Bytes: What’s new in tech
Airlines try biometric boarding passes
“Headed on a trip? You may soon be able to ditch your boarding pass in favor of your fingers or face,” said Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post. Delta’s elite-tier passengers can now use their fingerprints to enter member lounges at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, and the carrier plans to let frequent fliers use their fingerprints in lieu of boarding passes. JetBlue is testing facial recognition technology; at Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport, passengers “will have the option of going into the normal boarding line or one with a camera that will snap their picture.” Photos will then be matched against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s database of passport and visa pictures. Delta also plans to test facial recognition for checking bags at Minneapolis– St. Paul International Airport this summer.
Talking gains on typing
Your keyboard is becoming obsolete, said Kaya Yurieff in CNN.com. That’s one of the main takeaways from this year’s Internet Trends report, a closely watched compendium of digital statistics and predictions put together annually by venture capitalist Mary Meeker. Twenty percent of mobile searches were made using voice in 2016, according to this year’s report, thanks to personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. “Meanwhile, voice recognition accuracy continues to improve and is now at about 95 percent.” Other trends include declining smartphone sales— shipments grew 3 percent in 2016, down from 10 percent growth a year earlier—and interactive gaming is becoming mainstream. “There were 2.6 billion gamers last year compared with just 100 million back in 1995.” Meeker also “predicts online advertising spending will surpass that of TV this year.”
Skype gets a Millennial makeover
“Skype might be the last messaging app you’d expect to get the Snapchat treatment, but that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Karissa Bell in Mashable.com. Microsoft has unveiled a major redesign of its video chat service, taking cues from Skype’s hipper social media cousins and adding stickers, doodles, and emoji reactions. A dedicated Capture tab allows users to take and share photos while chatting, “and if you want to share images of a one-on-one or group conversation, a new Highlights feature lets you blast photos of your choosing to all your contacts.” An improved search feature also makes it easier to find people you already know who are using Skype.