Apple, Google, Amazon, & Zigbee Partner- Smart Home Standards; Facebook Rules Decade With Top 4 Apps; Facebook Adding PT Fact Checkers; Virtual Buttons Could Make Next Smartphones More Waterproof

The truth of the matter is that the connected home is a mess. There are too many non-compatible systems in use, making it really hard on consumers to try to jump wholeheartedly into this area. Now, cnbc.com reports that Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance have partnered on Project Connected Home over IP, with the goal of making it easier to pull that fragmented ecosystem of connected home products together. Amazon, Google, and Apple are all hotly competing to get into your homes with more and more IOT (Internet of Things) gadgets and devices, to say nothing of the light bulbs, appliances, and all the rest. As IDC says the world market for home devices is expected to grow 23.5% year over year in 2019, the tech firms see big dollar signs if they can make everything work together, so consumers can buy devices and have them actually be ‘plug and play,’ and not have to wade through complicated setups…or worse, find out they bought a gadget that is not compatible with what they already have! If the firms can build on the Zigbee Alliance and make Amazon’s devices work with Apple HomeKit, and Google Google home, it’s a win all the way around. It should be noted that Samsung Smart Things, Philips Hue, IKEA, and others already work under the Zigbee system. the Alliance hopes to have preliminary open source materials out late next year.

Like ‘em or not, and apparently scandals or not, the decade belonged to Facebook as far as apps. According to mashable.com, App Annie has revealed the top 10 most downloaded mobile apps of the decade, and the top 4 spots belong to Facebook. they are: 1) Facebook, 2) Facebook Messenger, 3) WhatsApp, and 4) Instagram. Rounding out the top 10 apps are: 5) Snapchat, 6) Skype, 7) TikTok, 8) UC Browser, 9) YouTube, and 10) Twitter. It should be noted that Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, so they basically bought out a couple of top competitors. Still, owning the top 10 downloaded apps on Android and iOS for the decade is a pretty major accomplishment…again, particularly considering the issues with peoples’ data that have tarred the company.

In more Facebook news, the company says they will be adding part-time fact checkers to help root out misinformation. Axios notes that Facebook is starting a pilot program in the US that will leverage contracted ‘community reviewers’ to expedite its fact checking program. The fact checking partners have to be approved by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network. The reviewers are hired through a third party contractor called Appen…which already sources, vets, selects, and qualify community reviewers. Facebook is also partnering with YouGov, the global public opinion and data company, to ensure that the pool of community reviewers represents the diversity of people on Facebook.

Next year, some phones will replace buttons with ultrasonic sensors that will act as virtual buttons. According to cnet.com, phones will benefit from better waterproofing and durability. The virtual buttons will be showed off at CES next month by UltraSense. Right now, a number of handset makers have shown interest, but it’s not clear if the virtual buttons will bow on top line phones, or show up first on lower line models, where makers won’t take as much heat if they bomb. The chip that powers the ultrasonic buttons is truly tiny…about twice the size of Lincoln’s beard on an US penny! The sensors, which UltraSense calls TouchPoint, could eventually make it into numerous other uses like fridges, medical instruments, and replacing all the buttons on car steering wheels, since they can be placed under smooth, easy to clean surfaces.



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