Apple Wins Holiday Mobile Device Derby; Google’s AI Speech Synthesis; Sites Strike Back with Anti-Ad Blocking

Apple has again won the holiday activation war, with Samsung a distant second, and after that ‘everybody else. Macrumors.com reports that Flurry, which analyzes the data, found in the week from 12/19-12/25, Apple iOS devices grabbed 44% of activations…same as last year. Samsung took 26%. The Apple number is the same as last year in that week, while Samsung rose from 21% to 26%. Samsung’s 2016 numbers were impacted by loss of sales due to the recall of Note 7 devices. Through app makers that use their analytics service, Flurry is able to pull together data from over 2.1 billion devices around the world!

Google is claiming that the latest version of its AI speech synthesis…Tacotron 2…is nearly indistinguishable from human speech. 9to5google.com says the system works directly from written text, and Google claims it can use context to pronounce correctly words that are spelled identically like ‘read’ ( meaning to read) and ‘read’ (as in have read already). So…it has read what was written by Reid, and can voice it with the appropriate read? It apparently can also learn to stress or emphasize words.

Ad blockers have been effective for people using the web…so much so, that now nearly a third of the top 10,000 sites are taking ad blocking measures. According to techcrunch.com, many of the countermeasures are silent and highly sophisticated. Researchers at UC Riverside and University of Iowa have been following this, and say some ad blockers are responding by rewriting code to fend off the countermeasures. Sites have been using ‘bait’ content that is ad-like, and also taken to not loading any divs marked ‘Banner_ad’. The battle is beginning to resemble that between police radar makers and radar detectors!

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