CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

If CES is any indication, 2019 may be the year that voice assistants become more integrated into our daily lives. Amazon and Google went head-to-head in Las Vegas last week with a flood of partnerships touting smart home and CE devices that now support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Among the products featuring voice support included LG’s much-hyped rollable OLED TV; Panasonic’s new 4K OLED TV; Samsung’s 2019 TV lineup; Vuzix Blade AR glasses; an array of speakers, soundbars and headphones; new smart displays from Lenovo, Archos and KitchenAid; and a collection of home security devices, kitchen and bathroom appliances — even toilets. Continue reading CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

At CES 2019, in what some are saying has become an annual battle in recent years, Amazon and Google went mano a mano, with the former’s Alexa voice assistant in one corner, and the latter’s Google Assistant in the other. Since the debut of the voice assistants, this sector’s importance has soared, and both companies have been jockeying for dominance. Amazon stated that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, while Google said its Assistant will be built into one billion devices by the end of the month. Continue reading Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Facebook has launched a new iOS feature (coming soon to Android) that enables users to cast News Feed videos to TV sets for stream through AirPlay devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Google Cast devices. “The move could help Facebook generate more video ad revenue, and increase usage time by giving people the richest possible viewing experience while at home,” suggests TechCrunch. Users can continue to scroll through the Facebook feed as the video streams, allowing the social platform to serve as both first and second screen. Periscope is taking a different tack to do the same “by allowing professional content broadcasts to be piped into Periscope and Twitter via its new Producer feature.” Continue reading Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

TiVo Introduces Bolt DVR, Ready for Ultra HD and Ad-Skipping

TiVo introduced its new Bolt DVR this week, with features that TiVo customers have requested for years. That includes a new SkipMode that improves the device’s ability to leap over commercials on recorded content, 4K Ultra HD capability, and, with a fall update, an iOS app that allows the creation of a customized “What to Watch” screen built by selecting categories based on hobbies and interests. The new TiVo also offers an iOS app with AirPlay so users can stream content to Apple TV, and the company says it’s working on an app for Amazon Fire TV. Continue reading TiVo Introduces Bolt DVR, Ready for Ultra HD and Ad-Skipping

Disney Movies Anywhere Service Goes Wide on New Platforms

Disney is expanding support for its cloud-based digital movie service on more platforms with the debut of new apps for Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and Microsoft Xbox 360. Apps for Android TV and Roku are expected in a few days. The Disney Movies Anywhere collection currently features more than 450 digital movies from Disney, Marvel and Pixar in addition to Star Wars and short form content. Its new app is now available to Amazon and Microsoft customers, the result of new partnerships between the studio and both companies. Continue reading Disney Movies Anywhere Service Goes Wide on New Platforms

Xbox One Support for OTA TV Should Appeal to Cord Cutters

With its newly added capabilities to support over-the-air TV broadcasts, including HD content, the Xbox One is gearing up to become the ultimate cord-cutting device. Microsoft had always intended for the Xbox One to become a console with extensive media capabilities extending beyond gaming. Its support for over-the-air TV now complements services such as Netflix and Plex, in addition to OneGuide integration and compelling features including voice control and the ability to pause live TV. Continue reading Xbox One Support for OTA TV Should Appeal to Cord Cutters

Microsoft TV Dongle Could Be Much Needed Boost for Miracast

Microsoft announced its Wireless Display Adapter yesterday, a $60 device that will allow Windows and Android users to wirelessly send content from a variety of screens to any displays that feature an HDMI input. For example, users will have the ability to send what they are watching on a tablet, smartphone or laptop to a TV screen or projector. The dongle could also turn an HDMI-equipped TV into a Miracast receiver, which may spark competition with Google’s Chromecast and Roku’s Streaming Stick. Continue reading Microsoft TV Dongle Could Be Much Needed Boost for Miracast

N3twork App Curates Online Videos into Personalized Channels

N3twork (pronounced “network”) is a new app hoping to make video discovery a little easier by organizing online videos into channels, similar to those found on traditional TV. These channels, though, are personalized using data from the users. On each video, the viewer has the option to swipe right to save for viewing later, swipe left to skip, or tap to watch. The service pulls video from an estimated 6,500 different online sources, and users can also upload their own videos. Continue reading N3twork App Curates Online Videos into Personalized Channels

Torrenting Just Got Easier with Mobile Site and New PC App

The Pirate Bay and TorrenTV have released new platforms to make it easier for people to download media content for free. The Pirate Bay has launched a mobile site known as Mobile Bay, which includes separate TV, music and movie sites. Later, the site hopes to add support for personalized RSS feeds so that users can launch torrents from anywhere. TorrenTV has introduced a new app for Mac, Windows and Linux that streams torrents directly to Apple TV. Continue reading Torrenting Just Got Easier with Mobile Site and New PC App

Open Interconnect Consortium Plans to Develop IoT Standards

Last week, we reported that Microsoft was joining Qualcomm and 50 other members of the AllSeen Alliance, in an effort to develop open source standards for the Internet of Things. Yesterday, a group of tech companies led by Intel announced the formation of a competing organization. The Open Interconnect Consortium — which also includes Atmel, Broadcom, Dell and Samsung — similarly plans to develop standards for wirelessly connecting devices to each other and the Internet. Continue reading Open Interconnect Consortium Plans to Develop IoT Standards

LG Launches Open Source Connect SDK for App Developers

Rather than copying Chromecast to webOS, LG released an open source Connect SDK late last week that integrates media casting, making it easier for developers to bring their apps to connected devices such as Roku streaming boxes, Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV and LG’s own TV sets. By combining existing multiscreen and home sharing protocols such as Google’s Cast SDK, DLNA and DIAL, developers’ mobile apps only need one set of code to work on a variety of big screen devices. Continue reading LG Launches Open Source Connect SDK for App Developers

TiVo Co-Founders Plan Launch of QPlay TV Streaming Device

Through their San Jose-based startup InVisioneer, TiVo co-founders Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton are reportedly getting ready to release a new TV companion device called QPlay, designed to blend video discovery and curation with smart TV functionality. According to a recent FCC filing, QPlay connects to TVs through HDMI and, similar to Chromecast, relies on an iPad for Wi-Fi set-up and device interaction, rather than a remote control. Continue reading TiVo Co-Founders Plan Launch of QPlay TV Streaming Device

Amazon Updates Instant Video App for iOS to Support AirPlay

Amazon released an update to its Instant Video app for iOS last week that includes AirPlay support. Users can now stream unlimited movies and TV shows from Amazon’s service to Apple TV. Amazon’s library currently features more than 40,000 streaming videos, and over 140,000 titles for rent or purchase. In related news, Apple released an update on Friday to Apple TV that includes iTunes Radio and AirPlay streaming of content from iCloud rather than directly from iOS devices. Continue reading Amazon Updates Instant Video App for iOS to Support AirPlay

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