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Will we ever trust a Facebook smart display?

Facebook wants to put a camera in your home, and I can’t decide if the company is tone-deaf, supremely confident, or some odd combination of the two. The delayed Facebook “Portal” smart speaker will take on Amazon’s Echo Show and Google Smart Displays, so the rumor mill would have it, delivering video calls and more as the latest incarnation of the social network’s attempt to encourage communication.

If true, it “Portal” arrives at a pivotal time. Amazon just laid bare to us its second-generation Echo Show, with a significantly bigger screen and broader functionality. Google, meanwhile, is expected to launch its own Smart Display, the Google Home Hub, as a “one more thing” at its Pixel 3 event in October.

According to numerous leaks, “Portal” will in fact be a family of devices, not just one. Distinguished by different screen sizes when they launch – potentially as soon as this coming week – they’ll have a wide-angle camera and – apparently a last-minute addition – a physical privacy shutter that can block off its vision. Subject-tracking software will keep you centered in the frame, even as you move around the room.

Even with a shutter, though, is a public already stung by concerns about privacy ready for another camera in their home? True, you could well argue that people have already made their decision, and in spades. Amazon is similarly a behemoth company, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of always-on Echo smart speakers being installed in homes across the globe. If we trust Amazon’s AI, why not Facebook’s?

Then again, our relationship with Amazon is undoubtedly different than the one we have with Facebook. For a start it’s far easier to conceptualize – and accept – the nature of our value to Jeff Bezos’ company. Amazon is a retailer: it’s in its best interest to make us buy more things.

Yes, it uses all manner of ways to better target those potential shopping sprees – making Alexa a virtual shopper, for example, and crafting ever-more accurate suggestions of what we might want next based on our last purchases and those of people in similar demographics to us – but it’s still a fairly straightforward dynamic. It’s also easy, at least on paper, to disrupt that if you so choose. Just stop shopping.

For a long time Facebook was considered too big to fail. Sure, users might be turned off by its policies and frustrated by the regular UI changes that appear to be solely for the purpose of making us watch more videos and scroll past more salacious content. However it was also the place where you kept in touch with family and old school friends. Maybe you hated it, but it was the same sort of hate you feel toward the gas company or your internet provider: a grudging acceptance of a utility.

That may no longer be the case. More than a quarter of US adults deleted the Facebook app from their phone over the past year, a survey by the Pew Research Center found. Around four-in-ten have ignored the site for “several weeks or more” at a stretch. Meanwhile the privacy settings Facebook has been highlighting as part of its grand Cambridge Analytica mea culpa have clearly struck a chord. More than half of the people Pew spoke to have adjusted their privacy options within the past twelve months.

You could well argue that it’s hardly a serendipitous time for Facebook to launch a camera-toting, microphone-enabled smart home gadget. Indeed, if the rumors are to be believed, the project has already missed one intended launch.

Facebook, so the leaks suggest, initially wanted to launch “Portal” earlier this year, but the timeline was scuppered by the Cambridge Analytica debacle. The May 2023 release was axed, with the social network choosing instead to bide its time and wait out the skepticism. Past trends, it’s not unfair to note, would certainly have suggested that any grudge Facebook users might hold would wane in relatively short order.

That may no longer be a safe assumption. Facebook still has plenty of registered users, but there’s a gulf between using the site to check in on what your college buddies are doing, and embracing every new device and service the company announces. The wall and Facebook Groups may be an inescapable utility, like your electric service, but that doesn’t mean you’re likely to invite more enmeshment above and beyond that.

For Facebook, of course, the question is whether it can afford not to launch “Portal” eventually. Microsoft’s abysmal attempt to bake Cortana into standalone smart speakers is a cutting example of what happens when you’re late to the market. Even Apple, for all its heft, is yet to make a significant dint in a segment monopolized by Amazon and Google.

An unsentimental willingness to pull the plug on projects that simply aren’t working has always been Facebook’s plan of action. It’s entirely possible that “Portal” and the devices that follow it will eventually go the way of the Facebook Phone: debut to great fanfare, and then die shortly thereafter, their ashes quickly bulldozed over as the social site rolls relentlessly on to the next opportunity. Still, if “Portal” is to stand a chance of avoiding that grim fate, it will take more than a privacy shutter to do so.

