Blair Hanley Frank

About the Author Blair Hanley Frank


Here’s how Google is preparing Android for the AI-laden future

The future of Android will be a lot smarter, thanks to new programming tools that Google unveiled on Wednesday. The company announced TensorFlow Lite, a version of its machine learning framework that’s designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, during the keynote address at its Google I/O developer conference.

“TensorFlow Lite will leverage a new neural network API to tap into silicon-specific accelerators, and over time we expect to see [digital signal processing chips] specifically designed for neural network inference and training,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android. “We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more.”

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Google preps Android for an A.I.-laden future

The future of Android will be a lot smarter, thanks to new programming tools that Google unveiled on Wednesday. The company announced TensorFlow Lite, a version of its machine learning framework that’s designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, during the keynote address at its Google I/O developer conference.

“TensorFlow Lite will leverage a new neural network API to tap into silicon-specific accelerators, and over time we expect to see [digital signal processing chips] specifically designed for neural network inference and training,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android. “We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more.”

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Microsoft’s new mobile app enables Windows developers to test on iOS

Mobile developers building apps for iOS and Android have some new tools from Microsoft designed to make their lives easier. On Thursday, the company unveiled a series of apps and services, including one that’s designed to let Windows-based developers test iOS apps from their PCs.

Called Xamarin Live Player, the app allows developers to link their iOS or Android phones with Visual Studio on Windows or Mac and then test the .Net mobile applications they’re building in a matter of seconds.

It’s designed to solve two key problems: developers needing to burn time setting up their development environments, and the time that it takes to compile applications, according to Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman.

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Microsoft’s new tools help devs manage cloud deployments on the go

Microsoft is making it easier for developers to manage their cloud deployments on the go, using a new mobile app and browser-based command line.

On Wednesday, the company unveiled Azure Cloud Shell, which lets developers spin up a full-fledged terminal environment inside Microsoft’s cloud and comes with a set of preconfigured tools for managing deployments. Each user will have persistent file storage in their Cloud Shell, hosted in Microsoft Azure.

Cloud Shells are accessible through the Microsoft Azure web portal, as well as the Azure mobile app for iOS and Android, which was just released Wednesday. That app also provides users with the ability to monitor the workloads they have running in Microsoft’s public cloud and perform basic management like stopping and restarting virtual machines.

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Oracle’s next big business is selling your info

There’s a decent chance you’re part of Oracle’s next big business. Not selling products to you, but selling you as a product. That’s the idea behind the Oracle Data Cloud, a massive pool of information about consumers and companies.

The tech titan has put it together by tracking people across the web and buying data from a variety of sources. People who have their data included may not even know that they’ve opted in for that data collection.

There’s no big red button that someone has to click in order to be a part of the company’s data collection machine. Instead, its base of user data is fed by a network of third parties. The Data Cloud is primarily fed by three types of sources: publishers, like Forbes and Edmunds, retail loyalty programs, and traditional data brokers like Experian and IHS.

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Google Cloud growth is outpacing the company’s ad business

Google is still an advertising company, but the tech titan’s cloud business is growing faster than its advertising revenue. That’s one of the key take-aways from the company’s first quarter earnings report released Thursday.

Google Cloud Platform is one of the fastest-growing lines of revenue across Alphabet, the parent company that includes Google and other businesses like self-driving car maker Waymo, company CFO Ruth Porat said on a conference call with analysts. That growth is driven in part by a change in the way companies are working with Google Cloud.

“Over the last several months, we have noticed a change in the types of conversations that Diane [Greene] and her team are having with customers,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. “Increasingly, we are being asked to partner for mission-critical projects and full migrations, moving data from on-prem data centers to the cloud. We are seeing a meaningful shift, and this momentum is resulting in a fast-growing business.”

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Google Cloud growth is outpacing the company’s ad business

Google is still an advertising company, but the tech titan’s cloud business is growing faster than its advertising revenue. That’s one of the key take-aways from the company’s first quarter earnings report released Thursday.

Google Cloud Platform is one of the fastest-growing lines of revenue across Alphabet, the parent company that includes Google and other businesses like self-driving car maker Waymo, company CFO Ruth Porat said on a conference call with analysts. That growth is driven in part by a change in the way companies are working with Google Cloud.

“Over the last several months, we have noticed a change in the types of conversations that Diane [Greene] and her team are having with customers,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. “Increasingly, we are being asked to partner for mission-critical projects and full migrations, moving data from on-prem data centers to the cloud. We are seeing a meaningful shift, and this momentum is resulting in a fast-growing business.”

