India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Sources informed Reuters that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an antitrust investigation into Google for allegedly using the popularity of its Android operating system to block competitors. CCI began evaluating the complaint in 2018, and by April of this year reportedly determined that there was enough merit to launch a full investigation. A similar case played out in Europe last year, which resulted in a $5 billion fine against Google. In that case, the EU determined that Google had violated antitrust rules by forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome Web browser, providing the Google Play Store with an unfair advantage. Continue reading India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

MGM’s premium TV net EPIX has launched a new subscription streaming service that features original programming and films from MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate. The EPIX NOW app “is available for download today in the App store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, and in Google Play for Android phones and tablets,” reports Deadline. “It will also be coming soon to Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV.” The $5.99 per month service, which also includes the four EPIX linear live channels, will be available across additional devices later this year. Continue reading EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

At its Cloud Next 2018 conference, Google debuted the Titan Security Key, its version of a FIDO (Fast Identity Online) physical device to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. Now, only a few weeks after the announcement, Google has made it available for purchase at $50 in its Google Play Store. Google Cloud enterprise customers have been able to access the Titan Security Key for the past two months. The product comes with a USB key, a Bluetooth Low Energy key, and an adapter for devices with USB Type-C ports. Continue reading Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Verizon debuted a VPN (virtual private network) product, dubbed Safe Wi-Fi, marketed as a security measure for smartphone users who log onto public networks, as well as an ad-blocker. Public Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for advertisers and bad actors to track a user’s IP address, which the VPN will hide from public view. Safe Wi-Fi — available to Verizon customers on Android and iOS devices — is priced at $3.99 per month per account. Safe Wi-Fi can protect up to 10 devices on a single account. Continue reading Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Popular Game ‘Fortnite’ Racks Up 100 Million iOS Downloads

According to Apptopia, Epic Games’ free game “Fortnite” can now count 100 million downloads on the Apple iOS platform in 138 days, or less than five months, earning $160 million in iOS in-app purchases. Counting versions for the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, “Fortnite” has posted $1 billion in revenue since its “Battle Royale” version was introduced in September 2017. That compares with “Super Mario Run” (100 million downloads in 68 days) and “Pokémon Go” (100 million iOS downloads in 71 days). Continue reading Popular Game ‘Fortnite’ Racks Up 100 Million iOS Downloads

App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

App Annie has released new stats regarding the first 10 years of Apple’s App Store. According to the analytics and market intelligence firm, there have been more than 170 billion downloads from Apple’s iOS store through December 2017, which represents in excess of $130 billion in spending. An increasing number of apps have exceeded the $1 million and $10 million consumer spending milestones, with “plenty more to come,” predicts App Annie. The U.S. leads the world with 40.1 billion downloads and $36 billion in consumer spending, followed closely by China and then Japan. Continue reading App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

As Google opened its annual developer conference I/O, the company debuted Android Things, a version of its operating system for smart devices, offering SDKs to hardware and software developers. According to Google product management director Venkat Rapaka, with Android Things, such devices can now be built “faster, cheaper and more secure.” Android Things will also provide a consistent interface for users. Until its formal debut, Android Things had been in beta, with several partners already developing IoT products. Continue reading Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

This week, Google is rolling out an updated Google Play Movies & TV app, including changes to the Google Play Store that will help consumers more easily identify which streaming services feature their desired content and whether that content is available for rent or purchase. “The end result is something that’s similar to Apple’s own TV app,” reports TechCrunch, “which combines users’ own library of movies and TV with the ability to seek out what’s trending and available in the world of online video.” Continue reading Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

AT&T’s DirecTV is preparing to launch a new TV set-top box based on Google’s Android TV platform. A new FCC filing reveals that the satellite TV company is trying its hand at over-the-top streaming, with the model  number C71KW-400 set-top box, described as the “AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client.” The accompanying user manual, which defines OTT as delivering video via the Internet to user-connected devices, notes that the device will not be able to interact with DirecTV’s current Genie hardware. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

Verizon announced the release of its $200 integrated smart home control interface and Wi-Fi hot spot called SmartHub. Designed for managing your connected devices, SmartHub features its own dedicated LTE line, which enables connectivity to a variety of devices, including phones and laptops. SmartHub also supports an HD Voice feature for making calls over the Verizon network, and “has its own battery, which means it maintains your home phone and Internet connection in the event of a power outage,” explains Android Police. “It’s not clear if there will be special data plans for the SmartHub,” and a full list of the devices that work with SmartHub has yet to be unveiled, although Verizon did reference Nest and Kwikset. Continue reading Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

With Google’s streamlined Android Wear 2.0 on two new LG watches, starting at $250, and Samsung’s $300 Gear S3 smartwatch, fans of the Android operating system finally have some good smartwatch choices that even offer Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Apple is still the giant in the smartwatch market, cornering an estimated 80 percent of smartwatch sales last quarter. Although Apple didn’t release specific figures, it says its smartwatch “hit record numbers” in units and revenue during the recent holiday season. Continue reading Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Tech publication Digital Trends unveiled its Top Tech of CES Award Winners. Best of Show this year went to Samsung’s $449 Chromebook Plus, which will roll out next month. “Designed with cooperation from Google, the Chromebook Plus is the first Chrome OS device built with Android apps in mind,” notes DT. “The 2,400 x 1,600 panel has a digitizer for built-in stylus support, and flips a full 360 degrees for dedicated tablet use.” Additional winners include Sony’s Bravia A1E 4K OLED (home video), Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 mirrorless camera (photography), Nvidia’s PilotNet (automotive), Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 (computing), the HTC Vive tracker (gaming), the Honor 6X budget phone (mobile), Beyerdynamics’ Xelento Remote (headphones), and GoldenEar’s Triton Reference speakers (home audio), among others. Continue reading Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Pokémon to Develop Games for Nintendo’s Next-Gen System

“Pokémon Go” — produced by Pokémon Co., an affiliate of Nintendo, and developed by Google spin-off Niantic — has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its July introduction. Now, Pokémon chief executive Tsunekazu Ishihara says his company plans to create games for Nintendo’s next-generation system, which sources say will combine features of traditional consoles and handheld devices. Ishihara also says the company hopes to bring “Pokémon Go” to China and South Korea. Continue reading Pokémon to Develop Games for Nintendo’s Next-Gen System

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