Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

According to sources, Apple has a budget of about $1 billion to acquire and produce original content this next year, an amount that is roughly half of what Time Warner’s HBO spent on content last year and equal to what Amazon spent in 2013. Apple hopes that with its enormous global purview and marketing capabilities, it can be a serious competitor in the original content arena. With this budget, Apple could purchase or produce as many as 10 TV shows, which could be distributed on Apple Music or a video streaming service. Continue reading Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Essential Products, the smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, has amassed $300 million from several investors, including China’s Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The company, which plans to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, also stated that Best Buy and Amazon will be its first partners for distributing the new $699 titanium-encased Essential phone. What Essential did not reveal was the date the phone will launch. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

A group of 28 developers in China have hired a local law firm to file a complaint against Apple that claims the company engaged in “monopolistic behavior” after it removed apps from the App Store in China “without detailed explanation” and charged “excessive fees for in-app purchases,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The complaint also alleges Apple doesn’t give details on why apps are removed and puts local developers at a disadvantage by not responding to queries in Chinese.” Continue reading Chinese Developers Accuse Apple of ‘Monopolistic Behavior’

Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Apple’s current Watch requires wireless connection to an iPhone to function, but the tech giant is on track to release a new version that connects directly to mobile networks, according to sources. This new smartwatch, at least a few of which will be released by the end of 2017, is made possible by LTE modems supplied by Intel, which has waged a persistent effort to get its technology into more Apple mobile devices. Up until now, Qualcomm has been Apple’s primary modem supplier for its mobile devices. Continue reading Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Developers digging through the firmware of Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, HomePod, found evidence that the company’s iPhone camera may soon use machine learning to recognize objects and scenes and adjust settings to create the best photo, all in real-time. That’s the information made public in a HomePod firmware leak. Unclear is whether that feature will be introduced with the iPhone 8 this fall, although developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered details that suggest it will debut as “SmartCam” capability. Continue reading Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Although the June quarter is typically Apple’s weakest, the company’s revenue was up 7.2 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to increased sales of iPads and Macs. The growth was the best in seven consecutive quarters, also in part due to 1.6 percent growth in Apple iPhone sales, representing 41.03 million devices. The growth in sales of iPads and Macs was unanticipated since consumers have focused more on smartphone purchases, with 1.9 percent growth for the former and 6.7 percent growth for the latter. Continue reading Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Facebook Builds Video Chat Device, Refutes ‘Scary’ Bot Tale

Facebook is developing a video chat device for the home that features a touchscreen the size of a laptop’s screen and smart camera technology. The device, in prototype form and being tested in homes, is the first to emerge from the company’s Building 8 lab, and, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is aimed at bringing Facebook users closer. Elsewhere, Facebook squelched a widely reported, hyped-up story that it shut down “creepy” chatbots that were communicating with one another. Continue reading Facebook Builds Video Chat Device, Refutes ‘Scary’ Bot Tale

Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook just acquired Ozlo, a small AI startup founded four years ago and based in Palo Alto, California. The social media giant made the purchase in order to improve Messenger’s virtual assistant, dubbed M. Ozlo describes its product as “an index of knowledge about the real world,” which implies that a user could ask questions and receive answers about a wide range of topics. The company has 30 employees, and a majority of them will be joining Facebook’s Messenger teams in Menlo Park, California and Seattle, Washington. Continue reading Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Spotify Turns to Podcasts to Expand Content, Boost Ad Sales

Spotify has inked an agreement to promote podcasts in its app and on bus ads, in exchange for the hosts of those podcasts publicizing Spotify on social media and during their shows. “Reply All,” “Pod Save America” and “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” which cover a range of topics from sports to politics, are the three podcasts that have signed on. With this agreement, Spotify is experimenting with putting resources into programming other than music. Apple currently is the leader in podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify Turns to Podcasts to Expand Content, Boost Ad Sales

Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Adobe has finally pulled the plug on Flash, an application that Steve Jobs excoriated as far back as 2010 for being too insecure and proprietary for the iPhone. Adobe stated that it would no longer update and distribute the Flash Player at the end of 2020, and many in the industry will cheer its demise. In fact, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari have been blocking Flash for the past year, but many sites devoted to gaming, education and video still use Flash, whose infamously weak security has been exploited by malware. Continue reading Weak Security and Obsolescence Leads to Demise of Flash

Sony, National Cable TV Group Ink Deal for PlayStation Vue

Sony Interactive Entertainment America and the non-profit organization National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) inked a deal that will allow local cable companies to offer Sony’s PlayStation Vue’s “cable TV bundle.” NCTC is a programming-and-hardware purchasing group for 850 cable and broadband systems in the U.S., serving more than nine million customers, mainly located in rural areas. In addition to the Sony deal, NCTC also made a deal with fuboTV, a startup that offers streaming sports channels. Continue reading Sony, National Cable TV Group Ink Deal for PlayStation Vue

Google Ad Sales Growing, But Per-Click Revenue Declines

According to Alphabet, advertising on Google is doing well — but it’s changing. Google, the world’s biggest advertiser, has seen its advertising business grow 52 percent in Q2, compared to the same quarter last year, but it’s actually earning less per click. That’s because the two fastest growing sectors are mobile and YouTube, both of which earn less money per ad than the targeted ads that appear on top of search results on desktop computers. As a result, revenue per click plummeted 23 percent in the same quarter. Continue reading Google Ad Sales Growing, But Per-Click Revenue Declines

Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Samsung’s digital voice assistant Bixby just arrived on millions of the company’s Galaxy S8 phones. According to Samsung head of mobile software R&D Injong Rhee, the inspiration for Bixby was super-hero Tony Stark (“Iron Man”), who only needs to voice orders to activate all kinds of systems. Similar to Stark, Samsung wants to use Bixby to activate all kinds of devices, from dishwashers to TVs. While Bixby cannot control all apps yet and, like other digital assistants has some limitations, early reviews suggest it excels at function-based commands. Continue reading Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

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