Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Apple has revised its App Store review guidelines used to curate iOS/iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS App Stores, most notably, now allowing developers to serve ads via push notifications. In past guidelines, Apple specifically said that push notifications should not be used for “advertising, promotions or direct marketing purposes.” The revised guidelines also expand the definition of a spam app and state that legal entities of services in “highly regulated fields” should submit the app rather than individual developers. Continue reading Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

New Disney Streamer Tops App Downloads, Google Search

In the first month since its debut, streaming platform Disney+ ranked No. 1 every day in Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the U.S., with 22 million global downloads of its mobile app. According to Apptopia, Disney+ has averaged 9.5 million daily active users, 84 percent of whom reside in the U.S. It added that the new streaming service also has 5.8 percent longer average session times on a per-user basis than Netflix and 7.8 percent longer than Amazon Prime Video. Google reported that “Disney Plus” was its top search trend for 2019. Continue reading New Disney Streamer Tops App Downloads, Google Search

Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

According to Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer, the company will introduce its xCloud game streaming service, integrated with Xbox Game Pass, in 2020, with price and launch date to be determined. Microsoft will also bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs, making it likely that PC games will be streamed there in the future. Microsoft head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry noted the lack of mouse and keyboard support for Xbox games streamed via xCloud to a PC, but said there will “be more types of content” in the future. Continue reading Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple’s debut of its streaming service, Apple TV+, has garnered outsized attention. But an examination of Apple’s spending on marketing indicates the Silicon Valley company’s main priority is its new iPhone. In September and October this year, Apple spent a total of $71.9 million on iPhone ads and $40.3 million on Apple TV+ ads. In October, for example, Apple spent $19.9 million on television commercials for Apple TV+, but, according to measurement company iSpot.tv, only $38.6 million on the new iPhone. Continue reading Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

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

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

How Apple and Huawei Compare in Manufacturing Devices

Huawei Technologies unveiled its anticipated in-house software it hopes will replace Google’s Android. The new Harmony operating system (formerly code-named “Ark,” Chinese name “Hongmeng”) is evidence of Huawei’s move towards self-reliance in the face of U.S. sanctions against the sale of U.S. components to the company and the escalating trade war between the two countries. In fact, Huawei’s new emphasis on autonomy is similar to that of Apple, which bought Intel’s modem manufacturing unit and also attempts to bulletproof its pipeline in an uncertain economic environment. Continue reading How Apple and Huawei Compare in Manufacturing Devices

Facebook Plans to Test Selling VOD Subs Directly to Users

Facebook will launch a small-scale test in the U.S. over the coming weeks to sell video subscriptions directly to its users for BritBox from BBC Studios and ITV, Dropout by CollegeHumor, Motor Trend On Demand and Tastemade Plus. Facebook will initially test the waters with these four smaller services. While no major streaming video services are scheduled to be part of the test, Facebook has contacted networks such as HBO and Showtime about selling their OTT services on the social platform and has reportedly talked with Disney, Hulu and Netflix about offering their streaming services via a new TV chat device rumored to be launching this fall. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Test Selling VOD Subs Directly to Users

Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent to $53.81 billion despite a 12 percent decline in iPhone sales, for the quarter ending June 29. Profit also slumped for the third straight quarter — 13 percent to $10.04 billion. At the same time, per-share earnings of $2.18 surpassed analyst predictions. Apple was able to achieve positive revenue despite lagging iPhone sales by growth in iPad and Mac sales as well as App Store sales, mobile payments and device insurance, which rose 13 percent to $11.46 billion. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Why Adware Is the Most Intrusive Malware on Our Devices

Adware is the flavor of malware that the ordinary person is most likely to encounter on a smartphone or browser. Aimed at generating profits, adware sneaks ads into apps and browsers, with advertisers paying developers based on the number of people who load them. The smartphone is the ideal environment for this version of malware, via apps sold in Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store. Ad malware largely goes unnoticed because its main impact (besides relentlessly serving ads) is to slow down the device. Continue reading Why Adware Is the Most Intrusive Malware on Our Devices

Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

Apple is hoping that its new App Store website will help curb accusations regarding antitrust and anti-competition practices. Ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, the company launched a new App Store site with details about how apps are carefully reviewed and curated, and the different business models that are available to app developers. “We created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers,” the company detailed on the site. Continue reading Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

Meta View, a new spatial computing company backed by Olive Tree Ventures and BNSG Capital, has acquired the IP assets of Meta Company, a pioneer in AR head-mounted displays that shut down earlier this year. Meta Company previously generated a lot of buzz regarding its Meta 2 headset and wide field-of-view display system. To run the new San Mateo, California-based company, Meta View has hired former Qualcomm VP Jay Wright as CEO. Wright co-founded Vuforia, where he served as president and GM cultivating the popular AR platform. Continue reading New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

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