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News and Trends

New features and tools are rolling out over the next year.

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February 18, 2021 3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Google Classroom continues to cater to at-home schooling needs with a series of updates, including better student controls and a simplified workflow for teachers.

When Classroom launched six years ago in an effort to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students, it didn’t expect to become the bedrock of education during a global pandemic. Alas, Covid-19 has forced many to adapt to unexpected challenges, and Google is no exception.

“We’ll continue to put the people who use our products first and listen to your feedback to address your top priorities,” program manager Melanie Lazare wrote in a blog announcement. “And we’ll always make sure Classroom retains the simplicity and ease-of-use that’s made it so helpful to teachers, students, and school leaders around the world.”

Classroom integration

Starting later this year, teachers using Google Workplace for Education Plus or Teaching and Learning Upgrade can use their favorite EdTech tools and content directly inside Classroom — no extra logins required. Simply choose from the content directory and send assignments to students without leaving the virtual school room.

Educators can also expect options to set up classes in advance with Student Information System (SIS) roster syncing and streamline grade entry, as well as gain deeper insights into audit and activity logs.

Hybrid learning

School can be difficult enough when the teacher is standing directly in front of you. Introduce unreliable Zoom meetings, at-home distractions and social isolation, and kids can easily start falling behind. Google wants to help by launching student engagement tracking, allowing educators to see relevant stats like who submitted an assignment or commented on a post on a particular day. It’s also updating the Android app to work offline or with intermittent connections.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of images uploaded to Classroom — especially from students taking photos of paper assignments,” Lazare said. “We’re making it easier to attach and submit photos in the Classroom Android app and for teachers to review. Students will be able to combine photos into a single document, crop or rotate images and adjust lighting.”

Related: Google’s Big Move to Disrupt and Upend Higher Education

Simplified workflow

Keep an eye out for Android improvements, including the ability to switch between student submissions, grade while viewing an assignment and share feedback. iOS and web users will also soon be able to customize assignments and posts using rich text formatting — bold, italics, underline, bullets, etc.

Originality reports, meanwhile, will be available in 15 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Finnish, German, Korean, Danish, Malay, Hindi), making it easier for instructors to detect potential plagiarism.

“Many of these features were based on your feedback,” according to Lazare. “We hope these features improve your experience as they become available.”

Subscribe to the Workspace Updates blog for more info on upcoming additions.

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The 15-year-old wunderkind was interviewed by Angelina Jolie about her efforts to combat everything from contaminated water to cyberbullying.

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December 3, 2020 2 min read

One year ago, Time magazine anointed then-16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg its “Person of the Year.” Twelve months later, the publication has doubled down on elevating accomplished youths by partnering with its sister platform, Time for Kids, and Nickelodeon to designate its first-ever Kid of the Year.

The honor goes to 15-year-old scientist and inventor (what have you done lately?) Gitanjali Rao, who aims to harness tech and innovation to confront crises including contaminated drinking water, opiod addiction, cyberbullying and persistent gender and racial inequality. In fact, she’s been actively applying her skills toward those goals since pre-adolescence, having won 3M and Discovery Education’s Young Scientist Challenge when she was just 11. 

Related: This 17-Year-Old Recovered From Coronavirus, and Then Started COVID Candies to Help Fight It

Actress/activist Angelina Jolie snagged the cover byline, interviewing Rao about her preternatural accomplishments and lofty ambitions. As Rao tells Jolie, “Our generation is facing so many problems that we’ve never seen before. But then at the same time we’re facing old problems that still exist. Like, we’re sitting here in the middle of a new global pandemic, and we’re also like still facing human-rights issues. There are problems that we did not create but that we now have to solve.” 

As Rao, Thunberg and the rest of their teenage cohort continue to demonstrate, they might just be the ones to do it.

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The virtual assistant is now capable of predicting what your goals are.

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November 12, 2020 3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Christmas has come early for Amazon Alexa users. The virtual assistant’s latest update means it can better predict customers’ goals and help make remote caregiving easier.

Ideally, interacting with Alexa would be “as natural as interacting with another human being,” according to Amazon, which previously integrated sophisticated conversational experiences into the AI.

Predicting Goals

Well on its way to reaching the Holy Grail, Amazon this week introduced a skill that lets Alexa infer customers “latent goals” — requests you didn’t even know you wanted to make.

For instance, ask how long it takes to steep tea, and the latent goal could be setting a timer for steeping a cup of tea. Alexa might suggest, “Five minutes is a good place to start,” then follow up by asking if you want to set a five-minute timer.

