Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Banned from buying U.S. technology, Huawei Technologies is still struggling to replace Google apps, which it utilized for ten years. Although all demand for smartphones is down during the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei’s phones are seeing a 35 percent slowdown of shipments outside of China. According to Canalys, that’s more than double the drop faced by its rival Samsung Electronics and four times that of Apple. The slide threatens to topple Huawei from its No. 2 position in global cell phone brands. Continue reading Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Google introduced Web Vitals, an initiative providing performance and user-experience metrics aimed at web developers and website owners. Google has described it as “essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.” Web Vitals is just one of the tools that Google has offered over the years to help developers, advertisers and business owners improve the user experience of their websites. All those tools, however, have become an information overload that confuses its target demographic. Continue reading Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Despite a decline in iPhone sales, Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent in its fiscal Q2 (ending March 28) to $58.3 billion, with profit falling about 3 percent to $11.25 billion or $2.55 a share. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple projected more than $63 billion, but the numbers still exceeded analysts’ expectations of almost $55 billion in revenue. Due to an uncertain economy in the wake of the pandemic, Apple would not project Q3 sales, the first time it declined to do so since it began offering such guidance in 2003. Continue reading Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Google Search has been offering personalized movie and TV recommendations since last fall. Now it is adding a new Watchlist tab that enables mobile users to easily track and save desired content. In addition, to help Android TV users navigate news and entertainment as we spend more time sheltering at home, Google has introduced three new rows of content from YouTube on the home screen: COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe videos, and ad-supported free movies from YouTube. These new features are among a larger set of announcements made by the company this week. Continue reading Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Facebook will release its free Facebook Gaming mobile app, moving up the original June launch as people are sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, tested in Southeast Asia and Latin America for 18 months, is designed for creating and watching live game play, a burgeoning sector of the $160 billion global games industry. Having invested in gaming to shed a once-drab reputation, Facebook stated that now 700+ million of its 2.5 billion monthly users engage in gaming. Its rivals in live gaming include Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer. Continue reading Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google is offering free gaming on Stadia, which ordinarily costs $130 for a game controller, Chromecast streaming device and game access, opening access to millions of people in 14 countries. With most people now confined to their homes, gaming has shot up, and even the World Health Organization has gotten into it, supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether. By making Stadia free, Google may also gain ground in cloud gaming against its competitors Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Streamer Quibi Is the Most Downloaded App on Its First Day

Short-form streaming video service Quibi (“quick-bites”) launched on Monday and, according to App Annie, had 700,000+ iPhone and Android downloads, making it the most downloaded app that day in the nation. App Annie also revealed that Quibi was No. 2 in entertainment apps for the iPhone on Monday from 3:00 am to 2:00 pm (the No. 1 app during that period was TikTok). App Annie director of market insights Amir Ghodrati stated that this was “a strong start for a brand-new app without an established brand or content.” Continue reading Streamer Quibi Is the Most Downloaded App on Its First Day

Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft rolled out its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, to be available April 21. The plans, which will replace and enhance current Office 365 plans, are priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) plans and $9.99 per month for Family (up to six people) plans. Both of the new plans include Office and access to a Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers, both of which will debut later this year. Other new features will continue to be unveiled over time. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Apple has always had strict limits on apps that users can access on its devices. For gaming, that means its 1+ billion iPhone/iPad users have one option: Arcade, the subscription service Apple unveiled in September. The App Store guidelines also ban streaming from the cloud, which limits Arcade’s capabilities. Still, software developers need to be on Apple’s iOS if they want to reach a maximum number of users. According to Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store was responsible for 65 percent of all global app spending last year. Continue reading Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

After the cancellation of the Game Developers Conference, Google went online to release information about its cloud infrastructure, Google Play and Stadia cloud gaming services. Stadia head of product John Justice reported that Google Ads campaigns have thus far resulted in 27 billion game installs, that mobile gaming is “on track” to reach $100 billion in 2021, and that Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa will drive mobile game growth going forward. There are 2 billion daily active users on Android. Continue reading Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Gartner just released figures on total global smartphone sales that show decreased sales in Q4 2019 despite small year-on-year increases for Apple and Xiaomi. In that quarter, consumers purchased 406.6 million new phones compared to 408.5 million in the same quarter the previous year. Samsung, the long-time leader in smartphone sales, retained the same 17.3 percent market share although it sold fewer units year-on-year. In comparison to Q4 2018, Apple sold 5 million more mobile devices in that quarter in 2019. Continue reading Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Facebook’s 3D Photos feature — which uses depth data to create images that can be examined from different angles via virtual reality headsets — is now available on any of the latest handsets with a single camera, including Apple iPhone 7 or higher or any midrange (and above) Android phone. According to Facebook, the latest in machine learning techniques has made this feature possible. The company first unveiled 3D Photos in late 2018, when it required either a dual-camera phone or a depth map file on the desktop. Continue reading Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

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