Telstra launches outbound voice calling on Google Nest devices, iPhone eSIM support


Telstra says it is the first mobile carrier in the world to support voice-activated outbound calls on Google Nest and Home devices.

The telco said that its mobile customers could link up to six mobile services to a compatible Google Assistant device and synchronise contacts. A Google Mini, Home, Home Max or Hub can be used to dial by contact or business name, or call a particular number.

Google Assistant can be trained to recognise up to six individuals’ voices using its Voice Match feature.

Telstra will begin to roll out the service to customers from today.

“Voice technology is growing rapidly in Australia with smart speakers in over 1.35M Australian households, and two-thirds of Australian owners admitting to using their smart speaker daily,” said Telstra connected devices and accessories principal, Steve Dance.




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Auercon launches global analytics team


Engineering company Aurecon has appointed former Telstra Ventures director Eric Louw to lead a global data and analytics team, building on the experience of firm’s customer-focused Machine Learning Lab.

The new analytics function will support Aurecon project teams in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South Africa, the company said.

“The last 18 months has seen a significant increase in the application of machine learning in both the design, building and operation of infrastructure,” the company’s chief digital officer, Dr Andrew Maher, said in a statement.

“Demand for data strategy, analytics and decision support applications is drawing clients to this rapidly growing domain and we are beginning to see our clients ask for these skills in traditional projects as well as new areas.”

“Advances in technology along with increases in data generation present new opportunities to make sense of complex systems,” Maher said. “The use of data to plan and build infrastructure, then operate, maintain and monitor it with unsurpassed quality of information is opening many doors.”




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Facebook launches dating service in United States – Networking – Software


Facebook Inc is launching its dating services in the United States, the social network said on Thursday, sending its shares up 2 percent.

The company said users will be able to integrate their Instagram accounts with Facebook’s dating profile and add Instagram followers to their “Secret Crush” lists. That feature allows users to indicate romantic interest in a friend, without the attraction becoming public. If two friends each tag the other as a crush, Facebook Dating alerts both of the interest.

The service would be optional for Facebook and Instagram users, the company said, adding that dating activity of users will not appear on their profile or news feed.

The service will be available only to users aged 18 and over, who can decide who gets to see their dating profile, Facebook said.

The launch marks a major expansion of Facebook’s dating service, initially rolled out in Colombia, Thailand, Canada, Argentina and Mexico last year.

It also opens the company to further scrutiny of its privacy and safety record, which has caught the attention of regulators around the world after years of scandals over its handling of personal information.

Facebook offers safety guidelines to people who sign up for a Dating profile and notes in the liability section of its terms of service that it does not conduct background checks or sex offender register searches.

“You interact with other users at your own risk,” the terms state.

Fidji Simo, who recently took over leadership of the core Facebook app, said at the company’s annual F8 developer conference in May that the service was expanding into 14 new countries in Asia and Latin America and would be available in the United States by the end of the year.

She also introduced the new Secret Crush feature, which allows users to express romantic interest in nine of their Facebook friends or Instagram followers. Dating profiles are separate from those other services, but use their data to identify Secret Crush matches.

The expansion poses a threat to competitor dating apps, which have long similarly relied on data from connected Facebook accounts to identify possible connections between users.

Facebook, with its 2.1 billion daily active users, dwarfs the scale of those apps. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in 2018 that 200 million Facebook users listed themselves as single.

Leading competitor Match Group , which operates Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and other dating apps in 190 countries, has about 50 million daily users, according to a Refinitiv estimate.

Shares of Match Group were down nearly 6 percent on the news. Match’s parent IAC was down more than 3 percent.

Facebook expects to launch the dating service in Europe by early 2020, in addition to the 20 countries where it is presently available.


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Nestlé Australia launches onto Amazon’s managed blockchain – Cloud


Nestlé Australia is using Amazon’s managed blockchain service to power a new supply chain transparency project called ‘Chain of Origin’.

Details of the project were revealed overnight after the project won an award from technology analysts IDC.

“Chain of Origin is Nestlé’s answer to complete supply chain transparency, from crop to cup and with technology at its heart,” IDC said.

“In collaboration with Amazon’s managed blockchain, they have set up a Hyperledger Fabric network and invited partners to collaborate with their supply chain transparency efforts. 

“This will allow customers and supply chain partners to track their products on the blockchain from the farm all the way through to consumption.”

Chain of Origin was registered as a separate business under Nestlé Australia on July 2 this year.

Armin Nehzat, a Sydney-based digital technology manager for Nestlé, told Tech Wire Asia yesterday that a proof-of-concept for Chain of Origin had been spun up with little resourcing or investment.

While that had allowed the company to build a business case – using a nascent AWS service – actually moving ahead with the project was challenging.

“It has been testing how quickly we can move as an organization to completely review how we do business, from sourcing products at the micro lot level, all the way through to tracking products individually to the end consumers,” Nehzat said.

