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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

New York City Flexes Again, Extending Cap on Uber and Lyft

Officials want to extend the city’s limit on the number of for-hire vehicles, and may consider a congestion charge.
Source: Wired

Black Hat cancels Rep. Will Hurd's headline speech after Twitter backlash – CNET

Opponents criticized Hurd’s record on women’s rights.
Source: CNET

Amazon quietly shuts down its shopping social network Spark – CNET

Spark appears to have vanished from Amazon.
Source: CNET

Gadget Lab Podcast: The Biggest News From E3

Peter Rubin joins the show this week to tell us about the major announcements made at the videogame industry’s big conference.
Source: Wired

Amazon Spark, the retailer’s two-year-old Instagram competitor, has shut down

Amazon’s two-year-old Instagram competitor, Amazon Spark, is no more.

Hoping to capitalize on the social shopping trend and tap into the power of online influencers, Amazon in 2017 launched its own take on Instagram with a shoppable feed of stories and photos aimed at Prime members. The experiment known as Amazon Spark has now come to an end. However, the learnings from Spark and Amazon’s discovery tool Interesting Finds are being blended into a new social-inspired product, #FoundItOnAmazon.

Amazon Spark had been a fairly bland service, if truth be told. Unlike on Instagram, where people follow their friend, interests, brands like they like, and people they find engaging or inspiring, Spark was focused on the shopping and the sale. While it tried to mock the Instagram aesthetic at times with fashion inspiration images or highly posed travel photos, it lacked Instagram’s broader appeal. Your friends weren’t there and there weren’t any Instagram Stories, for example. Everything felt too transactional.

Amazon declined to comment on the apparent shutdown of Spark, but the service is gone from the website and app.

The URL amazon.com/spark, meanwhile, redirects to the new #FoundItOnAmazon site — a site which also greatly resembles another Amazon product discovery tool, Interesting Finds.

Interesting Finds has been around since 2016, offering consumers a way to browse an almost Pinterest-like board of products across a number of categories. It features curated “shops” focused on niche themes, like a “Daily Carry” shop for toteable items, a “Mid Century” shop filled with furniture and décor, a shop for “Star Wars” fans, one for someone who loves the color pink, and so on. Interesting Finds later added a layer of personalization with the introduction of a My Mix shop filled with recommendations tailored to your interactions and likes.

The Interesting Finds site had a modern, clean look-and-feel that made it a more pleasurable way to browse Amazon’s products. Products photos appeared on white backgrounds while the clutter of a traditional product detail page was removed.

We understand from people familiar with the products that Interesting Finds is not shutting down as Spark has. But the new #FoundItOnAmazon site will take inspiration from what worked with Interesting Finds and Spark to turn it into a new shopping discovery tool.

Interesting Finds covers a wide range of categories, but #FoundItOnAmazon will focus more directly on fashion and home décor. Similar to Interesting Finds, you can heart to favorites items and revisit them later.

The #FoundItOnAmazon site is very new and isn’t currently appearing for all Amazon customers at this time. If you have it, the amazon.com/spark URL will take you there.

Though Amazon won’t talk about why its Instagram experiment is ending, it’s not too hard to make some guesses. Beyond its lack of originality and transactional nature, Instagram itself has grown into a far more formidable competitor since Spark first launched.

Last fall, Instagram fully embraced its shoppable nature with the introduction of shopping features across its app that let people more easily discover products from Instagram photos. It also added a new shopping channel and in March, Instagram launched its own in-app checkout option to turn product inspiration into actual conversions. It was certainly a big move into Amazon territory. And while that led to headlines about Instagram as the future of shopping, it’s not going to upset Amazon’s overall dominance any time soon.

In addition to the shifting competitive landscape, Spark’s primary stakeholder, Amazon VP of Consumer Engagement Chee Chew departed at the beginning of 2019 for Twilio. While at Amazon, Chew was heavily invested in Spark’s success and product managers would even tie their own efforts to Spark in order to win his favor, sources said.

For example, Amazon’s notifications section had been changed to include updates from Spark. And Spark used to sit a swipe away from the main navigation menu on mobile.

Following Spark’s closure, Amazon’s navigation has once again been simplified. It’s now a clutter-free hamburger menu. Meanwhile, Amazon’s notifications section no longer includes Spark updates — only alerts about orders, shipments, and personalized recommendations.

In addition, it’s likely that Spark wasn’t well adopted. Just 10,000 Amazon customers used it during its first 24 hours, we heard. With Chew’s departure, Spark lost its driving force. No one needed to curry favor by paying it attention, which may have also helped contribute to its shuttering.

6/14/19, 10:20 PM ET: Updated with further context after publication.


Source: TechCrunch

Google to disconnect Drive from Photos: How to keep your photos in sync – CNET

After July 10, you’ll need to keep your images in sync on your own between Google Drive and Photos
Source: CNET

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.
Source: Digital trends

This neural network detects whether faces have been Photoshopped

Using Photoshop and other image manipulation software to tweak faces in photos has become common practice, but it’s not always made clear when it’s been done. Berkeley and Adobe researchers have created a tool that not only can tell when a face has been Photoshopped, but can suggest how to undo it.

