Roku Reports Robust Growth in Q4, Predicts Future Success

Roku, which posted 52 percent growth and generated $1.13 billion last year, predicted that revenue will increase 42 percent to $1.6 billion in 2020. The growth is, in part, a reflection of the explosion of streaming video services with the recent additions of Disney+, Apple TV+ and upcoming Peacock and HBO Max. Strategy Analytics reported that Roku is the U.S. market leader in connected TV devices. At the end of Q4, Roku stated it had 36.9 million active accounts, a 36 percent increase from the previous year. Continue reading Roku Reports Robust Growth in Q4, Predicts Future Success

WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart revealed that the app now has more than two billion active users; numbers were last released two years ago. Cathcart also emphasized that he will continue to defend the messaging app’s encryption, noting that, “for all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other … and we don’t think that should go away in a modern society.” Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp for $21.8 billion, finds encryption a barrier to recuperating its investment. Continue reading WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption

Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

In China, four major mobile companies have teamed up to replace Google Play, which cannot operate there. Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo have revealed plans to debut what they’ve dubbed the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), to make it easier for game, music, movie and other app developers to sell their wares in overseas markets. According to sources, GDSA was originally going to launch in March, but it’s unknown whether that might be delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. Continue reading Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

Amazon Reportedly May Sell Twitch Services to Third Parties

Five years ago, Amazon acquired Twitch and got a leg up in video game streaming. Now Amazon is reportedly preparing to wrest new revenue from Twitch by selling its streaming technology to other companies. In doing so, the company would be taking the same path it did with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which was first used internally and then rolled out for general use. AWS now accounts for half of all Amazon revenue. Should Amazon sell Twitch technology to third parties, it would likely rebrand it for potential buyers. Continue reading Amazon Reportedly May Sell Twitch Services to Third Parties

Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

With the claim that the new AV1 video codec much more efficiently compresses video, Netflix plans to introduce it to its Android app. Until now, Netflix has used the VP9 codec but says AV1 is 20 percent more efficient. The AV1 codec is already enabled for “selected titles” — although it didn’t name specifics — when the user activates the Save Data option. The company also stated it plans to introduce AV1 on all its platforms and is working with chip and device manufacturers to increase compatibility. Continue reading Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

EU Presses Facebook for Documents Related to Competition

The European Commission’ antitrust probe into Facebook is now seeking internal documents related to allegations that Facebook suppressed competition by leveraging its own access to users’ data. EU investigators are also looking into changes Facebook made to software interfaces that enabled app developers to access data, as well as more information on Facebook’s use of Israeli VPN app Onavo it purchased in 2013. Facebook, which shut down Onavo last year, said it disclosed its data collection to users. Continue reading EU Presses Facebook for Documents Related to Competition

White House Pushes For 5G Standards and U.S. Networks

The Trump administration is working with U.S. tech companies, including AT&T, Dell and Microsoft, to develop common engineering standards for 5G telecom networks that would allow software to run on hardware from any manufacturer. In doing so, the U.S. would be able to advance 5G networks without relying on gear from China’s Huawei. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, “the big picture concept is to have all the U.S. 5G architecture and infrastructure done by American firms, principally,” although it could also include technology from Ericsson and Nokia. Continue reading White House Pushes For 5G Standards and U.S. Networks

Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Alphabet’s Google Fiber, a service that provides fiber-to-the-premises IPTV content, is shutting down its bundle offering news, sports, local and premium channels. Existing subscribers to Fiber with TV will not see any changes to their service, but new customers won’t have the option. A company blog post explained that the service would return its focus “to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company.” It added that, “customers today just don’t need traditional TV … [because] the best TV is already online.” Continue reading Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Twitter announced yesterday that it would be more assertive in identifying fake and manipulated content on its platform. Beginning next month, the company plans to add labels or remove tweets that feature such manipulated images and video content. While short of an outright ban, the new policy is meant to address the growing concern of users frustrated by the practice of disinformation spread via social platforms. However, it also highlights the challenges faced by social media companies in regards to balancing freedom of speech, parody and satire, and false or manipulated content. On Monday, YouTube announced its plans to better manage misleading political content on its site. Continue reading New Twitter Policy Aims to Combat Fake Photos and Video

Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Gaana is a growing streaming music service based in Noida, India that offers 45 million songs in 20 regional languages to its 152 million monthly users. Backed by India’s Bennett Coleman & Co. and China’s Tencent Holdings, Gaana offers hyperlocal content and voice-based search, ideal for those with limited literacy skills. Only about half of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, giving Gaana plenty of room to grow. Even so, numerous music streamers from outside India — including Spotify, YouTube Music and ByteDance’s Resso — are pursuing music market share there. Continue reading Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

With its latest iPhone, AirPods wireless earbuds and apps, Apple’s revenue rose 9 percent in the December quarter, to $91.82 billion. In response, the company’s shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. Apple’s flagship smartphone, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, rose 8 percent to $55.96 billion. China’s coronavirus outbreak poses uncertainty, since most of the tech giant’s products are manufactured there. Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is limiting travel to China and reducing store operating hours in the country. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

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

AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

Researchers from Adobe, the Indian Institute of Technology and Stanford University teamed up to create SieveNet, an AI-powered technology that allows a user to virtually try on clothing. The “image-based virtual try-on” maps the item to the virtual body, retaining its characteristics without creating blurry or bleeding textures. According to banking company Klarna, 29 percent of shoppers want to virtually try on apparel, accessories and cosmetics and 49 percent would like solutions that take their measurements into account. Continue reading AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

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