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Showing posts with label Engadget RSS Feed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Engadget RSS Feed. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Facebook is testing a feature that stops profile photo theft

Facebook has begun testing new tools in India that prevent anyone from sniping your profile picture for who knows what purpose. If you live in the country, you might see an option to turn on "profile picture guard" next time you visit your News Feed. When you have the guard up, other people will no longer be able to save your pic or even screenshot it with an Android device. People not in your friends list won't be able to tag anyone or themselves in your profile picture regardless of your tag settings, as well.

To save anyone the trouble, Facebook will display a blue border and a shield around your picture to indicate that it's protected. But to be sure, the company has also teamed up with an illustrator to create Indian textile designs you can layer over your picture, since people are less likely to copy images adorned by patterns.

The social network cooked up the experimental feature after finding out from safety organizations that some women in the country don't feel comfortable sharing a picture meant to be seen by Facebook's 2 billion users. They're apparently worried about what could happen to their photo, which is certainly warranted: a lot of shady "hot singles near you" or "meet hot [insert ethnicity here] women" dating websites steal pictures from social networks. Some pinch images to create sleazy Facebook albums of random women on the internet, while others use strangers' photos to scam people. The list goes on, really.

Since all those could happen to anyone anywhere, Facebook is considering making the feature available around the globe. In the social network's announcement today, it said it "hope[s] to expand to other countries soon" based on what it learns from the initial roll out in the Asian country.

Source: Facebook



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The Morning After: Thursday, June 22nd 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to Thursday morning. We're reliving the '90s through, as Sega launches a selection of classic hits both with ads and without. We're also talking Instagram and its stealth shills, and new emoji. We hope you like fairies.


It should focus less on surprise and more on delight.Apple's paranoia about leaks is misplaced

Apple's inability to keep its secrets is so bad that even its internal presentation about confidentiality leaked. It reportedly conducted an hour-long briefing titled "Stopping Leakers -- Keeping Confidential at Apple" for about 100 employees to make sure they understood the importance of not leaking information. But that concern is misplaced: Clamping down on leaks won't help Apple's bottom line.


The games are free, but you can pay $2 to drop the advertisementsSega Forever makes Genesis classics free on mobile

The Sega Forever collection is five titles meant to begin "a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming." Starting today, the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, fan-favorite RPG Phantasy Star II, classic arcade-style beat 'em up Comix Zone, platformer Kid Chameleon and Greek mythology-themed beat 'em up Altered Beast will be available on Google Play and iTunes as free ad-supported games.


Can Travis Kalanick's resignation fix Uber?Uber's future is still tied to its founder

Uber's disruptive effect on the taxi business, went hand in hand with throwing out the rulebook. Some of the rules avoided, however, included strict background checks on drivers, and safety laws to ensure that drivers didn't work for too long, according to Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, who sits as chairperson of the company's board. He said the team "failed to build some of the systems that every company needs to scale successfully." Those systems included restrictions on employees sexually harassing their colleagues and preventing engineers from developing tools to hinder law enforcement investigations. Following Travis Kalanick's resignation, can Uber change enough?


Your next set of emoji includes zombies, vampires, fairies and dinosaurs. The latest emoji update is a playful one

Finally, the monocle emoji.


A new tool could make hidden ads more obvious -- if shills use it.Instagram gives social media influencers the benefit of the doubt

social media platform. The "Paid partnership with [enter brand name here]" post format is designed for users who want to advertise products on their page, letting them easily disclose when one of their posts is an ad. Instagram says this is an effort to bring the platform some much-needed transparency. The feature is set to roll out in the coming weeks to a "small number" of creators and businesses, according to the company. The question remains: Will influencers actually use the feature? And what will happen if they don't?


The monsters caught with cheating tools may not behave normally.'Pokémon Go' will flag creatures caught using cheats

Niantic has decided that forcing Pokémon Go cheaters to a life of catching Pidgeys isn't quite enough punishment. Now, any Pokémon caught using "third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay" will be marked with a slash in people's inventories and "may not behave as expected."

But wait, there's more...

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you'll miss if you don't subscribe.



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Caltech's 'lensless camera' could make our phones truly flat

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Imagination puts itself up for sale after being dumped by Apple

Once the world learned that Apple will design its own GPU for upcoming iPhones and iPads instead of using Imagination Technologies PowerVR tech, the UK company quickly lost 70 percent of its value. While it's still in "dispute" with Apple over the breakup, it already put two of its units, MIPS and Ensigma up for sale, and today announced that the entire company is open to being acquired. Its board of directors said in a press release that "it has received interest from a number of parties for a potential acquisition of the whole Group...and is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders."

Source: Imagination Technologies



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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

ESA throws its weight behind satellite-based 5G internet

The European Space Agency has joined forces with 16 European space companies to demonstrate and champion satellite-based 5G internet. They're calling their new initiative "Satellite for 5G," and they signed their agreement at the Paris Air and Space Show. The partners aim to deploy satellites for use in various trials to be performed over the next few years. By doing so, they hope to convince providers that satellite-based 5G can be better than terrestrial-based ones in many situations and to secure support from the European Commission. As Magali Vassiere, ESA's Director of Telecommunications, said in an interview embedded after the break, satellites can provide high-speed 5G connection even on mountains and islands far from cell towers. They could also ensure that you can reach first responders wherever you are on Earth.

Since the joint agreement is still in its very early stages, the participants haven't had the chance to iron out the details of the tests they plan to perform just yet. We'll probably hear more about the project at the "Space and Satcom for 5G: European Transport and Connected Mobility" conference on June 27th to 28th, and we'll let you know if the group announces anything big.

Vaissiere said in a statement after the agreement was signed:

"5G provides a major opportunity for our space industry, for space and satellites to become integral parts of the future generation of communications networks and services. The joint statement demonstrates that our key industrial stakeholders are ready to join forces in response to this industrial ambition. ESA is going to define a framework supporting industrial action and further strengthening and coordinating institutional support in Europe and in particular with the EC."

Source: ESA



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Self-driving shuttles are coming to the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is a hotbed for self-driving car research, so it stands to reason that students and faculty should use self-driving vehicles to get around, right? The university clearly thinks so. Mcity (the university's public-private partnership) is launching a free driverless shuttle service that will see two 15-passenger Navya Arma vehicles transport people between the university's North Campus Research Complex and the Lurie Engineering Center. This will make the 2-mile trip easier for travelers tired of taking campus buses, as you might guess, but it'll also serve as an experiment in its own right.

The Mcity team will closely watch how people react to the shuttles -- whether or not they're aboard. Outside cameras will monitor how people behave around the vehicles, while researchers will also measure ridership numbers and patterns. This should influence when and where the shuttles drive (they're currently limited to that one route and regular business hours), and promises safer, more efficient self-driving vehicles in the future. All told, the university could learn a lot about autonomy just by fulfilling some of its own needs.

Source: University of Michigan News



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Emojis for zombies, T-Rex and Colbert are almost here

Your phone chats are about to get more... fantastical. Right on cue, the Unicode Consortium has released its promised batch of emoji and text characters. The finalized set of 56 emoji (up from 48 when we last reported) includes a slew of outlandish people and beasts, including zombies, vampires, fairies and dinosaurs. It also does more to accommodate women with emoji for breastfeeding and the hijab, while Stephen Colbert fans might be happy with the familiar-looking raised eyebrow (second from the upper left).

Outside of the emoji, the update also introduces a Bitcoin character and is more adept at handling less common languages or written requirements.

Don't expect to use all these new characters right away. Your device operating system will need an update to recognize them, and there's a good chance you'll be waiting a while. You'll likely have to wait until Android O to see them on a Google-powered phone, while the iPhone and iPad crowd will likely have to sit tight until iOS 11. There's nothing stopping companies from adopting the new Unicode pack, however -- it's now just a question of everyone getting with the program.

