but how the eyes of this particular person are colored, and the actual shape.

The test results were stunning, as most people mistook the fake eyes-opened photos for real, and unless they knew a photo was definitely tampered with, they probably couldn’t differentiate it in the Newsfeed.

Albeit, the capabilities still falls short in some instances, resulting some strange looking artifacts of a person’s eye if partially covered by a lock of hair, and sometimes giving a complete color mismatch.

However, their detailed nature make it particularly useful as the capacity to convincingly replace the eyes weren't available in other photo editing tools. Facebook has introduced the new benchmark dataset for the task of eye in-painting for future comparisons.

Facebook demos Exemplar GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks) In-Painting to produce personalized results



Apple's augmented reality toolkit, ARKit 2, already has a number of key upgrades that vastly improves how iOS handles augmented reality, which alongside iOS 12 the company believes the big deal is actually getting them on millions of devices.

The iPhone X's front-facing TrueDepth camera uses ARKit 2 to track eye movement, and Apple's other iPhones arriving later this year will also feature same AR capabilities, and most probably the next iPad Pro.

ARKit 2 is not just used to see objects, but also to pin information to them, such as purchase information, or player stats hovering over athletes at a future sporting events. Also, iOS 12 is able to handle in-browser AR experience, through a new common format developed with Pixar, called USDZ, that will ultimately help Apple to turn 3D files into AR-ready objects.

The USDZ format currently support only iOS devices, but it can potentially become a universal format that if incorporated into ARKit 2 can make the virtual experience better, for instance, using 3D AR creations to reflect real-life objects.

Another interesting area is the shared AR worlds, which is relatively a new stuff: Google demoed the first multiplayer AR apps at its developer conference, and Apple's multiplayer support in ARKit 2 will also be able to enact the same.

The shared worlds will open up collaborative projects that could enable people to visit and interact with each other. Just imagine possibilities like the next wave of holograms in classrooms, and experimental art projects, such as Google's group AR doodle app that's live already.

Albeit, there's still a pretty long way to go, and the future of augmented reality is very much in a state of flux.

How Apple intends to improve Augmented Reality (AR) Experience



Microsoft announced their leveraging of artificial intelligence (AI) at scale to greatly improve the quality and reliability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout, which as a first time marks the fastest transition from consumer-only to enterprise-ready edition of the software.

The update quality and reliability was as a result of the AI inputs, and Microsoft will expand the release to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide.

Microsoft's AI approach selects devices intelligently that its feedback data indicate would make a great update experience and offers the April 2018 Update to those devices first.

With the AI model, feedback and telemetry data, the company is able to quickly adjust and prevent devices that are not currently suitable from being offered the update until they've been sorted out. And if the issues are resolved, it then proceeds with the update, which allows for throttling the update rollout to customers without needing them to take any action.

The April 2018 Update, in fact is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, and reaching the mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update.

While the 45-day interval between the launch and the declaration was the shortest for Windows 10, with the pronouncement of corporate suitability breaking the previous record, set by the 1709 upgrade of 86 days after its October 2017 debut.

Microsoft is harping on the ability to safely rollout an updated version of Windows 10 at massive scale and velocity leveraging AI to ensure the broadest number of customer devices have the latest security, technology and features in the shortest period as well.

Microsoft breaks new record with AI-powered Windows 10 April Update rollout



App Maker, is an online tool for quick building and deployment of business apps on the web developed by Google. While the tool has been in beta for the past one year, the company has finally announced the general availability of the service to all developers who wish to give it a try.

The tool is to enable people in organization, especially those with little coding experience to build own business apps, and it comes with any G Suite Business and Enterprise subscription, which data is based on G Suite or Google’s Cloud SQL database or any other database that supports JDBC or that offers a REST API.



Albeit, it takes quite a bit of work to set up the database connectivity, but after that, the design aspect is actually pretty easy — and coupled with ready-made templates, which makes the final application building quicker, irrespective of platform.

App Maker affords the developers with a low-code application development environment which allows building of applications through an easy drag and drop system.

While developers can access Gmail, Google Calendar, Sheets and other data sources, the main applications will likely rely on a database. Another caveat is that it focuses only on Google’s own services, with little or no built-in support for third-party services, although Google has promised to bring more functionality to the service.

