Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

Amazon plans to build more Whole Foods stores across the United States, indicate sources, with the goal of adding more customers within reach of the company’s two-hour delivery service. The move is a transformation for the grocery store, which had slowed its growth in the years before Amazon’s 2017 purchase for about $13.5 billion. Although Amazon wouldn’t comment on expansion plans, sources say that Whole Foods staffers are searching for potential retail space in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, which currently don’t have Whole Foods stores. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

CES 2019: 5G to Make Debut as a Multi-Faceted Technology

At CES 2019 next week, 5G is expected to make a strong showing, not simply as a means to improve mobile phones, but as a game changer for everything from robots and drones to video games, sports and shopping. Although Samsung has already shown prototype 5G phones for Verizon and AT&T, ETC consultant George Gerba noted that, “the need to upgrade phones will not occur till 2020 when most metropolitan areas should be closing in on the first wave of 5G.” “This is one of those evolutions that will happen in waves and with some bumps,” he said. Continue reading CES 2019: 5G to Make Debut as a Multi-Faceted Technology

Netflix Tests Interactive Storytelling in ‘Black Mirror’ Episode

Netflix released “Bandersnatch,” an interactive episode of “Black Mirror,” its popular techno-paranoia series, that lets the viewer decide what happens at many points throughout the story, beginning with what cereal the protagonist has for breakfast. Netflix, which is using the episode to test if audiences are ready to embrace interactivity, already developed software to organize stories with infinite variations, called on producers to submit proposals for interactive stories, and hinted it has more in the works. Continue reading Netflix Tests Interactive Storytelling in ‘Black Mirror’ Episode

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and headed by chief executive Meg Whitman, Quibi (“quick bites”) is a subscription service for short mobile videos set to launch in about a year. Quibi will deliver daily news and longer features, with production budgets higher than the typical YouTube video content. The app will also feature a control for adjusting screen brightness; videos are shot and edited for portrait and landscape modes. Every major Hollywood studio has invested in a $1 billion seed funding round. Continue reading Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

With an initial focus on the Indian market, Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency aimed for use on its WhatsApp messaging app. More specifically, sources said the company is developing a so-called stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar to reduce volatility. The company is, however, still working on its strategy, meaning that debut of the coin is still some time off. In 2014, Facebook hired former PayPal president David Marcus to run Messenger, fueling belief the company was going to engage in financial services. Continue reading Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

T-Mobile US is pushing back the introduction of its video service until 2019, although those plans might also change, said sources. The reason is that the project became more complex than anticipated; chief executive John Legere had said the carrier would create a “disruptive TV service” that would transform the television industry, setting a high bar that was difficult to meet given the time constraint. Sources said the delay is intended to provide the time for T-Mobile to deliver on Legere’s initial promise. Continue reading T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Congress passed a bill that aims to speed up the development of quantum computing in the United States. The technology is anticipated to revolutionize cybersecurity among other areas. The House approved the bill in a 348-11 vote. President Trump is expected to sign it into law, since quantum computing has been a priority of his administration. China has been focused on the technology and plans to open a laboratory in 2020. With the new bill, U.S. legislators hope to push efforts to keep up with or surpass rivals. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

zSpace to Show Windows Laptop for AR/VR Viewing at CES

At CES 2019 next month, Innovation Award honoree zSpace will show a portable Windows PC laptop that is focused on “spatial content,” allowing users to interact with augmented reality and virtual reality content. Based in Sunnyvale, zSpace’s creators claim it is the first portable Windows PC that “breaks the screen barrier” between users and AR/VR, and tout its ability to foster creativity and collaboration in a flexible, immersive environment. It features patented 3D screen technology and lightweight glasses. Continue reading zSpace to Show Windows Laptop for AR/VR Viewing at CES

Senate Releases Reports with Details of Russian Interference

The Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports that reveal how Russia’s Internet Research Agency targeted groups including African-Americans, evangelical Christians and pro-gun activists to confuse voters, create division and support Donald Trump’s run for president. The Russian operation reportedly used every digital platform available, including Facebook, Instagram, Vine, LiveJournal and even “Pokémon Go.” The research also revealed how these same digital platforms delayed reporting the extent and type of interference. Continue reading Senate Releases Reports with Details of Russian Interference

FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

California telecom regulators wanted to impose a state fee on text-messaging services, but the Federal Communications Commission has squelched that plan by classifying text-messaging as an information service, not a telecommunications service. That’s the same classification the FCC applied to broadband when it repealed net neutrality and dictated that states cannot create their own net neutrality laws. Although California’s legislature is challenging the latter in court, it isn’t challenging the latest FCC ruling. Continue reading FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

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