Twilio launches Flex, a fully programmable contact center

Earlier this year we reported that Twilio was going to launch a full contact center solution called Flex on March 12 — lo and behold, today is March 12 and Twilio today announced the launch of Flex at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando. Flex brings together virtually every part of the existing Twilio infrastructure and platform for developers that already power nearly 40 billion interactions a year and bundles it with a rather slick user interface for companies that want to set up an out-of-the-box contact center or update their existing deployments.

Twilio’s expertise has long been in providing backend communications services and its design expertise is mostly in building APIs, not user interfaces. With this move, though, the company is giving enterprises (and this product is meant for the kind of companies that have hundreds or thousands of people in a contact center) a full stack contact center with a full graphical user interface.

As the company’s head of [...]  read more

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Ride-sharing service replaces buses in one Texas city

Ride-sharing is growing ever more popular, and one city in Texas is jumping on the trend by replacing its public bus service with on-demand commuter vans. 

Arlington, Texas has swapped its city buses for 10 vans from Via, a ridesharing company based in New York. Instead of taking a bus to stops along a prescribed route, Via vans transport passengers to their desired destination, as long as it’s within a qualified service area. 

The service promises to pick up passengers within a block or two of where they are, and will take them to popular spots like downtown and the city’s entertainment district. Rides cost a flat rate of $3, or riders can get a weekly pass for $10. These fees are subsidized by the city, making Via more affordable for riders.

Responding to a CBS This Morning reporter’s suggestion that buses and light rail trains are “passé”, Arlington mayor Jeff Williams said, “Absolutely.” 

Cost is a major reason why, at least in the Arlington [...]  read more

Spotify needs your help tagging and sorting tunes

Music streaming services can be frustrating if you’re an avid listener, since your definitions may not line up with theirs. They may lump trance, techno and drum-and-bass into a generic “dance” category, for instance. Spotify, at least, knows it needs to do better… and it’s asking you for help. It quietly launched a Line-In feature that lets you suggest edits to the metadata for artists, albums and songs. You can recommend genres, tags, moods and even nicknames. You could clarify that an “electronica” album is really tech house, or remind Spotify that many people refer to Metallica’s self-titled record as “the Black Album.”

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/12/spotify-asks-users-for-music-metadata/

Eddy Cue explains Apple’s original video content strategy

Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddie Cue appeared on stage at SXSW on Monday, and discussed a range of topics, including their just-announced acquisition of magazine app Texture. Cue also made some comments regarding Apple’s recent moves in original video content, where it’s been acquiring a number of TV series from high-profile creators.

Cue said that Apple’s historical pattern has not been to buy up big companies, like Netflix and Disney, in response to a question about those media giants as potential acquisition targets, per Cheddar’s Alex Heath on Twitter. Instead, Cue noted that Apple does believe a shift is coming regarding how people get their media content, and noted that it’s being strategic and picky about its content buying.

“We’re not after quantity, we’re after quality,” Cue reportedly said. Even so, the company has acquired the rights to around a dozen new shows thus far, and also renewed its existing ‘Carpool Karaoke’ series based [...]  read more

Maybe Election Poll Predictions Aren’t Broken After All

No matter where you situate yourself on the political spectrum, don’t try to deny that the 2016 US presidential election made you go “whaaaaaaat?” This isn’t a judgment; if you believe Michael Wolff’s book, even Donald Trump didn’t think Donald Trump was going to be president. Partially that’s because of polls. Even if you didn’t spend 2016 frantically refreshing Fivethirtyeight and arguing the relative merits of Sam Wang versus Larry Sabato (no judgment), if you just watched the news, you probably thought that Hillary Clinton had anywhere from a 71 percent to 99 percent chance of becoming president.

And yet.

That outcome, combined with a similarly hinky 2015 election in the United Kingdom, kicked into life an ecosystem of mea maxima culpas from pollsters around the world. (This being statistics, what you really want is a mea maxima culpa, a mea minima culpa, and then mean, average, and standard-deviation culpas.) The American Association for Public Opinion [...]  read more

The first Intel Core i9 processor for laptops appears in MSI leak

It seems that retailers have spilled the beans on the first Intel 8th Gen H-series processors and what appears to be the first Core i9 chip for laptops.