App Maker is now available and open to all G Suite Business and Enterprise customers, as well as G Suite for Education customers.

Finally, Google's App Maker is now available and open to all developers



The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, has been notorious for its iPhone cracking stunts with tools believed to be supplied by third-party security services.

Apple with the upcoming version of iOS (iOS 12) will look to block the loophole that the law enforcement have leveraged to crack into locked iPhone with a feature known as USB Restricted Mode, that limits the number of access through the USB port.

While the FBI had relied on solutions from GrayShift and Cellebrite, particularly GrayShift’s GrayKey, which is capable of unlocking even newer iPhone models, through the use of the USB port to access the iPhone in order to crack its password.

The GrayKey is able to crack locked iPhone using more attempts than would normally be allowed, which process takes from two hours to more than 24 hours, depending on the strength of the password.

Now, Apple has confirmed the USB Restricted Mode security patch will make it into the final iOS release, to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data.

Albeit, the company is not expressly trying to suppress law enforcement, rather it claims to have the greatest respect for the agencies, and don’t design its security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.

The infamous federal order issued asking for Apple to help the FBI crack into an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, one of the attackers in the shooting at San Bernardino, California is perhaps a pointer.

Apple, however, opposed the judge's order to assist the FBI break into the iPhone of Syed Farook, calling the directive "an overreach by the U.S. government."

Apple to thwart Law Enforcement's iPhone cracking with USB Restricted Mode



Microsoft earlier in the week released the beta version of the Mac edition of the Office application suite, Office 2019 for Mac, with new tools and functionality, like email delivery scheduling and Excel funnel charts.

While Office 2019 for Mac is the next perpetual update to Office on Mac and is set to ship alongside Office 2019 for Windows in the second half of 2018, and the beta is meant for volume license customers who intend to run the "perpetual" version of the suite, not the applications provided to Office 365 subscribers.



It offers new features to help end users create amazing content, such as the roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across Office apps; with focus mode in Word; Morph transitions, in-click sequence, and 4k video export in PowerPoint; new charts and functions in Excel; and focused inbox in Outlook.

Albeit, these functionalities are already available in Office 365 ProPlus, as such Office 365 subscribers will have no reason to be tempted into beta testing Office 2019 on Mac, or any other version of the software.

With the new Office, Microsoft will be wooing those customers who are considering moving to the cloud, as Office 2019 for Mac will be a valuable upgrade to keep some or all of their apps on-premises.

Also, Office 2019 for Mac includes new features expressly for IT to help simplify deployment and management, with the Command-line tools allowing IT admins to centrally control how and when Office updates are applied to users' devices, and support for industry-standard MDM policies.

Additionally, it will give IT the power to enforce organization-wide security policies, including preferences for Visual Basic macros and app settings.

Microsoft, however hasn't fixed a date for the release of more broadly-distributed Office 2019 for Mac to the public. But you can join the Office 2019 for Mac preview, by signing up here.

Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac will give IT the power to enforce organization-wide security policies



The small software programs that enable customized browsing experience, Chrome Extensions, which hitherto can be installed from multi-vendor sources, will soon be restricted to the Chrome Web store.

While the software extensions offer such nifty capabilities like: ad blocking and better tabs management, in addition to Chrome browser's swift performance, with clean interface and easy synchronization with mobile devices, that has made the browser very popular.

Google will be removing the ability of "inline installation" that allow other sources to offer installation of extensions as a result of the growing malware concerns, so that users must have to resort to the Chrome Web Store for adding an extension to Chrome.

Albeit, the initial plan was that Chrome Extensions can be installed from any source, but Google cited the increasing malware issues for the reversal of its stance.

The Chrome Web Store been managed by Google itself, offers the necessary background checking to ensure available software are free of malicious codes, that can serve as a conduit for spyware that allow hackers to steal personal banking information from your computer.

Google in a bid to stem the tide, will be offering a three-phase plan to make the Chrome Web Store the only gateway for Chrome extensions.

The first phase, stated on June 12, all new extensions can't be installed inline any more. While the second phase, coming up on September 12, will have inline installation disabled for existing extensions. And all other sources that offer inline installations will redirect to the Chrome Web Store for installation.

