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Skype gets a makeover

Skype gets a makeover
When you think of “video chat”, you think of Skype. The video calling application has been downloaded over a billion times on smartphones alone since 2012, when tech giant Microsoft purchased the platform for $8.5bn.

Though Skype hasn’t had a significant update since 2006, when it first introduced the video calling feature. All the while, competing applications have emerged offering similar services, such as Facebook Messenger and Apple’s FaceTime. Users were found to be using Skype once or twice a week to video chat, whilst using Facebook or Google’s apps on a daily basis. Skype corporate vice president Amritansh Raghav recognised the need for evolution however, and stated; “We don’t think Skype can rest on its legacy”.

Last week Microsoft updates Skype for the Snapchat generation. The video calling app refreshed its look and added several new features to its video and text chat service. Though the upgrade will initially only be available to Android users, with updates to iOS, Mac and Windows apps coming later this year.

The evolution of Uber

The evolution of Uber
Uber is now dominating the taxi industry, which for decades had been led by local cab companies in countries around the world. How did the megacorporation completely change the industry in just a few short years?

The proactive entrepreneurs Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp continuously sought sources of investment for their app prior to and during its launch in 2010 – raising $44.5 million for international development. Their quick expansion worldwide allowed them to quickly gain an audience before any competition could develop.

Launching in San Francisco was not by chance either. The taxicab market in the area was performing poorly, with the lowest taxi usage rates in all of the US. However, due to San Francisco’s highly interactive tech community who are eager to discover the next new trends, Uber quickly gained notable recognition.

Facebook ahead in the game

Facebook-Ahead-In-Game
Last week Facebook released some user information that revealed its Snapchat-similar features are outperforming the image-messaging app.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced to analysts that Instagram Stories has over 200 million daily active users. Comparatively, Snap had 161 million daily active users at the end of last year. Snap is expected to report earnings later this month, but analysts predict that it won’t catch up to Facebook’s user base.

Though some research indicates that younger users still opt to use Snapchat as their preferred multimedia application, Facebook has dismissed these findings.
Moreover, Zuckerberg is keen on making Snap’s hallmark augmented reality features central to Facebook’s future. Zuckerberg believes that augmented reality – led by Facebook rather than Snap’s Lenses – will replace TV and other media platforms.

Human Cyborgs by 2020

schematic of human brain and communication via circuit-board, ar

CEO of Tesla and Space X Elon Musk Is now set to become the CEO of Neuralink with his latest goal to connect human brains with computers.

The billionaire entrepreneur has dedicated his recent years to putting forth outlandish scientific projects such as his aims to make an intergalactic human colonial species. And it looks like he’s got no intentions of slowing down in his attempts to turn Sci-Fi dreams into reality. Musk’s most recent venture Neuralink, promises to make human telepathy possible in just a few short years. The tech billionaire tweeted, ‘if somebody doesn’t do it, then I think I should do it’.

Despite all of this, Musk has fears about the future of AI and believes it could be humanity’s downfall and could ultimately lead to the extinction of our race. Musk recently followed up these thoughts at the world government summit claiming however that creating human cyborgs would actually solve part of the problem. Musk believes that the reason behind our possible extinction could be that as AI becomes more intelligent and is able to perform various tasks and jobs, humans will become less relevant. Thus, Musk expressed, ‘people need to become cyborgs to be relevant in a future dominated by AI, a merger of biological intelligence and machine intelligence’.

AI set to help lower suicide rates

Facebook AI to prevent suicide
Facebook has received a lot of negative attention recently due to people filming their own suicides through its live stream feature. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is distraught after discovering that his service, which was designed to connect people, is being used for such dark purposes.

Millennials have become the primary age group for adopting this trend and have taken to live streaming their deaths after revealing the pain and struggles they have been internally suffering from. This issue is becoming extremely prevalent with suicide rates in young people reaching an all time high in 2014 and continuing to rise.

Facebook have now added a suicide-prevention feature to identify posts and comments that display suicidal tendencies. This will be reviewed by Facebook’s community team and if deemed necessary, the user will be sent suicide-prevention resources with options to contact a helpline or get help from a friend, especially if someone begins live broadcasting. Additionally, suicide-prevention organisations are now being made readily available on Messenger, so that they are easily contactable for anyone who may be experiencing suicidal or harmful thoughts.

Swiss Watches Hope For A better Year

black-wrist-watch_1057-4040

It’s been a tough few years for the world of watches, even with more luxury brands embracing technology. But as fans flock this week to Baselworld, the Swiss watch industry’s annual showcase, leaders are predicting an uplift in sales.