Eagle-eyed forum users at Notebook Review and Linus Tech Tips, spotted Amazon listings for an MSI GS65 Stealth laptop that seems to be the successor to MSI GS63 Stealth. Taking a closer look at the configuration options reveal a few new processor choices we’ve never seen before, including an Intel Core i7-8750H, i7-8850H and i9-8950H.

Additionally, VideoCardz picked up on an international listing for a new MSI Titan laptop also featuring an Intel Core i7-8850H along side two Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards in SLI.

These are among the first mentions of 8th generation Intel H-Series processors we’ve ever seen on the web. What’s more is the inclusion of a Core i9 processor suggests we’ll see a mobile version of Intel’s Core X processors, which have delivered the highest core and thread counts the company has ever put into a consumer [...]  read more

Apple Maps shows you the nearest bike-sharing stations

Apple has signed a partnership with Ito World to add bike-sharing data in Apple Maps in over 175 cities across 36 countries. The feature is now live and helps you find the nearest station by typing “bike sharing” in the search bar or the name of the service.

Once again, Apple chose to integrate an existing data set instead of putting together this data in-house. Ito World has worked with dozens of companies to license and normalize bike-sharing data. This way, Apple only has to integrate one data model to support hundreds of bike-sharing services.

Apple isn’t starting from zero as the company had already integrate some bike-sharing data in a handful of cities. But this is a big improvement over existing data.

Apple Maps doesn’t tell you the number of available bikes or empty docks. I hope the company is going to add this in an upcoming update. It just gives you the address, name and contact information for the service. So this feature won’t replace more sophisticated apps [...]  read more

Apple buys Texture, the ‘Netflix of magazine plans’

The terms of the deal haven’t been made public, although Recode understood that investors who pumped $50 million into Texture owner Next Issue Media will “get their money back.” The publishers are reportedly happy, too.

We’ve asked Apple what will happen to Texture’s existing apps and service. The software is currently available across a variety of platforms, including Android and Windows 10. Apple doesn’t always discontinue apps right away (it kept HopStop running for two years), but it has been known to scale back and eventually discontinue services as it integrates their features.

Apple’s Eddy Cue is expected to discuss the Texture purchase at SXSW, and we’ll let you know if he has more to add. It’s not certain if this will augment the company’s existing services (such as the News app or iBooks) or will lead to something entirely different, but this could significantly change the nature of online magazine distribution. Heavyweight [...]  read more

The best 2-in-1 laptops of 2017: Top hybrid laptops ranked

Convertible and detachable 2-in-1 laptops may only have been around for a handful of years now, but pretty much everyone has taken a liking to them. These tablets-that-double-as-laptops aren’t as limited in functionality as iPads and Android slates, but they’re far better travelers than traditional notebooks, like the Surface Laptop.

Nearly every one of the top 2-in-1 laptops on the shelves in 2018, ship with Windows 10 pre-installed on their interface. Though there are some odd examples like the Cube iWork 1X that comes with both Windows and Android, those hybrids are few and far in between. The most common convertibles are the trans-formative Microsoft machines.

However, not all 2-in-1 laptops are the same. Some are bundled with styluses as neat little designer-centric embellishments, while others are free of bells and whistles. 

At the same time, you’ll notice that certain 2-in-1 laptops make use of 360-degree hinges while the rest take advantage of detachable screens, independent [...]  read more

Apple acquires digital newsstand Texture as it doubles down on content ‘from trusted sources’

As the debate continues over fake news and the role that aggregators like Facebook have played in spreading it, Apple is making an acquisition that could help it lay out a position as a purveyor of trusted information. The iPhone maker is buying Texture, a magazine that’s known as the “Netflix of magazine publishing” that gives readers access to around 200 magazines for a monthly fee of $9.99.

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software & Services, in a statement. “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

From what we understand, Texture — formerly known as Next Issue — will continue to operate as is with no changes — meaning that it will continue to offer apps for iOS, Android, Amazon [...]  read more