Finally, developers will be required to update their websites with a December deadline to rid their codes of the inline installation.

Google to restrict Chrome Extensions installation to the Chrome Web Store



Snapchat is rolling out a new feature, called Clear Chats that will allow users to delete messages that are already sent, just as possible with Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

While Facebook had demonstrated that sent items can be recalled on the platform, through the secret deletion of messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg, which the company quickly dismissed as a new capability coming to everyone.

But Snapchat has beaten it to the launch, as the Clear Chats feature will be rolling out to all users globally over the next few weeks.



The Clear Chats feature will be especially useful for deleting those embarrassing messages sent by mistake, and also make it more easy for people to retract sensitive information sent over Snapchat. As it already auto-delete messages after they’ve be seen, this nifty addition will help to even further thwart cases where ex-lovers accidentally exposed their nude images.

The feature can be used by holding down on a text, image, video, memory, sticker or audio note in a one-on-one or group chat, then pressing the delete button. Snapchat will now retract the message, albeit it requires good internet connection and updated version of the app to work.

The recipient will be notified about the deletion, which is a good thing as social media evidence is increasingly useful, while the unsend feature tends to undermine it.

Snapchat is definitely not slowing down on its effort to boost growth with more unique features, especially attractive to the teens, even though it hit slowest growth rate ever last quarter.

Snapchat's Clear Chats feature to allow users delete sent messages



The Net Neutrality rules were passed in 2015, with many people agreeing to the basic principles of the rules, albeit some specific aspects were a subject of intense controversy.

It's a proposal that ISP and government regulators should treat all data on the Internet as the same to prevent broadband companies from favoring their own content over competitors', passed by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

The new Republican-led Federal Communications Commission's proposed to roll back the net neutrality rules, with most aspects still requiring approval from the Office of Management and Budget, which has now been taken care of, and the FCC scheduling June 11 as when the roll back will take effect.

The controversy, however is that to get the rules to hold up in court, an earlier, Democrat-led FCC had reclassified broadband networks so they fall under the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks.

Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman called this "heavy-handed" and "a mistake," arguing that it will deter innovation and investment in building and expanding broadband networks.

The most significant change on the proposal coming from the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission is the stripping away of the FCC's authority to regulate broadband and the shifting of that responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Going forward, the FTC is now the new helms man, and saddled with the responsibility of taking action against companies that violate contracts with consumers or that participate in any fraudulent activity.

The FCC's roll back of Obama-era Net Neutrality rules takes effect



Apple at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2018), said it would implement new privacy features to block major web-tracking systems, which most users may not be aware that they are following them, from tracking their browsing habits on Safari browser.

The privacy tools will make it more difficult for web trackers to identify and track users on Safari web browser, thus prevent them from following your browsing sessions.

While many popular websites were circumventing users privacy settings by deliberately restoring previously deleted HTTP cookies using local storage outside the control of the browser; which emphasizes the porousness of most browsers privacy settings, allowing persistent tracking, even when you're using private browsing mode.

Apple stance for privacy is so serious that the company doesn't even trust its app developers to get things right, which is more reason it requires that iPhone users should grant them permission before they can access their location information.

Its browser, Safari was the first to block Flash by default, as series of security breaches were tied to the technology, and Apple had also rejected the ad industry's plea to sidetrack its "intelligent tracking prevention" system on iOS devices.

Albeit, web cookies make online shopping easier, which is one good thing it can do, by allowing shoppers to get to see more of the items they really care about, which eliminates the searching for such items.

But, Apple doesn't seem to fancy the cookie tales, as it takes privacy "extremely seriously" and these cookies are way against users privacy.

That's why it's coming up with a better way to give users more control, Apple update in Fall will prevent collection of users data until they interact with third party's widget, by clicking on the Like button, after asking whether they're comfortable sharing information with the third party.

How Apple's new privacy features will help prevent web tracking



Indeed, these are not the best of times for the social media giant, Facebook, as the company has been grappling with so many privacy issues and antitrust concerns.

Now, Facebook has made public an embarrassing bug in its system that exposed about 14 million users private information publicly when they had intended to share them privately. According to the company, every posts made between May 18 and May 22, 2018 were mistakenly shared as public, even though the user had setup the privacy status.



