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02.17.17 | 6:41 am

YouTube says it has now added captions to over 1 billion videos

In recent years, Google's speech recognition technology has improved 50% in accuracy, allowing it to make far more of its videos available to the deaf and hearing impaired. Currently, YouTube users watch more than 15 million videos with automated captions each day, and the captions service supports 10 languages, writes YouTube program manager Liat Kaver in a blog post.

05.23.17 | an hour ago

Watch Mark Zuckerberg tell stories Live in his Harvard dorm room

Mark Zuckerberg visited Harvard today and broadcasted briefly from his old college dorm room on Facebook Live. During the broadcast, he shared a number of fun and interesting stories from his college days. You can check out the full broadcast below:

Facebook launched a few new features for Facebook Live today, including the ability to create private comment threads about Live videos for just your friends, and invite a friend to broadcast Live with you.

05.23.17 | 2 hours ago

The new Surface Pro is a bigger upgrade than Microsoft let on

A couple of weeks after downplaying expectations for a new Surface Pro tablet, Microsoft announced an upgrade that's surprisingly substantial. The fifth-generation device–simply called the new Surface Pro–has a more flexible kickstand that bends back 165 degrees, longer battery life of up to 13.5 hours, and a slightly curvier design. The mid-tier Intel Core i5 model has also become lighter and quieter by dropping the cooling fan, and there's an option for built-in 4G LTE connectivity. Just one catch: Microsoft is no longer throwing in a Surface Pen, though the new $100 add-on version is more accurate and less laggy.

The new Surface Pro will ship in mid-June, starting at $800, plus $160 for a "Signature" keyboard cover.

05.23.17 | 2 hours ago

Mobile augmented reality predicted to be a $60 billion, billion-plus user industry by 2021

It's coming. Everybody knows it. Whether it's on the next iPhone (or the one after that) or via the camera in Facebook's apps, it's coming. Augmented reality for the masses, that is. And it's going to be big time.

That's according to the analysts at Digi-Capital, who today put out a report predicting that the mobile AR industry will be worth $60 billion a year by 2021, and will have, at a minimum, a billion users. It could be way more, if mobile AR is included in a future iPhone, or if the masses adopt it via Facebook's apps. And that's not to mention tools from the likes of Google, Snap, Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, Huawei, Samsung, and others. Essentially, the message of the report is that this is a technology that's coming fast, that it's going to take users far beyond Pokémon Go. In fact, Digi-Capital argues that while games may have brought AR to many people's attention, "the bulk of mobile AR revenue could be in sectors other than games. Over 80% of mobile AR revenue could come from mobile network data, e-commerce sales, advertising, consumer (non-games) apps and enterprise/B2B sales."

05.23.17 | 2 hours ago

You wanna win $1 million? Just come up with the best way to fix the NYC subway. (Gotcha!)

The terrible horrible no-good very bad state of the subway in New York City is a cliché, but in recent months it's hit a new low. I've been riding the train for over 25 years and I've never seen it this bad—from perennial "signal problems" to filthy stations to terrible access for the disabled. As a result, commuters (well, at least one of them) have been screaming at conductors and local editorial writers have skewered the state's leadership. Well, today Governor Andrew Cuomo finally responded by asking the long-suffering public to come to the rescue with a $1 million award for the best ideas for fixing the subway. For most young tech geniuses in the city, that's chump change but just think: You'll be rewarded with the eternal gratitude of straphangers from 241st Street in the Bronx to Far Rockaway.

05.23.17 | 2:10 pm

How the White House is spinning its betrayal of Trump’s promise not to cut Social Security and Medicaid

March 10, 2016: "It's my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is," said Donald Trump at the GOP debate, a promise he repeated multiple times during the campaign.

May 23, 2017: President Trump's proposed budget would cut Social Security Disability Insurance by $72 billion over 10 years, or close to 4 percent of its projected cost. The program benefits over 10 million Americans.

But the administration's budget director Mick Mulvaney insisted that it wasn't a broken promise, claiming that the vast majority of people don't think of disability insurance as part of Social Security:

"If you ask 999 people out of 1,000, [they] would tell you that Social Security disability is not part of Social Security. It's old-age retirement that they think of when they think of Social Security."

As for Medicaid, the budget proposes $800 billion in cuts to the program, which Trump also vigorously promised to leave intact on the campaign trail. 

But Mulvaney said yesterday: "The Medicaid cut isn't a cut, it's an improvement, because we'll give states more leeway to spend the money how they want…What we are doing is growing Medicaid more slowly" over 10 years.

05.23.17 | 1:44 pm

Uber underpaid drivers tens of millions of dollars

Uber has admitted to underpaying New York City drivers and says it will make it up to them with interest. In 2014, Uber agreed to charge drivers 25% of fares after fees and taxes were taken out. Instead it took its cut out of the full fare. The company says the problem affected tens of thousands of drivers and it plans to pay out an average of $900 per driver. This isn't the first time Uber has been accused of misleading drivers on wages. In January, the company agreed to pay drivers $20 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that Uber was overpromising on potential earnings to lure drivers onto its platform. 

