Here’s what the new Gmail looks like

Here’s what the new Gmail looks like

Yesterday, Google pressed the Send button too quickly and informed G Suite customers that a new Gmail was coming soon. TechCrunch obtained a few screenshots of the new interface from a tipster called Chaim. I confirmed the authenticity of those screenshots with another person who saw the new design. So here’s what you can expect. […]

Nearly 1 out of 10 Americans have deleted their Facebook account over privacy concerns, study says

Nearly 1 out of 10 Americans have deleted their Facebook account over privacy concerns, study says

  • 9% of Americans say they have deleted their Facebook account altogether over privacy concerns, according to a new study. 
  • 35% say they’re using Facebook less than they used to.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his testimony this week in Washington that there wasn’t a “meaningful” number of people who are deleting Facebook in the wake of revelations that data firms like Cambridge Analytica were able to steal personal information from millions of users. 

But this seems unlikely, given the huge amount of press coverage. The hashtag “#DeleteFacebook” has trended, and you may even personally know people who zapped their Facebook account. 

So Carolina Milanesi and technology research group Techpinions decided to survey a representative sample of 1,000 Americans about their feelings about the social networking giant. 

Here are the big takeaways: 

  • 17% of Americans have deleted the Facebook app from their phone over privacy concerns.
  • 35% say they’re using Facebook less than they used to over the privacy issue. 
  • 9% have deleted their Facebook account altogether.
  • 39% of Americans are “very aware” and 37% say they’re “somewhat aware” of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

Of course, these are self-reported numbers, and there may be a gap between people who say they deleted their Facebook and those who actually did. 

Milanesi writes that lower engagement is actually the real risk for Facebook, not necessarily people deleting their accounts.

According to the study, 2 out of 5 people surveyed who had been on Facebook for over 7 years wanted it to “go back to how it was.” Facebook’s main product hasn’t changed that much in recent years, so perhaps, like Zuckerberg, they’re reminiscing about a time where it was run out of a Harvard dorm room and the key feature was the “poke.” 

You can read the entire Techpinions writeup of the survey here.

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Apple’s HomePod is too expensive, too limited, too late to market, and few people are buying it

Apple’s HomePod is too expensive, too limited, too late to market, and few people are buying it

  • Apple has cut manufacturing orders for HomePod.
  • The smart speaker is more expensive than its rivals but has fewer functions.
  • Apple missed the expected Christmas launch date, and now Amazon and Google’s speakers are leaving it in the dust.

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is too expensive, its functions are too limited, and it launched too late for the Christmas/holiday season, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports, and that’s why few people are buying it.

Some store locations sell as few as 10 HomePod speakers per day, and inventory is piling up, Gurman says. The company has cut some orders it had placed with Inventec Corp., a supplier that makes parts for the HomePod.

It currently commands only 4% of the home smart speaker market, down from a still-modest 10% after launch, according to buying data from Slice Intelligence:

  • First 10 weeks of HomePod sales
  • Amazon Echo: 73%
  • Google Home 14%
  • Apple HomePod: 10%
  • Source: Slice Intelligence

Part of the problem is the price. At $349 or £319, it’s $200 more expensive than its rivals.

And those rivals do more stuff than the HomePod, which is limited to playing songs on Apple Music, sending messages through your iPhone, and controlling a few other Apple devices.

Not helping matters: Apple intended to launch HomePod before Christmas, when it would have made a natural choice for gifts. But it missed the launch date and did not make it to store shelves until February of this year. Gurman again:

“Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and a long-time Apple watcher, expects HomePod sales to pick up in the holiday shopping season. He says Apple will probably sell 7 million HomePods this year and close to 11 million in 2019. By contrast, Munster predicts that Amazon will sell 29 million Echos this year and 39 million in 2019. Alphabet, he estimates, will move 18 million Google Homes in 2018 and about 32 million the following year.”

Of course, it’s early days in the smart speaker business. Apple has a habit of launching new products with modest functions only to later turn them into powerhouses. The original Apple Watch was nonfunctional without an iPhone, for instance, and the people forget how feeble the original iPhone was. Both products now lead their categories.

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A look at the challenges faced by developers while humanizing the voices of their virtual private assistants

A look at the challenges faced by developers while humanizing the voices of their virtual private assistants


Kevin Wong / Engadget:

A look at the challenges faced by developers while humanizing the voices of their virtual private assistants  —  The virtual personal assistant is romanticized in utopian portrayals of the future from The Jetsons to Star Trek.  It’s the cultured, disembodied voice at humanity’s beck and call …