Microsoft Shares Vision For Present and Future Productivity

Microsoft recently invited journalists into its Envisioning Center for a peek into its vision of the future — in particular, its vision of the future of productivity. Inside the center, Microsoft houses some of its prototype work. Journalists witnessed teams working together on giant collaborative screens, meeting in rooms equipped with devices to automatically recognize participants, and doing work at touch-powered desks. The bulk of all provided demonstrations revolved around the use of touch, voice, and augmented reality. This marks a new way forward for Microsoft.

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Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

Snap has unveiled two new versions of Spectacles 2 — the Veronica (for women) and the Nico (for men) — that incorporate all the features of the company’s second generation Spectacles, but tout a sleeker, more stylish design and cost $200, versus $150 for the previous version. Many of Snapchat’s core demographic has left for Instagram, and critics question why Snap is still making hardware. When Spectacles initially debuted in 2016, Snap created hype by selling them out of pop-up vending machines. A few months later, the company was stuck with $40 million worth of unsold glasses. Continue reading Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

Snap Introduces its Second, Enhanced Version of Spectacles

Snap’s first version of its Spectacles was not a big hit, and the company is trying again with its second version, stating its commitment to hardware. Snap began working on this second iteration when the first one launched. The form factor of the second version Specs is slightly different: no more yellow rings around the lenses and much thinner temples. The Specs, priced at $150, also come in new colors with two variations on mirrored lenses. But the big changes address all of the criticisms of the first Spectacles. Continue reading Snap Introduces its Second, Enhanced Version of Spectacles

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

Apple Planning to Use Its Own Chips in Macs as Early as 2020

Perhaps beginning as soon as 2020, Apple plans to use its own chips in Mac computers, which would mean replacing the currently used Intel processors, according to sources familiar with the project. “The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together,” reports Bloomberg, which adds that the multistep process has been approved by executives.

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CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

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Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

In October, MPAA member studios 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. teamed with streaming services Amazon and Netflix to sue TickBox TV over copyright infringement. Yesterday in California, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with the studios and streamers by issuing “a preliminary injunction against the streaming device manufacturer to pause further potential infringement while the litigation plays out,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “TickBox argues it only offers hardware, on which users can ‘voluntarily install legitimate or illegitimate software,’ and that access to the infringing content came from downloadable ‘themes’ that it didn’t create.” Continue reading Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

Unique Compact Still Camera Captures 52-Megapixel Images

Startup camera company Light just debuted the L16, which weighs less than a pound, has a form factor small enough to fit in a back pocket and replaces one large lens with 16 smaller lenses and sensors that produce a 52-megapixel image. That image compares to the typical smartphone’s 12-megapixel image or 30-megapixel image from a DSLR camera. The L16 — intended for photography, not video, and priced at $1,950 — also offers an adjustable optical zoom that allows the user to change the level of background blur and focus. Continue reading Unique Compact Still Camera Captures 52-Megapixel Images

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Microsoft Encourages Testing of New IoT Security Paradigm

Security is a top concern for the Internet of Things, in particular when large numbers of IoT devices are deployed in an organization. There’s been a rise in attacks on such devices, via botnets, and a search engine, Shodan, is dedicated to finding unsecured IoT hardware endpoints. In that context, Microsoft, which is updating its Azure IoT toolset, is also testing a new approach to securing and managing such devices. Dubbed Project Sopris, Microsoft Research hopes to mix secure hardware and a secure communications channel. Continue reading Microsoft Encourages Testing of New IoT Security Paradigm

Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

IHS Markit reports that Sony led the gaming hardware, software and service market last year, nearly doubling the share of Microsoft and its Xbox One. Sony is expected to continue its dominance through 2017. According to IHS, Sony captured 57 percent ($19.7 billion) of spending by gamers in 2016, “thanks to growth of digital console games,” notes VentureBeat, adding, however, “that the overall console game market shrank in 2016, and Nintendo is newly competitive this year with the launch of the Switch game console.” Additionally, Microsoft may experience a rebound this year with the launch of its PS4 competitor, Project Scorpio. Continue reading Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

LG Abandons Flashy Gimmicks with New Signature G6 Phone

LG Electronics has a new strategy to reverse disappointing smartphone sales: ditch the gimmicks and focus on strong basic features. The company launched its new flagship phone this week; the G6 boasts more battery life, a longer 5.7-inch screen, and a sleek design. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR. Previous LG smartphones emphasized features such as a fingerprint scanner on the back or a modular approach for swapping accessories. Even with a simpler design, LG may still struggle to draw consumers in the slowing smartphone market. Continue reading LG Abandons Flashy Gimmicks with New Signature G6 Phone

Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Alphabet’s Q4 revenue increased almost three times faster than profit, leading the tech titan to look for new growth areas. The company says that a one-time tax adjustment accounted for the missed Wall Street expectation. Google’s largest global advertising business and the very popular YouTube account for most of the revenue, but Alphabet is looking to mobile search, YouTube and automated ad buying as newer forms of advertising; its new smartphone Pixel and digital assistant-powered Google Home also show promise. Continue reading Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Google has reportedly suspended its Project Ara initiative to build a modular smartphone with interchangeable components. The goal was to develop a phone that consumers could customize with cameras, speakers, batteries and other parts in an effort to prolong lifespan and reduce electronic waste. “The move marks an about-face for the tech company, which announced a host of partners for Project Ara at its developer conference in May and said it would ship a developer edition of the product this autumn,” according to Reuters. “Axing Project Ara is one of the first steps in a campaign to unify Google’s various hardware efforts, which range from Chromebook laptops to Nexus phones.” Continue reading Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

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