Via: Emojipedia

Source: Unicode



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Kuri home robot can tell your pets from people

Mayfield Robotics' Kuri isn't out yet, but that isn't precluding the company from giving it some big upgrades ahead of the robo helper's late 2017 debut. Kuri can now recognize cats and dogs -- it'll know the difference between your pet and your significant other. The robot's vision cameras are also receiving an upgrade to 1080p, so you can expect higher-quality views of what's going on at home.

Even Kuri's feet are improving. Instead of conventional drive wheels, Mayfield is switching to belt treads. They're quieter, more maneuverable and better-suited to driving over rugs and room-to-room threshholds.

The bot is still expensive at $699, and it remains to be seen how well it'll work in practice. Having said that, it's only so often that you'll see companies upgrading hardware (let alone a robot) before a single unit has shipped -- if nothing else, this is a promising sign.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Kuri's Blog



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eBay will match prices from Amazon and Walmart on certain items

eBay announced a new Price Match Guarantee today, ensuring many of its items will cost the same or less than those offered by other major retail competitors. It's the company's latest move in the ongoing business battle with giants like Amazon and Walmart.

The items eligible for price match are those sold in the website's trending inventory section Deals. The products have to be new and identical to those sold through the outlet being price matched. They also have to be in stock at both eBay and its competitor at the time of purchase. The online retailers eligible for price match are Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Walmart's Jet.com, Home Depot, Sears, Target and Wayfair.

If an eBay customer spots one of those sites selling the same product for less, they'll have to call customer service before purchasing and get a coupon for the price difference. The coupon will expire 24 hours after it's issued.

Earlier this year, eBay announced another feature that would boost its competitiveness with Amazon. Its Guaranteed Delivery program, which has yet to launch, promises three-day delivery or less on millions of its items. If a package doesn't arrive on time, shipping costs will be refunded or, in the case of free shipping, a coupon that can be used towards a future purchase will be issued. The website will also integrate an additional search option, allowing customers to sort items by one-, two- and three-day delivery times.

The price match feature is available to US customers starting today and the shipping program is scheduled to launch later this year.

Source: eBay



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Scientists may have solved a key barrier to fusion power

We've been working towards nuclear fusion, a near-limitless source of clean energy, for the past six decades, and now scientists have made a major breakthrough. A new article published in Physical Review Letters details how to solve a dangerous issue with runaway electrons that has, until now, posed a major problem for fusion reactors.

Fusion reactors model themselves on the reactions that power our stars: Hydrogen atoms collide at such incredibly high speeds that they fuse into helium. That process releases astounding amounts of energy. It's the same thing that's happening in our sun's core right now.

Runaway electrons are simply free-floating electrons that are energized by potent electric fields. In the high energy of nuclear fusion, the levels and speeds to which these runaway electrons are charged can be catastrophic. The team discovered that it's possible to decelerate the electrons by injecting heavy ions, like neon or argon, into the reactor. The electrons collide with these neutral atoms, resulting in energy loss and slower speeds.

It may seem like a small step, but every problem we solve with nuclear fusion moves us closer to finally achieving it here on Earth. Linnea Hesslow, coauthor of the article, told Wired, "Many believe it will work, but it's easier to travel to Mars than it is to achieve fusion." We've got a long way to go yet, but eventually (hopefully), we'll get there.

Via: Wired

Source: Physical Review Letters



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GE is working on a massive 3D printer for jet engine parts

3D printing is coming of age in numerous ways. On a large scale, MIT researchers built a 50-foot-wide, 12-foot tall igloo in just 13 hours. They've also debuted the first completely 3D-printed rocket engine. On a much smaller level, our own Sean Buckley printed a little d-pad for his Nintendo Switch, while medical researchers have produced a 3D-printed patch that can heal scarred heart tissue. Now we're seeing this technology coming to the industrial world with a new laser-powered metal 3D printer from GE.

