Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple plans to make it easier for viewers to watch its TV app, and boost its use on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. Rather than make users purchase subscriptions through various apps in its App Store, Apple will sell subscriptions to some of these services directly through its own TV app, and also centralize streaming from its own app, rather than through third parties. Sources say the feature will roll out next year. Apple has focused on growing its services business, which is slated to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021. Continue reading Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Apple and Goldman Sachs Group are readying the launch early next year of a joint credit card branded with Apple Pay. This will be Goldman Sachs’ first credit card, and it will also replace Apple’s current rewards-card with Barclays. Apple Pay, which generates revenue with every transaction, has been slow to take off, and Goldman’s move into consumer banking is intended to compensate for a significant dip in securities trading. In 2016, Goldman Sachs also debuted Marcus, retail banking for online savings and personal loans. Continue reading Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

Amazon has ceased purchases of ads at the top of Google search results, a much-prized position for which advertisers and retailers pay handsomely to place eye-catching images. Google runs online auctions for these slots, dubbed products listing ads (PLAs) and Amazon, which began bidding in late 2016, found itself in competition with rival Walmart there. On April 28, Merkle, a marketing firm that analyzes Google Shopping ad data, first noticed that Amazon was missing from those coveted slots. Two sources confirmed the news. Continue reading Amazon Stops Purchasing Competitive Google Shopping Ads

Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

At the Google I/O developers conference, Google announced compelling updates including: Google Duplex brings new AI tech to Google Assistant; six new voices are coming to Google Assistant (including a version from John Legend); mobile operating system Android P gets an interface refresh, gesture controls, and expanded dashboard features; the new Android TV dongle supports 4K streaming and touts 8GB of storage; AI-powered Smart Compose comes to Gmail; Google Maps adds a new social layer and AR directions functionality by teaming AI with Street View; Google News curates online content via AI; and Google Lens is closer to delivering its text copy and style match features. Continue reading Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Facebook is undergoing the biggest reorganization in the company’s history. Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook’s core app will get new leaders, while the company’s product and engineering organizations will be reorganized into three main divisions: the “Family of Apps” group, run by chief product officer Chris Cox, will include social apps Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp; the “New Platforms and Infrastructure” group, managed by CTO Mike Schroepfer, will cover AI, AR, VR, and blockchain tech; and the “Central Product Services” group, headed by VP of growth Javier Olivan, will handle shared features across products and apps, including advertising, analytics, and security. Continue reading Facebook Restructures With Executive Shuffle, New Divisions

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

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

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

On May 25, the European Union will activate its General Data Protection Regulation that gives users more control over the data collected and shared about them over the Internet. The law includes real punishment: 4 percent of its global revenue for any company that break the regulation. The impact to the user experience will not be apparent, especially for U.S. visitors there. But a European Union citizen is likely to see fewer ads that follow them around the Internet after an e-commerce purchase. Continue reading The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

YouTube to Sell Vevo Music Video Clips Direct to Advertisers

Google’s YouTube will now sell Vevo’s music video clips directly to advertisers, as part of a deal struck late last year but just made public. Up until now, Vevo had the first pass at selling its own videos, leaving automated, remnant ad sales to Google. At YouTube’s “Brandcast” pitch event to advertisers, the company did not so much announce the terms of the deal, but let it slip that it was selling Vevo clips in its “Google Preferred” tier, which is a collection of its most valuable and most “brand-safe” content. Continue reading YouTube to Sell Vevo Music Video Clips Direct to Advertisers

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Facebook May Lead AR Race, Some Already Have Concerns

With augmented reality in its News Feed, Instagram and Messenger, Facebook is well positioned to dominate with the biggest AR platform, based on the Camera Effects Platform debuted at F8 2017. Selfie filters are one of the more popular Facebook applications, and Facebook is now rolling out very different filters for its Instagram platform, which has a bigger focus on brands and personalities. Engineering director in charge of Facebook’s AR project Ficus Kirkpatrick said the company wants “to increase the diversity of AR.” Continue reading Facebook May Lead AR Race, Some Already Have Concerns

Facebook and RED Partner to Build High-End 8K VR Camera

At Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the company and RED Digital Cinema announced they are teaming up to build a professional VR camera. No further details on price, release date or technical specs were made available. Previously, Facebook demonstrated its depth reconstruction, which enhances 3D imagery, and its prototype Surround 360 cameras. Facebook director of engineering Brian Cabral described RED as an “ideal partner” because the company’s high-dynamic range cameras work well with its depth reconstruction technology. Continue reading Facebook and RED Partner to Build High-End 8K VR Camera

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