Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

Google aims to take on Uber and Lyft more directly with the expansion of its carpool service on the Waze navigation app. Instead of riders hailing cars, the Waze service relies on drivers to pick up people heading in the same direction. The price is much lower than Uber because riders pay up to 54 cents a mile, the IRS’ reimbursement rate for business travel. Google plans to bring the Waze car-sharing service to several cities in the U.S. and Latin America over the next several months. Continue reading Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Consumers can now use the voice-controlled Google Assistant on Google Home to order products and supplies and get them delivered within a few hours. The products and delivery times vary based on where the user lives, and Google has partnered with brands such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods to supply the goods. Customers using the new feature either pay a delivery fee for each purchase or subscribe to the Google Express delivery service. The Amazon Echo smart speaker already has a voice-powered purchasing capability. Continue reading Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

The Signal app from non-profit Open Whisper Systems provides end-to-end encrypted messaging, voice calling, and now video chatting. The new feature, along with improved voice calling functionality, comes as part of a beta update for the app’s Android and iOS versions. Signal is a popular choice for activists and journalists who need a private communications platform, but it is still struggling to find a foothold in the mainstream because it sacrifices some popular features for security.  Continue reading Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

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

8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Hologram production studio 8i plans to show off its technology and Holo, its new mobile app, at Recode‘s Code Media conference in California. The company, which gained visibility recently by creating a holographic video of actor Jon Hamm and NBA player D’Angelo Russell, also just received a $27 million series B round led by Time Warner Investments and including Baidu Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, German businessman Carsten Maschmeyer and others. That brings total funding up to $41 million. Continue reading 8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Augmented reality company Magic Leap has operated in secrecy since its founding in 2010. Based in Florida, Magic Leap, valued at $4.5 billion, has raised almost $1.4 billion from Google, China’s Alibaba, Qualcomm, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Rumors of its augmented reality headset have been rife, but the only product to be unveiled thus far was an AR app in 2011. Now, a public photo of a prototype has been released, offering possible details of what the company has been working on. Continue reading Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

YouTube Aims to Be Mobile Platform for Live Video Streaming

Google’s YouTube has debuted live video recording from its mobile app for creators with at least 10,000 subscribers. Super Chat, which lets viewers pay to move their comments up in the stream, is also now out of beta. These moves will impact creators in 20 countries, and viewers in 40 countries. Six months ago, Google first offered live recording to a handful of users, including Unbox Therapy founder Lewis Hilsenteger and athlete Ben Brown. Product managers Barbara Macdonald and Kurt Wilms say the feature will have a wider rollout later. Continue reading YouTube Aims to Be Mobile Platform for Live Video Streaming

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

Snap Inc. Files for IPO, Describes Itself as a Camera Company

In its IPO filing, Snap Inc. revealed that an average of 158 million people use the Snapchat app — sending more than 2.5 billion messages and images — every day. The company’s annual revenue grew from $58.7 million in 2015 to $404.5 million last year. Nearly all its revenue comes from advertising, especially on mobile. Expected to seek a market valuation of $20 billion, Snap may receive $4 billion, which, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence would make the company one of the biggest tech offerings ever in the U.S. Continue reading Snap Inc. Files for IPO, Describes Itself as a Camera Company

Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Slack Technologies, launched in 2014, just introduced a new version of its workplace-centric messaging app, with the goal of gaining large corporate contracts. The new Slack Enterprise Grid is built to handle the group messaging needs of very large companies, with thousands or more employees, and includes security tools and regulatory compliance required for such companies’ IT departments to sign off. The original group messaging app is already in play at a few big companies, including Electronic Arts and Samsung Electronics. Continue reading Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

As part of its “video first” strategy, Facebook is at work on a video app for Apple TV and other TV set-top boxes, say knowledgeable sources, who add that the social media platform is also in discussions to license long-form “TV-quality” content. The move will allow Facebook to compete for TV advertising revenue and distribute content to TV sets. The company is already the No. 2 destination for digital ads after Google, but has said it is running out of room for more ads in its News Feed, the company’s main source of revenue. Continue reading Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

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

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

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