Cortana for Android is now available to users through a public beta. According to Microsoft, the application for Android is similar to Cortana for Windows PC or Windows Phone. It features the ability to set and get reminders, search the Web, and track information such as flights. Currently the hands-free capability for Cortana is only available to Windows users.“The Cortana app on Android is the companion to your Windows 10 PC, extending Cortana’s functionality across any device you carry, everywhere you go,” wrote Susan Hendrich, principal program manager lead at Microsoft, in a blog post.Google introduces Offline Media Import/ExportGoogle wants developers to dust off their old data backups and import them to the cloud. The company has announced Offline Media Import/Export: a solution that enables developers to load their data onto Google’s Cloud Storage by mailing in their hard disk drives, tapes and USB flash drives.“Offline Media Import/Export is helpful if you’re limited to a slow, unreliable or expensive Internet connection,” wrote Ben Chong, product manager at Google, in a blog post. “Offline Media Import/Export is fast, simple, and can include a chain-of-custody process.”
Google’s Firebase announced a series of updates and new features for its mobile and web application development platform in a lead-up to the company’s Firebase Summit in Prague this week, including improvements to the utility’s user interface and machine learning, analytics and reporting capabilities.The first release is new support for Firebase in Google Cloud Platform support packages. “If you already have a paid GCP support package, our beta will let you get your Firebase questions answered through the GCP support channel – at no additional charge,” Francis Ma, head of product at Firebase, wrote in the announcement. “When this new support graduates to general availability, it will include target response times, technical account management (for enterprise tier), and more.”Additionally, Firebase has released emulators for Cloud Firestore and Realtime database, which will allow developers to test applications that would run on those servers locally, the company explained.Upgrades to the platform’s configuration tools includes the introduction of the Firebase Management API, a REST API that lets you programmatically manage projects and apps, and allows for Firebase apps to be hosted within the StackBlitz and Glitch web-based IDEs, which have incorporated support via the API.This also includes integration for Cloud Functions and Firebase Cloud Messaging in the platform’s Remote Config tool, allowing users to “notify your apps in near real time when you publish (or rollback) a new config,” Ma wrote. “This reduces the set-up complexity of Remote Config and uses less bandwidth on devices because apps only need to fetch when a new config is available.” Releasing into beta today is “face contours,” which allows for Google’s ML Kit facial recognition tools to detect more than 100 points of detail on a face. “The face contours functionality empowers apps to easily overlay masks or accessories on facial features with high fidelity and accurate positioning, or add beautification elements, like skin smoothing or coloration,” Ma wrote.Additional ML updates include the release of Firebase Predictions into general availability. The utility allows users to incorporate ML and analytics data to “create user segments based on predicted behavior,” Ma wrote. “Without requiring anyone on your app team to have ML expertise, Predictions give you insight into which segments of users are likely to churn or spend (or complete another conversion event) so you can make informed product decisions.” The release also includes a new details page which will show users how the ML model came to its conclusions and how that compares to traditional user behavior.Also leaving beta and entering into general availability is Firebase Test Lab for iOS, which Ma explained features an expansion of Firebase’s “iOS device farm, “added support for iOS 12 as well as for older iOS versions, and integrated the UI for iOS into the Firebase console.”The analytics capabilities of the platform received a number of updates. The first is the Performance Monitoring dashboard, which provides detailed visualizations of events and statistics. “Now, you can dive into an individual trace session to see exactly what was going on when a performance issue occurred,” Ma wrote.Next is the integration of Crashlytics with PagerDuty’s incident-management SaaS option. “To help you stay on top of stability, even when you’re away from your desk, we’re introducing a Firebase Crashlytics stability digest email and a new integration with PagerDuty,” Ma explained. “The stability digest highlights emerging issues that could become problematic in the future, while the PagerDuty integration allows you to alert your team about a high impact crash, any time of day.”This follows Firebase’s integration of Crashlytics with BigQuery, leading to the newly announced Data Studio template, which will provide users with a detailed template to get them started on customizing and sharing reports.
IBM today closed on its whopping $34 billion acquisition Red Hat, bringing together tools and expertise in their quest to become the world’s top hybrid cloud provider, while providing customers greater access to open-source technologies. But one thing is clear: Red Hat will remain Red Hat.RELATED CONTENT:The open source ripple effects of IBM + Red HatIBM advances its hybrid cloud strategy with Red Hat acquisitionThat’s the sentiment expressed by Red Hat CEO in a letter to Red Hat’s employees. He wrote: “Since we announced the acquisition, I’ve been having conversations with our customers, partners, open source community members and more Red Hatters than I can count… What struck me most from those conversations was the passion. It’s passion not just for a company, but for what we do and how we do it—the open source way. That’s not going to change.” Nor will Red Hat management, the open-source projects it manages and contributes to, or its commitment to community, he explained.What does remain to be seen is how IBM embraces this new culture of openness and community. At the Red Hat Summit in May, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in effect that IBM will be hands-off, leaving Red Hat management, brand and its offices in place.The deal will enable Red Hat to leverage IBM’s large, worldwide reach to drive its open-source technologies, while IBM gains access to a devoted community of engineers building out cutting-edge, cloud-native technologies. In a Q&A posted on the Red Hat website, Arvind Krishna, senior vice president, IBM Cloud & Cognitive Software — the division in which Red Hat will reside — said IBM will be increasing its investment in open source, and optimizing IBM’s products to run on Red Hat. He also mentioned opening up the platform to other open-source projects.The opportunity in the hybrid cloud space is large, as cloud adoption increases in complexity. There are some workloads that organizations will run in the cloud, and others they will keep on-premises, but with the same cloud experience and capabilities.In the Q&A blog, Red Hat president of products and technologies Paul Cormier wrote about the challenges companies face today. “When cloud first came on the scene, companies were told that every application would move there as early as tomorrow. That was more than 10 years ago. However, industry analysts point to the enterprise world as being about 20% there. One of the reasons for this is because the cloud has become an increasingly complex environment to manage… And so, as customers want to span clouds, they’re realizing now that they have to have four or five different islands of technology stacks that developers have to develop for, and that operations people have to operate. That’s really unsustainable from a management perspective.”The goal, then, is to provide products that can run wherever customers want them to. The combined company is working to provide that through the combination of Red Hat’s cloud-native technologies (Linux containers, Kubernetes management and more) and IBM’s database and artificial intelligence solutions.But, to allay fears in the open-source community that Red Hat would somehow go away, Krishna said. “Red Hat is going to stay neutral. Let’s be extremely clear about that. For this to be successful it is key that products can run anywhere that clients want them to see. Guaranteeing access to the broadest possible ecosystem is what enables true choice for customers. It’s in everyone’s interest to let Red Hat be Red Hat.”