Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

At its annual shareholders meeting, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated the company’s plan to wirelessly connect homes to high-speed Internet. The technology, viable now due to improvements in computer chips and more accurate wireless signal targeting, can deliver a 1 gigabit per second connection, equivalent to Google Fiber’s capabilities. Schmidt also delved into the company’s plans to advance search features, explore 3D printing for building construction, meatless meat, autonomous cars and other sectors. Continue reading Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Chinese company Lenovo just introduced two new smartphones: Phab 2 Pro, based on Google’s Project Tango, which measures and maps surrounding objects and spaces, and Moto Z handsets that feature interchangeable, snap-on modules. The Moto Z handsets, which come out of Lenovo’s 2014 purchase of Motorola Mobility, already offer three “Moto Mods” – an extra speaker, a projector for presentations and an expanded internal battery. The company will make a reference kit available for developers to build other Moto Mods. Continue reading Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

Facebook just introduced a new way to view panoramas and VR photos on smartphones. Rather than zooming in and out, the new feature, dubbed 360 Photos, will allow the user to simply upload a panorama or photo from an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, 360 app or the Ricoh Theta camera and its ilk, which Facebook will then convert. Via a compass icon, the user can then scan the photo by tilting the phone or click/tap-and-dragging. A Gear VR user can tap the “View in VR” button to scan the 360 photo by moving his head. Continue reading Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Apple is now addressing developer complaints with changes to its App Store. Among those changes, Apple will allow more app subscriptions and start running ads with App Store search results. Creators of smaller, independent apps say discovery is difficult in the massive App Store. Other apps, such as those for workplace productivity, are difficult to make profitable without subscriptions. Up until now, Apple has only allowed subscriptions for a few categories, including music streaming, news publications and dating services. Continue reading Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

At E3 2016 next week, Sony will come to the show having sold over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One, by two-to-one. The company plans to debut a more powerful console, a virtual reality headset, and numerous first-party games. Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to launch a wide range of new Xbox hardware this year, beginning with, rumors have it, a slimmer, smaller version of the current Xbox One. In addition to new consoles, Microsoft will show off HoloLens and debut new games. Continue reading E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

When the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) opens its doors in Los Angeles next week, some familiar game publishers will be missing for the first time. Electronic Arts has opted to hold its own mini-expo, Activision did not take a booth this year, and Disney is exiting the video game publishing business. That’s big news for E3, the industry’s premiere trade show that draws 50,000 video game industry members and historically has been the site of major title unveilings and celebrity appearances. Some ask whether E3 might be losing its luster. Continue reading E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Research firm Gartner states that global smartphone sales will dip into single digits following a continued slowdown. The company expects sales to grow 7 percent this year, reaching 1.5 billion units, down from 14.4 percent growth in 2015. In the mature markets of North America, Western Europe, Japan and parts of Asia/Pacific, smartphone penetration is now at 90 percent. That, along with consumers in these regions not replacing or upgrading phones as quickly as before, are the root causes of the slowdown. Continue reading Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Latest T-Mobile Promotion Offers Stock Shares to Customers

T-Mobile chief executive John Legere says he will give away a share in the company to every account holder with a voice plan, a deal that’s also good for new customers. Those who have been T-Mobile customers for at least five years will also get two shares for every new customer they refer. T-Mobile says it has more than 30 million postpaid phone customers. The stock is currently trading at $43.07 per share, which would value the promotion at $1.3 billion if every customer takes Legere up on his offer. Continue reading Latest T-Mobile Promotion Offers Stock Shares to Customers

Sprint and Mobilitie Plan to Install Low-Power Cellular Antennas

Sprint is working with Mobilitie, a Newport Beach, California-based company, to install low-power cellular antennas on existing poles in public rights of way (where utility poles, street lamps and fire hydrants are installed) and build new poles where none are available. Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son created this strategy to improve services and keep costs down. Sprint aims to install 70,000 antennas in the public right-of-ways in the coming years. It currently has 40,000 traditional antenna sites, but there are obstacles. Continue reading Sprint and Mobilitie Plan to Install Low-Power Cellular Antennas

AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

AT&T and the Chernin Group’s Otter Media joint venture will soon introduce a video subscription bundle for fans of anime, video games, niche action sports and other less traditional content. San Francisco-based Ellation, which owns anime video subscription service Crunchyroll with its 800,00+ paying subscribers, is developing the Otter Media platform. The plan, say sources familiar with the plans, is to combine Crunchyroll with other channels, and sell it as a bundle or a la carte, similar to Amazon’s recent efforts. Continue reading AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

Slack has plans to evolve its workplace app to become the center of the office’s digital environment, connecting a wide variety of third-party business apps, with the ultimate goal of becoming the artificial intelligence-powered portal to the entire workplace. Head of search, learning and intelligence Noah Weiss described those plans for Slack, currently used by three million people every day in the work environment, and added that the company is also evolving its voice capabilities to become more sophisticated. Continue reading Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

National Science Foundation Funds Stampede Supercomputer

The National Science Foundation just announced grants to build the $30 million Stampede 2 supercomputer which, outfitted with 18 petaflops, will offer twice the power of the Stampede, which debuted in March 2013. Its processing capacity puts it on a par with Cray’s Titan and IBM’s Sequoia (though not as powerful as China’s Tianhe-2). The supercomputer will be available to any researcher with a need for immense processing power, for such applications as atomic and atmospheric simulations. Continue reading National Science Foundation Funds Stampede Supercomputer

Delays in International DVD Releases Lead to Increased Piracy

Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics released a report that establishes a link between delays in international DVD releases and piracy. Delays hurt aftermarket sales, which often account for the lion’s share of a movie’s revenue, mainly because it opens the door for piracy. Although artificial delays may help movie theaters maximize their revenues, minimizing or eliminating “unneeded delays” is an important consideration, says the report. Continue reading Delays in International DVD Releases Lead to Increased Piracy

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat

One hundred new American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX planes, slated for delivery in September 2017, will be outfitted with ViaSat’s satellite-powered Wi-Fi, marking the first time that this Carlsbad, California-based company has cracked the market dominated by the Chicago-based Gogo. American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, is converting much of its fleet from Gogo’s ground-based Wi-Fi to faster satellite-based technology, but will also use Gogo’s new 2Ku satellite service on 134 Airbus Group aircraft. Continue reading American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat