Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Netflix’s new “Smart Downloads” tool helps mobile viewers manage their content storage by automatically deleting TV show episodes after they have been viewed and then replacing them with upcoming episodes in the queue. The company introduced offline viewing of certain movies and TV shows in 2016 based on subscriber demand. Now, Netflix estimates that about 60 percent of its global users access the streaming service on their mobile devices at least once a month. With the new feature, mobile users can minimize the amount of manual TV show downloads necessary for offline viewing. Continue reading Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Microsoft Introduces Inexpensive 10-Inch Surface Go Tablet

Microsoft just showcased a new 10-inch tablet, the Surface Go, that is the company’s smallest and, starting at $399, its least expensive ever. Designed as a smaller version of the Surface Pro, the new device will compete with Chromebooks and iPads. The Surface Go weighs 1.15 pounds, only a bit heavier than the 1.03-pound iPad. In a product demo in New York, a Microsoft rep pulled the Go out of her purse, demonstrating that the company has created a tablet that is light and small enough to be carried around all day. The Go is available for pre-order now and will be in stores August 2. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Inexpensive 10-Inch Surface Go Tablet

Wi-Fi Will Require Enhancements to Keep Up With 5G Tech

High-bandwidth 5G technology will make our mobile phones, tablets and computers much faster, with even the earliest 5G devices capable of 1 to 5 gigabit per second speeds — 10 to 100 times faster than today’s home broadband networks. We’ll still need the modem or Wi-Fi network for data service, and cable companies plan to upgrade their home services to be able to offer 5G. But Wi-Fi is another story: current routers don’t have enough bandwidth for the high-resolution content that 5G can offer, making its future uncertain. Continue reading Wi-Fi Will Require Enhancements to Keep Up With 5G Tech

Netflix Now Tops Broadcast, Cable, YouTube for TV Viewing

According to a new Cowen & Co. survey of U.S. consumers, subscription-video service Netflix is now the top choice for watching entertainment content on TV. In response to the question, “Which platforms do you use most often to view video content on TV?” — 27 percent of the 2,500 respondents said they prefer Netflix, while 20 percent opt for basic cable, 18 percent for broadcast television, and 11 percent for YouTube. Meanwhile, Netflix is reportedly testing a new Ultra tier that would allow simultaneous streaming of Ultra HD video and audio across four devices. Continue reading Netflix Now Tops Broadcast, Cable, YouTube for TV Viewing

Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon is introducing the Show Mode Charging Dock to provide an easy charge for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 while keeping them propped up. To debut in a software update on July 2, new Show Mode features will also essentially turn these tablets into a portable Echo Show with weather, time, and news displays in addition to hands-free voice control via Alexa. Putting the tablet on the dock, which aligns via magnets, launches Show Mode; the tablet reverts back to its standard tablet interface when the user removes it from the dock. Continue reading Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Over the last ten years, Facebook inked agreements with at least 60 phone and device manufacturers to share access to troves of users’ personal information. Among those manufacturers are Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, in addition to several Chinese electronics companies. These data-access partnerships started before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones. As a result of these deals, Facebook increased its influence as a social media platform, and device makers offered popular features including “like” buttons, messaging and address books. Continue reading Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

App Annie has released new stats regarding the first 10 years of Apple’s App Store. According to the analytics and market intelligence firm, there have been more than 170 billion downloads from Apple’s iOS store through December 2017, which represents in excess of $130 billion in spending. An increasing number of apps have exceeded the $1 million and $10 million consumer spending milestones, with “plenty more to come,” predicts App Annie. The U.S. leads the world with 40.1 billion downloads and $36 billion in consumer spending, followed closely by China and then Japan. Continue reading App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

Snap Inc. is launching an accelerator named “Yellow” with hopes of finding the next big media business. This fall, the accelerator will invest $150,000 in 10 startups or creators looking to develop media projects for mobile devices. Snap plans to take a small equity stake in those selected to receive the funding. The startups will also get mentorship from Snap execs, access to professional networking events, the opportunity to distribute content on Snapchat, and office space in Venice, California where Snap is based. CEO Evan Spiegel is expected to be involved in mentorship and the selection process. Continue reading Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

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

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

Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Apple Planning to Use Its Own Chips in Macs as Early as 2020

Perhaps beginning as soon as 2020, Apple plans to use its own chips in Mac computers, which would mean replacing the currently used Intel processors, according to sources familiar with the project. “The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together,” reports Bloomberg, which adds that the multistep process has been approved by executives.

Continue reading Apple Planning to Use Its Own Chips in Macs as Early as 2020

Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

In an effort to catch up to Google’s classroom dominance, Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad on Tuesday “aimed at classrooms and other education tools,” reports The New York Times. It has a faster processor and the ability to support its education-minded stylus, the Apple Pencil (which previously only paired with pricier iPads), as well as 200 gigabytes of storage. It’ll be priced at $299 for schools and $329 for consumers. Additionally, Apple announced new classroom software and new curriculum.

Continue reading Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

Machine Learning Used in Detection of Harmful Android Apps

The Google Play Protect detection service, which scans Android apps for malicious activity, is enabled on more than 2 billion devices and detected 60.3 percent of Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) in 2017 using machine learning, according to Google’s Android Security 2017 Year in Review report. Google removed over 700,000 apps for violating its policies last year. While Play Protect uses a variety of tactics, machine learning is highly effective for catching PHAs, detecting things like inappropriate content, impersonation, and malware.

Continue reading Machine Learning Used in Detection of Harmful Android Apps

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