Spotify, Music Publishers Settle Mechanical Licensing Dispute

Spotify and the National Music Publishers’ Association settled a long-standing licensing dispute, although neither will reveal details. Sources say Spotify will pay between $16 million to $25 million in royalties that are owed but unpaid, as well as a $5 million penalty. In exchange, the publishers will not file copyright infringement claims. The suit hinges on a rule governing mechanical licensing rights that dates back to player-piano rolls. In the digital world, the rule is just one that’s made legal licensing complex. Continue reading Spotify, Music Publishers Settle Mechanical Licensing Dispute

Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

Although up until now, augmented reality has had an inauspicious debut — think Google Glass — it’s poised to transform how we interact with computers in the next two decades. AR now has technical limitations including a narrow field of view, less-than-ideal resolution and latency issues. Furthermore, the only way to interact with AR is via bulky glasses or helmets. But many experts believe that we are in the midst of a speedy evolution to the point where AR will enable us to project a virtual screen on every surface. Continue reading Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

INRIX, a Seattle-based company that offers connected car solutions, just purchased OpenCar, which describes itself as an “updateable application platform and developer ecosystem” for the auto industry. With both solutions on board, INRIX can compete head-on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both aimed at auto manufacturers interested in integrating smartphone functionality in their vehicles. Ford, Volvo and BMW have confirmed they will integrate Apple and Google’s solutions into new models of their vehicles. Continue reading OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

In a shift in the status quo, the Federal Communications Commission will take over the Federal Trade Commission’s power to regulate Internet access providers regarding customer privacy. The FCC already proposes new rules to shield users from unwanted use of their Internet data. Impacted cable and wireless firms are protesting that the rules would target them unfairly, putting them at a disadvantage against Internet service firms such as Facebook and Google, which will continue to be regulated by the FTC. Continue reading FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

By foreseeing how the Internet would dramatically change the retail business, Amazon became the digital behemoth it is today. Now the company has turned its sights to the entertainment industry, volatile due to technology changes, and is taking a deep dive into prestige films, online shows and virtual reality. Amazon recently became a major player in independent feature distribution by spending top price for films at Sundance and elsewhere. Now it’s debuted a streaming TV show and is forming a team to build a VR platform. Continue reading Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

Intel is leveraging RealSense, its 3D camera technology, to develop a wearable headset for augmented reality, say sources knowledgeable about the chip maker’s plans. Those same sources report that Intel is more likely to license its headset design to other manufacturers rather than produce its own branded model. Intel’s RealSense could potentially help distinguish its technology offering in a field that already includes many major companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and dozens of startups. Continue reading Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

AT&T is the latest player to enter the video-streaming market with an announcement that in Q4 it will offer three plans under the brand of DirecTV, the satellite TV company it acquired last year. What’s missing are all the details. AT&T hasn’t provided programming, pricing or a more specific launch date. But one important point was made clear: AT&T’s national, app-based OTT service will be available to those who are not subscribers to its TV or wireless services. Verizon and Sony offer a similar service. Continue reading AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Europe and U.S. Introduce Updated Data Transfer Agreement

After months of contentious debate, American and European officials have hammered out a new trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement, dubbed the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, a formal version of an agreement made early last month. But, despite the fact that the new agreement holds companies and the U.S. government to stricter rules regarding how they move individuals’ digital data — including social media posts, search queries and e-commerce purchases — from the E.U. to the United States, not everyone is happy with the new pact. Continue reading Europe and U.S. Introduce Updated Data Transfer Agreement

At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

At Mobile World Congress, phone manufacturers introduced new hardware and software. Rivals Samsung and LG competed with new screens, cameras, and payment technologies. From the perspective of advertisers, however, other mobile capabilities are emerging that are likely to have significant impact on how brands and consumers interact. Among those developments, messaging evolves into a dominant platform, artificial intelligence becomes “our best friend,” and ad blocking forces mobile content behind a pay wall. Continue reading At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

Within 10 minutes of accepting pre-orders from the U.S. and 23 other countries, HTC sold more than 15,000 HTC Vive VR kits, which will ship beginning April 5. The $799 Vive virtual reality package includes the headset, two controllers and two Lighthouse laser-tracking sensors, as well as three games that show off the technology of room-scale tracking and motion tracking. Those games are “Job Simulator,” an office destruction physics game; “Fantastic Contraption,” a puzzle game; and Google’s 3D painting tool “Tilt Brush.” Continue reading Pre-Orders for HTC Vive Headsets Top 15,000 in 10 Minutes

New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Santa Clara-based startup SoundHound has developed a voice-powered digital assistant that could take on early players in the field, including Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Like the others, the Hound app (for iOS and Android) allows users to interact via voice so that it can perform requested tasks. However, Hound claims to be faster and smarter than its competitors. The app has been in beta with 150,000 testers since last summer, and is now publicly available along with new Yelp and Uber partnerships for restaurant info and ride hailing from within the app. Continue reading New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

Apple’s ongoing privacy battle with law enforcement received a boost yesterday when U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of New York’s Eastern District denied the federal government’s request that the company release data from an iPhone relevant to a New York drug case. The ruling could provide Apple with a leg up as it pushes forward with its defense of privacy concerns regarding its smartphones, and may impact other cases such as efforts by the FBI to compel Apple to open the iPhone related to last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Continue reading Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

Google and Vizio Partner for First Chromecast-Powered TV Set

According to multiple unnamed sources, Google and TV manufacturer Vizio are partnering on new TV sets with built-in Chromecast-like functionality. The new sets are reported to allow consumers to initiate streaming of online services like Netflix and Hulu from mobile devices. This move is a sharp contrast to Google’s previous model, which drew a line between Chromecast and its Android TV, a smart TV platform launched in 2014 that runs apps on the TV set with navigation via a remote control. Continue reading Google and Vizio Partner for First Chromecast-Powered TV Set

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