Morgan Freeman now narrates your navigation in Google’s Waze

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is lending his voice to popular GPS driving app Waze, meaning those in the U.S. can be given directions by the soothing, dulcet tones of the legendary Hollywood actor.

Freeman joins other big-name stars who have added their voice to the navigation app in the past, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Hart, in what is used as a key promotional tool by film companies. Indeed, Freeman has a new movie due out in March where he plays Vice President Trumbull in “London has Fallen.” Naturally, when you enter the settings area to change your voice, you’ll see some marketing blurb for the upcoming flick.

Morgan Freeman: Waze

Above: Morgan Freeman: Waze

Founded out of Israel in 2007, Waze has built a solid reputation for its mobile apps that let anyone share real-time data on traffic and road conditions. It was this popularity and the data it created that led Google to pay north of $1 billion to acquire it back in 2013, shortly before Waze first introduced celebrity voices to the mix.

While this is merely a short-term offering to promote the film, Waze said that Freeman is among its most requested voices by its users, so this will prove popular for sure. It also serves as a reminder that despite the mountain of data Google garners from Waze to improve its other services, including Google Maps, good old-fashioned celebrity affiliations still speaks volumes in the world of mobile apps.










Social Capital’s Newest Partners On How The Firm Works

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 6.09.17 AM Ashley Carroll and Arjun Sethi never thought they’d be working as venture capitalists. Yet in the last year, both have landed at Social Capital, a 4.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based firm that incubates and invests in companies in healthcare, education, financial services, mobile and enterprise software. Social Capital was also, somewhat famously, created by Chamath Palihapitiya, a… Read More

Photos of naked infant and sex act with dog seized by police from Sydney child porn ring

Pictured: Five victims of the married Uber driver, 45, who 'killed six people during random shooting spree from his cab while he picked up fares in Michigan' Woman, 23, may have been romantically involved with the roommate who 'beat and knifed her into a coma after she found him on CRAIGSLIST', cops claim Ronda Rousey's UFC boyfriend is now divorced from his model wife... clearing the way for the fighting fit couple to marry Ex-Dallas Cowboys star Joseph Randle held for 'battery, possessing drugs and criminal damage' in troubled running back's fifth arrest in just 18 months Pope Francis calls for global abolition of the death penalty saying 'Thou shalt not kill' applies to the guilty as well as the innocent Don and dusted? Tycoon looks unassailable in race for GOP nomination after sweeping South Carolina and forcing establishment candidate Jeb Bush to quit disastrous campaign 'Those are ... (more)

Google and operators push Rich Communication Services with new Android RCS messaging client

Meet Android Marshmallow.

Google is partnering with a myriad of mobile operators in a move to expedite the rollout of Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android.

The partnership sees the Internet giant team up with a number of global and regional carriers, including América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Millicom, Orange, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, Turkcell, Vodafone, and wireless standards body the GSMA.

“Operators have agreed to transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with operators and OEMs,” a press release issued during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona reads.

For the uninitiated, RCS is an ongoing GSMA program designed to create cross-operator communications similar to SMS that bring additional features to the mix such as group messaging, IP voice calls, and file-sharing — features you no doubt recognize from proprietary messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger. But while SMS works across operators, the aforementioned Internet messaging services don’t — and this is what Google et al are trying to address on Android.

In many ways, this move seem a little too late given the traction that messaging platforms have achieved already. WhatsApp recently sailed past one billion monthly active users (MAUs), while Facebook Messenger is dancing close to that number itself. Plus, those services work across mobile platforms — Android, iOS, among others.

While RCS is by no means an Android-only initiative, the latest push by Google et al is all about Android. Still, Android represents more than a billion users globally, and Google does state that this can be implemented by other operating systems too — but it will require Apple, Microsoft et all to sign up.

The goals of the latest Google-backed push are explained as follows:

“By aligning on a universal RCS profile, mobile operators will be able to deploy a consistent RCS implementation, feature set, and configuration. The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling consumers to access RCS services on their devices. Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.

The profile and client will enable a consistent and interoperable messaging experience between all Android devices and across all operators worldwide, as well as ease interoperability testing between networks and significantly reduce time to market. The universal profile can be implemented by other operating systems and will be supported by a formal GSMA accreditation process. Google will also provide an open source version of the client based on the universal profile specification and will provide developer APIs to enhance the RCS client experience.”

