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AT&T now allowed to merge with Time Warner, US Court rules.

Last week on Monday, US court judge ruled that AT&T can complete its $85B merger with Time Warner and also did not impose conditions on the approval. With this deal, they can now but Time Warner’s channels that include CNN, HBO and TNT. AT&T is having a hard time retaining customers and can’t keep up with the pricing wars between the telcos in the country. They hope with the telco’s data and Warner’s content, AT&T will sell targeted ads at a much higher rate. Warner wanted to be bought since it also can’t keep up with streaming companies like Netflix and tech giants like Facebook and Google who are gobbling their audience. With that small fortune($85b), AT&T could’ve just built their own Netflix, what are your thoughts?

Critics of the deal believe that the TV-pay market will be less competitive and less innovative but the court said it had no issues with this merger.

The media and telecom landscape is in for a seismic change and the outcome from this deal has already created a wave of similar deals – Comcast has started formalizing its offer to acquire most of 21st Century Fox that Disney is already trying to buy. Looks like the people at Recode will have to keep updating this graphic of the US media landscape.

Comcast is offering $65 billion in cash for much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox; that’s a 19 per cent premium over Disney’s bid for the Fox properties.

Net Neutrality has been repealed

For those who don’t know, net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet be treated equally so that internet service providers don’t favour their own content over a competitor’s.

The net neutrality rules that were passed in 2015 are now defunct. This means the FTC will now be policing the internet and this means that there will fees that internet service providers will charge to deliver their services faster to customers. Don’t fret, your experience won’t change right away but it could later on and in a significant way. Whether for good or bad, it depends on who you believe.

Not all is lost as net neutrality supporters have filed lawsuits to reinstate the old rules. [Read More]

All Things Facebook

  • Remember that time Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg had a Senate testimony to talk about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and their data privacy practices and he kept saying he’ll have his team “get back to”  the lawmakers with answers, well the US Congress released Facebook’s written responses. the social network giant had received more than 2000 questions. If you’re interested in checking it out, get it here.

  • Facebook launched a new section called Memories to highlight old content, similar to the On This Day feature but more extensive. It has its own section on Facebook and you get to see more options such as “Friends Made on this Day”, special videos and collage to celebrate your “friendversaries”, “Memories You May Have Missed” and “Recaps of Memories”. If you hate your past posts, Facebook has given you the controls to adjust what you see. See your Memories here.

The Onion, a satire news site started a crusade against Mark Zuckerberg because Facebook is choking their traffic. They’ve been publishing articles that ridicule him and his site calling Facebook an unwanted interloper between the publisher and its audience.

But then too much of something they say,

  • A recent report coming out of Reuters Institute released new findings. The study showed that usage of Facebook for news has declined in a number of countries as messaging apps like Whatsapp gain popularity. The rising concerns of privacy, the toxic nature of the debate and the algorithmic change played a part. People are now switching to personal and private spaces like messaging apps for sharing and discussing news. Get the report here.
  • Here’s the good news though, data from Chartbeat shows that despite the dire predictions after Facebook announced the Algorithmic changes in January, the overall traffic for publishers has remained totally steady. This proves Facebook has less power over the news industry than we thought. People are now typing URLs if they have to to get to their favourite new websites. The report goes on to state that mobile direct traffic even eclipsed Facebook’s.
  • Instagram’s has stopped the feature that would show users who have taken a screenshot of their stories so now you can continue lurking. Now you take that screenshot of a meme or hairstyle and share it with your friend with reckless abandon.
  • Instagram also added shopping tags to Stories so now users can tap on a shopping bag icon to learn more about buying a particular item. It seems like a simple addition but given the success of Stories- it has 300 million active users, this will prove useful for brands that drive sales on the photo-sharing giant platform.
  • If you’re tired of scrolling through cute pets and memes, head over to the ugly side of Instagram(Ugstagram) and get to see some of these awful photos of hideous gardens from users like ShitGardens. The post documents quirky landscaping with clever one-liners for captions.

View this post on Instagram

Finis Hominis: the end of man.

A post shared by Shit Gardens (@shitgardens) on

Microsoft

  • Microsoft and WhatsApp may be working together on a new UWP app for Windows 10. Concept art from a Microsoft designer appear to suggest a WhatsApp UWP for Windows 10 may be on the cards.WhatsApp was among the few apps on the Windows 10 mobile that continued to get updates but if Andromeda devices are happening, the app available won’t be able to run on it. Since WhatsApp is a must have for these devices, it seems like Microsoft is working with Whatsapp to bring the app to UWP with updating its UI with a refreshed interface that includes Fluent Design. [Read More]
  • Microsoft announced a redesign for its Office suite, including desktop apps and Office.com, rolling out over the coming months. The new Fluent Design overhaul will make it easy for the billion people that use Office. The Office packages such as Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint are all getting a simplified ribbon that includes new animations, icons and subtle colour changes. They’re coming for both the desktop and web versions of Office.