GE Additive is a new business under the larger GE umbrella. It is developing what it calls "the world's largest laser-powered 3D printer" to create parts that fit within one cubic meter cubic of space. "The machine will 3D print aviation parts suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft," said GE Additive's Mohammad Ehteshami in a statement. "It will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries."

Additive printers fuse fine layers of powdered metal with a laser beam to print objects. The new process could make complex parts like jet engine components easier and less costly to make than traditional casting and welding techniques. GE Aviation is already printing fuel nozzles for jet engines that will be found in Airbus, Boeing and narrow-body jets. GE has a prototype large-scale metal prnter, called ATLAS, that can print 2D objects up to 1 meter long, but the new one will extend that to a third dimension. Beta versions of the new printer should be ready by the end of this year, according to Ehteshami, with a production version slated for 2018.

Source: GE Reports



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Nike will team up with Amazon to fight fake kicks

Amazon has realized that counterfeit products posing as the real deal annoys consumers and dilutes trust in its marketplace. That's likely why it came down harshly on vendors last fall, requiring a hefty $1,000 to $1,500 fee and tons of paperwork to sell products from prime brands like Samsung, Adidas, Hasbro. But that was a stopgap move: Amazon has allegedly been working on a registry of approved vendors to assure consumers that the merch they buy is the real deal, and Nike might be the first brand to get this thorough vetting.

Reports surfaced last November that Amazon would start implementing the idea in 2017 as a greater push to combat counterfeit goods. In short, the commerce titan would reach out to vendors and compel them to prove they had the brand's permission to sell its products. A source told Bloomberg that Nike will get this treatment first, allowing the brand to control who can and can't sell its merchandise.

Currently, only third-party vendors can hawk Nike shoes. This includes Zappos, which is owned by Amazon, but the hints that Amazon itself could sell Nike's products more or less directly sent stocks in footwear companies Foot Locker and The Finish Line plunging, according to Bloomberg. We've reached out to Amazon to confirm any change in its relationship with Nike and will update when we hear back.

Source: Bloomberg



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Apple eyes streaming terms on par with Spotify's label deals

Apple's iTunes and Apple Music agreements with record labels' are set to expire at the end of the month and both sides have been negotiating new terms. Today, Bloomberg reports that Apple is looking to reduce record labels' share of streaming revenue.

As of now, 58 percent of the revenue generated from Apple Music subscribers goes to record labels. That rate is higher than what Spotify offers, which was recently dropped from 55 percent down to 52, though that reduction hinges on Spotify's continued growth. According to Bloomberg, the record labels are amenable to a rate reduction from Apple under similar terms. Apple's in a good position there, showing steady growth over the last two years. It's subscriber rate is currently around 27 million, up from 20 million just last December.

Streaming services have made a few concessions to record labels recently. Last month, the head of Apple Music, Jimmy Iovine, said that the streaming service would be moving away from exclusive music in light of push back from record labels. And Spotify has begun limiting what's offered through its free streaming version while also making an effort to actually pay royalties correctly.

Apple's new deal with record labels will probably also include their continued promotion of iTunes, a major source of music sales. If a deal isn't reached by the end of June, the current agreements will likely be extended until negotiations are finalized.

Source: Bloomberg



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NBC is the next big TV network to jump into eSports

Seemingly every big TV network wants in on eSports. NBC Sports has revealed that it's launching an international two-on-two Rocket League tournament this summer. It'll start online July 22nd with regional qualifiers using Faceit's eSports platform, but players will eventually face each other in person through studio competitions and the grand finals on August 26th and 27th. Naturally, there will be plenty of video coverage: NBC is promising over 40 hours across both online sources and TV, including live coverage of the finals on NBCSN (in the US) and Syfy (in the UK and other countries).

The Rocket League tourney is still small potatoes compared to the many hours of live conventional sports, but its very existence and its international reach are notable. Like other TV providers, NBC is now confident enough in eSports' future that it's willing to broadcast some events beyond the internet. Also, running the tournament gives it a stake in eSports -- it has a strong incentive to promote the concept of competitive gaming.

