VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, there was evidence that that some of the pioneering virtual reality companies are expanding — or shifting — their purview from VR movies into other genres. Sundance’s New Frontier program, which launched five years ago, highlighted VR filmmaking. At this year’s festival, long-time VR producers such as Felix & Paul are still engaging in virtual reality projects, but others are exploring augmented reality, connected devices and artificial intelligence in their interactive stories. Continue reading VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

News site 9to5Mac reported that Apple’s FaceTime app, which places audio/video calls over the Internet, had a significant bug: an iPhone user could call another iPhone user and eavesdrop on that person’s conversation through the phone’s microphone — even if the call recipient doesn’t answer the call. The bug was actually discovered a full week before Apple disabled Group FaceTime and stated that it was working to fix it. In that gap, a developer discovered the bug, which was reported in 9to5Mac. Security researchers have dubbed the glitch FacePalm. Continue reading Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Apple is reportedly planning a new subscription service that would serve like a Netflix for games, according to people familiar with the initiative. The company began private meetings with game developers during the second half of last year. Insiders suggest Apple has also discussed potential publishing partnerships that could provide the tech giant with control over distribution, marketing and other areas. Plans are believed to be in the early stages and details, including cost of a possible subscription service, are not yet available. Meanwhile, Apple has also been working on subscription video and magazine services. Continue reading Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

Australia passed a law that challenges the right of tech companies to sell devices with unbreakable encryption. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, which took effect last month, covers all devices sold in Australia. But if Apple, for example, creates a back door for its iPhones sold there, authorities in other countries previously stymied by Apple’s tough encryption could demand the same access. Australia’s law said it can’t ask a company to build universal decryption. Continue reading New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

The quality of digital audio has waxed and waned since storage migrated from physical media to files stored on devices or in the cloud. Up until now, large technology companies such as Apple have been the ones making audio developments, such as taking MP3 mainstream with the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Increases in bandwidth have helped improve the quality of streaming audio. Consumers have pushed for better audio, and now some music services have adopted FLAC, a Free Lossless Audio Codec that is changing the game. Continue reading Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

Netflix continues to define itself as a significant player in the film industry. Shortly after it revealed plans to continue investing heavily in original content, the streaming media giant has joined major Hollywood studios as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America. The move marks the first time an Internet company has joined the MPAA. “Joining the Motion Picture Association further exemplifies our commitment to ensuring the vibrancy of these creative industries and the many talented people who work in them all over the world,” explained Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Continue reading Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Although Apple doesn’t have an official presence at CES, it still made news there, with companies announcing partnerships for iTunes, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The Silicon Valley firm is rumored to be rolling out a streaming video service in early 2019, with content from Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg. At CES 2019, Apple’s integration with third party platforms included TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. The move into content and services comes as Apple contends with lower iPhone sales. Continue reading Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

In 2020, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will launch a free, ad-supported streaming video service featuring the company’s own TV and film content as well as acquired programming and original content. The 52 million subscribers to Comcast Cable and Sky, the recently acquired European pay-TV unit, will receive the streaming service for free. According to sources, NBCUniversal will also offer the service for no additional charge to Charter Communications and Cox Communications, among other U.S. pay-TV companies with NBC channels. Continue reading NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

If CES is any indication, 2019 may be the year that voice assistants become more integrated into our daily lives. Amazon and Google went head-to-head in Las Vegas last week with a flood of partnerships touting smart home and CE devices that now support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Among the products featuring voice support included LG’s much-hyped rollable OLED TV; Panasonic’s new 4K OLED TV; Samsung’s 2019 TV lineup; Vuzix Blade AR glasses; an array of speakers, soundbars and headphones; new smart displays from Lenovo, Archos and KitchenAid; and a collection of home security devices, kitchen and bathroom appliances — even toilets. Continue reading CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

At CES 2019, in what some are saying has become an annual battle in recent years, Amazon and Google went mano a mano, with the former’s Alexa voice assistant in one corner, and the latter’s Google Assistant in the other. Since the debut of the voice assistants, this sector’s importance has soared, and both companies have been jockeying for dominance. Amazon stated that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, while Google said its Assistant will be built into one billion devices by the end of the month. Continue reading Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

LG OLED TV With Rollable Screen Impresses CES Attendees

While MicroLED, 8K QLED and some impressively large quality displays have been generating the most TV buzz this week in Las Vegas, LG has been showcasing a concept that’s taken different forms at CES in the past, but not with this level of sophistication. Rather than introducing a foldable or bendable screen that retracts, LG debuted a 65-inch OLED TV with rollable screen at this year’s confab. The LG Signature OLED TV R “rolls” into a base to the point that the flexible screen is no longer visible. The 3-millimeter OLED panel then rises from its base for easy viewing. Users can also play music through the base since it’s a 100W Dolby Atmos soundbar. Continue reading LG OLED TV With Rollable Screen Impresses CES Attendees

CES Keynote: LG Exec Asks if Life Is Better and By How Much

In his CES pre-show keynote presentation, LG Electronics president and chief technology officer Dr. I.P. Park set the stage for an AI-infused vision of tomorrow by questioning if we are “making our lives better, how much better, and better how?” Park called on XPRIZE Foundation founder and executive chairman Peter Diamandis to illustrate what artificial intelligence enables and Landing AI founder and CEO Andrew Ng to explain how AI technologies will evolve. Open-source webOS and 5G were the cornerstone technologies for the product demonstrations by Luxoft and Qualcomm, respectively. Continue reading CES Keynote: LG Exec Asks if Life Is Better and By How Much

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