Google and Walmart announced partnership

Google and Walmart announce partnership to offer voice shopping through Assistant on Google Home; Google drops $95/year fee for Google Express

Google: Shopping isn't always as easy as it should be. When was the last time you needed to pick up something from the store but didn’t have the time to make the trip? Or you went to the store only to realize they didn’t have the brand you wanted? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get what you want, however you want, from the stores where you already shop? We launched Google Express and shopping on the Google Assistant to do just that: make it faster and easier for you to shop your stores like Costco, Target and now Walmart.

Welcome Walmart

We’re entering an exciting partnership with Walmart to bring you hundreds of thousands of products at Walmart’s Every Day Low Prices—everything from laundry detergent to Legos—that you can buy through voice with your Assistant on Google Home or on the Google Express website or app.

If you’re an existing Walmart customer, you can choose to link your Walmart account to Google and receive personalized shopping results based on your online and in-store Walmart purchases. For example, if you order Tide PODS or Gatorade, your Google Assistant will let you know which size and type you previously ordered from Walmart, making it easy for you to buy the right product again.

Microsoft unveils Xbox One X limited edition and Xbox One S bundles

Microsoft kicks off Xbox One X pre-orders today with a limited ‘Project Scorpio’ edition

Microsoft Xbox: Today, during Xbox @ gamescom Live, we announced global pre-orders for Xbox One X starting today, with a limited edition, fan-inspired design of the world’s most powerful console that features a custom color and vertical stand and the words “Project Scorpio” printed on the console and Xbox Wireless Controller. Pre-orders are now open and available here. November 7 can’t come soon enough!

We also revealed more details about the most diverse line-up of games coming to the Xbox family of devices, highlighted by the news that over 100 new and existing Xbox One titles will be enhanced for Xbox One X to take advantage of the world’s most powerful console including Halo 5, NBA 2K18, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, ReCore: Definitive Edition, FIFA 18, Star Wars Battlefront II, Below and remastered versions of Disneyland Adventures, Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure and Zoo Tycoon. Head on over to Major Nelson for the full list of games planning enhancements for Xbox One X.

Regardless of what type of gamer you are, there has never been a better time to be Xbox fan.

Uber Pulse - Save money on your Uber rides

Tired of paying extra for your Uber ride, just because of a surge? Uber Pulse makes it easy to save money on your trip.

Choose the lowest surge 

The trick to paying less is knowing that most surges are very short. Waiting 10 minutes before you order can easily save you 200% on your ride!

Check surge at saved locations

Add your favorite places to the map to monitor surge at any time. Be prepared for Uber surge and save money on your daily ride.

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How Tech Can Help Your Small Business Achieve More

As a small business owner, you will understandably want your company to go as far as it can possibly go. That’s a perfectly natural way to feel. However, it really can’t be done nowadays without making use of technology and all it has to offer. You shouldn’t ignore this fact because if you do, there will be plenty of smaller and hungrier companies lining up behind you.

You can’t afford to lose any ground to those other companies, so you should start making the most of how technology can help small businesses achieve more. The first part of the process is learning about what all this means. And that’s what you can do right now by reading on.

You Can Save Time Every Day

Saving time is going to help your business get more done and push harder each day. That will improve productivity, and have a wide range of positive benefits for your company in the long-term. And it’s something that your business can make happen by making better use of technology. There are all kinds of software solutions to the little things that your business needs to get done all the time. For example, you can schedule tweets with software like Hootsuite. These things are so useful, and they make a real difference to how much time you can save.

Customers Can Get Answers Faster

When your customers have some kind of problem, they’re going to want to be able to find an answer to it as quickly as they possibly can. It’s something that has always been true. The main difference is that customers expect a reaction from the company sooner these days. They want answers, and they want them fast. It’s important not to just ignore this because your business will certainly suffer if you do. Luckily, having a virtual assistant plugin on your website will allow customers to find answers quicker. They can even chat to someone about questions they have using software provided by your company.

It Can Make Managing Employee Holidays and Absences Much Easier

Managing a team of people is a challenge at the best of times. When you have to deal with a range of holidays and absences, it can all get a little confusing. That’s because you need to make sure that shifts are covered and that you always have enough people to ensure that the work gets done. If you don’t have those assurances in place, it could be a disaster for the business. HR employee software allows you to manage all of those things easily. That makes a big difference, so make the most of it.