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Lenovo Smart Display 7 Review: Just Right

Lenovo Smart Display 7

The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is an alternative to the Google Nest Hub. These two compact smart displays are on even footing and not much separates them from a feature and performance perspective. That said, Lenovo’s display is newer, louder, and offers video chats.

This device is no longer widely available. The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the


The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the best smart displays you can buy and the best tablets you can buy

With a wider variety of prices, sizes, and colors now on offer, smart displays such as the Lenovo Smart Display 7 are sure to be popular gifting items this holiday season. Whether or not this particular Lenovo product is on your shopping list, it’s a fine little in-home assistant that fits just about anywhere.

The Lenovo Smart Display 7 goes head-to-head with Google’s own Nest Hub, as well as Amazon’s line of Echo Show smart displays. Where does the Lenovo fit in and is it worth your money? We answer this and more in Android Authority‘s Lenovo Smart Display 7 review.

Physical controls placed on the top edge let you adjust volume, turn the mic off, and, if you reach over the top, slide a switch to cover the camera. Yay, privacy!

See also: Best smart home gadgets you can buy

What can the Smart Display 7 do?

Android Things and Google Assistant are powerful, and yet still somewhat limited where smart displays are concerned.

Research suggests that listening to music is the number one activity when it comes to smart speakers. Naturally, this capability is carried over to smart displays. You can link the Smart Display 7 with the streaming music service of your choice (Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, etc.) and enjoy some tunes while you prepare dinner. Depending on the service, you’ll see album covers and other content on the screen itself along with playback controls. You can play/pause or fast-forward/rewind by asking or by tapping the screen. Music is simple to master, though I wish it sounded better.

No matter what I did or how I tried, I couldn’t adjust the sound of the two 5W speakers to my liking. To my ears, the speakers produced a harsh sound with the mids and highs boosted too much by far. There’s no bottom end, so don’t expect to be thump thump thumping with the Smart Display 7. It’s fine for filling the void and casual listening, and can push out some serious volume if you want it too. Moreover, you can pair it with other Google-based smart speakers to create a group. This is all managed in the Google Home app and is a cinch to set up.

The display itself is the best photo frame you can buy. Paired with your favorite albums in Google Photos, the Smart Display 7 provides an unending slide show that drifts from picture to picture throughout the day. This might be its best feature.

Watching video is a mixed bag, unfortunately, and not as simple as it should be. I have to point out that the Lenovo Smart Display 7 has the exact same limitations as other Android Things smart displays, so these shortcomings aren’t unique.

In the mood for (just about anything on) YouTube? Simply say, “Hey Google, show me Android Authority videos on YouTube,” and it’ll take you to the channel where you can tap the screen to select something to watch. There is no YouTube or video app, but the Smart Display 7 can be a cast target. This means you can use your phone to push content from Google Play Movies, Disney Plus, and Hulu to the screen. The bummer here is that the phone is a necessary intermediary, as the platform doesn’t support commands such as, “Hey Google, play The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.”

And of course, the Smart Display 7 can help you control your smart home products, set timers, add calendar appointments, search for anything, and use all the Google Assistant powers we rely on.

See also: Move music streams between smart home speakers

What do I like about the Smart Display 7?

Also read: Lenovo Smart Clock vs Google Nest Hub

Will Ai Make Buying A New Home Easier Than Ever?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are slowly making their way into various aspects of our lives. For the average person, however, the use of AI goes on behind the scenes. Aside from virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, most people would find it hard to pinpoint where it actually affects them.

But this is changing, as the usage of machine learning is becoming prevalent in every industry. We all understand that companies have profiles on us made from endless data points we didn’t even have to manually input. This has made it easier for companies to market to us, creating a great environment for small businesses, and it will make life easier for individuals as well.

One of the ways it will soon make life easier is in the process of becoming a new homeowner. Here’s how.

Homeowners’ insurance and AI

The AI behind Lemonade’s insurance makes it possible for the company to more accurately assess risk, set fair premiums for each individual policyholder, and quickly process claims.