Today’s news comes five months after Google acquired Jibe Mobile, a startup that focuses on helping networks develop support for various messaging features into their services. It’s all about bringing SMS into the same realm as Internet-based messaging services, and is the clearest sign yet of Google striving to play catch-up with the likes of Facebook which owns two gargantuan messaging platforms in the form of Messenger and WhatsApp — and that’s without even mentioning Instagram.

“Messaging holds a central place in our lives, whether it’s coordinating a meet-up, sharing photos with friends, or sending thoughts to a loved one,” said Nick Fox, vice president of communications products at Google. “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.”

Mobile operators are able to deploy their own infrastructure aroun RCS, though naturally Google is offering its newly-acquired Jibe platform for use too.

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Motorola (Brand) Is Alive And Doing Well

moto_briefing Two years after Lenovo acquired Motorola, it looks like Motorola is doing fine. Or at least that’s what the business unit is trying to say. Today at a meeting with reporters, Motorola president Rick Osterloh said that the Moto brand is not going anywhere. You can expect more Moto G and Moto E in the future, as well as more Lenovo phones. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Read More

Finnish VC, Lifeline Ventures, Raises 57 Million Euros

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 5.30.11 AM Helsinki-based Lifeline Ventures launched a new 57 million euro ($63 million) fund to invest in startups. Founded in 2009, Lifeline Ventures has set up three funds and invested in 55 early stage startups with a number of successes. “We’ve had exits to King.com (NonstopGames), Facebook (Moves app) and Unity 3D (Applifier). Before 2012, we were the first investors in Supercell. We… Read More

AT&T and Intel test drones’ capabilities on LTE beyond line of sight and at higher altitudes

Drone

U.S. telecoms giant AT&T is partnering with chip maker Intel to test and optimize how drones perform on LTE connections beyond line-of-sight, at higher altitudes, or when faced with external interference.

Intel is demoing an LTE-connected drone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week. The partnership is designed to show how a network that has primarily been designed to connected devices (such as smartphones) on the ground can be reappropriated for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Drone

Above: Drone

Image Credit: AT&T

Many drones can be connected by smartphones, with on-board cameras giving the operator a real-time view of the UAV in-flight. That, in conjunction with other sensors required to control the drone, means that a constant connection is required. And this is why Intel is teaming up with AT&T’s Internet of Things (IoT) team and its Foundry innovation center to see how drones can best work on a LTE network.

Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years, leading to an increasing concern over security and how the vehicles could or should be regulated. And this is one of the areas the two companies are looking to address, including how signals between a smartphone and a drone may interfere with airplanes and other manned aircraft. They’ll also explore usability and functionality in “beyond line-of-sight”, a scenario the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently considering.

It’s worth noting here that the partnership is less about helping consumers navigate their toys around public thoroughfares than it is exploring legitimate business scenarios. While the likes of Amazon is currently looking into “delivery by drone” initiatives, there are many other use-cases across numerous industries that could see UAVs take off to the next level.

“AT&T and Intel will be testing how the network can enable the most exciting business use cases for drones,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, IoT Solutions at AT&T in a press release. “Our LTE network is uniquely positioned to connect industries like delivery, agriculture, construction and insurance. We’re using the network to transfer important information, images and video quickly and efficiently — far beyond the boundaries of short range connectivity.”

For AT&T, the move makes sense as the broader telecoms industry increasingly embraces the so-called Internet of Things. As for Intel, it has been pushing heavily into the drone realm of late — it recently acquired Ascending Technologies, a dronemaker that specializes in collision-avoidance technology.

“Intel believes UAVs have great potential, from inspections, precision agriculture to deliveries of consumer goods and providing emergency disaster relief,” added Anil Nanduri, vice president of the New Technology Group at Intel. “We want to grow this market through our collaborations and by integrating new technologies and compute to UAVs.”

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Amazon and Ericsson form telco alliance for cloud services

Amazon WEb Services lights

BARCELONA ( By Eric Auchard, Reuters) – Ericsson and Amazon’s web services division (AWS) said on Monday they have agreed a deal that allows Ericsson, the world’s leading maker of mobile network gear, to act as a bridge for its telecom operator customers to use public cloud services.

The pact is part of a broader push by Ericsson to move telecommunications service providers to adopt cloud services instead of relying entirely on their own internal computer operations that help them to run more efficient mobile services.

Ericsson will provide software that help telecom service providers to tap Amazon’s cloud services while allowing them to keep control over their customer data to localization requirements and preserve full data encryption.

No financial terms were disclosed.

In addition to software tools, Ericsson said it is creating a global team of experts in using the AWS Cloud.

The first customer of the alliance will be Telstra, the Australian telecommunications operator, they said.

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