Google Calendar Now Lets you Add a Note to Changed Events

A new feature has been added to Google Calendar that allows you to leave a note when changing an event, as reported by TechCrunch.

Starting today, if you change or delete an event, a dialog box appears where you can leave a note to say why the change occurred. If you choose to write something and send it to participants, the message will then appear not just on the event page within Google Calendar, but also in the email sent out alerting everyone to the updated event information.

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that this feature is now available for G Suite users and should arrive for everyone within the next three days. Although it’s a tiny addition, it’s a useful one and an unobtrusive way to keep everyone on the same page when plans change.

Read the full article from The Verge.

Snapchat Unveils a Cool AR Lens that Reacts to Sound

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that a new Snapchat lens reacts to sounds in your environment.

It is a cute animal mask overlay that has ears and eyes that glow and pulse based on the sounds it hears. The company says that they will be launching more lenses that react to sound within the coming weeks. However, they did not reveal exactly which sounds get the lens to react in certain ways, but it seems like the louder the noise, the more it glows or moves.

Snapchat users can now check out the new lens on their apps. Since Augmented Reality (AR) is now gaining a lot of popularity among tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram and now Snapchat as well. Even Apple will share their plan for AR in the upcoming iOS 12.

Read the full article from TechJuice.

How to Hear (and Delete) Every Conversation your Amazon Alexa has Recorded

Digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are designed to learn more about you as they listen, and part of doing so is to record conversations you’ve had with them to learn your tone of voice, prompts, and requests. Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that recently, this feature-not-a-bug has landed Amazon in a string of bizarre headlines; in March users reported that their Echo speakers began spontaneously laughing, while last week a family in Portland said their device recorded and sent conversations to a colleague without their knowledge. For these instances, Amazon claims that the devices were likely triggered by false positive commands.

It’s not uncommon for smart speakers to pick up a random part of your everyday conversations and misunderstand it as a wake word (especially if you may have changed the Alexa trigger to a more common word, like “Computer.”) If you’re curious what Alexa has been hearing and recording in your household, here’s a quick way to check.

First, open the Alexa app on your smart device. Tap the hamburger icon on the top left side of the screen to open the menu options. Click on the Settings menu, then find History.

Here, you’ll be able to browse all the commands you’ve ever asked of Alexa, from timers to music requests to general internet queries. You can also sort the results by date. Sometimes you may even see just a line item that says “Alexa,” for those times you may have mentioned the assistant’s name but didn’t mean to actually use it.

You may notice a few instances where the Alexa app notes a “text not available.” Click on this and you can listen to a recording of what you or someone in your household said that prompted the Echo to listen to your current conversation. In the case of our Weekend Editor, Andrew Liptak, his Echo device recorded a snippet of his mother-in-law teasing his son, saying “Alexa is going to take over your house.” In the app, Alexa concluded that the audio was not intended for the assistant, and the speaker did not return a response.

If you are uncomfortable having any particular recording in your Alexa history, you can delete it on an individual basis, or go to the Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices page to wipe it entirely.

Read the full article from The Verge.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Mobile Ad Fraud is on the Rise

If you use your mobile device as much as we do at Polarity Technologies Ltd, I’m sure you are seeing an increase of mobile ads. Unfortunately, some of these are scams. Be on the lookout. AdWeek shares the full story.

Mobile ad fraud is in the midst of a period of rampant innovation.

That was the takeaway of a recent report from app marketing firm Adjust, which found that the rate of fake app-installs, clicks, attributions and other mobile scams doubled in the past year alone. The company said around 7.3 percent of the 3.4 billion app-installs and 350 billion interactions it monitored in the first quarter of the year showed evidence of fraud.

Adjust’s ad fraud specialist, Andreas Naumann, said the spike was the result of bad actors creating new ways of tricking marketers, giving those fraudsters a leg up in the constant cat-and-mouse fight.

“2017 was the year of innovation and evolution for fraudsters,” Naumann said. “A lot has happened.”

Much of that innovation involves a method of faking app installs called SDK spoofing, in which hackers are able to make it appear as if a download has taken place by breaking into the communication line between developer-side analytics tools and back-end servers. This type of fraud is harder to spot than conventional methods of faking installs because it traces back to real users rather than imaginary ones.

Continue the story on AdWeek.

Instagram Now Lets you Mute Accounts

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that Instagram  today introduced a way to mute accounts, giving users a way to continue following accounts without seeing their posts all the time.

Muted accounts will not be made aware that they’ve been muted, and users can unmute accounts at any time. Users can still see posts on the muted account’s profile page and get notified about comments or posts they’re tagged in.

Users can mute accounts by tapping the “…” in the corner of the post and choosing between muting posts, stories, or posts and stories.

First and foremost, this continues Instagram’s effort to block bullying and harassment on the social network. While users have had the ability to block accounts for a long time, muting is a next step in blocking out someone without any of the consequences that might come from blocking them.

Of course, the broader demographic will simply have more control over Instagram’s algorithmic feed, which prioritizes accounts and posts it thinks you will like (read: promotes engagement at all costs).

The algorithmic feed has added a layer of complexity to Instagram, making users think more cautiously about the way they throw around likes. Posts, and accounts, that you like may very well get top billing in your feed because of it, even if you only liked the post to show friends some love.