Insurance has always been one of the most stats-heavy industries. With AI to process far more data far more quickly, insurance companies can evolve to better serve every customer.

Identifying neighborhoods and homes

Machine learning has already impacted the way we buy homes. After all, any good property website will highlight the best fit for every online visitor. However, there is still a long way that AI can go to further improve the process.

In the near future, virtual assistants will not just find the houses best suited to buyers, but take them through the home in a virtual setting as well. Along the way, the AI bot will point out the traits of the home that the individual will be most interested in.

But it won’t begin and end with the home. The entire neighborhood will be assessed, with AI showing the potential new homeowner the exact ways in which the neighborhood will accommodate them and their family. Instead of looking for homes in neighborhoods that you think you’ll like, you will be led to neighborhoods that are almost definitely right for you.

Pricing a home

Housing prices are not always based on actual value. Variance in supply and demand can create markets where homes are over-or undervalued. Determining exactly how much you should pay for a home is practically impossible. However, AI can use live information to collate the specifications and features of a particular home and compare it to other homes just like it.

This will give buyers leverage for negotiations with the seller or vice versa. Even if the seller won’t budge, the buyer can take a look at one of the equivalent properties selling at a lower price. In some cases, the buyer will return to the seller with an understanding of why they might pay more for this particular home, but they will benefit from not having to grapple with buyer’s remorse.

Processing the transfer

Processing the transfer is the admin no one wants to deal with. The good news is that it is already becoming more streamlined, with the ability to get the paperwork done immediately. AI will take it further by connecting all the parties involved, following up when someone has not signed a contract and getting the transfer done more quickly than ever before. AI is already making buying a home easier. As technology progresses and more companies adopt AI, it will give a whole new outlook to potential buyers of homes.

How Will Facebook Make Money?

What will Facebook do?

Low-Hanging Fruit: Facebook’s Business Today

And that’s it.

Stay the Course?

According to Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, Facebook could stick with its current money-making model, but start charging for things that it does for free now. “Facebook may be using the old crack dealer model–the first puff is free,” Edelman says. After app developers and partner Websites get ‘hooked,’ Facebook could start charging for access to its user data, he says.

Edelman believes that many of Facebook’s current business partners would be happy to pay. “If American Airlines can afford to spend $100,000 to somebody to design their page, I imagine that they could afford to pay $10,000 a year to Facebook itself,” Edelman says.

Sitting on a Gold Mine?

A Facebook profile may contain your age, sex and location information. It might also know that you are an avid runner who attended a wine-tasting party last Tuesday night. It might even know for example, that you recently visited the Websites of chúng tôi and chúng tôi A marketer such as Coca-Cola or Saturn or Nike, could compare this combination of demographic and preference data, and determine your similarity to people who have already bought their products.

But there’s more. Facebook also collects and makes “public” the list of people who are your Facebook friends. If a marketer is looking to reach people who have a good chance of going out and buying their product, they might naturally want to focus on people whose friends have already purchased that product, explains Tom Phillips of Media6Degrees.

That sort of “social marketing” is a much more fine-grained and effective way of targeting potential customers than relying on the traditional demographics approach (for example, “42-year-old men in Montana often buy Ford trucks”). The tastes and buying habits of your circle of friends, in other words, are much better predictors of what you are likely to buy, than are your age, sex, and location data.

But some Web marketers, including Media6Degrees, are steering clear of Facebook user data, fearing that using it could sweep them into the center of the current privacy firestorm alongside Facebook itself. Though Media6Degree’s success depends entirely on the breadth and depth of its database of (social) people, Phillips says that his company has no interest in adding Facebook’s data to its current collection. Why? Because Facebook’s massive database is full of PII, and the stigma associated with such data is so great right now that Media6Degrees might face a privacy backlash of its own if it added some of that content to its database.

Anonymous Social Marketing?

