Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Snap Inc. is reportedly mulling the introduction of longer lasting or permanent content to its popular Snapchat app, which has found a significant audience with a model based on disappearing photos and videos. Changing its most iconic feature would mark a major departure for Snap, but could lead to a much needed revenue source for the company if it doesn’t alienate its current users. Snapchat, which launched in 2011, is particularly popular with teens and millennials. Snap is also said to be considering an option that would allow for identifying users who create public posts. Continue reading Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

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

WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing unit has announced its new WorkLink service that promises to provide workers with simple and secure mobile access to all of their companies’ intranet sites and web apps. Since most companies typically use virtual private networks or mobile device management software for such remote access, AWS wants to replace the often expensive and complex use of these approaches with simple one-click access that employees should find similar to basic Internet browsing on their various devices. Continue reading WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Facebook unveiled Spectrum, an open-source image processing library to help improve the quality and reliability of images uploaded through its own apps. Spectrum, which Facebook first showed publicly and launched in beta in November, is now on GitHub, available to the developer community. As higher quality cameras on smartphones have become a key selling point, consumers are dealing with larger image files, which can be a stumbling block since they eat up more device memory and more network bandwidth. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Nielsen’s SuperData and App Annie Quantify Gaming Market

Epic Games’ “Fortnite” led the way to 13 percent growth of digital games and interactive media to $119.6 billion in 2018, said Nielsen division SuperData. On its own, “Fortnite” earned $2.4 billion last year. The global industry segment is expected to grow to $118.2 billion in 2019. SuperData’s annual report stated that, in 2018, 850 million unique people viewed video games, with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins garnering 218 million hours, making him Twitch’s No. 1 streamer. Mobile games came out on top with $61.3 billion in revenue. Continue reading Nielsen’s SuperData and App Annie Quantify Gaming Market

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

At CES 2019, Tablo, a Canadian OTA receiver manufacturer, announced plans to unveil its Automatic Commercial Skip feature, which makes recorded TV ads skip automatically on over-the-air broadcasts. An open beta for Tablo owners who subscribe to its $5 per month guide will begin in March. The company says the technology is “a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning.” With it, Tablo apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku will skip ads without human intervention. Continue reading Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

China-based camera company Remo Technology showcased a compelling AI camera at CES that should be of interest to YouTubers and prosumer videographers looking for an affordable gesture control solution. The OBSBOT Tail camera combines artificial intelligence tech and its built-in three-axis gimbal in order to automatically track specific subjects with smooth camera motion. Users can even live stream while easily keeping themselves in the camera shot. The new camera — which can record up to 4K video at 60 fps with support for HDR10 — is expected to launch later this month. The early-bird pre-order special is listed at $469. Continue reading Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

Streaming music service Pandora is the latest to announce an in-app voice assistant. Users of the iOS or Android app can simply say “Hey Pandora” and make a request to play specific podcasts or music based on artists, albums, radio stations or playlists. According to Pandora, the creation of its own “Voice Mode” feature was inspired by the millions of users who have been activating the service via smart speakers such as Amazon Echo devices. “Voice is just an expected new way that you engage with any app,” said Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips. Continue reading Pandora Introduces Its Own Voice Assistant for Mobile Apps

HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

At CES in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled an upgrade to its Vive Pro VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye, featuring integrated eye tracking for in-app controls, analysis of user attention and foveated rendering. The last item relates to the ability of cameras in the headset to precisely track the position of the eyes’ pupils to enable the GPU to focus processing on that location. With foveated rendering, the GPU is said to save 30 percent over its power, which can be used to conserve power or increase detail within the rendered area. Continue reading HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

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

French Firm Shows a Robot Stylus That Demos Screen Apps

Key Infuser is demonstrating a cellphone-sized robot stylus called KiOne that can demo touch displays and the apps behind them. The full system includes a robotic arm, a video display screen, and a base containing the hardware and code to drive the demo. The entire unit is the size of a toaster oven and fits comfortably on a counter top. Retailers can use it to continuously demonstrate new products with touchscreen UIs, freeing up staff time for higher value customer service activities. Companies could use the technology to provide on-demand training of touchscreen-based applications to visual learners. Continue reading French Firm Shows a Robot Stylus That Demos Screen Apps

CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Beneficial Vision smart contact lenses from Care Harmony Corp. use a variety of technologies distributed among wearable devices to deliver monochromatic text and video images through contact lenses. The smart lenses contain an outer ring of rechargeable batteries and lasers that use wave-guide technology to project an image into the central area of the contact lens. In addition to delivering audio, wireless earbuds track head position and send that information to the contacts, so the projected image can appear to be a stable overlay in a fixed position in the real world when you move your head. Continue reading CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

CES Session: Defining and Creating the Killer AR/VR/MR App

At a session on “Gaming is the Killer App for AR/VR,” moderator Ariella Lehrer of HitPoint Studios stated that a “killer app” would be defined as any app that moves hardware units. That brought a wince from Needham & Company’s Laura Martin who objected that money, not hardware, is the metric to look at. Martin added that hardware sales don’t take into account the fact that so much AR will be done on a smartphone rather than a game console. “Because it uses your smartphone, AR will get faster adoption,” she suggested. Continue reading CES Session: Defining and Creating the Killer AR/VR/MR App

Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Following in the footsteps of its rival Amazon, Roku announced that users will be able to buy pay-TV subscriptions through its streaming service, The Roku Channel, beginning in late January. That mimics Amazon’s sale of access to HBO and other premium channels through its Prime Video platform. Roku’s offering will include Showtime, Starz and EPIX among others. The new feature, which replaces one in which Roku acted as a portal to outside services, will also be financially favorable for the company. Continue reading Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

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