Category Archive for "IT news"

Smart Wallet Card shows adverts from banks at MWC 2018

A smart payment card that stores multiple credit and debit account details that can be updated remotely will shortly launch in the UK, its creator has revealed.

The device can also be used to show adverts from banks.

The firm behind the product – Dynamics Inc – is not yet ready to disclose its UK launch partner.

But it revealed other details about the Wallet Card to the BBC’s Leo Kelion at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress tech show.

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Deepfakes: The face-swapping software explained

Software that replaces an original face with another has been developed.

It uses a machine-learning algorithm to create a computer-generated version of the subject’s face.

The results are known as deepfakes.

BBC Click finds out more.

See more at Click’s website and @BBCClick.

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New energy

The Vietnam government has made an effort in recent years to bring back Vietnamese people who have gone overseas to study and work.

This has resulted in creating a vibrant tech entrepreneur scene, where many start-ups are focusing on solving everyday problems.

The country’s young and highly-literate population is providing a big boost to making Ho Chi Minh City one of Asia’s Silicon Valleys.

Reported and edited by: Christine Hah; Filmed by: Jone Chang; Produced by: Pamela Parker.

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Could Spotify really be worth $23bn?

Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, gestures as he makes a speech at a press conference in Tokyo on September 29, 2016. Could Spotify really be worth $23bn? Could Spotify really be worth $23bn? 6ab614f593Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Daniel Ek co-founded Swedish streaming company Spotify in 2006

Spotify, the world’s biggest music streaming service, has filed paperwork to start trading its shares publicly on the New York Stock Exchange.

The firm said it expects shares to sell at prices that could value the business at more than $23bn (£16.7bn).

The Swedish company will list shares directly on the NYSE, bypassing the traditional stock offering process.

In a typical public offering, companies issue new shares, with the initial price underwritten by investment banks.

Analysis: What Spotify must do to survive

With a direct listing, current Spotify shareholders will take their shares straight to the market.

The move provides an exit for early investors looking to cash in on the company’s growth, but is not intended to help the business raise significant new money.

“It’s about a company that is letting its investors get their returns so it can move on to the next stage of its career,” said Mark Mulligan, a UK-based music industry analyst at MIDiA Research.

Spotify, which launched its streaming service in 2008, is now active in 61 countries, boasting 159 million monthly active users and 71 million paid subscribers.

Calculating value

Spotify said its shares sold for between $37.50 and $125 each in private transactions last year and more than $132 this year. The company’s potential valuation is based on a combination of stock price and how many shares it has outstanding.

The prices shared by Spotify suggest a range of $6.3bn to more than $23bn.

The higher figure would make Spotify one of the biggest public debuts of a tech company since 2012, said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, which provides institutional research and manages exchange traded funds focused on new public companies.

She cautioned, however, that private investors have tended to value firms more highly than public markets in recent years.

Snap, owner of Snapchat, for example also had an almost $30bn market capitalisation after its first day of trading last year, but it has struggled to sustain that figure.

“This could be an issue – could it possibly sustain those valuations?” she said.

Image caption UK pop star Dua Lipa was one of Spotify’s most-streamed artists this year

In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Spotify said it has incurred operating losses since its inception and experienced more than €1.2bn in losses in 2017.

But other key metrics, including revenue, are moving in the right direction, Mr Mulligan said.

The firm earned €4bn in revenue last year, rising almost 40% from €2.95bn in 2016, according to the filing.

Europe is its largest region, with 58 million monthly active users, followed by North America. It is also making inroads in Latin America and other parts of the world.

Churn rates, which measure cancellation, have fallen, while the time spent using the service has increased.

“All of that stuff paint a really strong story to investors that they’re on the right path,” Mr Mulligan said.

Future plans

In its filing, Spotify says it aims to “unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.”

The firm said it had paid more than €8bn in royalties to artists, music labels, and publishers since its launch.

The filing also hinted at plans to expand beyond music into other forms of radio.

