Amazon staff may be listening to things you say (and around!), Alexa, YouTube TV has seen a price increase, Instagram is clearing "inappropriate" recommendations, and more. Here are the biggest stories for the morning of April 1
Our first look at a black hole thanks to the combination of science and technology
This kind of story is usually outside the things we're talking about here HTG but it's really a big deal and it's really cool. It is worth talking!
Yesterday the first picture of a black hole was published. Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration shared the picture. The fact that we get real human eyeballs on one of the most powerful forces that man knows is humble, fascinating, and just cool.
The caption for the image on the Event Horizon Telescope homepage ranges from the ghost to itself:
The image shows a bright ring formed by light creases in intense gravity around a black hole, the 6.5 Billion times as strong as the sun. This much sought-after image is the strongest evidence yet of the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window to exploring black holes, their event horizon and gravity.
Six points five billion times massive then the sun. This is bigger than our entire solar system. This is so enormous that you can hardly understand it. The picture was taken with eight strategically placed telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole. According to CNET, the concept is "to combine the signal strength of the observatories at different corners of the earth to form an array as wide as the earth itself." So a telescope that is practically as big as the world.
To Say In the perspective of how difficult it is to capture an image of this magnitude, Shep Doeleman, the director of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, compared it to "the date in a neighborhood in Los Angeles, here in Washington, DC "Imagine how this is possible at all.
The data for the image was originally collected in 2017 and contained Petabytes . It was such an extensive collection of information that it was stored on multiple physical disks and then sewn together by a supercomputer.
To make the story even cooler, it was even possible to register thanks to an MIT graduate. Her name is Katie Bouman and she has led the development of the algorithm that synthesized the radio images of all the telescopes mentioned. I'm sure the first picture of the black hole was an emotional experience for her, as the algorithm was originally announced in 2016 – years of work led to that moment. Now that we've seen the first image of a black Well, scientists are confident that they can work to get better and clearer images by adding more telescopes to work with Event Horizon Telescope. We will probably also see clearer images of this particular black hole.
So cool. Even my seven-year-old can not stop talking about it.
But now it's time to talk about tech news.
Apple News: Apple brings podcasts to the browser
Plus the number of vendors Apple's production is 100% powered by renewable energy.
- Apple has updated its podcasts web interface with a cleaner design so that users can listen without having to load iTunes. Kind. [The Verge]
- Apple talked a great deal about the phasing out of renewable energy at its iPhone XS / XR event last year. Yesterday, it was announced that the number of suppliers using 100 percent renewable energy has now doubled. [Apple Newsroom]
It was recently rumored that Apple would resolve iTunes by moving podcasts and music to dedicated apps on macOS. The original rumor came from Apple Hacker Steve Troughton-Smith and was later confirmed by 9to5Mac.
Putting podcasts on the Internet could be the first step in breaking iTunes podcasts, something Apple has long needed to hear in the Apple ecosystem. This could indeed be the beginning of the end for iTunes, as dedicated apps and web services replace the various features.
Google and Android News: The Price Rise of YouTube TV is Not a Good Look
as well as Android 7.0 Devices As physical 2FA devices can be used, a Google engineer talks about tackling botnet malware (and winning ), the story behind the black hole Google Doodle and more.
- Yesterday, Google announced that YouTube TV is receiving ten new channels from Discovery Network brands. It was also announced that the price rises to $ 50. [YouTube Blog]
- We have long talked about the benefits of using physical 2FA devices such as a USB security key. Anyone with an Android phone running 7.0 (nougat) or higher has a new security feature implemented by Google. [The Verge]
- Wired has a fascinating story about how the Android security team picked up and won the Chamois botnet malware. [Wired]
- To celebrate the first image of a black hole, Google drew a fast doodle. The concept was designed by the artist on his way to work. What a funny story. [CNET]
- G Suite users get more security tools. [TechCrunch]
- Google reuses the name "Currents" for the new Google+ for Enterprise. If you remember, Currents was the original name for what we now know as Google News. I wonder if Google recognizes that there are more words and they do not have to reuse names. [9to5Google]
- You can natively edit Microsoft Office files in Docs soon. [The Verge]
- A fake Google Wallet app is granted access to authentic Google accounts. That's … disturbing. It even happened to one of our editors here at HTG. Oof. [Android Police]
- Google has a program called YouTube Signature, which evaluates smartphones based on video playback. The Huawei P30, P30 Pro and Honor View20 are the latest ones to make the cut. [XDA Developers]
- With Visible, a Verizon MVNO, you can swap any working Android phone – no matter how old it is – and instead use the branded Visible R2 device. [9to5Google]
YouTube TV was once one of the best deals on streaming TV – at just $ 35 per month (the original price), this was a no-frills streaming plan that had much to offer. There was unlimited cloud DVR, support for six profiles and only one package. It was easy.
