Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

Facebook reports that its Q1 profit leaped 76 percent to $3.06 billion, putting to rest concerns that video-ad performance or graphic content stymied growth. Alphabet enjoyed 29 percent growth in net profit in the same quarter, apparently undamaged by brands finding their content advertised against objectionable YouTube videos. The two tech titans currently account for 99 percent of the online ad industry’s revenue growth, says Pivotal Research, even as marketers express growing concern over fake news and live video issues. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to push new video content. Continue reading Facebook Benefits From Expanded Video Content, Digital Ads

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 emoji, 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

Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

In a few cities last week, Snapchat introduced a new search tool that relies on machine learning to collect text and visual metadata, enabling users to find content, even from users they do not follow. Previously, users only saw Stories from others they followed or that Snapchat served up. This is Snap Inc.’s first major change to its Snapchat software since the company went public in early March; in January, Snap added a search function allowing users to search for friends and publisher content. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Amazon hopes that YouTube celebs and Instagram stars can help market brands and recommend products found on the popular e-commerce site. The company has quietly launched a beta test of its Amazon Influencer Program, which allows social media influencers to apply to participate in the initiative and earn commissions on products sold. The new program is designed to work with influencers who have significant followings and regularly post content related to shoppable content across “all tiers and categories,” according to Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook has again integrated one of Snapchat’s most notable features, introducing Stories, which allows users to create photo/video montages that vanish within 24 hours. Two other camera-oriented features allow users to make the camera accessible with one rightward swipe and add filters and masks; and introduce a direct-messaging tool. All three features will be unveiled this week. Facebook has experienced a slump in posting, and is studying Snapchat as a way to zero-in on its millennial appeal. Continue reading Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Pinterest, now in its third full year earning selling ads, is targeting more than $500 million in revenue this year. The company earned $100 million in revenue in 2015 and $300 million last year. Some close to Pinterest say the company is gearing up for an eventual IPO. “The company hired its first CFO, Todd Morgenfeld, from Twitter back in October, and has Facebook’s former monetization director, Tim Kendall, overseeing all of Pinterest’s revenue efforts, among other things,” reports Recode. Those close to the company suggest that if Snap “can fetch a valuation north of $20 billion on the public markets, Pinterest is in good shape to do something similar.” Continue reading Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

According to a new eMarketer report, Google’s share of the online search advertising market could exceed 80 percent by 2019, as it outpaces other search companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Yelp and AOL. Last year, Google’s share of the ad market reached 75.8 percent ($24.6 billion in revenue). The company’s share is expected to reach 80 percent by 2018 and 80.2 percent the following year. The eMarketer projections include advertising on desktop and laptop PCs, mobile phones, tablets and other Internet-connected devices. Continue reading Google Share of Search Ad Market to Hit 80 Percent by 2018

Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has created a new tech called 5X that it claims radically improves zoomed-in photos recorded from smartphone cameras. The dual camera system was inspired by submarine periscopes; it diverts light through a custom prism onto an angled telephoto lens that subsequently provides more light and clarity to objects positioned in the frame from a distance. Zoomed images are also usually more sensitive to camera movement, so Oppo included an optical stabilization system. The company demoed its prototype at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Continue reading Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Facebook launched its first dedicated virtual reality app, Facebook 360, initially available only for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset. The new app, for download via the Oculus Store, will serve as a central hub for the more than one million 360 videos and 25 million 360 photos already posted to the site. Meanwhile, Vimeo has joined competitors Facebook and YouTube in introducing support for 360-degree video content. The site now features a channel of curated 360 videos in addition to a series of tutorials designed to assist video creators with producing immersive content. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Eyewear Makers Take Focused Approach with Smart Glasses

After Google Glass failed to gain traction, eyewear companies are designing a new generation of smart glasses. Unlike Google Glass, these new wearables are not designed to emulate the functionality of a smartphone. Instead, the new glasses are aimed at narrower audiences. Snap’s Spectacles let users record photos and videos. Oakley’s Radar Pace eyewear acts as a fitness tracker. Italian company Safilo makes glasses that track brain waves and helps users concentrate. The new approach may finally help smart eyewear find a mass market. Continue reading Eyewear Makers Take Focused Approach with Smart Glasses

Facebook Messenger Lets Users Post Snapchat-Like Stories

Messenger has joined Instagram and WhatsApp in emulating Snapchat’s popular Stories concept. Messenger Day is a new feature within the Facebook Messenger app that encourages users to share a daily photo story. Users can post photos and 15-second videos taken with the Messenger camera or images and GIFs saved on their smartphone. The Messenger Day story is visible to all Facebook friends, but it disappears after 24 hours. Facebook’s unique special filters for the images are designed to spark conversations and encourage meet-ups. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Lets Users Post Snapchat-Like Stories

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

Facebook unveiled new hardware for use in its data centers, designs for which will be made available to outside companies through its Open Compute Project. The announcements were made during this week’s OCP U.S. Summit in Santa Clara. One announcement centered on a new GPU server designed to better serve the company’s AI initiatives. Big Basin — successor to the company’s Big Sur high-performance compute platform — will help Facebook train machine learning models that are 30 percent larger than those running on current servers. Continue reading Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

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

Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

Photo-sharing social media platform Instagram is trying to lower the standard for an Instagram-worthy picture by allowing users to post multiple photos at once. The new photo carousels allow users to share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post. Carousels look similar to single-photo posts in Instagram feeds, but users can swipe left and right to see the other pictures. The new feature could also benefit advertisers who want more space to share their products. Instagram has been trying to encourage more posting on their platform in the past year.  Continue reading Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

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