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  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in March 2018

    Monday, March 5, 2018 by
    March 2018 Tech News

    2018 March Tech News You Need To Know

    Each new month inevitably brings all new tech news and trends. For busy business owners that can’t stay on top of it all alone, we’ve once again created a monthly roundup of tech stories to have on your radar this month. best WordPress hosting

    Tech Platforms Ban Nazis

    Now and then, we see tech companies taking a political stand. This month, two notable instances of it involve companies kicking Nazis off their platform. YouTube banned two channels run by a neo-nazi group after media scrutiny and outrage over the hate speech expressed on the channels. And chat platform Discord shut down several neo-nazi servers as well. While taking a stand against nazis isn’t the boldest of moves, in YouTube’s case it still took outside media and users drawing attention to the channel for them to take that step.  

    New Releases from Mobile World Congress

    Tech companies used the Mobile World Congress last month to announce new device models and feature updates. The new devices demonstrated a real trend toward increasing screen size without adding to the phone size by reducing the bezels (the part of the phone around the screen) and a growing tendency to drop headphone jacks from phone designs, suggesting tech companies think Bluetooth headphones are dominant enough in the market to replace any need for plug-in headphones.  

    Parkland Survivors Use Social Media to Seek Change

    One of the biggest stories of February was the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Sadly, mass shootings and even school shootings are common enough that this one could have been another case where it gets mentioned on the news for a day or two before the country moves on to other stories. But because the survivors of this one are social media savvy teens, they’ve turned their experience into a movement to demand gun control.  They’ve successfully commanded the attention of the media and politicians (and are way better with a social media burn than any of the politicians that try to go toe to toe with them), showing in the process how social media skills can be used to really make a difference.

    Dropbox Files for IPO

    The cloud storage and file syncing company that’s used by millions filed for IPO with plans to go public in the coming month with hopes of raising $500 million. With more than 11 million paying customers, the company has been gaining in popularity over the past few years, although still on the whole losing money in that time. Nonetheless, a strong brand and recent growth should work in the company’s favor once it hits the market.  

    Spotify IPO Launches

    The other big tech IPO making news this month is the popular streaming music service Spotify. The company filed on the last day of February and experts predict the company is worth $23 billion. In spite of having over 70 million customers though, the company struggles to be profitable due to the high cost of royalty fees for the music they provide.  

    Google Assistant Adding Functionality

    While smart assistants are popular, there are still some real limitations on how well they work and what they can do. Google is hard at work trying to add to the uses people can turn to their Google Assistant for though. Just this last month, they announced adding a routines feature, which lets people create custom commands that tie multiple types of requests together. So you could say “OK Google, morning routine” and have the music and lighting of your choice come on together, for instance. They have also added location-based reminders, so you can tell your smart assistant to remind you to get gas on your way to work and have your phone give you an alert once it senses you’ve left the house. And they’re teaching the assistant new languages, expecting it to support over 30 languages by the end of the year.  

    SXSW Interactive

    With March upon us, that means loads of people in the tech world are about to head to Austin for SXSW Interactive. From March 9 through 13, experts from around the world will give presentations on topics ranging from how AI will transform fashion to the emotional life of autonomous cars. For anyone wanting to hear about both quirky and serious ideas on the forefront of tech and culture, the conference is a must.  

    Google Launches New AR Functionality

    google lensIn addition to the work they’re doing with their smart assistant, Google is also working to provide AR features to a range of compatible phones. Google Lens will make it possible for people to point their phone at something and learn about it – whether landmarks, plants, or art. In addition, their ARCore augmented reality platform lets people see an overlay of AR stickers on the world in front of them through their phone. AR has been getting a lot of traction in the tech world lately and these moves by Google take us one step further in a direction we can expect to see them and other tech companies continue down.  

