Google Home & Alexa don’t record everything their users say, but assistant owners can easily delete their command history anyway

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Contrary to viral belief, Amazon and Google’s electronic assistants aren’t recording everything that Google Home and Alexa users say. While the Alexa and Google Home’s microphones remain on, the systems don’t register conversation until a user says the given assistant’s “wake word.” Traditionally “Ok Google” for Google Home owners, and “Alexa” for Amazon’s Alexa, once spoken, the wake word engages each assistant, prompting Google Home and Alexa to begin recording. The audio clips are then transferred in the cloud.

Google Home and Alexa users, however, can easily delete the stored requests. Alexa owners need only to open their Alexa app and locate the Settings > History option to view their log of Alexa registered requests. Users can individually delete entries from the app. To clear Alexa’s history, Alexa users can sign into Amazon here, access the Your Devices > Echo Dot > Manage voice recordings function, and delete Alexa’s interactive log.

Google Home owners can alternatively erase their request history by visiting my activity.google.com, and clicking on the “Delete activity by” button, accessible via the three-dot line in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. In much the same way that one can clear Internet browsing history, Google Home users can select the degree of deletion, ranging from today, yesterday, the last seven days, the last 30 days, all time, or custom. Once Google Home owners have chosen their deletion date range, they can click on All products, Voice & Audio, and then Delete. Doing so removes voice requests—Google Home users must also follow the same series of steps for Assistant in order to completely clear assistant associated commands.

Distrusting owners of the personal assistants can also mute the devices either by pressing the mute button on top of Alexa, or by pressing Google Home’s, located on the back.

H/T: Wired

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Facebook adds ‘trust indicators’ to its news to fight misinformation

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In the wake of “fake news” and the age of online journalism, where the dissemination of falsehood runs rampant, Facebook has made an effort to intervene. By implementing “Trust Indicators” — that go live on the site today — when users click on a news story, they will be provided with additional context regarding the article’s reporter and publisher. The reader will have the option of reviewing the publisher’s ethics policy, reporting standards, and ownership structure, as well as the individual journalist’s reporting history and credentials.

According to a statement from Facebook, these efforts to provide news stories with background are to help people “make more informed [news] decisionsadvance news literacy and education, [by] working to reinforce indicators of publisher integrity on our platform.”

This decision comes in the wake of several other media platforms and news outlets joining The Trust Project, including Twitter, Google, and The Washington Post. The Trust Project is a nonpartisan effort to restore public faith in the media. It was created by award-winning journalist, Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Applied Ethics Department, and is being funded by Craigslist founder, Mark Newmark.

“An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” said Lehrman.

Google has yet to apply its own version of Trust Indicators, though it has agreed to participate in the cause. On November 16, Google Product Manager Jeff Chang said in a blog post that Google is still sorting out how precisely the indicators will appear next to the article. Chang said Google plans to utilize Trust Indicators within Google News, Google Search, as well as “other Google products where news can be found.”

Photo Credit: Mediaite

H/T: Tech Crunch

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Spotify cancels all current video series, goes back to drawing board

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Spotify has halted the production of its current original video series, duly cancelling its unreleased shows as the music streaming platform’s foray into video proved ineffective.

Spotify has expended much energy developing an array of original video productions after deeming original video a potential source of un-infringed funds. More than 80% of Spotify’s revenue stream is paid out to record labels and other industry entities, rendering Spotify’s streaming business a particularly costly venture with a comparatively slim payout for the platform itself. Spotify has lead streaming rivals like Apple Music and Google through the existence of its free access tier, an offering subsidized by advertising that accounts for a mere 10% of the platform’s annual revenue.

After reporting fiscal losses for the year of 2016 at approximately $637-million on a revenue of $3.4-billion, Spotify identified original video as a solution to the company’s losses. Whereas the majority of Spotify’s content requires royalties and other licensing costs to be paid in association with use of such content, original video would be license-free. Spotify’s efforts to develop original video series, however, have not been particularly fruitful, as users of the streaming service gravitate towards Spotify’s musical offerings, paying little mind to the platform’s original video innovations.

Despite the video productions’ lukewarm reception, Spotify has actively attempted to build its original video platform, striking licensing deals with networks like Comedy Central and ESPN. Spotify has also explored a documentary style approach to original video, producing series like Spotify Landmark and Flash Frame that air interviews with a variety of artists, including Blink-182 and Green Day.

While Spotify will not abandon its original video pursuits altogether, the platform will increasingly focus on developing video formats “unique” to the platform.

H/T: The Verge

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Diplo and Valentino Khan star in Google Home Max promo video

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Google has created a new product called the Google Home Max and has brought Diplo and Valentino Khan on board to promote the launch. The Home Max supports a variety of streaming services, including Spotify, YouTube Music, and Google Play. Unlike the Google Home Mini, which aims to compete against Amazon’s Echo Dot, the Home Max looks to compete against the still unreleased Apple HomePod, or the Sonos Play:1.

