Google Drive now lets you pick which subfolders to sync on your PC or Mac


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Google Drive's new sync preferences.


Google today announced that its Google Drive application for Mac and Windows in the next few days will let users start to make more granular choices about which folders should be kept in sync locally.

“Drive can store terabytes (upon terabytes) but there’s a good chance your computer’s hard drive will run out of space if you sync everything. Fortunately, you can now select which folders or subfolders you want to sync — and deselect the ones you don’t,” Google Drive product manager Aakash Sahney wrote in a blog post. “When you deselect a folder, it’ll be removed from your computer but still kept safely in Drive. And Drive shows you the size of each folder, so you’ll know how much space you’re freeing up.”

Deleting a file off of your PC could mean that people who you’ve shared the file with could lose access. So Google has created

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I bought an Apple keyboard from 1990 just for my iPad Pro


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Apple Extended Keyboard II and 9.7-inch iPad Pro.


The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a very nice tablet. With features like Split View and the optional $99 Apple Pencil, you can actually get a lot done with it. But if you like to stretch out when you type, you might not be a big fan of the optional $149 Smart Keyboard that Apple designed to pair with the tablet. It’s a little cramped.

Fortunately, you can use the tablet with other keyboards. For instance, Logitech’s K380 Bluetooth keyboard works fine. But if you want to have a truly impressive typing experience, you really ought to consider a real keyboard. Something like, say, the Apple Extended Keyboard II. From 1990.

I’m typing on it now. It’s amazing. The loud “pop-pip” sound of the keys. The very impressive travel of the keys — around 2.5 mm. The satisfying feeling of the keys being actuated, which has to do

All I want to do is type.

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Microsoft releases Visual Studio Code 1.0 as the code editor passes 500,000 monthly active users


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Visual Studio Code.


Microsoft today is announcing the release of version 1.0 of its open-source Visual Studio Code text editor. The cross-platform application now has more than 500,000 monthly active users, after launching last year.

More than 1,000 extensions have become available for Visual Studio Code since Microsoft introduced extensibility in November, when it became available on GitHub under an open-source MIT license. The community has closed more than 300 pull requests with an eye toward improving the software.

“We feel like we have a good, stable ecosystem that lets us kind of declare GA [general availability],” Microsoft Visual Studio engineering leader Shanku Niyogi told VentureBeat in an interview. In reality the new features have been available to people participating in the Insiders Program for weeks, but now the beta sticker is going away.

Of course, Visual Studio Code isn’t the only text editor. There’s GitHub’s Atom, which has more than 1

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Microsoft researchers are teaching AI to write stories about groups of photos


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The bottom row shows an example of stories for images in sequence.


Microsoft researchers have come up with a novel way to have computers tell stories about what’s happening in multiple photographs using artificial intelligence (AI). Today the company is publishing an academic paper describing the technology, which could one day power services that are especially useful to the visually impaired, as well as the photos, captions, and “stories” developed in the research.

The work is significant because it goes well beyond just identifying objects in images, or even videos, in order to generate captions.

“It’s still hard to evaluate, but minimally you want to get the most important things in a dimension. With storytelling, a lot more that comes in is about what the background is and what sort of stuff might have been happening around the event,” Microsoft researcher Margaret Mitchell told VentureBeat in an interview.

To advance the state of the art in this area, Microsoft relied on

An example of stories for images in sequence at bottom.

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Apple releases first Safari Technology Preview update with Web Inspector, ES6 enhancements


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Safari Technology Preview release 9.1.1.


Apple today released the first update to its Safari Technology Preview version of Safari designed for software developers.

This second release (version 9.1.1) comes with several changes that have to do with JavaScript, CSS, accessibility, the browser’s Web Inspector feature, and most generally, the latest from the WebKit open-source browser engine.

With respect to JavaScript in particular, the browser now ships with enhanced support for ECMAScript 6, as that has previously come to other modern browsers, like Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You can find a full list of changes in the Release Notes.

The new version is becoming available two weeks after the initial release.