    Snap Has a Rocky Month

    Snapchat is one of the biggest social media platforms out there, but they hit some snags in the past few weeks. For one, they released a new design and instead of hearing great feedback on the hard work they presumably put into those changes, they got a petition signed by over a million people asking them to change it back. Yikes. To make matters worse, a negative Tweet from Kylie Jenner basically saying the platform is over may have contributed to a $1.3 billion drop in the company’s value on the stock market. That’s a lot of bad PR in a short amount of time. The company clearly has its work out for them if they want to win back some of the popularity they just lost.   March is looking to be a big month in tech and we can only imagine what to expect from April. Check back next month for a new update on tech news and trends to be aware of.
  • 10 Tech Stories To Keep An Eye On This February

    Sunday, February 4, 2018 by
    february 2018 tech news stories

    The Top Tech News of February 2018

    A new month means a new batch of tech news. For professionals who know that changes in the tech world influence your business, but have trouble staying on top of it all on your own, we bring you our monthly roundup of tech news to keep an eye on this month. best dedicated server hosting

    1. Tech Giants Tackle Online Security

    With news of Metdown and Spectre bugs that cause serious vulnerabilities in computer systems, we’re once again all reminded how difficult it is to protect our sensitive data online. A number of businesses are scrambling to create patches that will protect their users from the bugs, and tech businesses are continuing in their ongoing efforts to increase online security proactively, as well as in response to each new bug and hack. Google has launched Chronicle, a company devoted to finding hackers fast using machine learning, and Apple has created a Privacy icon to help customers tell the difference between legitimate requests for their login information and phishing attempts.  

    2. AR a Top Trend at CES

    Every year, CES gives tech companies a chance to show off what they’re working on and shows the rest of us what trends to expect in the year to come. vuzix bladeThis year, a lot of the main tech trends and product categories you expect to see were still well covered – autonomous cars, smart home tech, AI – but one of the significant trends on display was the growing efforts to create products in the AR space. There’s the Vuzix Blade (pictured right), which is like a better-looking take on Google Glass. There’s the MonoHD from DigiLens, which uses AR tech to improve motorcycle safety. And Realmax shared their prototype of AR goggles. It looks like things are heating up in the AR world and this is a trend people can expect to see more of in the coming year.  

    3. Facebook Makes New Updates to Feed

    Facebook recently announced plans to make some changes to how stories and updates show up in people’s feeds. Recent changes include prioritizing posts from friends and family over those from brands or media companies, giving greater priority to publishers that are considered trustworthy by a wide range of users, and giving extra weight to local news stories. The goal is to improve users’ experience on the platform, but not everyone’s happy about the change. Brands are concerned about losing reach on the platform (and not for the first time) and investors are leery as well – the company’s stock value dropped soon after the changes were announced. Whether everyday users see the updates as an improvement is still up in the air, but will likely have the biggest influence on whether or not Facebook continues on this route.

    4. Google Chrome Takes On Autoplay

    Pretty much everyone that spends time online is familiar with a particularly obnoxious and common experience: opening a link only to be bombarded with noise from an autoplay video on the website. We all hate it, yet websites keep doing it. Well, Chrome is here to help. The browser now provides users the option to permanently mute any site you choose. If you still use auto-play video on your own website (and what are you thinking?  That’s a surefire way to increase bounce rates!), this change makes them that much less effective. Follow Chrome’s lead and give the people what they want by taking those autoplay videos down.  

    5. Twitter Releases Information about Russian Bots

    One of the biggest tech stories of the past year has been the way the Russian government used social media platforms and search engines to influence the U.S. election. Both Twitter and Facebook have been asked by politicians to take a more active role in identifying and weeding out the Russian bots and fake news that gets shared on their platforms. This past month, Twitter contacted over a million users to let them know they’d interacted with Russian propaganda on the platform. And the total number of people exposed to Russian propaganda may well be higher. Knowing about the propaganda after the fact doesn’t change the influence it had at the time, but maybe now that tech companies are more aware of the problem, they’ll be better at recognizing and doing something about propaganda moving forward.  

    6. Amazon Opens Autonomous Grocery Store

    If the main thing you hated about going shopping was having to wait in line to check out, then Amazon’s new Amazon Go store solves that problem for you. amazon go store The first location just opened in Seattle and anyone who shops there need only scan the Amazon Go app on their phone on the way in, select the items they want, and walk out with them. The company uses sensors and cameras to monitor what items people choose and make sure they’re charged accordingly. Whether or not the autonomous grocery store concept will really take off remains to be seen – and whether or not the technology will successfully make sure people are charged the right amount without issues is a big part of how this all plays out. But if it does, this is one more way for Amazon to disrupt a familiar business model and one that might both change how people shop and leave some people left behind out of work.  

