Cortana Coming to Android & iOS, Facebook Clarifies Community Guidelines [Tech News Digest]
Cortana crosses platforms, Facebook’s community standards, Yahoo’s password pact, 360-degree YouTube videos, Family Feud on Google, and a 1980s montage of Boston Dynamics robots.
Microsoft Plans Cross-Platform Cortana
“Cortana, remind me I have a wife when I try to pick up that hooker.” #WindowsPhone
— Jon (@jonheheman) March 7, 2015
Microsoft is planning to release Cortana as a standalone app on Android and iOS. This is according to Reuters, quoting “people familiar with the project.” Microsoft is also said to be working on an advanced version of Cortana based on an artificial intelligence project codenamed Einstein.
The A.I. project at the heart of the future iteration of Cortana is based on Einstein’s “work on the relationship between space and time.” This therefore suggests the next-generation Cortana will be capable of tracking your life much more than the current personal assistant.
Microsoft is remaining tight-lipped about its plans to move Cortana beyond the Windows ecosystem. However, doing so makes a lot of sense for a company that, under the guidance of new CEO Satya Nadella, is looking to expand its influence. So, goodbye Google Now , and goodbye Siri , Cortana is on the march.
Facebook Reminds Us What’s Banned
Facebook has updated its Community Standards, clarifying the guidelines on what is and isn’t suitable to be posted on the social network. The idea is to add some clarity to what were previously vague guidelines about what individual users can and cannot share with the world via Facebook.
Contrary to reports by tabloid newspapers, the policies themselves have not actually changed, but the revised guidelines are intended to help users confused after they either have content removed, or have a request to remove content rejected. Sections discussed in more detail include bullying and harassment , attacks on public figures, and criminal activity.
Facebook also used the opportunity to publish details of requests received by governments around the world. There was a slight increase in the number of requests during the second half of 2014, from 34,946 to 35,051, with the countries responsible changing.
The social network promised to “continue to scrutinize each government request and push back when we find deficiencies.” It also promised to “continue to push governments around the world to reform their surveillance practices in a way that maintains the safety and security of their people while ensuring their rights and freedoms are protected.”
Yahoo Introduces Single-Use Passwords
March Madness = scrambling to figure out the passwords to the Yahoo and CBS accounts that I log onto once a year to fill out brackets
— pwnteam (@pwnteam) March 15, 2015
Yahoo has introduced on-demand passwords for U.S. users. This is an optional way of logging in, allowing you to forget your regular password and instead log in to your account with a single-use password sent to your phone on request.
On the face of it this seems like a good idea, offering a higher level of security than was previously available. However, the one obvious weak point is what happens if you lose your phone , as someone else could then request a single-use password and read your emails.
Watch 360-Degree Videos on YouTube
You can now watch 360-degree videos on YouTube, with or without a virtual reality headset. Those with a VR unit such as the Oculus Rift can simply turn their heads to look around the scene, while those without have to use the navigation dial in the top left-hand corner of the video.
There aren’t too many 360-degree videos to play with at the current time, but the one embedded above is one of the few available. According to The Verge, Google is hoping to use the technology to bring geotagged videos to Street View .
Google Feud Tests Your Knowledge
Thanks, everyone playing Google Feud! And by “thanks” I mean “Ahh!! You’re killing our servers!!” Doing our best to keep up…
— justin hook (@justinhook) March 12, 2015
Fans of Family Feud will love Google Feud, which takes the basic premise of the television show and adds Google’s search results to the mix. You’re presented with the first half of a search query and have to find the most likely autocomplete results .
Google Feud is a lot of fun to play. However, it’s also extremely difficult, and I defy anyone to get all 10 possible answers correct before striking out. The site has also struggled to cope with the influx of traffic in recent days, so patience is recommended.
Boston Dynamics’ 1980s Montage
And finally, one YouTube user has managed to make Boston Dynamics’ humanoid robots look more human than ever, and it’s all thanks to Push It To The Limit from Scarface. This track from the movie soundtrack has been placed over footage of PetMan and Atlas, and the results are stunning.
All of a sudden, and thanks purely to the rousing score, you find yourself willing PetMan and Atlas to succeed. This despite the increased likelihood of these two robots turning on their creators one day, thus becoming humanity’s new overlords. I personally blame Giorgio Moroder. [H/T CNET]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Will you switch to Cortana if and when it comes to iOS and Android? Do you like the idea of single-use passwords? What do you think of the Boston Dynamics robots?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Jon Fingas via Flickr
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