Adobe Study: Most Companies Are Investing in Voice Tech

According to a study released by Adobe this week, nine out of 10 companies are currently investing in voice technologies, including things like voice-based commerce. Of the 401 companies surveyed, just over one-fifth have already released a voice app, while 44 percent plan to release one this year. A total of 88 percent are building apps for both Amazon and Google smart speakers and other voice-enabled devices, while only 39 percent are building for Apple’s iOS ecosystem; even fewer are building for Microsoft’s Cortana or Samsung’s Bixby.

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Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Somewhat similar to its “Behind the Lyrics” feature, music streaming giant Spotify is now launching “Storyline,” a new feature meant to offer artists a platform to share insights, inspiration and more about their creative processes and the meanings of lyrics, songs and albums. The new feature is also similar to the “Stories” format that has been popularized by social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others, opening up a potential avenue for Spotify to create original content via a popular format.

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Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

In January 2018, Apple earmarked $10 billion to build its own U.S.-based data centers in the next five years. In a December update, the company added that $4.5 billion of that would be spent in 2019. For now, however, Apple is on track to spend $30+ million per month on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies may be rivals, but Apple has come to depend on AWS as a way to deliver competitive online services. That’s become crucial, as sales of iPhones have slowed and the company has turned to online services to pick up the slack. Continue reading At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

TRON Plans to Revive BitTorrent Live as Social Media App

BitTorrent, purchased by blockchain startup TRON last year, plans to re-introduce BitTorrent Live, an OTT service first debuted in 2011 and shuttered in 2017. The new BitTorrent Live will be an Android/iOS social media app, whereas the original version provided access to free and paid TV channels. The company, which has put out a call for beta testers, has positioned the new app as similar to Snapchat and ByteDance’s TikTok in that it will encourage users to create and share content with like-minded people. Continue reading TRON Plans to Revive BitTorrent Live as Social Media App

Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon plans to sell video ads on its mobile shopping app, a direct challenge to Google and Facebook’s control of the $129 billion digital advertising sector. Sources report that the tech giant has been beta testing ads on the Apple iOS platform “for several months,” and that it plans to roll out ad sales on Google’s Android platform later in 2019. Searches on Amazon’s mobile app trigger relevant ads, making them more likely to lead to actual purchases. With this move, Amazon opens up a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Continue reading Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Microsoft plans to debut a cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) that would allow game developers to bring Xbox Live features to iOS and Android games. With new Xbox Live functionality, developers would be able to pick and choose among features including GamerScore, achievements, hero stats, friend lists, cubs and “even some family settings,” all of which will be activated with a single Microsoft Account sign-in. Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry described Xbox Live as “the heart of our gaming community.” Continue reading Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Twitter unveiled its new camera feature at SXSW this week, 12 years after the social micro-blog made its initial splash as a hot new app at the Austin, Texas conference. Over the next week, Twitter users on iOS and Android devices will start to have access to the in-app camera for recording and sharing photos and short videos. It also includes the option to livestream from the user’s location, while Twitter will recommend nearby locations to tag and relevant event hashtags if geolocating services are turned on. Additionally, the upgrade allows users to add captions and change the tweet text background color. Continue reading Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Twitter Is Working on Snapchat-Like ‘News Camera’ Feature

As it continues to ramp up its profile as a media company and aims to better compete with popular social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, Twitter has been testing a visual sharing tool described in its code as the “News Camera.” While Twitter users can already share images and video, this enhanced camera tool would encourage them to do so more frequently. The feature is accessible via a swipe on the home screen and offers users the ability to add captions to photos, video and live broadcasts before such content goes to the timeline. Continue reading Twitter Is Working on Snapchat-Like ‘News Camera’ Feature

EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

MGM’s premium TV net EPIX has launched a new subscription streaming service that features original programming and films from MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate. The EPIX NOW app “is available for download today in the App store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, and in Google Play for Android phones and tablets,” reports Deadline. “It will also be coming soon to Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV.” The $5.99 per month service, which also includes the four EPIX linear live channels, will be available across additional devices later this year. Continue reading EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Madefire and Magic Leap Collaborate on Comic Books in AR

Madefire, which makes digital versions of comic books, has collaborated with Magic Leap to debut its first Motion Book experiences in augmented reality on Magic Leap One Creator Edition, the developer version headset that costs $2,300. The comics are available in the Magic Leap World! Explore stories. In the past, Madefire has also collaborated with DC Comics and Marvel to create digital comics. Its platform, which is available on iOS, Android as well as Oculus Rift, offers 40,000 comics including Blizzard’s Overwatch comics. Continue reading Madefire and Magic Leap Collaborate on Comic Books in AR

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

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Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

News site 9to5Mac reported that Apple’s FaceTime app, which places audio/video calls over the Internet, had a significant bug: an iPhone user could call another iPhone user and eavesdrop on that person’s conversation through the phone’s microphone — even if the call recipient doesn’t answer the call. The bug was actually discovered a full week before Apple disabled Group FaceTime and stated that it was working to fix it. In that gap, a developer discovered the bug, which was reported in 9to5Mac. Security researchers have dubbed the glitch FacePalm. Continue reading Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

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