It's Disney's turn to launch a streaming service

Disney+ logos Image copyright Disney
Image caption Disney+ will be accessible through smart TVs as well as smartphones and tablets

Can an almost century-old company learn from its glorious past and create itself a brave new future? Coming to a small screen near you… eventually.

Disney has finally announced its long-anticipated streaming service, but it won’t be available until November in North America - and in some markets, it will take much longer.

That’s due to several factors, but mostly because Disney is still in the process of clawing back the rights to its content, sold to other streaming platforms before it had platform aspirations of its own.

It will take as long as four years before all of the deals have expired, the firm said. The delay could hobble Disney’s chances to succeed in the streaming market, described by chief executive Bob Iger as his “biggest priority”.

When it does eventually launch, however, Disney+ will be a streaming juggernaut. The service will bundle together some of the firm’s major franchises, including the work of Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic and Star Wars, for a monthly subscription price of $6.99, or $69.99 a year.

Image copyright Disney
Image caption Disney's Captain Marvel

Read full article It's Disney's turn to launch a streaming service

Facebook to use AI to respect the dead

Sheryl Sandberg Image copyright Getty Images

Facebook has said it is working on using artificial intelligence to prevent a common and upsetting problem: receiving notifications about deceased friends and loved ones.

The company said it hoped to stop the “painful” experience of getting suggestions to invite dead people to events, or to wish them a happy birthday.

Read full article Facebook to use AI to respect the dead

Microsoft's eBook store: When this closes, your books disappear too

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Image caption When you buy an eBook, you typically don't actually end up owning the book at all

There’s bad news for users of Microsoft’s eBook store: the company is closing it down, and, with it, any books bought through the service will no longer be readable.

To soften the blow, the company has promised to refund any customers who bought books through the store (a clue that there may not have been that many of them, hence the closure. Microsoft did not offer further comment).

Read full article Microsoft's eBook store: When this closes, your books disappear too

Matter of fact-checkers: Is Facebook winning the fake news war?

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Image caption Facebook launched its fact-checking programme one month after US President Donald Trump's election in 2016.

For the people contracted by Facebook to clamp down on fake news and misinformation, doubt hangs over them every day. Is it working?

"Are we changing minds?" wondered one fact-checker, based in Latin America, speaking to the BBC.

Read full article Matter of fact-checkers: Is Facebook winning the fake news war?

Apple abandons AirPower wireless charging product

AirPower was billed by Apple as a "world-class wireless charging solution" Image copyright Apple
Image caption AirPower was billed by Apple as a "world-class wireless charging solution"

In a highly unusual step for the firm, Apple has given up on a product because it could not make it work adequately.

AirPower, announced in 2017, was a mat meant to charge multiple devices without needing to plug them in.

Read full article Apple abandons AirPower wireless charging product

For Uber and Lyft, reality is arriving soon

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Media captionWatch: Lyft arrives at the US Stock Exchange

Ride-sharing company Lyft has begun trading on the stock market with a surge in its share price. Soon, Lyft will be joined by rival Uber. Both companies will be worth tens of billions of dollars.

But, with neither of the firms ever coming close to turning a profit, the flotations are being seen as a reckoning - not just Uber and Lyft, but for the so-called “gig economy” itself, the business model that does away with traditional employment in favour of dishing out small jobs via an app.

Read full article For Uber and Lyft, reality is arriving soon

Trump: Google is committed to US not the Chinese military

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Google’s is “committed to the US Military, not the Chinese Military" President Trump said after meeting the firm's chief executive on Wednesday.

In a tweet, the President said he and Sundar Pichai also discussed “political fairness and various things that Google can do for our country”.

Read full article Trump: Google is committed to US not the Chinese military

Google announces AI ethics panel

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Google has launched a global advisory council to offer guidance on ethical issues relating to artificial intelligence, automation and related technologies.

The panel consists of eight people and includes former US deputy secretary of state, and a University of Bath associate professor.

Read full article Google announces AI ethics panel

Google leads gaming down a perilous path

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Image caption Phil Harrison said the firm had been running the product on a connection speed of "around 25mbps"

The future of the games industry, at least as Google sees it, is in streaming.

It’s a trend that feels inevitable - just ask anyone in the music, TV or film business. Streaming is where it's at, and the possibility for what can be streamed has only ever been bound by the limitations of internet connectivity.

Read full article Google leads gaming down a perilous path

Facebook and Instagram suffer most severe outage ever

The Facebook "family" of apps was suffering issues, the company confirmed Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Facebook "family" of apps was suffering issues, the company confirmed

Facebook appears to be recovering from a more than 14-hour disruption to all of its products that left them mostly inaccessible across the world.

The company's main social network, its two messaging apps and image-sharing site Instagram were all affected.

Read full article Facebook and Instagram suffer most severe outage ever