Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

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

Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

After sourcing its GPUs from Imagination Technologies for years, Apple has decided to design its own GPU technology. With half of its revenue from Apple, Imagination Technologies stock has tanked as a result. GPUs, graphics processing units, are the workhorses for just about everything that Apple wants its smartphones and other devices to do, including machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, Siri and high resolution gaming. The GPU gets its power from its ability to multitask, processing in parallel. Continue reading Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Facebook has opened up live streaming 360-degree video for anyone with the professional equipment necessary to capture content — and users of devices such as the latest Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano ($200, for iPhone) or Insta360 Air ($130, for Android). According to TechCrunch, “Facebook’s live-streaming video tech” now provides “1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours.” The Live 360 broadcasts “aren’t yet embeddable on other sites” and “can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast” yet. And while some cameras already support live broadcasting via YouTube and Periscope, “Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion.” Continue reading Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality, believing that the nascent sector can be as game changing as smartphones were ten years ago. Sources say that Apple is following through by building a team of hardware and software experts, with the idea of dominating augmented reality as it comes to the fore. The same sources report that Apple’s AR team, run by former Dolby Laboratories executive Mike Rockwell, includes engineers that worked on Oculus and HoloLens headsets as well as top Hollywood VFX experts. Continue reading Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Sony’s Xperia series smartphones — the flagship XZ Premium, the smaller XZ, and the large XA1 Ultra — now feature impressive imaging capabilities, including an option to shoot video at 960 frames per second to enhance the phones’ slow motion capture feature. The lens improvements adjust the lighting to better illuminate nighttime scenes and all images are displayed in ultra-high definition 4K. Beyond the camera, Sony struck a deal to stream Amazon content on Xperia phones without the need for clunky third-party apps. Continue reading Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents yesterday that it claims detail methods used by the CIA “to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” reports The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA and allied intelligence services bypassed encryption on messaging services including Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. WikiLeaks also suggests that agencies can collect audio and messaging data from Android phones “before encryption is applied.” The Wall Street Journal notes that such activities, if actually taking place with consumer electronics, could fuel tensions between intelligence agencies and the tech industry, which has been concerned about customer privacy. Mobile devices are a major concern; NYT published an article detailing potential smartphone vulnerabilities. Continue reading WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone to Tout Curved OLED Screen

One model of Apple’s upcoming new iPhones will feature a flexible OLED screen, similar to those used by Samsung Electronics, say sources. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that the Silicon Valley company had asked manufacturers to produce prototype screens. Now, say those sources, Apple has ordered enough components for mass production. With an OLED screen, Apple would have the ability to bend the screen in a variety of ways, including adding a curve at the edge of the phone. Continue reading Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone to Tout Curved OLED Screen

Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

Google is making Assistant available to all its Android partners, in an effort to entice more Apple iPhone customers. Introduced five months ago, Google Assistant, which answers questions, plays music and completes tasks, is showcased in a closer partnership with LG Electronics, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Up until now, Google’s Pixel smartphone, which was introduced in October, has been the only handset with Assistant. Apple’s iPhone will have its tenth anniversary this year. Continue reading Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple’s iPhone 8 to Feature Wireless Charging, OLED Screen

Apple may dub its next smartphone either iPhone 8 or iPhone X, but whatever the name, it will be a special 10th-anniversary version and, says a knowledgeable source, is likely to cost more than $1,000. That’s not really a stretch when you note that the 256GB version of the iPhone 7 Plus already sells for $969. The iPhone 8 will feature a range of new features, including an OLED display and a memory upgrade, both of which are expensive. The 5.8-inch phone is expected to look like a smooth black monolith. Continue reading Apple’s iPhone 8 to Feature Wireless Charging, OLED Screen

Apple Notes iPhone Sales Increase, Looks to Expand Services

After three consecutive quarters of falling revenue, Apple is now experiencing strong demand for its iPhone 7, with a record number of iPhone shipments for the quarter ending December 2016. Despite that good news, the iPhone 7 failed to deliver the double-digit increase in sales that previous new iPhone models typically did in the first quarter after their debut. The iPhones, accounting for two-thirds of the company’s sales, pushed revenue up 3 percent to a record $78.4 billion. Apple’s service business is also booming. Continue reading Apple Notes iPhone Sales Increase, Looks to Expand Services

Japan Display Plans to Introduce Flexible LCD Screens in 2018

Apple supplier Japan Display Inc. announced it plans to provide flexible LCD panels next year as part of an effort to take on its South Korean competitors. Samsung introduced the angled display for its Galaxy Edge series in 2014 using OLED tech. Rival LCDs were limited due to their glass layer, “which is why the LCD screens on Apple’s iPhone series — some made by Japan Display — are flat,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Japan Display’s new LCD uses plastic instead of glass. While not as flexible as OLED screens, Japan Display’s chief operating officer, Shuji Aruga, said it is flexible enough to be used in Galaxy Edge-type designs.” Continue reading Japan Display Plans to Introduce Flexible LCD Screens in 2018

Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Apple plans to focus on a new business in original TV shows and movies, say sources. The content would be available to subscribers of Apple Music, the company’s $10/month streaming music service, which continues to be an underdog to Spotify. In the wake of slowing iPhone and iPad sales, Apple has been casting about for a new source of revenue; recently, it has been in discussions with Hollywood producers to buy the rights to scripted TV programs and is trying to hire studio/network marketers to promote the content. Continue reading Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Nuvyyo and Mohu Unveil Solutions to Stream OTA Broadcasts

At CES 2017, Nuvyyo unveiled the Tablo Live stick, which offers free over-the-air television on any device, a DVR app for the Nvidia Shield game console, and previewed a cloud DVR for broadcast TV. The company, which also manufactures the cord-cutting Tablo DVR, explains that Tablo Live doesn’t plug directly into a TV set but, instead, streams live TV to devices with already-installed Tablo apps, available on Android phones, iPhone, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox One and Apple TV. Tablo Live will ship in Q2 for $99. Cord cutters may also be interested in Mohu, which introduced its Airwave device at CES. Continue reading Nuvyyo and Mohu Unveil Solutions to Stream OTA Broadcasts

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