    7. Developer Week Is Coming

    From February 3-7, thousands of developers will gather in San Francisco for Developer Week. The conference provides opportunities for networking, showcases speakers from a number of tech giants, and includes a hackathon (with cash prizes). For anyone wanting to learn more about some of the most important technologies in the tech world today, this is an event worth checking out.  

    8. States Pass Their Own Net Neutrality Laws

    The repeal of net neutrality late last year was a very controversial move that left a lot of citizens offended and riled up. Plenty of politicians agreed with the outrage and some of them are taking steps to pass laws upholding net neutrality rules at the state level. Six states have already gotten a net neutrality law on the books and several more have one in the works. For something as popular as net neutrality, it just makes sense for state and local representatives to get involved and work for what their constituents want.  

    9. YouTube Makes Monetizing Video A Lot Harder

    Making money on YouTube has never been easy, but it’s been a possibility within reach for any content creator that could gain a niche following. Now many of them are finding their ability to make any money on the platform at all cut off. YouTube has just changed the rules around who’s able to make money from the site. Anyone that has less than 1,000 subscribers or has been viewed less than 4,000 hours in the last year will no longer qualify for monetization. Many YouTubers are livid, voicing their anger at the decision on various platforms, in some cases while pleading with their fans to press that “subscribe” button or spend some more time watching to help them make the cutoff. For marketers, this is one more reminder not to build too much of your brand on a platform you don’t own – you never know when a change they make will ruin your ability to stay afloat there.  

    10. Mobile World Congress

    The Mobile World Congress, the largest conference in the mobile industry, meets this month in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1. With over 100,000 attendees, it’s the place to be for anyone working in the mobile industry. We can expect to see new mobile products and features launched and hear about important news and trends in the world of mobile as news starts to come out of the conference.   Like every month, February is sure to include tech news none of us could anticipate. Check back next month to see what new stories to follow as we move into March.
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  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in December 2017

    Monday, December 4, 2017 by
    December Tech News

    December 2017's Biggest Tech Stories

    The holiday season is upon us. Many tech companies are working at a fast pace to provide new updates and products before the end of the year. To keep you posted on some of the last big tech stories of the year, here are some of the main trends and news stories to be on the lookout for in December. Create Your Blog

    1. The Fight for Net Neutrality Continues

    If you spend much time on social media, you may have seen pleas from your contacts to call your reps about net neutrality. Ever since the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plans to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules, people and businesses have been up in arms imagining the worst-case scenarios that could result. Critics are worried that the repeal of these rules will give too much power to internet companies, allowing them to control what people are able to access online and stifling competition from companies that can’t pay-to-play enough to reach an audience online. A vote on the repeal is set for later this month and in the meantime, opponents are lodging complaints with the FCC and calling their representatives in the hopes of keeping the rules in place. For now though, the future for net neutrality looks uncertain.  

    2. Uber Reveals Cyber Attack Cover-up

    Even as the country continues to reel from the news of Experian’s data breach earlier this year, we just got news of the next one. Uber announced last month that in late 2016, some hackers managed to access some of their user data. At the time, the company chose to pay a ransom and keep the data breach secret, but under new management, they’ve now chosen to alert people to what happened. If a data breach is normally bad for a brand’s reputation, one that’s accompanied by a cover up is even worse. Uber’s current leadership is hoping late transparency is better than none at all in the eyes of their customers.  

    3. Stitch Fix Launches IPO

    One of the biggest tech IPOs in November was the fashion startup Stitch Fix. The company’s model of matching online personal stylists with customers wanting to let someone else do the job of picking out their clothes has been popular with customers. Their initial showing on the stock market suggested they were less popular with investors, but soon that changed as stocks soared 50% in the first two weeks.  For now, they seem to be going strong.  

