Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Comcast developed X1, a voice-controlled remote technology that allows its subscribers to search, similar to virtual assistants from Amazon and Apple. Now chief executive Brian Roberts has a good reason to roll it out: the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. NBC plans to broadcast every event live on TV or online — a programming equivalent of 24 hours a day for 250 days — and X1 will make it all searchable, by event, athlete or country. Subscribers can even get alerts when an American is close to winning gold. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging

At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook described how the company’s virtual assistant Siri will become ubiquitous across Apple platforms and capable of sending messages, making phone calls, ordering a Lyft ride and interacting with non-Apple apps and services. Mastering voice services is key to Apple’s success in an arena where Google, Amazon and others have made headway. Apple also plans to vastly improve Messaging, which, with third party apps, will empower it to do much more. Continue reading Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging

Microsoft to Mine LinkedIn Data, Advance Machine Learning

Microsoft just paid $26.2 billion to buy LinkedIn and its treasure trove of information about the business social network’s 105.5 million monthly active users. That enormous quantity of data will drive machine learning to create and evolve products as well as anticipate customer needs. Microsoft isn’t alone in going after large repositories of data for that very reason. As Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet exploit the possibilities of machine learning, they all are competing for the information necessary to find actionable patterns. Continue reading Microsoft to Mine LinkedIn Data, Advance Machine Learning

Microsoft Unveils New Xbox, VR Plans, Cross-Platform Games

At E3, Microsoft debuted the 4K video-capable Xbox One S, which is 40 percent smaller and $49 less than the previous $349 Xbox. The new console, also offered as a $400 version for a 2-terabyte hard drive, will unveil as a special edition in August and a standard version by end of year. Microsoft also plans to release a new virtual reality console and cross-platform games. Microsoft is in heated competition with Sony, which has sold an estimated 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles versus Microsoft’s estimated 21 million Xbox Ones. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New Xbox, VR Plans, Cross-Platform Games

WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote that introduced new enhancements coming to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and Mac OS X (now called macOS). Developer previews of the operating systems are being made available now, with public betas to follow next month, and integration with Apple devices by fall. Among the highlights: live channels and YouTube search are coming to Apple TV, Siri is coming to the desktop, a new SDK invites developers to create Siri apps, iPhone users can dump unwanted apps, Apple Pay is expanded to Safari, Apple Music gets a new interface, and watchOS 3 loads apps seven times faster. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Amazon Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Amazon is about to launch a full-fledged subscription music streaming service, say two knowledgeable sources. The service, which will put Amazon in direct competition with Apple Music and Spotify, will be priced at $9.99 per month and offer a catalog of 30+ million songs. Amazon, which is currently inking licenses with record labels, is expected to introduce the service in late summer or early fall. The company currently offers a free streaming music service to its Prime subscribers, but the catalog is limited. Continue reading Amazon Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

In its annual ranking of companies based on revenue, the latest Fortune 500 lists Apple third on the list, followed by Walmart and Exxon Mobil. With $233 billion in revenue, Apple is the top tech company on the Fortune 500. “Apple jumped two slots from last year, and it was also the most profitable company, with $53 billion in profits in 2015,” reports Business Insider. Amazon is listed as number 18, with $107 billion in sales, while Verizon is ranked 13th, HP 20th, Microsoft 25th, IBM 31st and Alphabet 36th. Meanwhile, Facebook jumped 85 spots to number 157, and Netflix moved from 474 to number 379. Continue reading Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Apple is now addressing developer complaints with changes to its App Store. Among those changes, Apple will allow more app subscriptions and start running ads with App Store search results. Creators of smaller, independent apps say discovery is difficult in the massive App Store. Other apps, such as those for workplace productivity, are difficult to make profitable without subscriptions. Up until now, Apple has only allowed subscriptions for a few categories, including music streaming, news publications and dating services. Continue reading Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Research firm Gartner states that global smartphone sales will dip into single digits following a continued slowdown. The company expects sales to grow 7 percent this year, reaching 1.5 billion units, down from 14.4 percent growth in 2015. In the mature markets of North America, Western Europe, Japan and parts of Asia/Pacific, smartphone penetration is now at 90 percent. That, along with consumers in these regions not replacing or upgrading phones as quickly as before, are the root causes of the slowdown. Continue reading Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Nest CEO and co-founder Tony Fadell announced he will step down from his leadership position, but will stay on as an adviser to parent company Alphabet. Fadell will be replaced by telecom vet Marwan Fawaz (formerly CTO of Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications), “amid escalating drama at Nest that sent ripples across all of Google,” suggests Recode. “Despite its internal struggles, Nest is a market leader in the connected device field.” Its ability to ship its collection of smart home products and “build out software and energy partnerships for Internet-connected devices” will be critical as it competes in this space with tech giants such as Amazon and Apple. Continue reading Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Samsung May Intro New Phones with Bendable OLED Screens

Samsung is considering the 2017 launch of two new smartphones with bendable screens, giving the company a leg up on competitors such as Apple, say people familiar with the plans. One phone would reportedly fold in half similar to a cosmetic compact, while the other would feature a 5-inch screen with the ability to unfurl into an 8-inch display. “Codenamed ‘Project Valley,’ Samsung could unveil one or both of the devices as soon as February, when Mobile World Congress takes place in Barcelona,” reports Bloomberg. “That timing would give Samsung a head-start on Apple’s iPhone using OLED screens that may be released later in 2017.” Continue reading Samsung May Intro New Phones with Bendable OLED Screens

Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

The 2016 Internet Trends report, presented by Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, states that growth of Internet users worldwide is flat and smartphone growth is slowing. At Recode’s media and tech Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Meeker revealed that the global number of Internet users is about 3 billion, 42 percent of the world’s population. The slowdown, she says is part of a global gross domestic product growth below the 20-year average in six of the last eight years. Continue reading Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Against an environment of social anxiety and national pride, Europe has been trying to limit the reach and influence of American tech giants, enacting privacy regulations and launching antitrust investigations. Now, the European Commission is contemplating rules that would require some of these U.S. companies to carry — and even fund — local content in various local markets. That would impact Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO among others, which would be required to allot 20 percent of local content to European-made content. Continue reading EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Google Aims to Take On Apple Devices with Android Updates

Google will introduce new features to its Android mobile operating system to help its Nexus devices better compete with Apple’s iPhones and iPads. At the Code Conference yesterday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company plans to “put a lot more thought” into the Nexus line, and would likely customize Android in the process. Google licenses Android to a wide array of handset makers, which results in a variety of phones, software and apps that work differently. “These fragmentation issues mean Android phones are often harder to use and sometimes less capable than iPhones,” reports Bloomberg. The Nexus line is designed to address this problem. “Creating a new version of Android just for Nexus devices would give Google more control.” Continue reading Google Aims to Take On Apple Devices with Android Updates

Google Pushes Phone Makers and Carriers to Update Android

Google has increased its efforts to get cellphone manufacturers and carriers to update to the latest version of Android. That includes speeding up security updates, offering technology workarounds and limiting phone testing requirements. To back up these enticements, Google is also publicly naming the laggards in a ranking intended to shame manufacturers into catching up. At stake are not simply Google’s latest operating system but new offerings such as its Daydream virtual reality system. Continue reading Google Pushes Phone Makers and Carriers to Update Android

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