Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

While Netflix bingers may be accustomed to the occasional “Are you still watching?” interruption, some subscribers are now experiencing 10- to 20-second promotional videos, and complaints have suggested that the videos cannot be skipped or muted. Similar to traditional commercials, the videos appear between episodes, reminding users about various series available on the streaming service. The company explained on Sunday that it is merely testing the promotional videos and they can actually be skipped. Netflix did not indicate how many of its more than 100 million subscribers are experiencing the tests. Continue reading Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

PRX and PRI, two of the four U.S. national distributors of programming for public radio stations, are merging to gain more leverage in the podcast/other digital formats marketplace. National Public Radio and American Public Media, the other two distributors, are much larger. PRI (Public Radio International), founded in 1983, produces programs such as “The World” and “The Takeaway” for 700 public radio stations. PRX (Public Radio Exchange) started in audio distribution but now focuses on podcasts. Continue reading Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

T-Mobile Teams With Pandora and Live Nation for Music Perks

T-Mobile announced it is partnering with music streamer Pandora and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment to offer its customers free music, concert deals, special seating and other perks. As competition ramps up to attract new customers, wireless carriers are looking for new ways to reach those consumers without discounting their regular prices. T-Mobile will offer customers a free year of Pandora Plus ad-free music streaming. Customers can also enjoy “Rockstar Status” with discounted tickets, access to last-minute seats, and reservations at sold out shows through Live Nation. Continue reading T-Mobile Teams With Pandora and Live Nation for Music Perks

Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Apple and Google will be the first video providers for Verizon’s superfast 5G wireless service, slated to launch later this year in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. According to those familiar with Verizon’s plan, customers of the home broadband service will have the option to access live television via a free Apple TV box or a free subscription to the YouTube TV app. Verizon plans to introduce online services using 5G technology that matches or exceeds the speeds of landline offerings. Continue reading Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Samsung has launched its SmartThings Wifi router to provide consumers with fast, secure home networking and a reliable smart home hub. Currently available in the U.S. for $120 per single unit or $280 for a 3-pack, the new router leverages artificial intelligence for Wi-Fi management and faster speeds — in addition to mesh networking for optimized Wi-Fi coverage. According to Samsung, a single unit covers up to 1,500 square feet; deploying multiple units helps ensure strong signals throughout the home while minimizing dead zones. Continue reading Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Children and preteens are shopping online, and retailers are advertising directly to them. Retailers are leveraging Snapchat, YouTube Kids and other mobile apps to target children and preteens more likely to be on their smartphones, tablets or laptops than watching television. Nine-year-old Isabella Colello described how she shops online and puts items in her cart, which her father can browse through and purchase — or not. “It’s so much better than going to the mall because there aren’t that many places to shop anymore,” she said. Continue reading Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note 9, Inks Partnership with Spotify

Samsung Electronics has debuted the Galaxy Note 9, which features a 6.4-inch screen, a revamped Bluetooth stylus and an upgraded camera. The company hopes that the Note 9, which is priced between $999.99 and $1,249.99, will revive sales and help it compete with Apple iPhones, especially over the upcoming holiday season. The Note 9’s chief selling point is the S Pen, a new stylus that enables remote camera control, switching between presentation slides, and more accuracy writing and drawing on the device’s screen. The camera also adds enhanced colors and exposure. Continue reading Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note 9, Inks Partnership with Spotify

Does Snap’s Daily User Slump Signal Social Media Saturation?

Snap reported that it lost three million daily active users in Q2 this year, the first time the company has recorded a loss in users since it went public in early 2017. This decline mirrors reports from Facebook, which stated its number of U.S. users was flat and its European users had fallen, and Twitter, which said in late July that its monthly active users had dipped by one million. Facebook and Twitter both experienced a tumble in share prices after their disclosures, raising the specter that social media usage has peaked. Continue reading Does Snap’s Daily User Slump Signal Social Media Saturation?

Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Google is beginning to distribute its successor to Android Oreo: Android Pie, which has been known up until now as Android P. The company pushed the source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is updating Android 9.0 Pie to its Pixel phones. During the beta test, Android P was available on an array of phones, including the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. It is not, however, available to consumers with Nexus or other devices. Continue reading Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Although Q3 is typically Apple’s weakest quarter, the company revealed stellar revenue, proof of its success in finding ways to grow in a diminished global smartphone market. Chief executive Tim Cook said the company is reaching into emerging markets and expanding its services business, to achieve “strong double-digit growth in revenue.” According to Apple finance chief Luca Maestri, demand for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus have been steady. On Tuesday, Apple’s market value hit $950 billion. By Thursday, Apple had become the first U.S. company to exceed $1 trillion in market value. Continue reading Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

The credit reporting company Experian is adopting machine learning to get a jump on identifying problems and predicting application behavior more reliably. Machine learning tools can help such Experian tools as ServiceNow, which monitors infrastructure performance and spots unusual, potentially threatening behavior. With machine learning, Experian hopes to head off and/or fix problems that could impact, and potentially lose, customers. The company also now mandates that monitoring be built into all new applications. Continue reading Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

On Wednesday, Vizio debuted WatchFree to its TV sets with its SmartCast operating system, adding more access to free, ad-supported TV programming. Pluto TV, an ad-supported streaming service, powers the service, which will offer 100 channels including NBC News/MSNBC, Fox Sports, MST3K and The Surf Channel, as well as movie channels. In the near future, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and “Unsolved Mysteries” will appear as pop-up channels. Vizio’s SmartCast operating system was first launched in 2016. Continue reading Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

New Tools Help Users Limit Time on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook will soon unveil new tools that tell the user how much time he’s spending on its site and Instagram, part of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 vow to “fix” the platform’s problems. In addition to protecting the community from hate speech and abuse, Zuckerberg mentioned, “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” According to Facebook, the company did its own extensive research and got feedback from users in addition to relying on “leading mental health experts and organizations, academics.” Continue reading New Tools Help Users Limit Time on Facebook and Instagram

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