Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

DMCA takedown requests reveal that pirates of television and movie content are turning to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Kim Dotcom’s Mega since the demise of many public torrent sites. Last month, almost 5,000 takedown requests centered on activity on Google Drive, with each listing a few hundred links. Although some Google Drive links host full movies, others are empty except for an embedded YouTube video. Google reiterated that it takes copyright infringement seriously. Continue reading Pirates Flock to Google Drive, Other Cloud Storage Services

Facebook Paying for Music While Building its New ID System

Facebook has focused on an increase in video on its site, but with the growth of video has come a contentious music rights issue. Many of those uploaded videos include music to which Facebook doesn’t have the rights, and the involved rights owners have to ask Facebook to take down the infringing content. After many months of negotiation with music rights owners, Facebook vowed to build a system to identify music that infringes copyrights. While that system is being constructed, say sources, Facebook has begun paying rights holders. Continue reading Facebook Paying for Music While Building its New ID System

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Continue reading Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Fox Sports Plans to Air Six-Second Ads During NFL Games

Short video ads are common on Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube and other online platforms, whereas 15-second and 30-second ads dominate on broadcast TV. Fox Sports is now bringing the six-second TV commercial to NFL games and other programming. After testing it during its August broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards, Fox now hopes to make the six-second ad an industry standard. The reason is that the younger demographic, more accustomed to abbreviated video ads on social media, is pushing back against broadcast TV’s long ad breaks. Continue reading Fox Sports Plans to Air Six-Second Ads During NFL Games

Facebook Uses Mapping Tech in Effort to Connect the World

Facebook developed mapping technology that has allowed it to create a data map of the human population in 23 countries so far. The map can zero in on any man-made structure as close as five meters, in any country on earth. Facebook says it is using the data to understand how humans are distributed around the planet, and thus be able to determine the best way to provide them with Internet access, via land, air or space. The goal is to create a “multi-pronged” Internet network to serve under-connected populations. Continue reading Facebook Uses Mapping Tech in Effort to Connect the World

Startup Develops Technology to Identify Counterfeit Products

One year ago, New York startup Entrupy introduced a technology based on a handheld microscope camera and mobile app to spot counterfeit fashion accessories. Since then, the company says it has improved accuracy to 98 percent for handbags from 11 luxury brands, including Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. The tech has also been tested on CE products. Fashion brands have thus far used holographic tags, microprinting and, more recently, radio beacons woven into fabric to protect their products against counterfeiting. Internet shopping and second-hand retailers have made it more challenging. Continue reading Startup Develops Technology to Identify Counterfeit Products

Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

After remaining quiet on the topic over the past months, Apple has finally made its position clear on net neutrality, urging the current administration to preserve it and prevent service providers from interfering or slowing Internet traffic. In its comments to the Federal Communications Commission, Apple also asked chair Ajit Pai not to end the ban against “fast lanes” that allow broadband providers to charge for delivery of specific content, something that could impact consumers of Apple’s fare. Continue reading Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

NewTek Offers Video Over Ethernet Tech for Live Streaming

NewTek is making its NDI (Network Device Interface) technology available to creators of live-streaming content, which would enable them to improve their production values and give them a leg up in competing with rivals. NDI technology is a new kind of video signal that is able to broadcast between computers over a local network. Live-streaming site Twitch has used NewTek’s NDI technology to allow its on-screen personalities to play games, while producers edit the live feed in another room, without the need for extra cables. Continue reading NewTek Offers Video Over Ethernet Tech for Live Streaming

Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

At the Berlin trade show IFA this year, manufacturers showed smart speakers that incorporate voice assistants from Amazon and Google. Sony debuted its LF-S50G, one of the first third-party products, including Google Assistant and offering 360-degree sound and a digital clock, due out in December for $200. Another rival is the $250 Harman Kardon Allure, which offers Amazon’s Alexa and features ambient lighting that keeps the music’s beat. In addition, JBL’s new LINK series features three wireless speakers with Google Assistant and Chromecast support. Continue reading Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

Magic Leap’s AR Smartglasses Described by Inside Sources

Florida-based startup Magic Leap has kept its augmented reality plans under wraps. But a patent application with drawings featuring smartglasses just surfaced, revealing more information about what the $4.5 billion company is up to. The original design patent, filed in 2015, showed the skinny glasses had sensors on the right and left-hand sides and goggle-like frames. This second public design application may be closer to what the ultimate Magic Leap AR glasses will be, even as a company spokeswoman denied it. Continue reading Magic Leap’s AR Smartglasses Described by Inside Sources

First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

In Reykjavik, Iceland, e-marketplace Aha is using Israel’s Flytrex for the first-ever fully autonomous drone delivery service. Aha, a digital hub for grocery stores, retailers and restaurants, has become one of Iceland’s leading e-commerce sites. Drone delivery is ideal for Reykjavik, which is situated on a large bay, meaning road transportation is circuitous. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) conducted a regulatory process enabling Aha to cut a 20+ minute route to four minutes. Continue reading First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

In June, the European Union fined Google €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) over the practice of favoring its own services through Google Search results. Now, the tech behemoth has said it has complied, submitting details of how it will end its anti-competitive practices. The European Commission gave Google until September 28 to stop the practices, after which the company would be fined as much as 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover, estimated at about $12 million per day, based on its 2016 turnover of $90.3 billion. Continue reading Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Best Buy and Amazon Testing In-Home Sales Consultations

Best Buy and Amazon are both betting on salespeople who make visits to homes as one potential model for selling more consumer electronics. Best Buy is already testing that theory by hiring hundreds of salespeople in several cities to do just that. The free service is slated to roll out in the U.S. this fall. For Best Buy, getting salespeople in the home is another way to sell more TVs and CE gadgets while increasing business for its Geek Squad, which offers tech installation and repair services for a fee. Likewise, Amazon is expanding its free “smart home consultations” to help promote interest in its smart speakers and related products. Continue reading Best Buy and Amazon Testing In-Home Sales Consultations

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