CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

In mid-2018, Qobuz, a European online music streaming and downloading service, will be available in the U.S. The company, which claims it is “the highest resolution music streaming service in the world,” offers 40-million music tracks, among them one million high-resolution tracks. The service is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. Qobuz also produces original editorial content including album reviews, bios, introductions to discographies and exclusive photos, art and videos. The company will showcase its service at CES in Las Vegas next week. Continue reading CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

MoviePass Continues Rapid Ascent, Tops 1 Million Subscribers

MoviePass is a service that lets subscribers attend up to one 2D movie screening per day in theaters for a monthly charge. Shortly after a price drop to $9.95 per month in August (from a tiered $15-$50 model), the New York-based company announced it had jumped to 400,000 customers. By October, that number increased to 600,000. Last month, MoviePass dropped its monthly fee again for a limited time offer of about $6.95 per month for those willing to pay up front for a year. Now the company announced it “has since reached one million subscribers in less time than Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix.” Continue reading MoviePass Continues Rapid Ascent, Tops 1 Million Subscribers

Redbox in Public Beta for New On-Demand Streaming Service

Redbox, known for its red kiosks where users can rent DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, has unveiled a new on-demand streaming service for movies and TV shows. The new service is not subscription-based but, similar to iTunes or Google Play, allows the user to pay for each movie or show that they rent or buy; the on-demand service, currently in public beta, will offer the same kind of new release movies and shows available in the kiosks. The privately held company offers content from every studio except Disney. Continue reading Redbox in Public Beta for New On-Demand Streaming Service

Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

After testing out AR face masks with selected outside developers, Facebook is now rolling out its Camera Effects Platform to any outside developer to build AR features for its in-app camera. HBO used it to build masks for “Game of Thrones” fans to become the Night King, and Lucasfilm used it so “Star Wars” fans could become Kylo Ren. With the wide introduction, we’re likely to see all kinds of AR face masks and effects. Facebook AR Studio, its AR platform, debuts this week and will be live to all in a couple of days. Continue reading Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

In an effort to foster growth of video communities, Facebook recently rolled out its Facebook Creator app, providing social influencers with tools for creating feature-rich content. Available to all on iOS (and soon on Android), the product is an update and rebrand of the Facebook Mentions app, originally only offered to verified public figures. The new app includes enhanced fan engagement tools to help influencers add intros and outros to their streaming video broadcasts, cross-posting to Instagram and Twitter, and a central inbox for Facebook, Instagam and Messenger. Creator also features expansive analytics. Continue reading Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Against the backdrop of eroding live TV viewership and the expansion of video games and Web video, acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “The Knick”) has directed “Mosaic,” an interactive series with branching narratives. Co-developed by Soderbergh and former Universal Pictures head Casey Silver with screenwriter Ed Solomon, “Mosaic” is a multi-episodic mystery that allows audiences to choose the story threads they experience. The series is now available for free download from Android and Apple stores and for viewing with Apple TV. Continue reading HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Rylo 360-Degree Camera Touts Computational Photography

Former Instagram employees Chris Cunningham and Alex Karpenko have been working on Rylo, a new $500 software-based camera for the last two years. Rylo is a dual-lens 360-degree camera that solves three problems specific to video capture: the video needs to be stable, level and looking at the right thing. Rylo’s two lenses each capture a 195-degree field of view, which the camera stitches together into a single sphere. The imagery in that single sphere can be post-produced in one of three ways. Continue reading Rylo 360-Degree Camera Touts Computational Photography

Google Debuts Spatial Audio SDK for Immersive Experiences

Google has launched Resonance Audio, a spatial audio software development kit based on technology from the company’s current VR Audio SDK. The latter was introduced with the Cardboard SDK in January 2016 and then integrated into the main Google VR SDK in May of the same year. The goal with Resonance Audio is to make it easier to develop for mobile and desktop platforms. The VR SDK audio engine already supports multiple platforms, but Google recognized that it could be “confusing and time-consuming” to work with various audio tools. Continue reading Google Debuts Spatial Audio SDK for Immersive Experiences

Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Disney, with Lenovo, just released a new augmented reality kit for “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges,” which retails for $200 and includes the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, AR-powered lightsaber controller and LED puck for motion tracking. The headset relies on a phone for graphics rendering and can work with the most recent Android and Apple iOS phones. The phone is placed above the user’s field of view, and the image then mirrored on a transparent plane, allowing her to see the environment combined with “Star Wars” games. Continue reading Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App

Messaging has become increasingly confusing, as users pick among Instagram, iMessage, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter and Google’s Hangouts and Allo — not to forget the basic but limited SMS. Notifications pile up and search becomes difficult if not impossible. According to Wired, all that confusion would disappear if users would simply pick a single app, Signal, which is free, has strong encryption and works on every mobile platform. Signal’s developers say they won’t add emojis, ads, stickers or web-tracking, to keep it simple to use and speedy. Continue reading Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App

Broadcom Offers $103 Billion in Unsolicited Bid for Qualcomm

Broadcom has made a move to acquire rival Qualcomm, the San Diego-based chipmaker making headlines this year due to its ongoing legal battle with its biggest customer, Apple. In January, Apple filed a federal lawsuit against Qualcomm, claiming the company unfairly blocks rivals and charges steep patent royalties. Qualcomm is now suing Apple for failing to abide by its software license. Broadcom’s unsolicited $103-billion offer marks the largest attempted takeover for the tech industry and is expected to face regulatory hurdles. Continue reading Broadcom Offers $103 Billion in Unsolicited Bid for Qualcomm

Google Hopeful for Chinese Re-Entry With TensorFlow for AI

Google exited China in 2010, but is now making another pitch to re-enter by promoting its TensorFlow software for building artificial intelligence solutions. Sources say that parent company Alphabet has added staff to look for potential AI investments among Chinese companies. The online Chinese market is the biggest in the world, but Google faces challenges there, not just with homegrown rivals such as Baidu, but the fact that China’s firewall keeps domestic developers from accessing Google’s cloud computing services. Continue reading Google Hopeful for Chinese Re-Entry With TensorFlow for AI

Roku May Be Prepping to Stream Video on Third-Party Devices

Roku has taken an important step in its long-time efforts to evolve from a hardware-based to a services-based model. Although the company will not comment, sources say that Roku is preparing to begin streaming videos on third-party devices from rivals Apple and Google. Those same sources say that the initial efforts will likely focus on mobile devices. Most consumers still think of Roku as a hardware company, but Roku recently began licensing its operating system to TV manufacturers and making money on advertising. Continue reading Roku May Be Prepping to Stream Video on Third-Party Devices

Microsoft, Harman Kardon Debut New Speaker With Cortana

Microsoft and Samsung Electronics’ Harman Kardon division have married digital assistant Cortana with the Invoke speaker to create a new voice-enabled device priced at $199. The smart speaker, the first for Microsoft, comes three years after Amazon launched Echo, the first product to pioneer a now-burgeoning space. The Invoke has a similar form factor to Amazon’s original Echo, and can play music, answer questions about sports scores and perform other tasks typical of digital assistant-powered speakers. Continue reading Microsoft, Harman Kardon Debut New Speaker With Cortana

Reelgood Buys Netflix Roulette for Picking Shows at Random

Streaming hub Reelgood, which offers viewers a guide for tracking content across more than 300 streaming video services, recently acquired Netflix Roulette, a service that randomly selects Netflix titles for its users. As part of Reelgood, the Netflix Roulette tech will be used as a feature to randomly select titles from a wide range of streaming services such as Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Showtime and Starz. This could appeal to viewers who are overwhelmed by choices or simply tired of switching between services looking for content. Continue reading Reelgood Buys Netflix Roulette for Picking Shows at Random

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