Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Spotify will pay music labels more than $2 billion in minimum payments over the next two years. The company’s revenue has grown more than 50 percent, to $3.3 billion last year, so the big deals are a means to keep growing. Sources say the company has inked two deals recently, with Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, accounting for one-third of the market, and Merlin, which represents a group of independent labels. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Spotify plans to go public this year. Continue reading Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

U.S. and China Continue to Compete in Supercomputing Race

In an experiment described in Science, Chinese researchers used photons (also known as light particles) from the country’s quantum-communications satellite and established an instantaneous connection between two ground stations more than 744 miles apart. By doing so, say the experts, China is now a pioneer in harnessing matter and energy at a subatomic level — and a leader in the field of using quantum technology to build a global communications network that can’t be hacked. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is paying for companies to develop new supercomputers in pursuit of at least one “exascale” system. Continue reading U.S. and China Continue to Compete in Supercomputing Race

Spencer Stephens Honored With ETC Tech Leadership Award

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California held its 2017 Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at NeueHouse in Hollywood. Sponsored by Western Digital, HGST and Equinix, the event honored former Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The evening featured a panel of studio execs discussing new directions in film production, and a screening of “Wonder Buffalo,” the third R&D short produced under the auspices of ETC@USC’s Project Cloud to explore and test next-generation production processes.  Continue reading Spencer Stephens Honored With ETC Tech Leadership Award

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Amazon just pulled the plug on its Unlimited Everything plan, which allowed users to keep as much as they wanted in their private Amazon cloud “locker” for a mere $60 per year. That figure is at least half of the industry standard of $10 per month for 1TB of space. Although Unlimited Everything, which launched in 2015, has come to an end, Amazon’s new offering is still relatively inexpensive, at that same $60 per year for 1TB and an extra $60 for every additional terabyte up to 30TB. Continue reading Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo’s Internet business, which it will combine with Internet pioneer AOL. The two merged companies form Oath, a new division led by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong that will serve about 1.3 billion monthly users. Verizon executive Marni Walden says the strategy is to place the same content in multiple locales to reach the biggest audience possible. “There is a tremendous opportunity to increase viewership of some of these brands,” she said.  Continue reading Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is revealing the company’s plans in autonomous vehicles, which he states is a very important core technology. With this admission, Apple now joins numerous tech and auto companies that are pursuing a future in self-driving cars. Among those companies are BMW, GM, and Alphabet’s Waymo division, which has inked partnerships with Fiat Chrysler. Apple originally wanted to build its own car, but scaled back its plans to focus on the technology powering autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Experts Ponder Implications of IoT Vulnerabilities and Risks

The Internet of Things is now made up of approximately 8.4 billion devices, in cars, voice-activated assistants, home security systems, personal fitness trackers and health-monitoring devices. Much of the “connection” is behind the scenes and involves machine learning-enhanced communication. But an increasing number of IoT products are embedded in the things of daily life, from toothbrushes and dental floss to baby monitors, umbrellas and remote-controlled pet food dispensers. Security and safety issues are now a focus. Continue reading Experts Ponder Implications of IoT Vulnerabilities and Risks

Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

According to sources, Facebook is readying the launch a feature that will allow users to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, directly from the mobile app. The feature, which is expected to debut by the end of the year, is still under discussion internally. Among the unresolved issues are whether Facebook will limit stories to those published natively to Facebook via Instant Articles, the payment model and whether Facebook would get a percentage of revenue. Continue reading Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

Snap is expanding its advertising options on Snapchat, introducing the Snap Publisher tool for building vertical video creative, a self-serve Ad Manager, and a Snapchat Certified Partners program, which connects advertisers to third-party ad tech tool providers. The goal is to make it easier than ever for advertisers to build successful campaigns on Snapchat, part of a strategy to compete with Google and Facebook. With the self-serve option, advertisers can now simply pay for a video ad on the Snap website. Continue reading Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

Microsoft’s next videogame console, the Xbox One X, is its smallest gaming console ever, with advanced capabilities in power, speed and resolution, offering true 4K. The new console will be compatible with games made for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, which will benefit from the Xbox One X’s increased speed and improved resolution and graphics. The new console, which also features HDR (high dynamic range) playback and Dolby Atmos sound, will go on sale November 7th for $499. Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro debuted in November for $399. Continue reading Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Electronic Arts, with the debut of “Star Wars Battlefront II” at E3 in Los Angeles this week, plans to abandon the sales of “expansion packs,” which are the maps, quests and other content sold separately for videogames. Instead, it will send customers smaller packs for free, as a way to keep them playing the game, and use microtransactions to sell less expensive virtual goods. The company is basing this switch of sales pipelines on the fact that microtransactions, even in free-to-play mobile games, have garnered billions of dollars. Continue reading EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

Facebook is at work on a project that would enable users to control virtual reality and augmented reality experiences telepathically. The company unveiled this research in April at its annual F8 conference, and more details have emerged about a technology that could revolutionize the next era of computing. The technology is, however, a long shot, as both neuroscientists and engineers outside the company are dubious that it can succeed. The solution could be a simple headband, rather than the brain implant some companies propose. Continue reading Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

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