Eric Wheeler, CEO of 33Across, another Web marketing firm, says that his company routinely licenses user data from blog sites, social media sites, and app developers, but doesn’t collect the actual IP addresses, names, or e-mail addresses from those sites. “There is no PII; We don’t need it, so none of that ever touches our system,” Wheeler says. Instead, 33Across uses cookies. A company like Sprint (a 33Across client) might provide 33Across with a list of its current customers, and then ask 33Across to track the online social interactions that those customers have with others. If 33Across determines that a particular contact might be likely to buy a Sprint product, the firm drops a cookie into the contact’s browser so that a relevant Sprint ad can be served up there in the future.

Watching and Waiting

At the moment, Facebook is closely watching the privacy backlash and the debate that has been raging since the company’s last privacy settings overhaul in late April. The public outcry has prompted talk in Washington, D.C., about the need for a social networking privacy bill, as well as a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the data management practices of Facebook and Google.

If Facebook users suddenly began receiving direct-marketing come-ons based on personal information harvested from their Facebook profiles, the result could be a user revolt, followed by class-action lawsuits, followed by government intervention.

Fyi: Will Athletes Ever Stop Breaking Records?

Even if athletes never got any stronger or faster, and if their techniques and training never changed, they would still break records from time to time. That’s because the ability of each person who decides to compete, and the outcome of each competition, are affected by random processes. What happened on the way to the track that might affect the athletes’ performance? What’s the weather like? And so on. Every sporting event is a matter of chance as well as of achievement, and chance always offers the possibility of a breakthrough.

That said, the mathematics of record-breaking—also known as “extreme-value statistics”—tell us that, all things being equal, the frequency of world records will tend to diminish. At a certain point, we’ll have rolled the dice so many times that the chance of our beating our best score drops close to zero. That’s why new sports and new classes of competitors typically produce more records than old ones. Women athletes weren’t allowed to compete in the Olympic marathon until 1984. Since then, their record time has dropped by about 10 minutes, while the men have managed to shave off only five.

All things are not equal, of course: Athletes are much better conditioned than they were in the first modern Olympics, held in 1896. Many competitors are now professionals instead of amateurs, they’ve developed new techniques (high jumpers used to go over the bar face down; now they flop over backwards), and they have new equipment. Each of these developments accelerated the pace of record-breaking, and any projections for the future must take further innovation into account.

(Extreme-value statistics can also be useful for spotting patterns outside of sports. For instance, researchers have tried to apply record-breaking calculations to the study of climate change, to figure out the likelihood for any given day to be the “hottest on record” as the atmosphere heats up.)

pullquote: “The mathematics of record-breaking tell us that, all things being equal, the frequency of world records will tend to diminish.”Athletes tend to blow records wide open only during periods of major innovation. The rest of the time the gains are incremental, or nonexistent. Research by Alan Nevill, a biostatistician at the University of Wolverhampton in England, shows that world records tend to accumulate slowly at first and then go through a period of rapid acceleration as new technologies are adopted and more people compete. Once this period of innovation ends, the record-breaking curve flattens out.

Some sports have multiple periods of acceleration. The design of bicycles dramatically affects cyclists’ performance; the introduction of carbon fiber helped riders to break multiple records. Anabolic steroids may have contributed to recent firsts in some track events, and new swimwear fabrics reduce drag in the water, helping swimmers set new standards in the sport.

It’s possible, though, that the pace of innovation in Olympic sports—in terms of both technique and technology—is slowing down. In 2008, Paris-based researcher Geoffroy Berthelot looked at more than 3,000 world records from 147 sporting events in the Olympics, going all the way back to 1896. When he plotted the records over time, he found an exponentially decaying rate—”a major global fading of [world-record] progression,” as he put it. Two thirds of track-and-field events have stagnated since the early 1990s, and the rate has also slowed for other individual sports. “You see it now,” he says—athletes may be approaching their biomechanical limits at last.

Should You Trust A Third

You can trust a third-party cable for charging your iOS device, but there’s a caveat. Charging your iOS device with a non-Apple brand cable can damage it. That said, if the cable is labeled “Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod”, and is from a trusted company, then you’re safe.

Unofficial Apple cables come at a much lower price than the original, certified Apple cable. After all, most people would jump at the chance to make a saving now and then.

