Fox Sports Plans to Air Six-Second Ads During NFL Games

Short video ads are common on Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube and other online platforms, whereas 15-second and 30-second ads dominate on broadcast TV. Fox Sports is now bringing the six-second TV commercial to NFL games and other programming. After testing it during its August broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards, Fox now hopes to make the six-second ad an industry standard. The reason is that the younger demographic, more accustomed to abbreviated video ads on social media, is pushing back against broadcast TV’s long ad breaks. Continue reading Fox Sports Plans to Air Six-Second Ads During NFL Games

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

In June, the European Union fined Google €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) over the practice of favoring its own services through Google Search results. Now, the tech behemoth has said it has complied, submitting details of how it will end its anti-competitive practices. The European Commission gave Google until September 28 to stop the practices, after which the company would be fined as much as 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover, estimated at about $12 million per day, based on its 2016 turnover of $90.3 billion. Continue reading Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Google just released ARCore, software to enable developers to more easily create augmented reality apps. The company took its first step into augmented reality in 2014, when it introduced Tango, its 3D mapping system. But it had a hard time getting Android phone makers to make the necessary hardware upgrades to foster widespread AR adoption. Google now hopes that, rather than expensive hardware upgrades, developers will be more enticed by its software solution for allowing apps and sites to track physical objects and overlay them with virtual images. Continue reading Google Debuts Software Tools for AR App, Web Developers

Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

Neurable, a Boston-based startup founded by engineer/neuroscientist Ramses Alcaide, is showing a prototype of a game, with the working title “Awakening,” that allows users to break out of a virtual room by issuing mental commands. The prototype, said to be a few years away from commercial introduction, includes an HTC virtual reality headset and seven sensors that read brainwaves. The user selects objects by looking in the general direction of the object she wishes to select, thus narrowing the number of items to be considered. Continue reading Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Fashion-centric publication W Magazine, in partnership with visual effects house The Mill, features augmented reality in its September 2017 Collector’s Issue. With Katy Perry on the cover, the issue appears to be an ordinary magazine, but if a user views it through a smartphone or tablet lens, he will see various augmented reality images. The viewer must first install W Magazine’s new companion app, Beyond the Page, available for iOS and Android, that activates the AR imagery in the issue. Continue reading W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Facebook is ramping up its social VR efforts through live video streaming. “Users of Facebook Spaces, the social hangout in virtual reality that the company launched earlier this year, can now broadcast via Facebook Live,” reports Variety. “The new feature essentially allows Spaces users to host a kind of virtual reality talk show, and stream it to all of their followers, even if those audiences are tuning in with a mobile phone or a desktop browser.” Slate will be the first to use the new feature to produce a weekly live show. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Digital Cinema Camera Maker RED to Release VR/AR Phone

Camera manufacturer RED Digital Cinema plans to release a smartphone, dubbed Hydrogen One, that the company is calling “the world’s first holographic media machine.” Due to ship in the first quarter of 2018, Hydrogen has been introduced with a limited number of specifications. RED is marketing the camera as ready for virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, with a 5.7-inch “professional holographic display” featuring nanotechnology that switches between 2D, 3D and holographic content. Continue reading Digital Cinema Camera Maker RED to Release VR/AR Phone

Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

Netflix plans to support Dolby Atmos surround sound, adding a premium spatial audio format to its existing 4K and HDR technology for images. Dolby Atmos, which debuted in 2012, is not only featured in movie theaters around the world but has been adopted by home theater systems from Denon, Pioneer and others. Microsoft now supports Dolby Atmos with the Xbox One, as do many manufacturers of sound bars and headphones. Hundreds of 2016 LG OLED TV owners are also now clamoring for Dolby Atmos support. Continue reading Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

Veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg has been writing a weekly personal technology column since 1991, first at The Wall Street Journal, and then at The Verge (for which he serves as executive editor) and Recode (where he is co-founder and editor-at-large). As he retires his weekly column, Mossberg takes one more look at how consumer tech has evolved over the last three decades, “and what we can expect next.” Specifically, he addresses “The Disappearing Computer” as we enter a new world of ambient computing, in which personal computers start to fade into the background. Continue reading Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

In the latest quarter, Apple’s profit and revenue have ticked upward, but the company is experiencing problems with its iPhone, whose sales dropped 1 percent from the previous year to 50.8 million phones. The dip in sales is attributed to customers waiting for the 10-year anniversary phone, due in the fall, and weakness in China. Despite the slump, sales of the iPhone 7 were somewhat strong, pushing total revenue up 4.6 percent to $52.90 billion. In contrast to the iPhone, Apple Pay transactions and Apple Watch sales soared. Continue reading Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

MasterCard just added its digital wallet MasterPass to Facebook Messenger, which will let consumers easily place online orders on the service. MasterPass is already available with FreshDirect and Subway, but is in its early stages of rollout. In related news, PayPal Holdings, which last year said would unveil its payment services on Facebook Messenger, will now unveil it on Alphabet’s Android Pay. Visa and MasterCard are also focused on expanding the consumer and merchant use of their digital wallets. Continue reading MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Samsung Galaxy S8, arriving in stores April 21, sports a high-tech look, featuring a screen that goes from edge to edge, with just a hint of metal at the top and bottom. The screen measures 5.8-inches, compared to the S7’s 5.1-inch. The smartphone’s virtual assistant Bixby offers voice control, and Samsung is positioning the phone as capable of doubling as a desktop computer. That’s a lot of phone, but it’s got a price to match, at $720 at Verizon and starting at $750 for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Continue reading Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Qualcomm is rolling out its 205 Mobile Platform, designed for basic feature phones that will operate on faster 4G networks. Aimed at consumers in markets such as India, Latin America and Southeast Asia who cannot afford higher-end smartphones, the platform includes the Qualcomm 205 SoC in addition to feature phone hardware components and software, and offers longer battery life and faster access to social media and other content. Unlike feature phones for 2G and 3G networks, usually priced between $15 and $50, feature phones with Qualcomm’s new chip will cost about $50. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

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