Source: NBC Sports Group



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Apple's paranoia about leaks is misplaced

Apple's inability to keep its secrets is so bad that even its internal presentation about confidentiality was leaked. But according to internal videos obtained by The Outline, the company is very serious about secrecy. It reportedly conducted an hour-long briefing titled "Stopping Leakers - Keeping Confidential at Apple" for about 100 employees to make sure they understood the importance of not leaking information. But that concern is misplaced: Clamping down on leaks won't help Apple's bottom line.

CEO Tim Cook definitely thinks leaks and iPhone sales are related, though. On the company's second quarter earnings call this year, he said, "We're seeing what we believe to be a pause in purchases on iPhone, which we believe are due to the earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones." What's more, according to The Outline, Apple believes that "It's our DNA... It's our brand" to "surprise and delight" people at product announcements, and keeping its plans secret is key to doing so.

Whether leaks have a direct impact on Apple's sales requires further investigation and is not something we can easily determine -- even Cook was just speculating when he discussed the "pause" in iPhone purchases. But would complete secrecy prior to product announcements have surprised and delighted consumers into buying more products?

Let's look back at two of Apple's recent hardware launches: the iPhone 7 and the MacBook Pro. Despite having been leaked to death prior to the reveal, the iPhone's missing headphone jack still generated plenty of buzz. The same goes for the MacBook Pro, which drew lots of attention to the controversial Touch Bar feature. Again, despite having been all but confirmed by the rumor mill before the official announcement. Possibly the best example here is the original Apple Watch -- it was heavily exposed before the company even confirmed it, but is still the most successful wearable today.

Sure, maybe there would have been more surprise at features like the iPhone 7 Plus' dual-camera and Portrait Mode had they not been leaked. On the other hand, there would possibly have been more horror at widely perceived missteps like the headphone jack removal, too.

Apple should focus on "delighting" its audience, and shutting down leaks isn't going to make that easier. Whether people already have an inkling of what to expect from a product doesn't prevent them from being pleased when it officially gets announced. Their reactions are only different when what's revealed turns out to be underwhelming.

Protecting trade secrets and preventing corporate espionage are part of most major organizations, but, like Apple, some tech companies may be taking the anti-leak fixation too far. Google, for example, is facing a lawsuit for "illegal confidentiality agreements, policies, and practices." According to the legal documents, this includes an alleged "spying program" and a "global investigations team" that runs a "Stopleaks" program and investigates "information security issues when a Google employee is suspected of being involved."

It's important to note, though, that Apple has taken a strong stance against surveillance. It famously resisted the FBI when the latter demanded access to the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone. Cook has also publicly defended consumers' rights to strong encryption and security against governments. But it apparently doesn't have a problem hiring people from the same national security organization it frequently opposes, nor do its executives seem to have trouble throwing around terms like "breaking secrecy," which make it seem like they're agents at those very institutions.

Neither Apple nor Google responded to requests for comment on these alleged security processes, although Google has refuted the lawsuit's claims. The exposé about Apple's obsession with secrecy is unlikely to make the company less uptight. But it also won't slow down the deluge of leaks around the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Still, if we're to be surprised and delighted (not just surprised) by the product, Apple should be focusing on delivering an innovative and useful set of features rather than clamping down on leaks.



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NASA goes all-out with livestreaming for this summer's total eclipse

The US will experience its first continent-wide total solar eclipse in 99 years on August 21st, and NASA wants to make sure you see it... including perspectives you just couldn't get otherwise. It's promising an hours-long livestream that will cover the eclipse from seemingly every angle. There will be video on the ground as the sky briefly goes dark, of course, but there will also be views from aircraft, high-altitude balloons and the International Space Station. If you don't live in an eclipse area or just can't afford to step outside, this is probably your best bet at seeing what the fuss is about.

