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Facebook easily coasted to 2 billion users, but the joy ride may be coming to an end (FB)

Mark Zuckerberg Aquila

In a way, getting to 2 billion users was easy for Facebook.

The social network’s growth has been on a steady and unstoppable climb for the past decade. Facebook’s strength has always been its ubiquity — everyone uses it because everyone uses it.

But now that Facebook is used by roughly two-thirds of the world’s population with internet access, its days of easy growth are nearing an end.

And the powerful financial engine that has propelled its stock to all-time highs could start to sputter.

It won’t happen overnight.

If the roughly 1.5 billion people who already have internet access but don’t use Facebook can be brought onboard, Facebook will be well on its way to the 4 billion user mark. But a good chunk of those users are in China, where Facebook is currently blocked. That means Facebook will have to display some astute diplomacy, or compromise some of its values about free speech and open information, to make it happen.

After that, Facebook will have to convert poorer, non-internet-connected people into users that it can monetize through advertising.

That’s problematic for a couple of reasons.

To put the challenge into perspective, here’s the revenue Facebook made per user geography last quarter:

Screen Shot 2017 06 27 at 5.03.26 PM

Notice how the lion’s share of revenue comes from North America, Europe, and Asia — the regions of the world with the highest concentration of internet-connected people.

These internet addicts (American consumers spend an average of 5 hours a day on their mobile devices, according to one report) are the ideal audience for the companies that advertise on Facebook. A Facebook user in North America or in Europe has a decent amount of disposable income to spend on consumer goods compared to someone in the developing world.

Building roads and highways

But the next group of prospective Facebook users won’t be nearly as lucrative to the company. And Facebook will have to spend more money to reach them.

Facebook knows that it will eventually hit the limit of people in the world with internet access. That’s why it’s building drones to beam internet access down to Sub-Saharan Africa, subsidizing WiFi stations in India, and paying telecoms to offer Facebook in rural areas.

These kinds of things are not cheap. Facebook’s capital expenditures increased to $4.5 billion in 2016, compared to $1.83 billion two years earlier. 

Facebook doesn’t disclose its cost to acquire a new user. But it’s probably not a stretch to assume that whatever the number is, it will increase as the company is forced to invest more on building the infrastructure itself to acquire the users.

In other words, Facebook’s future involves spending more money to amass less valuable users.

SEE ALSO: Here’s where Facebook’s first 20 employees are now

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Facebook: These are the kinds of people we want to hire

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Nvidia's new TensorRT speeds machine learning predictions

Nvidia has released a new version of TensorRT, a runtime system for serving inferences using deep learning models through Nvidia’s own GPUs.

Inferences, or predictions made from a trained model, can be served from either CPUs or GPUs. Serving inferences from GPUs is part of Nvidia’s strategy to get greater adoption of its processors, countering what AMD is doing to break Nvidia’s stranglehold on the machine learning GPU market.

Nvidia claims the GPU-based TensorRT is better across the board for inferencing than CPU-only approaches. One of Nvidia’s proffered benchmarks, the AlexNet image classification test under the Caffe framework, claims TensorRT to be 42 times faster than a CPU-only version of the same test — 16,041 images per second vs. 374—when run on Nvidia’s Tesla P40 processor. (Always take industry benchmarks with a grain of salt.)

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Cumulative Update rolling out to Insiders in Slow ring

Hello Windows Insiders,

If you are in the Slow ring, we’ve released KB4022716 to keep you up to date with the latest Windows 10 Creators Update fixes as we prepare to release a new Windows 10 Fall Creators Update build in the coming weeks. As a result of receiving this update, your PC will be required to reboot to complete the update.

With the forth coming release of a new Windows 10 Fall Creators Update build to the Slow ring, we are testing a new update targeting framework and will be delivering the build in staggered phases. This will simulate the rollout process we use when we release major Windows 10 feature updates to retail customers.

When we release a new Windows 10 Fall Creators Update build to Insiders in the Slow ring, they can wait to be targeted to install the new build, or instead of waiting Insiders can manually check for updates via Windows Update to get the new build. We know this is different from our usual “everyone at once” model to the WIP rings, however this testing will provide invaluable insights to ensure this new targeting framework is functioning as expected.

