Wrap up: the latest in technology...

By WILLIAM XIE | November 29, 2018

Apple rumored to host veteran medical records

Apple is allegedly planning with the Department of Veteran Affairs to host veteran medical records on the iPhone. Currently, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hosts the health records of nine million veterans. In order to transfer the information from the VHA to iPhone, Apple needs to create new software that will display veterans’ medical records. The goal of the transfer is to improve accessibility to their medical records. The Wall Street Journal obtained an email dated a year ago, involving an exchange between the VHA and members of the Trump administration. The record shows the administration’s support of the Apple and VHA partnership.

With the launch of iOS 11.3 this August, Apple had backing of over 77 health organizations for its iOS Health Records. The presumed partnership with VHA will involve the transfer of about 9 million patient records which grants Apple a strong hold in the U.S. health-care market. Further anticipated plans after the transfer include creating appointments and in-app prescription reordering. 

Group video watching may be available on Facebook messenger

This year in July, Facebook officially released a function to watch videos together with friends, allowing viewers to comment and react, called Watch Party. By syncing video streams between you and your friends, Facebook lets you host group watching in live time. This can currently be done in Facebook groups. Recently The Verge has highlighted a developer’s tweet that reveals Facebook may be expanding this group watching feature to its popular messaging app, Facebook Messenger. 

Alexa upgrades and availability 

With the Amazon Echo Dot price dropping as low as $20 for Cyber Monday, you’re buying an Alexa controlled device with an Alexa that’s just getting better. Using artificial intelligence based speech synthesis, Amazon is developing new speech modes for Alexa. In the upcoming weeks, Amazon’s Alexa may be getting a newscaster-style voice. Recently with speech synthesis, Alexa obtained a Whisper Mode which adds a believably human sound compared to Alexa’s typical robotic speak. 

Microsoft sold Echo devices for a weekend

Microsoft seems to have been working to strengthen its partnership with Amazon’s Alexa despite owning its own voice assistant, Cortana. Recently Skype, a popular voice and video calling app acquired by Microsoft, was made compatible with Alexa. Surprisingly, Microsoft’s online store sold Echo devices over the weekend. At around the same time, Microsoft retail stores also began selling Amazon Echo devices. Currently, Echo products have been removed from its online store. Although there exists compatibilities between using both Alexa and Cortana, Cortana has certainly not been keeping up with the advancements of its competitors, and instead of looking to close that gap, Microsoft has opted to expand its products. 

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