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

Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

Senate Homeland Security Committee leaders Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have introduced a bill requiring a risk framework for open-source code. The proposed legislation would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop the risk evaluation process for open-source software being used by federal agencies and critical infrastructure. The move follows the discovery in December of a vulnerability in the Apache Software Foundation’s popular Log4j Java logging utility. Peters said the Log4j incident presented a serious threat to banks, hospitals, and utility companies, among other national security operations. Continue reading Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder. Continue reading Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

OpenAI Rolls Out Open-Source Speech Recognition System

OpenAI has released a new open source AI speech recognition model called Whisper that can recognize and translate audio at levels it says compare in accuracy and robustness to human abilities. Case uses include transcription of speeches, interviews, podcasts and conversations. “Moreover, it enables transcription in multiple languages, as well as translation from those languages into English,” says OpenAI, which is open-sourcing models and inference code on GitHub “to serve as a foundation for building useful applications and for further research on robust speech processing.” Continue reading OpenAI Rolls Out Open-Source Speech Recognition System

Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Spotify is expanding beyond music and podcasts by adding audiobooks. The company is starting out with just over 300,000 titles, available for purchase in the U.S. “This is just the beginning,” says Spotify, promising a geographic expansion. In June, the audio streamer completed its purchase of global audiobooks distributor Findaway, announced last year. The acquisition was designed to make it a major player on entry, competing with Amazon’s Audible, the nation’s biggest audiobook service. Unlike Audible, Spotify is individually pricing audiobook titles and offering them à la carte, not by subscription. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

GoPro Unveils 3 New Models of Hero11 Black Action Camera

GoPro’s latest action camera, the Hero11 Black, which comes with an improved 1/1.9 sensor that offers impressive flexibility in “Full Frame” mode, which lets you shoot once, then output video at multiple aspect ratios (4K, 16:9 for YouTube; 9:16 for TikTok) with different framing but no loss in image quality. Video resolution tops out at to 5.3K at 60fps, with still grabs of 24.7 MP and 27 MP photos. Other new features include 10-bit color, an 8:7 aspect ratio (to complement the existing 16:9 and 4:3) and HyperSmooth 5.0, a notably improved iteration of GoPro’s image stabilization. Continue reading GoPro Unveils 3 New Models of Hero11 Black Action Camera

Internal Meta Study Shows Reels Struggling Against TikToks

Instagram seems to be having a hard time gaining traction against TikTok, whose users collectively spend 197.8 million hours daily on the platform, compared to the 17.6 million hours a day Instagram users spend viewing Reels, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal sourcing Meta Platforms internal research. The August report, “Creators x Reels State of the Union 2022,” indicates that Reels engagement was down 13.6 percent “over the previous four weeks — and that ‘most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever.’” Of about 11 million U.S. creators on Instagram, only 2.3 million, or 20.7 percent, post Reels monthly. Continue reading Internal Meta Study Shows Reels Struggling Against TikToks

EU’s Cyber Resilience Act Plans to Augment Security for IoT

The European Union has released additional details of its Cyber Resilience Act (CRA), proposed cybersecurity rules initially introduced last year aimed at the growing number of smart devices and the Internet of Things. The goal is to introduce effective regulations that would help curb surging cyberattacks. Major tech companies from Apple to Amazon and LG would need to meet strict new standards in the connected electronics space or face significant fines that could run as high as the greater of $15 million or 2.5 percent of a company’s worldwide revenue. Continue reading EU’s Cyber Resilience Act Plans to Augment Security for IoT

Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

The world is preparing for a passwordless future, which Apple provides with the September 12 launch of iOS 16 and macOS Ventura next month. Known as passkeys, the password replacement will work across iPhones, iPads, and Macs, letting users log in to apps and websites and create new accounts without having to store a password. Made from a cryptographic key pair, the passkey is synced across iCloud’s Keychain. Google, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Amazon are also in various stages of developing passkeys using standards created by the FIDO Alliance, which means they’ll all likely be interoperable. Continue reading Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

Apple Unveils New iPhone Line, Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro

Apple revealed its highly anticipated 5G-capable phones this week during its annual September product event. While all four models — including the iPhone 14 and larger iPhone 14 Plus — offer improved cameras and new safety features, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first to utilize Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, built on the new 4-nanometer process. Apple calls it “the fastest chip in a smartphone.” All four models have satellite connectivity to send emergency messages in areas without cell coverage. The company also debuted the Apple Watch Ultra, aimed at high-performance athletes, and the AirPods Pro. Continue reading Apple Unveils New iPhone Line, Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

Meta and Qualcomm Will Develop Next-Generation VR Chips

Meta Platforms is joining forces with Qualcomm to develop a next-generation extended reality chipset for its Meta Quest 2 and other headsets. The multi-year agreement, announced at the IFA 2022 consumer electronics show in Berlin, will focus on virtual reality and augmented reality applications. While the deal leverages Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR platforms, engineering and product teams from each company will collaborate on “core technologies to accelerate a fully realized metaverse,” Qualcomm president and CEO Cristiano Amon announced from the stage at Friday’s IFA keynote in which he was joined remotely by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Continue reading Meta and Qualcomm Will Develop Next-Generation VR Chips

Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Meta Platforms is assessing “possible paid features” for its social apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, according to an internal employee memo. The initiative, under a freshly minted division called New Monetization Experiences, led by Pratiti Raychoudhury, represents Meta’s first coordinated move into paid features across social platforms serving an estimated 3.65 billion monthly users worldwide, per Statista. It comes at a time when Meta is under pressure to increase revenue, which has taken a hit from Apple’s ad-tracking changes and a general softening in digital ad spending. Continue reading Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Snap Canceling Projects and Cutting 20 Percent of Workforce

Snap Inc. announced plans to cancel ongoing projects such as Snap Originals, in-app multiplayer games, HTML mini-apps built by outside developers, and future development of its Pixy selfie-camera drone — all part of a corporate restructuring that will include laying off about 20 percent of its more than 6,400 employees. The company, which operates the popular social media app Snapchat, is taking cost-cutting measures as it faces growing competition from TikTok and other rivals and challenges to its core digital advertising business. Continue reading Snap Canceling Projects and Cutting 20 Percent of Workforce