Instagram Is Adding Hour-Long Videos to Take on YouTube

Instagram IGVT

In a highly produced “show” in San Francisco, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom announced Wednesday that the company is launching a long-form video platform aimed at luring the kinds of online celebrity “creators” and fans who have long flocked to YouTube.

Called IGTV, the platform will be a standalone app and also accessible inside the existing Instagram app, in a place separate from users’ main feed. Videos published there will eventually be up to 60 minutes long, compared to the current limit of 60 seconds. And they will be displayed vertically on the full screen.

In his remarks, Systrom positioned IGTV as the latest step in the company’s “evolution” and suggested that horizontal video is inconvenient in an era when media consumption is increasingly happening on smartphones.

Systrom also announced that Instagram had reached one billion active monthly users, a milestone YouTube hit in 2013. That platform, part of Google parent company Alphabet, has been embracing more professional media content, from producing in-house documentaries to streaming live TV. With this announcement, it appears Instagram is aimed at staying in the social territory, where individual creators and brands can build interactive connections with their fans. At a press conference after the announcement, Systrom said Instagram has no plans to produce content itself.

InstagramInstagram IGVT

How much time users spend using an app is an important competitive metric for social media platforms. Last year, Instagram announced that users spend about a half hour per day or more on the platform. This move could significantly increase that amount, making Instagram a destination for watching videos as much as checking up on friends’ latest adventures. Though IGTV will not have ads at launch, Systrom said it’s a likely place for them to “end up,” both for the company’s and creators’ bottom lines. The move to launch a standalone app, he said, is a recognition that many Instagram users like to breeze through their feeds and don’t want to pause to watch a 10-minute video in that space.

Instagram’s announcement took place in central San Francisco, in a cavernous space above a Honda dealership near the gentrifying Market Street corridor. Tents housing some of the city’s 7,500 homeless individuals were dwarfed outside by trailers ostensibly set up for the creators who danced and vogued for a short live video to kick off the event. They included the likes of Internet personality Lele Pons, who has 25 million followers. She briefly …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Does America really need a Space Force?

President Trump announced on Monday that he has directed the Department of Defense to begin plans to form a U.S. Space Force to stand as a sixth branch of the armed forces. “When it comes to defending America,” he said at a meeting of the National Space Council, “it is not enough to have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space. So important.”

The notion of a Space Force has long been bandied about in Washington. Last year, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama called for the formation of a space corps within the Air Force as a precursor to an independent service branch. (The Air Force, itself, was similarly established from the Army Air Corps.) The idea was shot down by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who opposed the measure on the grounds that the military was trying to “reduce overhead,” and that a new branch would do just the opposite. Someone, however, must have made Trump think all of this was his idea. And now it’s policy.

“I am thrilled to have President Trump’s continued support for this critical mission to help strengthen our national security,” said Rogers, chair of the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, in a statement by email. “I look forward to working with the president to make this initiative a reality.”

The idea goes further back than Rogers. In 2000, Donald Rumsfeld was chosen to be secretary of defense in part because of his work on, and endorsement of, space militarization. (This work was largely forgotten post-9/11.) In 1983, the General Accounting Office of Congress endorsed an Aerospace Force and the establishment of “a constellation of laser battle stations in space.” Though previous proposals didn’t go very far, this time it seems like it might actually happen. Republicans control the House and Senate, and Trump will sign anything they put in front of him.

He wants a Death Star, doesn’t he?

A prospective Space Force will not likely involve squadrons of X-Wing starfighters scrambling to defend America from enemies alien, foreign, and domestic. (Though in the earliest days of spaceflight, the Air Force sought to establish something similar — minus laser cannons — with its single-seat X-20 spaceplane, and later, with the proposed Manned Orbiting Laboratory.) Rather, the idea is to defend American satellites, which are critical assets for civilians and the …read more

Source:: The Week – Tech


Your iPhone Will Soon Send Your Exact Location to First Responders When You Call 911

iPhones will soon automatically share your location with first responders when you call 911, thanks to a new partnership between Apple and startup RapidSOS.

Under the new system, iPhones will send their exact location to a RapidSOS dispatcher, which will then forward the coordinates to local emergency response centers. That should make it easier for ambulances and paramedics to reach callers and shave precious minutes off response times, potentially saving 10,000 lives per year, according to federal regulator estimates.

The new feature will be packaged as part of iOS 12, an iPhone software update due later this year.

The existing 911 system was designed for a time when everyone used landlines and call operators could easily pinpoint phones’ locations. Now, though, more than 80% of 911 calls are made on cell phones in many parts of the country, according to the National Emergency Number Association. Cellphone carriers currently share location estimates with emergency dispatchers, but these can be off by as much as a few hundred yards.

Apple says the location data cannot be shared if 911 has not been called, and that RapidSOS’ data will be separate from that held by cellphone carriers.

RapidSOS is free for emergency response centers, but is currently used by less than half nationwide. The company expects this to increase to a majority of centers by the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

…read more

Source:: Time – Technology