Facebook Launches Live 360 Video with National Geographic

Facebook rolled out its initial support for 360-degree Live streams, allowing publishers to stream immersive videos directly to News Feed. The first publisher to do so is National Geographic’s Facebook Page, which will show scientists emerging from 80 days of isolation in pods at Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station and feature footage of the ersatz Mars landscape and interviews with the researchers. Later in the month, Facebook Live 360 broadcasts will be an option in Facebook Live’s API. Continue reading Facebook Launches Live 360 Video with National Geographic

Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Although Nielsen already offers tools to help track when consumers buy products in-store after seeing online ads, the measurements company has inked an agreement with Foursquare to create an improved product. Location data company Foursquare will offer information which, combined with Nielsen’s marketing tools, will offer a more complete picture of consumer activity. The new capabilities will come at a price. Nielsen digital measurement clients will be required to buy into the version with Foursquare data included. Continue reading Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Alphabet recently unveiled a system of tools called Conversation Actions, designed to help developers create chatbots that work with Google Assistant. The move is the latest by Google to compete in the emerging digital assistant space with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook that are investing heavily in artificial intelligence. Google’s virtual assistant “is the strategic centerpiece of an effort to keep its lucrative Web search business relevant in an age of mobile devices and wearable gadgets,” reports Bloomberg. “Just like its search engine sent people to the right places on the Web, the company’s assistant should connect users to the most relevant and useful services.” Continue reading Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

The Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA) was officially announced on Wednesday. This group is groundbreaking in that its founding members include many of the major competing VR headset manufacturers that have been the focus of so much press attention over the last year: Acer Starbreeze, Google, HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung and Sony Interactive Entertainment. GVRA states on its website that “while seeking to educate consumers, governments, and industry about VR’s potential, the association wants to get ahead of challenges with developing and deploying the technology responsibly.” Continue reading VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

The free encrypted messaging app Signal is gaining users, not just because privacy advocates and security researchers have all given it a seal of approval. The app, available for smartphone and computer, is a bulwark against hacking, which got a national spotlight when WikiLeaks posted emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Others fear increased government surveillance under the incoming President Donald Trump, a reaction to Trump’s choice of CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, who advocates just that. Continue reading Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Hulu has joined Netflix and Amazon in offering select titles in 4K. Subscribers with a Microsoft Xbox One S or Sony PlayStation 4 Pro console (and a minimum connection speed of 13 megabits per second) can now enjoy James Bond films and original Hulu series in the Ultra HD format. Netflix and Amazon also offer select high dynamic range content. Meanwhile, YouTube — which first introduced 4K support to its video-sharing site in 2010 — is now bringing the same capability to live streaming of 4K and 360 videos. The feature should help the site compete with Facebook and Twitter in the live streaming space. Continue reading Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

After months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Touch controller — years after PlayStation unveiled its Move controllers in 2010, and even after Vive began shipping two motion controllers. But reviewers who’ve gotten their hands on the Touch are giving it a thumbs-up, saying that its addition now “completes” the promise of the Rift VR headset for a sophisticated and satisfying VR experience. Among Touch’s features is that it tracks the positions of the user’s hand in 3D space. Continue reading Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

Uber Purchases AI Startup for Autonomous Vehicle Research

To further its efforts in autonomous cars, Uber acquired AI startup Geometric Intelligence and appointed its leads, Gary Marcus and Zoubin Ghahramani as co-directors of its new in-house AI research division. In addition to Marcus and Ghahramani, that company’s entire 15-person staff will also become part of Uber. Since Uber inked that deal, its value now approaches $70 billion. The new team’s first task is to tackle the data from millions of Uber rides, to further development of the computers that run self-driving vehicles. Continue reading Uber Purchases AI Startup for Autonomous Vehicle Research

Facebook to Enable Curated News Collections for News Feed

Facebook is reportedly working on a new feature, dubbed Collections, that presents curated content from publishers in News Feed. Collections is similar to Snapchat’s Discover section, where selected news outlets can showcase news stories, videos and other content. The move is seen both as another way that Facebook is copying rival Snapchat, and, at the same time, battling the scourge of fake news that came to the fore during the U.S. presidential election. Facebook did not comment on the development. Continue reading Facebook to Enable Curated News Collections for News Feed

Facing Ad Saturation, Facebook Is Now Forced to Get Creative

Facebook, which is currently ranked second in Internet advertising, is reaching saturation with its ads, prompting chief financial officer David Wehner to declare that the company’s revenue growth will “meaningfully” slow in 2017. That’s forcing Facebook to experiment with more creative ways to boost ad revenue than simply pushing quantity. To that end, the company is experimenting with targeting customized ads based on the Facebook profiles tied to the IP addresses streaming shows to peoples’ Roku or Apple TV boxes. Continue reading Facing Ad Saturation, Facebook Is Now Forced to Get Creative

Facebook Considers Artificial Intelligence to Battle Fake News

After being heavily criticized for the spread of fake news during the latest U.S. presidential election, Facebook is now looking at the possibility of using its research in artificial intelligence to gain control over the problem. Facebook has done research in AI since late 2013, when it hired its current director of artificial intelligence Yann LeCun. But the company is moving gingerly into the field, still trying to figure out the pitfalls of AI, and how to introduce it sensibly and responsibly. Continue reading Facebook Considers Artificial Intelligence to Battle Fake News

Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

In its newest effort to keep users on its site and amp up gaming, Facebook introduced Instant Games, which allows users to play 17 different titles in its News Feed and messaging app Messenger. Currently, 15 percent of the time people spend on Facebook is for gaming. The game titles, which will be available on iOS and Android devices and the Web for free, include Bandai Namco Entertainment’s “Pac-Man” and Activision Blizzard’s new “Shuffle Cats Mini.” Instant Games will debut initially in 30 countries. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

CNN just made a deal to acquire Beme, a social media app founded by Casey Neistat, who has a huge millennial fan base, and Matt Hackett, former Tumblr vice president of engineering. As part of the deal, Beme’s 12 employees will join CNN. The idea behind Beme was to share “more authentic” video on social platforms, via four-second bursts that don’t allow the creator to edit the content. CNN is betting that Neistat’s idea — that authenticity draws in a younger demographic — proves true under their aegis. Continue reading CNN Acquires Social App Beme to Attract Youth Demographic

Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Analytics company Moat is rolling out new advertising metrics for platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Hulu. Recently, Facebook revealed that it has overstated metrics for video viewing for years. Rather than focusing on what constitutes a video view, Moat will judge the quality of video ad views with its Moat Video Score, which assigns in real time a number between zero and 100 based on how long viewers watch and listen to the ad and the percentage of “screen real estate” it takes up. Continue reading Moat Debuts Video Ad Metrics for Variety of Digital Platforms

Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

Hoping to leverage the traveler’s yen for experiences that make her feel more connected to the places she visits, Airbnb is now offering local tours, activities from surfing lessons to pub crawls, and its travel services in major cities worldwide. Airbnb, valued at $30 billion, is currently one of the world’s fastest growing privately held companies, although it hasn’t been welcomed in all cities. Bringing in local hosts as guides, the tours have been tested by Airbnb in a few cities, soon expanding to 12 and, by 2017, 50. Continue reading Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

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