"We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed—plus interest—as quickly as possible," said Rachel Holt, regional general manager, U.S. & Canada, in a statement. "We are working hard to regain driver trust, and that means being transparent, sticking to our word, and making the Uber experience better from end to end."

05.23.17 | 1:42 pm

Investors are betting on KidPass, believing it will succeed where ClassPass failed

As we've noted in the past, ClassPass—the service that allowed you to pay a low price for hundreds of expensive boutique fitness classes in your city—wasn't a sustainable model. Customers didn't end up becoming members at the studios and many weren't willing to keep subscribing when ClassPass raised its fee from $99 to $190. But there's reason to believe that a similar platform would work in the kids' market. KidPass, which allows parents to discover children's activities in their area while paying a monthly subscription, just raised $5.1M to continue growing.

According to Somomon Liou, cofounder and CEO, the KidPass model works because it serves an unmet need. Parents struggle to find good kids activities in their neighborhood, especially at the last minute. And many will decide to sign on to a program–say, a swim class– if their kid likes it, but keep searching for new activities. "Parents are constantly looking for new ways to keep their kids entertained and stimulated," Liou tells Fast Company. "In some ways, they're using this like OpenTable to find things to do at the last minute."

05.23.17 | 1:41 pm

Summersalt makes a splash in the $28B swimwear market

Here's a paradox. There's no shortage of swimwear on the market from brands like Gap and J.Crew, to department stores like Macy's and Bloomingdale's, to high-end designers. Yet many women aren't loyal to a particular brand and still struggle to find a suit that fits well at a reasonable price.

Summersalt has bold plans to become that brand. They're a direct-to-consumer brand founded by longtime swimwear designer Lori Coulter and branding expert Reshma Chamberlin. They've spent months working with women of all sizes to create a collection designed to be flattering on a wide range of body types. The pieces are made entirely from recycled polyamide fabric that has been tested on Olympians to ensure it doesn't fade or stretch out after extensive wear.

Each suit costs $95, which is significantly less than designer brands. Customers can order a box of six pieces to mix and match, plus one surprise recommendation, which they can try on at home. Other startups, like Andie and Triangl, have also launched direct-to-consumer plays, but with only a few styles. "We've built a very large collection of over 150 pieces from day one so that people have enough options," Chamberlin explains. "We believe that we can be a category killer."

05.23.17 | 1:40 pm

Twitter’s sponsored tweets can now start private conversations with chatbots

Twitter has created a new way to help brands get their bots in front of potential customers. Now brands can create sponsored interactive tweets—when a customer engages with them, they pull those potential shoppers into a direct message conversation with the brand's bot. Unlike some bots that are designed to handle customer service issues, these are meant to engage customers, ultimately leading them to make a purchase.

For instance, one of the first brands participating is Patron Tequila. Patron has a sponsored tweet advertising "Bot-Tenders" that can help you create the perfect cocktail. From the tweet, you pick the type of event you're mixing up drinks for, and then Patron will DM you a few questions about your flavor preferences and present a few appropriate recipes.

05.23.17 | 1:04 pm

About 1/5 of Googlers subscribe to a private newsletter to air complaints about harassment and bias at work

A group of Google employees have begun a message board for employees to submit worker complaints that's then emailed weekly as a digest, reports Bloomberg. The email list—called "Yes, at Google"—has been around since October and allows employees to talk openly about work situations in which they felt uncomfortable; most submissions are anonymized. 

Examples of complaints include allegations of harassment, sexism, and accounts of misconduct and abuse (some severe posts include notes from the company asking for more information). According to Bloomberg, 15,000 Google workers subscribe to the list. 

Google is aware of the message board and seems to be keeping it around as a human resources tool, even recommending it in an email to employees amid the Uber sexual harassment scandal. While it isn't run and vetted by management, the email list is one way to signal to employees that the technology giant wants to foster a more communicative and inclusive culture. 

05.23.17 | 11:42 am

Comcast is trying to shut down a pro-net neutrality site

Fight For The Future, which has long supported net neutrality and advocated for digital privacy rights, recently received a cease and desist order over its new site "" The site lets people search to see if their names have been fraudulently used in fake pro-net neutrality comments sent to the FCC. 

According to the group's press release, Comcast's letter claims that Comcastroturf "violates Comcast's 'valuable intellectual property.'" The organization notes, were it not for current net neutrality rules, Comcast would be able to outright censor the site.

05.23.17 | 11:33 am

Apple reveals a huge spike in the number of iPhones and iPads from which the government is demanding data

That detail was revealed in the company's latest bi-annual transparency report covering the last half of 2016. Though there were fewer overall requests from U.S. law enforcement authorities, they sought data on twice as many devices during that time period compared to the first half of 2016.

The report also noted that the government sent Apple at least one national security letter demanding a customer's personal info. 

Read the full report here.