Facebook was only able to revert posts to private again after May 27, so it's likely that some sensitive information might have trickled onto the news feed of total strangers during the nine days the buy held sway.

The bug was as a result of a new feature Facebook is currently testing, which would suggest that people share featured profile items publicly. Albeit Facebook mistakenly set "public" as the default for all posts, making posts shared during that period to evade users privacy settings.

Affected users will be notified with a "Please review your posts" pop-up in their news feed, and will be required to review their privacy settings that might have been altered.

Facebook, however assured users that the bug didn't impact anything posted before the stated period and that they still have the ability to choose their audience as before.

Facebook admittedly shared Private Information of 14M users as a result of bug



Microsoft is hard at work to position its IoT platform, Windows 10 IoT Core as the go-to architecture for deploying the Internet of Things for both individual users and corporate organizations.

The software giant is offering a new program that guarantees 10 years of updates for its customers on Windows 10 IoT Core, which means its taking off the responsibility from third-party partners (OEMs) who are saddled with the creation of apps for the platform, to guarantee security updates for the devices for a decade.

Apart form pushing out the updates, Microsoft is also giving OEMs the ability to manage the updates and have access to the device’s core architecture.

The service is in a way enabling partners to commercialize secure IoT devices backed by industry-leading support. While the third-party partners will have the ability to manage updates for the OS, for the apps and settings for OEM-specific files.

It also give the makers of Windows-powered applications on machines like healthcare devices or ATMs this ability to manage it over a period.

Microsoft will allow customers to assess the Device Update Center to control and customize how their devices get the updates. And it includes a security check called Device Health Attestation that allows the OEMs to evaluate the trustworthiness of the devices before it is updated with a third party service.

The IoT space is growing and will witness at least 20 billion connected devices online by 2020 according to Gartner. And Microsoft wants to be the leading provider with Windows 10 IoT Core for these connected devices.

Microsoft entice customers to Windows 10 IoT Core with a decade of updates



Instagram is prepping to launch a long-form video posting capability for its users, or perhaps switching to a longer view of its short video format.

The feature will allow users post longer-formed video of up to one hour length, instead of the current one minute only videos, and it supports vertical video shooting, according to insider report obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

While the photo-cum-video sharing service has witnessed exponential growth in the past few years, it's still grappling with finding the turnkey feature that will permanently sway users to its side against the fierce competition from Snapchat.

For instance, it has recorded over 300 million daily active users for Instagram Stories, a feature it cloned from Snapchat which allow users to publish series of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

And just recently, the company launched what it called "You're All Caught Up" which will enable users to know when all new posts from a give period in time (for instance, in the past 48 hours) have been viewed to help solve the perceived problem of algorithmic timeline.

As the switch to algorithmic feed, made most users unable to follow everything their friends had shared on the platform. And this resulted a lot of passive scrolling, as it was termed, meaning that they surfed aimlessly in order not to miss out on anything.

But how users will welcome the idea of a longer-formed video posting remains to be seen, if and when the feature eventually goes live.

Short or Long-formed Video posts on Instagram: Who'd you rather?



Net Applications, the California-based analytics company puts Firefox at 9.9% percentage point of user share for the month of May, losing almost a quarter of its market share.

According to the analytics report, this is the first time Firefox has fallen below the 10% margin since November 2016, while Net Applications calculate browser share by the detection of user agent strings of the browsers that visit websites under its watch.

The tallies are make up the different visits to the site, which may be multiple sessions rather than just counting only users, it measures mostly the activity, though different from rival company's metrics sources which normally focuses on page views.

Mozilla's browser, Firefox had recorded more than a quarter of the world's browser share, about a decade ago. But lately, Firefox has fallen to less than a tenth, which trend may mean that Firefox will drop below 9% by September, and then even under 8% by January 2019.

Firefox future, indeed looks bleak if the six-month average holds, even as Mozilla has devoted resources in revamping the browser, giving rise to the "Quantum Firefox". Albeit, the revamp has not helped in salvaging the browser's hold on users.

Firefox, however isn't the only browser witnessing a decline, as even Apple's Safari also took a hit, losing almost three-tenths of a percentage point to finish at 3.7%, the lowest in a year.

While Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge, all Microsoft's browsers lost seven-tenths of a percentage point last month, closing at 16.1% for all visit sessions worldwide.

Google's browser, Chrome remains the undisputed leader with an impressive 1.2 percentage points gain in May alone, the largest one-month increase since January 2017; the user share pushed Chrome to finish at 62.8 per cent.

Browser Wars: Is Mozilla's Firefox browser losing its edge?



It's been long in the coming, and finally Apple has made it possible for iOS developers to adapt their apps for MacOS with an updated UIKit that makes it easier to port to Mac computers.

While both iOS and MacOS already share some features, such as Launchpad and the dock, but the idea of merging the two operating systems is still not feasible at least for the foreseeable future according to Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering at WWDC 2018.

Apple's UIKit tools will help developers to bring iOS apps to MacOS starting in 2019, with the developers able to adapt their apps to Mac features not present on iOS apps, which features include: mouse input, window resizing, scroll bars and related controls, copy and paste, and drag and drop, among others.

Albeit, MacOS and iOS apps are written with frameworks, the two software can run tasks such as accelerating graphics, rendering text or tracking fingers on a touch screen.

But, the difference in the devices make porting an app from one to the other pretty hard at the moment. So Apple intends to bring some key frameworks from iOS down to Mac, thus allowing developers to leverage iOS software for building Mac apps.

The question of whether Apple will merge MacOS and iOS may perhaps be liken to the rumor of Google's planned merger of Android/Chrome OS, and afterwards face-out the later, which has remained elusive.

Finally, Apple's iOS apps will be able to run on MacOS computers



Microsoft's MSN Kids is a new curated news portal that's targeted at young people, and it's devoid of any content or advertising that is intended for mature audience.

The news information are curated from trusted sources, including National Geographic Channel, Time for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, and USA TODAY. Albeit, there are currently no sponsored content or advertising on the site, but expressly fun contents that will keep the kids engaged.

According to Microsoft, the portal was created to help inform kids about the world in a safe, trustworthy and fun environment. MSN Kids programming is especially appropriate and appealing to grade-school age kids.

As online news coverage can sometimes leave kids feeling blue or upset about the world, including fake or misleading news reports, the portal will help the kids broaden their interests to carry on thoughtful conversations about important topics.

If your kids are in the mood to learn about amazing facts or interesting people all around the globe, discover fun facts about animals, get answers to some of life’s biggest mysteries, or just sit back and enjoy hilarious videos, this is the place for them.

Microsoft requests your feedback as you take a look around the site, do let them know what you think!

Microsoft's MSN Kids new content Experience targeted at youngsters



The long awaited upgrade to Apple's software, iOS 12 has been unveiled at the annual WWDC 2018 conference, while the actual update will be arriving in late 2018 to the iPhone/iPad devices.

While lofty expectations may have been daunted by Apple's Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi statement on stage at the WWDC 2018 keynote, that they're doubling down on performance; and refocusing on stability and digital balance with slew of enhancements here and there.

Apple once again has a chance to popularize a rather fringe feature from its rival, Samsung which set the ball rolling with its AR emoji in Galaxy S9 smartphone, with Apple now pitching "Memoji" - an Animoji (animated emoji) that you can create of yourself in iOS 12.

The iOS 12 will allow iPhone/iPad users to make Animojis of themselves using the front-facing 3D camera, with several customization options for skin tone, hairstyles, facial features (like freckles) and accessories like sunglasses.

Also, there are new filters similar to Snapchat, stickers from your favorite sticker packs, and the ability to put your custom memoji on chat.

Apple gives Siri a new home in iOS 12, the shortcuts feature created to provide information and services that Apple thinks you need throughout your day. While Siri can identify your habits and offer actions to help you on your upcoming schedules.

The most versatile feature, however remains Group FaceTime which allow up to 32 people to join in a conference call, including with audio/video or both. And the ability to switch between a group chat to a group FaceTime.

Another big bet for Apple in iOS 12, is Augmented Reality (AR) where multiple users on iPhone/iPad can interact in the same AR experience in real time. Apple's AR software toolbox for developers, ARKit now in the second version is all about making multiuser experiences in VR possible, allowing games or building Lego with friends, even sharing a virtual document.

