Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Consumers can now use the voice-controlled Google Assistant on Google Home to order products and supplies and get them delivered within a few hours. The products and delivery times vary based on where the user lives, and Google has partnered with brands such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods to supply the goods. Customers using the new feature either pay a delivery fee for each purchase or subscribe to the Google Express delivery service. The Amazon Echo smart speaker already has a voice-powered purchasing capability. Continue reading Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

YouTube to Phase Out its Unskippable 30-Second Ads by 2018

Google-owned YouTube announced on Friday that it plans to phase out its 30-second, unskippable pre-roll ads by 2018. Many users reportedly find the format obtrusive, so YouTube is killing the 30-second ads but keeping 20-second clips that cannot be skipped, and its six-second bumper ad format. YouTube will also continue to offer its TrueView skippable ads, which do not come with time limits and only cost advertisers when the viewer opts not to skip them. The move is in response to the growing popularity of mobile video. “More than 50 percent of YouTube’s video views now come from mobile devices,” reports Variety. Continue reading YouTube to Phase Out its Unskippable 30-Second Ads by 2018

Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Caavo is a $399 savvy middleware box that connects content to virtually any device. Featuring eight HDMI ports and software that automatically configures to any device, Caavo offers a universal remote control with touchscreen and buttons, and works with Alexa (Google Assistant and Siri are soon to come). Caavo is designed to make watching a range of content on many different devices a seamless affair. The company was founded by Andrew Einaudi, Ashish Aggarwal and the late Blake Krikorian (who also co-founded Sling Media).  Continue reading Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

Google’s Spanner, developed a decade ago, created a way to store information across millions of machines in a multitude of data centers around the world. Despite its global reach, Spanner behaves as if it operates in a single location, meaning it can reliably replicate and change data without contradicting actions taken at a different location, and retrieve copies if one of the centers goes down. Since its creation, Spanner has become the foundation for 2,000 Google services including Gmail and AdWords. Now, Google plans to unveil Spanner to everyone as a cloud computing service. Continue reading Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

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

8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Hologram production studio 8i plans to show off its technology and Holo, its new mobile app, at Recode‘s Code Media conference in California. The company, which gained visibility recently by creating a holographic video of actor Jon Hamm and NBA player D’Angelo Russell, also just received a $27 million series B round led by Time Warner Investments and including Baidu Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, German businessman Carsten Maschmeyer and others. That brings total funding up to $41 million. Continue reading 8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Facebook Negotiates with Music Industry Over Video Content

Facebook is doubling down on inking agreements with music industry publishers, labels and trade associations, with the goal of accessing user-generated videos that include songs and, ultimately, the labels’ own professionally produced videos. Facebook’s main rival is Google’s YouTube. From the music industry point of view, a deal with Facebook could bring substantial revenues from its 2 billion users and growing advertising division, as well as create a bargaining chip in negotiations with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook Negotiates with Music Industry Over Video Content

Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Augmented reality company Magic Leap has operated in secrecy since its founding in 2010. Based in Florida, Magic Leap, valued at $4.5 billion, has raised almost $1.4 billion from Google, China’s Alibaba, Qualcomm, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Rumors of its augmented reality headset have been rife, but the only product to be unveiled thus far was an AR app in 2011. Now, a public photo of a prototype has been released, offering possible details of what the company has been working on. Continue reading Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Expanded Pinterest Tagging Feature Enables In-App Shopping

Pinterest has introduced a new feature that makes it easier for users to buy items in the photos pinned on the social platform. “Shop the Look” lets Pinterest users click on items in the photos to buy them or, if the items aren’t for sale, see similar items that can be purchased through the network. Brands or Pinterest employees can tag the items in question. The company previously offered “buyable pins,” which allowed users to make purchases, but only on a single item per pin. With the new feature, a user can buy multiple products in the same pin. Continue reading Expanded Pinterest Tagging Feature Enables In-App Shopping

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

Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

YouTube Aims to Be Mobile Platform for Live Video Streaming

Google’s YouTube has debuted live video recording from its mobile app for creators with at least 10,000 subscribers. Super Chat, which lets viewers pay to move their comments up in the stream, is also now out of beta. These moves will impact creators in 20 countries, and viewers in 40 countries. Six months ago, Google first offered live recording to a handful of users, including Unbox Therapy founder Lewis Hilsenteger and athlete Ben Brown. Product managers Barbara Macdonald and Kurt Wilms say the feature will have a wider rollout later. Continue reading YouTube Aims to Be Mobile Platform for Live Video Streaming

Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

Snap has inked a deal for Google Cloud services worth $400 million annually over the next five years, for a total of $2 billion. The deal is a continuation of a partnership that dates back to 2013. Analysts say the $400 million will give Google a “hefty annual bump.” Google doesn’t report numbers specific to its cloud business, but rolls it into all non-advertising revenue. In Q4 2016, Google’s non-advertising sector earned $3.4 billion in sales. The partnership could presage future alliances or mutually beneficial projects. Continue reading Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

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