Bytes: What’s new in tech
Better writing with AI
Writers are “getting an assist from machines,” said Tomio Geron in The Wall Street Journal. Tech firm Gram mar ly uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve users’ compositions, from basic spelling and grammar to advanced recommendations on readability and clarity. Founded in 2009, the San Francisco– based startup became a free service in 2015, and it recently raised $110 million to hire more developers. Gram mar ly’s app, available for the Chrome browser, Micro soft Word, or Windows desktop, offers help in basic writing, and makes suggestions based on dozens of different types of compositions, from business letters to academ ic essays. In the future, developers hope to “flag things like gendered or aggressive language” and help users integrate humor. Although Gram mar ly relies on AI, “it’s not for replacing humans,” said co-founder Max Lytvyn. “It makes humans more powerful.”
Apple moves into sleep monitoring
“Apple wants to come into your bedroom to keep an eye on you while you sleep,” said Brett Williams in Mashable.com. The company has quietly acquired Beddit, a Finnish firm that makes a $150 sensor-loaded sleep monitor that slides under a bedsheet and collects data on the sleeper’s heart rate, snooze time, movement, and snoring. That information is converted into a sleep score, which can be read on a linked app. The acquisition seems aimed at adding functionality to the “increasingly health-focused Apple Watch.” Other wearable makers have embraced sleep tracking “as an integral feature in their devices,” but Apple’s own HealthKit lacks a sleep tracker.
Stopping annoying robocalls
“If it feels as if your cellphone has increasingly been flooded with robocalls, you’re right,” said Christopher Mele in The New York Times. About 2.3 billion robocalls were made last December, up from 1.5 billion in December 2015, according to YouMail, a developer of call-blocking software. That’s more than seven calls per person affected. The best way to fight such calls, experts say, is to decline calls from numbers you don’t recognize or to download a call-blocking app, such as Truecaller or RoboKiller. If you do answer, don’t respond to invitations to opt out. “That will merely verify that yours is a working number and make you a target for more calls.” And “watch what you say”: A recent robocall scheme recorded consumers saying “yes” and used it to hack those individuals’ credit card accounts. ■