Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

E-commerce giant Amazon launched a new delivery system this week called Amazon Flex. The Uber-like model offers individuals with their own vehicles and an Android smartphone the opportunity to deliver packages for $18-25 per hour. Drivers have the option of two-, four- or eight-hour shifts. In addition to a car and an Android phone for managing deliveries with the Flex app, drivers must be over 21 and pass a background check. The new system, initially rumored back in June, works with Amazon’s Prime Now service, which offers members one- and two-hour delivery on items. Continue reading Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

Google Announces New Chromecast Devices for TV and Music

Google unveiled two new Chromecast streaming devices yesterday, in addition to a new tablet and a pair of Nexus phones. Google has already sold more than 20 million Chromecasts, which now offers access to thousands of apps, including HBO Now and Netflix. The $35 Chromecast extends the mobile apps already on our phones to our TV, whereas a competitor such as the $149 Apple TV is more a device for storing apps to run on television. One of Google’s new silver dollar-sized Chromecasts is available to work with your TV, while Chromecast Audio plugs into speakers to play music sent from your phone. Continue reading Google Announces New Chromecast Devices for TV and Music

YouTube Readies New Ad-Free Service for Monthly Subscription

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly readying the launch of its much anticipated online subscription service. Sources indicate a launch is likely by the end of October. Two offerings are expected: an updated version of its Music Key service (previously launched in beta) and a new service that offers access to all YouTube content without ads. Earlier reports suggest the bundled offering would be available for $10 per month. While YouTube has hinted in the past about an upcoming subscription service, it has yet to unveil firm plans or a timeline. Continue reading YouTube Readies New Ad-Free Service for Monthly Subscription

Facebook Betting On VR with New 360-Degree Video Feature

Facebook introduced a new 360-degree spherical video feature this week for the social platform’s newsfeed. At launch, users can roam an immersive trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by dragging their mouse over the video in order to access different vantage points. Mobile users can change their angle within clips featuring NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and workouts by NBA star LeBron James by simply tilting their smartphone or swiping their finger across the screen. Continue reading Facebook Betting On VR with New 360-Degree Video Feature

Google Rumored to Debut New Chromecast Hardware, Apps

If rumors are true, on September 29, Google plans to release new Chromecast hardware and Spotify support as well as an updated app for the streaming device. The company will also introduce Chromecast Audio, a second Chromecast device — codenamed Hendrix — to Wi-Fi-enabled speakers in the home. The new device is distinct from Google Cast for Audio, a platform for making speakers and other audio hardware Chromecast-compatible. The new Chromecast app offers “What’s On,” which allows users to browse content on Chromecast-supported apps. Continue reading Google Rumored to Debut New Chromecast Hardware, Apps

ABC News Takes Plunge into VR with “Nightline” View of Syria

ABC News just unveiled another option for viewing the news: virtual reality. On “Nightline,” the network offered a panoramic view of the antiquities of Damascus, Syria, pairing it with a report on the area by correspondent Alexander Marquardt. The nearly 3D image can be accessed on mobile devices or desktop computer by downloading an app from Jaunt, which develops Android and iOS-compatible VR hardware and software, and then visiting ABCNews.com/VR. The image was created by stitching together views from a 16-camera device. Continue reading ABC News Takes Plunge into VR with “Nightline” View of Syria

EPIX is First Cable Network to Allow Offline Video Downloads

Premium cable channel EPIX — a joint venture between Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM — is getting ready to launch a new feature that will provide users with offline viewing capabilities on mobile devices, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, and Kindle Fire devices. The news follows Amazon’s recent announcement that its Prime members would be able to view Amazon Instant Video content offline. However, the EPIX feature will be included in the channel’s TV Everywhere apps, and will not be available to over-the-top subscribers. Continue reading EPIX is First Cable Network to Allow Offline Video Downloads