“Transitions like this appear simple,” Amazon AI scientists Anjishnu Kumar and Anand Rathi wrote in a blog post. “But under the hood a number of sophisticated algorithms are running to detect latent goals, formulate them into actions that frequently span different skills and surface them to customers in a way that doesn’t feel disruptive.”

Obviously, not all conversations come with a latent goal; asking Alexa for “recipes for chicken” does not require a follow up to play chicken sounds (as one initial prototype incorrectly assumed). That responsibility is left up to a deep learning-based trigger model, which factors in various aspects of dialogue context, including whether the user has engaged with multi-skill suggestions in the past.

The function — currently available in English in the U.S. — improves with use; regularly ask about the daily weather forecast, and Alexa could one day automatically offer advice about an umbrella or sunscreen.

Related: Everything You Can Do With Amazon Alexa

When you live alone, plants and smart assistants are often your closest companions, especially during a pandemic that’s forcing families to support aging loved ones from afar. Which is why Amazon launched Care Hub: a set of features designed to simplify remote caregiving.

Your family member or friend will need an Echo or Alexa-enabled device; you can connect via the Alexa mobile app to access alerts, activity feed, and two-way calling. Security measures limit what folks can see, so while you may notice your parents used Alexa for entertainment, you won’t know what song or podcast they listened to, or what command they used.

Perhaps most importantly, Care Hub also serves as an emergency contact solution. In a crisis, simply say, “Alexa, call for help,” and the device will call, text, or send a push notification to the designated confidant.

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November 11, 2020 7 min read

Dry- manufacturers have been sounding the alarm for months that demand for cold storage of eventual Covid-19 vaccine samples is going to far outpace supply. So when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced this week that the vaccine candidate it developed with German firm BioNTech is demonstrating 90% efficacy rates in late-stage trials, Buddy Collen found himself in a conundrum. 

Collen is Executive Vice President of Midland, Texas-headquartered Reliant Dry Ice Pacific, a nearly half-century-old supplier of trapped-and-frozen CO2 (dry ice) to food-processing giants like Tyson and Smithfield, along with clients in sectors ranging from biotech to oilfeld markets. 

The 42-year-old industry veteran, who’s based out of Reliant’s Amarillo office, wasn’t surprised to receive my call. The phone’s been ringing plenty of late, including what Collen calls “precursory” outreach from the federal government, as well as concerted inquiries from various state health departments. It could be a blessing in disguise for Reliant, but as Collen tells it, the company can’t exactly sideline its stalwart clientele, nor can it manifest more natural or ethanol-derived CO2 from thin air. 

I spoke with Collen for more insight into what news like Pfizer’s breakthrough means for businesses up and down the supply chain, what the government’s role should be and whether all this will translate to a widely innoculated American population any time soon.

Related: Pfizer Says Its Covid-19 Vaccine Is 90% Effective

Firstly, how pressing is the nation’s reported dry-ice shortage?

They’ve made mention of it on various news channels, but I don’t know if anybody’s seeing it as being a serious issue, and it is a very complicated issue. We’ve had internal meetings trying to figure out, “Who are we going to be when this time comes?” Because there’s a moral obligation we have, but we have contractual commitments to our current customers. They expect to receive dry ice to run their operations, and so really, we’ve decided that for anything more than what we have on an as-available basis, we’re going to wait for the government to step in and tell us, “You will allocate product for this instead of your contractual customers.” That way it lets us off the hook.

Are you referring to the Defense Production Act?

Well, between 40 to 50 percent of all the CO2 manufactured in the United States of merchant quality comes from hydrocarbon. Without people consuming , those sources dry up. And so refineries began to shut down, ethanol plants shut down. There was no place to go with ethanol to blend it into gasoline, because all the refineries were full. California is probably the best example. There are six refineries that host CO2 plants, and at one time, only one of them was running. So, all the available product coming in from the east — and when I say east, I really mean the midwest — was supporting the west, and then the east started having the same issues. It’s gotten a little bit better. We’ve been having enough trouble supplying our own customers, and most of that product is coming from alternate plants. So, we’re getting all these calls from health departments throughout the states, and it’s a sizeable quantity of dry ice. It beats me. I’m not sure how this is going to come about. We have some abilities, but Pfizer is just one step, and we’re going to choke, probably, in supplying that quantity, because we don’t have the product. And I don’t know that our competition is in as good a shape as we are. There are going to be some trials here. It’s going to be difficult.

