HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

HTC’s new Vive Pro VR headset made a major splash this week in Las Vegas and received notable Best of CES awards, including the Best Gaming Product from Engadget and the Best VR/AR award from The Verge. HTC added built-in headphones to this version and increased the resolution of the dual-OLED displays 78 percent to 2,880 x 1,600 (1,400 x 1,600 per eye). The headphones offer spatial audio support, but no noise-canceling functionality. HTC added dual microphones and dual front-facing cameras, which should attract developers. Continue reading HTC Beefs Up Resolution and Adds Headphones to Vive Pro

The First Reviewers Laud Apple iPhone X’s Screen, Camera

Apple only gave reviewers 24 hours to test out the iPhone X, so the reviews aren’t in-depth — but most of them are thumbs-up for the Silicon Valley company’s most expensive iPhone ever. Apple has positioned the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) as its most cutting edge phone, with an almost full edge-to-edge 5.8-inch screen, no physical home button and new Face ID facial recognition to unlock it. The phone, which will be in stores on November 3, is priced at $999 for 64 gigabytes of storage and $1,149 for 256 gigabytes. Continue reading The First Reviewers Laud Apple iPhone X’s Screen, Camera

Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

Veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg has been writing a weekly personal technology column since 1991, first at The Wall Street Journal, and then at The Verge (for which he serves as executive editor) and Recode (where he is co-founder and editor-at-large). As he retires his weekly column, Mossberg takes one more look at how consumer tech has evolved over the last three decades, “and what we can expect next.” Specifically, he addresses “The Disappearing Computer” as we enter a new world of ambient computing, in which personal computers start to fade into the background. Continue reading Mossberg Retires Weekly Column, Talks Ambient Computing

Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Burger King released a TV ad in which an actor activates the Google Home digital assistant to describe the ingredients in the Whopper sandwich. Prompted by the actor, Google Home searches Wikipedia for the Whopper and lists the makings of the sandwich. Within hours of the ad’s release, however, both The Verge and BuzzFeed discovered that the commercial no longer activated the device. Burger King did not work with Google to create this marketing approach, and Google reacted by stymying it. Continue reading Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Google’s AMP Speeds Mobile, But Ad Limits Raise Concerns

A year after Google introduced its Accelerated Mobile Pages, aimed at speeding up content on mobile platforms, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Hearst, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Vox Media and many other publishers are using it. But the reviews are mixed, since, with AMP, Google has begun to send users to stripped-down pages rather than to the publisher’s mobile website, and publishers say they are not generating revenue from AMP pages at the same rates as their full mobile sites. Continue reading Google’s AMP Speeds Mobile, But Ad Limits Raise Concerns

Disney to Produce More VR Content with Nokia OZO Camera

Nokia and Disney announced a partnership whereby Disney filmmakers and marketing teams will use Nokia’s 360-degree OZO virtual reality cameras to create VR content across all the studio’s brands. The studio has already used the OZO for two promotional pieces for “The Jungle Book,” one of them a 360-degree roundtable interview with director Jon Favreau and the cast, the second a red carpet experience at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. Other Disney brands that could use the OZO are Marvel and Lucasfilm. Continue reading Disney to Produce More VR Content with Nokia OZO Camera

Vox Media to Launch Circuit Breaker Gadget Site on Facebook

Vox Media, parent company of politics site Vox, sports sites SB Nation, and technology site The Verge, is about to launch Circuit Breaker, a blog about gadgets. Circuit Breaker will publish news and gossip about technology products and primarily live as a Facebook page, not a separate website, says The Verge’s editor Nilay Patel. The idea of a blog devoted to gadgets is a throwback to sites like Engadget and Gizmodo that, in the early 2000s, focused on smartphones and then broadened to become culture sites. Continue reading Vox Media to Launch Circuit Breaker Gadget Site on Facebook