Right off the bat it must be noted that this project applies only to Photoshop manipulations, and in particular those made with the “Face Aware Liquify” feature, which allows for both subtle and major adjustments to many facial features. A universal detection tool is a long way off, but this is a start.

The researchers (among them Alexei Efros, who just appeared at our AI+Robotics event) began from the assumption that a great deal of image manipulation is performed with popular tools like Adobe’s, and as such a good place to start would be looking specifically at the manipulations possible in those tools.

They set up a script to take portrait photos and manipulate them slightly in various ways: move the eyes a bit and emphasize the smile, narrow the cheeks and nose, things like that. They then fed the originals and warped versions to the machine learning model en masse, with the hopes that it would learn to tell them apart.

Learn it did, and quite well. When humans were presented with images and asked which had been manipulated, they performed only slightly better than chance. But the trained neural network identified the manipulated images 99 percent of the time.

What is it seeing? Probably tiny patterns in the optical flow of the image that humans can’t really perceive. And those same little patterns also suggest to it what exact manipulations have been made, letting it suggest an “undo” of the manipulations even having never seen the original.

Since it’s limited to just faces tweaked by this Photoshop tool, don’t expect this research to form any significant barrier against the forces of evil lawlessly tweaking faces left and right out there. But this is just one of many small starts in the growing field of digital forensics.

“We live in a world where it’s becoming harder to trust the digital information we consume,” said Adobe’s Richard Zhang, who worked on the project, “and I look forward to further exploring this area of research.”

You can read the paper describing the project and inspect the team’s code at the project page.


Source: TechCrunch

iOS 13 hints at exciting iPhone 11 feature – CNET

Will the next iPhone switch from Lightning to USB-C? Or will it finally include a fast charger in the box? The new icon on the iOS 13 developer’s beta shows that one of these options could become a reality.
Source: CNET

Walmart Grocery is now offering a $98 per year ‘Delivery Unlimited’ subscription

Walmart is taking aim at Instacart, Target’s Shipt and Amazon Prime Now/Whole Foods with a new grocery delivery subscription service called simply, “Delivery Unlimited.” Before, Walmart shoppers could order groceries online and pick them up at their local store for free or they could opt to pay the $9.95 (or sometimes less) per-order delivery fee. Delivery Unlimited is a third option that offers consumers a way to skip the per-order fee in favor of a monthly or annual subscription.

Currently, the retailer is offering a $12.95 per month plan or a $98 per year subscription, both of which include a 15-day trial period (see below).

Everything else about the service is the same.

You’ll still shop online or in the Walmart Grocery app, build a basket and pick a time slot for your order. There aren’t any restrictions on delivery times, either. It’s just another way to pay for your online orders — and one that could potentially save you money if you order groceries online from Walmart more than once per month.

At $98 per year, Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited service is competitively priced.

Shipt today charges $99 annually, and Target just this week announced a way for Shipt shoppers to pay a per-order fee of $9.99 for the first time, with a Shipt integration on Target.com. Instacart, meanwhile, cut its annual fee to $99 in November. Prime Now is the most expensive option at $119 per year. But of course, it includes more than just grocery delivery — Prime is a comprehensive benefits program that includes fast shipping from Amazon.com, access to streaming services, free e-books and more.

It’s unclear how broadly available Delivery Unlimited is today. The FAQ on Walmart’s website only vaguely answers a question about availability, saying that “there’s a good chance Delivery Unlimited is in your area.” 

Okay!

The service is also mentioned in an Instagram post from March published by the account belonging to a single Walmart store in Utah, which is likely one of the earlier test markets.

We reached out to Walmart for details, but the retailer has yet to respond to questions about the Delivery Unlimited service, or clarify how long it’s been around.

The official Walmart Grocery FAQ makes no mention of a subscription option at this time, and there’s been no formal announcement.

Unlike some grocery delivery businesses, Walmart doesn’t operate its own network of delivery professionals or independent contractors. Instead, Walmart partners with delivery providers across the U.S., including Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire, Roadie, Postmates and DoorDash. It has also tried, then ended, relationships with Deliv, Uber and Lyft.

Walmart’s heavy investments in online grocery have boosted its bottom line. Grocery, along with the growth taking place across the home and fashion categories, has helped the retailer grow its e-commerce sales. In the first quarter, e-commerce sale were up 37%, Walmart said, with earnings per share of $1.13 versus $1.02 expected, and revenue of $123.93 billion above the $125.03 billion estimated.

The retailer currently offers grocery pickup at 2,450 locations and delivery at nearly 1,000 locations. It says it’s on track to offer pickup at 3,100 stores and delivery at 1,600 by the end of 2019.


Source: TechCrunch

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