Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

For the holidays, Facebook plans to unveil a Portal TV streaming device that will feature a camera and far-field microphones and offer video chat with TV viewing and augmented reality. Rather than competing directly with Fire TV or Roku, the device focuses more on video chatting. It is also likely to run Android, as does most Facebook hardware including Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. By being based on the Android operating system, the Portal device will synch seamlessly with Android-based TV apps. Continue reading Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple’s video game subscription service Arcade, due to unveil September 19, is based on an established model for casual mobile games — with a twist. Ordinarily, the games are free to download and play, but the companies make money with ads and sales of in-game purchases. Apple is charging $5 per month for those free games, but shedding the ads and digital add-ons. The question is if Apple can change an industry’s typical business model. Microsoft and Google have tried the subscription model, but for higher end games. Continue reading Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker by sales, plans to build Google’s apps into its vehicles’ touchscreen displays. Beginning with model year 2022, GM brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC will feature Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play app store, accessible on the vehicles’ dashboard displays. Today’s car buyers have expressed interest in an experience similar to what is available with their mobile devices, but not all automobile integration has proven satisfying. The automaker aims to create a more positive experience, with plans to eventually make infotainment systems powered by Android available on millions of its vehicles sold worldwide. Continue reading GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

Samsung Electronics is prepping to unveil a Galaxy Note 10 that offers support of the Klaytn blockchain platform created by Ground X Corp., the blockchain affiliate of South Korea’s largest messaging app Kakao. The KlaytnPhone, to be sold exclusively in South Korea, is Samsung’s most significant — although not its first — foray into blockchain. In March, it unveiled some models of the Galaxy S10 and already released Galaxy Note 10 that allowed users to store and use cryptocurrencies through a separate security feature. Continue reading Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

After functioning as Android Q Beta for much of the year, the newly named Android 10 is now rolling out to devices, beginning with all Pixel phone models. According to Google, the company is working with other device partners to debut or upgrade their existing operating systems. Android 10 introduces fully gestural navigation (via swipe gestures), which replaces navigation buttons, thus providing more space for apps. There’s also support for a so-called dark theme which features white type against a black background. Continue reading Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

In early 2020, Samsung Electronics plans to introduce its second foldable device, this one featuring a 6.7-inch inner display that folds like a clamshell into a compact square. The company aims to make its second try at a bendable smartphone both thinner and more affordable than this year’s Galaxy Fold. Samsung has collaborated with U.S. designer Thom Browne on the new phone, attempting to make it a must-have fashionable luxury device. The phone will also have a hole-punch selfie camera at the top of the inner display. Continue reading Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

During the star-studded D23 Expo in Anaheim the last several days, Disney announced plans for an Epcot transformation, the new Avenger Campus theme park attractions, a retail collaboration that will bring Disney stores to select Target locations, a first-of-its-kind Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs, a summer 2020 reopening of Disney’s Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris featuring a design based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new port of call for Disney Cruise Lines on Eleuthera, and a new docu-series on the people behind Disney movies and parks. The company also revealed more details of its upcoming streaming video service. Continue reading Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Amazon first indicated its ambition to put Alexa into cars several years ago, and in 2018 introduced Echo Auto, designed to be integrated into vehicle entertainment systems. Since then, Audi and BMW began selling some models that incorporate the company’s digital assistant. But Amazon faces stiff competition from Apple and Google, which have already made inroads, and some vehicle manufacturers are loath to adopt third-party technology. Although Amazon won’t generate much revenue initially in the auto market, the company believes that opportunities will grow much larger in the future. Continue reading Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google shut down its free Mobile Network Insights service, which provided Android phone data to wireless carriers, to avert regulatory scrutiny. The service, launched in March 2017 and shuttered this April, mapped carrier signal strengths and connection speeds area-by-area, helping carriers to determine where their coverage needed to be increased or strengthened. The anonymous data was retrieved from devices using Google’s Android operating system, which accounts for about 75 percent of the world’s smartphones. Continue reading Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google Open-Sources Technology For Real-Time Captions

Google is looking to help developers create real-time captioning for long-form conversations in multiple languages. The company recently open-sourced the speech engine used for Live Transcribe, its Android speech-to-text transcription app designed for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and posted the source code on GitHub. Live Transcribe, launched in February, is a tool that uses machine learning algorithms to convert audio into captions. Live Transcribe can transcribe speech in more than 70 languages and dialects into captions in real-time. Continue reading Google Open-Sources Technology For Real-Time Captions

Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

YouTube has released new details regarding its previously announced transition to ad-supported free content to be made available via YouTube Originals. According to a statement from the YouTube team: “New YouTube Originals series, movies, and live events released after September 24, 2019 will be made available to non-members to watch for free, with ads. For series, members will get immediate access to every episode of a new season, while non-members will have to wait for each new episode to be released.” Continue reading Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

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