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

Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Australia-based Atlassian, which offers enterprise software, has introduced a new program called Stride that combines chat, conference calls and project tracking. Similar to the company’s HipChat messaging service and Jira project management, Stride is available for desktop computers and mobile phones, and works with competing software. Stride faces a competitive landscape, including Slack Technologies, Dropbox and Microsoft. Atlassian doesn’t use salespeople but rather gets small teams to use its software, and then expands on that foundation. Continue reading Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Networks Seek Safer Way to Deliver Screeners to the Press

Networks are changing how they deliver screeners to the press, due to rising concerns over piracy. HBO, for example, was hit by two cyberattacks on “Game of Thrones,” and now is moving access to screeners from its own portal to MediaSilo’s Screeners.com. Amazon, Hulu and El Rey Network have also moved screeners to the same site. Fox moved its screeners from one proprietary site, Fox Flash, to another, Screeners.Fox, and Starz is now delivering shows to the press via DAX’s cloud-based software. Continue reading Networks Seek Safer Way to Deliver Screeners to the Press

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop Rndr, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

Apple Inks Deal With Warner Music Group, Sony Pact Next

Apple inked a deal with Warner Music Group, its first with a major label since it launched Apple Music, its streaming music service. According to insiders, Warner will provide Apple with an extensive song catalog for both iTunes and Apple Music. Sources say that Apple will pay a smaller percentage of sales from Apple Music subscribers than it did under its first deal. On-demand streaming is now the dominant model for music sales, and the technology companies and music publishers are creating a framework for doing business. Continue reading Apple Inks Deal With Warner Music Group, Sony Pact Next

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