Thalmic Labs Changes Name to North, Unveils Smart Glasses

Canadian wearables startup Thalmic Labs, which has rebranded itself as North, unveiled its second product — holographic smart glasses dubbed Focals. The wearable features lenses with a built-in display that shows the user messages, weather forecasts, directions and more information from the smartphone, and allows the user to call on Alexa to order an Uber and get calendar notifications among other tasks. Two years ago, North raised $120 million from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Intel Capital and Fidelity Investments Canada. Continue reading Thalmic Labs Changes Name to North, Unveils Smart Glasses

Google, Yubico Security Keys May Lead to End of Passwords

Swedish-based Yubico, in business for 10 years, debuted its latest online security product, YubiKey 5, a device that plugs into a computer to authenticate the user with a “handshake” that is more secure than a password or authentication code. Google has come out with a similar device, the Titan Key. Both devices can also be used with some smartphones, by plugging into a port or via a wireless communication. These keys are the first arrivals in an Internet security strategy that might displace the password. Continue reading Google, Yubico Security Keys May Lead to End of Passwords

Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Although its first experiences with HTML5 were just short of disastrous, Facebook is now using it again to expand Instant Games to developing countries via Facebook Lite and to interest communities via Facebook Groups. Because smartphone processing power and mobile browser app technology have improved, HTML5 is now able to support more complicated games, and Instant Games can launch in a mobile browser or directly into Groups. Currently, 90 million people take part in 270,000 Facebook Groups about gaming each month. Continue reading Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

In an effort to become more of a personal shopping assistant, Pinterest has introduced product recommendations with its new Product Pin system based on an individual’s tastes. It has also launched a shopping shortcut in the main home feed that provides easy access to a shopping-specific feed and list of shoppable Product Pins by holding down a Home or Style pin to access a shopping tag icon. Pinterest previously rolled out Buyable Pins for direct purchases through the platform in addition to other recommendation features such as Shop the Look and Lens that use machine learning and visual search. Continue reading Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

Industry Report Predicts Video, Then Games to Dominate 5G

Intel and Ovum released a report outlining predictions on the growth of 5G over the next ten years, highlighting that 90 percent of 5G data will be used for video, peaking in 2028. Virtual reality and augmented reality, however, will gradually grow, displacing video as the source of 90 percent of 5G. Intel is the most bullish on gaming, predicting that, “gaming will be at the forefront of 5G-led innovations.” Ovum noted that use of 5G bandwidth by video will increase due to improved resolution among other factors. Continue reading Industry Report Predicts Video, Then Games to Dominate 5G

Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Facebook introduced its Fb.gg online gaming hub this summer, created to draw game streamers and their followers away from rival sites such as Amazon-owned Twitch. The hub — featuring videos based on games and streaming celebs that Facebook users follow, as well as Liked Pages and Groups — is going mobile with an Android launch, now in its beta testing stage. The Android version is expected to provide gamers who stream via Facebook Live a more prominent landing page for improved discovery. Continue reading Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Mobile Video Service ‘Quibi’ Is Scheduled to Launch in 2019

At Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman revealed that the name of their new mobile video startup will be Quibi (short for “quick bites”). The subscription service, originally known as NewTV, is scheduled to launch next year. Producer Jason Blum and filmmakers including Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro and Antoine Fuqua are among those slated to create content for the new venture. “These people are so excited about doing something new. They want to be the pioneers. They want to be able to show the path in doing this,” said Katzenberg. “We are going to do be able to do extraordinary storytelling.” Continue reading Mobile Video Service ‘Quibi’ Is Scheduled to Launch in 2019

Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google debuted its third iteration of Pixel smartphones to rival high-end Apple and Samsung phones. The company also introduced a smart speaker with built-in display and a hybrid laptop/tablet. Although the hardware devices showcase Google’s chops in AI and image processing, they haven’t moved the needle on the company’s sales or market share; its most popular hardware product is a wireless router. Google also unveiled Duplex, a human-sounding bot to be available on Pixel smartphones by the end of 2018 in a few U.S. cities. Continue reading Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

As the number of options for watching great content has grown, the ability to search and find that content has lagged behind. An ideal TV guide, from a single remote control (or smartphone), would offer search, sorting and personalization, and suggest the next program we might want to watch. One such possibility is the $100 Caavo Control Center, which enables up to four devices to be plugged in to a single remote control. A second is the Reelgood smartphone-based streaming guide that tracks over 50 streaming services. Continue reading Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

FCC Plan Could Allocate Airwaves for the Deployment of 5G

Later this month, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal to free up underused airwaves now used by broadcasters, telecom companies and utilities, to help jumpstart the deployment of 5G wireless technology. According to an FCC official, the proposal would help ease traffic on licensed spectrum typically used by Verizon, AT&T and other big carriers, and encourage more unlicensed radio traffic. The result would improve download speeds for next-gen Wi-Fi devices and aid wireless Internet service providers. Continue reading FCC Plan Could Allocate Airwaves for the Deployment of 5G

Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

One week following the sudden departure of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, it was announced that the new “Head of Instagram” will be Adam Mosseri, the company’s current VP of product — and a former senior exec at Facebook where he was responsible for managing the platform’s News Feed. Systrom and Krieger resigned unexpectedly six years after selling Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion. The co-founders were reportedly frustrated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increased control over the popular photo- and video-sharing service. Continue reading Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

Pew Research Reveals Plateau in Broadband, Social Media

A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that the number of Americans who go online, use social media or own a smartphone/tablet has been stable since 2016. This plateau comes after many years of rapid growth. Pew Research also found significant numbers of non-users of these technologies, who are stymied by financial hardship, living in a rural area without services or disabilities that prevent full use of devices. An increasing number of users, however, are embracing smart TVs and wearable devices. Continue reading Pew Research Reveals Plateau in Broadband, Social Media

Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

In California Supreme Court in San Diego this week, Qualcomm charged Apple with stealing computer source code, software development tools and log files of data about its products’ performance and giving it to Intel, with the goal of reducing its need for Qualcomm chips. The two tech behemoths have been involved in a legal battle since last year, when Qualcomm accused Apple of a “multiyear campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct to steal Qualcomm’s information and trade secrets” to help Intel. Continue reading Qualcomm Alleges Apple Shared Trade Secrets to Help Intel

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