Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Google is beginning to distribute its successor to Android Oreo: Android Pie, which has been known up until now as Android P. The company pushed the source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is updating Android 9.0 Pie to its Pixel phones. During the beta test, Android P was available on an array of phones, including the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. It is not, however, available to consumers with Nexus or other devices. Continue reading Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

MoviePass Settles on Plan: Three Movies Per Month at $9.95

In the wake of service outages and other problems, MoviePass has cut back the number of films that its subscribers can see monthly, from one per day to three per month. The company had upped the monthly subscription fee from $9.95 to $14.95, but that only drove customers away, deepening its financial woes. The limit of three movies per month is in lieu of the price hike. MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe said the new policy will take effect August 15 and will reduce the company’s “cash burn rate” by more than 60 percent. Continue reading MoviePass Settles on Plan: Three Movies Per Month at $9.95

AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the workplace via the back office, automating tasks in accounting, billing, payments and customer service, and is capable of scanning documents, filling out spreadsheets and checking accuracy of records. In early projects, AI bots are following simple rules, observing and making yes-no decisions rather than high-level choices. Bigger things are coming, especially from tech companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, which partner with robotic automation startups. Continue reading AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

According to Forrester Research, many blockchain-based software projects are ending this year and 90 percent of them will never be integrated into the companies’ operations. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies advocate Nasdaq stated in 2016 that it would deploy blockchain for voting in shareholder meetings, but has yet to deploy any large-scale project. The initial enthusiasm over blockchain seems to be dying down, while some traders are manipulating cryptocurrency prices to enrich them but leave investors in the cold. Continue reading Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is reinventing itself from a big box retailer into a tech powerhouse, starting with the 2016 purchase of Jet.com. Other recent deals in this vein include a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to provide rides to and from its stores; Uber, Lyft and Postmates deals for grocery delivery; and another with Japan’s Rakuten for Kobo e-readers. Last month, Walmart switched its cloud operations to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 and inked a five-year deal to work with Microsoft on AI projects. Continue reading Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

After years of fending off federal attempts to regulate handling of private data, some tech companies are now working with policy makers to create federal privacy laws. The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Salesforce, hopes that federal legislation would preempt state regulations, such as the strict online privacy laws recently adopted by California, and create a single regulation rather than a confusing array of multiple state laws. Continue reading Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

Record Labels File Lawsuit Against Cox for Persistent Piracy

Sony Music, EMI Music, Universal Music, and Warner Bros. Records, among others, filed a piracy liability lawsuit against Cox Communications, claiming the ISP ignores persistent lawbreakers using its network. The suit lists more than 10,000 copyrighted works, and damages could potentially exceed $1 billion. Under U.S. law, copyright holders send takedown notices to ISPs to warn them of subscribers sharing copyrighted material and the ISP is obliged to cut off repeat offenders “in appropriate circumstances.” Continue reading Record Labels File Lawsuit Against Cox for Persistent Piracy

Department of Justice Revisits Paramount Consent Decrees

The U.S. Department of Justice stated it is now reviewing the so-called Paramount consent decrees, settlements struck between 1948 and 1952 that govern the way movie studios do business with movie theaters. The DoJ’s announcement was unexpected, and could have major implications for how Hollywood does business. Those 70-year old decrees broke up Hollywood studios’ monopoly over production, distribution and exhibition by making them sell their theater chains. The review is aimed at ending outdated antitrust judgments. Continue reading Department of Justice Revisits Paramount Consent Decrees

Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Although Q3 is typically Apple’s weakest quarter, the company revealed stellar revenue, proof of its success in finding ways to grow in a diminished global smartphone market. Chief executive Tim Cook said the company is reaching into emerging markets and expanding its services business, to achieve “strong double-digit growth in revenue.” According to Apple finance chief Luca Maestri, demand for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus have been steady. On Tuesday, Apple’s market value hit $950 billion. By Thursday, Apple had become the first U.S. company to exceed $1 trillion in market value. Continue reading Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Sony Introduces its New Premium OLED and LED Televisions

Sony Electronics revealed its new premium TVs, the Bravia Master Series, with the goal of bringing a professional-level studio monitor into the home. The OLED A9F, which follows the first Bravia OLED set in 2017, and the A8F, launched earlier this year, feature an upgraded version of Sony’s Acoustic Surface, recreating a 3.2 audio set-up. Other new features are object-based HDR remastering and “super resolution.” Sony has also invested in large crystal LED (CLED) screens, “currently targeted at commercial users,” but not hard to imagine ultimately being scaled down for consumers. Continue reading Sony Introduces its New Premium OLED and LED Televisions

Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

The credit reporting company Experian is adopting machine learning to get a jump on identifying problems and predicting application behavior more reliably. Machine learning tools can help such Experian tools as ServiceNow, which monitors infrastructure performance and spots unusual, potentially threatening behavior. With machine learning, Experian hopes to head off and/or fix problems that could impact, and potentially lose, customers. The company also now mandates that monitoring be built into all new applications. Continue reading Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

Getting back into China after an eight year absence isn’t going to be easy for Google, even though the company developed a mobile search app capable of employing censorship. President Trump is threatening to dramatically expand existing tariffs against China, which could retaliate by blocking the operation of U.S. businesses there. Recently, Qualcomm ended its attempt to buy NXP Semiconductors after China withheld approval; China also sidelined Facebook’s plan to build an innovation hub there. Continue reading Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

On Wednesday, Vizio debuted WatchFree to its TV sets with its SmartCast operating system, adding more access to free, ad-supported TV programming. Pluto TV, an ad-supported streaming service, powers the service, which will offer 100 channels including NBC News/MSNBC, Fox Sports, MST3K and The Surf Channel, as well as movie channels. In the near future, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and “Unsolved Mysteries” will appear as pop-up channels. Vizio’s SmartCast operating system was first launched in 2016. Continue reading Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

New Tools Help Users Limit Time on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook will soon unveil new tools that tell the user how much time he’s spending on its site and Instagram, part of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 vow to “fix” the platform’s problems. In addition to protecting the community from hate speech and abuse, Zuckerberg mentioned, “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” According to Facebook, the company did its own extensive research and got feedback from users in addition to relying on “leading mental health experts and organizations, academics.” Continue reading New Tools Help Users Limit Time on Facebook and Instagram

New comScore CEO Readies Cross-Platform Ad Metrics Tool

Under the aegis of new chief executive Bryan Wiener, comScore is readying the debut of its Campaign Ratings tool to measure ad views across platforms. Wiener was hired about two months ago, in the wake of corporate difficulties including accounting irregularities and management changes. The tool promises to provide advertisers with a more realistic report of ad viewing by measuring viewers who see an ad on any device, including TV and mobile and avoiding double-counting of viewers who watch an ad once on different devices. Continue reading New comScore CEO Readies Cross-Platform Ad Metrics Tool

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