SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

SoftBank Group wants to buy 17 percent to 22 percent of Uber Technologies, via a combination of share purchases from the company and a tender offer to employees and investors. The deal would only work if SoftBank can convince Uber’s shareholders to sell their stock at a discount. According to sources, the bank’s investment could total as much as $10 billion, which would make it the largest-ever single investment in a private venture-backed startup. SoftBank also wants two board seats, adding to Uber’s nine current directors. Continue reading SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

The new iPhone X offers several new features, but none of them more innovative than the neural engine that is part of Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC processor. Artificial neural networks, which excel at processing images and speech, are behind the phone’s ability to recognize the user’s face to unlock it, transfer facial expressions onto Animoji (animated emoji), and other, as-of-yet unspecified features. As Apple moves into augmented reality and image recognition, the neural engine will likely be central to these endeavors. Continue reading Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Apple ARKit for iOS 11, which enables developers to create augmented reality apps, has caught the attention of developers. With the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, those same developers now have the best hardware and software for creating new AR apps. IKEA quickly jumped on board, and Apple also showed a multiplayer game using iPhones. Apple ARKit does have drawbacks: it doesn’t detect vertical surfaces, such as walls, and although it works on iPhones as old at the 6s, it really shines on the latest iPhone hardware. Continue reading Apple ARKit and New iPhones Set the Stage for AR Adoption

Facebook Considers Brand Safety With Upcoming Video Ads

Facebook is going forward with its “video-first” strategy, including new “in-stream” video advertising. But it’s also paying careful attention to brand safety, to prevent the kind of incidents that have bedeviled YouTube and other rivals. To do so, the company debuted monetization eligibility standards to provide clear guidance on the types of content permitted to be paired with advertising on the platform. Also specified are the types of publishers and video content creators who can earn ad revenue. Continue reading Facebook Considers Brand Safety With Upcoming Video Ads

Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Amazon will soon introduce two new Fire TV models, both of which will playback 4K HDR video at 60 fps. The first is a dongle that hangs off a permanently attached HDMI cable, similar to Google Chromecast, and the second is a new Fire TV shaped like a set-top box that will be the new flagship model. The dongle is positioned between the existing Fire TV Stick and a new high-end model. The new Fire TV cube has far-field microphones, a built-in speaker and LED light bar, with functionality similar to an Amazon Echo. Continue reading Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Facebook’s New Instant Videos Feature Encourages Viewing

Facebook is experimenting with Instant Videos, a new feature that downloads videos while the user is connected to Wi-Fi. Instant Videos then allows the user to watch these pre-loaded videos as soon she’s in the app, without wasting time or data downloading them. That furthers Facebook’s mandate to become a “video-first” platform, and saves the viewer the cost of using data, potentially encouraging more viewing. Users who don’t have much storage on their phones, however, may not want the extra videos taking up more space. Continue reading Facebook’s New Instant Videos Feature Encourages Viewing

Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

For years, Google has encouraged publishers to partake in its “first click free” policy, which allows its search engine users to circumvent news website paywalls for a limited amount of content. Publishers have complained that the policy hurts subscription growth, but that if they don’t participate, Google will list their sites further down in search rankings. Now, in response to long-standing publisher opposition, Google is ending that policy, letting publishers determine how users access their sites from search results. Continue reading Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Discovery Communications, Viacom, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive are joining forces to create a new streaming service catering to people who don’t want sports in their streaming TV bundles. According to sources, the service will have a soft launch in the next few weeks, cost less than $20 per month, and offer nonfiction, lifestyle, children’s and scripted drama programs from the channels owned by these networks. Media outlets have discussed a bundle without sports for some time. Continue reading Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Sources Say China Is Planning to Shutter Bitcoin Exchanges

The Chinese government, increasingly uneasy about virtual currency, is on the verge of shutting down the country’s Bitcoin exchanges, say sources. The move comes as the government focuses on preventing capital from leaving to digital currencies. But if China, the world’s No. 2 economy, does indeed take this step, the market for cryptocurrencies, including all the new companies using it, will feel the impact. Of all the virtual currencies, Bitcoin is the largest, since restrictions on it were loosened in Japan and elsewhere. Continue reading Sources Say China Is Planning to Shutter Bitcoin Exchanges

Adobe Debuts AI-Powered Service to Monetize Vehicle Data

Adobe Systems debuted services utilizing Sensei, its AI feature, to provide analytics, marketing and aid in automating audio ads from cars connected to the Internet. The data thus far is provided via in-car voice assistants and infotainment apps, but will ultimately include entirely autonomous vehicles. The new service puts Adobe at the head of the pack in offering this kind of data analysis; the company is relying on its experience providing similar digital marketing assistance for computers and smartphones. Continue reading Adobe Debuts AI-Powered Service to Monetize Vehicle Data

Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Facebook reportedly will spend up to $1 billion on original content through 2018, an investment aimed to fulfill chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to make the platform “video first.” In doing so, Facebook faces stiff competition from broadcasters such as HBO, Amazon and Netflix, all of which are focused on creating premium video content to capture advertising. Zuckerberg has been opposed to paying for content, but now has said he will do so, although he believes most creators will earn via a revenue-sharing model. Continue reading Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Bezos Tasks Amazon Studios to Make Hit With Global Appeal

Amazon Studios has shifted strategy. Reportedly, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has mandated Studio chief Roy Price with finding a hit as big and buzzy as “Game of Thrones.” With that focus in mind, Amazon Studios nixed a second season for “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and greenlit five new projects, including “Tong Wars,” a period drama from Paul Attanasio and Wong Kar-wai; a comedy starring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph; two comedy pilots; and a comic book adaptation produced by Seth Rogen. Continue reading Bezos Tasks Amazon Studios to Make Hit With Global Appeal

Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

As smart devices in the home multiply, so does the need for Wi-Fi. Cisco reports that, through 2021, data routed via Wi-Fi to mobile devices will grow 48 percent a year. Several ideas to meet the demand have been proposed. Some have suggested putting a router in every room or floor of the house; most routers already connect to the cloud to optimize the network. Another idea is for the user to rent Wi-Fi through his or her cable company. Yet another is WiGig, whereby smart devices themselves would provide bandwidth. Continue reading Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

U.S. Federal Court Closes Largest Music Stream-Ripping Site

Approximately 60 million global visitors to German-operated YouTube-mp3.org have availed themselves of pirated music every month, worth millions of dollars every year. The free ride is over, as the U.S. Federal Court Central District of California just ruled in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which brought a suit on behalf of music labels. The now-shuttered site and others like it operate by removing the audio file from a music video and distributing it as a free permanent download. Continue reading U.S. Federal Court Closes Largest Music Stream-Ripping Site

Equifax Data Breach, Discovered in July, Impacts 143 Million

Equifax reported that hackers likely gained access to the personal information of about 143 million people in the U.S., making it the second biggest data breach after last year’s two Yahoo hacks, which impacted as many as 1.5 billion customers. The Equifax hack is almost twice as large as the J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. hack three years ago. The damage the hack to Equifax will do is as of yet unknown, but it could be serious, given the immense scope of the attack and the future potential for fraud.   Continue reading Equifax Data Breach, Discovered in July, Impacts 143 Million

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