Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

Again copying a Snapchat feature, Instagram introduced a face icon with eight filters, allowing users to transform themselves. Among the filters are koala bears and bunnies (perfect for kids), and flower crowns, which might be a hit with teens. Nine months ago, Instagram debuted its disappearing Stories, aping the format made popular by Snapchat. Since then, Instagram Stories has built up 200 million daily active users, compared to Snap’s 166 million. Instagram hasn’t said if it will rotate or expand the filters over time. Continue reading Instagram Rolls Out AR Selfie Lenses, Adds Location Hashtag

Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

The growth of Snapchat’s audience, now at about 166 million daily users, appears to be slowing, and analysts and stockholders have taken note. On its May 10 quarterly report, the first since its March IPO, chief executive Evan Spiegel offered up the idea that his company’s AR Lenses present users with a creative tool they can’t find elsewhere, even though the Lenses have now been copied by Facebook. A new report shows that Snap’s trouble drawing in new users got serious at the start of Q2, even as rival Instagram pulls ahead. Continue reading Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

EU Considers Implementing New Rules for Big Web Platforms

The European Union’s executive body may establish new rules to give a fairer shake to small businesses using popular Web platforms. Currently, the EU deems that platforms such as Google, Amazon and TripAdvisor set unfair terms for the small businesses that sell or promote products there. These businesses have been complaining to the EU about unilateral contract changes, no access to sales and customer data, below-par transparency regarding their rankings in search results, and no means to resolve disputes. Continue reading EU Considers Implementing New Rules for Big Web Platforms

Facebook’s Rocket Icon Revealed as News Feed Experiment

Facebook just disclosed the meaning of the rocket ship icon next to the News Feed tab. According to the company’s News Feed head Adam Mosseri, the rocket ship is an experiment that connects a small number of users with people and pages they do not like or follow. At Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, Mosseri said that the point is to expose people to stories they are interested in from sources they are not following. Facebook curates the information based on an algorithm that figures out a user’s interests. Continue reading Facebook’s Rocket Icon Revealed as News Feed Experiment

Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

Facebook has partnered with drone startup Everfly on an unusual plan to offer Internet access in the wake of natural disasters or other major crises. Tether-tenna, as it is dubbed, combines the Everyfly drone and Facebook’s antenna that connects people to the Internet. The prototype drone, unveiled by Facebook at its F8 developer conference, has a 14-foot wingspan and can stay aloft in the air for 24 hours. Once in the air, the antenna system can broadcast the Internet to thousands of people surrounding it. Continue reading Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

Facebook Likely to Launch Its TV-Like Programs in Mid-June

Facebook plans to debut two-dozen TV-like programs in mid-June. A few shows will be big-budget longer shows that cleave most closely to TV content; the rest will be lower-budget shows of five to 10 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours. According to sources, the social media company has already greenlit several shows. With scripted, high-quality programs, Facebook hopes to garner younger viewers. The move also puts it in competition with Amazon, YouTube and Snap among other platforms hoping to attract advertising dollars. Continue reading Facebook Likely to Launch Its TV-Like Programs in Mid-June

Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Twitch, the live streaming video and gaming site purchased by Amazon for $1 billion almost three years ago, is thinking about streaming original programming, says its chief operating officer Kevin Lin. But unlike all other new platforms streaming original content, Twitch is looking for its users to have input on the programs as they are written and produced. Twitch already lets its users comment on the videos in real time and Lin believes these comments can help guide a scripted show as it evolves from episode one onward. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Facebook to Shutter its Oculus Story Studio VR Content Unit

Facebook announced it is closing Oculus Story Studio and canceling all current projects, reports Variety. The award-winning studio, responsible for notable VR shorts including “Lost,” “Henry” and “Dear Angelica,” opened in early 2015. “We’ve been looking at the best way to allocate our resources to create an impact on the ecosystem,” wrote Jason Rubin, Oculus VP of content. “After careful consideration, we’ve decided to shift our focus away from internal content creation to support more external production. As part of that shift, we’ll be winding down Story Studio.” Facebook plans to continue investing in experiential VR content from outside artists and developers. Continue reading Facebook to Shutter its Oculus Story Studio VR Content Unit

Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

Facebook reports that its Q1 profit leaped 76 percent to $3.06 billion, putting to rest concerns that video-ad performance or graphic content stymied growth. Alphabet enjoyed 29 percent growth in net profit in the same quarter, apparently undamaged by brands finding their content advertised against objectionable YouTube videos. The two tech titans currently account for 99 percent of the online ad industry’s revenue growth, says Pivotal Research, even as marketers express growing concern over fake news and live video issues. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to push new video content. Continue reading Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

Unity Technologies CEO John Riccitiello drew a fresh picture of the XR industry in his keynote address at the Vision VR/AR Summit 2017 in Hollywood this week (extended reality — or XR — is an umbrella term that includes VR, AR and MR). Riccitiello admonished analysts for their overly exuberant prognostications and reactionary pessimism about the VR market. He projected that XR adoption and value calculations will exceed expectations in 2023 if three conditions are met: a price point below $1,000 for all the necessary hardware; truly mobile technology; and content that can be monetized across 100,000,000 devices, at minimum. Continue reading Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

New Disney Digital Network Connects Advertisers, Millennials

To help advertisers better target millennial and Gen-Z audiences, The Walt Disney Company debuted the Disney Digital Network, a conglomeration of more than 300 social media channels and a wide range of content. Disney says the new Digital Network reaches an audience of more than one billion. The content includes everything from classic Disney characters to the new material emerging from Maker Studios. Disney Co/Op, an in-house branded content service, puts advertisers together with Disney digital creators for customized campaigns. Continue reading New Disney Digital Network Connects Advertisers, Millennials

Twitter Creates More Partnerships in Push for Live Streaming

As part of its plan to stream video 24/7 in its apps and on the desktop, Twitter inked deals with BuzzFeed, Vox Media, MLB Advanced Media and Live Nation to produce or provide live-streaming content. The company has already produced more than 800 hours in Q1 2017. It did lose one video outlet: NFL Thursday Night Football games, which Twitter streamed last season but lost to Amazon this season. Among the new content, BuzzFeed will produce a news/current events program, to be streamed live on Twitter every morning. Continue reading Twitter Creates More Partnerships in Push for Live Streaming

Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

Leading Internet platforms have announced separate plans to combat fake news, hoaxes and the spread of misinformation. A security team at Facebook acknowledged the social media giant was used as a platform for misinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and has debuted new measures to mitigate the threat. Google is tweaking its search engine to prevent fake news and hoaxes from appearing in its top results. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has his own plan to counter the spread of fake news via a new website. Continue reading Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

NAB 2017: Google Unveils the New $17K Yi Halo VR Camera

At NAB this week, Google introduced its latest VR camera, the Yi Halo, one year after partnering with Xiaomi-backed, Chinese action cam maker Yi Technology. The $17,000 spherical device, which uses Google’s cloud-based stitching system Jump for producing stereoscopic 360-degree videos, will be available this summer. The Yi Halo combines 16 4K action cams with an extra camera facing upwards. While Google unveiled Odyssey two years ago, featuring 16 GoPros, the rig has largely served as a test case. The Yi Halo, however, is commercially designed with feature improvements and multiple extras. Continue reading NAB 2017: Google Unveils the New $17K Yi Halo VR Camera

FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

FCC chair Ajit Pai yesterday outlined his proposed changes to net neutrality rules and the federal regulation of ISPs. Pai is calling for high-speed Internet service to no longer be classified as a public utility, as a counter to policy approved under the Obama administration intended to treat the delivery of all online content equally. Pai’s proposal would lessen new rules and largely leave policing to the industry. He believes strict regulation of telecom, broadcast and cable companies is detrimental to business and innovation. However, his proposals will likely face resistance from companies and advocacy groups that fear such changes would result in broadband providers awarding unfair accommodations to specific news and video sites. Continue reading FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

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