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Box revises platform pricing to ease developer adoption

Box is trying to give developers who want to use its platform more pricing consistency with a new  announced Tuesday.

Customers will now pay on the basis of how much active use they’re getting out of the Box Platform, which offers cloud storage and content management capabilities for third-party applications. Companies can purchase packages from Box that include a set number of active users, API calls, bandwidth, and storage use.

The first package costs $500 per month and includes 100 monthly active users, 175,000 Box API calls, 125GB of bandwidth, and 125GB of storage in Box’s cloud. The more packages companies purchase, the less they have to pay per package. For developers just getting started with the platform, there’s a free tier that allows 10 monthly active users, 15,000 API calls, 10GB of bandwidth, and 10GB of storage.

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With CRM integration, Microsoft finds another use for LinkedIn

Microsoft is wielding LinkedIn against Salesforce in the battle for the CRM market. Starting Tuesday, salespeople will get LinkedIn Sales Navigator data alongside other information in the Dynamics 365 Sales dashboard.

Users who have both systems will see information from LinkedIn profiles inside the lead, contact, account and opportunity pages of Dynamics 365 Sales. Dynamics and LinkedIn Sales Navigator will sync their information every day so that LinkedIn’s system is up to date on activity from Microsoft’s CRM and vice versa.

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Here’s everything announced at Wednesday’s AWS Summit

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels took the stage at the company’s AWS Summit Wednesday to announce a smorgasbord of new features for Amazon Web Services.

The functionality included new billing for software-as-a-service applications, a new continuous integration tool, and enhancements to the company’s database services. Here’s the rundown of what was announced:

SaaS Contracts in AWS Marketplace

SaaS Contracts give companies the ability to pay for subscription software through the AWS Marketplace on a one-, two- or three-year basis. Customers are billed for the subscriptions through their monthly AWS bill, rather than on a separate invoice.

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SnapLogic’s AI simplifies enterprise software connections

SnapLogic wants to make it easier for users of its enterprise software integration platform to connect components of their business systems. The company has unveiled a new feature that uses machine learning to suggest what users may want to do.

The idea behind the new feature, announced this week, is to make it easier to connect and move data between enterprise software systems. SnapLogic’s service lets companies take a data source like a Concur instance, and synchronize that with information an ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics. 

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Can the enterprise save Facebook bots?

Facebook’s bumpy introduction of bot capabilities inside its Messenger service may be saved by an unlikely candidate: business users.

While the company’s bot platform for consumers has been more widely discussed than its business counterpart, support for automated conversation partners also extends to the company’s Workplace service for businesses. In that context, users can interact with bots to perform functions at work, like getting a budget approved by their supervisor.

Business-focused bots have more utility than their consumer counterparts at this point, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. It’s one thing to run through an expense report with a bot, and quite another to order a pizza. There’s also more room for an imperfect user experience in the land of enterprise software, in Moorhead’s view.

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Facebook levels up its identity tools for developers

Facebook’s popular app login tools are getting an update to better serve international users, the company announced Tuesday.

Account Kit, which lets users log into an application using a phone number, received a number of enhancements. The system will now let users verify their identities via a voice call or text messag in 19 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, Spanish and Thai. Facebook also launched a Basic Web SDK, so Account Kit developers can reach people through Internet.org’s Free Basics platform.

Developers will also be able to get deeper insight into how people are using the Account Kit login system by using Facebook Analytics, the company’s service for understanding user behavior that also received major updates on Tuesday.

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Uber offers new dispatch service for businesses

Uber wants businesses to do away with shuttle buses for customers, and has launched a new service aimed at making it easier for companies to hail cars on other people’s behalf. Called Uber Central, the software lets users request cars even for people who don’t have accounts with the ride-hailing company.

Here’s how it works: company employees who have access to the Uber Central console input a customer’s name and phone number, along with their pickup and drop-off address. After that, they can request a ride from Uber’s menu of services, or save the data as a draft for easier use later.

The Uber Central dashboard, which is available worldwide, also lets employees track the status of rides. It’s built on top of Uber for Business, a version of the ride-hailing platform that has been built for use by companies rather than individuals.

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Microsoft’s new software tool helps enterprises evaluate cloud move

IT professionals who want help getting a handle on a potential cloud migration have a new tool from Microsoft. The company is offering a Cloud Migration Assessment service that walks customers through an evaluation of the resources they currently use, in order to determine what a move to the cloud would cost.

