Spotify Deploys ‘Blend’ Feature to Enable Sharing of Playlists

Spotify has globally launched Blend, a two-party playlist generator designed for social listening. The feature allows both paid and free mobile users to tag-team song streams that can be shared across all platforms. Using the technology behind Spotify’s Family Mix and Duo Mix multi-person apps, this variation offers a twist; after creating a Blend participants receive a “taste match score” that reveals similarities and differences between the pair’s listening preferences and can compare their preferences to those of their friends. Continue reading Spotify Deploys ‘Blend’ Feature to Enable Sharing of Playlists

More Americans Now Subscribing to Multiple SVOD Services

According to Leichtman Research Group, the number of U.S. consumers subscribing to more than one of the big three SVOD services — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — more than doubled to 58 percent in 2021, up from 28 percent 2016. Overall, 78 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to one of the three, compared to 59 percent in 2016. Among those that have any of the three top-tier SVOD services, 74 percent also pay for a second service of some sort, versus 47 percent in 2016. Findings from LRG’s Emerging Video Services study are based on a survey of 2,000 households nationwide. Continue reading More Americans Now Subscribing to Multiple SVOD Services

Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

The Australian government is mulling new laws intended to tighten the regulation of digital payment services. Despite rapid growth, digital wallet services from Apple Pay, Google Pay and China’s WeChat Pay are not designated “payment systems” in Australia, which means they are not as yet governed by the country’s regulatory system. The move comes on the heels of a government-commissioned report addressing whether the payments system had kept pace with advances in technology and changes in consumer demand. Continue reading Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Microsoft’s Windows 11 to Launch Oct. 5 as a Free Upgrade

Microsoft will begin its Windows 11 rollout October 5, marking the Seattle-based software giant’s first major operating system release in six years. In addition to AI-powered widgets, Windows 11 upgrades include cloud-based synchronization across multiple devices that allows easy access to recently viewed files, an improved desktop that uses Snap Layouts and Snap Groups to maximize multitasking and taskbar integration of chat in Microsoft Teams, Windows’ in-app videoconferencing, and enhanced sound and design. Continue reading Microsoft’s Windows 11 to Launch Oct. 5 as a Free Upgrade

TikTok and Shopify Partner to Pilot In-App Shopping Feature

TikTok has introduced in-app shopping for the first time in a deal with e-commerce platform Shopify. Previously, users could shop on TikTok only by clicking ads. The move is designed to more seamlessly leverage the influencers aggregated on the meme-friendly video service. Participating Shopify merchants can now trick-out their profiles with shopping tabs that link to products like clothing, makeup and household products featured in TikTok content. Shopify is currently piloting the program with merchants including Kylie Jenner and expects to offer the feature to all e-commerce partners this fall. Continue reading TikTok and Shopify Partner to Pilot In-App Shopping Feature

AllJoyn Tech Enables Multi-Platform Development for Smartphones

  • In an effort to facilitate the creation of peer-to-peer apps across multiple mobile platforms, Qualcomm has created AllJoyn, a software developer kit that enables design and output to Android, iOS, Windows Phone and even Linux.
  • The technology enables “proximity-based, device-to-device communication without the use of an intermediary server,” according to the company.
  • “Typically developers have not been able to use things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in devices to enable their applications to work across different platforms in the same room, or nearby. Applications that wanted to enable multiplayer games in proximity haven’t had an easy way to do that,” said Qualcomm’s Brian Vogelsang.
  • The beauty of the approach is that none of the activity goes through the cloud — it’s all local, device-to-device — which makes it cheaper for developers (who don’t have to invest time and resources in cloud compatibility) and allows quicker response time for the end-user.
  • What’s in it for chipmaker Qualcomm? “Qualcomm believes in an Internet of everything — that all devices need to be connected. That if people create better mobile experiences it will sell more devices.”

