Facebook kills the 'Other' Inbox folder and launches Message Requests

Facebook has now introduced Message Requests for Messenger which will basically replace the ‘Other’ folder in the app which houses messages received from strangers. Messages received in this folder will generate an alert on the Messages tab on the web along with mobile devices as well. The service is said to roll out in the next couple of days.
According to a post , “If you’re friends on Facebook, if you have each other’s contact info in your phone and have these synced, or if you have an existing open thread, the new messages from that sender will be routed to your inbox. Everything else will now be a message request, minus spam attempts that we will continue to ruthlessly combat.”
If you head to the company’s Help Center, Facebook offers an idea of message requests works as well. Messages from friends-of-friends will now be treated simply as a request. Facebook will no longer bet that having a friend in common means you care to talk to someone.
The new service can also make Facebook, a way to commute with contractors, short-term business colleagues or anyone else who would wish to chat with the person, but did not want to be friends or share their numbers for that matter.

Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon give Wall Street reason to cheer

Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft and made headway in the latest quarter in the areas that will be their main engines of growth for years to come, driving up shares across the tech sector on Friday.
Shares of all three surged in early trading, adding more than $120 billion to their combined market value – more than the gross domestic product of Morocco.
For Alphabet, search traffic on mobiles surpassed desktop traffic worldwide for the first time, while Amazon was able to boost margins, an area of concern, as its cloud business boomed.
Microsoft’s growing emphasis on cloud computing under Chief Executive Satya Nadella also put the company on track successfully transition away from its slowing business that relies on sales of personal computers.
Alphabet’s shares jumped 10.5 percent to a record high of $752.50 in early trading, adding about $50 billion to its market value. This gave Alphabet a market cap of about $522.5 billion, cementing its position as the second-most valuable stock after Apple, which is worth about $660 billion.
Microsoft’s shares jumped 11.6 percent to $53.61 – their highest in 15 years – while Amazon surged as much as 10 percent to $619.45, also a record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index .IXIC was up about 1.8 percent.
“I think what you’re seeing is these companies finally able to address the primary challenges that have been facing the businesses,” said James Cakmak, an analyst at brokerage Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co in New York.
“For Amazon it’s margin, for Alphabet it’s mobile, for Microsoft it’s the cloud or diversifying away from its legacy businesses.”
The better-than-expected results are a bright spot for the market following a period of intense volatility over worries about China and the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike.
Before the start of the third-quarter reporting season, corporate earnings had been expected to fall by 4.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The three companies’ results show that a key part of the U.S. economy continues to function well even as the global economy slows, said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of investment advisory firm Sarhan Capital in New York.
“The technology sector, specifically the Internet sector, remains bright,” he said.
Cloud computing remains the priority for Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft as large enterprises shift to Internet-based services to host and manage their data.
“I think the combination of Amazon, Microsoft and Google, as the technology leaders of the world, each showing accelerating growth in their Internet-related businesses, represents a very powerful statement,” said Frederick Moran, an analyst at brokerage Burke and Quick Partners in Uniondale, New York.
For Amazon, cloud computing is its fastest growing business and the company said on Thursday it was investing in new services such as Internet of Things to capitalize on rising demand to store and manage large amounts of data.
While selling cloud storage space to enterprises remains a miniscule part of Alphabet’s revenue, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Thursday that it was a growing priority.
“Every businesses in the world is going to run on cloud eventually. So, we view it as an amazing opportunity,” he said.
At least 30 of 50 analysts covering Alphabet raised their price targets – Bernstein to $950.
At least 11 of 34 Microsoft analysts raised theirs. BofA Merrill Lynch was the most bullish with a target of $63.
Of 42 analysts covering Amazon, at least 20 raised their targets. Piper Jaffray and JP Morgan were the most bullish with price targets of $800.

