Amazon Maintains its Lead in Growing Smart Speaker Market

The Amazon Echo lineup continues to dominate the smart speaker market with a 63 percent share in the U.S., according to an online consumer survey conducted during July and August by Strategy Analytics. While Amazon models represent the majority of smart speakers currently in use, Google follows at 17 percent and Apple trails at 4 percent. The survey found that 88 percent of U.S. homes with smart speakers currently have at least one Amazon speaker, and 31 percent indicate they have at least one Google speaker. Additionally, 58 percent of households with smart speakers are already using two or more devices. Continue reading Amazon Maintains its Lead in Growing Smart Speaker Market

Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Although its first experiences with HTML5 were just short of disastrous, Facebook is now using it again to expand Instant Games to developing countries via Facebook Lite and to interest communities via Facebook Groups. Because smartphone processing power and mobile browser app technology have improved, HTML5 is now able to support more complicated games, and Instant Games can launch in a mobile browser or directly into Groups. Currently, 90 million people take part in 270,000 Facebook Groups about gaming each month. Continue reading Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Netflix Reports Solid Global Growth, Spends Big on Content

Netflix reported stronger growth in international markets than expected, which is key to its ability to keep pace with increasing content production costs. In Q3, it added 6.96 million subscribers worldwide, beating its forecast of five million in July and 5.18 million predicted by analysts contacted by FactSet. The company expects to spend as much as $8 billion on shows and movies this year, with analysts forecasting that Netflix will actually spend as much as $4 billion more on content to be released in the future, for a total of $12 billion. Continue reading Netflix Reports Solid Global Growth, Spends Big on Content

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

According to sources, Apple is developing a new digital video service that will provide original content and third-party subscription services to owners of its devices. Content owned by Apple will be free to device owners, who will also be able to sign up for services from the likes of HBO and Starz. On current iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, users can find a pre-installed TV app, say sources who also note the app will debut in early 2019. The company has already said it is spending $1 billion on PG-rated content this year. Continue reading Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google debuted its third iteration of Pixel smartphones to rival high-end Apple and Samsung phones. The company also introduced a smart speaker with built-in display and a hybrid laptop/tablet. Although the hardware devices showcase Google’s chops in AI and image processing, they haven’t moved the needle on the company’s sales or market share; its most popular hardware product is a wireless router. Google also unveiled Duplex, a human-sounding bot to be available on Pixel smartphones by the end of 2018 in a few U.S. cities. Continue reading Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Given compelling issues of privacy breaches and data hacks, Senator Nancy Pelosi became convinced that a set of principles that everyone in the tech industry agreed to would be a good step toward adhering to values. She asked Democratic legislator Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, to create such a list. He consulted with Apple, Facebook, Google, think tank Center for Democracy and Technology and individuals including Nicole Wong and Tim Berners-Lee, and just recently released the resulting Internet “Bill of Rights.” Continue reading Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Government Backs Apple and Amazon Denials of Spy Chips

As we reported last week, Bloomberg published a story claiming that China had secretly installed microchips on motherboards built by Supermicro that were used in data center servers of companies such as Apple and Amazon. In the first official response from the U.S. government, Homeland Security issued a statement indicating that it has “no reason to doubt” the denials issued by Apple, Amazon and Supermicro in the wake of the report. The Homeland Security statement is similar to comments released by the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre. Continue reading Government Backs Apple and Amazon Denials of Spy Chips

China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story today, Chinese spies infiltrated nearly 30 U.S. companies including Amazon and Apple by embedding tiny chips into servers in the technology supply chain. In 2015, malicious microchips were reportedly embedded in servers bound for U.S. companies, which resulted in compromised software used in numerous hardware devices. While the report cites former government officials and “senior insiders” at Apple, both Amazon and Apple — as well as motherboard manufacturer Supermicro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — have firmly disputed the findings. Continue reading China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

Microsoft Introduces Updated Surface PCs, New Headphones

At a New York City event, Microsoft unveiled updated Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio computers, and debuted Surface-branded wireless headphones with Cortana capabilities. Microsoft is one of several big tech companies holding hardware-related events this fall; Apple held its smartphone reveal in September and Google will hold its event on October 9. The Microsoft event mainly showed off updated existing products and made it clear the company is committed to manufacturing its own computers. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Updated Surface PCs, New Headphones

Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

In California Supreme Court in San Diego this week, Qualcomm charged Apple with stealing computer source code, software development tools and log files of data about its products’ performance and giving it to Intel, with the goal of reducing its need for Qualcomm chips. The two tech behemoths have been involved in a legal battle since last year, when Qualcomm accused Apple of a “multiyear campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct to steal Qualcomm’s information and trade secrets” to help Intel. Continue reading Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Last year Apple set aside $1 billion for Hollywood entertainment. But as the tech company pushes into entertainment, it faces issues related to its brand. Its first scripted drama, “Vital Signs,” a semi-biographical story about Dr. Dre, is a key example. After seeing its guns, cocaine and adult themes, Apple chief executive Tim Cook reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that the content went too far, say sources, and nixed the series. Cook wants entertainment, but not the kind that could tarnish Apple’s brand. Continue reading Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

Apple TV 4K, with the launch of tvOS 12, is about to get Dolby Atmos surround sound. Dolby Atmos, initially launched in movie theaters, differs from other cinema surround sound systems by replacing a fixed number of audio channels with the concept of audio “objects.” With Atmos, sound designers and mixers can manipulate each sound as an audio “object” and place it anywhere inside the “virtual” theater. When Atmos is played back in a real theater, the mix is mapped to the speakers to recreate the original intent. Continue reading Apple TV Offers a Turnkey Premium Format With Dolby Atmos

Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

Google has partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to provide its Android operating system for next-generation infotainment systems that will integrate Google’s maps, app store and voice-activated assistant, all from the dashboard. The alliance is the biggest car vendor, having sold 106 million vehicles worldwide last year. Google has been trying for 10 years to replicate its smartphone success in the arena of car manufacturing. The alliance plans to debut cars with the new Google-powered system in 2021. Continue reading Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

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