Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), known for its photo standard, released a new video compression standard, JPEG XS, designed to work on next-gen 5G cellular or Wi-Fi networks. The new standard, says JPEG, will work on current computers via a software upgrade and is aimed at streaming lossless video, VR content and games over wireless networks, with lower latency and better energy efficiency. Devices smaller than computers, however, will require a hardware upgrade to support JPEG XS. Continue reading JPEG Debuts Streaming Video Format for 5G, Wi-Fi Networks

Spotify Readies New Free Version, Acquires Licensing Platform

According to sources, Spotify is working on a version of its free music service that would be easier to use on mobile phones. The rationale is likely that, after just going public, the Stockholm-based company now needs to grow its user base. The free service is also a springboard for the company’s paid service, which, although services less than half of its user base, generated 90 percent of last year’s 4.09 billion euro revenue. By the end of 2017, Spotify had 157 million users, of which 71 million were paid subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Readies New Free Version, Acquires Licensing Platform

iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Sensor Tower has found that iPhone users in the U.S. increased in-app purchase spending by 23 percent last year over 2016. Active users spent an average of $58 in 2017 using Apple’s in-app purchase or subscription options. The figures do not reflect e-commerce spending via sites like Amazon or payments for services such as Lyft or Uber. At roughly 62 percent of average spending, mobile gaming leads the charge in this sector. Subscription-based streaming services, and music, dating and lifestyle apps also contributed to the rise in spending. Continue reading iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

Adobe recently released its “2018 State of Digital Advertising” report, which indicates that 74 percent of marketers believe they are now serving consumers relevant ads. However, only 8 percent of today’s consumers agree that digital ads delivered to them are “always relevant,” and 27 percent find the online ads “often relevant.” Meanwhile, the report also suggests that new customers are three times as likely as existing customers to be driven by social media to visit a retailer. Adobe found that connected TV sites, on-demand streaming, and mobile retail are areas experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

GoPro Launches $199 Hero Camera Targeting Younger Users

GoPro just released a more affordable camera at a price point of $199 aimed at a younger audience and action-video newcomers. Simply called “Hero,” the camera looks just like other models in the Hero line and works with all of the same accessories, but it’s a simplified version. “While it doesn’t have all of the advanced features of the $399 Hero6 or the $299 Hero5, the new Hero does have many of them, making it an excellent budget choice for those eager to start playing with action cameras,” reports Wired.

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Apple R&Ds Curved OLED Screen, Touchless Gesture Feature

Apple is tweaking its iPhone design and features, to help differentiate it in an increasingly competitive market. According to sources, the company is currently working on a technology that would allow users to perform some tasks by moving a finger close to the screen but not actually touching it. Currently, Apple’s 3D Touch responds differently depending on finger pressure. The company is also working on a display that will curve inward, gradually, from top to bottom. All iPhones currently sport a flat display. Continue reading Apple R&Ds Curved OLED Screen, Touchless Gesture Feature

Apple Planning to Use Its Own Chips in Macs as Early as 2020

Perhaps beginning as soon as 2020, Apple plans to use its own chips in Mac computers, which would mean replacing the currently used Intel processors, according to sources familiar with the project. “The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together,” reports Bloomberg, which adds that the multistep process has been approved by executives.

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Huawei P20 Pro Phone Features Three Rear-Facing Cameras

When Huawei briefed a team from Engadget on its new P20 Pro smartphone, it dubbed the device’s Leica Triple Camera system “the most advanced camera on a phone yet,” according to a recent review on the site. The team was skeptical, but in the end, they’ve come to write about the “miraculous photos this phone is capable of taking,” even though users may need patience as they figure out the many settings and controls. “You really have to pin down the shooting options that work for you,” according to Engadget.

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Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Microsoft is reportedly downgrading the scope of its Windows franchise to “reorganize its business around its growing Azure cloud-computing operations and its stalwart Office productivity business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The move is designed to focus Microsoft on its biggest areas of growth. In its latest quarter Azure revenue jumped 98 percent while Office 365 grew 41 percent … In the same period, the More Personal Computing unit, which includes Windows, gained 2 percent to $12.17 billion.” Continue reading Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

In an effort to catch up to Google’s classroom dominance, Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad on Tuesday “aimed at classrooms and other education tools,” reports The New York Times. It has a faster processor and the ability to support its education-minded stylus, the Apple Pencil (which previously only paired with pricier iPads), as well as 200 gigabytes of storage. It’ll be priced at $299 for schools and $329 for consumers. Additionally, Apple announced new classroom software and new curriculum.

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Google Initiates Rollout of its Mobile-First Indexing of the Web

After a year and a half of testing, Google is rolling out its mobile-first indexing of the web. According to TechCrunch, Google first detailed its plan in 2016, aiming to “change the way its search index operates, explaining how its algorithms would eventually be shifted to use the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages, as well as to understand its structured data and to show snippets from the site in the Google search results.” The move caters to Google Search users, the majority of whom search via mobile devices.

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NBA Digital Begins Testing 99-Cent Streaming of 4th Quarters

Fans of the NBA have game streaming options ranging from league-wide packages, team-specific packages, and single game options (with certain blackouts applicable to all). Now, NBA Digital, a combined effort between the NBA and Turner, is testing an even more affordable option — streaming the 4th quarter of live games for just 99 cents, according to social media reports from fans who are receiving notifications via the NBA app to test the service. NBA Digital has yet to respond to requests for more information.

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Google’s New Shopping Actions Aid Competition with Amazon

Google recently launched Shopping Actions, a new program to help retailers compete with Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. The program allows companies to list “products across Google Search, in its Google Express shopping service, and in the Google Assistant app for smartphones and on smart speakers, like the Google Home,” reports TechCrunch. It offers a universal cart no matter what device shoppers are using and Google earns money via a pay-per-sale model. The program is now open to any retailer in the U.S.

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