Have you talked at all with your competitors to take their temperature on all this?

No, not really. We hear things and wonder how much of that is true. I know that hearsay is my competitor up in the north has signed a deal for commitments on shipping from Pfizer’s plant. [Editor’s note: Collen later confirmed he was referring to Matheson Tri-Gas in Irving, Texas. We have reached out to a representative from Matheson for comment, but have to receive a response.] But that’s just to get it out to the various locations where it’s going to be utilized. For instance, it will go to a hospital system in Miami, and from there it’s goning to be distributed out, and all this has to be done at -70 degrees, and so the element for failure is pretty high. What I’ve seen so far in the health departments’ requests … I’m not sure they’re really understanding how they’re going to do this. They’re looking at shipping out to their substations a certain quantity, and that’s what their inquiries have been. But once it gets there, it still has to be maintained at that temperature. So, the hospitals are saying, “We’re just going to fit it in all the ultra-[low] freezers” in those facilities, and if you look at the United States, there are maybe 10 ultra-[low] freezers in .

Are you worried that enterprising manufacturers in other sectors may pivot to making dry ice, a la the way distillers started producing hand sanitizer?

Yeah, definitely, and I think some of that’s going on. But, it still comes back to the fact that the base product for dry ice is liquid carbon dioxide. That’s where the shortage is. It’s not in the capacity of dry-ice machinery.

I appreciate that your existing customers come first and there’s a shortage of natural materials, but have their nevertheless been internal discussions about how you could see a way to ramp up production?

We do have some plants running that aren’t based on hydrocarbon. What’s been our success is that we’re tied to several naturally occuring CO2 deposits. So, that’s like natural gas under the ground, only it’s pure CO2. That’s been what’s gotten us by, and where it didn’t used to go, it’s now going.

Have your existing clients been reaching out in a panic?

No, they haven’t shown any concern. I don’t think they realize.

Have any other pandemic-related trends driven new demand in the industry?

The door-to-door ecommerce business has boomed, so when people were on lockdown, they were ordering food via the internet, and those all use dry ice for shipping. So, that business has gone through the roof and also put pressure on the supply side. 

Related: NY Stock Market Soars Because Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 90% Efficacy

I know the federal government casually poked around, but just to clarify, Pfizer has not?

Pfizer has not, nor have we contacted them. We’re hiding from them. [Laughs]

This reminds me of when I asked a pair of Covid-testing facilitators in Utah about their forecast for successful, widespread vaccine distribution, but can I basically pose the same question to you?

For this first shipping time for Pfizer in December, I woud say the shipping would be waiting on the production of dry ice. Really, what I hope out of this is that — and I never thought I’d ever say this — the government steps in and tells we have to. I feel like we have a moral obligation to make it happen, but following that links us to a lot of trouble. If the government helps us, it takes the weight off our shoulders.

Related: NY Stock Market Soars Because Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 90% Efficacy

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October 30, 2020 6 min read

Hudson Hale is, by his own account, young and “really healthy.” But when he contracted Covid-19 in early September, it still took a toll. “I lost my taste for about a week and a half,” the 17-year-old Portland, Oregon high schooler and COVID Candies creator recounts during a Zoom call. Behind him, Hale’s laboratory-like basement workspace is bedecked with design sketches, a framed New Yorker cover and copious notes scribbled in neon green on a translucent dry-erase board. “And I was super nauseous throughout, and I had kind of a mild headache, always kind of in the back of my head.” 

He wasn’t alone in the Hale household. His mother, who experienced similar symptoms, also fell ill with the virus, as did his little sister. His father, who isolated from the family, was the only one spared. 

But the ordeal got Hale’s gears turning. He is, by his own admission, “naturally someone who’s happier when I’m busy,” adding, “I can’t really stand it when I’m occupied in my own mind and slacking off.” He gets that from his folks — mom owns a restaurant chain and dad runs a house-building company — but also admires iconic innovators like (in his crisp black hoodie, Hale calls to mind a hybrid of Jobs and ). And he knew he couldn’t sit idle after being fortunate enough to recover to full health.

“I was actually sitting right here in my workspace,” he explains, surveying his constructively cluttered environs. “And I was thinking it really sucks that I had Covid and was sick, and I really want to be able to help other people.” The problem, he realized, was figuring out exactly how to contribute. “I didn’t really have any ,” he recalls. “I already volunteered my time for this other organization — I had a bunch of 3-D printers, so I printed some face shields for people on the front line. But I felt like there was something more I could do.”