We thank you for your patience while we complete this testing!

Keep hustling team,
Dona <3

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Dating apps are embracing video

 Dating apps are, in their own way, a form of social networking – especially as they expand into new areas like friend-finding or professional networking. So it only makes sense that they would adopt video as well, given the growing popularity of the format on social apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as the industry’s larger embrace of “Stories” as a… Read More

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Virtual reality gets smelly thanks to this Japanese startup

Vaqso headset

The smell of freshly baked cookies or cut grass can elicit strong memories. A Japanese startup is using that insight to try to make virtual reality an even more immersive experience.

Tokyo based Vaqso has designed an odor emitting attachment for VR headsets. About the size and shape of a candy bar, the device has space for up to three different odors and comes with a fan that can change the intensity of the smell based on what is happening on the screen. 

The startup raised $600,000 this week in a seed round from Japanese venture capital firm Weru Investment to continue development of the gadget, which works with Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive and the PlayStation VR headsets.

The company is hoping to work with advertising, movie and games companies to tie its scent technology into their products. Using a plugin designed by the startup, developers can insert a command into their games that will instruct the Vaqso device to release a scent at certain moments in the action. If you were to karate chop through a wall while playing a Vaqso connected game, you could potentially smell the rubble.

 

Incorporating smells into virtual experiences has a long history. In the 1950s Hans Laube pioneered Smell-O-Vision; a technique that released smells in movie theaters in time with the action. Sadly for Laube, the idea never took off, but companies have been toying with the idea for awhile. You might remember the Got Milk? bus station ad that gave off the smell of cookies that was promptly taken down after San Francisco residents made it clear they were not interested. 

Vaqso founder Kentaro Kawaguchi has a history with selling smells. He was previously involved in Zaaz, a company that worked with incorporating scents into restaurant promotions. 

Vaqso isn’t the only organization looking to connect scent delivery with virtual reality. The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford is studying VR’s influence on perceptions of food. And projects like Birdy combine scent, touch and VR to turn users into birds (minus the feathers).

SEE ALSO: You can now tell Amazon’s Alexa to make your home smell better — here’s how

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch what happens when kids try virtual reality for the first time

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The GOP healthcare fight is creating a lot of uncertainty around health startups that flourished under Obamacare

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) gathers with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Healthcare Act, to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with the Republican healthcare plan, in Washington, U.S., May 4, 2017. - RTS157RI

Senate Republicans released their version of a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare last week, and it, like the one passed by the House of Representatives, could have a major effect on health tech companies started in recent years.

The Senate’s plan, like the one passed by the House in May, dismantles many of the provisions of Obamacare, as well cutting funding to the Medicaid program.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the plan — titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) — would result in 22 million fewer people insured by 2026 than the current healthcare system.

A number of health-tech startups established their businesses under the healthcare rules and environment created by the Affordable Care Act, the law otherwise known as Obamacare. If either the Senate or the House bills pass, it could drastically affect how they operate.

Here’s what’s at stake

Oscar Center

Healthify, a startup that works with people on Medicaid and Medicare, got its start in 2015 and now works in 30 states. The company uses technology to identify social determinants of health and works with Accountable Care Organizations (networks of doctors and hospitals that share responsibility for your healthcare) to connect patients to everything from housing and food to day care and transportation to improve overall health. ACOs are an integral part of the ACA.

Healthify CEO Manik Bhat told Business Insider that the healthcare reform will put undue pressure on vulnerable people as well as the states to fund these programs that connect people to healthcare.

Medicaid, which Healthify works extensively with, covers more than 74 million Americans, including low-income people, families, and kids, as well as pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. CBO estimates project cuts up to $772 billion over the next decade for the Senate bill and $880 billion for the House bill. That would leave states — which also fund the program — with fewer resources to cover those populations.

Quartet Health is a behavioral health startup founded in 2014 that uses data to connect a patient’s primary care doctors with his or her mental health professionals to identify co-occurring or related issues.

CEO Arun Gupta, told Business Insider that the ACA helped create an environment based around the healthcare outcomes patients actually get that helped the company flourish.