Western Digital in advanced talks to acquire SanDisk

Hard disk drive maker Western Digital Corp is in advanced talks to acquire memory chipmaker SanDisk Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Monday, as a frenzy of dealmaking in the semiconductor sector continued.
Western Digital has so far prevailed over other suitors for SanDisk, which has a market capitalization of $14.6 billion, the people said. The negotiations are ongoing and a deal is not certain, the people added.
Bloomberg News, which reported on the advanced talks earlier on Monday, said the two companies could reach a deal as soon as this week.
Western Digital declined to comment. SanDisk did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Demand for cheaper chips and new products, as well a driver from technology companies to consolidate suppliers, has led to record levels of dealmaking in the semiconductor sector this year.
Any deal with SanDisk will require a sign off from Toshiba. SanDisk uses Toshiba’s foundries to make its chips and the two have an important intellectual property-sharing joint venture.
Analysts have said Toshiba is more likely to accept Western Digital as a buyer for SanDisk than Micron, a rival memory chip maker.
Western Digital, which has a market capital of about $22 billion, is also expected to receive a $4-billion cash infusion from China’s state-backed Tsinghua Holdings if the deal passes regulatory scrutiny in the United States.
SanDisk, which is scheduled to report quarterly results on Wednesday, has grappled with falling prices in the flash memory market and lean inventory levels.

Facebook's real-time news app is reportedly called Notify

The social networking giant Facebook is reportedly working on a breaking news app called “Notify”, and is ready to launch it by October end, according to a media report. The app will reportedly allow users to aggregate their favorite content into real-time notifications.
Partnering publications will have the ability to create specific notifications for the mobile platform on behalf of Facebook, like a mega-tweet. Then users will be directed to the publication’s website via the notification.
Facebook seeks to expand its functionalities to something much more than just a social network – the most popular one in the world if it makes any difference.
The app will allow users to subscribe to certain organisations dubbed as stations and they will then receive notifications during the day, every time one of the stations they have subscribed to promotes a new story. That will obviously give a big boost on Facebook’s presence as a multi-functioning platform, rather than just a simple social network.
According to statistics, nearly no media networks and companies have managed to establish a well designed smartphone app that its readers – or most of them – actually use; at least not near the capacity of Facebook. This gives the company the advantage that it is very likely that users will read more articles through Facebook media networks with strong app presences, such as BuzzFeed and the New York Times, which may consider working with Notify to direct the firehose of social media users in the right direction.
Besides all the above, Notify will also be a challenge for Facebook’s rival social network, Twitter, which also launched a new feature last week called Moments, that lets Twitter curate tweets into different categories, such as news and sports. So media companies will also have a chance to create their own moments and fill the feature with their content which will ultimately attract more readers and hence users as well.

Yahoo aims to phase out passwords with new service

Yahoo’s next step in password security is to eliminate them altogether.
Starting on Thursday, the company announced, users of the Yahoo Mail app on both iOS and Android will have access to a new service called Yahoo Account Key, which uses smartphones to verify identities in lieu of traditional passwords.
Here’s how it works: When users who sign up for Account Key try to access Yahoo Mail, they will no longer need to enter their password. Instead, the Account Key service will send a message to the smartphone connected to the account.
With a tap on yes or no, users can indicate it is a legitimate attempt to get into the account or deny unauthorized access. If their smartphone is lost or stolen, users can verify identities through an email or a text message sent to alternative accounts and numbers.
Dylan Casey, vice president of product management, said Account Key is more secure than traditional passwords because it prohibits anyone from signing in to access an account without the verification that Account Key provides.
Satnam Narang, a security manager with Symantec, called the approach “a step above a password” but said it still falls short of the golden standard of what’s known as two-factor authentication, which requires users to confirm their identify with two different pieces of information.
He also expressed doubts that most users will let passwords die easily and encouraged widespread adoption of password management tools until a new verification method replaces them for good.
“I think passwords are going to be around for a little while, I don’t think they’re going away as soon as we’d like them to. They’re so ingrained in everything we do from banking to email to shopping, you name it,” Narang said.
In addition to Account Key verification, Yahoo executives announced a revamped version of Yahoo Mail that allows users to connect with, manage and search Outlook, Hotmail and AOL email accounts while signed in to their Yahoo account.
The new Mail also connects to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to add photos and create “contact cards” with email, telephone and social media information for contacts.

