13 Dec 2019

TechBits, Dec 13, 2019

1. Amazon launches Audible Suno free app featuring short-stories in India

  • Amazon is having another go at expanding its reach to listeners in India. The company, which launched pay-to-use Audible in the country last year, today introduced a new service called Audible Suno that offers free access to “hundreds of hours of audio entertainment, enlightenment, and learning.” And it’s banking on major Indian celebrities to draw the listeners.
  • Audible Suno, which is exclusively available to users in India, features more than 60 original and exclusive episodes (of 20 to 60 minutes in length) in both Hindi and English languages. Audible, the world’s largest seller and producer of audio content, said Suno is aimed at filling the “idle time” listeners have each day during their commutes and performing other daily chores.
  • The company says Audible Suno, available to users through a dedicated Android app and via the iOS Audible app, is also free of advertisements.

2. Atlassian debuts Forge, an enterprise-ready cloud app development platform

  • “Software development and collaboration tool maker Atlassian Corp. Plc today introduced a new way to build cloud apps for the company’s ecosystem known as Forge.
  • Forge is aimed at making it easy for developers to build enterprise-ready cloud-based apps rapidly that integrate with Atlassian’s products.
  • The platform is composed of three different components designed around rethinking cloud app development, including a serverless functions-as-a-service hosted platform with Atlassian-operated compute, a flexible declarative user interface language called Forge UI that enables developers to build interactive UI with just a few lines of code, and a state-of-the-art DevOps toolchain powered by Forge command-line-interface tools.”

3. Scientists apply AI to tackle bigger problems, from climate change to food shortages

  • “Technology is not just about improving business efficiency, customer experience, and overall security. It is also about making a large human impact.
  • Scientists are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to study, for example, space weather and its major impacts on Earth’s infrastructure, oceans and their relationship to climate change, as well as global food supply and a way to improve it.
  • “Machine learning should be thought of as an extension of what a human is really good at; we can train machines to do this on a much grander scale,” said Sebastien de Halleux (pictured, left), chief operating officer of Saildrone Inc., which designs, manufactures and operates a global fleet of wind and solar-powered ocean drones monitoring the state of the planet in real-time”

4. Waymo acquires AI-powered simulation startup Latent Logic

  • “Waymo LLC, Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous driving subsidiary, has acquired a British startup called Latent Logic Ltd. that provides software for simulating drivers and pedestrians.
  • The group announced the deal on Twitter today without sharing financial details. The Latent Logic team will continue to operate out of its current location in Oxford, which is set to become Waymo’s first European engineering hub.
  • Latent Logic was started in 2017 by Shimon Whiteson, a computer science professor at Oxford University, and colleague João Messia to commercialize research they conducted into so-called imitation learning.”

5. Xs: code debuts open-source software monetization platform

  • “Israeli startup xscode international Ltd. is exiting stealth mode today with $500,000 in seed funding and the launch of a new platform that enables open-source software developers to monetize their work via private repositories on GitHub.
  • The company, which does business as xs: code, said its platform is all about encouraging developers to keep maintaining open-source code by charging companies to use the most up-to-date versions of it.
  • Xs: code reckons there’s a need for this as it says many developers lack the motivation or are simply too busy to keep their open-source projects secure and up-to-date. It’s a critical issue because 90% of all software relies on at least some open-source components, even in the case of commercial software.”

6. Google debuts Transfer Service for speeding on-premises data to the cloud

  • “One of the major barriers for companies looking to switch their information technology infrastructure to the cloud is that they first have to move all of their data to the same platform, and doing so can be a very a complex and time-consuming task.
  • That explains why Google LLC is so keen to help. The company today announced beta availability of a new “Transfer Service” for customers that want to move large amounts of their data from their on-premises storage to Google’s cloud.
  • Transfer Service, the company explained in a blog post announcing the new service, is a managed solution that lets companies move all that data without needing to write their own software or invest in an off-the-shelf solution.”

7. Google’s real-time language translator comes to Assistant on Android and iOS

  • “Google LLC’s real-time interpreter is now available on Android and iOS phones in 44 languages, the company announced Thursday.
  • A handy app for travelers, the feature was previously only available for Google’s Home smart speakers. When traveling abroad a person can now say, “Hey Google, be my Portuguese translator” or “Hey Google, help me speak Polish,” and the interpreter will kick in. No additional downloads are necessary since the app is already built into the assistant.
  • Google gave another example of the interpreted mode in German. The person simply states in the microphone, “Does this dish contain peanuts? I’m allergic to peanuts.” The device then translated that to German. The app doesn’t require the person to click on anything for the reply. The translations will be in both languages.”

8. Pandora launches interactive voice ads

  • “Pandora has begun to test a new type of advertising format that allows listeners to respond to the ad by speaking aloud. In the new ads, listeners are prompted to say “yes” after the ad asks a question and a tone plays. The ads will then offer more information about the product or brand in question.
  • Debut advertisers testing the new format include Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé.
  • The ads begin by explaining what they are and how they’ll work. They then play a short and simple message followed by a question to which listeners are supposed to respond.
  • For example, Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they’re hungry, and if they say “yes” the ad continues by offering a recommendation about what to eat. The DiGiorno’s pizza ad asks listeners to say “yes” to hear the punchline of a pizza-themed joke. The Ashley HomeStores ad engages listeners by offering tips on getting a better night’s sleep. And so on.”

9. DataRobot is acquiring Paxata to add data prep to the machine learning platform

  • “DataRobot, a company best known for creating automated machine learning models known as AutoML, announced today that it intends to acquire Paxata, a data prep platform startup. The companies did not reveal the purchase price.
  • Paxata raised a total of $90 million before today’s acquisition, according to the company.
  • Up until now, DataRobot has concentrated mostly on the machine learning and data science aspect of the workflow — building and testing the model, then putting it into production. The data prep was left to other vendors like Paxata, but DataRobot, which raised $206 million in September, saw an opportunity to fill in a gap in their platform with Paxata.”

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