Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

Google is shutting down its Stadia video-game streaming service in what many say is a response to leaner times. The cloud-based subscription service is going dark January 18, three years after it launched. It delivers games directly to compatible smart TVs, computers and Android phones, and is accessible to incompatible devices, such as iOS, via web browsers. While Stadia “was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down,” Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison wrote in a blog post. Continue reading Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

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

Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

Netflix has made some budgetary cuts recently, but not in gaming. After three acquisitions, the company is building its first game studio from scratch. The new unit will be Netflix’s second gaming outfit in Finland, and the company has hired Zynga’s Marko Lastikka to run it. Earlier this year, the streamer acquired the Helsinki-based Next Games. The company’s mobile games portfolio also includes developers Boss Fight Entertainment in Allen, Texas and Glendale, California’s Night School Studio. Helsinki “is home to some of the best game talent in the world,” according to Netflix VP of game studios Amir Rahimi. Continue reading Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

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

Instagram Enables Its Users to Upload Longer Video Stories

Photo- and video-sharing social app Instagram is introducing the option for users to upload longer uninterrupted Stories of up to 60 seconds in duration, without automatically converting the video content into 15-second mini-clips as was previously the norm. The Meta Platforms-owned network began testing the update with select users in December 2021 and just announced that the feature is rolling out to all global users. Allowing content creators to share 60-second Stories in one slide is expected to be a welcome change for both users and viewers. Continue reading Instagram Enables Its Users to Upload Longer Video Stories

Lenovo Introduces Wearable Display Glasses for Consumers

Lenovo is entering the consumer market for wearable displays after selling similar devices for business use for the past five years. The lightweight Lenovo Glasses T1 have micro OLED displays featuring 10,000:1 contrast and 1920×1080 pixels per eye, with an audio speaker at each temple. Capable of being powered by a Windows, Android, macOS or iOS device, they connect with USB-C. Lenovo likens the Glasses T1 to having “a personal monitor” in your pocket and says they allow wearers to experience content “well beyond the limited screen size of mobile devices.” Continue reading Lenovo Introduces Wearable Display Glasses for Consumers

Twitter Circle Goes Wide with Tweets for 150 of Your Friends

Twitter is rolling out Twitter Circle globally on iOS, Android and on Twitter.com. The feature, which emulates Instagram’s Close Friends, lets people tweet to a select circle of up to 150 connections. “With Twitter Circle, people now have the flexibility to choose who can see and engage with their content on a tweet-by-tweet basis,” the company said, couching it as a way to “have more intimate conversations and build closer connections with select followers.” Before posting on Twitter, users will now see an option to share tweets with either their circle or full followers list. Continue reading Twitter Circle Goes Wide with Tweets for 150 of Your Friends

Twitter Prioritizes Discovery in Its Podcast Tests with Spaces

Twitter is testing a heightened presence in podcasting, offering a redesigned Spaces tab that includes a podcast option in an announcement that hints at a collaboration with Vox Media. Couched as an investment in audio creators, Twitter says the redesign includes personalized hubs (which it’s calling “Stations”) that group audio content together by specific themes such as News, Music and Sports. Integrating podcasts into Spaces, Twitter’s designated area for audio, is “a simple and intuitive way that allows listeners to simply hit play and go” and compile personal collections of live and recorded Spaces audio discussions. Continue reading Twitter Prioritizes Discovery in Its Podcast Tests with Spaces

Google Debuts AI Test Kitchen, LaMDA Language Generator

Google has launched an AI Test Kitchen and is inviting users to sign up to test experimental AI-powered systems and provide feedback before the applications are deployed for commercial use. First up is the Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), which has shown promising early results. The AI Test Kitchen has begun a gradual rollout to small groups of U.S. on Android with plans to include iOS in the coming weeks. According to Google, “as we move ahead with development, we feel a great responsibility to get this right.”  Continue reading Google Debuts AI Test Kitchen, LaMDA Language Generator

Plex Goes Social for Content Discovery, Adds Music Channels

Free streaming media service Plex is testing a new community-oriented feature called Discover Together that lets users add friends and keep tabs on their favorite programs, viewing their ratings and bookmarks. In addition to enhancing engagement by prompting online discussions, Plex hopes the crowd-sourced community data can eventually help power its recommendation engine. The idea is for Discover Together to launch with a high degree of privacy, inviting users to fill out Plex profiles with their geographic location and Plex Pass status, extending individual friend invites using a Plex username or email. The feature is currently in beta for web, iOS and Android users. Continue reading Plex Goes Social for Content Discovery, Adds Music Channels

Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Google is introducing Stadia improvements including Party Stream, which lets players invite up to nine others to participate in a game session directly through the Stadia app, eliminating the need for a third-party intermediary. Friends can be invited to play along or just watch in any combination, limited to a total of 10. Stadia’s Party Stream chat makes voice and emoji reactions available. Party Stream is available beginning this week to desktop users and through the mobile web on Android. Also new, ”resume live stream” lets players switch Stadia games without having to end a live stream. Continue reading Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Google has updated its developer Play Store policies with an aim toward tamping down intrusive ads and other unpleasant consumer experiences, such as VPN abuse and brand impersonation on Android. Full-screen interstitial ads of all formats (video, GIF, static, etc.) that display unexpectedly — that often lead to users engaging with something else — are forbidden effective September 22. Likewise, apps that allow ads at the beginning of a game level or during the beginning of a game content segment are on the robust list of infractions the Play Store will no longer tolerate. Continue reading Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Amazon is rolling out a redesigned Prime Video app for Android and connected living room devices, including Fire TV for customers worldwide, with iOS and web to follow. The company says the new interface will make discovery and navigation much easier. Among the visual enhancements are a Top 10 Chart showcasing trending Prime Video content and “Super Carousel” displays with “poster-style artwork” for Amazon Originals. Also emphasized is graphical distinction between content included with Prime memberships versus that which is available for general purchase. Continue reading Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

Apple is previewing a new security capability for its upcoming iOS 16 release that is designed to help high-value targets fend off state-sponsored cyberattacks. Politicians, journalists, industrial leaders can all benefit from Lockdown Mode, says Apple, which also shared details of a $10 million research grant to help civil society organizations battle mercenary spyware threats. Emphasizing Lockdown Mode is “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security,” Apple says it will debut this fall, including for the iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. Continue reading Apple’s Lockdown Mode Combats State-Sponsored Spyware

TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

In the wake of an FCC commissioner’s call to have TikTok banned from the Apple and Android stores, company CEO Shou Zi Chew issued a letter assuring senators that the China-based company is doing all it can to “remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.” Responding to questions from nine Republicans — including ranking Senate Commerce Committee member Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — Chew reiterated the claim that TikTok maintains American user data on servers controlled by the U.S. company Oracle, with plans for third-party audits. The dust-up follows an incendiary report by BuzzFeed News. Continue reading TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe