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News & Views

Weekly Tech Roundup: July 28

eBay’s computer vision programme lets you search using images

Online commerce giant eBay is hoping to do for shopping what Shazam did for music. The company has just announced two new visual search features soon to launch on the site; ‘Find it on eBay’ and ‘Image Search’. The thinking is that moments of “shopping inspiration,” be they on social media or just in the street, can be screengrabbed or captured in a photo and then relayed to the visual search to find a matching item.

YouTube Red and Google Play Music to merge

Lyor Cohen, Head of Music at YouTube, has confirmed that the company is planning to integrate its premium Red platform with Google Play Music, creating a new streaming service in a bid to simplify YouTube’s complicated existing music ecosystem and become a more attractive partner to music labels and rights holders.

Google is testing autoplay videos in search results

Autoplay remains a somewhat divisive feature online, but that hasn’t stopped Google from experimenting with featuring autoplay video content directly in search engine result pages. The videos will automatically begin on desktop, while mobile users will have to tap to play.

Bots are ditching outdated gender stereotypes

We’ve previously reported on the unconscious bias that can influence machine learning, and the need for greater social diversity in AI development. But while virtual assistants have traditionally been designed to present as female, the next generation of bots might ditch gender archetypes entirely in favour of “robot-specific” identities.

WhatsApp hits 1 billion daily users

Facebook’s instant messaging platform WhatsApp now boasts 1 billion daily users and 1.3 billion monthly users, while WhatsApp Status, the Snapchat Stories-influenced function, now has over 250 million users. The new user figures were announced this week during Facebook’s Q2 earnings call.

Ransomware “here to stay”, warns Google

Cyber-criminals have made about $25 million from ransomware attacks in the last two years, and the lucrative nature of these offences means that figure is certain to grow. “It’s become a very, very profitable market and is here to stay,” said Google’s Elie Bursztein at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas this week.

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