Apple

  • Apple said an upcoming software update will disable an iPhone’s Lightning port if the phone isn’t used for an hour, closing a technological loophole that let law enforcement agencies exploit to gain access to information on those devices. This has angered the police and other officials thus reigniting a debate whether the government has a right to get into the personal devices that are the centre of this modern life. Your phone can still be charged but a person would need to first enter the phone’s password to transfer data to or from the device using the port. This update will come in handy since criminals also use the same loop and Apple is fixing this vulnerability [Read More]
  • Apple has explicitly banned cryptocurrency mining in apps distributed through the iOS and Mac App Stores. Under the hardware compatibility section, Apple states that apps including any third party advertisements displayed within them may not run background processes such as crypto mining. [Apple Review Guidelines]
  • In another ban, the company has come strong against iOS developers from making a database of users’ address book and limit what can be shared with third parties. This comes after Facebook’s scandal that showed the risk of sharing information on friends. When users install apps and then consent, developers get dozens of potential data points on people’s friends. That’s a trove of information that developers have been able to use, beyond Apple’s control. This crackdown could hurt Facebook’s Onavo app and it may be removed from the app store as the VPN app collects data on other apps.

  • Apple is expecting to sell more iPhones with LCD screens than with pricier OLEDs in its fall lineup as it plans to release at least one LCD model in 2019. the company is going to stick with cheaper screens as consumers flinched at the iPhone X price tag. [Read More]

  • Oprah Winfrey has signed a multi-year non-exclusive deal for new original programs with Apple; Winfrey is expected to have an on-screen role as host and interviewer. Sources say the pact includes everything from film, TV, applications, books and other content that could easily be distributed on Apple’s all-encompassing platform.

Google

  • Pictures of the rumoured Pixel 3 XL have started leaking showing a glass back and a display notch, dual front-facing camera sensors, single rear camera, 4GB of RAM, Snapdragon 845 SoC. [Read More]

  • Google has disabled inline installation for Chrome extensions, which let users install them from third-party sites; existing extensions will be affected in 3 months. Critics have pointed out such moves make the Chrome Web Store a walled garden, while Google insists pushing users to the store ultimately protects them. [Read More]
  • In line with extensions, Adblock Plus will now block social media tracking in both its Chrome and Firefox browser so now you’ll be notified everytime sites like Facebook start tracking you once you leave them. The company listed Apple as inspiration such as the anti-fingerprinting measures within the Safari browser announced at Apple’s WWDC. [Read More]
  • Google says its Tasks app will become part of the core G Suite service on June 28. The app has existed in something of an odd place for years, serving as a to-do list application within Gmail and without much in the way of updates or expansions. But now there’s an app and it has been given a “core service” status within the business software product suite and Thanks to deeper integrations between the core services, you can now turn emails into to-do-tasks using Google Tasks.  [Read More]

Twitter

  • Twitter wants to create more shared experiences by integrating everything as a new feature from Twitter will bring Trending, Moments, search, and live video together. – Twitter will soon begin curating dedicated pages for live news events with tweets and videos that will be promoted in notifications, the Explore tab, and offer users in personalized news updates, alerting them to events or breaking news based on their interests, like the accounts they follow. [Read More]

  • Twitter’s stock is at a three-year high, after being a relative train wreck for years. Yesterday it closed at $43.49 — up 155 per cent from a year ago. What is going on?

Gadgets and Devices

  • ZTE says its shares will resume trading ending a two-month suspension after the Chinese company agreed to pay up to $1.4B in penalties to the US. Following a two-month suspension, Chinese telecom firm ZTE will resume trading after agreeing to pay up to $1.4 billion in penalties to the U.S. government, radically overhaul its management, open itself to U.S. inspections of its sites and improve public disclosure of its supply chain. [Read More]
  • Zoom! Electric scooter startup Bird is officially the fastest company to reach a $1 billion valuation joining few other unicorns as they’re known in Silicon Valley.

  • The e-scooter company Bird is now seeking to raise ~$200M in new funding at a $2B valuation; just three months ago the startup raised at a $300M valuation.

  • USB Type-C has become a mess of compatibility issues, conflicting proprietary standards, and lacks sufficient consumer information to guide purchasing decisions. These two articles explain why in 2018, this feature is a mess in general and this one why it will be long before USB-C headphones become mainstream.

