Tag Archives: big-tech-companies

Amazon wants to turn small businesses into delivery companies


Time to learn logistics for your business.
Image: amazon

Are you an entrepreneur who specializes in selling handcrafted soaps and artisanal candles? Are you an entrepreneur who doesn’t specialize in anything at all? Congratulations, you’re pre-qualified to be America’s next shipping magnate. 

At least, that’s what Amazon wants you to believe.

Amid soaring sales, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant launched the Amazon Delivery Service Partner program this week to convince you— yes, you— to get delivering packages.

The new program goes a huge step beyond the gig economy side-hustle that is Amazon Flex. The Amazon Delivery Service Partner program wants entrepreneurs to start your very own package delivery business — even if those entrepreneurs have no prior experience with shipping logistics.. 

A brochure about the new program details everything that interested would-be shipping magnates will need to launch their delivery business, and that means purchasing vans, handheld devices, uniforms, car insurance, fuel cards, and hiring drivers. 

The strategy appears to be Amazon’s latest attempt to solve its so-called “last-mile” problem with ensuring that everything customers order online gets to their front doors. Fast. And because the company takes its two-day delivery promise seriously, it seems willing to enlist just about anyone to help it reach its goal with lures of six-figure bumps to their bottom lines.

Amazon says “successful owners” can earn $300,000 in annual profit running a 40-vehicle delivery fleet. Never run a delivery fleet? Not to worry: Amazon will provide “technology and operational support.” That means that even if you have to build up (and pay for) your own delivery fleet, Amazon assures deals on Amazon-branded vehicles, uniforms, gas, insurance plans, and other things you’ll need to run your own service.

While it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to add a cool 300 grand to your profits, at least you’ll be able to add another line to your extensive resume: expert delivery driver. The hustle is real.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/28/amazon-delivery-service-partner/

Google Assistant is straight up crushing Siri


Leaving Siri in its dust.
Image: Google screenshot

Siri has some catching up to do. 

As the day-one Google I/O keynote came to a close Tuesday in Mountain View, California, it was clear that the tech giant had left the right impression on the developers in attendance: Specifically, one of awe. Of particular note was the wide range of tasks handled by Google Assistant — tasks that, at present, Apple’s Siri could only dream of (could Siri dream). 

Want Google Assistant to make a phone call for you? Perhaps book a haircut appointment by having an actual conversation with a real human? No problem, that feature was demoed today and will be available to users “as an experiment” in the coming weeks. 

And that’s not the only Assistant-related news that Google announced today. 

“Thanks to our progress in language understanding, you’ll soon be able to have a natural back-and-forth conversation with the Google Assistant without repeating ‘Hey Google’ for each follow-up request,” explains a Google press release

And it’s not like this is some Google black magic — Amazon made a similar functionality possible with Alexa. 

Importantly, Apple announced a limited version of this at last year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, but that’s cold comfort when Siri still struggles to understand many requests in the first place. 

Oh yeah, and six new voices are coming. But wait, there’s more. 

Google Assistant will also soon help you navigate within Google Maps “so you can get information while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road,” and, on mobile, will “give you a quick snapshot of your day with suggestions based on location, time of day, and recent interactions.”

These are all real-world applications that people might actually use, and they put Siri to shame. 

I mean, can you imagine Siri making an entire phone call for you? Like, not just dialing a number, but calling a human and having a full conversation with them? No, of course you can’t, because for the most part Siri is useless junk. 

Sure, Siri is really good at super simple stuff like setting your alarm, or unexpectedly dropping profanity, but a punctual foulmouth isn’t going to revolutionize smart assistants. 

Google Assistant, on the other hand, is on its way to doing just that. Maybe that’s why Apple hired John Giannandrea, Google’s top AI exec, earlier this spring.

Either way, Siri continues to lag behind Google Assistant, and today’s keynote emphasized just how wide the gulf between the two assistants really is. 

The ball is in Siri’s court. Now we just have to wait and see if it can figure out what to do with it. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/05/08/google-io-assistant-siri/

Ripple is now the second largest cryptocurrency, behind Bitcoin

Image: Wit Olszewski/shutterstock

After a period of tremendous growth, the banking-oriented cryptocurrency Ripple has overtaken Ethereum and is currently the second largest coin in terms of market cap behind Bitcoin. 

Ripple’s price rose 42.7 percent in the last 24 hours alone according to CoinMarketCap, with its market cap surging to $73.6 billon. 

This is the first time a cryptocurrency has overtaken Ethereum since May 2017, when Ripple quickly surged in price before cooling off at the end of the month.

