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Today, we are hearing rumors that Microsoft will launch a web-based version of Xbox Music, a Spotify-like music streaming service. The company says that this will allow Xbox Live subscribers to be able to access their content across various platforms.
Citing sources familiar with Xbox Music's internal team, The Verge is reporting that the web-based version will launch as early as next week at music.Xbox.com. The same sources also state that Microsoft is already started updating its Xbox Music pages in preparation for the launch. Xbox Music on the web will work very similar to how Spotify handles its web-based music streaming, and will let you manage playlists through the browser.
Microsoft is also refreshing its Xbox Music App in preparation for Windows 8.1. The new design will include a two-panel interface and will improve discoverability while allowing quick access to collections of songs. It will also support streaming music files from SD cards and improved play to smartphones outside of the Xbox music catalog.
This morning Microsoft unveiled its new Bing for Schools initiative, a voluntary program that offers schools in the US a custom tailored version of its Bing search engine that is K-12 appropriate. The customization process removes all advertisements from the search engine you to Microsoft believe that schools "are fore learning and not for selling".
SafeSearch, brings built-in adult content filter is configured to the strictest settings by default and is locked down so students are unable to change it back manually. Microsoft says that there will also be many more enhanced privacy protections, but declined to elaborate further.
Bing for Schools will come with several bundled short lesson plans that the school can use to teach students basic digital literacy skills. "We see the program as something we can build alongside teachers, parents, and visionaries to create the best possible search experience for our children," Matt Wallaert, a Bing Behavioral Scientist said.
Twitch.tv is down, and once it comes back online, all users will be requires to reset their passwords and stream keys. We know this, as the information is coming directly from their blog, which blames the outage on a caching issue with their web CDN partner.
Some were worried that Twitch were hacked, but this isn't the case. The company has stated that they haven't been hacked and it should be back up shortly, but "10s of millions of accounts resets takes quite a bit of time".
It seems like several different web companies are racing to build replacements to Google's ill-fated Reader product that officially closes down July 1. Digg was one of the first to announce a replacement option, now it appears that AOL has thrown its hat into the ring.
According to the AOL Reader site, the new product is "in private beta now." It promises "all your favorite websites, in one place." Not much is known about the service. In fact, I haven't been able to find anything publicly announced by the company ahead of the launch.
On another page, a bit more information about the service can be found. It offers a customizable layout, the ability to import and export your feeds, and an API so anyone can develop web, desktop, and mobile apps on top of the service. We'll have to see how it ends up looking once it is out of beta.
Facebook has just reported about a bug that "may have allowed some of a person's contact information (email or phone number) to be accessed by people who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them."
It's important to note that only phone numbers or e-mails were affected. The bug was present in the Download Your Information (DYI) tool.
The bug doesn't likely present a huge security risk as the information was provided about people who were already connected with you in some form or another. This means that it probably isn't an issue if their e-mail or phone number shows up in your data; you likely already have it.
Of course, Facebook needs to be careful as they are the stewards of quite a bit of personal and private information. We're glad that it was just phone numbers and e-mails, but Facebook needs to make sure things like this don't happen in the future.
Google has decided to make its News product opt-in only in Germany in light of new copyright laws. The change will take place August 1. After that date, only news sites that have opted-in to the program will have their news stories appear in Google's News search engine.
The issue came about because Germany passed a new copyright law that takes place August 1. This law could see Google possibly having to pay publishers fees for indexing and returning snippets of their stories. Google wants to limit liability, so the only way to do that completely is to eliminate everyone and force opt-in.
Interested news publishers can head to Google's Webmaster Tools. Once there, they can opt-in to be indexed and returned as part of Google News. If publishers don't opt-in, they will be removed from the index on August 1.
Google argues that they were providing a free service that increased publishers' traffic. Some German publishers will be sure to opt-in, but a fair amount probably won't.
I'm a huge fan of Feedly, so much so that I use it every single day. If I'm out and about, or looking for some news or information, it's my go-to service. Feedly have announced a huge restructuring of their services today, which include a new cloud infrastructure and "Feedly Cloud".
Feedly Cloud is a scalable infrastructure that the company says is finally ready to replace Google Reader - I've just jumped with joy. New users can now pull everything easily from their Google account and begin using Feedly right away. Existing users, like myself, will have to ensure they have the latest version of Feedly installed, and their accounts will be migrated to Feedly Cloud in the coming days. The new service has also given Feedly the freedom to create a standalone web interface, which can be found at cloud.feedly.com, which works in most major browsers without plugins, or extensions.
Trolls, arm your picture stores, Facebook has just unleashed native photo comments. This means you'll now be able to reply directly with that hilarious or trolling picture instead of linking to an outside source. The change will initially roll out to web users, though we expect it to make it through all platforms.
The roll out started today, but that doesn't mean that you will have the ability right away. It's rather simple to reply with an image: in the usual "Write a comment..." box, there is a new little camera icon on the right. Simply click that and pick an image to attach to the comment.
Facebook has an event scheduled for tomorrow, but it's not exactly clear what they will unveil. Facebook's recently introduced #hashtags and this newly released photo reply will certainly add to Zuckerberg's speech, but they certainly aren't the next "big idea." Stay tuned to TweakTown tomorrow to learn just what Facebook is planning.
It seems as though your Facebook News Feed will be free of video ads, at least until fall. According to a report, Facebook has delayed plans to introduce 15-second video ads to your News Feed. Previous reports suggested that Facebook would start rolling these ads out in July.
The delay is reportedly to allow Facebook to debut the new ads alongside new social-networking features. This means the new video ads are tentatively planned for a mid-October release, though that time frame is currently unofficial.
Rumors say the ads will auto-play, though it's likely that sound won't be enabled. Reports suggest Facebook was seeking in excess of $1 million for a day-long run of one of these ad units.
Good Guy Google is taking a step to end easy access to child pornography on the web as political pressure increases. Google has announced that its engineers are working on an industry-wide database to store information about images that have been flagged as child pornography. This database would include metadata about the image and a hashed signature of the image, allowing the file to be easily identified by others and removed.
The hashing idea allows duplicate images to be easily identified across multiple websites without a human having to identify the image as child pornography. There could be a few issues with the system, however, as one could easily manipulate a pixel or two to change the signature of the image. Google has probably thought of this and maybe even come up with a solution, but we don't know for sure.
Google has also announced a $2 million fund for independent software developers who work on solutions to end the circulation of child pornography.