But the more channels added, the higher the price. After yesterday's price hike, there were some setbacks – both from current YouTube TV customers and the media. The harshest criticism is also the one I hear most often: YouTube TV becomes a cable package too much. Streaming television is all about providing choices and keeping costs down.
Although One-Package-for-Everyone was a good approach when YouTube TV first hit the market, it's not an issue for subscribers in particular. Because even if you do not want the new Discovery Channels – including HGTV and Food Network – you still pay for it. The price increase is taking place across the board, even for users pegged to the original $ 35 a month fee. These users will receive a premium of $ 15 per month, probably for channels they do not want. This is a very cable company to do that.
The dream that TV viewers have had for years is a true a la carte plan, with which you can only add the channels you actually see, and none of the lint does not want to. At the moment, Sling TV is the only one Provider that offers everything nearby, and it's still not ideal.
Maybe we'll come there someday. But not if it is up to the TV providers.
Other News: Amazon Employees May Listen What You Say (and Nearby) Alexa
In addition, Instagram will stop promoting inappropriate content for which AT & T is more on fire At its 5G E Shit talks Facebook about cleanup (again) and more.
- According to a recent Bloomberg report, thousands of Amazon employees may hear their Alexa audio clips – which often includes private conversations – to improve the improvement. The responses of the KI [Bloomberg]
- Instagram will no longer recommend posts that are inappropriate are, but not violated guidelines. They no longer appear on the Discover page and hashtag results. [TechCrunch]
- AT & T is again under attack because of its speed demands in the 5G E network. [The Verge]
- Facebook once again highlights what it will do to improve the quality of content on its website. Seriously, the same song and dance are getting old. Just do it. [Facebook Newsroom]
- Wired writer Andy Greenberg has written a mesmerizing look at a new spyware framework called TajMahal that went undetected for five years. [Wired]
- Netflix launches its own comedy radio on SiriusXM. [TechRadar]
Smart speakers and digital assistants are becoming more and more productive. More and more households invite them for daily use. At the moment I have no less than four Google Homes in my house.
It's no secret that these wizards like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are getting smarter every day. Part of it is machine learning. Part of it is AI. But there is also a part that most of us do not think about: the human part.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, Amazon employees transcribe "thousands" of workers listening to Alexa shots and push them back into software. AI should help people understand and understand what they want.
Recording audio is common practice with digital assistants – requests are not processed locally in real-time but just as many are processed in the cloud. Your request will be recorded, uploaded and processed by the server. That's what Amazon and Google do. Both Amazon and Google make these recordings available to users.
Bloomberg's report, which refers to the claim of "seven people who worked on the program," says that thousands of people hear shots every day for nine hours-sometimes as many as 1,000 shots per person per shift. They use internal chats to share shots of people who are difficult to understand, but also "amusing shots".
If you have a smart speaker, I'm sure he discovered a false positive before. It "wakes up", listens for a moment and then realizes that you are not talking to him. Or maybe you are not talking at all. In any case, there is a recording going on right now, and given the number of false positives my homes have every day, it is a bit disturbing to think that someone is listening to these recordings.
On the other hand, Amazon gave a little more detail to a statement to Bloomberg, which not only confirms the practice, but also gives some comfort to those who are understandably worried that someone is listening privately recorded inadvertently:
We accept the Security and the protection of our customers' personal information seriously. We're just commenting on a very small sample of Alexa voice recordings to improve the customer experience [to]. For example, this information helps us to train our speech recognition and language comprehension systems so Alexa can better understand your needs and make sure the service works well for everyone.
We have strict technical and operational safety precautions and have no tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and monitoring of our control environment for protection.
The last bit is crucial here – the data is supposed to be anonymous, so they can be & # 39; I am not bound to you. Bloomberg, however, claims the opposite. He has seen a screenshot saying that "the records sent to the Alexa auditors do not contain the full name and full address of a user, but are associated with an account number and the user's first name and user's serial number. "If so, that sounds quite identifiable to me.
In any case, the thought of someone hearing conversations that happen in your house, things to be kept behind closed doors, crawls your skin, anonymously or not.