White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

VidAngel, the Utah-based video streaming service that filters out language, nudity and violence from Hollywood movies, launched a new version of its service that it hopes will address concerns about release windows and licensing fees. Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox sued VidAngel for copyright infringement, and in December, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte issued an injunction against the company, which appealed. While litigation plays out in the 9th Circuit Court, however, VidAngel is back in the game with a new service. Continue reading VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Travis Kalanick stepped down from his chief exec position of ride-hailing service Uber yesterday. Kalanick helped found the company in 2009, but months of scrutiny regarding charges of harassment and discrimination, followed by a recent shareholder revolt resulted in his departure. “Five of Uber’s major investors demanded that [he] resign immediately,” according to The New York Times. “The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.” The company will seek new leadership, although Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board of directors. Continue reading Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Amazon just pulled the plug on its Unlimited Everything plan, which allowed users to keep as much as they wanted in their private Amazon cloud “locker” for a mere $60 per year. That figure is at least half of the industry standard of $10 per month for 1TB of space. Although Unlimited Everything, which launched in 2015, has come to an end, Amazon’s new offering is still relatively inexpensive, at that same $60 per year for 1TB and an extra $60 for every additional terabyte up to 30TB. Continue reading Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo’s Internet business, which it will combine with Internet pioneer AOL. The two merged companies form Oath, a new division led by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong that will serve about 1.3 billion monthly users. Verizon executive Marni Walden says the strategy is to place the same content in multiple locales to reach the biggest audience possible. “There is a tremendous opportunity to increase viewership of some of these brands,” she said.  Continue reading Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

According to sources, Facebook is readying the launch a feature that will allow users to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, directly from the mobile app. The feature, which is expected to debut by the end of the year, is still under discussion internally. Among the unresolved issues are whether Facebook will limit stories to those published natively to Facebook via Instant Articles, the payment model and whether Facebook would get a percentage of revenue. Continue reading Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

Snap is expanding its advertising options on Snapchat, introducing the Snap Publisher tool for building vertical video creative, a self-serve Ad Manager, and a Snapchat Certified Partners program, which connects advertisers to third-party ad tech tool providers. The goal is to make it easier than ever for advertisers to build successful campaigns on Snapchat, part of a strategy to compete with Google and Facebook. With the self-serve option, advertisers can now simply pay for a video ad on the Snap website. Continue reading Snap Unveils New Tools to Capture New Digital Advertisers

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

To boost its efforts in robotics, SoftBank Group is purchasing U.S.-based Boston Dynamics from Alphabet and, as part of the deal, is also buying Schaft, a Japanese bipedal robotics company. Although terms of the deal were not revealed, SoftBank shares rose as much as 7.7 percent in Tokyo trading. According to sources, Google, which had acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013, decided to sell it when it concluded that the company wouldn’t be likely to produce a shipping product in the next few years. Continue reading Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

MGM-owned pay TV network EPIX is revealing details of its video streaming app being integrated into the 2018 Honda Odyssey, that company’s upgraded fifth-generation minivan. The move is significant because, even as in-car entertainment has become increasingly sophisticated (with Spotify being integrated into many vehicles, for example, and Google developing a version of Android just for cars), mainstream visual entertainment services have not shown up in vehicles until now. Continue reading EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

Apple Launches Its First Original Series: ‘Planet of the Apps’

At WWDC 2017 this week, Apple debuted its first original series produced for distribution via Apple Music, aimed at its 27 million subscribers. The 10-episode “Planet of the Apps” features Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, musician will.i.am and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Structured similarly to “The Voice” and “Top Chef,” the show’s judges counsel inventors as they develop apps focusing on shopping, exercise and other services. Apple already produced a spinoff of “Carpool Karaoke” (to launch August 8) and acquired rights to a documentary about music tycoon Clive Davis. Continue reading Apple Launches Its First Original Series: ‘Planet of the Apps’

Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

This week at WWDC, Apple unveiled its ARKit augmented reality platform that enables app developers to use detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects in 3D space, more immersive than previous 2D camera overlays. With ARKit, Apple can begin to compete with Google, which currently dominates phone-based AR. The move may also signal that Apple will build AR glasses. Many industry sources believe that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality features into its 10th anniversary iPhone and wants to develop a global AR platform. Continue reading Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

Google plans to introduce a new ad-blocking tool for its Chrome web browser in 2018, and is giving publishers at least six month’s notice to prepare. According to sources, the new default setting will appear on desktop and mobile Chrome versions and will prevent ads from popping up on websites known to create a bad advertising experience for users. Google’s new “Ad Experience Reports” will let publishers know if their website hosts such “bad experience” ads and will detail how to fix the problems. Continue reading Google Develops New Ad Filtering Tool for Chrome Browser

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