Facebook Debuts Real-World AR Effects Tied to New Movies

Facebook has confirmed that it is currently testing an augmented reality camera that goes beyond its earlier functions (and limitations) of selfie masks and inserting 3D objects into locations. Beta users can now test the use of real-world location markers that set off augmented reality experiences right where they stand. The closed beta includes promotions tied to the films “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Ready Player One,” and near future plans include adding tracker-based AR to its AR Studio tool that will be open to all developers.

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Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Google has started a project to convince the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary international standards organization for the web, to adopt technology that is the foundation of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). With AMP, webpages enjoy almost immediate loading, distribution on multiple platforms and better visibility on Google and its many properties. Google created AMP to make web pages as fast as the kinds of “instant articles” found on Apple News and Facebook, where pages are pre-loaded in the app. With AMP, however, Google wants to apply those benefits to the entire web. Continue reading Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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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.

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Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Apple Requires Developer Support for its Super Retina Display

Apple developers just got an important notice from the company: beginning April 1, it will require all iPhone/universal apps to natively support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display, all new iOS apps to be built with iOS 11 SDK or later, and new Apple Watch apps to be built with watchOS 4 SDK or later. Apple has issued similar notices in the past to developers regarding requirements, such as for larger iPhone screen sizes. This latest prerequisite comes six months after the debut of the iPhone X. Continue reading Apple Requires Developer Support for its Super Retina Display

Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

As part of Facebook’s broader news strategy, company exec Campbell Brown announced at the Code Media conference that the social platform plans to introduce a breaking news feature to its video streaming platform Facebook Watch. The company launched Watch in August to compete in the original video space across mobile, TV apps and desktop. Content partners earn 55 percent of ad revenue and Facebook gets 45 percent. Watch is different than Facebook’s video tab in that it offers exclusive content, personalized recommendations, subscription options and more. Continue reading Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

For 5G to take off, manufacturers have to produce devices that integrate the technology. To that end, Qualcomm has partnered with 19 device makers, all of which will be relying on the chipmaker’s new Snapdragon X50 5G-compatible modem in at least one of their devices. Qualcomm has inked additional partnerships with global carriers, which will also be using the X50 modem for their 5G trials. All four major U.S. networks will begin their rollout of 5G networks by the end of this year, with full nationwide coverage by 2020. Continue reading Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Intel’s Vaunt smart glasses look like ordinary eyeglasses. Unlike past smart glasses, with cameras, LCD screens and other paraphernalia that draw attention, Vaunt is designed to be incognito when the wearer is in public. The “smart” factor means that the user sees a stream of information projected onto her retina. The glasses, which come in several styles, also work with prescriptions. That fulfills the goal of the Intel Vaunt team, which aimed to create a pair of smart glasses comfortable enough to wear all day. Continue reading Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Growth in Number of Twitch Partners, Affiliates Earning Money

Amazon-owned Twitch revealed new metrics regarding its popular game streaming service, including more than 2 million monthly streamers and 15 million daily visitors, an increase in Partners who profit from their Twitch videos (27,000), and the number of its Affiliate streamers (150,000). While the total number of Twitch’s creator community held steady in 2017, the increase in number of people making money on the platform is compelling, even as it faces new competition from YouTube Gaming. Continue reading Growth in Number of Twitch Partners, Affiliates Earning Money

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

In what it calls its “best and final” offer, Broadcom raised its takeover bid yesterday for chipmaker Qualcomm from about $70 a share to $82 a share, or about $121 billion. The new offer comes a month before Qualcomm’s next shareholder meeting. A takeover would result in a company whose products would be used in most smartphones worldwide. However, “Qualcomm’s leadership fiercely opposes” the acquisition, reports The New York Times, “while analysts have said that even if shareholders approved the deal, it could be rejected on antitrust grounds.” Continue reading Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple recorded glowing quarterly financial results for Q4 2017, for a combined market value of over $2 trillion. Apple’s revenue rose 13 percent to $88.29 billion, in part due to the iPhone X. Alphabet marked its 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth of 20 percent or more, and a 38 percent increase in revenue to $60.5 billion, with $1 billion per quarter profit in cloud computing. Amazon built beyond its core market, with the largest cloud-computing business, a Hollywood studio and the purchase of Whole Foods. Continue reading Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

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