Finally, to drop any 3D object into the "real world" like a toy or lamp or character is now possible with Apple's 3D Graphics, which makes it easier for app developers to add to their apps with a new file format called USDZ, developed in conjunction with Pixar.

Apple's iOS 12 brings group FaceTime and 'Memoji' with slew of Siri enhancements



The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, may also apply to Domain registrants Information held in the whois service.

While the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN manages the whois service, requiring accredited domain name registrars to collect and store domain owner's name and postal address, and also the personal details of the domain's technical and administrative contacts.

The good news now is that domain name owners, may be getting free privacy guard for their whois data, albeit it will make finding out who's behind an internet domain a little bit harder, which will potentially pose some problems for law enforcers or anyone else trying to report a domain.

EPAG Domainservices, the German registrar told ICANN about it resolves to stop collecting personal details for the technical and administrative contacts as the GDPR came into effect, stressing that the surplus requirement is against the principle of data minimisation, though it will keep collecting information about domain name owners.

But ICANN filed a counter suit at the Regional Court in Bonn, Germany, for an injunction to enforce EPAG to continue recording administrative and technical contact details for domains it registered, or pay a €250,000 (US$291,000) fine.

The court, however rejected ICANN's request, which refusal was as a result of lack of evidence that the additional information was necessary, given that the same person could as well be listed for all three contacts. It questioned that rationale for even demanding for the personal information about the administrative and technical contacts.

ICANN, however has sought for further clarification of the GDPR requirements for the whois service from the European Commission and the Article 29 Working Party, the Umbrella body of the EU's national privacy regulators.

Aftermath of GDPR: Will ICANN keep Domain registrants Information secret?



The debate over Real-time vs Algorithmic Timeline continues, as Instagram claims that the changes to algorithmic feed it made in 2016 has been effective, despite criticism from some users on the platform.

Algorithmic Timeline uses machine-learning to understand users interest as they interact with the platform, meaning the more you use it, the more accurate the suggestions will get over time. While real-time update means the natural flow of conversation which is supposed to be spontaneous, and thereby requires that you'll have to follow all conversations one at a time.

Albeit, the real-time update makes it rather too burdensome to collect on the information that matters to you, which is the reason the algorithmic timeline is preferred above it.

Algorithmic timeline favored posts that people cared for the most, based on past interactions, rather than the recent posts at the top of its feed. But just how does Instagram classify "relevance" or what are the ranking algorithm that is employed to decide what falls under the category?

There are fears about the possible abuse of the feature, as a monetization scheme, as the company may want to offer paid access for brands that are looking for targeted advertising.

Instagram is purported to favor a post, if it thinks something in it will matter to you based on your past interactions on similar content. While the analysis is based on machine learning of the content in the post, with timely posts prioritized over older posts.

The company, however denied any plans to offer paid access to brands that are looking for targeted advertising, stating that it won't down-rank users post in favor of advertisements, but if they post several items it may swap the important ones between the different posts.

Instagram defends its choice for Algorithmic feed as effectively more relevant



The Blockchain technology has caught the attention of the Internet's largest services providers including: IBM, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and now, Amazon has also joined the list of Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) providers.

Amazon BaaS offerings is meant to address the shortage of in-house Blockchain developers, which services are still in hot demand, by offering means to allow customers test the emerging technology without the associated risk of deploying it in-house.

While Blockchain has the potential to unleash new possibilities that were formerly out of reach for many small organizations, with such unique services advantage as decentralization, secure, transparent, and immutable interactions, for processes and transactions.

ConsenSys is an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Technology Partner that is enabling associations of two or more companies to launch and operate enterprise Blockchain networks on Amazon Web Services (AWS) without spending months and millions of dollars writing the code.

Amazon has also partnered with Kaleido to offer its cloud services on which to host an Enterprise Ethereum-based, open-source blockchain platform, which makes Kaleido the first managed blockchain SaaS on AWS; available in AWS regions across the world.

Additionally, AWS announced blockchain developer templates based on Ethereum and Hyperledger – which are the most popular business-grade, open-source blockchain platforms.

