Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Samsung’s digital voice assistant Bixby just arrived on millions of the company’s Galaxy S8 phones. According to Samsung head of mobile software R&D Injong Rhee, the inspiration for Bixby was super-hero Tony Stark (“Iron Man”), who only needs to voice orders to activate all kinds of systems. Similar to Stark, Samsung wants to use Bixby to activate all kinds of devices, from dishwashers to TVs. While Bixby cannot control all apps yet and, like other digital assistants has some limitations, early reviews suggest it excels at function-based commands. Continue reading Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Google Looks to Personalize Music with New Release Radio

Google just announced that New Release Radio is now opened up to all users. The new feature uses machine learning to analyze the user’s taste in music and then suggests new music based on those tastes. The feature will introduce both albums and singles that have debuted in the last two weeks; Google promotes it as “a really quick way to check out all-new music that’s tailored just for you.” Samsung Galaxy S8 users have had early access to New Release Radio since June, as a result of Google’s global partnership with the electronics giant. Continue reading Google Looks to Personalize Music with New Release Radio

Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

For consumers with an HDR-compatible TV and Chromecast Ultra, Google Play Movies & TV has introduced support for high dynamic range video. A number of video services now support HDR in order to provide richer colors and improved contrast, even though the tech has not made its way to many living rooms yet. While top services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube offer HDR video, viewers still need an HDR-ready TV from companies including Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vizio. “People don’t upgrade their television as often as they do other technologies, like smartphones,” notes TechCrunch, “which means broad adoption of HDR in the living room could take years.” Continue reading Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

In an effort to help consumers better understand the benefits of Apple HomeKit products, Apple has installed interactive smart-home displays in 46 of its retail locations worldwide. Apple customers can use the Home mobile app via an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to perform functions such as turning on Philips Hue light bulbs and controlling Hunter ceiling fan speeds. Apple’s Home app allows users to control HomeKit-enabled smart devices from a single location (or even collectively with a single command) by tapping the screen or interacting with virtual assistant Siri. Continue reading Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

Intel to Sponsor Olympics, Showcase VR, AI and Drone Tech

Intel has inked a partnership with the International Olympic Committee through 2024 to showcase its virtual reality, 360-degree video, artificial intelligence and drone technologies. Intel has already been using its VR and other technologies for baseball, basketball and football games, and the deal could help heighten its profile in sports. An internal group started exploring deals last fall. Because TV ratings for the Olympics have been falling, a technology sponsor could help the Games reach a younger demographic. Continue reading Intel to Sponsor Olympics, Showcase VR, AI and Drone Tech

IBM Aims to Power IoT, AI, VR With New 5-Nanometer Chip

IBM Research, GlobalFoundries and Samsung partnered to create transistors for a 5-nanometer semiconductor chip, expected to enable chips with 30 billion transistors. Researchers say the technical achievement should enable the $330 billion chip industry to keep up with Moore’s Law, the 1965 statement by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits would double about every two years. Three years ago, IBM vowed to invest $3 billion over five years in chip R&D. Continue reading IBM Aims to Power IoT, AI, VR With New 5-Nanometer Chip

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

Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Under a three-year deal with Major League Baseball, Intel plans to live-stream one free out-of-market game each Tuesday in virtual reality. Starting next week, the games, on-demand replays and post-game highlights will be made available via the Intel True VR app on Samsung Gear VR headsets. The “Intel True VR Game of the Week” will provide baseball fans with the option of viewing a produced VR broadcast or selecting angles from up to four cameras. The experience will also feature exclusive commentary and live player and team stats. Continue reading Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin has introduced his Essential Phone that he says can be dropped onto concrete without breaking. The new smartphone, which will run on Android software, has magnetic connectors for a 360-degree camera or charger. Priced at $699 and available only in the U.S., Essential Phone will come without preinstalled apps or a need for yearly updates. Rubin also unveiled Essential Home, a voice-activated device that controls appliances. Both products are part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

Samsung is looking to expand virtual reality applications beyond gaming to the world of broader entertainment and, hopefully, mainstream adoption. A few months after unveiling its updated Gear VR headset, the company announced plans for live VR broadcasts from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the X Games and Live Nation. Samsung will debut VR Live Pass by broadcasting the UFC Featherweight Championship bout between José Aldo and Max Holloway on June 3 from Rio de Janeiro. VR Live Pass will then offer the X Games from Minneapolis July 13–16 and a major concert performance from Live Nation in August. Continue reading Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

According to new research figures, TV still holds the top spot in tech devices. The Consumer Technology Association reports that 96 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television, while 80 percent have a smartphone. However, the total number of TV sets — 308 million — was down 3 percent, while the number of homes with smartphones jumped six percent over the previous year. DVD/Blu-ray players dropped 7 percentage points and relinquished the No. 2 spot to smartphones. Not surprisingly, the majority of most popular tech devices are products that feature screens. Meanwhile, ABI Research predicts that HDR TV shipments will reach 245 million units in 2022. Continue reading TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court tightened rules on where patent lawsuits may be filed. The consequences, say the experts, will make it much more difficult for patent trolls to seek out friendly courts that are likely to rule in their favor. Patent trolls are companies that buy patents solely to demand royalties and sue for damages. Currently, more than 40 percent of all patent lawsuits are filed in a federal court in East Texas, with a single judge there overseeing 25 percent of all nationwide patent cases. Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

On its official Xfinity Mobile website, Comcast is now allowing its Xfinity Internet customers to sign up for the service at a discounted rate of $45 per month. The regular price will be $65 per month for unlimited mobile service. Xfinity Mobile was unveiled in April and will roll out to stores over the coming months throughout Comcast’s current markets. The service runs on top of Verizon’s network, but access to Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots means users will automatically be switched over to Wi-Fi when available. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

Google is demonstrating an Android-powered touchscreen car console and infotainment system, offering Google Maps and Spotify as well as controlling seat positioning and temperature. For the first time, Google Assistant is integrated in the system, allowing users to ask for directions and make phone calls. The Android operating system will be demonstrated running on the Audi Q8 and Volvo V90 SUVs at this week’s Google I/O developers conference. Earlier this year, Google showed the software on a Chrysler vehicle. Continue reading Google Demos Android-Powered Vehicle Infotainment System

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