Quick Bytes – April 20th: Just Announced: Google Chat for Android
A look at the most interesting startup and business-related news stories of the week.
Just Announced: Google Chat
Purchasing an Android means buying a phone with a lot of great features, with the exception of their messaging service. All that is set to change now that Google has announced ‘Chat’ – a Rich Communication Service meant to supplant SMS. It’s a carrier-based service, rather than a Google one, so they’ll all be inter-operable and carriers will have the control over when they switch it on. It also lacks end-to-end encryption. Publications are generally reporting on this as a sign that Google has ‘given up’ on creating a Facebook Messenger-like service and is instead looking to streamline communication efforts (the company currently has Allo, Duo, Hangouts and Android Messenger available to consumers.)
The Full Story
A top-tier Android phone can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, and for that money, you’ll get some amazing features. It will have a stellar screen, top-flight camera, gobs of storage, and an absolutely atrocious texting experience.
It’s a problem. In fact, it’s always been a problem. Google has spent nearly a decade trying — and failing — to fix it with an ever-rotating cast of poorly supported apps. While iPhone users have had the simplicity of iMessage built in, Android users have been left to fend for themselves.
Now, the company is doing something different. Instead of bringing a better app to the table, it’s trying to change the rules of the texting game, on a global scale. Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS. It’s going to be called “Chat,” and it’s based on a standard called the “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.” SMS is the default that everybody has to fall back to, and so Google’s goal is to make that default texting experience on an Android phone as good as other modern messaging apps. Read the Full Article Here
Lyft Goes Clean
Lyft is joining a host of other Silicon Valley companies, including Google and Apple, who are committing to changing to clean energy to operate their businesses. With the obvious reason that it would disrupt their entire business model to only run ‘clean’ cars, Lyft has decided to purchase enough carbon offsets to make every ride carbon neutral. Starting this week, Lyft claims the program will make it among the 10 largest voluntary offset programs in the world.
The Full Story
Taking a Lyft is about to be a little easier on the planet—and on the conscience.
The ride-hailing service announced that starting this week it will go carbon-neutral. Lyft will actively offset the carbon-dioxide pollution produced by its more than 10 million rides worldwide each week.
In short, this means that taking a Lyft will probably not make global warming worse. Lyft says the program will begin immediately.
Lyft is the first major ride-hailing service to promise carbon-neutrality. Uber, its main competitor and the dominant ride-hailing app worldwide, has not made a similar pledge. A spokeswoman for Uber declined to comment. Read the Full Article Here
Mind-Reading Music-Guessing Algorithm
Researchers at Berkeley have been honing an AI algorithm that reads brain activity, measured with electrodes, to turn a person’s thoughts into digetized speech. When you listen to sounds, different parts of your brain’s cortex process high and low sounds. The researchers have gone a step further by testing whether those same areas of the brain trigger when a person imagines sounds. They found that there was a large overlap, but also differences. With the help of a machine learning model, the sound was able to be guessed with reasonable accuracy. Good news for paralyzed and speech-impaired individuals, which is where this technology is planning on heading.
The Full Story
Most of us have used apps like Shazam, which can identify songs when we hold up our phone up to a speaker. But what if it was possible for an app to identify a piece of music based on nothing more than your thought patterns. Impossible? Perhaps not, according to a new piece of research carried out by investigators at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 2014, researcher Brian Pasley and colleagues used a deep-learning algorithm and brain activity, measured with electrodes, to turn a person’s thoughts into digitally synthesized speech. This was achieved by analyzing a person’s brain waves while they were speaking in order to decode the link between speech and brain activity. Read the Full Article Here
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