Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

In May, Instagram designers, engineers and product managers brainstormed ideas on how to make shopping work in the app. Now, six months later, they’re introducing the winning idea: Brands can tag products in their photos, much the way users tag friends. A single tap will reveal more information about the product, and another tap will send you to the retailer’s site to buy the product. After the launch, Instagram will gather data from how consumers use the new feature to improve it. Continue reading Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In its Q3 results, Alphabet revealed that, of its Other Bets initiatives, two Google projects — the cloud and artificial intelligence — have proven to be the most successful; both are on track to expand in the next year. Amazon is still the leader in cloud services, with a 55 percent gain representing $3.2 billion, and Microsoft is another major technology company rivaling Google. But Alphabet has made it clear that it is doubling down on both cloud and AI, even as it retreats from Google Fiber Internet and Nest connected-home tech. Continue reading Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

Despite announcing a better-than-expected Q3 earnings report with revenue of $616 million, up 8 percent year-over-year, Twitter confirmed that it plans to lay off 9 percent of its employees, reports Recode. In a blog post that surprised many, the company also announced that it would discontinue its Vine mobile app for sharing short videos. (The website will remain online so fans can watch the Vines already created.) Vine has recently experienced a mass exodus as influencers have transitioned to Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube. Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that Twitter could be up for sale sometime soon. Continue reading Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

Qualcomm Agrees to Buy NXP Semiconductors for $39 Billion

Qualcomm, known for its mobile processors and wireless modems, has agreed to purchase NXP Semiconductors for $39 billion. Including debt, the acquisition is valued at $47 billion, representing the largest semiconductor deal to date. The agreement exceeds the Avago Technologies $37 billion deal to buy Broadcom Corp. In terms of pure tech deals, the agreement lands behind only Dell’s $60 billion purchase of EMC. Dutch company NXP, formerly Philips Semiconductors, is a leader in the growing automotive-chip market, and Qualcomm wants to supply its chips for autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Qualcomm Agrees to Buy NXP Semiconductors for $39 Billion

For NBA Digital, the Television Set is Now the Second Screen

On the heels of NBA Digital’s announcement that it would stream one live game optimized for VR per week, on Tuesday, the NBA will introduce another feature: “Mobile View,” which offers a tighter zoom on the action for better viewing on phones and tablets. Games will be shot with different cameras to enable Mobile View, which will be available to subscribers of NBA League Pass, Team Pass, and even those who stream single games. Mobile View will be in preview for a week during League Pass’ trial period. Continue reading For NBA Digital, the Television Set is Now the Second Screen

DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Shortly after the Time Warner acquisition made headlines, AT&T announced that its streaming TV service, launching next month, will offer 100-plus channels for $35 per month. The company previously suggested that DirecTV Now would not undercut cable. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “Our goal is to drive prices down.” The move can also be seen as a way to generate support for the Time Warner deal. “Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers,” reports Wired. “Certainly, Internet television benefits consumers.” Continue reading DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

WiGig, a super-fast Wi-Fi standard, will appear next year in “marquee” smartphones and laptops certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Alliance, which is also certifying routers and other devices, says WiGig only works over a distance of about 33 feet (10 meters), meaning its use will be limited to devices within range of a WiGig router. But WiGig might be an ideal technology for virtual reality headsets, which currently need to be tethered to a PC or game console with thick cables, thus limiting movement in a VR experience. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

Facebook Makes Live Video Push, Instagram Also Goes Live

Facebook is now promoting Live — via advertising campaigns in the U.S. and U.K. on TV, Internet, billboards, and buses — as an ideal way for the ordinary user to show off a talent or express an opinion. Currently, Live streams, which have grown four-fold since May, have come from all seven continents and even outer space, and boasted three-times longer view times and ten-times the number of comments as ordinary videos. With increased Live content, Facebook competes with YouTube Live and Periscope. Meanwhile, Instagram is also getting into the game. Continue reading Facebook Makes Live Video Push, Instagram Also Goes Live

Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Nintendo just debuted Switch, a console/handheld hybrid that is the company’s next videogame platform. The system, which has been in development since March 2015 and will be available for sale March 2017, can be used for TV gaming or as a portable gaming system, depending on the configuration of its tablet-like device and dock. Minus the tablet, the system becomes portable, with mini joysticks that can be wireless or attached to the sides. Nintendo also says it will soon reveal titles, game demos, and prices. Continue reading Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Netgear Nighthawk Router Ideal for 4K Streaming, VR Gaming

Netgear is launching its $500 Nighthawk X10, which the company claims is the “world’s fastest router.” The X10 features quad-stream Wave 2 Wi-Fi architecture, a 10-gigabit port and a 1.7-gigahertz quad-core processor, the fastest processor found in a home router today. Intended for 4K video streaming, instant backup and VR gaming, the Nighthawk X10 Smart Wi-Fi Router can handle next-gen 802.11ad Wi-Fi and speeds up to 7.2 gigabits per second. “The Nighthawk X10 supports Plex Media Server with transcoding for smooth 4K streaming, even to remote devices,” reports VentureBeat. “It is also the industry’s first router to run Plex Media Server without the need for a computer.” Continue reading Netgear Nighthawk Router Ideal for 4K Streaming, VR Gaming

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Google to Divide its Index, Enabling Improved Mobile Searches

During a keynote address at Pubcon in Las Vegas last week, Google’s Gary Illyes explained that the company is planning to create a separate mobile index soon that will serve as the primary index the engine uses for responding to search queries. There will also be a separate, less up-to-date desktop index maintained. The plan was first announced at last year’s SMX East. “It’s unclear exactly how the mobile index will work,” reports Search Engine Land. “For example, since the mobile index is the ‘primary’ index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain ‘mobile-friendly’ content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be?” Continue reading Google to Divide its Index, Enabling Improved Mobile Searches

In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC reinstated the $119.6 million that a San Jose, California jury awarded Apple against Samsung. The recent ruling was 8-3, representing a full slate of judges, unlike the previous three-judge panel that, this last February, overturned the original verdict. The judges in the latest ruling stated that that panel examined evidence outside the record of the case, contrary to U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of review. Continue reading In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

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