Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Netflix’s latest quarter showed subscriber growth exceeding its own forecast and Wall Street expectations. Wall Street analysts predicted Netflix would add 6.5 million new subscribers in Q1; in fact, it added 7.41 million subscribers in that quarter, of which 5.46 were international. In response to the news, shares rose 4.9 percent to $322.85 in after-hours trading. This follows a 1.2 percent decline during regular hours on Monday, representing shareholder concern over the imminent announcement of stalled growth. Continue reading Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

The recently developed Playa Vista neighborhood on Los Angeles’ Westside near Marina del Rey is now home to numerous technology companies including Electronic Arts, Facebook, IMAX, Microsoft, Yahoo and YouTube. In fall 2018, Alphabet’s Google will move into a 319,000-square foot office space, adjacent to 12 acres of land the company bought in 2014. Playa Vista is also adjacent to the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands, home to hundreds of bird species, and against the Westchester Bluffs. Currently 5,000 to 6,000 people work there. Continue reading Southern California’s Silicon Beach Expanding into Playa Vista

Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), known for its photo standard, released a new video compression standard, JPEG XS, designed to work on next-gen 5G cellular or Wi-Fi networks. The new standard, says JPEG, will work on current computers via a software upgrade and is aimed at streaming lossless video, VR content and games over wireless networks, with lower latency and better energy efficiency. Devices smaller than computers, however, will require a hardware upgrade to support JPEG XS. Continue reading JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

NAB 2018: ETC, Google Examine Cloud Innovation, Solutions

A panel discussion co-produced by ETC@USC and Google and moderated by ETC director of adaptive production Seth Levenson examined the latest innovations and solutions in the cloud for M&E companies. Google Cloud technical director Jeff Kember opened the discussion by stressing the importance of collaborating with content creation and audiences. “We have products and services to connect the two,” he said. “We run Tier 1 content on our cloud from the studios. Think of Google as a partner in the ecosystem.” Continue reading NAB 2018: ETC, Google Examine Cloud Innovation, Solutions

NAB 2018: Machine Intelligence Toolsets in Video Workflows

Although using AI and machine learning tools in production may remain a lofty goal for some, such tools are already in use in some video workflows, from dailies through mastering. Moderated by Netflix coordinator, production technologies Kylee Peña, a panel discussion described the tools available and how they’re being used in real world applications. Google senior cloud solutions architect Adrian Graham described his company’s now-open sourced TensorFlow technology, and how it’s being used by the M&E industry. Continue reading NAB 2018: Machine Intelligence Toolsets in Video Workflows

NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

At NAB in Las Vegas, Pew Research Center research associate Mike Barthel looked at “tradition in transition,” or how television news is faring in an increasingly online digital environment. He pointed to a 2012 Pew Research article that predicted that, “in a changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable.” Yet, surprisingly, six years later, more people still get their news from local TV rather than the web. The gap continues to close, however, from 19 points in 2016 to a mere seven-point gap in 2017. Continue reading NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

For a more cost-effective way to reach viewers, YouTube introduced a skippable option for ads called TrueView for Reach, priced on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis. With the company’s standard TrueView ads — which Google recommends to be at least 12-seconds long — advertisers pay only if a viewer watches to the end or clicks on an element in the in-stream content. The new format works ideally with 10- to 15-second spots, and YouTube touts TrueView for Reach as helping advertisers reach a “broad set of customers” and achieve 95 percent viewability rates. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

Apple R&Ds Curved OLED Screen, Touchless Gesture Feature

Apple is tweaking its iPhone design and features, to help differentiate it in an increasingly competitive market. According to sources, the company is currently working on a technology that would allow users to perform some tasks by moving a finger close to the screen but not actually touching it. Currently, Apple’s 3D Touch responds differently depending on finger pressure. The company is also working on a display that will curve inward, gradually, from top to bottom. All iPhones currently sport a flat display. Continue reading Apple R&Ds Curved OLED Screen, Touchless Gesture Feature

Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

NAB Program to Look at Machine Intelligence, Content Creation

As part of the Next-Generation Media Technologies education track at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas, a half-day conference produced by Rochelle Winters will examine the latest trends in Machine Intelligence and Content Creation (Tuesday, April 10, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm). The program will examine how studios, creative service companies and filmmakers are using machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence to help produce content. Leading technologists, production execs and content creators will share the latest research and case studies involving machine intelligence. Continue reading NAB Program to Look at Machine Intelligence, Content Creation

Tech Giants Compete in Pursuit of Music Streaming Audiences

Apple, Pandora and Amazon are among those ramping up efforts to differentiate their music services in order to win over subscribers and artists. Second to Spotify’s dominance is Apple Music, which has taken off after an initially bumpy start. Pandora is another major competitor, boasting 74.7 million active listeners of its free music stations, which operate much like traditional radio. SoundCloud reports that it reaches 175 million monthly listeners in more than 190 countries, and Google plans to combine its Google Play Music “All Access” on-demand streaming service with YouTube Red. Continue reading Tech Giants Compete in Pursuit of Music Streaming Audiences

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