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Facebook wants you to message bots, an introduction to the HTC 10, Microsoft makes the Blue Screen of Death useful, Periscope lets you doodle on your live streams, and the Flyboard Air flies through the air.
Facebook Is All About the Bots
Facebook wants to populate Messenger with bots, and it wants you to spend your time talking to these bots. To that end, Facebook has launched a bot platform developers can use to create and employ bots within Messenger. This effort, called Bots for Messenger, follows hot on the heels of Microsoft announcing a similar move at Build 2016.
Bots for Messenger has already produced its first bots, which anyone using the latest version of Messenger can now try for themselves. These include Poncho the weather bot, a 1-800-Flowers bot, CNN and WSJ news bots, and an HP bot designed to help users accomplish tasks. Other companies, including Bank of America, eBay, Burger King, and Staples are also actively working on bots.
The problem, as discovered by anyone actually using these bots, is they’re not very good at what they do. Poncho the weather bot will tell you the weather “within an hour,” and others take several minutes to respond to requests. By which time you will have opened your Web browser and Googled whatever it is you’re looking for. And a lot more besides.
Still, Facebook Messenger’s bots are only 24 hours old, and like any newborn, they’re bound to be useless until they’re educated in the ways of the world. The only question that remains then is, “Does anyone actually want to spend their days talking to bots?” Facebook and Microsoft clearly both think so, but I remain about as skeptical of bots as I am of virtual reality.
A First Look at the HTC 10
HTC has launched its new flagship smartphone for 2016, simply called the HTC 10. While a new handset from HTC doesn’t get the same level of press attention as a new handset from Apple or Samsung, the HTC 10 is worth a serious look from anyone in the market for a new Android phone.
The HTC 10 sports a 5.2-inch screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, and 4 GB of RAM. It also features an all-metal body, a 12 MP rear camera, a fingerprint scanner, and 24-bit audio, and ships with Android Marshmallow.
All of this goodness doesn’t come cheap, and the HTC 10 is priced from $699.99. Still, if it ticks all of your various boxes when it comes to smartphones, it’s available to pre-order now, with shipping set to begin in May. By which time we may have reviewed it as we did with the HTC One M9 last year.
Microsoft Adds QR Codes to BSOD
Microsoft is experimenting with changes to the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), the dreaded sign that all is not as it should with your Windows PC. The BSOD appears when Windows encounters a serious error, and your PC restarts to try and fix the issue. Users are also given an error code and told to search for more information.
However, according to this Reddit thread, the latest build of Windows 10 adds a link to windows.com/stopcode, and a QR code which directs users to the same page. However, it’s safe to assume, as Neowin has, that, once this goes live for everyone, different QR codes will be used for different errors, aiding people in their search for more information.
Periscope Lets You Doodle on Live Video
Periscope will soon let you draw all over your live feeds. The feature has already made it into the beta version of Twitter’s video streaming app, and is expected to be made available to all Periscope users over the next few weeks.
You can use one of three preset colors, or use a dropper to choose one from your video. You can then draw objects, write words, or underline important elements while streaming live via your smartphone. The doodles only last a few seconds, but it’s possible more options in that regard will be added in time.
Periscope told TechRadar:
“We’re testing Sketching with a small group of people. This feature makes it fun and easy for broadcasters to draw on the screen while broadcasting. Coming in a few weeks for everyone!”
Is the Flyboard Air a True Hoverboard
And finally, the world is still waiting for the invention of a real-life hoverboard that works like the one Marty rides in Back to the Future II. Instead, we have had to put up with two-wheeled contraptions likely to explode at any moment, half-assed efforts designed to promote brands, and out-and-out fakes. Which is a source of continual disappointment.
Is the Flyboard Air featured in this video any different? Is that guy actually flying it? We remain skeptical, but this thing certainly looks the part. It’s not a McFly-style hoverboard, because it flies much higher into the sky thanks to a jet turbine engine. Unfortunately, this makes it a lot more dangerous to ride, so we’ll leave it to the professionals. Whether they’re faking it or not.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
What do you think of Facebook adding bots to Messenger? Will you be buying the HTC 10? When was the last time you saw a Blue Screen of Death in Windows? Will you be doodling on your Periscope videos? Do you believe the Flyboard Air is real? And therefore amazing?
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.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
Image Credit: Alessio Jacona via Flickr