New Features, Deals Could Turn Things Around for Apple Pay

Apple Pay is experiencing a rocky road to adoption. On Black Friday, it was used for about half the number of purchases as last year. On the plus side, Apple has added to the list of vendors allowing consumers to use Apple Pay, but the company is also entering the world of friend-to-friend payments, which are expensive to operate and hard to monetize. What could tip the balance is the deal Apple inked with China UnionPay to be used at Chinese cash registers. But only time will tell. Continue reading New Features, Deals Could Turn Things Around for Apple Pay

Google Cultural Institute Debuts 360-Degree Videos of the Arts

The Google Cultural Institute, a free website that displays collections of more than 800 art museums and historical archives, just went online with a collection of new 360-degree videos exploring the performing arts, with partners that include the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Carnegie Hall, among others. The performing arts groups see it as a good way to introduce their offerings to a broader audience that might never think of actually visiting one of these venues for an event. Continue reading Google Cultural Institute Debuts 360-Degree Videos of the Arts

Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

Although Amazon won’t comment, those in the know say that the company will soon open up Prime Instant Video to other on-demand networks. With this move, Prime customers will be able to add other online subscriptions to their accounts, and Amazon will be able to aggregate its own network bundles. Amazon has also signed a deal with JetBlue to feature its streaming video and music services on the airline’s satellite Internet system, and Apple TV users will soon have access to a Prime Instant Video iOS app. Continue reading Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

LucidCam Developing $299 VR Camera, Partners with Sephora

LucidCam successfully raised $100,000 on Indiegogo from 264 backers, and now is well on its way to creating the camera that sounds too good to be true: a $299 device that’s small enough to fit in a pocket and yet can shoot immersive virtual reality content. The company, headed by chief executive Han Jin, says the LucidCam team is now busy creating partnerships with content creators and brands — its first is with make-up brand Sephora — and reveals that the company will release its first 360-degree 3D video in December. Continue reading LucidCam Developing $299 VR Camera, Partners with Sephora

Facebook’s Beta Shopping Feed Reveals Weakness, Potential

Since it debuted in October, Facebook’s Shopping feed has been in beta among a handful of U.S. users. So far, the new feature can help a user track down something found in his or her News Feed. Although there are few products and no reviews, the potential lies in Facebook’s key strength — its knowledge about its users. That would allow the company to curate more accurately than any other shopping service out there. A Facebook survey reports that 50 percent of its users come to the site looking for products. Continue reading Facebook’s Beta Shopping Feed Reveals Weakness, Potential

Nokia’s Revival with Alcatel-Lucent Takeover, OZO VR Camera

On November 30, Nokia introduced its OZO virtual reality camera in Los Angeles. The camera, aimed at professional content creators, features eight 2K-by-2K-resolution cameras, with lenses capable of a 195-degree field of view and spaced at the same distance as between human eyes, as well as eight microphones for 3D audio capture. Weighing 10 pounds and expected to cost $50,000, the OZO is capable of full 360-degree stereoscopic video in real time and its output is compatible with existing VR headsets

Continue reading Nokia’s Revival with Alcatel-Lucent Takeover, OZO VR Camera

Adele’s Latest Album Breaks Sales Records Without Streaming

With her latest album, “25,” Adele has erased any doubt about her preeminent position in the music world. The new album, which showcases her signature torch songs and ballads, had a record-breaking first week of sales — $3.38 million in the U.S. — despite the fact that Adele withholds her music from streaming sites and largely eschews a social media presence (although she did appear on “Saturday Night Live” and promotions for Target). Adele’s previous album, “21,” sold 30 million copies worldwide. Continue reading Adele’s Latest Album Breaks Sales Records Without Streaming

Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

Walmart Stores, with chief technology officer Jeremy King leading the charge, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul of its digital operations. The goal is to create a digital presence as powerful as its brick-and-mortar one and, in the process, break Amazon’s record of successfully squelching most traditional retailers online. To do so, Walmart has invested serious resources into its effort: 15 acquisitions, 3,600 new hires and billions of dollars in the project code-named Pangaea, named after the pre-historic supercontinent. Continue reading Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

MPAA Wins Injunction in MovieTube Suit, But Battle Continues

The owners and operators of the MovieTube websites are in big trouble — whoever they are. The Motion Picture Association of America won a final default judgment, to the tune of $10.5 million, against the sites. But collecting is going to be a problem, since the MPAA has not been able to identify any of the defendants, and no companies have answered the complaint or engaged in any of the proceedings. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, however, filed an amicus brief that could trigger subpoenas in the future. Continue reading MPAA Wins Injunction in MovieTube Suit, But Battle Continues

Open Source Kubernetes Helps Make Google Cloud Contender

Google isn’t usually focused on open source projects, but the company now dominates the market for cluster managers with its open source Kubernetes software. Developed originally for internal use, Kubernetes gives corporations a way to manage clusters of containers, which are building blocks of code with a small application, designed to work across platforms and servers. Although it’s not a revenue source for Google, Kubernetes is a key technology in making Google a serious contender in the enterprise cloud. Continue reading Open Source Kubernetes Helps Make Google Cloud Contender

Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

Text messaging is a regulatory gray zone that is currently the object of a dispute between AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers, and Twilio, a software company that enables automatic text-sending, with consumer advocacy groups Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and Free Press. Twilio is petitioning that the FCC impose common carrier regulations on text messaging, which means carriers could not block or throttle texts. The carriers say they’re protecting consumers against spam. Continue reading Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

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

FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones

The Consumer Technology Association estimates there will be 400,000 drones under the Christmas tree this year. Just in time, a task force created by the Federal Aviation Administration has come out with a report detailing recommendations on how to regulate them. The task force, comprised of drone makers, technology companies, an airline pilots association and the government, says drone owners need to be entered into a federal database and should display a government-issued registration number on their drone. Continue reading FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones

Facebook Channels Realize Explosive Growth with Food Videos

Facebook hasn’t been promoting videos for that long, but it’s already found its killer content: food videos. Leading the pack is BuzzFeed’s Tasty channel on Facebook, which posts clips on such mouth-watering delights as “loaded cheese-stuffed mashed potato balls.” Launched July 31, Tasty generated more video views than anyone else on Facebook by October, according to analytics firm Tubular Labs. Coming in No. 2 was BuzzFeed again, which posts food videos galore on its main Facebook channel. Continue reading Facebook Channels Realize Explosive Growth with Food Videos

Hulu Gains Subscribers and Revenue, Plans Original Content

In October, Hulu reached No. 8 on the worldwide iOS Top Revenue chart and No. 10 on the worldwide Top Revenue chart for iOS and Android combined, a gain achieved after it made several moves to attract more subscribers. Among them, Hulu struck a deal with Epix when Netflix declined to renew its deal. It also debuted a commercial-free paid tier, the “No Commercials” plan, in September, priced at $11.99 per month. Pleased with the growth, chief executive Mike Hopkins says the company plans on producing original content. Continue reading Hulu Gains Subscribers and Revenue, Plans Original Content

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