With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

Streaming music service SoundCloud finalized a deal with Sony Music to increase the number of songs listeners can access via SoundCloud and also allow Sony Music Entertainment artists to make money from their tracks hosted on its service. The deal with Sony Music is just the latest in several that SoundCloud has inked with other music publishers including Merlin (representing 20,000 indie labels) in June 2015, Universal Music Group earlier this year, and Warner Music in 2014. Continue reading With Sony Music Deal, SoundCloud Reaches 18 Million Artists

Google Introduces Star Wars-Themed Customization for Its Apps

Google just debuted a tool that allows users to customize their Google apps with graphics related to “Star Wars,” in anticipation of the December 18 release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The user chooses the dark side or light side, and Google then redecorates Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Search and Android Wear with lightsabers, TIE fighters and other “Star Wars”-themed iconography. Google promises more “Star Wars” tweaks prior to the opening of the movie, which is expected to top “Avatar” in ticket sales. Continue reading Google Introduces Star Wars-Themed Customization for Its Apps

NBCUniversal Buys Into Publisher Vox Media With $200 Million

NBCUniversal just made a $200 million investment in digital publishing house Vox Media, as part of a strategy to collaborate on programming, advertising and technology. According to comScore, Vox, a hub for eight digital media brands, had 54 million unique U.S. visitors in June, about 41 percent of who are 18 to 34 years old. NBCUniversal also plans to invest another $200 million in BuzzFeed, valued at $1.5 billion. The two deals are more evidence of a trend of established media companies partnering with digital startups. Continue reading NBCUniversal Buys Into Publisher Vox Media With $200 Million

Microsoft Working on Free Version of Windows 8.1 with Bing

Microsoft is said to be experimenting with a free version of its Windows 8.1 operating system in hopes of increasing the number of users. Sources familiar with the plans say “Windows 8.1 with Bing” will bundle key Microsoft apps and services. The company aims to introduce Windows 8.1 with Bing as a free or low-cost upgrade for Windows 7 users. The new Bing-powered software may also be offered to computer manufacturers as part of recent license cuts for sub-$250 devices.

Continue reading Microsoft Working on Free Version of Windows 8.1 with Bing

Writers Guild Cautions Against Stiff Copyright Enforcement

A statement from the Writers Guild of America West raises the group’s concerns regarding copyright infringement fees and agreements, digital sales and other related issues. The letter particularly references the “notice and takedown” system of copyrighted material shared on the Web, noting that the system’s intentions are good, but may also cause potential harm. The statement was written in response to a recent green paper on copyright policy. Continue reading Writers Guild Cautions Against Stiff Copyright Enforcement

Sony’s Cloud TV Service Not Intended to Compete with Cable

At CES this week, Sony announced a new streaming cloud TV service that will include both live TV and recorded programs from streaming services like Netflix. CEO Kaz Hirai insists the yet-to-be-named cloud TV won’t compete with cable, but will enable and make watching live TV and streaming content on different devices easier. It’s no small feat considering Intel recently scrapped a similar effort. Sony’s service will be tested in the U.S. later in 2014. Continue reading Sony’s Cloud TV Service Not Intended to Compete with Cable

Instagram and Twitter Enable Direct Messaging with Photos

Facebook-owned Instagram has launched Instagram Direct, a photo messaging tool that allows users to send videos and photos directly to individual friends, as opposed to its standard function of simply broadcasting images to all users’ friends’ feeds. It is similar to Snapchat in that it is a direct messaging function, but unlike Snapchat, the photos do not quickly disappear. Twitter, meanwhile, has also been updated to allow sharing photos in direct messages. Continue reading Instagram and Twitter Enable Direct Messaging with Photos

Google Among Many Sued by Rockstar for Patent Infringement

Google, Samsung, HTC and others are on the hotseat for alleged patent infringement on Rockstar technology — including patents related to messaging, notifications and graphical user interfaces. Rockstar, which is jointly owned by Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony, owns and manages a portfolio of more than 4,000 patents purchased during the Nortel bankruptcy auction in 2011. The group filed a barrage of lawsuits against phone manufacturers late last week. Continue reading Google Among Many Sued by Rockstar for Patent Infringement

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