Meet Viv: Siri’s younger, better, sister
This week the creators if Siri demonstrated their newest artificial intelligence assistant called Viv. Viv has been in the works for four years and the goal is to take broad natural language queries to the next level. In the demo, Viv seems great—handling even a pretty convoluted question with ease. The idea is that Viv will be “device agnostic” and be a single platform for you to use. The term “ubiquitous” was used by one of Viv’s investors. Given the pedigree of Viv’s creators, maybe it’ll happen.
WhatsApp launches on the PC
Trying to keep up with (or beat) Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp now has a desktop version for your Mac or your Windows computer. VentureBeat says after you install that app, “you’ll have to scan a QR code using the WhatsApp app on your mobile device.” If the code is recognized, the desktop app will sync up with your phone (which could suck a lot of data, so be connected to a Wi-Fi network). Go forth and message away!
Facebook lands in hot water over its trending news
Sources this week said that Facebook’s trending topics were not, in fact, always truly trending—worse, it’s being reported that editorial teams purposely suppressed conservative news. Users weren’t happy and nor was the government who has asked Mark Zuckerberg to come to Washington to answer some questions. The Facebook newsroom responded yesterday to the situation and they make it sound like nothing hinkey ever happens. But, leaks of internal documents really make it sound like Facebook news is just like any other newsroom where editors make judgement calls.
The Hyperloop gets a test run
On Wednesday there was a demonstration by Hyperloop One, one of the companies trying to develop Elon Musk’s revolutionary transportation concept. Their small sled went from 0 mph to 400 in seconds—yes, I said sled. It was more of a proof of concept than a true test run, but hitting three times the speed of sound by magnetic levitation? That’s just cool.
Instagram goes black and white and makes people see red
Instagram unveiled a new update this week, introducing a colorful new icon and a black and white update to the inside of the app. Internet cried out in horror, especially over the logo (the words “travesty” and “abomination” were used). Fortunately, there are already directions hitting the web to swap it back with the version you prefer. The inside of the app? Well, you’re stuck with the black and white so hopefully you like it.
Google also goes black…rather than blue
The alphabet company was spotted testing out black links on their pages, rather than the usual hyperlink blue. A Google spokesperson told NBC News that they’re, “always running many small-scale experiments with the design of the results page. We’re not quite sure that black is the new blue.” So, if you hate the idea of black links, don’t panic yet.
Kickstarter of the week: FormBox
“A factory that fits on your desktop” is what the inventors call it. It’s not a 3D printer, it’s a vacuum former. You put a 3D item in the FormBox, warm the material you want to form with, pull the material over the template, switch on your vacuum (yes, your very own) and viola! You’ve created something or a mold to make something else. They suggest it’s a great way to copy things you’ve 3D printed quickly—smart.