You can get the new version directly from Apple’s website, or alternatively you can grab it from the Updates section in the Mac App Store.

More information:


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Facebook’s latest AI experiments: generating captions and recognizing faces in videos


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Joaquin Quiñonera Candela, Facebook's director of applied machine learning, talks about Facebook's latest AI research efforts around video at the company's F8 developer conference in San Francisco on April 13, 2016.


At its F8 developer conference in San Francisco today, Facebook demonstrated its latest in artificial intelligence (AI) research efforts. Not surprisingly, they are about video.

Video implies a whole bunch of individual images put together. So it logically flows from Facebook’s progress around object recognition and image caption generation using AI.

“You can imagine us building image search on steroids,” Joaquin Quiñonera Candela, Facebook’s director of Applied Machine Learning, said onstage today.

He showed off two specific efforts:

1) Generating captions for the things people say in videos.

2) Identifying the people who appear in videos, so that they can be tagged, and even associated with specific times in the video, so that users can get right to the moment when a person first appears in the frame.

Facebook has been quite busy with artificial intelligence research in the two and a half years since tapping Yann LeCun to head

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Microsoft adds Universal Windows Platform support to Facebook’s React Native


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Microsoft is bringing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support to React Native.


Microsoft and Facebook are announcing today that the Facebook-led React Native open-source software for native mobile app development is getting Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support.

The new UWP development software is available now. But Microsoft will be sharing the code as part of the React Native project, said Christine Abernathy, developer advocate for Facebook’s open-source team, at Facebook’s F8 developer conference.

“The new UWP support extends the reach of these native apps to a new market of 270 million active Windows 10 devices, and the opportunity to reach beyond mobile devices, to PCs, and even the Xbox One and HoloLens,” Microsoft Developer Experience software engineer Eric Rozell wrote in a blog post. “For Windows app developers, it also means an opportunity to embed React Native components into their existing UWP apps and to leverage the developer tools and programming paradigms that React Native offers.”

Also today Facebook said that

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Facebook unveils antennas for improving Internet access in cities and rural areas


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A prototype of Facebook's Project Aries.


Facebook today is showing off its latest unconventional equipment for bringing better Internet connectivity to more people.

There are two new projects: the Terragraph antennas for distributing gigabit Internet in densely city environments using both Wi-fi and cellular signals, and the Aries array of radio antennas for delivering wireless signals to devices in rural areas — where you don’t always get 4G LTE connections today.

Facebook believes the latter could one day be what 5G looks like in rural areas. But you’re more likely to see Terragraph in the real world before you’ll see Aries.

“We’re currently testing Terragraph at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park and preparing a broader trial with the city of San Jose in California,” Facebook product manager Neeraj Choubey and engineer Ali Panah wrote in a blog post. The social networking company intends to bring them to market in association with Internet service providers and mobile

Facebook's Terregraph project.

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Google launches TensorFlow 0.8 with support for distributed model training


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TensorFlow.


Google today is announcing the release of version 0.8 of its TensorFlow open-source machine learning software. The release is significant because it supports the ability to train machine learning models on more than just a single machine.

TensorFlow can be used for a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data and then getting them to make inferences about new data. Training is a crucial step in the process.

With more than 1 million servers in its possession, Googlers love to scale out their software across many servers at once and balance out the work in order to do it more quickly and efficiently. But when TensorFlow was released to the public in November, it didn’t support distributed training. And within less than 24 hours, people pointed it out as a GitHub issue.

“Our current internal distributed extensions are somewhat

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Cortana in French, German, Italian, and Spanish can now instantly translate words


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Cortana.


Microsoft today announced that the instant translation capability in its Cortana personal digital assistant is becoming available for localized versions in four more languages: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

This feature became available in the U.S. and China back in September/a>, a few months after Cortana made her debut in Windows 10 as one of the core features of the operating system.

