Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

In a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court took Google’s side in a copyright battle with Oracle over the former’s use of Java APIs in its Android operating system. Oracle, which had purchased Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems, sought billions of dollars in damages for what it claimed was copyright infringement. Google argued that free access to the Java software interfaces was important to innovation. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that Google made “fair use” of the Java code. Continue reading Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Five months ago, T-Mobile debuted its TVision streaming service. Now, the company explains that its three live channel bundles — Live, Live Plus and Live Zone — will end April 29th. That’s due to its new partnership with Google and YouTube, in which YouTube TV will “now fill the role of its live TV solution.” Customers who subscribed to one of the TVision Live packages will get one free month of YouTube TV, and all T-Mobile subscribers can save $10 on the YouTube TV monthly rate of $64.99 and get three free months of YouTube Premium. Continue reading T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

Google recently formed the Android Ready SE Alliance with the goal of enabling the speedier distribution of Secure Element (SE) technology for digital wallets and digital car and home keys among other products. In Google’s Pixel phones, the SE is a Titan M chip which, separate from the phone’s processor, stores encryption keys and validates the operating system. The Android Ready SE Alliance’s device manufacturers and SE sellers hope to speed up the timeline to bring a variety of these digital products to market.

Continue reading Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Twitter will debut Spaces, a rival to audio-chat app Clubhouse, in April according to a tweet in a public Twitter Space audio room by host Alex (@akkhosh). Twitter will also soon allow anyone to host a Twitter Spaces room. Twitter Spaces was released in beta on the Android platform late in 2020. The product will roll out for Android and iOS; Twitter is also considering support for using music and allowing tweeting in Spaces. In addition, Twitter is working on a Spaces “Tip Jar” to let users donate to content creators with donations. Continue reading Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Netflix just added First Laughs to its iPhone app, offering comedy clips from movies, TV shows and its own stand-up comedy specials, with the full-screen vertical video running via an auto-playing feed. The company stated it will debut up to 100 curated clips per day. Fast Laughs also includes social features and lets users add titles to their watch list or start watching a program immediately. The length of each video segment will run from about 15 seconds to up to 45 seconds or longer. The idea of watching content on the go echoes TikTok and the now defunct Quibi. Continue reading Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Treasury Department May Put an End to Location Data Sales

The U.S. military, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are reportedly among the agencies that have been buying citizens’ location data from commercial services. Now, a Treasury Department inspector general report has indicated that this practice is illegal without first obtaining a warrant. The agencies in question say they are buying commercially available data from those who have consented to having their data collected. Continue reading Treasury Department May Put an End to Location Data Sales

Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Google is shutting down the Stadia division that makes exclusive games in order to “focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships,” said Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison. He added that the plan is to expand “efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.” Alphabet debuted Stadia in November 2019 to compete with major video game console companies. Continue reading Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Discovery launched its discovery+ streaming service in the U.S. this week, which can be downloaded from an extensive list of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire Edition TVs, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (2017 and newer), Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S (but not PlayStation 4 or 5), on mobile via Android and iOS, and via the web on Chrome OS, macOS and Windows PCs. TVs with built-in Chromecast or AirPlay support can cast content from the app. The SVOD service launches with more than 55,000 episodes from channels including Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, ID, OWN, TLC, Travel Channel and others. Continue reading Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Google issued its first formal rejoinder to the Justice Department’s charges that the company has used its position, including deals with other Big Tech companies, to maintain its dominance in online search. Google denies, in a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, charges of violating antitrust laws or engaging in anticompetitive behavior. Evidence was uncovered that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist” one another should they be investigated for working together on online advertising. Continue reading Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Spatial Intros Augmented Reality Platform for Mobile Devices

With the COVID-19 pandemic, use of Zoom and other platforms enabling remote collaboration has skyrocketed. Now, Spatial Systems, a holographic platform for augmented reality and virtual reality, debuted an AR app for iOS and Android that can run on nearly any current generation mobile device. Pricey AR and VR headsets have remained out of reach for many, but there are billions of smartphones enabled for augmented reality on the market. Spatial relied on ARKit and ARCore for iOS and Android to achieve its AR and VR capabilities. Continue reading Spatial Intros Augmented Reality Platform for Mobile Devices

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