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Facebook braces for Apple's privacy changes – CNET

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Facebook said Apple’s privacy changes will impact a service that it offers advertisers.


Graphic by Pixabay; illustration by CNET

Facebook said Wednesday that Apple’s upcoming privacy update could make it tougher for the social network to target some iPhone users with ads on other mobile apps.

Facebook offers a service to businesses called the Audience Network, which lets businesses use the social network’s targeting to run ads on thousands of mobile apps. Facebook collects a trove of data from its users, allowing advertisers to target potential customers based on age, location and other criteria. 

Apple is expected to release an updated mobile operating system called iOS 14 in the fall. As part of the update, the smartphone maker is requiring apps to ask users for permission before collecting and sharing data using a unique code that identifies their mobile Apple devices. Called the advertising identifier or IDFA, this code makes it possible for businesses to better target ads and gauge whether they’re working. 

“For developers and publishers using Audience Network, our ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS 14 will be limited. As a result, some iOS 14 users may not see any ads from Audience Network, while others may still see ads from us, but they’ll be less relevant,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The social network said it won’t collect the IDFA on its apps on iOS 14 devices. Facebook said it didn’t want to make this change but Apple’s update to its mobile operating system “forced this decision.” The update will make it harder for businesses of all sizes to target new customers and measure the impact of their ads, Facebook said. Apple, which has called privacy a “fundamental human right,” made the update to its operating system so users could be more aware of the data that apps collect.

Apple’s impact on Facebook’s ad services highlights the differences between how these businesses make money. Apple makes money from selling devices such as laptops and smartphones and has criticized Facebook’s advertising business model. Facebook makes most of its revenue from serving targeted ads, and critics say the company doesn’t do enough to protect user privacy. Facebook launched a new feature last year that lets users see a list of apps and websites that share their online activity with the social network. The feature also lets users clear that history.

Facebook said Apple’s privacy changes might make its Audience Network service so “ineffective” that it might not make sense for the company to offer it on iOS 14 devices. The company said that in testing, it’s seen more than a 50% drop in Audience Network publisher revenue. More than 1 billion people see an Audience Network ad every month, according to the social network. Facebook said it expects “less impact” to its own ad business. 

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Amazon brings Netflix to Echo Show, reveals new Alexa features – MobileSyrup

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During the company’s fall hardware event, Amazon revealed several new Alexa features for all of its Echo hardware and more.

One of the more low-key, yet still important announcement was the fact that Amazon is bringing Netflix to the Echo Show. While most people probably don’t watch movies on smart display, official YouTube and Netflix apps were sorely missed when Amazon announced the product, so it’s nice to see at least one of them finally make it to the platform.

Alexa does group calls

Group calls are also coming to Echo devices, allowing you and your whole family to jump on a call together from the comfort of your living room. You can even set up the feature from Alexa to work with the command “Alexa, call my family,” to start a group chat.

Zoom comes to Echo Show

Popular video chat app Zoom is coming to the Echo Show, which should help some people make group calls. A few people I know that keep an Echo Show 5 on their desk will likely be happy with this new feature.

Care Hub

This feature is designed to help the elderly or someone who can’t be left alone at all times. You set it up in the Alexa app, and then can say “Alexa, call for help” to get quick access to a preset emergency contact.

The other part of this feature is kind of creepy. The Echo device then looks for motion, and if it doesn’t detect movement at a pre-set time, it sends an alert to the emergency context so they can call to check-in.

“Alexa, delete everything I’ve ever said”

This command deletes all the voice data that Amazon has gathered from you in an easy way. Amazon also mentioned that in the future, users will be able to set Alexa to never record their conversations in the app.

If you want to dive deeper into the new privacy settings, you can read Amazon’s blog dedicated to the update here.

New sound detectors

Amazon is taking its ‘Guard’ platform to the next level with new sound-based routines. That means Alexa can now listen for things like a dog barking or a baby crying and adjust smart lights automatically.

These seem very simple, but if Amazon rolls out enough sound triggers, people will be able to set up a lot of automatic routines that could streamline their smart home setup considerably.

You can learn more about Alexa’s new features here.

Source: Amazon 

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Apple acquires Scout FM app that transforms the podcast experience with smart stations – 9to5Mac

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Apple recently acquired the startup Scout FM, according to a Bloomberg report. The company offers an app that creates smart stations for podcast listeners, bringing a similar experience to radio stations.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the acquisition, but no further details were provided. The report mentions that Apple bought Scout FM earlier this year to enhance its own podcast platform amid growing competition from Spotify.

As we covered once here on 9to5Mac, Scout FM brings a different approach to the podcast experience. Instead of offering individual podcasts, the app creates smart podcast stations based on different topics, such as sports or technology.

Scout FM uses artificial intelligence to identify user preferences and suggest new relevant content. Prior to being removed from the App Store, the app was available for Apple devices and it was also compatible with CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.

Apple has been investing in its Podcasts platform with new features and the production of original shows, as Spotify has been increasingly growing with similar efforts. The company didn’t say how Scout FM will be incorporated into its Podcasts app, but we’ll probably see some new related features beginning next year.

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Epic, Spotify and other Apple critics form coalition to take on App Store rules – CNET

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Angela Lang/CNET

More than a dozen app makers and other companies have joined together to form the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit group that’s taking aim at Apple and its App Store rules. Among the founding members are Spotify, Epic Games and Match Group, all of which have been vocal critics of the fees Apple charges developers. 

“As enforcers, regulators, and legislators around the world investigate Apple for its anti-competitive behavior, The Coalition for App Fairness will be the voice of app and game developers in the effort to protect consumer choice and create a level playing field for all,” said Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs at Spotify, in a release on Thursday.

The coalition comes as Apple is locked in a public battle with Fortnite developer Epic Games. Fortnite was kicked off both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in August after Epic attempted to bypass the 30% fee Apple and Google charge developers. Epic countered by filing lawsuits against both companies. Apple earlier this month raised the stakes further by requesting monetary damages if it convinces a judge that it was within its rights to kick Fortnite off its more than 1.5 billion active iPhones and iPads.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on the coalition. On Thursday, the company published several pages on its website highlighting the benefits of the App Store for users and developers. Apple says the pages provide context for its broader work to support its app store, which now counts more than 28 million developers worldwide, and 1.5 billion devices across 175 countries.

The App Store helps developers “from start to finish — to build, test, market, and distribute your products and grow your business,” says Apple’s site.

The Coalition for App Fairness also released a set of 10 App Store Principles that is says will help “protect the app economy” and ensure that the “benefits of digital technologies are shared by everyone.”

Here is the full list of coalition’s founding members: Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, SkyDemon, Spotify and Tile.


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