“Just like the English release of instant translation last September, you can ask Cortana to translate for you to get an answer right away,” the Microsoft Translator team wrote in a blog post. “Currently, for instance, you can say in English, ‘Hey Cortana, translate where is the nearest taxi stand in Polish’ (or any supported languages) and receive the translated phrase from Microsoft Translator right within Cortana. Now, this is also possible in these localized versions of Windows 10.”

Here are all the languages that Cortana

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Facebook’s Bot Engine lets you teach chatbots what to say with AI


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Bot Engine for Messenger.


At its F8 developer conference in San Francisco, Facebook today announced the launch of Bot Engine, a tool for teaching chatbots what to say in specific types of situations.

The technology — which developers can use in association with the Send/Receive API for building Messenger bots that Facebook announced earlier today — comes from Facebook Messenger’s Wit.ai team, David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging.

The launch follows the roll out last year of Facebook’s M personal digital assistant. Facebook pitched it as a technology that can be directed to do things on your behalf. The company has let just a few people use it since then.

“In the last six months we’ve learned a lot, and notably we needed to build a variety of small vertical bots to help resolve intent for people,” Marcus said.

The technology relies on artificial intelligence. That is, developers will be able to

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Facebook launches dedicated button for sharing text quotes in the News Feed


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Facebook's new Quote Sharing feature.


At its F8 developer conference in San Francisco today, Facebook is announcing a new way for users to clip quotes they like on the web and then share them in a clean and neat way in the News Feed.

For many years, people have dropped images of quotes right into the News Feed, but the new option looks more native — it’s raw text.

“We have special content types around songs and albums or fitness, like runs,” Facebook product manager Eddie O’Neil told VentureBeat in an interview. Quotes are just the newest option.

Developers will need to add this plugin to their websites in order to get this functionality. From there, after people highlight text, they can click the “Share Quote” button, preview the automatically generated post, with a link to the article, and optionally add a comment on top, and then share it. Out it goes.

The technology is

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Facebook now lets developers add its Save button to any website


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Facebook


At its F8 developer conference in San Francisco today, Facebook today is announcing that for the first time it’s making its “Save to Facebook” button — for adding content to a list of things to look at later — available for use on websites other than its own.

Facebook introduced the Save button in 2014, and it has racked up more than 250 million users each month. Now that the feature is breaking out of Facebook for developers to add to their own sites, it could become more valuable to people and get even more widely used.

The company has been allowing publishers and retailers to test out the feature on their sites, Facebook product manager Eddie O’Neil told VentureBeat in an interview. Overstock and Product Hunt are onboard for today’s wider launch.

The new Save to Facebook button.

Above: The new Save to Facebook button.

Image Credit: Facebook

The news should be noteworthy for startup Pocket, previously known as

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Box Zones lets companies store files in AWS and IBM data centers to meet compliance needs


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Box Zones.


Cloud file syncing and sharing service Box today is announcing the launch of Box Zones, an option that will let companies store files in data centers that are geographically located in specific other countries, so that they can meet certain regulations.

The service will work on top of public cloud data centers from IBM and market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS). Initially, starting next month, it will run on AWS regions in Germany, Ireland, Japan and Singapore, with additional Asian and European locations becoming available on the IBM cloud later this year. The payment model is simple: Just pay a certain number of extra dollars per month on top of existing subscription plans.

The experience of using Box with Zones enabled will also be simple for people who actually do the collaborating on documents.

“From the end users’ perspective, the only thing they’re going to see is higher performance,” Rand

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Google’s Voice Access app lets you control Android devices by speaking


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Google


Google today announced the beta launch of Voice Access, an app that will let people use speech recognition to control Android devices.

While anyone will presumably be able to use it, it’s designed with specific groups of people in mind — specifically “people who have difficulty manipulating a touch screen due to paralysis, tremor, temporary injury or other reasons,” Eve Andersson, manager of accessibility engineering at Google, wrote in a blog post.

“For example, you can say ‘open Chrome’ or ‘go home’ to navigate around the phone, or interact with the screen by saying ‘click next’ or
‘scroll down,’” Andersson wrote.

Google's Voice Access app.

Above: Google’s Voice Access app.

