Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Business, Android/iOS Updates

Having shown Skype for Business in preview in April, Microsoft officially debuted the business version of the popular communications app, and announced updates to the Android and iOS Skype for Business apps. Skype for Business features include full-screen sharing, one-click to join, and edge-to-edge video. The updated apps allow users to present remotely with PowerPoint directly from a mobile device. Mac users got Skype for Business six months ago, and the “full and final Windows version” was introduced 18 months ago. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Business, Android/iOS Updates

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

At yesterday’s “Hello Again” event in Cupertino, Apple announced its redesigned MacBook Pro featuring an OLED touch strip that the company has named Touch Bar. Apple’s lightest and thinnest MacBook yet, available in 13- and 15-inch versions, also features a larger Force Touch trackpad and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. A new 5K monitor from LG connects to the new laptop. Additionally, the company revealed its latest app for the Apple TV box, simply named “TV,” due in December. The app showcases content from the apps users already subscribe to, such as HBO Go, Hulu, iTunes and Starz.

Continue reading Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Nintendo just debuted Switch, a console/handheld hybrid that is the company’s next videogame platform. The system, which has been in development since March 2015 and will be available for sale March 2017, can be used for TV gaming or as a portable gaming system, depending on the configuration of its tablet-like device and dock. Minus the tablet, the system becomes portable, with mini joysticks that can be wireless or attached to the sides. Nintendo also says it will soon reveal titles, game demos, and prices. Continue reading Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

On the heels of acquiring DirecTV for almost $50 billion, AT&T plans to roll out DirecTV Now, an Internet video service, by the end of 2016. This new over-the-top service challenges the pay-TV industry with its ability to stream a 100-channel line-up to TVs and mobile devices without a satellite dish, cable set-top box or annual contract. Sources say that AT&T is likely to charge about $50 a month for the service. Currently 25.3 million subscribers pay an average of $117 a month for AT&T’s pay-TV business. Continue reading AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

Google Signs Deal with CBS for Planned YouTube TV Service

Google has signed an agreement with CBS to feature the network’s content on Unplugged, YouTube’s soon-to-be-launched Web TV service, expected to roll out early next year. While CBS is the first major network to join Unplugged, Google is reportedly close to signing deals with 21st Century Fox, Disney and NBCUniversal. The company is targeting cord cutters and consumers growing wary of traditional pay-TV subscription costs with its YouTube alternative — a skinny bundle of channels priced at $25 to $40 per month. Google will join a crowded field of OTT offerings, including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and a planned service from Hulu. Continue reading Google Signs Deal with CBS for Planned YouTube TV Service

Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Facebook is sharing more technology, announcing that the Open Compute Project (OCP) — formed by the Silicon Valley company — has accepted its contribution of the Wedge 100 top-of-rack Ethernet switch that transmits data at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). The company has already utilized many such switches in production inside its data centers, and the announcement signals that Facebook is committed to sharing the infrastructure that lets it handle large-scale data-heavy applications at an economic price point. Continue reading Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Facing stiff regulatory hurdles, Netflix has decided to shift gears regarding its plans for expansion into China. Rather than launching its own streaming subscription service as originally planned, the company will instead focus on licensing content to Chinese online service providers for now. “We still have a long-term desire to serve the Chinese people directly, and hope to launch our service in China eventually,” the company said while announcing its impressive Q3 earnings and subscriber jump. Netflix added more than 130 countries to its global presence this year, but a move into China would involve a “challenging” regulatory environment. Continue reading Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Facebook has launched a new iOS feature (coming soon to Android) that enables users to cast News Feed videos to TV sets for stream through AirPlay devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Google Cast devices. “The move could help Facebook generate more video ad revenue, and increase usage time by giving people the richest possible viewing experience while at home,” suggests TechCrunch. Users can continue to scroll through the Facebook feed as the video streams, allowing the social platform to serve as both first and second screen. Periscope is taking a different tack to do the same “by allowing professional content broadcasts to be piped into Periscope and Twitter via its new Producer feature.” Continue reading Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart told its investors that it was opening fewer brick-and-mortar stores in favor of investing in online operations, a strategy that was initiated when Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon paid about $3.3 billion for e-commerce startup Jet.com. That company’s founder, Marc Lore, will lead the initiative. The company predicts online sales will grow 20 percent to 30 percent in the next three years. Still, it’s a risky gambit since Amazon is increasing its dominance in the U.S. consumer space. Continue reading Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Thington Concierge Helps Users Navigate Their Smart Homes

The smart assistant app Thington just launched, with the aim of making the smart home and its devices less intimidating. Thington’s Concierge is a conversational bot that helps the user set up smart devices in the home and get the maximum benefit from them. The idea, say its founders, is that Thington is a “super smart remote” that will talk users through the confusing process of setting up an Internet of Things-enabled home. Thington is currently compatible with devices from six manufacturers. Continue reading Thington Concierge Helps Users Navigate Their Smart Homes

In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC reinstated the $119.6 million that a San Jose, California jury awarded Apple against Samsung. The recent ruling was 8-3, representing a full slate of judges, unlike the previous three-judge panel that, this last February, overturned the original verdict. The judges in the latest ruling stated that that panel examined evidence outside the record of the case, contrary to U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of review. Continue reading In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Alphabet’s Google unveiled several new products at its annual hardware event in San Francisco yesterday, including a pair of Pixel smartphones; the $79 mobile Daydream VR headset; its Amazon Echo rival, the $129 Google Home; a multi-point network system called Google Wifi; and an upgraded Chromecast streaming dongle. Shipping November 4, Google Home is on sale now, with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Red. Also shipping in November, Chromecast Ultra supports HDR and 4K video streaming. Key to many of Google’s new products is its artificial intelligence software. Continue reading Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Major American tech companies are building multiple data centers in Europe, with the end goal of dominating the cloud computing market there. The leading provider, Amazon Web Services, will soon open data centers in France and Britain. The second largest cloud computing provider, Microsoft reports it has spent $1 billion in the last year on data centers, for a total expenditure of $3 billion since 2005. Google, already in Belgium and Finland, will complete a new expansive data center in the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Continue reading U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

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