Microsoft became one of the first software vendors to offer BaaS on its Azure cloud platform back in 2015; with the Azure Cloud open to a variety of blockchain protocols, supporting simple Unspent Transaction Output-based protocols (UTXO), Smart Contract-based protocols, and other newly developed protocols.

And IBM followed suit by launching a number of pilot projects with supply chain and financial services companies.

The IBM's Blockchain Platform, is a cloud-based service that 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 Stellar.org, 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.

Albeit, Amazon's model is a bit more centralized, but it's still very much a distributed ledger system; more accessible and easier for customers to use, and even faster for them to connect to AWS services securely.

Amazon's foray into blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) with AWS offerings



Facebook is currently testing different breaking news model as a replacement for the Trending Topic section, with a "breaking news" label and a dedicated local news tab, called Today In.

While the "Trending Topics" section raised some controversy in reaction to the 2016 removal of human moderators from Trending Topics, leaving it solely to AI algorithm, which opened the door for larger scandals like misinformation and fake news campaigns.

The "breaking news" feature is being tested by about 80 publishers, Facebook will also launch live news coverage, with daily news briefings and weekly deep dives in Watch tab, its homepage for video.

And the "Today In" section will be concerned with local news stories, which will be kicking off in 33 US cities, with an estimated average of 8 percent traffic from Facebook to the publishers pages.

According to Facebook, research shows that over time people found the Trending Topic to be less and less useful, albeit it was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average.

The company have scheduled the removal of Trending from Facebook platform next week and also remove products and third-party partner integration that rely on the Trends API.

Facebook is exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on the platform is from trustworthy and quality sources.

Facebook Trending Topics section to give way for breaking News models



The network technologies, DNS and HTTPS, help browsers to thwart snooping and subsequently the tampering of website location by middlemen, by encrypting the connections to the web servers that host websites.

While the Domain Name System (DNS) serves as the phone book for the internet, it converts readable domain names into IP addresses needed to communicate with computers across the network, and thus enable web users to get to their target resources, as often times, popular resources exist in different locations.

HTTPS, on the other hand is the secure version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol used to fetch data from websites.

Mozilla has commenced a project to thwart network snoopers by encrypting connections to the web servers that host websites, by the combination of the network technology, DND and HTTPS called DoH, to prevent middlemen from figuring out the internet servers Firefox users are trying to reach and from sending the user to a fake version of a website.

Firefox's implementation of DoH would help seal off major holes, as regards privacy and security, though there are technical challenges that aren't going away anytime soon, but gradually things will improve.

The support for DoH has been added to Firefox 62 to improve the way Firefox interacts with DNS, while DoH employs encrypted networking to obtain DNS information from a server that is configured within Firefox.

Firefox, however does not use DoH by default, to use (or not use) DoH simply go through the configuration editor to configure it. Also, if you want to test DoH outside of a shield study, the support works best in Firefox 62 or newer and Shield studies will not override your manual configuration.

Mozilla's attempt to close privacy holes with DNS over HTTPS technology



The Firefox Nightly version has a new update that makes tracking protection easier to discover, and to use, which affords web users better safeguard for their privacy.

Mozilla is a major advocate for browser-side protection to block websites and advertisers from following web users online behavior, which tracking is especially useful for their ads targeting despite the fact that it invades the users privacy.

The new update to Firefox will let users to easily block tracking on site by site basis, instead of just using the former approach of clicking on the privacy icon on the left side of the address bar.

Formerly, the tracking protection mechanism was tucked away in a submenu, but with the new update, Mozilla makes it easily accessible from the three-line menu in the upper right of the browser.

And this is perhaps the browsers getting more supportive on the side of web users, even against its own developers by ignoring the programmers' code that want them to track users for ads targeting. Albeit, Firefox doesn't block all tracking websites by default, but just like Google's Chrome ad filtering and Safari's intelligent tracking protection, both of which perform selective blocking.

Other privacy feature in Firefox Nightly is the ability to clear cookies and other data a specific site has stored on your device. And just like the tracking protection, this option is also available in the three-line menu.

The new privacy features on Firefox Nightly, which is developers version of the browser, is expected to arrive in the mainstream Firefox by the end of September.

How Firefox browser makes it easier to find and use Tracking protection