Bytes: What’s new in tech
Samsung’s answer to Alexa
“A new voice is about to hit the tech scene,” said Sherisse Pham in CNN.com. Samsung is introducing its own artificially intelligent personal assistant, Bixby, to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. To stand out in that crowded market, Samsung says, Bixby will be “fundamentally different from other voice agents or assistants.” The electronics giant claims that, unlike other personal assistants, Bixby will be able to work across different apps. “For example, you could direct Bixby to ‘find a photo of Jane and text it to Sally.’” Bixby will have its own button on the new Samsung Galaxy S8, “allowing users to fire up the smartphone digital assistant the same way they would a walkie-talkie.” Samsung also plans to add Bixby to its appliances, including air conditioners and TVs.
Apple tries a video-editing app
“Apple is trying to get some of that Snapchat/ Instagram mojo,” said Jefferson Graham in USA Today. Clips, a new Apple-made videoediting app that will launch in April, lets users stitch together videos from their iPhone camera roll while adding “filters, music, graphics, bubbles, shapes, and the like.” It’s similar to the Story features on Snapchat and Instagram, but Clips includes new tools, like the ability to dictate captions, which can be played back on your video with text and audio. Clips videos can also be shared to any social network. While Snapchat and Instagram limit videos to 15-30 seconds, “Apple Clips can be long—as much as one hour’s worth.”
Hacking down on the farm
American farmers are fighting for the right to repair their tractors, said Jason Koebler in Vice.com. To get around strict software license agreements imposed by John Deere and other manufacturers, a growing number of farmers are buying black market software from eastern Europe to hack their farm equipment. John Deere’s licensing agreement forbids “unauthorized” repairs and requires farmers to go through John Deere dealerships, or other approved repair shops, to fix broken gear that uses the company’s proprietary software. Even new tractor parts that farmers install themselves have to be authorized by a John Deere technician before they work on the vehicle— a service that can cost several hundred dollars. Advocates are now pushing for so-called rightto- repair legislation in at least eight states that would invalidate such agreements. ■