Image Credit: Google

In launching Voice Access, Google is the latest company in the past few weeks to emphasize what it’s doing in the area of accessibility. Twitter started letting people submit captions for images they tweet out. Facebook enhanced the screen reader for

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9.7-inch iPad Pro review: Smaller, but better


This post is by Jordan Novet from VentureBeat


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The 9.7-inch iPad Pro.


The new $599 9.7-inch iPad Pro feels a lot more comfortable to use than the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro that came out last fall. It’s also lighter, and less expensive.

The first one was impressive, but it didn’t run full OS X at a price and size that it could have and arguably should have. The new version, by contrast, feels like the best possible iPad, not a device so big that it can’t really be called just an iPad anymore.

Back of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the Apple Pencil.

Above: Back of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the Apple Pencil.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

It has the same helpful productivity features as the original: Split View lets you do two things at once, just like on a desktop computer. The $99 Apple Pencil feels about as natural as a stylus can. The $149 Smart Keyboard, with its support for shortcuts, lets you enter data into

The virtual keyboard on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
The Smart Keyboard that goes with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
The Apple Pencil and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
The odd lollipop shape you get when you're charging the Apple Pencil in the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro in Split View.
Our editor in chief, Blaise Zerega, tries out the 9.7-inch iPad Pro's FaceTime HD Camera.
Trying out the iPad Pro's back camera outdoors in San Francisco.
Trying out the iPad Pro's back camera outdoors in San Francisco.
Trying out the iPad Pro's back camera outdoors in San Francisco.
Trying out the iPad Pro's back camera outdoors in San Francisco.
The speakers on the bottom of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
The camera bump on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
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Wavefront hires former Actuate exec Pete Cittadini as its new CEO


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Part of the Wavefront team.


Wavefront, a startup developing cloud-based data analytics software, is announcing today that it has hired Pete Cittadini, formerly the president and chief executive of analytics and reporting software company Actuate, as its new chief executive.

Cittadini replaces Jeff Cordova, who left the company for Sutter Hill Ventures a few months back. Cittadini’s arrival at Actuate comes two months after Actuate announced an $11.5 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital.

Cittadini spent 20 years at Actuate and was at the publicly traded company’s helm when it was acquired by OpenText for $330 million in 2014. Now he’s found his next gig.

He thinks the startup needs to work on its positioning, but essentially he’s confident it will competing in the application performance management (APM) market, against the likes of New Relic, AppDynamics, Splunk, Datadog, and SignalFx.

“The net of it is we believe the

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U.S. attorneys won’t drop New York case over locked iPhone


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iPhone 5s Karlis Dambrans Flickr


Attorneys representing the U.S Department of Justice today submitted a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York showing that they want to move forward with their legal effort to have Apple help it unlock an iPhone — even after the government succeeded in getting at the data on a locked iPhone in a separate case in California and moved to vacate that case.

The New York case concerns Jun Feng, a resident of Queens, New York, who was indicted on charges of meth trafficking and whose iPhone 5s was taken by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. The San Bernardino case, by contrast, was over an iPhone 5c, which does not have the Touch ID feature. ” The government’s application is not moot and the government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search

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Andy Jassy is finally named CEO of Amazon Web Services


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Amazon Web Services senior vice president Andy Jassy speaks at the public cloud's re:Invent conference in Las Vegas on Nov. 12, 2014.


Amazon today announced that the head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy, has finally been promoted to chief executive of that Amazon business unit. AWS is now the market leader of the public cloud business, and Jassy has been the face of it. Now Jassy is getting his very well deserved CEO title.

Meanwhile, Jeff Wilke has been named chief executive of worldwide consumer for Amazon.

“This is not a reorganization but rather a recognition of the roles they’ve played for a while,” Amazon said in a blog post. Until today Jassy was only a senior vice president.

AWS is 10 years old now. Jassy spent plenty of time with Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and has managed to scale AWS into a business that generated nearly $2.5 billion in revenue in a single quarter. The business is without a doubt a bright spot on Amazon’s quarterly earnings

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