Tablets Work Their Quads at CES: New Models from Asus and Acer

  • Tablet computers, which bowed last year, are having a power surge in 2012. Driven largely by gaming, Acer and Asus both unveiled quad core tablets with 1280×800 HD displays, running Android 4.
  • At the NVIDIA booth, an Asus ME370T quad core was on display. The 7-inch tablet is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor with Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
  • The Asus model features an 8-megapixel camera and up to 64GB of internal storage. It starts at $249 and will be released in the first quarter.
  • Acer’s 10-inch Iconica A510 was also on display at the NVIDIA booth, touting a 5-megapixel camera, up to 32GB of internal storage, Blutooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI out.
  • The unit is expected to be released in the first half of the year. Pricing wasn’t available.
  • NVIDIA also had a prototype quad tablet running Windows 8.
  • The effectiveness in mobile devices of quad core processors, which typically run hot and suck battery life, has been the subject of debate. Competing chip manufacturer Texas Instruments is for the time being sticking with dual core chips loaded with graphics accelerators and Intel’s new Atom chip (Medfield) has a reimagined architecture that is essentially single core.
  • In terms of mobile gaming, the speed of the network will also be critical factor for cloud-based or multiplayer, real-time gaming. At CES, Qualcomm was demonstrating multiplayer tablet gaming between two players connected to a TV via HDMI cable, but linked to each other on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
  • The expectation is that as power evolves, developers will create new apps to specifically take advantage of multiprocessor threading.

Fujitsu Teases Android Quad Core Smartphone with 13MP Camera

  • Fujitsu is the first manufacturer to publicly display a quad core Android phone prototype at CES.
  • The unit, which was not given a name, looks consistent with the Arrows line. It has a 4.6-inch screen with 1280×720 resolution.
  • Attendees were not allowed to handle the handset, which was displayed under plexiglass, but it was demonstrated to impressive effect driving games via HDMI cable to an HDTV screen and wirelessly using Bluetooth with a game pad.
  • The Android device was running on an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and features an impressive 13-megapixel camera.
  • Details such as price, carrier agreement and release date were not available. Fujitsu plans to show a more complete development model at Mobile World Congress in February.
  • HTC has announced plans to release a Tegra 3 quad core handset, the Edge. Though HTC did not show the phone at CES, it is speculated that the 4.7-inch Android unit, also 1280×720, will be the first in class to actually come to market (some say as soon as the first half of the year), through an as yet unspecified carrier.

Next in Store: Augmented Reality Enters the Retail Space

  • Real-world objects are mingling with digital environments in a way that had been possible only on bluescreen movie sets. Known as “augmented reality,” the technology is starting to pop up at retail.
  • It was part of the Qualcomm keynote in the form of a “Sesame Street” playset that used the chipmaker’s Vuforia AR.
  • Intel is showcasing Lego Digital Box technology. When a customer presents a toy at a Digital Box kiosk, a discreetly-placed camera “recognizes” the packaging, activating a screen that mirrors the scene, with one important difference: the package contents spring to life atop the box. A Lego Digital Box kiosk is currently installed in the Chicago store and the company plans to roll them out nationally this year.
  • Over at the Microsoft booth they’re taking it interactive with gesture recognition, using technology developed for Kinect. Microsoft will release a Kinect for Windows SDK on February 1. The move was inspired by the fact that developers were hacking the Kinect software and using it for their own experimental projects.
  • Fashion marketing firm FaceCake was among those demonstrating their wares at Microsoft. The Calabasas-based firm leveraged Kinect to create an application called Swivel that lets customers “try on” clothing and accessories.
  • “We see it going to a place where just about everybody has a 3D depth camera in their home, and there will be displays in stores and the two will interact in what we call a Swivlet — a virtual closet,” FaceCake founder Leigh Utterback said.