    4. SendGrid Also Launches Successful IPO

    Stitch Fix got the most attention, but the email marketing company SendGrid also entered the New York Stock Exchange last month. They managed to raise $131 million when they first launched, and saw stock prices go up 13% by the end of the first day. To any business owners reading this, that’s not much of a surprise. Email marketing is one of the most important parts of business success in the internet age and investors are simply showing they recognize its importance too.  

    5. Facebook Announces Facebook Creator App

    Influencers have become a big part of the way that people and brands experience social media. In a bid to try to attract more influencers to Facebook, the company has announced Facebook Creator, an app which provides a number of features to make creating and sharing content on the platform easier. Users can add intros, outros, interactive stickers and custom frames to their videos. They can more easily respond to social media messages on a unified platform. And they can access more analytics on how people interact with their content.  For businesses doing content marketing and any influencers they work with, these changes are worth being aware of. facebook creator app 2017 tech news

    6. Amazon Offers New AI Tool for Businesses

    Once again, Amazon’s done something to make it into our monthly write-up. This month, they launched a suite of products that bring AI technology to businesses. This includes the DeepLens camera, which uses AI technology to fuel features like image recognition for objects, animals, and people. They also released SageMaker, a machine learning service that will help data engineers use AI services better. In short, they’re throwing their support behind the importance of AI and expecting to make a lot of money with this technology by helping other businesses make more with it too.  

    7. AirBnb Makes Moves Toward Accessibility

    AirBnb’s popular service has given lots of people more attractive alternatives to hotels when they travel, but until recently its options largely left one population out: the disabled. Last month they made an important move to rectify the situation by acquiring the startup Accomable. The acquisition was a natural fit for the company, since Accomable was essentially offering a version of the same service AirBnb provided, but with a focus on accessibility. AirBnb listings will now provide more specific information on the types of accessibility options available, and a portion of customers previously left out by the service will be able to find options that work for them on the site.  

    8. Companies Begin Work on Smart Cities

    In the past couple of months, multiple businesses have begun planning “smart cities.” Alphabet is working on a smart community on the waterfront in Toronto. And Bill Gates is building a smart city in Arizona. Both projects aim to test out concepts on how to build a better city that uses less energy, has less traffic, is better equipped to face climate change, and is better able to take advantage of the kinds of tech solutions the companies are working on – most notably self-driving cars.
    There are a lot of good ideas out there for how to make cities better, but most of them are hard to implement in cities that already exist. These high-tech city design projects will help prove the difference these tech solutions can make in an atmosphere where they’re easier to build and start using.  

    9. Robots Keep Advancing

    Robotic technology continues to little by little see impressive advancements. Last month, a robot from Boston Dynamics successfully pulled off a backflip. In case it’s not clear, that’s a really big deal. It’s hard to master the technology required to make a bipedal robot backflip, making this one more notable step toward robots being able to accomplish human tasks. On the more commercial side of things, Ubtech has just released Lynx, a small humanoid robot with Alexa built in. The robot can walk, talk, and supposedly work as an avatar for busy people who can’t make it to events or meetings. You can see what’s happening through the robot’s camera and respond in real time with live audio. If you have $800 to spend on a tiny advanced robot, then the future is here for you.  

    See you next month!

    December’s a busy month for everybody, but especially business owners and marketers. If you don’t have time to keep up with this month’s tech news, then be sure to check back in early January for our next installment. Until then, happy holidays!
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  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in October 2017

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by
    October Tech News

    Tech News for October 2017

    The spookiest season of the year is upon us, but most of the tech news this month isn’t that scary (with one notable exception). For those of you too busy to stay on top of all the tech news happening each month on your own, here’s a quick rundown of some of the top stories that should be on your radar in October. Domain Name

    Equifax Breach Puts Much of Population at Risk

    Quite possibly the scariest story of the fall this year is the Equifax data breach. The credit reporting agency had access to the social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of everyone in the country who’s ever had a credit score – which is just about every adult in the United States. The breach puts about 146 million people at risk of having their sensitive information exposed. The country’s angry and people are scared. Companies, government institutions, and individuals are all still trying to figure out exactly what this means for the future of data security.  

