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

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

Sling Media announced its $999 SlingStudio hardware this week, intended as a cost effective and easy-to-use alternative for video creators who plan to share live video streams via Facebook Live or YouTube. Sling TV is also offering a significant discount on its AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for customers who prepay for at least three months of service. Introduced at CES in January, AirTV is an OTA/OTT box that runs on Android TV. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, a recent study found that four out of five pay TV subscribers are interested in a la carte TV. Continue reading NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is launching a new suite of platform agnostic “creation, production, and distribution tools for virtual reality experiences — including a VR camera,” which it is demonstrating at NAB this week, reports VentureBeat. Digital Domain’s portable spherical camera features “advanced live-streaming capabilities, new integrations with post-production suites, and a cloud-based VR distribution platform. It enables visual effects production, 360 capture hardware and software, real-time stitching and encoding, livestreaming, application development, and content distribution.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

NAB 2017: SMPTE Future of Digital Cinema Looks at Security

At a SMPTE symposium on the Future of Digital Cinema, speakers addressed the “unknown” cyber threats to movie security. SMPTE vice president of education Richard Welsh, cofounder/vice president of Sundog Media Toolkit, identified threats beyond “the kid with a camcorder.” The audience also heard from Emile Monette, a government cybersecurity senior advisor and Ted Harrington of ISE (Independent Security Evaluators). The general consensus is that many companies fail to understand the way hackers work, leaving their content vulnerable. Continue reading NAB 2017: SMPTE Future of Digital Cinema Looks at Security

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Samsung Galaxy S8, arriving in stores April 21, sports a high-tech look, featuring a screen that goes from edge to edge, with just a hint of metal at the top and bottom. The screen measures 5.8-inches, compared to the S7’s 5.1-inch. The smartphone’s virtual assistant Bixby offers voice control, and Samsung is positioning the phone as capable of doubling as a desktop computer. That’s a lot of phone, but it’s got a price to match, at $720 at Verizon and starting at $750 for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Continue reading Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Facebook has opened up live streaming 360-degree video for anyone with the professional equipment necessary to capture content — and users of devices such as the latest Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano ($200, for iPhone) or Insta360 Air ($130, for Android). According to TechCrunch, “Facebook’s live-streaming video tech” now provides “1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours.” The Live 360 broadcasts “aren’t yet embeddable on other sites” and “can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast” yet. And while some cameras already support live broadcasting via YouTube and Periscope, “Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion.” Continue reading Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

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