You Can Reach Out to the Right Customers and Sell to Them Anytime

These days, customers want to be able to buy from your business at a time that suits them. That’s why many big retailers now have their own mobile applications that customers can download and make use of for free. They can then browse them easily and buy at any time of the day or night. It’s often much easier for customers to do this than to use a mobile site. And apps allow your business to send out push notifications to people. You can then alert them to sales or prompt them towards purchases every so often.

Storage is So Much Less Cumbersome

Not long ago, companies that had to store documents and files were reliant on physical means of storage. And even just a couple of years ago, in-house servers and storage systems took up a lot of space in offices. These days, that’s not an issue at all. External storage facilities and cloud storage solutions mean that businesses don’t need to have any physical storage presence in their office at all if they don’t want to. That’s a huge deal, and it’s something that all kinds of businesses are now aiming to make use of.

Internal Communication is Fast, Meaning Business Operations Run More Efficiently

Communication is not something that simply occurs between your employees in the office and customers outside of it. It also needs to happen between the people inside your company. For example, you might want your team to be able to share documents between themselves. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to want. After all, businesses do need to have teams working with one another and staying in the loop. With services like those provided by Dropbox, it’s never been easier to share documents internally between an authorised group of people.

Automation is Changing Things in a Big Way

Automation might seem like something off in the distance, but it’s actually already having a direct impact on businesses and what they do. Some people worry that they could lead to job losses, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some forms of automation can just take care of the extra jobs that need to be done in the office. These are the kinds of things that are dull and repetitive but need to be done. And automating more manufacturing systems can improve safety and increase the rate of output as well. So, the benefits are potentially huge.

Remote Work and Communication Can Improve Productivity

These days, more and more people are deciding to work from home. After all, if all you use in the office is a computer, then there is no reason why you can’t do your work at home. This cuts down on the amount of space and the number of facilities needed in the office. And it can improve employee output because they won’t need to travel too and from work, and they will often be handed more control over their work schedules. Productivity can benefit from this greatly. And it’s also true that remote communication between clients and your business can help it massively.

As you can see, there are so many ways in which businesses can benefit from making use of technology. So, don’t be a technophobe. Instead, move with the times and reap the rewards. It’s what all the best businesses are doing.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Microsoft releases preview of updated Skype Desktop app

Microsoft launches preview of redesigned Skype desktop client, adds new features including @mentions, message reactions, media gallery, and enhanced group calls

Microsoft: Starting today, the next generation of Skype is available in preview on desktop computers. It’s not yet complete and we need your feedback. We’re committed to providing a Skype experience you love, enhancing the way you talk, text, and experience the world—all from the comfort of your desktop.

For Mac, Windows 10 November Update and lower, Windows 8, and Windows 7 users, Skype Preview delivers most of the great features of our next generation mobile experience but is specifically designed with desktop in mind, to take full advantage of the larger screen. Skype Preview puts chat front and center—making this the most expressive Skype ever. Group chats are livelier with new features that improve your connection with friends and family. You can also do more together in group calls, with real-time screen and photo sharing.

Facebook will penalize fake videos in latest news feed algorithm update

Facebook will limit the spread of stories in News Feed that feature either fake video play buttons or videos of only a static image

Facebook: As part of our ongoing efforts to fight clickbait and improve the integrity of information on Facebook, we are announcing today two updates that will limit the spread of stories in News Feed that feature either fake video play buttons embedded in their imagery or videos of only a static image.

People want to see accurate information on Facebook, and so do we. When people click on an image in their News Feed featuring a play button, they expect a video to start playing. Spammers often use fake play buttons to trick people into clicking links to low quality websites.

Six Steps to a More Efficient Small Business

The thoughts running through your head are of the next brilliant marketing move, or of the bills that are coming due. You're the secretary, HR department, cleaning service, and CEO all at the same time, and your work day doesn't end at 5 pm. Such is the life of a small business owner; it's not as glamorous as it sounds, is it?

The rewards of going into business for yourself are very high, but your success is determined largely by your focus and level of commitment. You never have to answer to a demanding boss, you don't have to deal with snarky co-workers, and you're probably working in an industry that you chose. That all comes at a price— the long hours, huge responsibility, and occasional moment of panic. Don't worry; all small business owners face these issues, and many have come out on top. Here are some easy tips to help run your business more efficiently.

  • Manage your time wisely. If you are a college graduate, you learned how to balance term paper writing, studying, and a social life. That's a good thing, because you'll need those time management skills to run your small business capably. To help, use office software or an email program that comes with a calendar (Outlook is a good example). You'll be able to follow up emails and phone calls, track appointments, and keep track of important dates.

