YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

YouTube has been testing a feature in select markets that allows the platform to become a kind of mobile messenger. The feature, which began testing in mid-2016, lets users avail themselves of a new tab in the mobile app to send videos to their friends and chat. After a soft rollout to users in Canada at the beginning of 2017, YouTube later launched the new feature in parts of Latin America. The global rollout  this week, but will take a few days to appear on all users’ phones. YouTube also tweaked the user interface in several ways. Continue reading YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

The Internet is undergoing an evolution, with an onrush of people forming the ranks of what the tech industry dubs “the next billion” users. These newcomers have a decidedly different profile than those who came before: often barely literate, these people avoid text in favor of voice activation and images as a way to communicate. These first-time Internet users are finally gaining entry with the advent of low-cost smartphones with user-friendly interfaces and inexpensive data. Now, tech companies must adapt. Continue reading Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook just acquired Ozlo, a small AI startup founded four years ago and based in Palo Alto, California. The social media giant made the purchase in order to improve Messenger’s virtual assistant, dubbed M. Ozlo describes its product as “an index of knowledge about the real world,” which implies that a user could ask questions and receive answers about a wide range of topics. The company has 30 employees, and a majority of them will be joining Facebook’s Messenger teams in Menlo Park, California and Seattle, Washington. Continue reading Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Facebook’s newly debuted Messenger Platform 2.1 features built-in Natural Language Processing (NLP), provided by Wit.ai, a company acquired by Facebook in 2015. NLP has been available to app developers since the acquisition, but Messenger 2.1 is the first time it is a built-in feature. The built-in NLP currently detects common phrases (“hello,” “bye,” and “thanks”) as well as date/time, location, phone number, email and amount of money, all of which trigger an automated response from the bot. Continue reading Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Facebook reported a 71 percent jump in profits in Q2 this year, even as the company is running out of room for more advertisements on News Feed, its primary source of revenue. Both Facebook and Google, which established the digital platform for ads as dominant, are faced with thinking about what comes next. As reported earlier, Google ads have surged 52 percent on mobile devices and YouTube, but its per-click revenue is down. Facebook is eyeing Messenger and WhatsApp, its two chat apps, for growth. Continue reading Facebook Looks to WhatsApp, Video Ads for Future Growth

Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Amazon may be developing a standalone messaging app called Anytime that would allow people to connect without the need to include phone numbers, which is how other messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp typically connect. The company has reportedly been running a survey to gather feedback about a service “for smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart watches designed to let people chat with text and video, send each other fun photos with filters, play games and engage with other Amazon services,” reports TechCrunch. Earlier this year, AWS launched a communication service called Chime for enterprise customers. Continue reading Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

YouTube is where 1.5 billion people go every month to watch videos for more than an hour a day, and influencers such as brothers Jake Paul and Logan Paul have millions of followers and draw in lots of digital ads. Facebook makes it easier for videos to go viral, but hasn’t had much success in getting viewers to watch videos for more than a few minutes. In an effort to do so, Facebook has turned to live sports, making its own programs and a handful of stars who crave Facebook’s enormous reach more than YouTube’s monetization. Continue reading Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Facebook is ramping up its social VR efforts through live video streaming. “Users of Facebook Spaces, the social hangout in virtual reality that the company launched earlier this year, can now broadcast via Facebook Live,” reports Variety. “The new feature essentially allows Spaces users to host a kind of virtual reality talk show, and stream it to all of their followers, even if those audiences are tuning in with a mobile phone or a desktop browser.” Slate will be the first to use the new feature to produce a weekly live show. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Ticketmaster has partnered with LISNR, a data-over-audio company, to use an ultrasonic sound technology on users’ smartphones to admit them to live events and track their movements. The technology, dubbed “smart tones,” transmits information between devices, and was recently used by Jaguar Land Rover so that mobile devices in different vehicles could communicate with one another. Ticketmaster is launching a new e-ticketing system called Presence, powered by LISNR tech, that it hopes will reduce entry wait times at live events. Continue reading Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

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

Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

In a blog post this week, Facebook VP of core ads Mark Rabkin discusses “Video Advertising in the Mobile Age” and includes some interesting trends in television and social media consumption. While TV remains a powerful medium, people commonly turn to mobile feeds, apps, websites and texting when television no longer holds their attention. Facebook conducted a small study of TV viewers who watched the season premiere of a popular show last fall and found, not surprisingly, that use of Facebook increased during commercial breaks. The post shares tips for creating more effective ads for this audience. Continue reading Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Tencent, parent company of China’s biggest social network WeChat and, by revenue, the biggest global online game business, is also an entertainment titan, with China’s biggest online businesses in music, literature, comics and animation. Tencent Pictures, which invested in last weekend’s smash hit “Wonder Woman,” and “Kong: Skull Island,” is key to Tencent’s effort to become a global player in feature filmmaking. The company is also investing heavily in Silicon Valley projects so as not to miss out on the next big thing. Continue reading China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

China’s most popular messaging app WeChat is drawing in luxury fashion brands. France’s Longchamp and U.K.’s Burberry are selling clothes and purses there, and LVMH brands Givenchy and Dior are conducting flash sales on the app. By hosting upscale retail, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings has put itself in competition with Alibaba Group Holding, China’s dominant e-commerce company, as well as search engine Baidu. All three titans are testing the waters outside their traditional businesses. Continue reading WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

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