Sisvel Offers TV Broadcasters Skinny 3D Signal via Tile Format

  • Italian firm Sisvel Technology is showcasing a 3D broadcast signal it says delivers better quality over less spectrum. Using a proprietary frame slicing technique it calls the “3D Tile Format,” the system delivers a 3D and backward-compatible 2D HD signal without doubling the bandwidth.
  • The signal maintains a true 16×9 aspect ratio and 3D that does not blur during data-intensive 3D action scenes, a company rep explained.
  • Samsung and Panasonic televisions are shipping with Tile Format compatibility. Other sets can display the signal using set-top boxes.
  • Decoder manufacturers currently include Sim2’s 3D Home, DVB-T and 3D Home DVB-S, Giada, Juice 3D and Antik Technology.
  • Content partners include Quartarete, 50Canale, SES and Vietnam’s VTV.
  • Where to see it: South Hall 20806

Video: Comrex Broadcasts Live with LiveShot Video Over IP Codec

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  • Comrex Corp. is making professional news gathering more nimble with LiveShot, “a compact solution for doing live low latency video delivery for electronic news gathering — or what the industry is now calling IP ENG.”
  • Set to ship in March, it will work in conjunction with an IP network (in the case of this video demo, the 4G LTE network from Verizon) to transmit broadcast quality audio and video over the Internet.
  • Comrex already has thousands of customers in the field using a similar technology to produce audio feeds for radio, using its LTE-enabled Access device.
  • “With $15,000 worth of hardware mounted onto a camera and the use of a 4G LTE network, television news crews can do the same thing they did with a quarter million dollar satellite and microwave truck,” Comrex’s Chris Crump said.
  • LiveShot works with any professional camera equipped with an Anton/Bauer mount (or adapter) and an HDMI port (it also works off a composite or HD-SDI signal).
  • The camera-mounted encoder costs $7,000 and the studio-resident decoder $5,000.
  • Where to see it: Verizon Booth, South Hall 30161

Video: Augmented Reality Demo from Verizon's Future Tech Zone

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  • Verizon Wireless briefly discusses some of the possibilities with augmented reality technologies that can take place over its network.
  • In this demo, we see the interactivity possible between marketers and consumers in bringing magazine advertising to 3D life with the help of a QR code and an app.
  • “Rather than a one way advertisement, it becomes two way. It becomes more of a relationship.”
  • Where to see it: South Hall

Intel WiDi: Wireless Display Tech Coming to a Living Room Near You

  • Connected TV has taken center stage, and at this CES we are seeing production model TVs equipped with Intel’s WiDi capability out of the box.
  • WiDi, or wireless display, extends the laptop to the television screen.
  • Intel introduced the technology in 2010, but it’s just now beginning to bear fruit, with a multitude of WiDi-ready devices coming to market, including all new ultrabooks and models from 100 different OEMs.
  • It will also be enabling WiDi on Intel-chip tablets and phones. Intel is only now entering those markets, and was showing at its booth pre-release Lenovo tablets and phones.
  • Samsung and Sharp are among the manufacturers shipping sets with built-in WiDi, as is AT&T on its U-verse boxes, and consumers can expect “Intel WiDi” badges to become as ubiquitous as “Intel Inside.” Adapter boxes that retrofit existing sets hit retail last year for $100.
  • Connectivity-wise, WiDi is also going to be used to connect computer-to-computer, or computer-to-phone. Intel is emphasizing the creation of an optimized Android SDK for the Intel chip architecture, which should result in a number of interesting mobile apps.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 7253

Iomega Personal Cloud: Remote Access of Network Storage Server

  • The cloud is a huge presence hovering above CES, but for those who are squeamish at the idea of using mass shared storage, Iomega is offering mini-servers that function as “personal clouds.”
  • The concept is essentially an easy-to-use means of accessing an NAS server at home from anywhere via the Internet.
  • Iomega Personal Cloud also allows users to share files with up to 250 members.
  • When not in use the unit automatically powers down to a 1-volt sleep mode.
  • An entry-level 4TB setup costs about $899, and the units scale up to 12TB. Available from Fry’s Electronics and online.
  • Where to see it: Intel Booth, Central Hall 7253; Iomega, Venetian Renaissance Suite