  • If you're not proficient in something, then don't try to do it yourself. If your sanity, time and budget are already stretched thin, it's time to call in some help. From a virtual assistant to web fulfilment services, hiring help can free you from some of the logistical issues of running a small business, and allow you to focus on what matters.

  • Don't let opportunities pass you by. When you run a small business, you need a measure of marketing creativity. Use every moment as a way to sell what you have to offer. If you're writing an email, add a mention of your business to your signature. Going to the store? Tack up some flyers or business cards on the bulletin board. Every day grants you more opportunities to reach potential customers, and you should never underestimate the power of grassroots marketing efforts.

  • Don't get yourself down. It may be a tired cliché, but it's still true; the best way to be successful is to keep a positive attitude. It affects not only you, but those you work with and your customer base. No one likes working when they're upset or angry, but if you're really motivated, you'll foster that spark in yourself and those near you.

  • Keep track of your finances. Know exactly how much money comes into your business, and where it's going. Be diligent in keeping up with customer accounts, and collecting on any that carry balances. Don't forget to pay your creditors and vendors on time, and don't treat your petty cash as your own personal piggy bank.

  • Hold regular performance reviews. This will allow you to determine whether marketing efforts are a success, and to ensure that employees are completing their duties. Evaluating your business' performance every week will also allow you to ensure that invoices are paid on time, and that ​customer payments are processed properly. ​​​

  • While it can be time-consuming and exhausting to run a small business, you shouldn't neglect your mental and physical health. Using the tips we've given you will help you run your company more efficiently, but that doesn't mean you should run yourself ragged. Take care of yourself, manage your time and your finances, think positive, be creative and hire web fulfilment help when necessary― you'll reap the rewards in more ways than one.

    Author bio:
    Jon Platy works for a small business in the UK and knows the pains of growing. He manages and writes for the Principal Homebuyers blog and you can see some of his more recent articles here.

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    HMD Global debuts Nokia 8

    HMD Global debuts Nokia 8, a $705 Android device with 5.3" display, Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, 64GB of storage, Zeiss optics, available early September in Europe

    HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, today announced the Nokia 8, a high performance, beautifully crafted smartphone, designed with content creators in mind. The Nokia 8 brings three world-firsts to Android smartphones, including a debut collaboration with ZEISS optics. With performance and pure Android at its heart, as well as the most advanced aluminium unibody design to date, the Nokia 8 represents all the hallmarks of a true flagship Nokia smartphone.

    Be less Selfie, be more Bothie: The Nokia 8 introduces a world-first in enabling Dual-Sight video to be livestreamed natively and in real-time to social feeds such as Facebook and YouTube. Dual-Sight simultaneously harnesses both the front and rear cameras in a split screen visual for both photos and videos. With just one touch, this world-first livestream capability gives more immersive experiences for those who love to create and share special memories.

    Nokia 8 is also the first smartphone to feature Nokia OZO Audio, placing exclusive Hollywood technology in the palm of your hand. OZO spatial 360° audio brings a fully immersive audio experience to your 4K video. Leading-edge 360° audio capture ensures the playback lets you truly relive the moment so your memories never fade.

    4.6mm thin at the edge and just 7.3mm slim on average, Nokia 8’s seamless unibody is precision milled from a single block of 6000 series aluminium and its pure design has been refined through a 40-stage process of machining, anodizing and polishing. Select models feature a high-gloss mirror finish that has taken over 20 hours to complete to achieve a flawless look. The phone features Qualcomm’s powerful SnapdragonTM 835 Mobile Platform and paired with the pure, secure and up to date Android experience ensures outstanding performance.

    You can now make free phone calls with your Google Home

    Google to roll out voice calling feature to Google Home users in US and Canada soon, but it will lack caller ID except for Google Voice or Project Fi users

    Google: Hi, hello, hey, howdy … no matter how you start a call, your Google Assistant is ready to help! You can already ask your Assistant on your phone to make a call and soon, you'll be able to do the same on Google Home—hands-free—in the U.S. and Canada. Call anyone (at their home, on their mobile or at their office). It’s easy to use, and it’s free.

    Busy in the kitchen and in need of help? Just say “Hey Google, call Dad” to ask about that one ingredient you always seem to forget (salt? baking powder? who knows!). Because the Assistant on Google Home recognizes your voice, you’ll reach your dad instead of just any dad.

    In addition to Dad, you can also make free calls to your own personal contacts, as well as millions of businesses across U.S. and Canada.* Calling the bakery on 24th Street, ordering flowers from the nearest florist, and wishing grandma a happy birthday are now as easy as “Hey Google.” We’re starting to roll out Hands-Free Calling on Google Home today to users in the U.S. and Canada. To get started, say “Hey Google, call...” and calls will be made over your Wi-Fi connection.