So Hale started brainstroming catchy branding ideas around Covid that didn’t seem insensitive or crass. He was drawn to something alliterative, landing on the hard-“c” synchronicity of COVID Candies. (While Hale’s product spells out “COVID” in all capitals, it is Entrepreneur style to just capitalize the “C.”) Initially, he thought, “It sounds kind of stupid. I mean, they juxtapose each other. No one wants to eat food with ‘COVID’ written on it.” 

Image Credit: Hudson Hale

Nevertheless, he determined, “I’m young. I have nothing to lose, so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll create a brand.'”

Related: These 13-Year-Old Board Game Creators Can Teach All Entrepreneurs a Thing or Two

Inspired by curiously coronavirus-shaped Japanese sugar candy kompeitō, Hale began working up illustrations for packaging and the confection itself. Again acknowledging his inexperience as a virtue, he concedes that “the fact that I was a little naive definitely allowed me to just kind of dive head-first and make mistakes and try to figure things out.” 

One of the things Hale immediately realized was he couldn’t do it alone. Surprisingly, he didn’t lean on his entrepreneurial parents for guidance. Instead, he recruited his friend, 18-year-old Ryan Westcott, whom Hale describes as “kind of like the Steve Wozniak” to his Jobs-like ideator. Of Westcott, Hale says, “He’s like the technical person who is able to kinda like make everything work and make sure that my ideas don’t crumble.”

Westcott created a website with the capacity to accept most quick-click virtual payments, in addition to helping streamline the intake and shipping processes. All of which was crucial given Hale’s aim to donate 100 percent of proceeds from the $12-a-pack snack to Covid-related and response. They are working specifically with three such organizations — he did not mention which — and Hale says that, thanks to Westcott’s site architecture, “The good part is when we have sales, we don’t actually stack all our money up and then donate it out after we’ve sold out. When someone places an order, their money money is donated directly to those organizations right after they purchase.”

Related: Why Did This 17-Year-Old Turn Down $8 Million for His Coronavirus-Tracking Website?

Thanks to word-of-mouth and some local media coverage, the site has been inundated with more orders than it can fulfill without occasional delays. (Hale is, after all, still juggling his studies amid an unprecedentedly volatile school year.) For Hale, it’s basically real-time proof of concept that he can intuit a market need and fulfill it. Or in his own words, “It’s kind of what we call a smoke test, like when you’re trying to like release ads into a platform. This is trying to create it and just learning a whole lot of information on how into actually do something like this and scale it up.”

To have done so in support of a charitable product that could have easily alienated customers on sight will certainly give Hale some leverage if and when he pursues outside funding for his next endeavor. And like most 17-year-olds, he’s already mulling how to modify gene-editing tech to mitigate the spread and severity of chronic and fatal diseases.

“One of our really close family friends was just diagnosed with a rare blood cancer,” he says, “and I hope that develops in a way that we’re able to create and  to really help people elevate the quality of their lives. I don’t think anyone should have to go through Parkinson’s or a blood cancer or anything that can completely alter the quality of their life in a way that their one focus is just survival. Then humanity can flourish even more than it already has, and so many more people can help create and discover.”

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Chat with friends, gets the latest new, and use it to remotely download games to your PS4 or PS5.

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October 29, 2020 2 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Sony has been carrying out some house cleaning ahead of the launch of the PlayStation 5 next month. The PlayStation Store has been revamped, and access to games pre-PS4 limited. We’ve also been introduced to the redesigned user interface used on the PS5, and now we’ve got a brand new PlayStation mobile app to play with.

As the PlayStation.Blog explains, Sony redesigned the PlayStation App with a focus on the PS4 and PS5. It will be available globally on iOS 12.2 or later and Android 6.0 or later mobile devices and is promising to offer a much smoother experience than what has come before. To use it, you’ll need your PlayStation Network login details.

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When redesigning the app, Sony placed the focus on the games you are currently playing, but also on what your friends are doing and allowing easy interaction with them. PS Messages is no longer available as an app because Sony integrated the messaging system into the new PS App instead. It means all communication happens in one place and you can now voice chat with up to 15 friends from the app.

Related: PlayStation 4 Sales Hit 100 Million Mark

Alongside a better experience with friends, Sony integrated the native PlayStation Store experience. It’s therefore possible to download games remotely to either your PS4 or PS5, and that includes DLC packs for games already installed. For the PS5 specifically, it will be possible to launch games remotely and manage the console’s storage from the app.

Finally, there’s an Explore tab available which will contain all the latest official news from developers as well as all the content from the PlayStation.Blog.