Microsoft’s cost calculation is driven in part by the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, which lets customers apply their existing Windows Server licenses with Software Assurance to virtual machines running in Microsoft’s cloud. That means customers only have to pay the base price for the compute resources they use.

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Microsoft acquires Deis to boost its Kubernetes chops

Microsoft is acquiring Deis, a company that makes tools to work with the Kubernetes open-source container orchestration system. The deal, announced Monday, marks Microsoft’s continued interest in container orchestration.

Deis creates tools that aim to simplify the development of modern, containerized applications. Containers allow developers to write an application for an isolated, portable runtime that is supposed to be easily transferrable from a workstation to a server environment.

Tools like Deis’s Workflow, Helm, and Steward are supposed to ease the complex process of managing multi-container applications. They build on top of Kubernetes, the popular open-source container orchestration system that Google released in 2014. Deis plans to continue its contributions to those tools as part of Microsoft, company CTO Gabe Monroy said in a blog post.

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Microsoft acquires Deis to boost its Kubernetes chops

Microsoft is acquiring Deis, a company that makes tools to work with the Kubernetes open-source container orchestration system. The deal, announced Monday, marks Microsoft’s continued interest in container orchestration.

Deis creates tools that aim to simplify the development of modern, containerized applications. Containers allow developers to write an application for an isolated, portable runtime that is supposed to be easily transferrable from a workstation to a server environment.

Tools like Deis’s Workflow, Helm, and Steward are supposed to ease the complex process of managing multi-container applications. They build on top of Kubernetes, the popular open-source container orchestration system that Google released to the world in 2014. Deis plans to continue its contributions to those tools as part of Microsoft, company CTO Gabe Monroy said in a blog post.

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Tableau switches to subscription pricing for its BI products

Tableau is making a big change in the way it sells its business intelligence products. The company announced Thursday that all of its software will be available as a subscription, rather than a single license plus a service fee.

Businesses will need to pay $70 per user per month for a license of Tableau Desktop Professional, and $35 per user per month for Tableau Server. That compares to the company’s boxed software prices of $2000 for Desktop, plus a $400 annual renewal fee for software updates, and $800 for Server, plus a $200 annual fee.

It’s a move that will provide additional flexibility, scalability and risk mitigation for Tableau customers, according to Francois Ajenstat, the company’s chief product officer.

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Tableau moves to subscription pricing for its BI products

Tableau is making a big change in the way it sells its business intelligence products. The company announced Thursday that all of its software will be available as a subscription, rather than a single license plus a service fee.

Businesses will need to pay $70 per user per month for a license of Tableau Desktop Professional, and $35 per user per month for Tableau Server. That compares to the company’s boxed software prices of $2000 for Desktop, plus a $400 annual renewal fee for software updates, and $800 for Server, plus a $200 annual fee.

It’s a move that will provide additional flexibility, scalability and risk mitigation for Tableau customers, according to Francois Ajenstat, the company’s chief product officer.

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Google’s Espresso networking tech takes SD-WAN to internet scale

Google is working to accelerate the performance of its applications over the internet by building out a software-defined network at broad scale. On Tuesday, the company announced Espresso, a system that provides increased network performance to users of the company’s applications.

It works by applying software-defined networking to the edge of the tech titan’s network, where Google connects to the peer networks of other internet service providers. Rather than rely on individual routers to figure out the best way to direct internet traffic, Espresso hands that responsibility off to servers running in the data centers Google operates at the edge of its network.

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Google’s Espresso networking tech takes SD-WAN to internet scale

Google is working to accelerate the performance of its applications over the internet by building out a software-defined network at broad scale. On Tuesday, the company announced Espresso, a system that provides increased network performance to users of the company’s applications.

It works by applying software-defined networking to the edge of the tech titan’s network, where Google connects to the peer networks of other internet service providers. Rather than rely on individual routers to figure out the best way to direct internet traffic, Espresso hands off that responsibility to servers running in the data centers that Google operates at the edge of its network.

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DigitalOcean adds free monitoring to its cloud virtual machines

DigitalOcean’s cloud platform became more useful to developers running production applications, thanks to Tuesday’s addition of monitoring capabilities for its virtual machines.

Customers will be able to set alerts on the performance of their VMs, so that they’re notified via email or Slack when certain conditions are met. For example, users could set an alert to trigger if a machine is using more than 85 percent of its CPU capacity for five minutes.

In addition, the monitoring service will let developers view logs of the performance of their VMs over time. The capabilities aren’t as advanced as some third-party offerings, but DigitalOcean is offering them to customers free of charge.

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