Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

According to research from UserTesting, the personalized viewing recommendations offered by video streaming services are failing to gain traction with most consumers. While results varied across services, only 29 percent of participants indicated that they watch content recommended to them. In addition to relevant recommendations, the study rated services based on metrics such as speed, availability of content, episode scanning, and overall ease-of-use. With a total score of 89.5, Netflix led the field, followed by Hulu (86.8), Amazon Prime (85) and YouTube TV (80.7). Continue reading Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

RED Debuts Android Smartphone That Creates 4D Holograms

RED, the company known for its 4K Epic and Weapon film/TV cameras, just debuted a smartphone, the RED Hydrogen One, which will be offered by AT&T and Verizon. The Android phone, which has a 5.7-inch display, is, says the company, “the foundation of a future multi-dimensional media system.” The phone can connect to RED’s other cameras via pogo pins and, in the future, to lens mounts and other modules. RED’s first such module will be a DSLR-similar camera sensor. The phone also produces holographic images. Continue reading RED Debuts Android Smartphone That Creates 4D Holograms

Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

Hulu will soon debut upgraded iOS and Android mobile apps with a new live TV program guide and a vertical video player that will let live TV viewers stream linear programming while browsing the channel guide. The streaming service’s iPhone and iPad apps will also get support for HDMI-out and Android apps will enjoy improved performance on Chromecast. Users will also be able to improve personal recommendations by deleting entries from watch history and removing certain kinds of programs. Continue reading Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Less than a month ago, the U.S. Commerce Department sanctioned U.S. firms from supplying components to Chinese firm ZTE, claiming that the telecom equipment company had violated terms of a settlement regarding sales to Iran and North Korea. By last week, ZTE had closed its operations and, now, in a surprise intervention, President Donald Trump is stepping in to prevent ZTE’s bankruptcy, tweeting that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping. ZTE had made a request for a stay of the sanctions order, and the Commerce Department is reviewing it. Continue reading U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Chinese telecom equipment and systems company ZTE, which has about $17 billion in annual revenue, has ceased “major operating activities” in the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on it using U.S.-made components for the next seven years. Trading in its shares has been suspended for weeks, and its workers in the Shenzhen factory have little to do but attend occasional training sessions. New guidelines tell its staff to reassure clients, but not discuss the details of the U.S. technology the company is currently banned from using. Continue reading ZTE Ceases Main Operations in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

MoviePass Revives Unlimited Plan, Will Offer IMAX, 3D Movies

MoviePass just brought back its unlimited subscription plan launched last August that allows users to see a movie a day for $10 per month. Better yet, chief executive Mitch Lowe declared the company is “absolutely committed” to keeping the plan in place. Two weeks ago, MoviePass limited subscribers to four movies per month. The company has previously experimented with removing subscriber access to some AMC Theatres in major cities and even specific movies, all of which were temporary moves. Continue reading MoviePass Revives Unlimited Plan, Will Offer IMAX, 3D Movies

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

Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

Apple is developing a wireless headset for augmented reality and virtual reality, a project code-named T288 and slated for release in 2020, says a source. Specs for the untethered headset include 8K-resolution for each eye and high-speed, short-range wireless technology connecting the headset to an Apple processor-powered “brain.” Chief executive Tim Cook has indicated his strong interest in AR, most recently pushing it in iPhones and iPads. The box currently looks like a PC tower, but reportedly won’t be a Mac computer. Continue reading Apple Developing Wireless AR/VR Headset With Its Own Chips

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Walmart is negotiating to acquire a majority stake in Flipkart, India’s leading e-retailer; sources say the deal could “be announced soon” although “exact terms are not yet final and the talks are fluid.” Flipkart would be valued at $20 billion, according to two of the sources, and Walmart hopes to purchase at least a 60 percent stake in the company. Although buying a majority stake in Flipkart would open up a vast new market for Walmart, which is in heated competition with Amazon, some analysts say the move is risky. Continue reading Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Huawei P20 Pro: Triple Camera System Gets Strong Reviews

Huawei’s new P20 Pro, which features an AI-powered Leica triple camera system, has been ranked as one of 2018’s best Android phones. The new smartphone is also stylish, with the option of a Twilight glossy blue/purple finish. The 6.1-inch OLED screen offers an aspect ratio of 18.7:9 (it’s a little more than twice as tall as it is wide) and 2240×1080 resolution. But nobody in the U.S. will be able to buy the P20 Pro anytime soon, since AT&T pulled out of the partnership due to FCC concerns over potential spyware. Continue reading Huawei P20 Pro: Triple Camera System Gets Strong Reviews

Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Spotify is offering more free music in an effort to ultimately increase its number of paid subscribers. The popular streaming service has introduced an updated version of its free mobile app that offers non-paying users more on-demand tracks from 15 pre-populated playlists. Some of the playlists — such as “Discover Weekly” — are personalized for individual users. Spotify, already the world’s largest paid music service (and now a public company), is expanding its freemium model with the goal of one day reaching billions of users, while maintaining its lead over #2 subscription service Apple Music and other competitors. Continue reading Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

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