Facebook Readies TV App for Streaming Video Through STBs

Facebook will soon launch a TV app that will let users stream videos in their News Feed through set-top boxes including Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung. The move to a television app is evidence of Facebook’s new directive from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to become a “video first” company, and positions the social network to compete for TV advertising dollars. Users can employ the TV app to watch Facebook videos on their living room TV sets, and Facebook is in discussions to provide access to other video content. Continue reading Facebook Readies TV App for Streaming Video Through STBs

Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

With Google’s streamlined Android Wear 2.0 on two new LG watches, starting at $250, and Samsung’s $300 Gear S3 smartwatch, fans of the Android operating system finally have some good smartwatch choices that even offer Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Apple is still the giant in the smartwatch market, cornering an estimated 80 percent of smartwatch sales last quarter. Although Apple didn’t release specific figures, it says its smartwatch “hit record numbers” in units and revenue during the recent holiday season. Continue reading Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

Media player Plex, joining many device manufacturers, has added Alexa voice control for its first foray into home automation. Now, via the company’s Plex Skill for Alexa, the user can ask for favorite content, even music, from her Plex media library without a remote control. But Alexa for Plex isn’t as simple as it is for Spotify or Pandora, which rely on the Alexa mobile app. Instead, users have to enable Remote Access for their media server in the software’s setting, to turn requests into API calls in Plex’s cloud services. Continue reading Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

FaceApp relies on neural networks to paste a smile on a person’s photo or change his gender or age. The iOS app doesn’t always work reliably; if the person’s face is large, has a beard or isn’t looking straight at the camera, for example, the results can be unconvincing. Switching genders can produce convincing results, but can only be accessed in “collage” mode, for a very small image. But FaceApp, similar to the Prisma app that uses artificial intelligence to make selfies look like famous paintings, proves that AI is making it easier to manipulate photographs. Continue reading FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

Nvidia Updates Shield TV to Offer 4K HDR Streaming and More

Nvidia’s new Shield TV features 4K HDR streaming and improved gaming capabilities — and now, many of the new hardware benefits are also available for free on the original Shield TV via an over-the-air software update. Users can access 4K HDR streaming from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and 4K support from Google Play offerings and additional sources. The update also features “support for upgraded GeForce Now game streaming, and the new Nvidia Games app which centralizes all the various gaming endpoints,” reports TechCrunch. To add Google Assistant interaction, users will need to purchase the new $60 Shield Controller with built-in microphone. Continue reading Nvidia Updates Shield TV to Offer 4K HDR Streaming and More

Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

VoiceLabs just released a report that shows Amazon Echo and Google Home, holiday season hits, have problems to overcome in order to achieve mainstream acceptance. Its data reveals only 3 percent of users who enable an Alexa or Google Assistant voice app become active users by the second week, and, of the 7,000+ Alexa Skills voice apps, 69 percent have zero or one customer review, a sign of low to no usage. In comparison, Android and iOS apps have 13 percent and 11 percent retention rates respectively after one week. Continue reading Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Netflix is accommodating Android users who are interested in offline downloads but face storage limitations with their mobile devices. The streaming video service now allows users to store TV shows and movies on microSD cards. “The latest version of the Netflix app gives you a choice of saving things to internal storage or, if your phone supports SD, picking the external option instead,” reports The Verge. Previously, customers could only save to internal memory, which frustrated those “with 32GB of built-in space and a ton of expandable storage.” The offline Netflix content has time limits, however, and eventually expires. Continue reading Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

Google is among the biggest buyers of its own ads and the Silicon Valley titan is increasingly pushing its own hardware products — from Nest smart-home thermostats to the new Pixel phones — on its own site. Now a recent study shows that Google gives its own ads and those of its affiliate companies the most prominent placement nearly all the time. Google isn’t the only company competing with its customers for online ad space; Facebook and Microsoft fall into that same category. The digital advertising industry is valued at $187 billion. Continue reading Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

