Smart Screens for your home by Facebook

Facebook sets her bets big on hardware by announcing a pair of multipurpose smart screens called the Portal and Portal+.

These Facebook devices syncs with users’ Messenger accounts, and function as high-tech video monitors for video chatting with friends and family. Portal and Portal+ is also powered by AI, and smart sound technology so it could focus on whoever is talking, even across a room.

Just like Google Home or Amazon Echo responsive smart speakers, users can simply initiate a video call by saying, “Hey Portal”. Portal and Portal+ retails for $199 and $349 respectively – a rather high price tag for a company marred with privacy concerns.

Google+ Shuts Down

Over the next 10 months, Google is looking to shut down the consumer version of Google+. This is largely due to a bug in the API for Google+, discovered during the Project Strobe audit. The bug allowed third-party app developers to access data of not just users who had permitted it, but of their friends too. Data that was leaked included user’s name, email address, occupation, gender and age.

While this was discovered and patched in 2018, Google could not confirm which users were impacted by the bug.

Google also revealed that Google+ has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.

However, Google still plans to keep the Google+ alive for enterprise customers and new features will be rolled out for these users.

Microsoft announces plans for Xbox’s new game streaming service called Project xCloud

You will soon be able to experience console-quality gaming on your smartphones and tablets, wherever you are. Microsoft plans to begin public trials of this project in 2019, which aims to offer multiple control methods on mobile devices by pairing an Xbox wireless controller through Bluetooth.

Their goal for Project xCloud is to deliver an experience across all devices that is similar to what gamers expect on their PCs and consoles, so as to reach gamers who might not want to purchase a console. This does not mean that they are shifting focus from consoles as Microsoft still wants the Xbox console to be the ‘premier’ place to play games.