There’s no clear reason behind Ripple’s most recent price surge. The cryptocurrency’s technology, which is fundamentally different from Bitcoin and is designed for fast and secure global financial transactions, was recently tested by Japanese and South Korean banks. 

Other cryptocurrencies have had a mixed day; Bitcoin hasn’t moved nearly at all in the last 24 hours and is currently trading at $14,402; Ethereum rose 2.8 percent to $733.4; Bitcoin Cash fell 7.9 percent, to $2,393, and Litecoin dropped 4 percent and is currently trading at $241. 

Ripple’s price growth in 2017 has been absolutely insane, even by cryptocurrency standards. You could’ve bought one Ripple for $0.0065 on January 1, whereas the current price is $1.89, a 29,000 percent increase. 

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/29/ripple-overtakes-ethereum/

Netflix subscribers, get ready for a rise in prices

Get ready to pay just a bit more for your Netflix subscription.

The streaming video service will be raising prices on its middle and top tier plans in the U.S. starting in November. Subscribers who currently pay for the standard $9.99 service will be charged $10.99. The price of the premium tier will rise from $11.99 to $13.99. 

Good news for people on the basic $7.99 plan—that price is staying put, for now. 

The U.S.-only price hikes will begin to go into effect in November, varying depending on individuals’ billing cycles. Starting on Oct. 19, subscribers will be notified and given at least 30 days notice about the increase.  

Netflix declined to make any executives available for interview but did release a statement regarding the price increases: “From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster.”

The screenshot below highlights the different Netflix plans available and their features, along with their old prices.

Image: netflix screenshot

Netflix hasn’t announced a major change in pricing since 2014. That increase featured a lengthy grandfathering system that meant many existing customers paid $7.99 until 2016. Netflix tried to institute a system that rolled out its price hikes slowly, giving longtime subscribers plenty of lead time. The intentions may have been good, but the process was confusing.

The price change this time around is simple and immediate, particularly compared to its last increase. By December, every Netflix subscriber will be paying the higher price. 

Those extra dollars will add up for Netflix, which has grown rapidly in recent years both in subscribers and spending. The company now produces a large amount of original content, and there’s plenty more on the way. Plans to spend $6 billion on projects in 2018 were recently revised by content head Ted Sarandos, who added a cool billion dollars on top.

That money is going to major investments in original series, comedy specials, documentaries, and films—an area that Netflix seems to be putting renewed focus on.

Netflix has also been bolstering its service with new features, rolling out downloads and interactive content.

Asking for more money from subscribers will inevitably be met with a certain amount of blowback, particularly as consumers are now faced with a growing number of options for internet-delivered TV. Netflix faces growing competition from similar services including Amazon’s Prime Video and HBO Now, as well as a variety of streaming TV bundles and smaller video-on-demand services. 

Rising prices combined with the sheer number of options available have led to questions about the value of internet-delivered TV when compared to traditional cable subscriptions.

Netflix, however, appears well positioned to bump its prices up a bit. Its standard plan is still cheaper than HBO ($15 per month) and Hulu’s commercial-free plan ($11.99). 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/05/netflix-raising-prices-again/

How ‘Black Mirror’ kinda predicted this iPhone X feature

We know that Charlie Brooker’s dystopian series Black Mirror is the best, nightmarish commentary for the tech-filled occasions.&nbsp

But rarely has it been very well manifested than during Apple’s announcement of “animojis” &mdash that’s, dynamic 3D emojis that mimic the face.&nbsp

Whenever you smile, frown, or sneer in the iPhone X, the device’s facial recognition technology can scan the face and morph it into animated avatars &mdash such as the fox, the alien, which big stinking pile of poo:&nbsp

Image: Apple

Now, should you compensated focus on Black Mirror’s episode “The Waldo Moment” in the second season finale, you may recall it involves a blue, foul-mouthed bear childrens favourite, Waldo, who comically interviews politicians before spiraling unmanageable.&nbsp

Acknowledging their prophetic forces, Black Mirror’s Twitter account simply tweeted a GIF from the “animoji” demo, using the cheeky inclusion of Waldo:&nbsp

The iPhone X’s new facial recognition hardware tracks over 50 muscle movements inside your brow, oral cavity, lips, jaw, and mouth. When added together, the movement of those different facial expression &mdash like the formation of dimples &mdash provides the phone the facial data it must produce a similarly significant animoji.&nbsp

Even creepier, animojis can talk. Now you can also have your Waldo moment. &nbsp

We still have no idea once the pick up of Black Mirror will premiere, but Netflix has released a couple of images from two approaching installments.&nbsp

Find out more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/13/black-mirror-iphone-x-animojis-waldo-moment/