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4 min read

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

U.S. health officials offered a hopeful message on Wednesday: “We’re cautiously optimistic that vaccine will become available, although likely in limited quantities, before the end of 2020,” Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press briefing.

The U.S. might even have two coronavirus vaccines ready before the end of the calendar year, Butler added, since the phase-three trials from Moderna and Pfizer are currently neck-and-neck. Pfizer hopes to show that its vaccine is effective by the end of this month, while Moderna has said the most likely release date for its results will be in November. 

That would put the U.S. on track to start delivering shots before 2021.

“We expect that we would have, by the end of this year, enough vaccine that is FDA-authorized to be able to vaccinate all of the most vulnerable individuals,” Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said. “Then by the end of January, we expect we’d have enough to vaccinate all seniors, as well as our healthcare workers and first responders — and by the end of March to early April, enough vaccine for all Americans who would want to take a vaccine.”

Related: Covid-19 Vaccine Could Be Ready By the End of This Year: WHO

That’s a similar, albeit slightly speedier, timeline than the one put forward by Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientist for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine.

Slaoui told Business Insider this month that he expects there to be enough doses to immunize the most vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and people with significant comorbidities, by the end of January. By the end of March, he said, there should be enough vaccine to immunize frontline workers and first responders.

“Optimistically, I would hope by the summer we are substantially back to normal,” Slaoui said. “I would also hope that before the next flu season, we really have this virus under control.”

Barriers to a vaccine rollout

The U.S. is in the midst of its third surge in Covid-19 cases. All but five states have seen new daily cases climb over the past two weeks, according to data from John Hopkins University. The U.S. is now seeing a weekly average of nearly 60,000 new cases per day — a nearly 40 percent jump from the start of October.

“We’re seeing a distressing trend here in the United States with Covid-19 cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country,” Butler said.

Some experts predict this third surge of infections could be the largest yet. Though a few coronavirus treatments may be improving outcomes for some patients, their impact on overall mortality has been minimal so far.

A vaccine, however, could foster a level of herd immunity that makes it more difficult for the virus to spread. But any candidate will have to pass several checkpoints before it reaches the public.

An independent scientific board will monitor clinical trial data, then decide whether it’s promising enough to hand over to the Food and Drug Administration. From there, the FDA would have to determine that the vaccine is safe and at least 50 percent effective. But that means that even after a vaccine becomes available, Americans will likely have to continue wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings through the end of 2021.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN he would “settle” for a vaccine that’s 70 percent to 75 percent effective, though that’s of course still a far cry from 100 percent.

Related: Mexico Will Buy 34.4 Million Vaccine Doses From Pfizer

The U.S. is prepared to distribute doses as soon as a shot is approved for emergency use. Within 24 to 48 hours of that approval, people could start receiving injections. But if Pfizer or Moderna’s candidates aren’t deemed safe and effective, the U.S. will have to wait on the results from four other candidates, which could slow down the timeline.

“I wish we had a crystal ball so that we could look at it,” Butler said. “I wish I could say everything is going to go 100 percent according to plan, but we also know that we have to be ready for if it doesn’t.”

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Terrible timing has certainly contributed to a difficult start for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile-video platform, but maybe it isn’t just that.

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May 15, 2020 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I will come right out and say that I think Quibi is a confusing name. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain. Good names are usually only good in the rearview mirror. At the time they are created, they seem risky and sometimes dumb. Are Google and inherently good names, or do they have the benefit of a rosy rear view? Probably the latter. 

Terrible timing has certainly contributed to a difficult start for the Jeffrey Katzenberg-founded mobile-video platform, which launched earlier this spring. Still, maybe it isn’t just the timing. Maybe they made bad decisions. Maybe the product doesn’t fit. A name should be judged based on how well it matches the company’s criteria, not on public . Because, as mentioned, success shades how we perceive the company, not the strength of the name. Phil Rosenzweig calls this tendency to be biased by success The Halo Effect.

Related: Brad Flowers’s The Naming Book is available now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound.

A company that raises nearly $2 billion should plan for success. They certainly planned a naming strategy with that in mind. The criteria assumed rapid adoption in the U.S. and quick adoption abroad. Quibi is purpose-built for travel. It feels familiar in the UK with its close tie to the slangy quid. You can imagine the French embracing it as “Kee-bee,” similar to . It is at home in Arabic and Hindi. The alternating consonant/vowel, consonant/vowel construction is reminiscent of one of the most well-traveled brands, Coca-Cola. 