Muting gives users a bit more control over what they see regardless of what they’ve liked or what Instagram’s algorithm deems relevant. Read the full article from TechCrunch.

YouTube’s Artist on the Rise is Now a Monthly Program

YouTube added an Artist on the Rise feature to its Trending tab last year, and Friday, the Google-owned video site announced that it is expanding Artist on the Rise into a new monthly program.

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that the Artist on the Rise Trending tab will continue to feature three songs from emerging artists every week, and the new monthly offering will provide an in-depth look at one of those artists.

The first artist to be featured is Jessie Reyez, a 27-year-old Colombian-Canadian singer-songwriter signed to Island/FMLY.

YouTube Music said in a blog post introducing the new program, “Many fans can tell you about the first time they heard an incredible new song or watched a groundbreaking video from a musical newcomer. Some of the most memorable moments with artists happen early. The program will promote a diverse lineup of music’s most important new voices across all genres, connecting them with fans worldwide through in-product promotion and programming, out-of-home, social and fan events at YouTube Spaces.”

Read the full article from Adweek.

It’s Time to Monetize on Facebook Stories

Facebook stories have become very popular and now it’s time to monetize. “Advertisers can extend their Instagram Stories ads to Facebook Stories, or have Facebook reformat their News Feed ads with color-matched image borders and ad copy text shown at the bottom.” Polarity Technologies Ltd shares the news from TechCrunch.

After 14 months of silence since launching, Facebook Stories has finally announced a 150 million daily active user count for its Snapchat Stories clone. And now it’s time to earn some money off it. Facebook Stories will start testing its first ads today in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

They’re 5- to 15-second video ads users can skip, and while there’s no click-through or call to action now, Facebook plans to add that in the coming months. Advertisers can easily extend their Instagram Stories ads to this new surface, or have Facebook automatically reformat their News Feed ads with color-matched borders and text at the bottom. Facebook also plans to give businesses more metrics on their Stories performance to convince them the feature is worth their ad dollars.

Read the full article from TechCrunch.

eBay’s Adding a Customized Homepage to Feature Products Based on Your Interests

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that eBay is launching a new feature on its iOS and Android app today that personalizes and curates items for you based on your hobbies, interests, and what you like wearing. The new “Shop your Interests” feature figures out what you like with a brief survey that lets users select things they enjoy shopping for. Options include something as vague and all-encompassing as “cooking” and “gadgets” to “wine,” “tea,” or “Apple.”

eBay then uses your selections to curate a list of items that will be organized into groups on your homepage. Using its own shopping data, eBay says it has created hundreds of shopping themes like streetwear and sports teams to choose from. The method is similar to how Netflix creates its own categories of content you might enjoy, and it was something eBay had been slowly rolling out since earlier this year.

Read the full article from The Verge.

Image: eBay Inc.

Facebook Adds Voice Posts, Stories Archive, and New Cloud Storage Features

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that Facebook is making three updates that it says will help users better “create and save memories.” The changes will let you save your photos and videos directly to your account in the Facebook cloud, share voice messages with friends, and archive your favorite Facebook Stories. The new features announced today will begin rolling out in India, before hitting the rest of world “shortly thereafter.”

Changes to the in-app Facebook Camera will enable two of the three new features. Users shooting photos or video with Facebook’s camera will be presented with a new option to save them directly to their Facebook accounts in order to conserve expensive local GBs on entry-level devices with limited storage. This could be a boon to users around the world who, as Facebook discovered, must often delete a photo before taking a new one to share. Photos and video saved to Facebook Camera are only visible to the user after they login to Facebook. If there’s a capacity limit to the new storage options, Facebook doesn’t mention it.

Facebook is also adding an Audio option in the Facebook Camera to share voice messages as Voice Posts. Voice recordings are not only fast and intimate, they also get around the need to install native-language keyboards, and they don’t require written proficiency in a language people can more easily speak.

In the coming weeks, Facebook says it will start rolling out an archive feature so that users can save the Facebook Stories they value the most. Because, let’s face it, everyone has created a work of art so magnificent that it deserves to be enjoyed for longer than a day.

Read the full article from The Verge.

After Facebook and Google, Microsoft Bans Cryptocurrency Ads from Bing 

Polarity Technologies Ltd learned that after Facebook and Google, Microsoft has now banned advertisements showing cryptocurrencies and related products from its Bing search engine.

“Because cryptocurrency and related products are not regulated, we have found them to present a possible elevated risk to our users with the potential for bad actors to participate in predatory behaviours, or otherwise scam consumers,” Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo, Advertiser policy manager at Microsoft, said in a blog post on Wednesday. “To help protect our users from this risk, we have made the decision to disallow advertising for cryptocurrency, its related products, and un-regulated binary options,” she added. Bing Ads will implement this change globally in June, with enforcement rolling out in late June to early July.

Google in March announced that it would ban advertisements for cryptocurrencies and other “speculative financial products” across its ad platforms. The ban on such advertisements would come into force from June.

In January, social media giant Facebook banned all ads promoting cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and ICOs. According to media reports, Twitter was also likely to ban cryptocurrency, token sales and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) advertisements on its platform.

Read the full article from The Economic Times.