New California Law to Require ‘Kill Switch’ on Smartphones

Starting in July of next year, all smartphones sold in California must have a “kill switch,” a software feature that allows smartphone owners to disable a phone after it has been stolen. The “kill switch” will make it more difficult for thieves to resell stolen phones because the phone can only be reactivated with the owner’s correct password. Smartphone manufacturers will be required to ship these phones with the anti-theft technology activated as part of the default settings. Continue reading New California Law to Require ‘Kill Switch’ on Smartphones

Onscreen Text Messages Appear in Chinese Movie Theaters

Select movie theaters in Chinese cities have begun experimenting with “bullet screens” (or “danmu”) — a new model in which audience members can comment on the film via text messages and have their impressions projected directly onto the screen. The experience is targeting young viewers who often have difficulty being away from their tablets and mobile phones. The experiment currently involves theaters in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, in addition to smaller cities such as Hangzhou. Continue reading Onscreen Text Messages Appear in Chinese Movie Theaters

Snapchat Mobile App Plans to Add News Content and Sell Ads

Snapchat, the mobile app that creates vanishing messages and currently touts 27 million users, may soon become a service for distributing television and movie clips, news videos and articles, and advertisements. According to people familiar with the matter, the startup has met with advertisers and media companies in recent weeks about a service to launch in November called Snapchat Discovery. At least a dozen newspapers, magazines and TV networks have reportedly discussed providing content. Continue reading Snapchat Mobile App Plans to Add News Content and Sell Ads

Bendable Displays Are Closer Than Ever to Hitting the Market

Samsung was one of the first companies to tempt consumers with the prototype of a bendable display at CES, but so far, Samsung and others have faced manufacturing challenges in bringing these displays to market. However, a California-based startup, Kateeva, has developed a new manufacturing process that it claims will save time, cut costs, and make bendable screens more durable. Another company, Canatu, has also developed technology to make bendable touch screens. Continue reading Bendable Displays Are Closer Than Ever to Hitting the Market

AT&T Expects to Begin Deployment of LTE Multicast in 2015

AT&T plans to make LTE Broadcast technology available sometime next year. Also known as LTE Multicast, the technology is based upon evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS), which allows for content to be sent to a large number of subscribers simultaneously, leading to a more efficient use of network resources. AT&T plans to use Qualcomm’s 700MHz D and E Block spectrum that it acquired in 2011. Content delivery is expected to change dramatically with the new service. Continue reading AT&T Expects to Begin Deployment of LTE Multicast in 2015

Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

ETCentric community member Lee Lanselle forwarded us news that Samsung has acquired SmartThings, maker of smart-home controllers, for around $200 million. While SmartThings will continue to operate independently under CEO Alex Hawkinson, its three facilities are expected to move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center (run by former Google and AOL exec David Eun). SmartThings, which is owned by Physical Graph Corp., began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. Continue reading Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

Intel Targets Tablets with its New 14-Nanometer Core M Chip

Intel released information about Intel Core M, a new chip production process based on the Broadwell design. These chips will be just 14-nanometers thin and will will target devices without a cooling fan (such as tablets) that are nine millimeters or less. Before the holiday selling season, Intel expects the first devices using the new chips will be available to the public. Intel Core M should combat struggles the company has had recently with placing their chips into tablets and smartphones. Continue reading Intel Targets Tablets with its New 14-Nanometer Core M Chip

Siri Creators Build a New Improved AI That Can Teach Itself

Viv Labs, a startup founded by three of the people who developed Siri for Apple, is currently working on an artificial intelligence technology that will truly be able to perform tasks at the sound of a voice command. Unlike Siri, the new AI named Viv will be able to teach itself to perform almost any function, not just the ones that are programmed. The AI will also get to know its user, recognize the services that the user prefers, and eventually know what the user needs before it is stated. Continue reading Siri Creators Build a New Improved AI That Can Teach Itself

Xbox One Updates Include Support for Multiple File Formats

At the Gamescom conference in Germany on Tuesday, Microsoft introduced several Xbox One console updates. First, a media player app is expected to allow users to load over 30 different file formats to the Xbox One via a device connected by USB. The company is also working with certain countries to provide facilitated and cheaper mainstream broadcast television content access. In addition, Microsoft plans to launch the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in October. Continue reading Xbox One Updates Include Support for Multiple File Formats

Snapchat Now Third Most Popular Social App with Millennials

According to comScore research, Snapchat is now the third most popular social app among the millennial demographic (18-34 year olds). With 32.9 percent penetration on mobile phones, Snapchat trails only Facebook and Instagram. Jumping from 12.1 percent back in November 2013, the app is now more popular with millennials than Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr. The shift is important considering that this age group is the most active of mobile social networkers. Continue reading Snapchat Now Third Most Popular Social App with Millennials

Women Lead Men in Time and Money Spent on Mobile Games

According to mobile analytics firm Flurry, female consumers are leading the charge in mobile gaming in terms of time, money and loyalty. Based on analysis of 1.1 million worldwide devices, Flurry concludes that mobile gaming currently represents 32 percent of the time people spend on their phones. Meanwhile, the report specifies that females spend 35 percent more time in gaming apps than males, make 31 percent more in-app purchases, and have 42 percent higher 7-day retention on average. Continue reading Women Lead Men in Time and Money Spent on Mobile Games

Tech Giants Tighten Security on Emails with Encryption Option

Last week, Yahoo joined Google and Microsoft in the effort to bring more privacy to users of their popular email services. The 110 million unique Yahoo email users will have the option to turn on an encrypted messaging feature. The feature relies on PGP encryption, which stores each user’s encryption key on their personal laptops and devices. Google also announced that encrypted websites will fare better in their search results due to a new feature in its ranking algorithm. Continue reading Tech Giants Tighten Security on Emails with Encryption Option

Instagram’s Audience Engagement is Triple That of Facebook

Social media shop Shareablee discovered that marketers are very active on Instagram, despite the fact that most cannot run ads on the photo- and video-sharing service yet. During the second quarter, Instagram had 56 percent more total actions than Facebook. While Instagram is four years old, and Facebook went live in 2004, it is not surprising that the brand activity is growing much faster on the mobile app. However, Instagram is also bringing in three times the engagement per post. Continue reading Instagram’s Audience Engagement is Triple That of Facebook

Newstag Slated to Launch Crowd-Curated Video News Service

Swedish startup Newstag has developed a compelling revenue-sharing approach that it hopes will solve the “broken economic model” of today’s news dissemination and consumption. Newstag plans to help professional news organizations, brands, NGOs and general consumers make money from news when it launches its service commercially in September. According to journalist and ETCentric contributor Adrian Pennington, the company recently announced $1.3 million in seed funding. Continue reading Newstag Slated to Launch Crowd-Curated Video News Service

Keep’s OneCart Service Makes Online Shopping Even Easier

New York-based startup Keep allows Internet shoppers to add any merchandise from across e-commerce sites to one unified shopping cart. Now, with the addition of the OneCart feature, users can add an item from any online store to the mobile app and check out with minimal effort. And rather than entering credit card and shipping information for every shopping site, Keep unifies the experience by allowing users to enter information just once to be used universally. Continue reading Keep’s OneCart Service Makes Online Shopping Even Easier

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