Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

As Google opened its annual developer conference I/O, the company debuted Android Things, a version of its operating system for smart devices, offering SDKs to hardware and software developers. According to Google product management director Venkat Rapaka, with Android Things, such devices can now be built “faster, cheaper and more secure.” Android Things will also provide a consistent interface for users. Until its formal debut, Android Things had been in beta, with several partners already developing IoT products. Continue reading Google Moves Android Things for Smart Devices Out of Beta

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi plans to launch its IPO in Hong Kong in what is anticipated to be the world’s biggest IPO in 2018. The filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange did not reveal the size or projected valuation of the offering, but sources say the company hopes to raise at least $10 billion. A source also reported that the listing will value the company at “less than the $100 billion figure previously suggested.” Xiaomi’s filing also uncovered some financial details for the first time. Continue reading Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Supreme Court Ruling Confirms Internal U.S. Patent Reviews

In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an inter partes review (IPR) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not violate a defendant’s constitutional right to have a case determined by a federal court and jury. Congress created the process in 2011 to handle the large number of flimsy patent applications. The Houston-based Oil States International brought the case; pharmaceutical companies also called the IPR process “a threat to innovation.” Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch were the dissenting votes. Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Confirms Internal U.S. Patent Reviews

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

For the first time, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed the number of Amazon Prime subscribers: 100 million people. In 2015, the company last hinted about the number, saying there were “tens of millions” of Prime members. With this revelation, Bezos is letting shareholders know that Prime is healthy, and that the large number of subscribers will allow the company to continue to invest in technology and thrive. Bezos also recently announced that Amazon is teaming with Best Buy to sell Amazon Fire TV-powered sets. Continue reading Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

The FCC voted unanimously to push forward a new rule that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from buying gear from “suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security.” A second vote will make the rule final. The rule is aimed at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The day previous to the vote, the government blocked ZTE from using U.S.-made components, saying it “failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Continue reading FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

For a more cost-effective way to reach viewers, YouTube introduced a skippable option for ads called TrueView for Reach, priced on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis. With the company’s standard TrueView ads — which Google recommends to be at least 12-seconds long — advertisers pay only if a viewer watches to the end or clicks on an element in the in-stream content. The new format works ideally with 10- to 15-second spots, and YouTube touts TrueView for Reach as helping advertisers reach a “broad set of customers” and achieve 95 percent viewability rates. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

Household Brands Are Competing to Put Tech in Your Kitchen

Brands like Whirlpool, Samsung and Bosch are in a race with tech companies like Google and Amazon to get into your kitchen, a room often considered the heart of a home. According to The New York Times, the goal is to get “Internet-connected appliances and cooking gadgets” like “refrigerators embedded with touchscreens, smart dishwashers and connected countertop screens with artificially intelligent assistants that react to spoken commands” into your home first as the promise of the connected smart home comes closer to reality. But these things remain a hard sell with consumers.

Continue reading Household Brands Are Competing to Put Tech in Your Kitchen

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

Continue reading CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Revealed: For First Time, Apple Developing Its Own Screens

With the promise of making devices brighter, thinner and less demanding of battery power, MicroLED displays use different compounds than today’s widely used OLED displays. According to sources familiar with the situation, Apple is currently developing its own MicroLED displays, in secret, at a manufacturing facility near its headquarters in California. The company is producing only small numbers of the displays for testing, and it marks the first time Apple has developed its own screens.

Continue reading Revealed: For First Time, Apple Developing Its Own Screens

Mobile Gaming Tops PCs and Consoles to Take Market Lead

Prior to 2014, home game consoles and PCs ruled the gaming roost, but since then, mobile gaming has gained steady ground. New 2017 numbers indicate that mobile gaming’s market lead is widening, with users spending 2.3 times more on mobile than on PC and Mac games and spending 3.6 more than on home game consoles, according to an annual report released from App Annie and IDC. In total, mobile games generated $70 billion in 2017; Mac games generated $34 billion and game consoles generated $22 billion.

Continue reading Mobile Gaming Tops PCs and Consoles to Take Market Lead

Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Continue reading Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

U.S., China Grapple Over Dominance in Critical Technologies

The U.S. and China are locked in a battle over technology, which went public over Singapore-based Broadcom’s hostile bid to buy the U.S.-based Qualcomm. Should Broadcom succeed, it will make that company a major influence in computer chip development. But a U.S. Treasury official, in calling for a review of the deal, wrote that, “China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm.” Under president Xi Jinping, China has made no secret of its plan to dominate tech industries including artificial intelligence and supercomputers. Continue reading U.S., China Grapple Over Dominance in Critical Technologies

Review Praises Camera Functionality of Samsung Galaxy S9+

With a few weeks to go until the release of Samsung’s latest high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S9+, its camera just earned the top spot on DxOMark (a site that tracks and rates camera sensors, lenses and smartphone cameras). The S9+ received a score of 99 — the highest for any handset to date — with a review indicating the camera has no “obvious weaknesses.” The score is one better than the Pixel 2’s camera and two better than the iPhone X camera. The biggest addition to the S9+ camera is a dual-aperture for low light shots and a zoom lens.

Continue reading Review Praises Camera Functionality of Samsung Galaxy S9+

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