Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Facebook is moving into augmented reality multiplayer games on Messenger, and some journalists have had a chance to visit the company’s Real Time Communication team in Seattle and experience these unreleased AR games firsthand. Messenger already has 1.3 billion monthly active users, making it the second most used messaging service after WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion users. Facebook owns both apps. One AR game, to be released before year’s end, is “Kitten Craze,” which lets up to six Messenger players dodge flying felines. Continue reading Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Apple, which has evolved from a PC company to an iPhone company, is searching for its “next big thing.” One WSJ journalist believes a clue to what it might be came from chief executive Tim Cook’s revelation that the Apple Watch and AirPods generated $10 billion in revenue over the last four quarters. The company’s wearables sales are growing, even as smartphone and PC sales level off, and IDC said Apple is the wearables market leader, with 17 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, the European Union has approved Apple’s purchase of Shazam, which should fortify the company’s music ambitions. Continue reading Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

Snap has unveiled two new versions of Spectacles 2 — the Veronica (for women) and the Nico (for men) — that incorporate all the features of the company’s second generation Spectacles, but tout a sleeker, more stylish design and cost $200, versus $150 for the previous version. Many of Snapchat’s core demographic has left for Instagram, and critics question why Snap is still making hardware. When Spectacles initially debuted in 2016, Snap created hype by selling them out of pop-up vending machines. A few months later, the company was stuck with $40 million worth of unsold glasses. Continue reading Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing service Instagram is reportedly developing a standalone app designed specifically for shopping. The app, possibly to be named IG Shopping, is expected to help users browse products from merchants and businesses and then make purchases directly within the app. The Verge initially broke the news based on information from sources familiar with the matter, but Instagram has yet to confirm the app or a potential launch date. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, over 25 million businesses presently have Instagram accounts, 2 million of which are advertisers. Continue reading Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

Amazon’s shares rose to $2,050.50 on Tuesday, pushing the company’s value to over $1 trillion, making it the second U.S. firm to reach that pinnacle since Apple did so early last month. By the end of the day, shares fell to $2,039.51, below the $1 trillion mark. Amazon, which employs more than 550,000 people, generates more than $178 billion in annual revenue and captures 49 cents from every dollar spent on e-commerce. To continue its growth, Amazon is now offering its local Indian website and apps available in Hindi. Continue reading Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

New York Times Takes Multiple Steps to Authenticate Videos

The New York Times, which is now posting information explaining its journalistic practices, recently described how it reviews news-relevant videos from a wide variety of sources, including news agencies; social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat; and eyewitness videos via WhatsApp, witness contacts on the ground or “joining relevant groups.” The actual verification process is broken down into two steps. First, it determines whether a video is “really new.” The second step is to “dissect every frame to draw conclusions about location, date and time, the actors involved and what exactly happened.”  Continue reading New York Times Takes Multiple Steps to Authenticate Videos

India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Some Indian leaders are resisting the dominance of U.S. Internet platforms and services such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Google’s Android mobile operating system and Amazon’s e-commerce business, calling it a form of colonialism and vowing to regulate these foreign companies, especially regarding what they do with users’ personal data and how they might undercut prices offered by local businesses. India’s smartphone market, second largest in the world, is dominated by offerings from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Continue reading India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

Toshiba revealed that many of its OLED, 4K and Full HD Smart Range TV sets will respond to Alexa voice control starting next year. Via Alexa, consumers will be able to change the channel or volume, offer movie recommendations, read the news or launch more than 45,000 Alexa skills. Toshiba also introduced its first Android TV, a 55-inch model, with Google Assistant voice, which became available last fall, to control smart home devices and the TV volume, search for movies, and launch apps. Bose, Marshall and Sony are among those also introducing Alexa-enabled products. Continue reading Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

According to the latest eMarketer projections, the number of Facebook users in the United States will increase by only 0.9 percent this year to a total of 169.5 million. While the platform’s growth has leveled in the U.S., it remains the top social network among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. However, interest in Facebook among U.S. teens continues to decline. Snapchat surpassed Facebook among teens in 2016 — and eMarketer predicts that Snapchat will attract 1.2 million new users ages 12 to 17 by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million teens during the same time frame. Continue reading Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

In an effort to make its Tomatometer ranking of movies and TV shows even stronger, popular review aggregation service Rotten Tomatoes made a move this week to add more female and minority reviewers. By revising its criteria for new critics, the service aims to include a wider range of voices, including those from the increasing number of reviewers gaining audiences via podcasts and YouTube. In order to be more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has adjusted its requirements that have thus far been based largely on employment duration and scale of publishing. As a result of the changes, 200 new critics were added to the site yesterday. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Apple is expected to launch three new mobile phones this fall that will mimic the edge-to-edge screen design of the company’s flagship iPhone X, released last November. According to those familiar with the plans, the new iPhones will vary in price and feature a range of features and sizes, although a wholly new design is not expected until 2019. The largest of the three new devices will reportedly tout a 6.5-inch display, stainless steel edges, and glass back with dual cameras. It will feature an OLED screen and the ability to view apps like Mail and Calendar side-by-side. Continue reading Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

India’s digital payment market is on fire, mainly due to new easy-to-use apps that also offer discounts and cash bonuses. The country’s banks, postal service and richest man (Mukesh Ambani) are investing in the arena, and even Warren Buffett, through Berkshire Hathaway, is reportedly taking a stake in the country’s leading digital payment company Paytm. Credit Suisse Group estimates that the Indian market will reach $1 trillion by 2023. China, meanwhile, already has a digital payments market valued at $5+ trillion. Continue reading Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

After months of planning, Microsoft has announced its Xbox All Access service (formerly codenamed Project Largo) that will include the Xbox One console with Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass. As of now, the company will offer the subscription service at its retail stores and is also working to bundle it with other PC manufacturers. According to the Microsoft announcement, the company will offer the Xbox One S with Xbox All Access for $21.99 per month, and the Xbox One X with Xbox All Access for $34.99 per month, both deals for 24 months. Continue reading Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

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