The ACA, and a predecessor piece of legislation, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, provided the foundation that the company is built on. The two laws established that health plans must provide equal benefits for mental health conditions that they do for other medical conditions.

Both the AHCA and the BCRA provide states the opportunity to waive some of the “essential health benefits” that healthcare plans must cover, of which mental health coverage is one. However, that would only affect plans in the individual market and Medicaid, not group insurance, which is covered under the 2008 law. 

Because of that, the GOP’s healthcare efforts will likely not have a direct impact on Quartet, Gupta said, though changes to the EHBs, which would happen on state-by-state basis, would affect many of the patients that Quartet works with.

“The train’s left the station on this movement to integrate behavioral healthcare and to reconnect the body and mind and all that, but I think it’d be very sad for people,” Gupta said. “They’re called essential health benefits for a reason.”

Not covering preventative healthcare, according to Gupta, ends up costing patients and society as a whole a lot more in the long run. 

The uncertainty around the national policy, Gupta added, has also led to a standstill for health insurers and providers, which leads to indecision in an already slow-moving sector when it comes to adopting new healthcare programs and technologies.

Oscar Health, the $2.7 billion health insurance startup founded in 2012 by Jared Kushner’s brother, Joshua, is perhaps the health-tech startup most directly intertwined with the ACA. It was created to sell individual market plans under Obamacare. If either the House or Senate bills become law, it could drastically upend the individual exchanges where Oscar derives most of its customers from.

But instead of shying away, the company has been doubling down by expanding its coverage areas in the past few weeks. Alan Warren, Oscar’s chief technology officer told Business Insider in June that the company’s been seeing positive signals. “We’re seeing things stabilize,” he said. 

“We’re confident that when the dust settles, the market for health insurance will stabilize in time for 2018,” Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said in a blog post around the same time. 

SEE ALSO: Medicaid cuts in the Senate healthcare bill are going to hit some states hard – here’s who will feel it

DON’T MISS: Senate Republicans just released a significant change to their healthcare bill

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: This chart explains everything that’s wrong with the economy today

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The 13 biggest ways your iPhone is going to change after you install the new test version of iOS (AAPL)

Apple party

Apple’s annual update to the iPhone is coming this fall.

But if you’re adventurous, you can try the software that will be powering the iPhone 8 right now. Apple opened up the beta for iOS 11 to everyone on Monday, not just software developers.

To get started with iOS 11, you can sign up here. Beware — it’s still beta software and not all of the bugs have been ironed out, so you might want back up your phone first or wait for the official release in the fall.

But if you do decide to take the plunge, you’ll find several new and nifty improvements to the way you use your iPhone.

Here are the 13 biggest changes:

NOW CHECK OUT: It’s not just you — apps are taking up way more space on your iPhone

First, you’ll need to download the iOS beta to activate any of these features.

You’ll need to register your Apple ID with Apple here. It’s easiest if you do this on your phone, not your Mac or PC. 

1. A redesigned Control Center lets you swipe up to find the settings you use most often, and now it’s customizable.

 

2. Apple has completely changed the screenshot workflow and now you can make screen recording videos too. Now screenshots go into the lower corner and you can mark them up before sharing them. We actually used this feature to help put together this article.

 This is what screenshots look like on an iPad. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Smooth Interaction and Motion with the Visual Layer in Windows 10 Creators Update

The Composition APIs come with a robust animation engine that provides quick and fluid motion running in a separate process from your Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app. This ensures a consistent 60 frames per second when running your app on an IoT device as well as on a screaming gaming machine. It is, quite simply, fast. This is an essential capability for implementing the Fluent Design System which calls on us to create a sense of cinematic motion in our UWP apps.

The Composition APIs also provide something you probably have never had access to before: the ability to create high-performing, low-level manipulation-driven custom animations like the one shown above.  In the same way that we that want our visuals to be fast and smooth, we want our touch interactions to be sticky and responsive. Moving a visual with a finger or a digital pen should result in the visual element clinging to us no matter how fast we push and pull it across the display.

