Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

Hollywood is betting that mobile screens are ready for higher profile short content. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman founded Quibi to focus on mobile content. Together they raised $1 billion from investors that include Hollywood studios Disney, MGM and WarnerMedia among others. The goal is to recruit A-list talent, which explains why Antoine Fuqua (who directed “Training Day”) is producing “#FreeRayshawn,” starring Laurence Fishburne. The $15 million series is comprised of 10-minute episodes only viewable on smartphones. Continue reading Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

DARPA Attempts to Stop Automated Disinformation Attacks

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published a concept document for the Semantic Forensics (SemaFor) program, aimed at stopping “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” by detecting fakes among thousands of audio clips, photos, stories and video. As the 2020 Presidential election approaches, U.S. officials are working to prevent hackers from spreading disinformation on social platforms, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell won’t consider any election security laws. Continue reading DARPA Attempts to Stop Automated Disinformation Attacks

Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap added new features to Lens Studio, its easy-to-use desktop app that lets users create augmented reality lenses. To make it more appealing to creators, from novices to professional 3D modelers, Snap introduced the Landmarker template, which supports 14 new real-world locations; six new facial templates; and an interactive how-to for newbies. Available for free download, Lens Studio runs on Windows 10 and macOS 10.11 or later. Over half a million Lenses have been developed since Lens Studio debuted in late 2017. Continue reading Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Grand Jury Indicts Two Streaming Sites for Pirated Content

Beginning in 2007, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based Jetflicks debuted a streaming service that provided commercial-free popular TV shows the day after they aired, most recently charging $9.99 per month. That’s until an undercover FBI agent helped make a bust of the streaming service that enabled piracy. Last week, a grand jury indicted eight people for allegedly operating two of the biggest illegal streaming sites in the country. Jetflicks claims it had 37,000+ subscribers and hosted 183,000 TV episodes. Continue reading Grand Jury Indicts Two Streaming Sites for Pirated Content

Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Media center app developer Plex signed a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution to add an unspecified number of free movies and TV shows to its app when it debuts ad-supported video streaming later this year. Plex hopes to evolve its app into a “one-stop shop” for digital media, with plans to resell video subscription services and add transactional VOD in 2020. Plex chief executive Keith Valory noted that you “shouldn’t have to go to a lot of different apps to get the content you care about.” Continue reading Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

At CES 2019, even though Wi-Fi 6 had yet to launch, manufacturers including Asus, Dell and HP listed support for the next-generation connectivity, in order to future-proof their laptops and routers. The same approach was taken by Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy S10 in February, also with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 will offer incrementally improved speed, but its superpower is to handle simultaneous streaming to multiple devices. It’s also the first major upgrade of dual-band support since Wi-Fi 4 (or 802.11n) rolled out in 2009. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

8K Association Announces Performance Specs For 8K TVs

The 8K Association (8KA), a non-profit organization open to any company in the 8K value chain, determined and released the “key performance attributes” for consumer 8K televisions. The attributes were chosen in partnership with the association’s membership of leading consumer electronics brands, TV panel manufacturers and others in the 8K ecosystem. 8KA executive director Chris Chinnock noted that reaching this “milestone is a great testament to the cooperative spirit the members of the 8K Association enjoy.” Continue reading 8K Association Announces Performance Specs For 8K TVs

Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Amazon, which is increasing its investment in IMDb TV, an ad-supported streaming service for movies/TV, is now asking content creators for exclusive licenses, according to sources. An example of this is its contact with Vice Media to make a deal for Emmy-winning “Vice News Tonight,” recently canceled by HBO. The tech company also now offers an upfront license fee for “some type of exclusivity,” as opposed to its earlier model of only sharing ad revenue. Some content owners prefer an upfront fee, which is a guaranteed payment. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Facebook Toughens Ad Rules in Lead-Up to 2020 Election

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, Facebook said it is strengthening how it verifies who is paying for political advertising, in an attempt to curtail the spread of disinformation on the site. Last year, Facebook began to require political advertisers to reveal the names — and prove the identities — of the organizations behind ads. At the same time, as numerous Democratic hopefuls vie for the presidential nomination, the cost for advertising on Facebook is skyrocketing. Continue reading Facebook Toughens Ad Rules in Lead-Up to 2020 Election

U.S. and France Ink Agreement on Digital Tax of Net Giants

The U.S. and France agreed to a 3 percent French tax to be applied to services from large Internet companies. The agreement specifies that France will repay these companies the difference between its digital tax and the taxes currently under development at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). French President Emmanuel Macron, at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump, said they had reached a “good agreement,” but that he prefers international taxes on digital services. Continue reading U.S. and France Ink Agreement on Digital Tax of Net Giants

New Cryptocurrency Planned by Messaging App Telegram

Social network Telegram is moving ahead with its plans to issue its own cryptocurrency, dubbed Gram, within the next two months. The 200 million to 300 million global users of its messaging app will also have access to Gram digital wallets. Telegram appears to have the same ambitions for Gram that Facebook has for its Libra cryptocurrency: as a way to move money worldwide. In early 2018, Telegram tapped $1.7 billion from prominent investors including major Silicon Valley venture capitalists to launch the fund. Continue reading New Cryptocurrency Planned by Messaging App Telegram

Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries requested the U.S. International Trade Commission impose an import ban on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), part of a multi-front attack. An import ban would impact iPhones, Lenovo laptops and other electronic devices. The company has also filed 25 complaints in courts in the U.S. and Germany, alleging that TSMC violated 12+ patents for chips and chipmaking methods. Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Broadcom, Xilinx, Lenovo and Motorola are also named in the suit. Continue reading GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Companies to Launch Low Earth Satellite Internet Services

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed more details of his Low Earth Orbit satellite plan for broadband Internet access with the announcement of Project Kuiper, a 3,236 array of satellites. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink also recently launched a rocket with 60 satellites. These players, joined by OneWeb and others, are competing and, in the process, making LEO satellites for broadband a reality. SpaceX will first debut services in North America, with future plans to cover the planet, and Amazon has similar aspirations. Continue reading Companies to Launch Low Earth Satellite Internet Services

Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

Taylor Swift, the last streaming holdout among major musical artists, embraced the technology by releasing her seventh studio album, “Lover,” on Spotify and other streaming services. She had pulled her music from Spotify in 2014, and, in 2017, withheld her sixth album, “Redemption,” from streaming services for three weeks. According to Nielsen, in that year, streaming accounted for about 60 percent of all U.S. music consumption; this year it’s up to 80 percent. Spotify is making the most of Swift’s move with a very visible marketing campaign. Meanwhile, Swift has also helped launch an industry-wide conversation about copyright. Continue reading Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

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