    Samsung Releases New Mixed Reality Headset

    Samsung just revealed their new mixed reality headset designed for use with Windows devices. While the VR headset market is a crowded one, Samsung is offering higher-resolution displays and a larger field of view in order to be competitive in the space. This brings us one step closer to the mainstreaming of VR technology.  

    Google Testing Video Reviews

    Many websites and channels on the web seem committed to shifting to a greater emphasis on video over text. Google’s never one to be behind on a trend, so they’ve begun testing out providing a video option for reviews in Google Maps. google video reviews Currently the option’s only available to people who are part of the company’s Local Guides program. If the videos prove popular, they may well expand access to the rest of us.  

    Google Joins Companies in the Crossfire for Workplace Sexism

    Last month, three former Google employees announced a lawsuit against the company for paying its female employees less than male employees in similar roles and promoting men into higher-level positions much more often than similarly qualified women. Google’s far from the first tech company to face accusations of sexism, but it’s one that’s worked to create a reputation for being progressive. This lawsuit reveals a side of the company that’s not living up to that intention.  

    Google, Twitter, and Facebook Targeting Now Includes Anti-Semites and Racists

    Ad targeting is a valuable service for businesses and provides more relevant ads for users. But several of the biggest tech companies on the web faced recent criticism based on their targeting algorithms creating offensive categories. Users discovered and drew attention to racist categories in Facebook’s targeting options, and soon thereafter advertisers realized both Google and Twitter offered (and even sometimes recommended) targeting for racist terminology. In all three cases, the options and recommendations were technologically generated and the companies are taking steps to change how their platforms work to avoid advertisers encountering these options in the future.  

    iPhone X Includes New Tech and Features

    Apple has recently revealed some of the main features consumers will see in their soon-to-come iPhone, the iPhone X.  While the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus hit stores last month, techies are generally more interested in the model coming early next month. The iPhone X will be much more expensive than recent models, priced at over $1,000. It includes Face ID to unlock the phone, an especially big screen, an upgrade to the phone’s camera features, and a longer battery life than other iPhones. iphone x screen At such a high price tag, they may only capture the most devoted Apple fans with this one, but the excitement in the tech community is palpable.  

    Roku Launches IPO

    The video streaming technology company Roku launched an IPO late last month, valued at $2 billion. Unlike most of the giants in the streaming space, the company doesn’t bother with trying to produce its own content, they simply provide users access to the content available on a wide number of streaming sites and channels. In its first few days on the market, the company’s shares have been dropping in value, although they’re still above the original price the company launched at.  

    Facebook Getting into Video Chat

    Facebook has given video priority on the platform for some time, but they’re exploring features that would give users even more video options. Last month, they started quietly testing a mobile video chat app called Bonfire.  The app allows users to chat with up to eight friends at a time on live video. So far, only users in Denmark have access and no plans to move beyond the country to other markets have been announced.  

    Electric Trucks About to Join Us on US Streets

    Electric cars already take up a certain amount of space on our streets, but electric semi trucks are about to join them. Daimler, a company whose trucks are already on the streets of Europe, has plans to move into New York. And Elon Musk (who we can’t seem to go a month without mentioning in our regular tech roundups) has announced plans to unveil a Tesla semi truck later this month.

    electric truck

    World Summit AI Meets in Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence remains one of the biggest topics in the tech world, as many of the biggest companies in the space continue to make investments into AI research and development. This month, many of the top professionals and businesses in the AI world will meet in Amsterdam for the World Summit AI to discuss their research, learn from each other, and explore what’s to come in AI technology. With big product releases, new features being explored, and companies grappling with high-profile controversies, in some ways October’s just another month in tech. Check back next month to see what news and stories will be dominating the industry in November.
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  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in September 2017

    Monday, September 4, 2017 by
    September tech news

    Top Tech News for September 2017

    As summer winds down, the tech world keeps moving. A number of tech companies are announcing new product releases, features to come, and social initiatives this month. Here are a few of the top stories to be on the lookout for. Create Your Blog

    New iPhones Soon to Be Released

    While it’s hard to imagine a world without smartphones, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone going on sale. And as is typical for September, Apple is expected to roll out its new iPhone models this month. Early talk suggests that the company will be releasing three new phone models. Tech journalists anticipate that this year’s phones will continue to make waves in the tech world, as the iPhone has done ever since day one.  

