Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

The Signal app from non-profit Open Whisper Systems provides end-to-end encrypted messaging, voice calling, and now video chatting. The new feature, along with improved voice calling functionality, comes as part of a beta update for the app’s Android and iOS versions. Signal is a popular choice for activists and journalists who need a private communications platform, but it is still struggling to find a foothold in the mainstream because it sacrifices some popular features for security.  Continue reading Signal App Update Adds Ability to Make Encrypted Video Calls

One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Life on Air, whose Meerkat debuted at South by Southwest last year and put live streaming on the map, introduced Houseparty, an iOS and Android app for video chatting with friends. Dubbed a “synchronous social network” by the company, the app has operated under the radar for 10 months and now boasts nearly one million users. The question now is if the company can maintain the momentum or whether it will suffer a repeat of its experience in introducing a new sensation — and then losing ground to more sophisticated competitors. Continue reading One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Fast, No-Frills Video Chat App Google Duo Launches Today

Google Duo is a new video chat app that just debuted specifically for mobile. The Verge describes the FaceTime competitor as “fast, easy to use, and devoid of complicated bells and whistles. You tap on the face of the person you want to call, they answer, and you have a one-on-one video chat going.” The single-minded approach is meant to be simple — including the setup process that merely involves a sign-up and confirmation — and “no accounts to create nor friend lists to maintain.” Duo is simply tied to your phone number and contact lists, and is available for both Android and iOS. It does not enable conference calls or desktop calls. Continue reading Fast, No-Frills Video Chat App Google Duo Launches Today

WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote that introduced new enhancements coming to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and Mac OS X (now called macOS). Developer previews of the operating systems are being made available now, with public betas to follow next month, and integration with Apple devices by fall. Among the highlights: live channels and YouTube search are coming to Apple TV, Siri is coming to the desktop, a new SDK invites developers to create Siri apps, iPhone users can dump unwanted apps, Apple Pay is expanded to Safari, Apple Music gets a new interface, and watchOS 3 loads apps seven times faster. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Code Reveals Potential Features for Snapchat Including Video

Developers have discovered code within the current version of Snapchat that may offer clues about new features coming to the popular messaging app. While Snapchat may not roll out the features, it does show that the company has been working on ways to ramp up competition with other messaging apps such as WeChat and FaceTime. The hidden code provides a framework for the integration of stickers to sell within the app and an enhanced video chatting system that works more like a phone call. Continue reading Code Reveals Potential Features for Snapchat Including Video

Hollywood & Media: No One Owns Customers, Metadata Rules

The argument over who owns customers is over. “The customer will own himself more than ever,” says Ipsos executive Jake Dorn. “Who will own the data/metadata and who will make it actual? That’ll have a huge impact on the experience we see in the future.” TiVo executive Evan Young agrees. “We see people rebelling,” he says. “They’re shifting their habits to the media that suits their need, dropping on and off [outlets].” ICM’s Jonathan Perelman adds, “the consumer doesn’t care where it is or how it’s been made.” Continue reading Hollywood & Media: No One Owns Customers, Metadata Rules

U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

In response to Edward Snowden’s revelations of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, many Internet and social media companies responded by creating encryption so advanced that even they couldn’t read users’ communications. Now, many critics say, terrorists and other criminals are using those same platforms because their messages will be safely encrypted from prying eyes of intelligence and government authorities. Among the strongest critic is the U.K. government, which is proposing that such encryption be illegal. Continue reading U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

Apple Shifts UHD TV Plans to a Focus on Apple TV Upgrade

Apple spent several years researching new ways to innovate the television set, and now the company has decided that transparent UHD displays, sensor-equipped cameras and FaceTime capabilities are not worth launching in a new Apple product. Instead, the company plans to continue developing its online television service as an alternative to cable and will redesign the Apple set-top box. This way, the company will be able to uphold its reputation for innovation and high profit margins. Continue reading Apple Shifts UHD TV Plans to a Focus on Apple TV Upgrade

Twilio Helps Developers Integrate Video into Software and Apps

Cloud communications company Twilio provides developers with the tools they need to integrate texting, voice calls, photo messaging, and now videos into their applications. Video capabilities would make it easier to video chat with customer service representatives on service apps, for example, or interact with other players on gaming apps. Twilio’s video service is a more affordable and easier option for developers to incorporate communication functions into a variety of different software. Continue reading Twilio Helps Developers Integrate Video into Software and Apps

ABC to Broadcast Sitcom Episode Shot on iPhones and iPads

On February 25, ABC will air an episode of “Modern Family” called “Connection Lost” that addresses how parents attempt to communicate with their disinterested children via technology. The production marks a first in that it was shot almost exclusively on mobile devices, including Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2. During the episode, the TV screen will often resemble character Claire Dunphy’s MacBook screen featuring a mock-up of Apple’s OS X Yosemite (the show was produced in October when Yosemite was still in beta). Continue reading ABC to Broadcast Sitcom Episode Shot on iPhones and iPads

Verizon FiOS Eyes Future with Bump in Bandwidth for Uploads

Verizon’s FiOS TV and broadband service unveiled faster Internet upload speeds yesterday as a next step in competing with the cable industry while attempting to reverse slowing growth. The company is increasing the bandwidth its customers can use for uploading media, at no additional charge. FiOS will provide the same upload speeds as download speeds that subscribers currently have. FiOS plans to complete the rollout by the fall, with 95 percent of customers receiving it automatically. Continue reading Verizon FiOS Eyes Future with Bump in Bandwidth for Uploads

Mobli Updates its App for Live Broadcasting from Your Phone

While many consumers turn to Skype and FaceTime for live video conversations, Israeli company Mobli promises that the tech behind a new upgrade to its photo-sharing app will introduce the potential for millions of people to see what an individual smartphone lens is seeing. An update to Mobli’s app yesterday allows users to stream live video from their phone to a large audience in real time. This opens the possibility for journalists or performers to broadcast without the need for expensive cameras or satellite trucks. Continue reading Mobli Updates its App for Live Broadcasting from Your Phone

Rabbit Hops Into the Game with New Video Chat Program

Startup company Rabbit has created a video chat program in which users can share music and videos in real-time while chatting with one another. Users can have multiple conversations with friends, that all appear in circular bubbles to enhance the feeling of being in the same space together. The new approach by Rabbit could possibly provide competition for other successful programs such as Skype, Apple’s FaceTime, and Google+ Hangouts. Continue reading Rabbit Hops Into the Game with New Video Chat Program

New Report Indicates Apple Will Launch HDTV This Year

Apple’s HDTV, which has reportedly been in development for years, is expected to finally debut later this year. While meeting with supply chain sources in China and Taiwan, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White has gathered information from unnamed sources that suggest Apple will launch its iTV in the second half of 2013. White says innovative new features of the HDTV could make it a game-changer. Continue reading New Report Indicates Apple Will Launch HDTV This Year