Nreal Debuts Air AR Glasses for Android, PC and Soon Apple

A year after debuting in partnership with Verizon its $599 Nreal Light AR glasses in the U.S., Beijing-based Nreal is releasing the sportier Air AR glasses on Amazon. The $379 price is about $100 less than Air ARs were going for in Asia. The company is also upgrading its Nebula AR OS for augmented reality, including a version for Apple mobile, albeit only those powered by Apple silicon (M1 and M2 chips). In other words, newer iPhones and MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops. The Apple and Android/PC visual presentations will be different, at least initially. Continue reading Nreal Debuts Air AR Glasses for Android, PC and Soon Apple

Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

Walmart has planted its flag in the metaverse, launching Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on Roblox, a virtual worlds game platform that emphasizes user-generated content. Roblox community members can check out the Walmart “isles” to collect “verch,” or virtual merchandise, “catch top music artists and unlock exclusive interactive content,” the company says. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there,” Walmart CMO William White said, citing the platform’s 52 million daily active users. Continue reading Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder. Continue reading Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

OpenAI Rolls Out Open-Source Speech Recognition System

OpenAI has released a new open source AI speech recognition model called Whisper that can recognize and translate audio at levels it says compare in accuracy and robustness to human abilities. Case uses include transcription of speeches, interviews, podcasts and conversations. “Moreover, it enables transcription in multiple languages, as well as translation from those languages into English,” says OpenAI, which is open-sourcing models and inference code on GitHub “to serve as a foundation for building useful applications and for further research on robust speech processing.” Continue reading OpenAI Rolls Out Open-Source Speech Recognition System

Twitch to Reduce Revenue Sharing with Premium Streamers

Popular game streaming service Twitch — owned by parent company Amazon — plans to shrink the amount of subscription revenue it shares with top creators. After earnings surpass $100,000 in a 12-month period, the split with these premium streamers will reduce from 70/50 to 50/50, the same subscription share Twitch makes available to all streamers. The change goes into effect in June 2023, but Twitch stars are already rebelling. Having already lost a number of top creators to YouTube Gaming, Twitch potentially finds itself in a precarious position. Continue reading Twitch to Reduce Revenue Sharing with Premium Streamers

Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Spotify is expanding beyond music and podcasts by adding audiobooks. The company is starting out with just over 300,000 titles, available for purchase in the U.S. “This is just the beginning,” says Spotify, promising a geographic expansion. In June, the audio streamer completed its purchase of global audiobooks distributor Findaway, announced last year. The acquisition was designed to make it a major player on entry, competing with Amazon’s Audible, the nation’s biggest audiobook service. Unlike Audible, Spotify is individually pricing audiobook titles and offering them à la carte, not by subscription. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

California attorney general Rob Bonta has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the e-tailer has managed to bend competition and pricing to its will. Only about 25 million of Amazon’s 147 million U.S. customers are domiciled in California, but if the measure succeeds it could impact regulations across the country and across the globe. “For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” Bonta said Wednesday. “Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants,” resulted in “higher prices and more control.” Continue reading California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Just weeks after introducing a new bundled approach to marketing Paramount+ and Showtime, there are reports that Paramount Global is considering discontinuing Showtime as a separate streaming service and merging its content into Paramount+. Although couched as in the early phases of discussion, the idea would be to boost the signature platform’s consumer appeal in an increasingly crowded market. Showtime is currently available for $10.99 per month as a standalone service, and Paramount+ subscribers can get Showtime at special pricing through October 2, gaining access to its premium content, including “Billions” and “Yellowjackets.” Continue reading Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Aalyria: Google Spinout Plans to Deliver High-Speed Internet

Google’s Project Loon, a plan to use balloons to beam broadband Internet to unserved areas, was shut down in 2021 after eight years, but Loon’s core technologies have propelled a spinout, Aalyria, which is developing advanced networking and laser communications that far exceed anything available today, extending connectivity where there is no infrastructure “at an exponentially greater scale and speed,” according to the company. Aalyria’s first commercial client is the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a division of the U.S. Department of Defense that awarded an $8 million contract to develop high-speed Internet in space. Continue reading Aalyria: Google Spinout Plans to Deliver High-Speed Internet

EU’s Cyber Resilience Act Plans to Augment Security for IoT

The European Union has released additional details of its Cyber Resilience Act (CRA), proposed cybersecurity rules initially introduced last year aimed at the growing number of smart devices and the Internet of Things. The goal is to introduce effective regulations that would help curb surging cyberattacks. Major tech companies from Apple to Amazon and LG would need to meet strict new standards in the connected electronics space or face significant fines that could run as high as the greater of $15 million or 2.5 percent of a company’s worldwide revenue. Continue reading EU’s Cyber Resilience Act Plans to Augment Security for IoT

Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

The world is preparing for a passwordless future, which Apple provides with the September 12 launch of iOS 16 and macOS Ventura next month. Known as passkeys, the password replacement will work across iPhones, iPads, and Macs, letting users log in to apps and websites and create new accounts without having to store a password. Made from a cryptographic key pair, the passkey is synced across iCloud’s Keychain. Google, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Amazon are also in various stages of developing passkeys using standards created by the FIDO Alliance, which means they’ll all likely be interoperable. Continue reading Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

Meta and Qualcomm Will Develop Next-Generation VR Chips

Meta Platforms is joining forces with Qualcomm to develop a next-generation extended reality chipset for its Meta Quest 2 and other headsets. The multi-year agreement, announced at the IFA 2022 consumer electronics show in Berlin, will focus on virtual reality and augmented reality applications. While the deal leverages Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR platforms, engineering and product teams from each company will collaborate on “core technologies to accelerate a fully realized metaverse,” Qualcomm president and CEO Cristiano Amon announced from the stage at Friday’s IFA keynote in which he was joined remotely by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Continue reading Meta and Qualcomm Will Develop Next-Generation VR Chips

YouTube CBO Robert Kyncl Exiting, Mary Ellen Coe Steps Up

After a 12-year run that saw YouTube emerge as the dominant U.S. social video platform, chief business officer Robert Kyncl announced he is stepping aside. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that Google president of global customer solutions Mary Ellen Coe will assume the role of CBO, effective October 3, with Kyncl continuing as part of YouTube’s executive team until early 2023 during the transition. Known as YouTube’s Hollywood connection, Kyncl was ultimately unable to transition YouTube into the long-form streaming platform Google once envisioned, but he oversaw its rise to short-form video powerhouse. Continue reading YouTube CBO Robert Kyncl Exiting, Mary Ellen Coe Steps Up

Snap Canceling Projects and Cutting 20 Percent of Workforce

Snap Inc. announced plans to cancel ongoing projects such as Snap Originals, in-app multiplayer games, HTML mini-apps built by outside developers, and future development of its Pixy selfie-camera drone — all part of a corporate restructuring that will include laying off about 20 percent of its more than 6,400 employees. The company, which operates the popular social media app Snapchat, is taking cost-cutting measures as it faces growing competition from TikTok and other rivals and challenges to its core digital advertising business. Continue reading Snap Canceling Projects and Cutting 20 Percent of Workforce