Even if a motion looks good, it also needs to feel good under the finger. It needs to maintain the illusion that we are interacting with a real object. It ought to possess the proper physics so that when we drag a visual across the screen and let go, it continues with the proper inertial movement. Similarly, user controls should provide the right amount of resistance when we pull and release them.

A fast and fluid animation system

The Visual Layer supports both keyframe animations as well as expression animations. If you have worked with XAML animations before, then you are probably already familiar with how keyframes work. In a keyframe animation, you set values for some property you want to change over time and also assign the duration for the change: in the example below, a start value, a middle value and then an ending value. The animation system will take care of tweening your animation – in other words, generating all the values between the ones you have explicitly specified based on the easing function you select. Whether Linear, or a Cubic Bezier, the animation system will use that to determine the values when interpolating.


CubicBezierEasingFunction cubicBezier = _compositor.CreateCubicBezierEasingFunction(new Vector2(.17f, .67f), new Vector2(1f, 1f));
ScalarKeyFrameAnimation blurAnimation = _compositor.CreateScalarKeyFrameAnimation();
blurAnimation.InsertKeyFrame(0.0f, 0.0f);
blurAnimation.InsertKeyFrame(0.5f, 100.0f);
blurAnimation.InsertKeyFrame(1.0f, 0.0f);
blurAnimation.Duration = TimeSpan.FromSeconds(4);
blurAnimation.IterationBehavior = AnimationIterationBehavior.Forever;
_brush.StartAnimation(&quot;Blur.BlurAmount&quot;, blurAnimation);

A keyframe animation is a fire-and-forget mechanism that is time based. There are situations, however, when you need your animations to be coordinated and driving each other instead of simply moving in synchronized fashion.

In the animation above (source code), each gray gear is animated based on the animation of the gear preceding it. If the preceding gear suddenly goes faster or reverses direction, it forces the following gear to do the same. Keyframe animations can’t create motion effects that work in this way, but expression animations can. They are able to do so because, while keyframe animations are time based, expression animations are reference based.

The critical code that hooks up the gears for animation is found in the following code sample, which uses the new Expression Builder Library—an open source component released alongside of the Creators Update to construct expression animations. The expression below says that the animation should reference and be driven by the RotationAngleInDegrees property of the Visual that is indicated by the parameter “previousGear”. In the next line, the current Visual’s RotationAngleInDegrees property is finally animated based on the value referred to in an expression.


private void ConfigureGearAnimation(Visual currentGear, Visual previousGear)
{
    // If rotation expression is null then create an expression of a gear rotating the opposite direction

    var _rotateExpression = previousGear.GetReference().RotationAngleInDegrees;

    // Start the animation based on the Rotation Angle in Degrees.
    currentGear.StartAnimation(&quot;RotationAngleInDegrees&quot;, _rotateExpression);
}

But if an animation can be driven by another animation, you may be wondering, couldn’t we also drive an animation with something more concrete like user input? Why, yes. Yes, we can.

The beauty of the ScrollViewer ManipulationPropertySet

Driving an animation from a ScrollViewer using XAML-Composition interop is fairly easy. With just a few lines of code, you can enhance the visuals of a pre-existing ScrollViewer control with a CompositionAnimation by taking advantage of the GetScrollViewerManipulationPropertySet method on the ElementCompositionPreview class. Using an animation expression, you can tie your animation to the Position of your ScrollViewer component.

You would use this technique if you wanted to add a parallax effect to your XAML or to create a sticky header that stays in place as content scrolls beneath it. In the demo illustrated below (source code), a ScrollViewer is even used to drive a parallax effect on a ListView.

Adding parallax behavior to a XAML page can be accomplished in just a few lines.