Facebook’s Standalone Video App to Support 360-Degree Video

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has called virtual reality the next computing platform after mobile devices. His company also shelled out $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR last year; the company will ship its Rift headset for consumers in early 2016. So it’s no surprise that the company is reportedly working on a standalone video app to support 360-degree video on multiple platforms, including Apple and Android devices. Zuckerberg has also stated that Facebook would support 360-degree video in its newsfeed. Continue reading Facebook’s Standalone Video App to Support 360-Degree Video

Philo, Mobile Cable TV Startup, Expands to More Universities

Philo, which brings live TV and DVR use to mobile devices, was launched to entice young audiences that are not interested in traditional cable television. The company, backed by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and HBO, just expanded to an additional 15 U.S. universities, bringing its total presence on campuses to 40. The expansion comes in the wake of an additional $10 million raised in venture funding. Among the new campuses to sign on are University of Houston, University of Utah and Virginia Commonwealth University. Continue reading Philo, Mobile Cable TV Startup, Expands to More Universities

Google Unveils Android Pay, Improvement Over Google Wallet

Google now offers Android Pay, a mobile phone payment service similar to Apple Pay. Android Pay works with Visa, American Express, Discover and MasterCard and can be used at more than one million retail locations in the U.S. Android Pay requires a phone that runs Android 4.4 KitKat or newer and has a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, a feature of most Android phones in the last three years. Android Pay, available in the Google Play app store, will come preloaded in new Android phones. Continue reading Google Unveils Android Pay, Improvement Over Google Wallet

Viacom Play Plex Offers Mobile TV Apps for its Major Brands

Viacom International is getting ready to debut Viacom Play Plex, a suite of apps for all its major brands, for iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. Viacom Play Plex, which will be available in the company’s 180 international territories, will offer live and on-demand content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Channel, Spike and BET. The suite of apps allows the company to make a significant move into the burgeoning mobile TV world. Viacom had previously launched a Nickelodeon app in 2013. Continue reading Viacom Play Plex Offers Mobile TV Apps for its Major Brands

TV Everywhere: Scripps Offers Live Streams of Cable Channels

Scripps Networks Interactive has partnered with TV Everywhere platform provider Anvato to offer viewers new live streams of the Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel online and via mobile devices. In addition to streaming Scripps programming, Anvato is powering dynamic ad insertion (DAI) on network websites and the Android and iOS apps for Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel. According to Matt Smith, chief evangelist at Anvato, DAI is becoming more popular as producers look to monetize their digital services. Continue reading TV Everywhere: Scripps Offers Live Streams of Cable Channels

EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

Brussels, where the European Union is primarily based, is becoming a mecca for U.S. tech firms to plead their cases. That’s because the EU has taken a hard stance on issues of antitrust and privacy among others, becoming the world’s first regulator to confront Google on antitrust charges… twice. The unintended result is that U.S. tech companies are now hiring full-time lobbyists to protect their interests. And aggrieved U.S. firms go there to lodge complaints that might otherwise have gone to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

YouTube Rolls Out Dedicated Gaming Hub to Take on Twitch

YouTube launched its centralized hub for gaming this week, a new competitor to Amazon’s Twitch that features live and recorded video content about popular games. YouTube Gaming is available for game fans on mobile (Android, iOS) and the Web and offers more than 25,000 dedicated pages. The service automatically populates all gaming content from YouTube’s community, and Google is appealing to video creators by promising to make it simpler to livestream their games. Gaming-related video content has exploded in popularity, and is now second only to music. Continue reading YouTube Rolls Out Dedicated Gaming Hub to Take on Twitch

Intel Looks to RealSense, Wearables, Creates Reality TV Show

As growth slows in the chip market, Intel is turning to a variety of other related industries to keep the revenue flowing. The company has turned to the burgeoning field of wearables, creating tiny chips and circuit board modules that can fit into the form factors and designs favored by wearable creators. It is also pushing RealSense, technologies that bring hearing and vision functionality to devices. To keep in the public eye, the company is also launching a reality TV show with Mark Burnett and Turner Broadcasting. Continue reading Intel Looks to RealSense, Wearables, Creates Reality TV Show

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