    Galaxy Note 8 Also Gets a Release

    galaxy note 8 september release Sharing the spotlight with the new iPhones, the Galaxy Note 8 is set to be released this month as well. The phone is faced with the lofty task of satisfying customers whose view of the brand was tarnished by the last model famously bursting into flames for many owners. The new phone provides a bigger screen, new camera features, and animated messaging.  

    Tech Companies Find Ways to Help Harvey’s Victims

    One of the biggest world news stories of the past month was Hurricane Harvey. Texas is still reeling from one of the biggest storms the country has ever seen as people scramble to find ways to help. Tech companies have also joined the efforts to help those victimized by the storm. Many are providing matching donations and AirBnb is helping match rental properties with people in need of shelter. And notably, social media apps played a key role in helping rescue teams find the people most in need of their help. Not all important tech stories are about product releases and IPOs. Sometimes we get a reminder of the ways tech can be a public good.  

    Chrome to Allow Permanent Mute Feature

    Autoplay videos are one of those things that pretty much every internet user hates, but websites just keep using. Google has a long history of siding with user experience over business interests and is once again making a move in that direction with their decision to release a mute option that allows people to set a website as silent permanently in their browser. If you normally use autoplay on your website, know that your visitors will soon be able to easily tune you out. Google chrome mute setting

    AR Apps About to Take Off

    Both Google and Apple have recently released technology that makes it easier for developers to create augmented reality apps for Android and iOS devices. Consumers can expect an influx of AR apps to become available on their smartphones in the coming months, and businesses have easier access to a technology that can be used for clever marketing concepts.  

    Tech Companies Decry White Supremacist Groups

    Before Harvey began to dominate the news cycle, one of the biggest stories of August was the violence of white supremacist groups at a rally in Charlottesville. A number of tech companies were disturbed by the incidents and took a stand against white supremacy. Both Stormfront and The Daily Stormer, well known white supremacist websites, have faced difficulties staying online as hosting providers refuse them service. A number of other tech sites have started to boot members from their platforms based on hate speech, including PayPal, OkCupid, Spotify, and most of the main social media platforms. Technology has played a role in allowing people to disseminate hateful views. Many of the tech industry’s main players are hoping to show that it can play a role in helping silence the hate as well.  

    Spotify Preparing to Go Public

    Spotify has started to make moves that make clear their intention to go public in the near future. Most notably, they signed a new licensing deal with Warner Music to increase the site’s offerings to users and hopefully make it more attractive to both subscribers and investors.  

    IFA Conference Meets in Berlin

    The oldest and largest technology show in Europe takes over Berlin this week. The biggest technology companies from around the world will display new and upcoming technologies from phones to computers to smart home devices. Techies converge to get a glimpse of what tech companies are working on, and you can expect to see a stream of tech journalism covering what shows up at the event.  

    TechCrunch Puts on Disrupt Conference

    Meanwhile, TechCrunch is preparing their own conference in San Francisco on September 18-20 focused on startups. The Disrupt Conference attracts startup companies and thought leaders who come together to talk and learn about startup culture, raising funds, and the main issues facing the tech industry in today’s culture.  

    Microsoft Ignite Conference Meets in Orlando

    It must be conference season, because in addition to those two, the Microsoft Ignite conference will also meet this month in Orlando from September 25-29.  Windows users from around the world meet to attend learning sessions, learn about new products to come, and network with other professionals.  

    Walmart and Google Join to Offer Voice Shopping

    Most months, the posts in this series include big moves and acquisitions by Amazon aimed at taking over a bigger and bigger portion of the country’s commerce. This month, two huge players, Walmart and Google, teamed up to stay competitive against the online giant. The partnership is focused on enabling easier voice-activated shopping to entice more online customers to consider Walmart as an alternative to Amazon.   And you thought you were busy with back-to-school efforts this month. The tech industry looks set to go into the fall at full speed, barely pausing to take a breath. As always, there are likely to be trends and stories we couldn’t foresee this month. Check back next month for a look at the trends yet to come.