* Facebook has added chatbots to Messenger, a feature already available with other chat platforms, such as Kik, Telegram, and Line. Chatbots provide a method for businesses to interact with users in a more meaningful way than traditional advertising or networking. The bots base the choice of content to display in a similar manner to Google ads, but within a chat message. These messages are only displayed to users who have agreed to receive information from advertisers, and they are far more interactive than plain targeted ads. For instance, now a restaurant chatbot can allow users to make a reservation. However, making payments through a chatbot is not yet a supported function.
* In a bold protesting move, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice. The suit questions the legality of gag orders, essentially requiring companies by the government to disclose information about user activities and barring these companies from informing its users of such disclosures. According to the details of Microsoft’s lawsuit, these gag orders interfere with the right to free speech and expression, granted in the First Amendment rights. Such orders were originally legalized to prevent tip-offs or security leaks with national security investigations, but have become increasingly common. In the past 18 months alone, Microsoft has been issued 2,576 specific gag orders.
* Amazon has launched its thinnest and lightest version of the Kindle e-book reader: the Kindle Oasis. The company hopes this smaller and most portable option will rekindle (pun intended) interest in the use of electronic, handheld reading material. The newest addition to the Kindle family is extremely light, thanks to the frame’s construction from a featherweight polymer. The Oasis has a particularly high battery life with assistance from its leather charging cover, lasting between weeks and months, depending on whether it is on standby or not during down time. It also features a cutting-edge LED display that vastly improves its readability in a range of lighting conditions. These high-end features are undoubtedly a reason to draw new Kindle users, but there is one notable down side: the Kindle Oasis is pricy at $289.99, and budget-minded readers may be more drawn to the Kindle Paperwhite at just $119 per unit.