LG to Debut Google Assistant Smart Display on Black Friday

LG is introducing its first Google Assistant-powered smart display this week. The XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9, which runs the Android Things operating system for IoT devices, will be offered for a $200 promotional price during Black Friday (it is expected to run $100 more beyond the sale). The smart device was first teased at CES in January. The XBOOM AI features an 8-inch HD touch-screen display, Bluetooth streaming, a built-in 5MP camera for video calls, Google Assistant-powered AI features, and easy access to apps such as Google Maps, Google Photos and YouTube via the Android Things platform. Continue reading LG to Debut Google Assistant Smart Display on Black Friday

Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Amazon inked a deal with Apple to sell more of the tech giant’s products, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Apple Watch Series 4, and its Beats headphone line. Amazon will begin listing those products — from Apple-authorized resellers only — in the next few weeks in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India. Before this deal, Amazon already directly sold MacBook laptops, Beats headphones and a few other Apple devices. Other products were only available through its third-party resellers. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

As the number of options for watching great content has grown, the ability to search and find that content has lagged behind. An ideal TV guide, from a single remote control (or smartphone), would offer search, sorting and personalization, and suggest the next program we might want to watch. One such possibility is the $100 Caavo Control Center, which enables up to four devices to be plugged in to a single remote control. A second is the Reelgood smartphone-based streaming guide that tracks over 50 streaming services. Continue reading Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Earlier this month, streaming device maker Roku introduced The Roku Channel — its streaming destination for free, ad-supported movies and TV shows — to non-Roku devices for the first time. The rollout started on the web and select Samsung smart TVs, before plans for a wider cross-platform launch. In addition to updating the navigation for Roku players and Roku TVs to access free TV content, the company plans to bring its service to PCs, smartphones and tablets for those consumers who have not purchased Roku devices. Continue reading Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

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

Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Lenovo has begun shipping smart displays integrated with Google Assistant that will allow users to visually interact with the voice assistant. The device was first shown at CES 2018, where it was demonstrated instantly displaying maps and sending them to the user’s phone. Assistant can also show step-by-step visuals of a recipe, present a visual weather summary, manage to-do lists — all capabilities similar to those of Echo Show. A three-month YouTube Premium subscription comes free with the purchase. Continue reading Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

Hulu will soon debut upgraded iOS and Android mobile apps with a new live TV program guide and a vertical video player that will let live TV viewers stream linear programming while browsing the channel guide. The streaming service’s iPhone and iPad apps will also get support for HDMI-out and Android apps will enjoy improved performance on Chromecast. Users will also be able to improve personal recommendations by deleting entries from watch history and removing certain kinds of programs. Continue reading Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple plans to make it easier for viewers to watch its TV app, and boost its use on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. Rather than make users purchase subscriptions through various apps in its App Store, Apple will sell subscriptions to some of these services directly through its own TV app, and also centralize streaming from its own app, rather than through third parties. Sources say the feature will roll out next year. Apple has focused on growing its services business, which is slated to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021. Continue reading Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

UPDATE: FandangoNOW Joins Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Yesterday we reported that FandangoNOW had become the latest retailer to join the Movies Anywhere digital ecosystem. FandangoNOW is the fifth participating retailer, joining iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and Vudu. While the announcement was accurate, we mistakenly suggested that Movies Anywhere is a Disney-branded service. While Movies Anywhere is owned by Disney, and some of its underlying tech was developed for the previous Disney Movies Anywhere platform, it should be clarified that the current Movies Anywhere is jointly controlled by five studios: Fox, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney. Continue reading UPDATE: FandangoNOW Joins Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

FandangoNOW Is Latest to Join Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Movies Anywhere announced that Fandango’s video-on-demand service, FandangoNOW, is the latest retailer to join the digital movie ecosystem. Movies Anywhere provides a central location for movies purchased or redeemed through Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Walmart’s Vudu and FandangoNOW. The service is jointly controlled by five major studios: Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Continue reading FandangoNOW Is Latest to Join Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

President Trump recently explained that the United States is “acting swiftly on intellectual property theft,” adding that we cannot “allow this to happen as it has for many years.” Meanwhile, a panel of experts met on Capitol Hill last week to examine intellectual property theft and the growing threat of streaming media boxes. The MPAA revealed that the Department of Justice is looking into criminal action for several “candidates” that peddle pre-configured set-top boxes enabling piracy. The United Kingdom has already arrested numerous individuals accused of this behavior.

Continue reading Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

Google is in development on a game streaming service for compatible Chromecast devices (or potential future home consoles). Dubbed “Yeti,” the service would be similar to Sony’s PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming services, which means that users wouldn’t download software but stream from a Google server. Users could play Android games on a consumer TV via existing technology, but it isn’t clear if that would be Google’s sole strategy. The company recently hired game industry veteran Phil Harrison. Continue reading Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

In mid-2018, Qobuz, a European online music streaming and downloading service, will be available in the U.S. The company, which claims it is “the highest resolution music streaming service in the world,” offers 40-million music tracks, among them one million high-resolution tracks. The service is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. Qobuz also produces original editorial content including album reviews, bios, introductions to discographies and exclusive photos, art and videos. The company will showcase its service at CES in Las Vegas next week. Continue reading CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

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