TV Time Adds Personalized Recommendations to its Features

The TV Time app, which boasts a million daily users, now offers filterable, personalized recommendations to help organize your viewing selections. With programming spread across multiple services, it is often a challenge to keep up with what’s out there, what’s new, and what you might enjoy. Based on a user’s viewing habits and behaviors across multiple services (such as Netflix, Hulu and cable), the app makes recommendations and helps users track what they’re watching while connecting with other fans after episodes.

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Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

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Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

According to sources, Amazon is currently in discussions with JPMorgan Chase and other banks about creating a product similar to a checking account aimed at a younger demographic. These early stage talks may not result in anything tangible, and are not intended to turn Amazon into a bank. What the product would do is further integrate Amazon into its customers’ lives, from Whole Foods, Kindle, Alexa and its website. The new product would also potentially cut fees Amazon currently pays to banks and provide more customer data. Continue reading Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.” Continue reading Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

The Trump administration has joined numerous state officials entreating the Supreme Court to overrule a 1992 case that exempts online sellers from adding taxes to their prices. Arguments on the 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, begin next month. South Dakota is leading the group asking the court to overrule the precedent-deciding case; it is joined by 35 states, the District of Columbia, organizations representing retailers, and, now, the Trump administration. Opposing are catalog mailers and online sellers. Continue reading Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Amazon Expands Smart Home Portfolio With Ring Purchase

Amazon just inked a deal to acquire Santa Monica, CA-based Ring for what Reuters says is more than $1 billion. Ring made its mark with its Wi-Fi-enabled doorbells that, via integrated cameras, enable homeowners to see who’s at their front door from their smartphone. The company launched with a video doorbell, now priced at $179, and has expanded to offer other video doorbell versions, and security cameras and systems. Last month, Ring acquired Mr. Beams, Wi-Fi-enabled LED lighting with motion sensing abilities. Continue reading Amazon Expands Smart Home Portfolio With Ring Purchase

ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Just before Mobile World Congress, Google officially introduced its ARCore mobile augmented reality platform. Snapchat and Sony Pictures are among the first to use it; Sony Pictures plans to debut an AR game with a “Ghostbusters” theme that lets users fight and capture ghosts from the movie franchise, comic books and elsewhere. According to Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens, SPE’s partners in the venture are Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced “AR View” to its Android app for devices that support ARCore. Continue reading ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database owned by Amazon has teamed up with Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) to launch its first Alexa skill. The Flash Briefing is a customizable news alert that gathers information from several online sources; the “What’s on TV” Flash will also list the airtime and network information of the day’s top five trending TV shows, as rated by IMDb page views. The user activates the briefing by saying, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” Amazon banned ads in Alexa skills except for Flash Briefings and within music. Continue reading IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

Walmart Builds Its Own Cloud Computing Farm to Rival Amazon

In five years, Walmart invested millions of dollars in six giant server farms that now account for 80 percent of its cloud capacity. The move has enabled the company to keep up with its burgeoning growth for the last three quarters. Most retail businesses rent cloud computing, but Walmart’s determination to best Amazon led to its decision to build its own cloud network. With this internal network, the company can leverage all its customer data, be competitive with its prices and control inventory and other key functions. Continue reading Walmart Builds Its Own Cloud Computing Farm to Rival Amazon

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