// Note: We're not using the ScrollViewer's offset values directly. Instead, we use this PropertySet which holds the position values of the ScrollViewer in real-time.
var scrollPropSet = _scrollProperties.GetSpecializedReference&lt;ManipulationPropertySetReferenceNode&gt;();
var startOffset = ExpressionValues.Constant.CreateConstantScalar(&quot;startOffset&quot;, 0.0f);
var parallaxValue = 0.5f;
var itemHeight = 0.0f;
var parallax = (scrollPropSet.Translation.Y + startOffset - (0.5f * itemHeight));
_parallaxExpression = parallax * parallaxValue - parallax;
_parallaxExpression.SetScalarParameter(&quot;StartOffset&quot;, (float)args.ItemIndex * visual.Size.Y / 4.0f);
visual.StartAnimation(&quot;Offset.Y&quot;, _parallaxExpression);

The even more beautiful InteractionTracker

Driving expression animations with a ScrollViewer is extremely powerful, but what if you want to drive animations using touch gestures that aren’t limited to a pan/zoom gesture? Additionally, when using the ScrollViewer’s manipulations, your animations are linked to the UI thread responsiveness and can lose that buttery-smooth feel when the UI thread gets bogged down.

What if you want to pull items toward you with your finger, as in the demo below (source code), or animate multiple flying images across and into the screen as happens in the demo at the top of this post (source code)?

In order to achieve these effects, you would use the new InteractionTracker and VisualInteractionSource classes. InteractionTracker is a state machine that can be driven by active input. InteractionTracker also maintains a series of properties like Position and ScalePosition as part of maintaining the state. This is what you hook up to your animations. The VisualInteractionSource class, on the other hand, determines what kind of input you will use to drive your InteractionTracker and also when to start handling input (touch in particular).

The following sample code demonstrates a basic implementation of an InteractionTracker. The viewportVisual is simply the backing Visual for the root element on the page. You use this as the VisualInteractionSource for the tracker. In doing so, you specify that you are tracking X and Y manipulations. You also indicate that you want to track inertial movement.


_tracker = InteractionTracker.Create(_compositor);

var interactionSource = VisualInteractionSource.Create(viewportVisual);

interactionSource.PositionXSourceMode = InteractionSourceMode.EnabledWithInertia;
interactionSource.PositionYSourceMode = InteractionSourceMode.EnabledWithInertia;

_tracker.InteractionSources.Add(interactionSource);

Hooking the tracker up to an expression animation works basically the same way as hooking up a gear Visual to another gear Visual, as you did earlier. You call the CreateExpressionAnimation factory method on the current Compositor and reference the Position property of the tracker.


ar positionExpression = _compositor.CreateExpressionAnimation(&quot;-tracker.Position&quot;);
positionExpression.SetReferenceParameter(&quot;tracker&quot;, _tracker);

contentVisual.StartAnimation(&quot;Offset&quot;, positionExpression);

This code uses the InteractionTracker’s position to produce a smooth animation for the Offset of the Visual. You can also power your Blur and Opacity animations for your other Visuals as well. This will have a result where all three animations work together, with values based on how far the user dragged their finger, to result in an amazingly fluid visual experience. Run the demo and try it for yourself (source code).

Those are the basics of driving any animation from any input. What you do with this amazing new power is entirely up to you.

Wrapping up

Expression animations and Visual Layer Interactions are both topics that can become very deep very fast. To help you through these deeper waters, we highly recommend the following videos and articles:

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App economy to grow to $6.3 trillion in 2021, user base to nearly double to 6.3 billion

 The global app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion by 2021, up from $1.3 trillion last year, according to a new report this morning from app analytics firm App Annie. During that same time frame, the user base will almost double from 3.4 billion people using apps to 6.3 billion, while the time spent in apps will grow to 3.5 trillion hours in 2021, up from 1.6 trillion in 2016.
These figures… Read More

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An artist recreated the trailer for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' using a 33-year-old Apple computer

star wars: the last jedi

The folks over at Lucasfilm are masters at creating anticipation for their films. Information leaks are few and far between, and trailers are even scarcer. This has left the denizens of the internet to scrounge for any new morsel of information about the galactic saga. 

Luckily, Wahyu Ichwandardi has taken it upon himself to help ease the wait until the film hits theaters on December 16. The New York-based artist has recreated the most recent “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” trailer with a retro aesthetic. 

Ichwandardi used an Apple IIc, which was released in 1984, along with a KoalaPad+. Check out the making-of below:

SEE ALSO: An explanation of everything in the first trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Tesla will reveal the finished Model 3 in July — here’s everything you need to know about the car

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