“Just like the Pixel reimagined the camera, we’ll do the same with sound, the speaker needs to adjust to your home. So today, we’re announcing smart sound, that allows the speaker to adjust to you: your home, your preferences.” -Rishi Chandra

Google Home Max costs $399 and will come out in the US in December with a free 12 month subscription to YouTube Music. Google enlisted Diplo to tell us how he’s critical of the quality of sound from devices and why having them in every room of his home for listening is essential to his life.

H/T: YourEDM

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Google celebrates DJing in new doodle

 

Google celebrates DJing in new doodle

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DJ culture has a rich and full history, sprawling across genres and around the world. However, if one event is heralded as the keynote of turntablism, it is Kool Herc’s party on Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx, held on August 11, 1973.

To celebrate the 44th anniversary of this cultural shift, Google has turned their homepage doodle into an interactive turntable feature. Prefaced with a history of the event, Google offers a tutorial of basic turntable tips and goes on to provide a crate of records full of classic hip hop, funk, and soul tracks. Gain achievements for scratching and other mixing techniques while jamming to George Clinton, Prince Paul, Grandmaster Flash, and more. Although DJing has come a long way from the underground parties in the Bronx, the end goal of soundtracking a night and getting people to dance has held constant over the years and is still thriving.

H/T: FACT

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LCD Soundsystem preview the launch of their new VR experience, ‘Dance Tonite’ [Watch]

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LCD Soundsystem‘s forthcoming comeback album is proving to be one of the most hotly-anticipated electronic outputs of the year. Following a Columbia Records co-sign last year, the band has returned with top-notch live performances, and now fans are eagerly awaiting the group’s inbound studio record, which according to James Murphy, is currently being pressed to wax as of this writing. Congruent with the album’s summer rollout, Murphy and company are planning the wide scale launch of their new virtual reality experience, due sometime this summer.

The new VR experience was recently debuted at Google’s three-day I/O developer’s conference along with a live streamed performance from LCD at the event as well. Immersive individual dance parties were soundtracked by a new tune from the group’s upcoming album called, “Tonite.” The new track and accompanying music video are due later this summer as well, presumably ahead of the album’s full release.

A visit to tonight.dance confirms the new VR experience launch. LCD Soundsystem’s follow up to This Is Happening could land as soon as mid-July, though fans may be lucky enough to digitally dance themselves clean before the album officially hits shelves. Preview clips of the new VR experience below:

H/T: FACT

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Google allegedly may acquire SoundCloud

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In December of 2016, Spotify decided not to purchase SoundCloud, following months of widely-publicized talks between the two streaming companies. At the time, TechCrunch reported that Spotify “ultimately walked away because it feared that an acquisition could negatively impact its IPO preparation.” The price tag which SoundCloud placed on the buyout was $1 billion – the same value which reportedly dissuaded Twitter from buying the German company in 2014.

Now, Music Business Worldwide reports that a bigger fish is rumored to be considering acquiring SoundCloud: Google. MBW notes a potential correlation between the rumored acquisition and SoundCloud’s 2016 hire of CFO Holly Lim as a measure to “maintain SoundCloud’s financial health and capitalise [sic] on new opportunities for growth.” Lim herself was previously employed as a Business Operations executive at Google.

MBW reports that the price which Google is allegedly considering buying SoundCloud for sits at around $500 million – cutting the streaming company’s previous valuation in half. The outlet goes on to address the impact that Google’s buyout would have on the major labels which have a stake in SoundCloud; Universal, Sony, and Warner Music Group hold roughly 4%, 3%, and 1-2% in the company, respectively. According to MBW, “If SoundCloud was sold for $500m, the majors would therefore get a cut of around $45m between them.”

Via: Music Business Worldwide, Resident Advisor

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Google enters the festival market with new streaming event ‘Good Fest’

Google enters the festival market with new streaming event ‘Good Fest’

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As streaming platforms continue to explore innovative strategies to pick up new subscribers, some of the internet’s biggest power players are also moving into live entertainment in order to gain an edge on rival companies.

With Apple hosting their own annual music event and Tidal‘s affiliation with Made In America, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before the likes of Spotify, Soundcloud, and Pandora jump into the live events market as well. Though now, with the launch of the newly announced “Good Fest,” Google becomes the latest digital agglomerate to throw their hat into the live music events ring.

Merging their new music festival initiative with a charitable cause, the Good Fest concert series aims to raise money for non-profit organizations through ticket sales and online donations. The new episodic concert series will be live streamed via Youtube, and describes itself as “the first-of-its-kind festival for good.” The first Good Fest event will host Glass Animals at BAM Cafe in New York City, with four more shows already scheduled in different cities across the U.S.. Proceeds from the inaugural Good Fest with Glass Animals will go to Donorschoose.org.

Google is calling Good Fest “a celebration of progress, positivity, and the power of people to push the world forward.” Music events and philanthropy have gone hand-in-hand for many years, now Google is taking that idea one step further in an increasingly streamable world.

H/T: Business Insider

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