Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance

During The Game Awards last week, Epic Games debuted a new digital marketplace that offers a favorable 88/12 percent revenue split to game creators. By opening a new marketplace, the company may be establishing a game store competitor to Valve’s Steam, which has dominated PC game distribution for over ten years. Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney has also pledged to better support creators. Although the store’s first list of games is small, it will be part of Epic Launcher, the software required to update and play “Fortnite.” Continue reading Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance

IBM Is Buying Red Hat, Aims to Be Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

IBM and open-source software provider Red Hat announced that they have reached an acquisition agreement. Marking what will be the third-largest tech acquisition in U.S. history, IBM will purchase all issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat in a deal valued at approximately $34 billion. Red Hat is the largest distributor of open-source operating system Linux. The deal reflects IBM’s ambitions for a piece of the fast-growing cloud computing market. “The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chair, president and chief exec. “It changes everything about the cloud market.” Continue reading IBM Is Buying Red Hat, Aims to Be Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

At the Unite 2018 developers conference last week, Unity Technologies’ head of cinematics, Adam Myhill, unveiled CineCast, a synthetic co-director for filming video games that has implications for narrative storytelling and sports broadcasts of all kinds. Myhill, with the help of four players and a stand-in director — professional gamer Stephanie Harvey — demoed the CineCast mode for “GTFO,” a first-person shooter and the first property to use CineCast. Under Harvey’s watchful eye, CineCast automatically and in real-time chose the best and highest quality shot to move the action forward, with Harvey making only a few, on-the-fly adjustments. Continue reading Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

Unity’s AI-Enabled CineCast Allows Dynamic Game Viewing

At this week’s Unite LA event, Unity Technologies debuted CineCast, an AI-powered camera system that is intended to change how people stream, watch and interact with games and eSports. CineCast, which will enter beta in 2019, lets them create and view different camera angles. Unity introduced this technology to offer a better viewing experience for watching games such as “Overwatch.” Although the Overwatch League created similar tools, they don’t reach everyone, and Unity hopes to attract more viewers to the games. Continue reading Unity’s AI-Enabled CineCast Allows Dynamic Game Viewing

Developers Are Able to Track Users Who Uninstall Their Apps

Uninstalling an app is no longer a sufficient method to remove it from your digital life. App developers and the companies that serve them have figured out how to identify users that have uninstalled an app and then bombard them with ads to try to get them back. Among the companies that currently offer uninstall trackers (as part of an overall toolkit for developers) are Adjust, AppsFlyer, MoEngage, Localytics and CleverTap. T-Mobile US, Spotify Technology, Yelp and Bloomberg are among the users of such tools, although the trackers are not always used to send ads.

Continue reading Developers Are Able to Track Users Who Uninstall Their Apps

Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

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

Observer Analytics Debuts Tool to Evaluate VR, AR Content

Observer Analytics unveiled its platform for quantifying virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, to create key performance indicators (KPIs) for the industry. The platform was built from scratch to analyze the new and complex forms of engagement found in this immersive content, with the end goal of making it easier for developers to understand how users interact with their content. To create the platform, the company has raised $685,000, including a pre-seed round from Boost VC and Precursor Ventures. Continue reading Observer Analytics Debuts Tool to Evaluate VR, AR Content

D-Wave Offers Free Real-Time Quantum Computing For All

Canadian company D-Wave Systems launched the Leap Quantum Application Environment, a web portal that aims to offer public access to quantum computing for “any and all developers.” D-Wave R&D executive vice president/chief product officer Alan Baratz says Leap will provide such developers “immediate, free, real time access to a live quantum computer.” Quantum computing, which is expected to dramatically improve the ability to manipulate and analyze data, has thus far had a very limited user base. Continue reading D-Wave Offers Free Real-Time Quantum Computing For All

Oculus Signals Intent to Develop Location-Based VR Content

At the Oculus Connect developer conference last week, Oculus head of experience Colum Slevin teased the idea that the company would soon seek involvement in location-based VR centers and arcades in movie theaters and malls. He drew attention to a number of such location-based VR experiences, underlining how Oculus’ involvement could help drive sales of headsets. Oculus recently listed a job opening for “Producer – Location Based Entertainment VR,” that said it would include direct investments into location-based VR content. Continue reading Oculus Signals Intent to Develop Location-Based VR Content

Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Two Democratic senators — Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether the thousands of “child-friendly” apps in the market are actually collecting children’s personal information. To do so would violate a federal law protecting children’s online privacy, since it requires sites and apps targeting persons under 13 years old to obtain verifiable parental permission before collecting data. Continue reading Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

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

Facebook Suspends Apps, Removes its Own From Apple Store

Facebook has suspended 400 apps, about double the number it previously said it removed due to “concerns around the developers who built them or how the information people chose to share with the app may have been used.” The company is now investigating these apps and developers. Elsewhere, after Apple ruled that Facebook’s data-security app violated its data collection policies, Facebook pulled the app from the store. Facebook used the app to track the competition and learn more about new product categories. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Apps, Removes its Own From Apple Store

Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple and Google are getting pushback from such companies as Netflix, Epic Games and Valve that have complained the tech behemoths collect too high of a tax for residing in their app stores. The number of such complaints has risen significantly, and new ways of reaching users has led some companies to avoid app stores altogether. That, combined with competition from those new sources and regulatory scrutiny threaten what has thus far been a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and Google. Continue reading Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

Apple is planning to release a new low-cost MacBook laptop later this year that features a high-resolution 13-inch Retina display. The laptop will reportedly look much like the MacBook Air but with thinner bezels. Apple will target consumers looking for an affordable laptop and schools that purchase computers in bulk. The company is also expected to introduce a professional-focused upgrade to its Mac mini desktop, the macOS Mojave operating system, three new iPhones, Apple Watches with larger screens, and new versions of the iPad Pro tablet. Continue reading Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

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