“With our ad-supported service, we believe there is a large opportunity to grow users and gain market share from traditional terrestrial radio,” it said.

The filing says the firm expects to sell $1bn worth in shares, but the figure is a placeholder used to calculate the registration fee. The document does not provide information about when the listing would occur.

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Reddit co-founder backs petition for interracial couple emojis

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian. Reddit co-founder backs petition for interracial couple emojis Reddit co-founder backs petition for interracial couple emojis 23c03e025bImage copyrightGetty Images

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian wants emojis for interracial couples.

The tech boss and husband of tennis champion Serena Williams is backing Tinder’s petition to Unicode to introduce a wider range of emojis for couples.

Currently only the original yellow skin tone is available for the 34 emojis for relationships and families.

“We want our kids to have emojis that look like their parents,” Alexis is reported to have said.

“[Emoji] are the universal language of the internet and should reflect the modern world where interracial relationships are normal.”

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at the WORLDZ Cultural Marketing Summit 2017

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit body which reviews and develops emoji standards – including making things more inclusive.

There’s a specific request that three skin tones – light, medium, and dark skin tones – be added to each face in the couple with heart and kissing emoji.

This is despite the emoji keyboard now having six skin tones to choose from on emojis which show an individual’s face.

Image copyrightTINDER
Image caption Tinder says they also want emojis to represent a range of interracial couples

Unicode then has to vote on the proposal in a process that can take up to two years before it’s rolled out on different platforms.

In a statement Tinder said: “As the largest and most diverse platform for meeting new people, we are uniquely positioned and incredibly proud to petition for this update.

“Inclusivity is a core value at Tinder, and we believe in fighting for what our users believe in.”

Recent petitions to expand the emoji catalogue have resulted in water pistols replacing guns, adding same sex couples to the emoji keyboard as well as more recently a redhead emoji.

As it stands, the emoji keyboard already shows a range of family set-ups – including single parent families and same-sex parent families.

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Maplin collapses as rescue talks fail

Maplin store Maplin collapses as rescue talks fail Maplin collapses as rescue talks fail 5e3aa2d140

One of the UK’s biggest electronics retailers has collapsed into administration after talks with buyers failed to secure a sale.

Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,300 staff, will continue to trade through the process.

The business faced the slump in the pound after the Brexit vote, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance.

These factors made it “impossible” to raise capital, boss Graham Harris said.

The news came shortly after retailer Toys R Us went into administration.

“We believe passionately that Maplin has a place on the High Street and that our trust, credibility and expertise meets a customer need that is not supported elsewhere,” Mr Harris said.

Maplin will now work with administrators PwC “to achieve the best possible outcome for all of our colleagues and stakeholders”, Mr Harris added.

PwC said it would “explore all opportunities to find a new owner”.

Stores will open as normal during this time, and there are no plans to close shops or make redundancies at the moment, PwC said.

Any outstanding customer orders will be delivered, while gift cards will continue to be accepted in stores for the present, it added.

Mail order

Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: “The challenging conditions in the UK retail sector are well documented.

“Like many other retailers, Maplin has been hit hard by a slowdown in consumer spending and more expensive imports as the pound has weakened,” he said.

“Staff have been paid their February wages and will continue to be paid for future work while the company is in administration.”

Maplin has 2,335 staff, 217 stores and an annual turnover of £235.8m. It operates in the UK and Ireland and has head offices in London and Rotherham.

It began as a mail-order business in 1972, providing electronic components to hobbyists.

Maplin opened its first shop in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex in 1976.

After changing hands several times, the chain has been owned by Rutland Partners since 2014.

Potential buyers had included Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the clothing company that owns Peacocks, Country Casuals and several other retailers.

However, talks are understood to have broken down.

High Street chains have been badly affected by lower consumer spending, higher inflation and competition from online rivals.

Are you a Maplin employee? How will you be affected by the latest announcement? Share your stories with us by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Facebook news feed changes ‘decimated’ publisher

Facebook logo Facebook news feed changes 'decimated' publisher Facebook news feed changes 'decimated' publisher cfa86cb8e9Image copyrightGetty Images

Lifestyle site Little Things says it has had to close after changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithms “decimated” its business.

