Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

Although President Obama finally stated that he sides with the Justice Department in the ongoing battles between law enforcement and Apple over encryption of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, U.S. citizens aren’t so sure. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey revealed that 47 percent of Americans believe Apple shouldn’t cooperate with law enforcement. The government is not just facing a difficult battle with Apple but another, even more crucial one with Facebook’s WhatsApp popular messaging application. Continue reading Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

Although up until now, augmented reality has had an inauspicious debut — think Google Glass — it’s poised to transform how we interact with computers in the next two decades. AR now has technical limitations including a narrow field of view, less-than-ideal resolution and latency issues. Furthermore, the only way to interact with AR is via bulky glasses or helmets. But many experts believe that we are in the midst of a speedy evolution to the point where AR will enable us to project a virtual screen on every surface. Continue reading Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

Snapchat Working on AR, Gamer Developers Turn to VR Titles

Snapchat has been making hires and acquisitions in augmented reality that may signal development of smart glasses. The company has brought in key people from Microsoft HoloLens, PTC’s (formerly Qualcomm’s) Vuforia and Eyefluence, an eye-tracking technology company. Snapchat’s interest in AR dates back to March 2014, when it quietly acquired Vergence Labs, maker of glasses with an embedded camera, for $15 million. At the time, the acquisition seemed out-of-place but now appears to be part of a larger AR strategy. Continue reading Snapchat Working on AR, Gamer Developers Turn to VR Titles

Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

Last year, the motion picture box office surpassed $11 billion for the first time in history. But that hasn’t kept distributors and exhibitors from guarding the traditional 90-day window between theatrical release and home entertainment. When major studios attempted to shrink that window five years ago, theater owners fought back. Now, Screening Room, a startup backed by entrepreneur and former Facebook/Napster executive Sean Parker, as well as some Hollywood heavyweights, is trying again — and may succeed by offering anti-piracy tech and revenue sharing. Continue reading Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

Vimeo Unveils New Slate of Original Content, Updates iOS App

Vimeo introduced its second slate of original films and programs, including its first feature film and first concert film. Last month, YouTube also introduced original programming on its YouTube Red ad-free subscription service. But Vimeo’s slate is clearly aimed at an older demographic than YouTube’s, which features YouTube stars such as PewDiePie. Vimeo also upgraded its iOS mobile app, with a new interface that organizes videos into categories (such as Music, Documentary, Travel) to distinguish them from personal videos. Continue reading Vimeo Unveils New Slate of Original Content, Updates iOS App

OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

INRIX, a Seattle-based company that offers connected car solutions, just purchased OpenCar, which describes itself as an “updateable application platform and developer ecosystem” for the auto industry. With both solutions on board, INRIX can compete head-on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both aimed at auto manufacturers interested in integrating smartphone functionality in their vehicles. Ford, Volvo and BMW have confirmed they will integrate Apple and Google’s solutions into new models of their vehicles. Continue reading OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

MovieSwap, VidAngel Claim DVD Streaming Services Are Legal

French startup MovieSwap has a new way for users who own DVDs to stream and swap them online. The company, which has a 200,000+ library of DVDs, says subscribers who own DVDs can send in their physical DVD collection and then stream them online, “swap” movies with other users, or pay to receive DVDs that they add to their digital collections. MovieSwap is not alone in creating models that skirt Hollywood studios’ copyright infringement laws, but so far the trade group that represents Hollywood studios, MPAA, has no comment. Continue reading MovieSwap, VidAngel Claim DVD Streaming Services Are Legal

FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

In a shift in the status quo, the Federal Communications Commission will take over the Federal Trade Commission’s power to regulate Internet access providers regarding customer privacy. The FCC already proposes new rules to shield users from unwanted use of their Internet data. Impacted cable and wireless firms are protesting that the rules would target them unfairly, putting them at a disadvantage against Internet service firms such as Facebook and Google, which will continue to be regulated by the FTC. Continue reading FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a lot to say about net neutrality, zero rating, privacy and Silicon Valley companies, among other topics that he’s been facing over the last months. Although net neutrality passed a year ago, a lawsuit still challenges its legality in court, with Senate Republicans issuing a report that President Obama “inappropriately and secretly influenced the FCC” into regulating broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Wheeler begs to differ. Continue reading FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

By foreseeing how the Internet would dramatically change the retail business, Amazon became the digital behemoth it is today. Now the company has turned its sights to the entertainment industry, volatile due to technology changes, and is taking a deep dive into prestige films, online shows and virtual reality. Amazon recently became a major player in independent feature distribution by spending top price for films at Sundance and elsewhere. Now it’s debuted a streaming TV show and is forming a team to build a VR platform. Continue reading Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

Sony Introduces Optical Disc Archival System to Replace Tape

The advent of digital acquisition has made long-term storage more complicated for media and entertainment companies, which up until now have been dependent on tape-based solutions. Now, Sony has unveiled Everspan, an optical disc technology it guarantees will last for 100 years. That 100-year guarantee would relieve companies of the expensive, time-consuming need to migrate libraries to new technology. Each disc stores 300 gigabytes, and Everspan uses up to 64 drives to read data at extremely high speed. Continue reading Sony Introduces Optical Disc Archival System to Replace Tape

Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Pandora just launched AMPcast, which lets a musician communicate with his fans via audio messages that he can record on his mobile phone and post to run in conjunction with his music streams. Pandora, which has 80 million users, is competing in this space with Spotify, which has acquired startups to expand messaging and social networking. AMPcast also competes with Superphone, a new service from musician Ryan Leslie that uses SMS and users’ phone numbers to directly message fans. Continue reading Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

For many years, Netflix subscribers living outside the U.S. have accessed content not available in their regions via a VPN (virtual private network) that hid their location. In January, Netflix began blocking VPNs, in part to mollify Hollywood studios by showing it respects regional licensing agreements. But Netflix subscribers aren’t happy about the new state of affairs and have even started a petition — with 36,000 signatures and counting — to overturn the ban. One study shows piracy as a consequence of the new policy. Continue reading Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program

The Federal Communications Commission is nearing approval of a plan to provide Internet access for low-income people who don’t have regular access. An update to the $2 billion Lifeline program will add a broadband subsidy of $9.25 a month for low-income households. Lifeline was established in 1985 to bring landline phone service to that same demographic; the FCC added mobile service to the program in 2008. The addition of the high-speed Internet subsidy will come up for a vote on March 31 and is expected to pass. Continue reading FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program