Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

With its new Snap Map feature, now available on iOS and Android, Snapchat encourages friends to get together in real life instead of just digitally. Snap Map shares your current location via a map that updates when Snapchat is opened. The tech is based on Snap’s acquisition of social map app Zenly. Users can select specific friends for location sharing or disappear from the map via Ghost Mode. Tapping a friend’s “BitMoji avatar opens their Story to show what they’re up to, or lets you message them directly to make meetup plans,” explains TechCrunch. “Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed.” Continue reading Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

MGM-owned pay TV network EPIX is revealing details of its video streaming app being integrated into the 2018 Honda Odyssey, that company’s upgraded fifth-generation minivan. The move is significant because, even as in-car entertainment has become increasingly sophisticated (with Spotify being integrated into many vehicles, for example, and Google developing a version of Android just for cars), mainstream visual entertainment services have not shown up in vehicles until now. Continue reading EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

Plex Includes Live TV, Nvidia Shield Aims to Be Best Partner

Plex just announced that it is allowing users to not simply record TV programs, but watch live TV from broadcast stations. Originally launched as a company that allowed users to organize their media, Plex introduced its DVR feature last fall, initially requiring a digital antenna and HDHomeRun digital tuner. The company also now supports digital tuners from other vendors, such as those from Hauppauge and AVerMedia, among others. Nvidia’s Shield software also now supports Plex’s DVR and Live TV capabilities. Continue reading Plex Includes Live TV, Nvidia Shield Aims to Be Best Partner

Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Under a three-year deal with Major League Baseball, Intel plans to live-stream one free out-of-market game each Tuesday in virtual reality. Starting next week, the games, on-demand replays and post-game highlights will be made available via the Intel True VR app on Samsung Gear VR headsets. The “Intel True VR Game of the Week” will provide baseball fans with the option of viewing a produced VR broadcast or selecting angles from up to four cameras. The experience will also feature exclusive commentary and live player and team stats. Continue reading Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin has introduced his Essential Phone that he says can be dropped onto concrete without breaking. The new smartphone, which will run on Android software, has magnetic connectors for a 360-degree camera or charger. Priced at $699 and available only in the U.S., Essential Phone will come without preinstalled apps or a need for yearly updates. Rubin also unveiled Essential Home, a voice-activated device that controls appliances. Both products are part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Microsoft Rebrands and Upgrades Game Streaming Platform

Microsoft is rolling out new features to its Beam live-streaming game service, along with a new name: Mixer. With a renewed focus on social interactivity, the company will face competition from Amazon’s Twitch, Alphabet’s YouTube and, now, Facebook, which has signed e-sports streaming deals. Microsoft joins the growing live social streaming sector armed with its popular gaming console, the Xbox. Although Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox sales in 2014, it noted last month that its Xbox Live gaming service had 52 million users in the quarter ending March 31. Continue reading Microsoft Rebrands and Upgrades Game Streaming Platform

HTC Develops a Mobile VR Headset For Its U11 Smartphone

HTC, maker of the popular Vive VR headset, has developed a mobile-only virtual reality headset named Link specifically for use with the HTC U11 flagship smartphone. “It’s important to note here that this isn’t a Vive-branded handset,” reports Ubergizmo. “HTC is marketing the new headset under its own brand.” It has “six degrees of freedom tracking, which is a first for smartphone-based VR headsets.” The device supports USB-C connectivity and features “two built-in [1080 x 1200] LCD panels with a 90Hz refresh rate and 110 degree field of view.” HTC Link is launching first in Japan. No word yet on pricing or availability for other markets. Continue reading HTC Develops a Mobile VR Headset For Its U11 Smartphone

Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

Verizon announced the release of its $200 integrated smart home control interface and Wi-Fi hot spot called SmartHub. Designed for managing your connected devices, SmartHub features its own dedicated LTE line, which enables connectivity to a variety of devices, including phones and laptops. SmartHub also supports an HD Voice feature for making calls over the Verizon network, and “has its own battery, which means it maintains your home phone and Internet connection in the event of a power outage,” explains Android Police. “It’s not clear if there will be special data plans for the SmartHub,” and a full list of the devices that work with SmartHub has yet to be unveiled, although Verizon did reference Nest and Kwikset. Continue reading Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

For a year-and-a-half, Amazon has been promoting subscriptions to HBO, Starz and other streaming services. Now, it plans to expand Amazon Channels to Austria, Germany and the U.K. with between 25 to 42 live and on-demand channels from its content partners, thus offering the kind of a la carte TV that many viewers want. Apparently, the success of Channels took Amazon by surprise, and it has created two new channels — Anime Strike and Heera for Bollywood fans — while postponing plans for its own live service. Continue reading Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

On its official Xfinity Mobile website, Comcast is now allowing its Xfinity Internet customers to sign up for the service at a discounted rate of $45 per month. The regular price will be $65 per month for unlimited mobile service. Xfinity Mobile was unveiled in April and will roll out to stores over the coming months throughout Comcast’s current markets. The service runs on top of Verizon’s network, but access to Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots means users will automatically be switched over to Wi-Fi when available. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

The focus for Google at its annual I/O developer conference was artificial intelligence. Google Assistant will now be available for the Apple iPhone, a way to introduce millions more people to Google’s AI capabilities. Google also revealed more about its software development kit for Google Assistant, saying it will be better integrated into TVs, let the user type requests and questions, and add skills such as payments and receipts. Third party developers plan to integrate Assistant into numerous products. Continue reading Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Google is demonstrating an Android-powered touchscreen car console and infotainment system, offering Google Maps and Spotify as well as controlling seat positioning and temperature. For the first time, Google Assistant is integrated in the system, allowing users to ask for directions and make phone calls. The Android operating system will be demonstrated running on the Audi Q8 and Volvo V90 SUVs at this week’s Google I/O developers conference. Earlier this year, Google showed the software on a Chrysler vehicle. Continue reading Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Google Reveals More of Its Fuchsia OS for ‘Modern Phones’

Google is working on its third operating system after Android and Chrome OS, this one dubbed Fuchsia, an open-source, real-time OS that first appeared in August last year as a command line. Rather than being based on Linux, Fuchsia relies on a microkernel called Magenta that was developed by Google and incorporates other Google-developed software. According to Google, Magenta is aimed at “modern phones” and PCs with fast processors and large amounts of RAM with “arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation.” Continue reading Google Reveals More of Its Fuchsia OS for ‘Modern Phones’

Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Hulu’s Live TV has rolled out in beta, offering more than 50 channels for just under $40 per month. What makes Hulu stand out from competing services is that it now offers a combination of streaming video plus live television. Among its live content, Hulu offers the four major broadcast networks, ESPN, HGTV and an array of news and animation content. Original content includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the service also boasts day-after TV shows and B-list movies, all melded into a single library. Continue reading Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

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