WhatsApp now lets you backup conversations, photos and videos to Google Drive

We had earlier reported about how WhatsApp has been testing its new update to the Android app which will let you backup your WhatsApp conversations to Google Drive.
Scott Johnston, Director of Product Management has now officially announced the feature. In a blog post he wrote, “Starting today, WhatsApp for Android lets you create a private backup of your chat history, voice messages, photos, and videos in Google Drive. And once you do, you can restore everything on a new device with just a couple taps.
“The new backup feature is rolling out over the next few months, so keep an eye on your WhatsApp settings to see if it’s available,” he further added.
A previous report revealed how the feature will come with the latest update with version number 2.12.45 for Android. This version could be downloaded from the company’s official website.
With the new update, you will need to select the option to take a backup to Google Drive in the chat ‘Settings’ tab. You will naturally have to connect your Gmail account associated with Drive to the WhatsApp account.
WhatsApp already has the offline conversation backup feature but with the online conversation backup, your WhatsApp chats will show up in Google Drive whenever you take a backup while being connected. This will make backing up comparatively speedier.
Backing up conversations has been an oft-requested feature on WhatsApp.
Recently, WhatsApp also released the Material Design for Android smartphones. It is currently available only as an APK file. The new Material Design overhaul brings a refined look. Though the general layout is same, it now has a refreshing colour scheme – a deep green title bar that blends seamlessly into the three tabs for calls, chats and contacts. The chat window comes with new buttons to record voice messages, and also made available in attachment option pop-up.
During group chats, you will find a cleaner layout and a larger cover image. You will also find some cosmetic changes made to the media selection screen.
Recently the company CEO Jan Koum also announced on his Facebook page that WhatsApp has reached 800 million monthly active users.

Google rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for Nexus

Google has announced that it has started rolling out the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Nexus users. The Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will get an over the air (OTA) software update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The newly launched Nexus 5X and 6P along with the upcoming Google Pixel C tablet will ship with Android 6.0, straight from the factory.
For Nexus users who wish to get the immediate update, images for the Nexus 6, 5, 9, player, and 7 (2013) are available for download at the Nexus system image page. The final build of 6.0 is called “MRA58K.” The build has no major differences from the Android M Developer Preview #3 that has been out almost for a month and a half and, it’s just bugfixes.
For those who can wait, the over-the-air update for Nexus will arrive any day now. After the Android 6.0 file is downloade, owners will receive a notification with steps to walk through the installation process.
Google also stated that for those who take their devices to work and wish to learn more about security and other work features in Android Marshmallow can register  for the Android for Work Live online event on November 4.

Apple acquires Perceptio, a startup developing AI technology for smartphones

Apple has reportedly acquired Perceptio, a startup developing technology to allow companies to run artificial intelligence systems on smartphones. As of now, no financial details of the deal have been disclosed.
Colin Johnson, a company spokesman stated, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Perceptio leaders Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone are said to be both established AI researchers who specialise in developing image-recognition systems using deep learning. According to the report, deep learning is an approach to artificial intelligence that lets computers learn to identify and classify sensory input.
The company’s goal is to develop techniques to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones without having the need to draw our large sums of data. In the past, Perceptio had also released an app called Smoothie, using their AI skills and some advanced software algorithms.
Last week, Apple confirmed that it had acquired a UK-based startup called VocalIQ. The company had developed a voice assistant that it claimed was superior Siri. Both these acquisitions seem to be headed in a direction where in it can give competition to Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now.

Twitter rolls out new feature called Highlights on Android

Micro-blogging website Twitter has said it was launching a new feature called Highlights on the Android platform.
The new feature, which will support over 35 languages, will enable users to see a summary of Twitter activities based on their earlier set preferences and relevance in turn saving time and effort to go through the whole timeline or jump from one page to the other.
“While your home timeline is a great place to browse and engage with Tweets, we know it can be challenging to find the time to get through everything you’d like to see. No matter how much time you spend with Twitter, we want you to get the most out of using it,” Volodymyr Zhabiuk, senior software engineer at Twitter, wrote in a blog post.
“To create your Highlights, we look at things like the accounts and conversations that are popular among people you follow, tweets from people you’re closely tied to, topics and events that are trending in your area or within your network, and people that are popular or trending among people you follow,” he explained.
The users will get a notification as soon as the Highlights are ready via phone.
“We’re rolling out this experience on Android first and will consider bringing Highlights to other platforms in the future,” Zhabiuk added.