HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

After sourcing its GPUs from Imagination Technologies for years, Apple has decided to design its own GPU technology. With half of its revenue from Apple, Imagination Technologies stock has tanked as a result. GPUs, graphics processing units, are the workhorses for just about everything that Apple wants its smartphones and other devices to do, including machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, Siri and high resolution gaming. The GPU gets its power from its ability to multitask, processing in parallel. Continue reading Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Facebook has opened up live streaming 360-degree video for anyone with the professional equipment necessary to capture content — and users of devices such as the latest Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano ($200, for iPhone) or Insta360 Air ($130, for Android). According to TechCrunch, “Facebook’s live-streaming video tech” now provides “1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours.” The Live 360 broadcasts “aren’t yet embeddable on other sites” and “can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast” yet. And while some cameras already support live broadcasting via YouTube and Periscope, “Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion.” Continue reading Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Google Unveils Next-Gen Android O, Featuring Battery Savings

Google unveiled the first developer preview of its next-generation mobile operating system, Android O, a year after its first preview of Android Nougat. Unlike the Android N version, which was available to all comers, Google is not making the O preview available in the Android Beta channel. For Android O, only developers who own a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL or Pixel C device (or want to use the emulator) will be able to manually download and flash their devices. Among the new features, background limits are expected to conserve battery life. Continue reading Google Unveils Next-Gen Android O, Featuring Battery Savings

Survey Finds Binge-Watching by Younger Viewers on Upswing

Deloitte’s 11th annual “Digital Democracy Survey” found that 73 percent of U.S. consumers have binge-watched video, up from 68 percent two years ago. Binge-watching TV is more common with younger audiences — 90 percent of millennials (ages 20-33) and 87 percent of Gen Z (ages 14-19) — who are increasingly watching on mobile devices. While televisions are losing popularity among younger audiences for marathon-viewing, older demographics — 60 percent of Gen X (ages 34-50) and 80 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) — still prefer TV. Nearly 40 percent of younger viewers binge-watch TV on a weekly basis, averaging about five hours of content per session. Continue reading Survey Finds Binge-Watching by Younger Viewers on Upswing

Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality, believing that the nascent sector can be as game changing as smartphones were ten years ago. Sources say that Apple is following through by building a team of hardware and software experts, with the idea of dominating augmented reality as it comes to the fore. The same sources report that Apple’s AR team, run by former Dolby Laboratories executive Mike Rockwell, includes engineers that worked on Oculus and HoloLens headsets as well as top Hollywood VFX experts. Continue reading Apple Makes Major Play in Augmented Reality, First for iPhone

The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors in a chip doubles approximately every two years, is sputtering to an end. As a result, an increasing number of companies are relying on specialized computing, which transforms software tasks into silicon chips rather than relying on CPUs. This key technology is behind two recent developments: Intel’s acquisition of Israeli startup Mobileye, which produces chips and software for autonomous vehicles, and Nvidia’s latest iteration of a system to speed up machine learning. Continue reading The Rise of Specialized Computing and New Era of Chip Design

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

A new report suggests that the commercial Internet now represents 6 percent of our gross domestic product. “The ad-supported Internet contributed about $1.121 trillion to the U.S. economy last year and is responsible for more than 10 million jobs across all 50 states, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The study found that the number of jobs created by the Internet more than doubled from 2012 to 2016, largely spurred by the rapid adoption of mobile devices, the transition to e-commerce, and the growth of a new gig economy. In regards to size and scope, “About 86 percent of the ad-supported Internet economy falls outside of New York City, San Francisco, Boston, the Washington, DC area, and Seattle.” Continue reading Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

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

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

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