Fox Plans to Live-Stream Super Bowl, Will Include Local Ads

On February 5, the Super Bowl will be available for free online as a live stream (with no need for pay-TV credentials) and will include dynamically-inserted local advertising based on the viewer’s location. More than 170 affiliates will team with Fox Sports to deliver the digital ads. “The national ads will be the same on both TV and online, and the live-stream will include the halftime show featuring Lady Gaga,” reports Variety. Coverage “will be available live on Fox Sports Go, the broadcaster’s streaming platform … on iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon tablets; and through connected devices including Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Microsoft Xbox One.” Continue reading Fox Plans to Live-Stream Super Bowl, Will Include Local Ads

Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Since leaving Google two years ago, Android operating system creator Andy Rubin has integrated his expertise in software with artificial intelligence to create consumer-facing Essential. The company, which was first registered in California in November 2015, has 40 employees, many from Apple and Google. Essential is first building an upscale smartphone whose large screen has no surrounding bezel. “Tablets, accessories and computer operating software for mobile phones” are also potential future products. Continue reading Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

When examining top apps based on revenue (outside of games), streaming services dominated 2016. Sensor Tower lists Spotify as the top earner, generating the most revenue across platforms, including Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Android chat app LINE took the second spot, followed by Netflix, Tinder, Pandora and HBO Now. Hulu ranked No. 7 on the App Store and No. 9 in overall revenue. “The list indicates that the trend toward cord cutting … is still going strong, as is the growth of subscription-based streaming of music,” reports TechCrunch. However, translating app success into profits remains a challenge for some (Pandora is laying off 7 percent of its workforce, despite touting more than 4.3 million subscribers). Continue reading Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

Nuvyyo and Mohu Unveil Solutions to Stream OTA Broadcasts

At CES 2017, Nuvyyo unveiled the Tablo Live stick, which offers free over-the-air television on any device, a DVR app for the Nvidia Shield game console, and previewed a cloud DVR for broadcast TV. The company, which also manufactures the cord-cutting Tablo DVR, explains that Tablo Live doesn’t plug directly into a TV set but, instead, streams live TV to devices with already-installed Tablo apps, available on Android phones, iPhone, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox One and Apple TV. Tablo Live will ship in Q2 for $99. Cord cutters may also be interested in Mohu, which introduced its Airwave device at CES. Continue reading Nuvyyo and Mohu Unveil Solutions to Stream OTA Broadcasts

Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Searching for and organizing content is a fact of life with smart TVs. Samsung has updated its Smart Hub to make that experience — on the TV and smartphone — much easier, especially with regard to sports and music. The company demonstrated its new Smart Hub “experience” at CES 2017. The user no longer needs to search for where his or her favorite team can be found on OTA channels and streaming services. Instead, the user tells the Hub what teams he follows, and the Smart TV will give him channels, schedules and scores. For music, Samsung’s Hub now offers Shazam. Continue reading Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

Glance Clock offers a visual solution for dealing with daily information overload. The stylish modern clock is linked by Bluetooth for proximity response or Wi-Fi for building wide connections to mobile phones. The device highlights select information as it updates on a smartphone or digital assistant. Calendars break down the day in colorful graphics on the clock face. Users can highlight notifications about to-do items and important events, anniversaries and more. Weather forecasts are announced by colorful animations and related details. As a direct indication of wider scale ambient reach, it also can display responses from Alexa or announce an Uber arrival with visuals and sounds. Continue reading CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

Kodak’s digital Super 8 camera was not the company’s only nostalgic throwback showcased in Las Vegas. The camera company has finally entered the mobile market with its own Android smartphone – or at least a phone that licenses the Kodak name. Tech company Bullitt Group is behind the Kodak Ektra, which borrows its name from Kodak’s Ektra camera from the 1940s. That makes sense, since the phone is designed to mimic a point-and-shoot camera, featuring a 21-megapixel rear cam (but no optical zoom) and vintage leather finish. Continue reading CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

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