Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google, the largest property owner in Silicon Valley, is in the midst of acquiring 40 acres of city-owned land in San Jose, California, to build a new campus. The property is near San Jose’s SAP Center indoor arena and Diridon train station, and could bring as many as 20,000 jobs to the city over the next 10 to 12 years. The city residents are torn between those who feel that an influx of Google employees will making already-expensive housing even less affordable and those who point out that Google’s presence will bring growth and jobs. Continue reading Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

The marriage of cameras and artificial intelligence opens the doors to all kinds of interesting capabilities. For now, however, Google is introducing its Clips wireless smart camera with the pitch that AI will enable it to take better pictures than a dumb camera. While the $249 Clips uses machine learning to automatically capture short clips (motion photos without audio) of people and pets, Apple’s latest iPhone relies on face recognition to unlock, and now startup Lighthouse AI plans to add intelligence to a security camera to analyze the results. Continue reading Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Just before Mobile World Congress, Google officially introduced its ARCore mobile augmented reality platform. Snapchat and Sony Pictures are among the first to use it; Sony Pictures plans to debut an AR game with a “Ghostbusters” theme that lets users fight and capture ghosts from the movie franchise, comic books and elsewhere. According to Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens, SPE’s partners in the venture are Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced “AR View” to its Android app for devices that support ARCore. Continue reading ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

HPA 2018: Direct View Cinema Displays to Displace Projectors

Film, and later, digital projectors have been the standard form of displaying movies since the art form’s beginning. But now, says veteran engineering executive in advanced imaging and sound Pete Ludé, so-called direct view cinema displays are poised to displace them. In an afternoon of HPA Tech Retreat sessions looking at new display technologies, Ludé drilled down into the use of emissive displays using millions of RGB LEDs. These giant displays, he said, offer tremendous dynamic range and beautiful pictures in moderate ambient light. Continue reading HPA 2018: Direct View Cinema Displays to Displace Projectors

Sling TV Takes the Lead in the Internet-Based Live TV Market

Sling TV announced that it reached 2.212 million subscribers at the end of Q4 2017, a year-over-year growth of 47 percent. The Dish-owned streaming TV service, one of the first OTT streaming options for ESPN, now leads competitors in this space such as DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and newcomers YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV. However, it was also the first live TV streaming service to launch, giving it the most time to accumulate subscribers, and is facing an increasing number of rival streaming options. Meanwhile, DirecTV Now picked up more than 1 million subscribers last year.  Continue reading Sling TV Takes the Lead in the Internet-Based Live TV Market

Google Brain Leverages AI to Generate Wikipedia-Like Articles

The latest project out of Google Brain, the company’s machine learning research lab, has been using AI software to write Wikipedia-style articles by summarizing information on the Internet. But it’s not easy to condense social media, blogs, articles, memes and other digital information into salient articles, and the project’s results have been mixed. The team, in a paper just accepted at the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), describes how difficult it has been. Continue reading Google Brain Leverages AI to Generate Wikipedia-Like Articles

Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Google just released its Chrome-based ad blocker designed to stop ads from sites that are repeat offenders of the Coalition for Better Ads standard. Especially strict are Google’s standards for mobile ads; it will filter out pop-up ads, ad displayed before the content loads, autoplay video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll-over ads and particularly dense ads. Some critics, however, say Google blacklisted ad formats that won’t impact its own business. Continue reading Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

YouTube TV Adds Turner and Sports Content, Raises Pricing

Starting next month, new subscribers to YouTube TV will face a $5 monthly increase. The new price will run $40 per month; however, existing subscribers will continue to pay $35. The good news for consumers is that the service announced a major content expansion with new offerings from Turner, NBA TV and MLB Network. The base package now includes Turner networks such as Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Classic Movies. MLB Network and NBA TV will soon join the lineup. Continue reading YouTube TV Adds Turner and Sports Content, Raises Pricing

Google Debuts AMP Stories With Publisher Content for Mobile

Google is taking a step in the direction of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, with new technology for mobile devices that lets users easily create and publish visual-centric stories. Dubbed AMP stories, the technology, to debut first as a developer preview, features swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos. Time Warner’s CNN, Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. and Vox Media were among the publishers that aided in its development. AMP stories does not yet allow advertising, unlike Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles. Continue reading Google Debuts AMP Stories With Publisher Content for Mobile

Apple Works On Software Bugs, Google Adds Notch to Android

For the next two years, Apple will focus on updates rather than new features to its iPhone and iPad operating system, say sources. Although software will be updated annually, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi and his team will be able to hold off adding features that aren’t honed to perfection, rather than race to fulfill an annual update. Apple has received user complaints for buggy features. Google is also updating its Android software, aping Apple’s “notch” at the top of the iPhone X. Continue reading Apple Works On Software Bugs, Google Adds Notch to Android

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