Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced its plans to restrict certain content, including posts that promote cosmetic surgery procedures and weight-loss products, from users who are younger than 18 years of age. While some posts will be hidden from young users, other posts will be removed altogether from both Instagram and Facebook, including those from A-list celebrities such as the Kardashians. The move is part of an effort by the social networks to address growing concerns regarding the significant impact of influencer marketing on children. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

For the holidays, Facebook plans to unveil a Portal TV streaming device that will feature a camera and far-field microphones and offer video chat with TV viewing and augmented reality. Rather than competing directly with Fire TV or Roku, the device focuses more on video chatting. It is also likely to run Android, as does most Facebook hardware including Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. By being based on the Android operating system, the Portal device will synch seamlessly with Android-based TV apps. Continue reading Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

Apple signaled its steps toward augmented reality with a feature found in both iOS 13 and Xcode 11. Developers Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo discovered StarBoard, a stereo AR feature that appears to be similar to iOS’s CarPlay feature, which relies on an iPhone to generate graphics for a vehicle’s external touchscreen. But whereas CarPlay outputs a single image for a 2D display, StarBoard can apparently output two images for a 3D stereo headset, paired with a touch-based AR navigation controller. Continue reading Apple’s iOS 13 Reveals Path Forward for Augmented Reality

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

California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1

The California State Assembly gave its final approval, in a 56-to-15 vote, for AB-5, a bill that strikes a blow against the gig economy, forcing companies such as Lyft and Uber to treat contract workers as employees. The bill originally passed in the State Senate in a 29-to-11 vote and applies to all app-based companies. Governor Gavin Newsom, who endorsed the bill, is expected to sign it; the law will go into effect January 1. Uber has stated it will do “whatever it takes” to keep their drivers independent contractors. Continue reading California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1

Streaming Options Impact Bandwidth Consumption Rankings

With the dramatic increase in the amount of video streaming from Internet-based apps, Netflix has ceded its position as the No. 1 consumer of bandwidth. That’s according to Sandvine’s 2019 Global Internet Phenomena Report, which added that HTTP media streaming accounted for 12.8 percent of downstream Internet traffic globally in the first six months of 2019, whereas Netflix accounted for 12.6 percent. In the Americas, Netflix’s downstream traffic in the same period dropped to 12.9 percent from last year’s 19.1 percent. Continue reading Streaming Options Impact Bandwidth Consumption Rankings

GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker by sales, plans to build Google’s apps into its vehicles’ touchscreen displays. Beginning with model year 2022, GM brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC will feature Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play app store, accessible on the vehicles’ dashboard displays. Today’s car buyers have expressed interest in an experience similar to what is available with their mobile devices, but not all automobile integration has proven satisfying. The automaker aims to create a more positive experience, with plans to eventually make infotainment systems powered by Android available on millions of its vehicles sold worldwide. Continue reading GM to Feature Google Apps and Voice Assistant in Vehicles

Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

Samsung Electronics is prepping to unveil a Galaxy Note 10 that offers support of the Klaytn blockchain platform created by Ground X Corp., the blockchain affiliate of South Korea’s largest messaging app Kakao. The KlaytnPhone, to be sold exclusively in South Korea, is Samsung’s most significant — although not its first — foray into blockchain. In March, it unveiled some models of the Galaxy S10 and already released Galaxy Note 10 that allowed users to store and use cryptocurrencies through a separate security feature. Continue reading Samsung to Intro Blockchain-Enabled Phone in South Korea

New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Google launched a new feature for mobile in the U.S. that offers personalized recommendations of movies and TV shows. The feature is an update to Google’s efforts to provide details involving entertainment media. The current “Knowledge Panel” that appears when conducting a Google search for a movie or TV show includes an overview, ratings, reviews, cast members, and services that offer the title for purchase or streaming. The new feature will help users who do not have a specific title in mind by answering a query such as “good shows to watch” and then directing them to content based on their taste and current subscriptions. It also works with more specific queries and gets smarter based on the amount of user data collected. Continue reading New Google Feature Helps You Find Movies and TV Shows

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

After functioning as Android Q Beta for much of the year, the newly named Android 10 is now rolling out to devices, beginning with all Pixel phone models. According to Google, the company is working with other device partners to debut or upgrade their existing operating systems. Android 10 introduces fully gestural navigation (via swipe gestures), which replaces navigation buttons, thus providing more space for apps. There’s also support for a so-called dark theme which features white type against a black background. Continue reading Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

In early 2020, Samsung Electronics plans to introduce its second foldable device, this one featuring a 6.7-inch inner display that folds like a clamshell into a compact square. The company aims to make its second try at a bendable smartphone both thinner and more affordable than this year’s Galaxy Fold. Samsung has collaborated with U.S. designer Thom Browne on the new phone, attempting to make it a must-have fashionable luxury device. The phone will also have a hole-punch selfie camera at the top of the inner display. Continue reading Samsung Plans to Intro Squarer Version of Its Galaxy Fold

Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

More than 419 million records of Facebook users in the United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam — including Facebook IDs and user phone numbers — were recently found online (although Facebook disputes that number). The exposed server was reportedly not password-protected, which suggests the database was accessible to anyone. The server contained user data across multiple databases that could potentially enable spam calls and SIM-swapping attacks. According to Facebook, the breach involved user data collected prior to the introduction of new security measures. The company has since taken the exposed data set offline.  Continue reading Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap added new features to Lens Studio, its easy-to-use desktop app that lets users create augmented reality lenses. To make it more appealing to creators, from novices to professional 3D modelers, Snap introduced the Landmarker template, which supports 14 new real-world locations; six new facial templates; and an interactive how-to for newbies. Available for free download, Lens Studio runs on Windows 10 and macOS 10.11 or later. Over half a million Lenses have been developed since Lens Studio debuted in late 2017. Continue reading Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Media center app developer Plex signed a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution to add an unspecified number of free movies and TV shows to its app when it debuts ad-supported video streaming later this year. Plex hopes to evolve its app into a “one-stop shop” for digital media, with plans to resell video subscription services and add transactional VOD in 2020. Plex chief executive Keith Valory noted that you “shouldn’t have to go to a lot of different apps to get the content you care about.” Continue reading Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

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