Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

With its new Snap Map feature, now available on iOS and Android, Snapchat encourages friends to get together in real life instead of just digitally. Snap Map shares your current location via a map that updates when Snapchat is opened. The tech is based on Snap’s acquisition of social map app Zenly. Users can select specific friends for location sharing or disappear from the map via Ghost Mode. Tapping a friend’s “BitMoji avatar opens their Story to show what they’re up to, or lets you message them directly to make meetup plans,” explains TechCrunch. “Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed.” Continue reading Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

This week at WWDC, Apple unveiled its ARKit augmented reality platform that enables app developers to use detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects in 3D space, more immersive than previous 2D camera overlays. With ARKit, Apple can begin to compete with Google, which currently dominates phone-based AR. The move may also signal that Apple will build AR glasses. Many industry sources believe that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality features into its 10th anniversary iPhone and wants to develop a global AR platform. Continue reading Apple Debuts ARKit AR Tool for App Developers at WWDC

Plex Includes Live TV, Nvidia Shield Aims to Be Best Partner

Plex just announced that it is allowing users to not simply record TV programs, but watch live TV from broadcast stations. Originally launched as a company that allowed users to organize their media, Plex introduced its DVR feature last fall, initially requiring a digital antenna and HDHomeRun digital tuner. The company also now supports digital tuners from other vendors, such as those from Hauppauge and AVerMedia, among others. Nvidia’s Shield software also now supports Plex’s DVR and Live TV capabilities. Continue reading Plex Includes Live TV, Nvidia Shield Aims to Be Best Partner

Microsoft Rebrands and Upgrades Game Streaming Platform

Microsoft is rolling out new features to its Beam live-streaming game service, along with a new name: Mixer. With a renewed focus on social interactivity, the company will face competition from Amazon’s Twitch, Alphabet’s YouTube and, now, Facebook, which has signed e-sports streaming deals. Microsoft joins the growing live social streaming sector armed with its popular gaming console, the Xbox. Although Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox sales in 2014, it noted last month that its Xbox Live gaming service had 52 million users in the quarter ending March 31. Continue reading Microsoft Rebrands and Upgrades Game Streaming Platform

Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

For a year-and-a-half, Amazon has been promoting subscriptions to HBO, Starz and other streaming services. Now, it plans to expand Amazon Channels to Austria, Germany and the U.K. with between 25 to 42 live and on-demand channels from its content partners, thus offering the kind of a la carte TV that many viewers want. Apparently, the success of Channels took Amazon by surprise, and it has created two new channels — Anime Strike and Heera for Bollywood fans — while postponing plans for its own live service. Continue reading Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

Google Reveals More of Its Fuchsia OS for ‘Modern Phones’

Google is working on its third operating system after Android and Chrome OS, this one dubbed Fuchsia, an open-source, real-time OS that first appeared in August last year as a command line. Rather than being based on Linux, Fuchsia relies on a microkernel called Magenta that was developed by Google and incorporates other Google-developed software. According to Google, Magenta is aimed at “modern phones” and PCs with fast processors and large amounts of RAM with “arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation.” Continue reading Google Reveals More of Its Fuchsia OS for ‘Modern Phones’

Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Apple became the first U.S. company to cross the $800 billion barrier in market capitalization when it reached $802.72 billion yesterday (on Monday it reached $801.37 billion but dropped below $800 billion by the close). The company reached $600 billion in 2012 and $700 billion in 2015. “Google parent Alphabet Inc. is currently in second place at $658.60 billion, according to FactSet,” reports MarketWatch. “Microsoft Corp. is third, nearly $270 billion behind Apple at $533.02 billion.” Amazon.com is presently holding at $455.42 billion. Investors are optimistic about Apple’s plans to launch three new iPhones later this year to celebrate the product’s 10-year anniversary. Continue reading Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Hulu’s Live TV has rolled out in beta, offering more than 50 channels for just under $40 per month. What makes Hulu stand out from competing services is that it now offers a combination of streaming video plus live television. Among its live content, Hulu offers the four major broadcast networks, ESPN, HGTV and an array of news and animation content. Original content includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the service also boasts day-after TV shows and B-list movies, all melded into a single library. Continue reading Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

Sling Media announced its $999 SlingStudio hardware this week, intended as a cost effective and easy-to-use alternative for video creators who plan to share live video streams via Facebook Live or YouTube. Sling TV is also offering a significant discount on its AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for customers who prepay for at least three months of service. Introduced at CES in January, AirTV is an OTA/OTT box that runs on Android TV. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, a recent study found that four out of five pay TV subscribers are interested in a la carte TV. Continue reading NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is launching a new suite of platform agnostic “creation, production, and distribution tools for virtual reality experiences — including a VR camera,” which it is demonstrating at NAB this week, reports VentureBeat. Digital Domain’s portable spherical camera features “advanced live-streaming capabilities, new integrations with post-production suites, and a cloud-based VR distribution platform. It enables visual effects production, 360 capture hardware and software, real-time stitching and encoding, livestreaming, application development, and content distribution.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

For friends who want to share and watch YouTube or Twitch videos together, a new Apple iMessage app, called Let’s Watch It!, is the answer. Group chat in the iMessage App Store has proven to be a hit, with video chat app Fam raising $1.8 million and plans to expand to game-playing, interactive live masks, filters and watching videos with friends. But Let’s Watch It!, which debuted in March, may be beating Fam at its game, adding support for turning on the front-facing camera and microphone, making it even more social. Continue reading Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Apple is debuting a standalone video app called Apple Clips that allows users to shoot, edit and share video clips for mobile phones. Apple Clips, for iOS 10.3 or higher, features real-time captioning and facial recognition as well as giant emojis, cartoon filters and lively title screens — and the end results can be distributed to iMessage contacts. Automatic captioning, dubbed Live Titles, allows the user to choose a font and style; after hitting record, the app transcribes speech to text. But less ideal features mar the app, say critics. Continue reading Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

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