Last year, sales of Swiss watches fell nearly 10% to about $19.7 billion, François Thiébaud, told attendees, in a prepared statement, that this has been driven by “uncertainty on political, security- related and financial levels, a downturn in tourism in Europe, and a persistently strong franc.”

But sales in China have been strengthening in the last six months. Luxury powerhouse LVMH, says sales in its watches and jewellery division grew by 5%, with TAG Heuer gaining share, in part because of its connected watch. And Richemont, the Swiss parent of brands like Cartier and Piaget, also reported a 5% gain in sales. Swatch’s CEO recently told Bloomberg he predicts sales increases of between 7% and 10% in the year ahead.

UK schools trial use of police-style bodycams

Bodycams-in-UK-schools
With the use of police bodycams on the rise, it seems the technology may soon make its way into the school system.

Last month two UK schools trialled the use of police-style bodycams for teachers in an effort to resolve problems in the classroom. The teachers of two UK secondary schools have decided to trial the technology as they are said to be “fed up with low-level background disorder” according to a criminal justice academic. Thus the wearable cameras are being trialled as a both a means to deter bad behaviour and also as an opportunity to record positive learning in the classroom.

Principal lecturer at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth, Tom Ellis, has said the teachers may use the cameras to film “when necessary”.

Meanwhile the cameras, worn by police, parking wardens and even school crossing-patrol officers in Britain, has been used in schools across the US since 2015.

Mediareach Marketing at the IFE

Mediareach-Marketing-IFE-0
The Mediareach team attended the twentieth edition of the ‘International Food & Drink Event’, eager to seek out trends in the industry and potential marketing prospects with the hundreds of locals and international businesses attending. The IFE is the UK’s Largest gathering of global food & drink buyers and suppliers, connecting every person from every background through a love and appreciation for food across all cultures and those looking to establish their brands as a local household name.

The team were delighted to see so many fresh and innovative businesses enthusiastic to share their unique food brands with the world. We scouted the event for entrepreneurs with raw passion who were seeking guidance on how to edge their product onto store shelves and into people’s homes.

Since 2014 there has been a significant growth in vegan and gluten free diets, with hundreds of stalls advertising related produce. Halal products are also becoming more popular; corresponding with the rise of the Islamic population in the UK.

Is Mark Zuckerberg the new Bill Gates?

zuckerbergIn the 90s Bill Gates held a strong handle on the tech industry. Microsoft became known as the company that would win at any cost under Gates’ leadership. When Microsoft couldn’t buy a competing app or web browser, it would simply create its own to crush its rival, and would sell it to its huge existing customer base.

Could history be repeating itself in the form of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? Snap’s recent $3 billion IPO could be seen as a response to its ongoing strive for dominance within the social networking sphere, and the subsequent growing pressure it is facing from its competitors Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook launched Instagram Stories back in August 2016, replicating Snapchat’s feature of the same name. Meanwhile Snapchat reported a dip in user growth in the second half of 2016, which many argue may be due to Instagram’s adoption of the ‘story’ function.

Similarly Facebook started testing Snapchat-style stories in its main app in January. This could result in yet another dip in users for Snapchat.

Gates probably would have adopted a similar tactic in capitalising on the “Stories” feature during the Microsoft era. Moreover it is well known that Zuckerberg has long suffered from Snapchat envy. Facebook attempted to purchase the startup app in 2013 for $3 billion in cash. Unsuccessful, Facebook released rival app ‘Poke’ the following month.

Though Poke didn’t take off, nor did its successor ‘Slingshot’ in 2014, Facebook’s message was clear; anything you can do, we can do…better. However, Snap saw a brief explosion in revenue growth, rising 590% from 2015 to 2016, following it’s IPO filing.

Pinterest takes a leaf out of Shazam’s book with new feature ‘Lens’

Pinterest's Lens feature
Pinterest introduced an app last month that allows users to identify objects in the real world. The new feature, titled Lens, allows the Pinterest smartphone app to identify objects and thereafter, show you images and information about similar objects uploaded by other Pinterest users. The app functions almost as a kind of ‘Shazam’ for objects. Whether you point it at food, furniture or even the night sky, the Pinterest tool will use its machine vision to display objects that it believes are related.

In a demonstration for the feature, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp used Lens to detect a pomegranate. Pinterest returned results for pomegranate bread, pomegranate sandwiches, and tips for peeling pomegranates. Sharp also described an instance in which Lens was pointed towards the night sky. Pinterest in turn, brought up a selection of nigh-time landscape photos.