Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

Google has partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to provide its Android operating system for next-generation infotainment systems that will integrate Google’s maps, app store and voice-activated assistant, all from the dashboard. The alliance is the biggest car vendor, having sold 106 million vehicles worldwide last year. Google has been trying for 10 years to replicate its smartphone success in the arena of car manufacturing. The alliance plans to debut cars with the new Google-powered system in 2021. Continue reading Google, Vehicle Alliance Partner on Next-Gen Media Systems

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

When Nintendo Switch Online debuts today, gamers will have a multiplayer option similar to Xbox Live and PSN. The new service allows users to save online games in the cloud and offers a library of NES games. Subscription prices range from $4 per month, $8 for three months, to $20 for a year and $35 for a family plan with at least two accounts. Gamers can also sign up for a seven-day free trial. Some games, such as “Fortnite,” will not require a subscription to play online. The service will debut with 20 games. Continue reading Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

Apple Unveils Three New iPhones and Series 4 Watch Lineup

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other company execs unveiled three new iPhones and a redesigned Apple Watch Series 4 in Cupertino yesterday. Bigger and faster was the underlying theme for the new devices. The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099 and features a 6.5-inch screen (Apple’s largest to date). As expected, the entry-level iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch LCD screen and the premium iPhone XS includes a 5.8-inch display. Both XS models feature a Super Retina OLED screen and stainless steel casing (the XR is made of aluminum). Meanwhile, Apple Watch is evolving into a health-related wearable. The new smartwatch touts an ECG heart sensor approved by the FDA. Continue reading Apple Unveils Three New iPhones and Series 4 Watch Lineup

Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

On October 1, Verizon Communications will roll out a 5G package to residential customers in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Signups for the service begin this week. The new 5G service relies on millimeter waves, higher-frequency spectrum that can carry more data but can’t travel as far or penetrate many hard materials. Verizon’s new chief executive Hans Vestberg pointed to 5G’s network reliability, low latency, energy efficiency, service deployment time and speedier connection to the Internet. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

Facebook Boosts Instant Experience Ads, Updates Ad Metrics

Facebook is rebranded its mobile Canvas ads as full-screen, rich media Instant Experience ads, saying it will offer “new ways for businesses to understand their customer’s progression from seeing an Instant Experience to completing a purchase.” Instant Experience ads come with an Instant Form template making it easy for a visitor engaged with the ad to submit contact information. Other existing templates include Instant Storefront, Instant Lookbook, Instant Customer Acquisition and Instant Storytelling. Continue reading Facebook Boosts Instant Experience Ads, Updates Ad Metrics

Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

To grow its advertising business, Amazon is now more aggressive with sponsored product ads, first launched in 2012. A product search will first show sponsored ads, taking up the whole screen above the fold (everything seen before the user scrolls) or, in the case of a mobile phone, the entire first screen. Those sponsored ads are followed by an ad for Amazon’s 365 Everyday Value brand, part of its Whole Foods purchase. The user has to scroll down halfway on the next browser page to find organic search results. Continue reading Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

According to a recent letter from Apple general counsel Kate Adams to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Apple has plans to develop an online portal this year that would assist law enforcement in requesting user data in addition to educating police about the type of data that would be available for request. While the iPhone maker has provided user data to law enforcement in the past, including data stored in its iCloud, the company has sparred with law enforcement and government agencies regarding the encryption of its CE devices. Continue reading Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing service Instagram is reportedly developing a standalone app designed specifically for shopping. The app, possibly to be named IG Shopping, is expected to help users browse products from merchants and businesses and then make purchases directly within the app. The Verge initially broke the news based on information from sources familiar with the matter, but Instagram has yet to confirm the app or a potential launch date. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, over 25 million businesses presently have Instagram accounts, 2 million of which are advertisers. Continue reading Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Mozilla announced that future versions of its Firefox browser will automatically block tracking codes placed by advertisers, third parties or any other company that is not the website publisher. Also blocked will be trackers that take too long to load. Best of all for users, they will not have to download or install new software or change settings to enjoy this increased privacy. According to Mozilla, the new feature is already being tested and will be included in a Firefox version later in 2018. Continue reading Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

According to the latest eMarketer projections, the number of Facebook users in the United States will increase by only 0.9 percent this year to a total of 169.5 million. While the platform’s growth has leveled in the U.S., it remains the top social network among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. However, interest in Facebook among U.S. teens continues to decline. Snapchat surpassed Facebook among teens in 2016 — and eMarketer predicts that Snapchat will attract 1.2 million new users ages 12 to 17 by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million teens during the same time frame. Continue reading Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Google is readying the release of its new, third version of Wear OS, which has been updated to be a speedy, inconspicuous platform rather than “Android on a smart watch.” It doesn’t feature any obvious improvements to battery life, but that’s an overall problem in the industry, not a Google shortcoming. According to Wear OS director of product Dennis Troper, users who are connected all the time will be able to be more present in the real world, similar to the goals of the company’s Digital Wellbeing initiative. Continue reading Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

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