News Publications Testing Google’s New Subscription Tools

Google has unveiled efforts to help drive users to subscribe to news publications in response to publishers’ complaints that Google and Facebook now dominate online advertising. First, it is renovating its “first click free” feature that lets users access subscription publications via search. The company is also taking another look at publishers’ tools for online payments and how to target potential subscribers. The New York Times and the Financial Times will be the first to test these tools. Continue reading News Publications Testing Google’s New Subscription Tools

HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

Just weeks after Facebook temporarily reduced the price tag for its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, HTC announced it is chopping $200 off the cost of its Vive headset. The HTC Vive now costs $599, which brings it closer to the $499 Rift (currently $399 during its summer sale). Both VR devices require connection to a computer. HTC’s new price point is intended to spark new interest in the device and its accessories such as the Vive Tracker, wireless adapters and a new head strap. The deal also offers access to VR game titles through a one-month free trial to HTC’s Viveport subscription service. Continue reading HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

NBC News’ Daily Show Tops 29 Million Viewers on Snapchat

NBCUniversal reports that its first NBC News daily show for Snapchat already has more than 29 million unique viewers after one month on air. “Stay Tuned,” which broadcasts twice daily, launched July 18. While the figure tops viewership for some of NBC News’ top-rated television offerings, a direct comparison is not necessarily realistic since a Snapchat view starts as soon as a video is opened — and content created for mobile users is distilled into smaller need-to-know bits as compared to traditional TV news. However, the early success marks a major first step for NBC on the social platform. Continue reading NBC News’ Daily Show Tops 29 Million Viewers on Snapchat

Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

The once-popular Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia, now under the aegis of HMD Global, is introducing a new mobile device. With its Android-based Nokia 8, the company hopes to compete with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. HMD Global, led by former Nokia employees and funded by private equity, bought Nokia’s phone tech from Microsoft, which purchased it in 2013. The flagship phone, encased in polished aluminum, is 7.9-mm thick and features a high-resolution 5.3-inch screen, 4K video recording, Carl Zeiss optics and spatial audio emanating from its 360-degree camera. Continue reading Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Google just acquired AIMatter, a Belarus startup that will boost the tech giant’s efforts in computer vision, the artificial intelligence sector that helps computers process images as well as, or even better, than humans. AIMatter has already built a neural-network-powered AI platform and SDK that quickly processes images on mobile devices, as well as Fabby, a photo/video editing app that has been used as a proof-of-concept. AIMatter has employees in Minsk, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Ubiquiti Rolls Out $399 Wearable Camera for Live Streaming

Ubiquiti, a company known for selling networking products, has introduced FrontRow, a $399 Android-based wearable camera with a round display that enables “effortless capture” from a first-person point of view. The camera lets users toggle the livestream through Facebook Live, YouTube Live and/or Twitter Live. The two 55-gram (almost two-ounce) cameras, one on each side of the wearable device, offer a round 1.96-inch 640×572 LTPS (active matrix LCD) display. FrontRow features a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Continue reading Ubiquiti Rolls Out $399 Wearable Camera for Live Streaming

MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Early Netflix executive Mitch Lowe is now in charge of MoviePass, and he plans to drop its movie ticket subscription price to $9.95, which will let customers go to one showing per day at any theater in the U.S. that accepts debit cards. In return, MoviePass pays theaters the full price of each ticket, with the exception of 3D or IMAX screens. The company just sold a majority stake to Helios and Matheson Analytics, a publicly traded data firm. AMC has stated it wants to block MoviePass subscribers. Continue reading MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Nielsen Includes Facebook, Hulu, YouTube in Digital Ratings

Nielsen will expand its Digital Content Ratings to credit video distributed via Facebook, Hulu and YouTube. According to Jessica Hogue, SVP of product leadership at Nielsen, “These are three of the biggest and most meaningful platforms for media companies and advertisers.” The move “will allow TV network and digital publishers to capture incremental viewing of video on the three digital outlets,” reports Variety, and extends the measurement firm’s push into new media viewership. “Nielsen’s announcement comes as more digital companies are placing new emphasis and added resources on creating video content, rather than pieces of simple text.” Continue reading Nielsen Includes Facebook, Hulu, YouTube in Digital Ratings

Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Facebook has made several efforts over the years to encourage China to lift the 2009 block against its social platform and many of its apps. In May, the company approved a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons that doesn’t have the Facebook name attached but is similar in look, function and feel to Facebook’s Moments app. According to an unnamed source, a local Chinese company debuted the app without any hint of a Facebook affiliation. China imposes strict censorship on the Internet, including on news websites and apps. Continue reading Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

An increasing number of YouTube’s 1.5 billion viewers are watching its videos on the living room TV set rather than smartphones. With Internet-connected TVs, users are having an easier time streaming over-the-top content at home, where they can enjoy the content on a much bigger screen. Other over-the-top providers, from Roku to Apple TV, Facebook to Twitter, are experiencing the same kind of migration from smaller digital devices to the TV. That means more advertisers than ever are buying YouTube and its ilk. Continue reading Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Facebook has debuted Watch, a new tab for original and exclusive video content from its partners. Among those offering short episodic series are A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic. Facebook’s aim is to increase the amount of time users stay on the site, boosting ad sales whose revenue will be split between content creators, who keep 55 percent, with the rest going to Facebook. Episodes include “My Social Media Life” about Internet celebrity David Lopez and Business Insider’s “Great Cheese Hunt.” Continue reading Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Enhance Games Brings ‘Rez Infinite’ to HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

Game developer Enhance Games announced the availability of “Rez Infinite” for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR headsets, now accessible via Steam and the Oculus store. The VR version of the popular game debuted on PlayStation VR late last year and was quickly the top-rated VR title on Metacritic. “The game has collected more than 40 awards, including Best VR Game Winner at The Game Awards 2016,” reports VentureBeat. Enhance commissioned indie studios Monstars and Resonair to make the new VR versions of the game. Continue reading Enhance Games Brings ‘Rez Infinite’ to HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

IBM says it has made a significant improvement in its deep learning techniques, by figuring out a way to divide the data among 64 servers running up to 256 processors. Up until now, companies have run deep learning on a single server, because of the difficulty of synchronizing data among servers and processors. With IBM’s new capability, deep learning tasks will benefit from big improvements in speed, enabling advances in many different tasks. Customers using IBM Power System servers will have access to the new technology. Continue reading IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

The Internet is undergoing an evolution, with an onrush of people forming the ranks of what the tech industry dubs “the next billion” users. These newcomers have a decidedly different profile than those who came before: often barely literate, these people avoid text in favor of voice activation and images as a way to communicate. These first-time Internet users are finally gaining entry with the advent of low-cost smartphones with user-friendly interfaces and inexpensive data. Now, tech companies must adapt. Continue reading Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

The current Republican-majority FCC intends to end net neutrality rules, as spelled out in 2015’s Open Internet Order. Now, 10 members of Congress are fighting back with an official comment describing their position. Among the signers are Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At the same time, 15 Senate Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) have asked FCC chair Ajit Pai for more time for comments, given the record volume of public interest. Continue reading Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

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