Nestlé Australia made clear earlier this year that it had active plans for blockchain technology in the Oceania region as part of a broader digital transformation effort.

One of the first examples to emerge was a pilot to “trace milk from farms and producers in New Zealand to Nestlé factories and warehouses in the Middle East”, using a blockchain-based project called OpenSC.

Chain of Origin is the second blockchain-based effort to emerge.

IDC said the project aimed to meet “growing customer demand for provenance visibility”, helping them “understand more about where the products they are consuming come from.”

Provenance has certainly been recognised as a trend among other participants in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space.

Woolworths is using internet of things technology to track the provenance of items traversing its supply chain, with plans to make some data available to shoppers.

IBM Australia is also trialling a blockchain-based provenance solution with meat processor Thomas Foods International and Drakes Supermarkets, using it trace the origin of an Angus Scotch fillet steak.


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YouTube launches long-overdue Fashion section



YouTube today launched its Fashion section, a new vertical alongside the likes of Gaming and Movies, crystallizing the importance of its massive beauty community. It’s also a convenient landing portal for some of YouTube‘s most advertiser-friendly content.

According to the introductory video, the section is intended to be “the ultimate destination for style content that bridges both our fabulous endemic creator community and the more traditional worlds of fashion and beauty.” Thus, as you’d expect, you’ll find the videos from the official channels of big-name brands (at the time of writing, the main feature of YouTube fashion is a series of runway videos from the likes of Prada, Dior, and Oscar de la Renta).

You can find a link to the new section nested under “More From YouTube” alongside the reintegrated YouTube Gaming.

For those of you who might not be aware, YouTube‘s collection of beauty-oriented content creators (the so-called “beauty gurus”) is so vast as to be nearly oversaturated. In my opinion, no collection of random people on the internet has better earned the name “influencer.”

The upside of this section — besides the obvious of shedding light on some of its creators — is that now YouTube‘s got some of its more palatable content in one spot. Beauty content has got to be some of the easiest to offer to Google’s advertisers — the content is family-friendly without being child-targeted, and most creators speak to a youthful and robust demographic. If I were selling anything from a car to a novelty keychain, I’d be tripping over myself to advertise my product on their videos.

By putting the videos on their own section, YouTube‘s simultaneously making it easier for viewers to find their content, thereby boosting potential views on advertiser-friendly videos, but it’s also symbolically raising it to the prestige level of YouTube’s Gaming section. The Fashion section’s also probably going to provide YouTube with a convenient place to launch its countermeasures against Instagram, its primary rival for beauty gurus’ attention.

One thing I find kind of curious: the vertical is called “Fashion,” but also includes makeup videos. Call me simple, but I think the whole section should have been called “Beauty,” since that seems like the more encompassing of the possible terms. Still, at the moment fashion still seems to be the primary focus, with all the closet tours and sharp dressing tips, so what do I know?


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Canadian university launches online cannabis cultivation courses



The University of Guelph in Canada now offers an online cannabis cultivation course as part of its horticulture program. Finally! An education you can actually use.

This fall semester the university will officially launch it’s “Cannabis Production” course geared towards both commercial and home growers. According to a press release, the course will be taught by postgraduate student Brandon Yep:

He will teach growing basics, including lighting and irrigation systems, growing media, pest and disease management, and post-harvest curing and packaging. The course will also discuss aspects of botany, cannabis history, the growing Canadian industry and medical uses of the plant.

While the course might appeal most to people who already have an operation set up, it’s also designed to prepare people for the future. The Canadian cannabis market is booming and trained professionals are in high demand. According to U of G’s website, the course is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the market:

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada for medicinal and recreational use, there will be an increased demand for professional workers trained in cannabis production techniques, operations and quality management. Entry-level workers could work with cannabis producers in roles such as:

Quality Assurance Associate
Production Technician
Cultivation Technician
Grower/Master Grower
Processing Technician
Packing Technician
Customer Service Representative
Retail Store Manager

The Cannabis Production course runs from 9 September through 1 December of 2019 and costs $545 – which seems like a bargain if it’s going to take your grow-game to the next level. But before you get your hopes up too high, you should know the course is already full (sign up for the wait list here). 

The University of Guelph will also offer an online course covering cannabis regulations and quality assurance starting in January, with signups slated to begin this month. Check out the program’s web page here to get notified when enrollment opens or for more information.

U of G isn’t the first school to offer a cannabis course, especially not in Canada where recreational consumption is legal for adults nationwide. But it’s one of the few to offer distance-learning classes, a trend that’s likely to continue as the US and other countries stand at the precipice of lifting prohibition as well.


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Nintendo launches a $30 SNES-style wireless controller for the Switch


Nintendo nostalgics of the 90s, rejoice! The company has unveiled a brand-new controller for its Switch console which is identical to those that came with the iconic SNES, except it’s wireless and costs $30 a pop.

