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Google launches hyperlocal ‘news’ app, we roll our eyes

(TECH NEWS) Google has launched “Bulletin” in an effort to aggregate hyperlocal news and offer info about what’s going on in your neighborhood. Le sigh.

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Oh hey, Google users in Nashville, Tennessee and Oakland, California have the opportunity to grow Google’s brand for free! Google has announced that it is testing a new app, Bulletin, which allows anyone to contribute local news to the platform. No blog or website required.

Users post photos, videos, messages and news to the public. This news can then be accessed through search, social networks, and even sent through email.

I hope you caught my skepticism.

If not, let me spell it out for you. Google grows its network of information without providing any compensation for providers. Granted, posting a photo of a fire is no great feat in today’s world, but by promoting this as “news,” Google gains followers who want hyperlocal information. Google can then charge advertisers to be on this network. Thanks a lot for the zeroty dollars, Google.

I have to wonder who is going to curate this information. Facebook has already had a foray into the fake news scene, and it didn’t end well (if it has ended.) I’m already skeptical every time I see a video that could have been digitally altered. Who will be the one vetting the information users post as “news?”

How will they ever write an algorithm that determines what is news versus what is promotion?

What happens when the police come to my block and I post pictures of children being taken away from their parents? Or pictures of a rape victim? Or an innocent teacher who later gets fired for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Who will protect the vulnerable population? How can a parent keep their children from being used on Bulletin? What about cyber-bullying?

Most of us already overshare on social media, which opens us up to different risks. Now, with Google offering an opportunity to share “news” how much worse could it get?

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. If Google wants to beat Facebook and Twitter at their game, call Bulletin what it is – social media, not news. Calling it news gives it a level of respect that is undeserved.

Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Tech News

Bose launches headphone-less headphones for your face

(TECHNOLOGY) Bose is using augmented reality in a fascinating new way (even if we’re poking fun at it).

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Just in time for the holidays, Bose releases Frames, their new breakthrough sunglasses that combine the protection and style of premium sunglasses, the functionality and performance of wireless headphones, and the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.

At $199 per pair, they’re the perfect gift for the person who has everything and who will eventually lose them in a lake, leave them in a fitting room, or crush them in a car seat.

Frames have the ability to stream music and information, take and make calls, and access virtual assistants. Bose promises that your playlists, entertainment, and conversations will stay private, although how your conversations will remain private is unclear. Expect confusion from every stranger within earshot.

Bose is calling Frames a revolutionary wearable, but aren’t these just headphones for your face? Very cool headphones for your face?

Bose is pushing the AR functionality hard.

Although they can’t change what you see, they know what you’re seeing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android. Once they know what you see, the AR automatically tunes you into audio commentary for that place, opening users to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, and gaming.

They claim Frames are hands-free and clear-eyed, but even if that’s the case, do we really need more people walking around under the influence of distraction? As if it weren’t enough to have people’s eyes glued to their phones, now we can have people in matching sunglasses wandering around talking to themselves. Now who looks bonkers?

Frames are available for preorder now and are expected to ship in January 2019. Look for Bose to release updates to their AR at SXSW in March.

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What’s TikTok, why’s it so huge, and why is Facebook scared of it?

(TECH) TikTok has taken the internet by storm – you’ve probably seen the videos floating around, so here’s the context your business needs to know.

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Jimmy Fallon recently challenged his viewers to his version of a #sharpiechallenge. That’s where you toss a sharpie into the air, catch it, take the cap off and draw a mustache on yourself with it. He requested that viewers use TikTok to record it and upload it.

As of this writing, the hashtag boasts 8.2 million views in TikTok alone – if it wasn’t big before it gained Fallon as a fan, it is now.

What Is TikTok?

The TikTok app is the brainchild of Bytedance, a Chinese company that once owned Muscal.ly, and it launched in September 2016 as Douyin (it’s Chinese moniker). When it launched internationally, a year later, they branded the social media app TikTok. When Musical.ly shut down, users had to switch.

The app lets users view, create and share 15-second videos (kind of like Vine, RIP). It’s estimated that there are over 500 million users worldwide. The app has been highly ranked in the charts for number of downloads over the past few months, with a spike when Fallon had his first challenge, #tumbleweedchallenge. (For the record, Fallon and The Tonight Show do not have a business relationship with Bytedance.)

Users can lip-sync, do duets, record a reactions video and has some excellent tech in the app for video editing. Users can comment on videos and create video memes. It’s pretty fascinating. And wildly appealing to the masses.

One of the best things about TikTok is that the app doesn’t have advertising or monetization capabilities, even though it has a broad audience. With an estimated 500 million users, it’s just a matter of time.

Facebook launches a TikTok-clone.

Facebook doesn’t want to be late to the game. In classic follower fashion, they have launched their own short-video app, Lasso.

I played with both apps, and Lasso just doesn’t have comparable content.

What Facebook does have is its user base. By integrating with Facebook itself, Lasso may outdo TikTok eventually, but it will need to increase its capabilities.

Why should your business take notice?

Small businesses should be aware of these apps. Online videos are driving social media engagement. Content is king, and you’ve been reading here for years that video is a powerful component of any social media strategy.

TikTok and Lasso give you video-making and video-sharing tools that could increase your online presence.

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How to use voice to call upon Google Assistant on iOS

(TECH) Even Apple users believe Siri to be inferior to Google Assistant, so knowing how to summon the All Powerful Google via voice is helpful for iOS users.

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Are you one of the many iPhone users who prefer using Google Assistant over Siri, but have been frustrated by the inability to summon Google Assistant on your phone using only your voice? Good news: Your frustrations can now be dismissed. As of November 21, iPhone users no longer have to use their fingers to open up the Google Assistant app first in order to use it.

Thanks to the latest update to Google Assistant for iOS, iPhone users can now ask Siri to bring up Google Assistant for them. While this may sound complicated, the process is actually pretty simple. All users have to say is “Hey, Siri, OK Google,” or “Hey, Siri, Hey Google,” and voila! Google Assistant opens up and is ready to perform its regular duties. (Once you say, “OK Google” or “Hey Google” one more time, of course.)

To get to this point, users will first need to download the latest version of Google Assistant for iOS. They might see a prompt to “Add Google Assistant to Siri,” after which they should tap “Add to Siri” and add the Google Assistant summoning phrase of their choice, usually “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” Google Assistant can be added to Siri through Siri’s settings as well.

But the conveniences that come with this update go even further. According to The Verge, users can now set up Siri shortcuts for some of their most frequently used Google Assistant phrases. For example, if a user has set up morning, bedtime or leaving home routines on their Google Home, they can trigger those routines inside of Siri now. This can include anything from adjusting lights and thermostats to announcing weather and calendar updates to setting wakeup alarms.

This might not be the perfect way to solve the iOS/iPhone Google Assistant problem. Some are referring to this update as more of a workaround or a stopgap than an actual feature. But it’s still a decent quick fix and a welcome step toward breaking down the barriers Apple has been known to build around its products and adds more options for everyone.

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