The agency is also taking the lead on viewing safety with its own guide. In essence: it'll only be truly safe to stare directly at the eclipse during the two minutes when everything will be dark. At every other moment, you'll want to use either a solar filter (such as eclipse glasses) or a pinhole projector. And of course, that's where the livestream could come in handy -- in some cases, it might offer a better view of the Sun than you'd get first-hand.

Source: NASA (release), (Eclipse Live), (safety)



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WannaCry ransomware causes Honda plant to shut down

WannaCry isn't done yet. Honda Motor Co. had to shut down its Sayama plant on Monday after finding the ransomware in its computer network. The plant's production resumed on Tuesday.

The WannaCry ransomware got everyone's attention in May when UK NHS hospitals fell victim to it. It then quickly spread around the world, affecting over 150 countries and hitting companies like French car manufacturer Renault and FedEx.

WannaCry was made possible by a Windows vulnerability uncovered by the NSA and subsequently stolen and released by a hacking group called The Shadow Brokers. WannaCry, which US agencies suspect a North Korean group was behind, took advantage of that vulnerability in computers that hadn't been updated with Microsoft's patch or had versions of Windows that were too old to use it.

Honda's Sayama plant, located outside of Tokyo, manufactures the Accord, Odyssey and Step Wagon models and produces around 1,000 vehicles each day. Production at other plants wasn't affected.

Via: Road Show

Source: Reuters



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Samsung puts you on the field with MLB VR videos

Are you a baseball aficionado with a Gear VR headset? You're in for a treat beyond Intel's weekly live games. Samsung and MLB have unveiled plans to release "over 20" virtual reality videos over the course of the league's 2017 season. Some of them will include highlights of key moments, such as All-Star events and division championships, while others will give you close-ups with players and "unrivaled" views of ballparks. Some of these will have supplements, too, such as stats and trivia.

The videos will be available in the US and several other baseball-loving parts of the world, including Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.

Regular live VR games aren't coming anytime soon. Outside of the Intel deal, MLB isn't focused on as-it-happens experiences. However, this gives you a sense of what could happen with VR baseball viewing (and VR sports in general) going forward: it's less about the outcome of a game and more about giving you a sense of what it's like to walk on to the field.

Source: Samsung Newsroom



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'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' hits Netflix July 18th

That exclusive deal with Disney that Netflix made back in 2012 started to pay off last fall. We wondered when we might see any Lucasfilm releases at the time, but it looks like the time is ripe for spending some time with Jyn Erso and her band of plucky Rebels. Rogue One is headed to Netflix on July 18th.

If you watch Netflix's upcoming releases trailer above, you'll note that Rogue One won't be available to download for offline viewing, unlike the rest of the announced movies and TV shows. If you're wondering why you still can't stream The Force Awakens on Netflix in the US, blame a Starz licensing agreement that covered Disney films released through the end of 2015. Canadians, though, can stream the first reboot just fine.



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Dailymotion is trying to clean up its act with major redesign

Dailymotion announced this week that it has completely redesigned its app and advertising strategy. And the company hopes to attract viewers with higher quality content created through partnerships with media and entertainment brands. Three new partnerships with Universal Music Group, CNN and Vice were also announced.

On the new app, video content will now be divided into four themes -- news, sports, music and entertainment -- and geared towards 18- to 49-year-olds. Dailymotion is also offering less intrusive advertising formats that they say will "promote a more fluid user experience and stronger brand integration."

Dailymotion, which Vivendi acquired a majority stake in two years ago, has had its share of issues. Users have had a history of posting pirated content, which led to the company being found guilty of copyright infringement in France and a ban in Russia. The site was also hacked last year.

According to a statement, Dailymotion has 300 million unique users per month -- well below competitor YouTube's nearly one billion visitors. Reuters reported that the video-sharing site hired around 100 engineers to work on the redesign that it hopes will bring in more viewers.

The app should be available soon for both iOS and Android and a desktop version is scheduled for a worldwide release on July 25th.

Via: VentureBeat

Source: Dailymotion



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