The SNES Nintendo Switch Online Exclusive Controller will pair with your Switch without the need for a dongle, and charge using an included USB cable. It was first spotted back in August in an FCC database listing, and it’s nice to see it become a reality for retro gaming fans.

You can get yours directly from Nintendo‘s site, but the company is limiting orders to only four controllers per person, and you’ll need to be a paying member of the Switch Online service. That’s a bit restrictive for what amounts to little more than a nice-to-have accessory, but whatever.

Nintendo hasn’t said exactly when it’ll available, but if you’re keen, you’ll want to bookmark this ‘coming soon’ page and check back often. The controller should be fun to use it along with the raft of SNES games coming to Switch Online, which include some 20 titles at launch like Super Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Metroid, and Brawl Brothers.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on
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Flipboard.

Published September 5, 2019 — 08:22 UTC

Price
$
30

ProductSNES Nintendo Switch Online Exclusive Controller by Nintendo




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iTnews launches landmark digital transformation series – Strategy


iTnews today launches Digital Nation, a landmark series study chronicling best-practice digital transformation endeavours across Australia’s economy.

Researched and written specifically for technology leaders and practitioners, it’s a go-to reference guide filled with exclusive first-hand insights into how Australia’s top businesses have executed against urgent imperatives in a rapidly changing environment, including:

  • NAB and Macquarie Bank’s digital strategy
  • Coles and Woolworths personalisation pushes
  • How PwC has retrained its workforce to build digital capacity
  • Service NSW’s influence at home and in Canberra
  • Human replacement efforts in heavy industry from the likes of Woodside Energy

The premise of Digital Nation is as compelling as it is simple: every business is now a digital business, but that not every business excels at delivering digital experiences.

By revealing at best practice digital business across the economy’, we offer iTnews s readers the chance to learn from those who’ve already digital work – and what you can learn to make it work for your organisation too!

Read Digital Nation here!


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Xiaomi launches its Redmi Note 8 Pro with a whopping 64-megapixel camera



Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series is perhaps its most successful and celebrated phone range. Today, the company launched its latest the Redmi Note 8 Pro in China with a 64-megapixel primary sensor in a quad-camera set up on the rear of the phone.

The device also has a massive 4,500 battery to boot. Here’s a look at its specifications.

Specifications

  • Screen 6.53-inch full HD+ display
  • Processor: MediaTek Helio G90T
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Rear camera: 64-megapixel + 8-megapixel wide sensor+ 2-megapixel depth sensor + 2-megapixel macro camera
  • Front camera: 12-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture
  • Internal storage: 64/128GB
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10

This story is developing, this is all the info we have for now, check back for more insight later

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on
Twitter and
Flipboard.

Published August 29, 2019 — 07:51 UTC




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KFC launches test run of ‘miracle’ non-meat nuggets



Kentucky Fried Chicken is testing a new recipe at a restaurant in Atlanta — essentially, it’s going without the “C” of KFC, offering a “Kentucky Fried Miracle” in the form of Beyond Meats’ plant-based fake meat nuggets. If it’s well-received, KFC might roll it out to more places — which can only be a win.

Plant-based meat alternatives have been around for decades, but it’s only recently that mainstream restaurants have offered them as a menu option. KFC will join the illustrious company of Carl’s Jr, Burger King, and Del Taco — all of whom offer plant-based meats either from Beyond Meats or its competitor Impossible Foods. This definitely adds zest to the ongoing race between Beyond and Impossible as to who can corner the Sounds-Like-A-Barnum-And-Bailey-Act-Meatless Market.

It’s not such a bad notion — the vast majority of the appeal of KFC meats, at least for me, is in the breading. One presumes you could slap that on whatever substance you like and it would still be worth devouring on a weekday night when you don’t feel like cooking. I’m not married to a drumstick (not anymore, anyway). That said, the responses on Twitter have been… divided, let us say. But hey, it’s just an option — KFC isn’t going completely green any time soon.

One caveat for my vegan and vegetarian friends out there who might be salivating: according to Beyond, the “meat” will be cooked in the same fryers as the regular chicken, meaning it’s not wholly unsullied by animal products. Apparently the company is offering it not as a true vegetarian food but as an alternative for those who are trying to cut down on their meat intake.

That’s something we might all try. It’s no secret that a planet full of people is hard to feed, and multiple studies — including this one published in Nature — recommend everyone should limit their meat intake if we want to keep the food rates within what Mother Nature can sustain. If everyone subbed some meaty meals for a plant alternative, it’d help both the earth and (I assume) our overworked digestive tracts.

According to KFC, the “miracle” nuggets will be available in the Atlanta location starting tomorrow. You can get them with Nashville Hot, Honey BBQ, or Buffalo sauces.




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