The closure of the female-focused publishing business will result in the loss of 100 jobs.

The company focused on a mix of “feel-good news” and videos. Since launching in 2014, it attracted 12 million followers on Facebook.

But the company said Facebook’s changes had been “catastrophic”.

Chief executive Joe Spieser told Business Insider that Facebook’s recent algorithm changes had wiped out roughly 75% of Little Things’ organic traffic and hit its income.

Image copyrightLittle Things
Image caption Little Things publishes lifestyle tips and recipes

In January, the social network said it would prioritise content from friends and family – rather than publishers – in the news feed.

Little Things said it had been in talks to sell its business to another media company. However, in a memo to its staff, it revealed that the buyer had pulled out.

“The businesses looking to acquire Little Things got spooked and promptly exited the sale process, leaving us in jeopardy of our bank debt covenants and ultimately bringing an expedited end to our incredible story,” it said.

Little Things started as a content-marketing page for the online pet food retailer PetFlow, in 2014. Its Facebook page attracted 800,000 followers in June that year.

PetFlow was then spun off to become a standalone media company in September 2014.

The company had taken advantage of Facebook’s emphasis on video and produced its own lifestyle and cookery content.

“What happens to the LittleThings brand, we all know and love, is uncertain at this point,” it said in a statement.

Gretchen Tibbits, president and chief operation officer for the firm told the BBC the hardest thing is that “100 incredible people have been impacted.”

The company said it would continue to update its website for the time being but Ms Tibbits confirmed that “today is the last day” for the firm.

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Sega mistake gives players free Yakuza 6 game

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Sega mistake gives players free Yakuza 6 game Sega mistake gives players free Yakuza 6 game fb511487c9Image copyrightSega

Sega has removed a “preview” of its latest video game from the PlayStation download store after realising it gave some players access to the full game.

The publisher had intended to release a limited “demo” of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, but gamers in the US were able to play beyond the prologue.

Some gamers had questioned why a small demo was packaged as a big 36.5GB download.

Sega apologised for the mistake and said it was investigating.

Players in Europe and Australia could play only the prologue of the game before being told the trial had ended.

However, this did not happen for players in North America.

“We are as upset as you are, and had hoped to have this demo available for everyone today,” Sega said in a statement.

“We discovered that some were able to use the demo to unlock the full game. We’re looking into the nature of the issue.”

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Google in historic ‘right to be forgotten’ challenge

People holding question marks over their faces Google in historic 'right to be forgotten' challenge Google in historic 'right to be forgotten' challenge ffaaa6a490Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The right to be forgotten will be extended in forthcoming EU legislation

A businessman has taken Google to the High Court in London in what is being seen as a landmark case over “the right to be forgotten”.

He is challenging Google’s decision not to remove a criminal conviction he has from the 1990s from search results.

People can ask for online information to be removed from searches if they feel it is outdated or irrelevant.

Google said it would “defend the public’s right to access lawful information”.

“We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are clearly in the public interest and will defend the public’s right to access lawful information,” the firm said in a statement.

The search giant has been asked to delist nearly two million search results in Europe, and has removed more than 800,000 of them.

The right to be forgotten is a legal precedent set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014, following a case brought by Spaniard Mario Costeja Gonzalez, asking Google to remove information about his financial history.

The UK case revolves around a businessman who wants Google to delete links to a criminal conviction for false accounting in the late 1990s. His conviction is deemed spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The man cannot be named due to reporting restrictions surrounding the case.

The man is being represented by law firm Carter-Ruck, which has yet to respond to requests for comment.

The General Data Protection Regulation, a sweeping change of EU data rules, is due to come into force in May and aims to extend the law to make it easier for citizens to have content removed.

The current case is being heard by Mr Justice Warby and is expected to last several days.

A similar case is due to be heard next month.

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Is the UK winning the graphene race?

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