However, those positives aren’t positive in the current light. If the naming strategy assumes rapid usage in the U.S. and that doesn’t happen, the international flair puts up barriers to a skeptical stateside audience with more time on their hands than usual. The primary obstacle is unclear pronunciation.

We have all been in a bar and become interested in an exotic beer, only to order the IPA because we didn’t know how to pronounce the other one. Same with a dish in a restaurant or an author in a bookstore. People, in general, don’t like to look stupid, and few things make you feel as stupid as saying something incorrectly. 

There are a couple of ambiguous points in Quibi. I mispronounced it before I heard someone say it. Rhyme is one of the factors that improve memorability in a word; maybe I was trying to force it into the name. Also, the decision to end the name in “-i” rather than “-y” makes the word look more French. I found myself saying “Kee-bee” as I was reading to myself. It feels more snappy, more energetic and in-line with quick snippets of content.

The second hangup is with the tagline. Currently, it reads: “Quick bites. Big stories.” That leads you to think the name is a blend of the words quick and bite. But, as the reader, you quickly reconsider this because pronouncing it “Kwi-bye” doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t feel or look right, and you are left a little confused. If you combine quick and big, you get closer to the right pronunciation, but quick and big aren’t as meaningful as quick and bite.

I will admit to Googling the name to figure out its pronunciation. There were several videos, which probably isn’t a good sign. The name is intended to be pronounced like “Quimby” without the -m, which is the last point of confusion. With this pronunciation, you would expect the more standard English spelling of Quiby. 

Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company Completes Excavation of Las Vegas Tunnels

All is not lost, though. Defying expectations can be a good thing. The result is memorability. The more you have to think about the name, the more likely you will be to recall it. If Quibi can overcome launching in a pandemic by providing users with great content, and assuming it can move quickly abroad, then I think we will all be looking back in 10 years thinking: “Damn, Quibi is a really great name.” If not, I am afraid it will end up with the Nova in the dustbin of misunderstood and misremembered names that we don’t like because the product didn’t live up to our expectations.  

 

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For an early in-hand look at the new iPhones, you’ll have to check this ‘Good Morning America’ segment.

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October 15, 2020 1 min read

This story originally appeared on Engadget

Now that Apple has announced its new iPhones, people are of course eager to see what they look like in real life. Unfortunately our current conditions kept reporters away from the event, and mean it will take a little longer for most of us to get first hand impressions of the new devices. However, 9to5Mac points out that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro made their debut in studio on Good Morning America where ABC News’ Becky Worley showed off the devices.

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Related: Which New iPhone Is Right for You? All 4 of Apple’s iPhone 12 Models Compared

In the clip you can get a better idea of how the new phones look in use, as well as how it looks when the new MagSafe chargers stick to them. Sure, you’ve seen the trailers and rendered press photos, but until we get some hands-on time with the iPhone 12 lineup, this is your best bet at seeing how some of the new colors will really look.

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The follow-up to June’s voice tweets.

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September 24, 2020 2 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Three months after releasing voice tweets for iOS, Twitter is experimenting with audio direct messages. In a statement to The Verge, DM product manager Alex Ackerman-Greenberg revealed that the social network will be testing the feature “soon” — starting in Brazil.

“We know people want more options for how they express themselves in conversations on Twitter — both publicly and privately,” he said in a 20-second voice message. The no-frills interface includes a play/pause button, “in-line recording experience,” and the ability to report messages, if necessary. 

Twitter in June introduced “voice tweeting”: the option to attach audio clips to posts. The idea, according to a summer blog post, is to “add a more human touch” to the platform. Start by typing a few links of text explaining your voice track, then press the “wavelength” icon at the bottom of the screen to record. Each clip captures up to 140 seconds of audio, but you can just keep talking to automatically create a thread.

The function, criticized for a lack of accessibility — particularly among the visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing — was later updated to make voice tweets more easily identifiable on the timeline, among other fixes.

That shouldn’t be an issue this time around: Twitter now has a “full-time accessibility team within product development,” design chief Dantley Davis told The Verge. “We also changed our product development process, so that accessibility is always considered during even the conceptualization of features.”

Related: Google, Twitter Take Further Steps to Curb Election Misinformation

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the news to PCMag, writing in an emailed statement that “there’s a lot that can be left unsaid or uninterpreted using text, so we hope voice features on Twitter will create a more human experience for listeners and storytellers alike.” Other social networks — including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp — already allow users to send voice DMs.

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