Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat

One hundred new American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX planes, slated for delivery in September 2017, will be outfitted with ViaSat’s satellite-powered Wi-Fi, marking the first time that this Carlsbad, California-based company has cracked the market dominated by the Chicago-based Gogo. American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, is converting much of its fleet from Gogo’s ground-based Wi-Fi to faster satellite-based technology, but will also use Gogo’s new 2Ku satellite service on 134 Airbus Group aircraft. Continue reading American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat

Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Nest CEO and co-founder Tony Fadell announced he will step down from his leadership position, but will stay on as an adviser to parent company Alphabet. Fadell will be replaced by telecom vet Marwan Fawaz (formerly CTO of Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications), “amid escalating drama at Nest that sent ripples across all of Google,” suggests Recode. “Despite its internal struggles, Nest is a market leader in the connected device field.” Its ability to ship its collection of smart home products and “build out software and energy partnerships for Internet-connected devices” will be critical as it competes in this space with tech giants such as Amazon and Apple. Continue reading Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

The 2016 Internet Trends report, presented by Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, states that growth of Internet users worldwide is flat and smartphone growth is slowing. At Recode’s media and tech Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Meeker revealed that the global number of Internet users is about 3 billion, 42 percent of the world’s population. The slowdown, she says is part of a global gross domestic product growth below the 20-year average in six of the last eight years. Continue reading Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Against an environment of social anxiety and national pride, Europe has been trying to limit the reach and influence of American tech giants, enacting privacy regulations and launching antitrust investigations. Now, the European Commission is contemplating rules that would require some of these U.S. companies to carry — and even fund — local content in various local markets. That would impact Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO among others, which would be required to allot 20 percent of local content to European-made content. Continue reading EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Tech Firms Test AI Solutions to Combat Inappropriate Content

Digital platforms Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Periscope are implementing new ways to fight some of the worst misdeeds of the Internet: hate speech, pornography, graphic and gratuitous violence, threats and trolling. To do so, they are relying on a new range of solutions mainly but not entirely fueled by artificial intelligence. In recent months, all these Internet companies have been the target of lawsuits and harsh criticism for their inability to remove such content in a timely fashion. Continue reading Tech Firms Test AI Solutions to Combat Inappropriate Content

Dish Ships HopperGO, Mobile Video Solution for Hopper Users

The Dish HopperGO, originally announced at CES, is now shipping, and early reviews deem it a good device for specific uses. About half the size of a smartphone, the tiny device is basically a 64GB USB drive with built-in wireless access that connects to the user’s Dish Hopper 3 or Hopper 2 and offers a capacity of up to 100 hours of TV. The user can unplug the device and then watch four hours on one charge through the Dish Anywhere app. The device’s interface consists of an “on” button and a USB port. Continue reading Dish Ships HopperGO, Mobile Video Solution for Hopper Users

Judge Rules Against Netflix Bid to Offer Relativity Films Early

Netflix had been fighting to stream two movies produced by Relativity Media ahead of their planned theatrical releases, but a judge on Friday issued an order preventing Netflix from doing so. According to Judge Michael Wiles of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, an early release of the comedy “Masterminds” and horror film “The Disappointments Room” could be “devastating” for Relativity, the studio he recently released from chapter 11. Ruling in favor of Netflix “would threaten the bankruptcy process… with devastating consequences to the plan and distributions” to creditors, the judge said. Continue reading Judge Rules Against Netflix Bid to Offer Relativity Films Early

Facebook, Microsoft, Telefónica Partner on Trans-Atlantic Link

Facebook and Microsoft have partnered on Marea, a project to build a new fiber optic cable that will run for 4,000 miles under the Atlantic Ocean between Virginia and Spain. Telefónica SA, a Spanish Internet service provider, joins them in the project. The fiber link, composed of eight pairs of strands, will be the highest capacity link across the Atlantic. Marea, the Spanish word for tide, is just the latest such project that Microsoft, Facebook, Alphabet, and Amazon have invested in to lower costs of moving massive amounts of data. Continue reading Facebook, Microsoft, Telefónica Partner on Trans-Atlantic Link

New Study Points to Increase in Social Media as News Source

According to a Pew Research study, 62 percent of U.S. adults now get their news from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit. Atop the list is Facebook, reaching about 44 percent of the population, while Twitter and YouTube hold second place. The study found that the social media sites with the most growth to their news audiences since 2013 include Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Pew also found that 20-30 percent of users across the top five social platforms still get additional news from local and nightly network television. Continue reading New Study Points to Increase in Social Media as News Source

Ad-Blocking Now Costing Advertisers Billions in Lost Revenue

Internet giants such as Google and Facebook rely on advertising revenue to finance their various endeavors. However, that business model is now being threatened by ad-blocking software. According to a report from PageFair and Priori Data, about 20 percent of smartphone users (nearly 420 million people worldwide) now block ads when browsing online via their mobile devices. The latest figures represent a 90 percent annual increase. While the use of ad-blocking software conserves data and loads websites faster, it “is costing the global advertising industry billions of dollars a year in lost revenue,” reports The New York Times. Continue reading Ad-Blocking Now Costing Advertisers Billions in Lost Revenue

New European Proposals Outline Video Streaming Regulations

European officials have proposed new rules for video streaming companies as part of an effort to regulate online services for the region’s 500 million consumers. Part of that effort would be to require streaming companies to not only carry a certain amount of local content, but to chip in to pay for its development, as do national broadcasters. The goal, say officials, is to boost the region’s local economies. Apple, Facebook and Netflix, which dominate the European online space, would be the U.S. companies most impacted. Continue reading New European Proposals Outline Video Streaming Regulations

Open-Source Startups and VCs Craft a New Model for Success

Today’s open-source software startups are trying a new tack to gain adoption, after the first generation mainly failed to successfully launch. That first generation sold services to support technology widely available on the Internet, but very few of them — Red Hat, with its $2 billion in annual revenue is one exception — were able to scale up. The new approach involves providing free software to users, followed by proprietary products that work with that software; VC firm Accel Partners is now funding some of these companies. Continue reading Open-Source Startups and VCs Craft a New Model for Success

Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

Samsung announced it is partnering with SK Telecom to build a LoRaWAN network to cover all of South Korea, claiming it would be the world’s first nationwide network for the Internet of Things. The IoT network rolls out in Daegu next month and will be available throughout the country by the middle of this year. LoRaWAN (which means “long-range wide-area network”) was already used to build a citywide IoT network in Amsterdam. “LoRaWAN represents an attempt to standardize LPWAN (low-power wide-area networks),” explains TechCrunch, “which are meant to offer a cheaper and more power-efficient alternative to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks for the Internet of Things.” Continue reading Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

ELeague Broadcasts Gaming Competitions on TBS and Twitch

Turner and WME|IMG’s new gaming league ELeague, which began showing “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” competitions via online video streaming service Twitch, will now debut the winning teams this Friday at 10 p.m. on national cable TV channel TBS. This is the latest attempt to bring eSports to TV, including one by DirecTV, which failed to gain traction. The trick to make it succeed is to translate eSports “online sensibility” to television, bringing some of its 214 million 18-to-25 year old viewers along for the ride. Continue reading ELeague Broadcasts Gaming Competitions on TBS and Twitch

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