Supreme Court Weighs Future of Software in Copyright Case

The Supreme Court just heard a multi-billion-dollar case regarding Google and Oracle’s long-running battle over smartphone software that some have called “the copyright case of the decade.” Google v. Oracle America, Case No. 18-956, is scrutinizing Google’s reliance on 11,000 lines of Java code in its Android operating system. Oracle acquired Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems and accuses Google’s use without permission as tantamount to copyright infringement. Google argues it is “fair use.” Continue reading Supreme Court Weighs Future of Software in Copyright Case

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Google Will Pay News Publishers $1 Billion to License Stories

Google is debuting Google News Showcase and vowed to pay publishers $1+ billion over the next three years to license news content for the new product. Publishers will be able to select images and summaries for story panels, which are teasers for full articles. Clicking on a story panel will bring the user directly to the news publisher’s website to read the entire story. According to sources, Google is in talks with publishers in the U.S. and other countries and has already signed deals with almost 200 publications. Continue reading Google Will Pay News Publishers $1 Billion to License Stories

Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is about to release a report of its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The lawmakers gathered 1+ million documents from the companies in question and their rivals. The subcommittee, chaired by Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), also met with the four companies’ chief executives. Meanwhile, the European Union plans to ban tech companies from “preferencing” their own services and apps, and China is planning its own antitrust investigation of Google. Continue reading Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

Roku Announces Its New Ultra With Support for Dolby Vision

Roku is debuting a new Ultra with, for the first time, Dolby Vision, which plays back HDR (high-dynamic range) content. This new $100 Ultra also features a speedier quad-core processor, more RAM and around 50 percent better Wi-Fi range, although the company has not released full specs on the device. The form factor is now somewhat rounder, to house its revamped wireless antennas, and still features an Ethernet port, an HDMI cable and earbuds. Also new, the Roku Channel is available as a standalone Android and iOS app. Continue reading Roku Announces Its New Ultra With Support for Dolby Vision

Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

To comply with a 2018 EU antitrust decision, Google now provides Android OS users in Europe a “choice” screen that lists competing search engines to pick as the device’s default. The problem is that numerous smaller search engines that have popular followings in Europe didn’t win spots in large European countries in the latest auction and therefore don’t appear on that list of choices. DuckDuckGo, for example, a U.S.-based search engine that doesn’t collect personal data, only won the auction in four small European countries. Continue reading Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Quibi, the OTT streaming service focused on short-form mobile video founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and launched in April 2020, is struggling to gain subscribers in a crowded marketplace. According to sources, the company is considering its options, including raising more money, going public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that helps fund deals, or a sale. Sources added that the company has enough cash for several months and is not expected to shut down in the near future. Continue reading Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Huawei to Sell Phones with Its Own OS and App Ecosystem

Next year, Huawei Technologies will begin to sell phones running its own operating system, HarmonyOS, and app ecosystem. After the Trump administration limited the Chinese company’s access to U.S.-originated components and chips built with U.S. technology, Huawei was cut off from all Google software. Nonetheless, in Q2, its phones were top sellers, beating out Samsung and Apple, mainly due to strong domestic sales. The beta version of its new phones will be available to app developers by the end of 2020. Continue reading Huawei to Sell Phones with Its Own OS and App Ecosystem

Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google is adding new features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service, to personalize 90-minute news feeds from each user’s preferred sources. The goal is to create a seamless listening experience akin to a customized song playlist. Each news playlist, similar to those on public radio, will begin with short clips about the major headlines moving into longer stories. The end product, available only in the U.S., will compile radio, podcast clips and text-to-speech translations tailored to the individual user. Continue reading Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

App Store Battle: Epic Sues Apple, Google for Pulling ‘Fortnite’

In an ongoing dispute over Apple’s 30 percent commissions in its App Store, Epic Games, maker of “Fortnite,” threw down the gauntlet by openly encouraging players to pay the company directly, rather than through Apple and Google’s app stores. But within hours of the announcement, Apple removed “Fortnite” from its App Store, noting Epic’s “express intent of violating App Store guidelines.” Google also pulled the game from its Play Store. Epic Games responded by suing the two tech giants in federal court, claiming antitrust violations. Continue reading App Store Battle: Epic Sues Apple, Google for Pulling ‘Fortnite’

Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

Microsoft is reentering the mobile phone market with the Surface Duo, a dual-screen Android device priced at $1,399 and up. According to Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay, the company is accepting preorders for the phone that will ship on September 10. The phone will be sold on Microsoft’s website, and at AT&T and Best Buy. The Surface Duo’s screens completely unfold to act as a phone or a book to provide more space for apps. The Surface Duo may appear before Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, which currently has no official release date. Continue reading Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

TikTok Used Privacy Loophole to Track Android Users’ Data

Google limits how Android apps track users, and it appears that TikTok violated this policy by collecting unique identifiers — called MAC addresses — from millions of mobile devices. In fact, TikTok seemed to have concealed this action via an added layer of encryption. TikTok, which has publicly declared it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government, ended the collection of MAC addresses in November. An AppCensus 2018 analysis found that about 1 percent of Android apps collect MAC addresses. Continue reading TikTok Used Privacy Loophole to Track Android Users’ Data

Google Presents Three Phones: Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5

Google recently unveiled three new Pixel phones — the $349 Pixel 4a, available for preorder and shipping on August 20; the 5G-enabled Pixel 5, shipping in the fall; and the Pixel 4a with 5G, priced at $499 and also shipping in the fall. According to Google, issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the Pixel 4a from debuting significantly earlier. The Pixel 4a, $50 less than last year’s Pixel 3a and the iPhone SE, stands apart from several competitors with its camera and “clean version” of Android. Continue reading Google Presents Three Phones: Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5

Apple Stands Firm in Its App Store Rules for Cloud Gaming

After Apple repeatedly rejected the Facebook Gaming app for iOS devices, it finally approved it for the App Store — with the proviso that Facebook strip out all the playable games. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg slammed the decision, saying that “iOS users [will] have an inferior experience to those using Android.” Apple’s App Store also won’t permit Microsoft’s xCloud gaming service as, in the past, it also gave the cold shoulder to Google’s Stadia. Late last week, Facebook announced a new version of its Gaming app for iPhone and iPad users. Continue reading Apple Stands Firm in Its App Store Rules for Cloud Gaming

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