  • Chinese smartphone maker Vivo unveiled its latest flagship, the NEX, with a 91.24% screen-to-body ratio and pop-out 8MP selfie camera, only available in China. The NEX takes the current convention for bezel-less displays and pushes it a notch further (pun absolutely intended). [Read More]
  • Did you know OPPO and Vivo’s combined shipments are substantial enough to make it the fourth-largest phone company in the world? Meanwhile, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau says over 1M people bought the OnePlus 6 in its first 22 days on sale, up from 1M in three months for previous flagships
  • Read The Verge’s review of the HTC U12+ here.

  • The Asus ROG which made its debut at the recently concluded Computex is a phone is riding on a wave of renewed interest in building Android gaming devices but the Verge argues that Android gaming phones have a lot of growing up to do.
  • Early next year Samsung will unveil the so-called ‘Galaxy X’, the world’s first smartphone to feature a folding display. It has the potential to change the smartphone world, but a new report reveals the price of this change could be almost $2,000. [Read More]

Streaming

  • Spotify is starting to compete with the major music labels by signing direct deals with music acts. Flexing its muscle as one of the world’s dominant music distributors, Spotify has been signalling this approach for months. [Read More]

  • The podcast business is still teeny tiny. Which is great news for podcasts. A whopping $314 million last year. Let’s hope it stays small for a while. It’s still peanuts compared to other (far older and more consolidated) media industries. Commercial radio brought in $17.6 billion in advertising last year. That’s billion with a “b” and three more digits. Also, the revenue from podcasts seems to be growing fast enough for everyone to get a slice.
  • An addictive new online show called SKAM pieces together a teen drama narrative from real-life Facebook comments, texts and Instagram stories. The concept ran for four seasons in Norway and became a worldwide phenomenon. The first American version, SKAM-AUSTIN, features a “cast” of real Austin teenagers. The post-by-post clips are packaged into compilations at the end of each week — within two and a half weeks of the launch of “SKAM-Austin,” the first compilation had garnered 7.4 million views on Facebook Watch. Is this the future of TV?
  • Fortnite has taken over the live video game market and it’s not even on Android yet.
  • Set aside time for two-must read media features in New York Magazine this week. Start with a deep-dive into Netflix’s strategy and tactics as it pours billions into original content. The company has extraordinary insight into the viewing habits of 125 million customers, but insists its show-picking strategies are “70 per cent gut and 30 per cent data.” Then get into deciding whether the time has run out on Vice Media
  • Next year, people will spend more time online than they will be watching TV. That’s a first. It’s happening faster than expected.
  • The world needs Netflix minis and to understand how viewing habits have changed, consider the difference between the couch show and the phone show.

Crypto and Blockchain

  • A blockchain-based religion didn’t take that long – Matt Liston, the former CEO of cryptocurrency company Augur, recently collaborated with artist Avery Singer to found a blockchain-based religion called 0xΩ, pronounced “Zero Ex Omega”. Last year Anthony Lewandowski, an AI developer formerly with Uber, unveiled an AI-based religion called “Way of The Future.” And, at the time, it seemed like the strangest modern technology-inspired religion we’d see. But Liston’s religion seems like the ultimate “HODL my beer” to that sentiment.

Yay, though I HODL through the dip, I shall fear no correction

Blockchain, on the other hand, seems better suited to facilitate worship than receive it — but we’re not judging. [Read More]

  • In case you’re still wondering why Bitcoin prices were high last year, apparently, there was a campaign of price manipulation using Tether via Bitfinex may have accounted for at least half of the increase in the price of Bitcoin last year. This is an important new paper on Bitcoin manipulation facilitated through tether: “Less than 1% of hours with such heavy Tether transactions are associated with 50% of the meteoric rise in Bitcoin and 64% of other top cryptocurrencies.” [Read More]
  • Adblock Plus’s parent company Eyeo launches Trusted News, a browser extension for Chrome, that helps users identify fake news – Adblock Plus wants to use blockchain to call out fake news. Now, this is a use of blockchain I can wholeheartedly back! [Read More]
  • After being pushed out of the White House and then Breitbart News, Steve Bannon is now focused on cryptocurrencies, which he thinks can disrupt the financial world the way Donald Trump disrupted America politics. [Read More]

Unwind

  • This is brilliant

  • In Minnesota, a daredevil racoon climbs a skyscraper and became an internet sensation. The public response includes fanart, a song & merch (example: bobblehead). Follow this story and the thread that followed.

  • For those watching the world cup, this interactive gives you a complete guide to all the 736 players participating. Both newbies and veterans will love it. Machine learning predicted who will win the World Cup.

And you’re now all caught up. Read previous versions here.

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