We all know how photo albums work: You take a photo and then you place it in an album based on date, time, location or any other qualifier you might have. For years, digital image services have offered this feature, with apps like Windows Photos and iOS Photos creating some albums automatically for you. Over time we have, as a technological society, added videos to those albums, because they are just moving pictures, right?
Facebook has decided that its albums are less like the photo albums you know and love, and more like scrapbooks, without the cool customization idea. Starting now on Android and Web, with Windows and iOS coming soon, Facebook will allow you to add non-media content to an album, such as text and check-ins. In addition, your friends can subscribe to an album to get notifications when it is updated.
If this feature sounds familiar, that's because it is. This feature lives in a very similar space to Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, My Day in Messenger, and similar or identical features from Snapchat and more. The difference here is that most of these other features have expiring content, whereas albums are like diamonds: forever.
Clearly this new addition to albums is a response to continued competition from Snapchat, Google Photos and more products encroaching on Facebook/Instagram's social dominance in media collections. This could also signify a more heavy competition with YouTube, with whom Facebook has recently been battling for video dominance. If you think of a Facebook page like a YouTube Channel and an album like a Playlist, then Facebook just gave content creators a new way to interact with people who have subscribed to a playlist.
While this might not be a feature that immediately grabs the attention of standard consumers, high velocity content creators might be able to make this feature a cornerstone of their publishing process. Is this a feature that excited you? Let us know why or why not in the comments.
Ever since Nintendo finally
announced the Switch, the console has been plagued by issues. Being able to purchase one is nearly impossible because they're never available. Some who have bought them have had issues with the screen or controllers. As it appears, the issues don't end here.
Nintendo has announced that the Switch Online service, which was planned to launch later this year, has been delayed to sometime in 2018. Nintendo did not announce a new planned date, or even a month - just next year. This is not an ideal scenario for owners who were hoping to experience the full feature set of the online service, which currently are not available.
The features that are coming with Switch Online are obviously not required to use the system, as owners have been using the system without the service for 3 months. That feature set, however, contains a number of features that gamers have come to expect from a modern gaming platform. Online chat, which is a standard feature of other platforms, is going to be a paid feature for the Switch.
The service, when it is fully available, will run $3.99 per month, $7.99 for 3 months, or $19.99 for a full year.
If you've ever taken your computer to Best Buy's Geek Squad and gotten a bad feeling about how they are treating your information, you might have been right. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued the FBI to release information regarding their relationship, either official or unofficial, with Best Buy. The Freedom of Information Act request is to find the extent to which the FBI has used Best Buy employees to perform warrentless searches of customers hard drives.
The investigation follows an incident in California where a doctor was arrested for possession of child pornography. The doctor's attorney alleges that the only way that the FBI could have received information about the contents of his client's hard drive was through an employee at a Best Buy facility outside of Louisville, Kentucky, where the computer was sent for repair.
In a statement, the EFF said,
EFF has long been concerned about law enforcement using private actors, such as Best Buy employees, to conduct warrantless searches that the Fourth Amendment plainly bars police from doing themselves. The key question is at what point does a private person's search turn into a government search that implicates the Fourth Amendment.
The company released a statement following the original case, saying that they do not instruct their employees to search for contraband content, including child pornography, but that, if it is found, they have a legal and moral responsibility to report it to the proper authorities.
As a company, we have not sought or received training from law enforcement in how to search for child pornography. Our policies prohibit employees from doing anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer's problem.
If it turns out that Best Buy has been working with the FBI to bypass the Constitution, there will be huge ethical and legal implications to their actions. Law enforcement cannot perform a search without probable cause, but the actions of a private citizen are not exactly subject to the same rules. If a Geek Squad employee is trained by, employed by or under direction of law enforcement, then they are constrained by the Constitution, and the FBI would be violating citizens' rights. In regards to this named case, it would have to be thrown out because of illegal search.
For years, patent law in the US has been highly problematic. The biggest issue facing the patent world has been the fact that a patent holder, while filing a suit against someone they believe to be infringing upon that patent, could choose the court in which to file. This caused non-practicing entities, or patent trolls, to file in courts that were favorable to their cause.
In the recent past, the Obama administration tried to address the issue by making unrelated changes; namely the way patents can be filed. Rather than first to invent, patent law changed to first to file, meaning that non-practicing entities could file a patent for technology already in the wild, and then file suit in a favorable court.
One case, however, challenged this:
. This case made it to the US Supreme Court and a unanimous ruling has been issued. That ruling changes the way patent suits can be filed and, more importantly, where those suits can be filed.
TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands
Rather than shopping around and filing a full third of all patent cases in a single court, a patent case must now be filed in a court within the jurisdiction in which the defendant is headquartered. This brings patent law more inline with other types of trials, where cases must be brought where the defendant is located, or where a crime has been committed, and not in a court favorable to the prosecution.
This will not entirely solve the issues rampant within the US patent system, but it is a good start.
Chances are, as smartphones were making their impact in the consumer marketplace, Pandora was the product that introduced you to the idea of music streaming. Their business model in the beginning was popular with music fans: unlimited free music with only occasional commercial breaks. The music worked similar to how a radio stations work, but on a much more personal level. If you dislike a song, you aren't forced to listen to it every hour.
Similarly, Sirius and XM Radio, now a single company, had a unique business model. For a small monthly fee you received a large selection of unique radio stations that were always available no matter where you went (so long as you could see the sky). This was popular with travelers and homebodies alike. You could get a large variety of music without commercials, as well as talk from Oprah, Howard Stern and more.
Over the past few years, both business models have had their troubles. Pandora has tried to reinvent itself several times, with little to no success. Because of that, sources have come forward to say that SiriusXM is currently in talks to acquire Pandora, which would add a more diverse streaming structure to SiriusXM's existing online platform.
Pandora has been in search of a buyer for a little while, and rumors suggest that they are looking to close a deal within the next 3 weeks. If that is the case, SiriusXM's bid could potentially be successful. The real question, of course, is whether or not the merger will be a success. Two companies that have both failed to retain their market leads merging can work, but more often it simply compounds the issues.
purchased WhatsApp in 2014, a number of countries had a lot of questions. One of the hardest groups on the merger was the European Union, who is always weary of large tech mergers. Based on the answers to the questions, the EU approved the merger.
One of the most important questions that was asked was whether Facebook would be able to or interested in matching WhatsApp and Facebook account information to create a super-profile of user activity. Facebook made it clear that they were not interested in matching user info for activity tracking or any other purpose. The internet, however, knew that could never be true.
In 2016, Facebook and WhatsApp
This week, a final ruling was passed down, and it involves a pretty hefty fine for the company. Coming in at €110 million, or $122 million, the commission believes that the fine is "both proportionate and deterrent." Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said,
Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.
Facebook has said that it believes the penalty to be unwarranted, but has decided not to fight the ruling.