TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

TikTok has officially gone live with Effect House, the augmented reality tool that allows users to create AR filters and share them with the community. The ByteDance company has been testing the feature since last summer. Since then, at least 450 creators have used Effect House to create more than 1.5 billion videos that generated over 600 billion global views, according to TikTok. “Whether you’re teleporting into new worlds with Green Screen or freeze-framing with Time Warp Scan,” Effect House empowers expression “through a wide array of engaging and immersive formats.” Continue reading TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

New Plex Features Help Viewers Navigate Streaming Services

Further to its goal of becoming a sort of Google-with-benefits for viewers who stream TV shows and movies across multiple platforms, Plex is reformatting its welcome screen to include a discover feature, universal search and universal watchlists. Rolling out in beta, the new Plex interface offers what amounts to personalized search-and-save “across virtually any streaming service,” from Plex’s own free movies and television series to subscription services like Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max. “As of today, Plex searches, personalizes, and organizes all of your content, no matter where that content lives,” the company announced. Continue reading New Plex Features Help Viewers Navigate Streaming Services

Google Service Helps Creators Build Personalized Storefronts

Google’s in-house incubator Area 120 recently introduced Qaya, a new service that helps creators build their own digital storefronts. Qaya, which was co-created by Area 120 founder-in-residence Nathaniel Naddaff-Hafrey, is designed to help creators monetize their products and services by offering them directly to fans via personalized storefronts that can be integrated with Google Search and Google Shopping. Currently in beta, the Qaya-powered storefronts can host up to 1,000 products each. Google Pay is built into the service, with support for subscriptions, tipping and one-time payments. Qaya also offers sales analytics. Continue reading Google Service Helps Creators Build Personalized Storefronts

Meta Bumps ‘Horizon Worlds’ Out of Beta in U.S. and Canada

Meta Platforms last week threw open the doors to its “Horizon Worlds” virtual reality, online video platform. The collaborative environment has been in private beta since 2019 and had required an invitation to join. Now adults in the U.S. and Canada can download the free “Horizon Worlds” app and experience CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse, as long as they have a Meta Quest 2 and a Facebook account. The playground lets users build things and virtually hang out with as many as 20 people in an environment that feels like being dropped into the OASIS of “Ready Player One.” Continue reading Meta Bumps ‘Horizon Worlds’ Out of Beta in U.S. and Canada

OpenAI Debuts Tool to Translate Natural Language into Code

OpenAI’s Codex, an AI system that translates natural language into code, was released via an API in private beta. Codex, trained on billions of lines of public code, can turn plain English commands into 12+ programming languages and also powers GitHub service Copilot that suggests whole lines of code within Microsoft Visual Studio and other development environments. OpenAI explained that Codex will be offered for free during an “initial period,” and invites “businesses and developers to build on top of it through the API.”

Continue reading OpenAI Debuts Tool to Translate Natural Language into Code

SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has already launched 1,500+ satellites for Elon Musk’s broadband Internet network Starlink that is currently available in about a dozen countries. According to Musk, who spoke at the Mobile World Congress this week, Starlink will be beaming Internet everywhere in the world except polar regions by August. He added that Starlink should have about 500,000 users within the next 12 months and that SpaceX will have invested between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow becomes positive. Continue reading SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

Short-form video app Clash, which debuted in August, just acquired Byte, another short-form video app released a year ago. Byte creator Dom Hofmann was a co-founder of Vine, the once-popular six-second video app that shut down operations in 2016. Clash CEO and co-founder Brendon McNerney, formerly a star on Vine, explained that it is “more of an IP acquisition where we’re going to be taking over the community.” Byte and Clash will debut “in a few short months” as one product with monetization tools for creators. Continue reading Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Nvidia debuted its GeForce NOW gaming service, putting it in competition with rivals Apple, Google, Microsoft and Sony. It will connect to PCs, Android phones and Apple Macs, but there is no version for iPads or iPhones. After a free promotional period, GeForce NOW will be priced at $4.99 per month. The games will stream from Nvidia’s data centers, powered by its highest-end graphics cards, providing high definition gaming to all compatible devices. The service will also allow consumers to access titles they’ve bought elsewhere. Continue reading Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Twitter has purchased Lightwell, an app creation engine originally debuted two years ago by Hullabalu, an interactive storytelling startup. In its Twitter account, Lightwell said its work would focus on conversations and that its toolset, which has required a subscription, will be available for free this week as part of the purchase. Without the need to create an account, Lightwell users will be able to “layout, prototype, and export to iOS.” Lightwell also announced that it would no longer support or add new features to the toolset. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Continue reading Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Social video startup TRASH aims to make it simple for users to create short videos to share with friends. CEO Hannah Donovan, previously general manager at Twitter’s now defunct Vine video app, co-founder of music-discovery site This Is My Jam, and former head of creative at Last.fm, points out that research shows most consumers carry powerful cameras with them, but don’t know much about editing video content. So she set out to leverage computer vision technology to analyze video and synthesize the content into an appealing sequence. The free TRASH app does just that, as explained by its simple tagline, “You shoot, we edit.” Continue reading Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Twitter unveiled its new camera feature at SXSW this week, 12 years after the social micro-blog made its initial splash as a hot new app at the Austin, Texas conference. Over the next week, Twitter users on iOS and Android devices will start to have access to the in-app camera for recording and sharing photos and short videos. It also includes the option to livestream from the user’s location, while Twitter will recommend nearby locations to tag and relevant event hashtags if geolocating services are turned on. Additionally, the upgrade allows users to add captions and change the tweet text background color. Continue reading Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

Microsoft’s LinkedIn is the latest social platform to pursue the growing popularity of online video. The network, now touting nearly 600 million global users, is launching a live video feature that allows individual users and organizations to broadcast video in real-time to select groups or the LinkedIn community. “LinkedIn Live” will initially be offered as an invite-only beta test in the U.S. with plans for a contact form in upcoming weeks for others interesting in trying the new feature. LinkedIn is partnering with several developers of live streaming services to help creators produce more polished video content. Continue reading LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Facebook unveiled Spectrum, an open-source image processing library to help improve the quality and reliability of images uploaded through its own apps. Spectrum, which Facebook first showed publicly and launched in beta in November, is now on GitHub, available to the developer community. As higher quality cameras on smartphones have become a key selling point, consumers are dealing with larger image files, which can be a stumbling block since they eat up more device memory and more network bandwidth. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library