Table of Contents

These cables, particularly the cheap knockoff type, lack safety mechanisms in the internal circuitry. Eventually, they cause problems like diminished battery life, spontaneous device combustion, damaged charging chip, or worse still, a mangled motherboard.

When you connect such a cable, your iOS device will notify you that you’re using an unofficial or uncertified cable and it may not work as expected with your device. Sometimes these messages can appear incorrectly, owing to a damaged or broken cable, or a one-time bug.

Is My Third-Party Lightning Cable Certified?

Apple has made it easier for iOS users to know which cable is certified and which one isn’t through its MFi program (Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod). Genuine Apple Lightning cables come with certain text, serial numbers, and the MFi logo printed on them or their packaging.

This is probably Apple’s way of stopping manufacturers from developing uncertified versions of their proprietary connector. Does this work? Yes and no.

Some manufacturers claim to have bypassed the chip and built connectors that work with Apple devices. That may have worked with iOS 6, but with the arrival of iOS 7, users receive warnings whenever such uncertified connectors are used.

You should note though that Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover damages caused by using third-party products that aren’t certified under its MFi program.

All is not lost though. You can get an Apple MFi certified third-party cable that’s compatible with your device if you don’t want to spend $20 on the original Apple cable.

Best Third-Party Cables For Charging Your iOS Device

Whether you need a super short or extra-long cord, here are four of the best MFi-certified, third-party Lightning cables you can get for your iOS device.

The Anker PowerLine brand is by far one of the strongest lightning cables available. This particular one has a durable design and an impressive six-foot-long cord.

Its exterior is made of double-braided nylon, and at its core is a toughened Kevlar fiber with laser-welded connectors for superior toughness. The cable has been tested with a 6,000-plus bend lifespan and does a great job delivering quick charge to iOS devices, sometimes even faster than Apple’s standard cable.

You can get it in four different colors: gray, white, red, and golden, inclusive of an 18-month warranty, customer service, and an adjustable pouch to adjust it neatly and protect it on the go.



Compatible with most iOS devices

Reputable brand


Eye-catching design and colors

Adjustable pouch available


Some users reported occasional compatibility issues

Feels a little pricey

Prone to tangles

Snaggy texture

This lightning cable works with most iOS devices, including a few older models.

It boasts a high level of resilience and top-notch durability and claims to be able to withstand over 200 rounds of pressure and up to 30,000 rounds of 90-degree bends. Its core is built with polyethylene hybrid and aramid fiber, and the exterior has an original eight-pin connector for charging, high-speed data transfer, and syncing.

You can fit it easily into an iPhone case thanks to its slim, ergonomic design, and use it outdoors without worrying that it’ll get damaged.



Top-notch durability

Sleek design



Short length

No extra features

This Apple MFi-certified cable comes in four different lengths from four inches, to as long as ten feet. It’s compatible with all iOS devices, going all the way back to fifth-generation models.

Its simple design features a compact lightning connector head with an extra layer of protection on both ends that improves its durability and reduces fraying. It can withstand more than 4,000 times of 95-degree bends.

Compared to our top two picks, the AmazonBasics cable is reasonably priced and comes in a variety of vibrant color options, plus a one-year limited warranty in case of breakage.




Reasonably priced

Vibrant color options

Compatible with all iOS devices


Feels cheaper than it is

This MFi-certified cable offers solid durability and can withstand more than 12,000 bends, accidental tugs, and tangles without getting worn out. It also comes in various color options, plus a cable tie for storage or travel.

It’s shorter than other cables mentioned here, plus it has a rigid feel especially when coiling it up, which can be a bit unpleasant. That said, it comes with a lifetime warranty and its connectors feature an ergonomic design that ensures you get the fastest data transfer and charging speeds.


Solid durability

Various color options

Fast charging and data transfer


Rugged, rigid feel

Short length

How To Select a Third-Party Cable For Your iOS Device

One of the major differences between the original Apple connector and third-party options –  besides price and presence of the authentication chip – is its narrow base. Third-party cables have a broader base because manufacturers haven’t been able to reproduce the technology and design of the original.

If you’re buying from an Apple reseller store, make sure you test whether it’s compatible with your device or not; you can ask for a demo if one is available.

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