    The recipient will see “Unknown” or “No Caller ID.” By the end of the year, we'll make it possible for your own mobile number to be displayed. However, if you’re a Google Voice or Project Fi user, you can already choose to have the person on the other end see your phone number by going to your Assistant settings accessible in the Google Home app.

    So go call your dad, grandma, the bakery, the local florist…whomever you’d like! It’s easier than ever.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    Qualcomm announces depth-sensing camera tech

    Qualcomm unveils new Spectra depth-sensing camera tech, expected to be part of the next flagship Snapdragon Mobile Platform

    Today Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM), through its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., announced an expansion to the Qualcomm Spectra™ Module Program, capable of improved biometric authentication and high-resolution depth sensing, designed to meet growing demands of photo and video for a broad range of mobile devices and head mounted displays (HMD). This module program is built on the cutting-edge technology behind the Qualcomm Spectra embedded image signal processors (ISP) family. Engineered by Qualcomm Technologies from the ground up, Qualcomm Spectra paves the way for future image quality and computer vision innovations in upcoming Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM Mobile Platforms.
    “Whether used for computational photography, video recording, or for computer vision applications that require accurate motion tracking, it’s clear that power efficient camera image signal processing has become more important for the next generation of mobile user experiences,” said Tim Leland, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. “Our breakthrough advancements in visual quality and computer vision, combined with our family of integrated Qualcomm Spectra ISPs for Snapdragon, are designed to support an ecosystem of cutting edge mobile applications for our customers.”

    Amazon will pay more developers who make popular Alexa skills

    Amazon expands cash rewards for high-performing Alexa apps beyond games to lifestyle, productivity, education apps, and more

    Amazon: We’re thrilled to announce today that developers can earn money for the most engaging Alexa skills across more skill categories. Each month, developers of eligible skills with the highest customer engagement in the US, UK, and Germany are paid by Amazon.

    In May, we began rewarding developers of top skills in the Games, Trivia & Accessories category. Now, we’re adding six more categories: Education & Reference, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Music & Audio, and Productivity.

    Developers can increase engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skills, making more skills, and making their skills available in more countries. Learn more.

     Read more

    Facebook News Feed gets UI tweaks like bubble-style comments

    Facebook redesigns news feed with larger link previews, circular profile photos

    Every person’s News Feed is different and populated with a unique set of stories — from photos and videos to GIFs and links. And with so many types of stories available, each feed is more complex than ever. In order to make News Feed more conversational and easier to read and navigate, we’ll be making a few updates to its design over the coming weeks.

    Better Conversations

    We’re always working to help people have more lively and expressive conversations on Facebook. More and more, comments have become the way to have conversations about a post with other people. We’ve updated our comment style and made it easier to see which comments are direct replies to another person.

    Instagram begins organizing comments into threads

    Instagram gets threaded comments

    Instagram: Today we’re making conversations about Instagram posts even easier by adding comment threads.

    Comment threads help you keep track of conversations and make it easy to respond to a specific thread. This update will make your feed an even better place to share interests, get inspired and connect with others.

    Now, when you hit reply underneath any comment, your response will automatically be grouped right underneath it in a thread.

    Amazon is launching Instant Pickup to fulfill orders in 2 minutes or less

    Amazon launches “Instant Pickup” points to fulfill pickup orders in minutes, now live near a few college campuses in the US 

    Amazon today introduced Instant Pickup, a free service offering Prime and Prime Student members a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md. Items available with Instant Pickup include snacks, drinks and electronics, as well as some of Amazon’s most popular devices.

    “Instant Pickup is another way Amazon is making life more convenient for Prime members,” said Ripley MacDonald, Director, Student Programs,Amazon. “As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster. Whether it’s a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time. While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”

    With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime Student members can use the Amazon App to shop hundreds of need-it-now items like food, cold drinks, personal care items, technology essentials and Amazon devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. Prime members can browse the selection, place an order, even add last-minute items to an online order and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less.

    Instant Pickup is available at five select pickup locations beginning today and will be available at more locations in the coming months. Amazonoperates a total of 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses across the country. All Amazon customers can ship their orders to a pickup location, and Prime members receive Free Same-Day and One-Day delivery on millions of items. Plus, returns are always free.

    For more information about Instant Pickup, visit or, if Instant Pickup is available at a location near you, tap the menu button at the top of the Amazon App, then look for Instant Pickup in Programs and Features.

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