Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

At an event on the “Future of Search,” Google unveiled what’s next for its search engine. The Google homepage will start highlighting a user’s frequently searched topics before she begins searching, in response to a finding that one in eight queries per month are repeats. Google Feed is being rebranded as “Discover,” and will be placed underneath the Google.com search bar on all mobile browsers, highlighting news, video and information Google believes the user is interested in. Visuals will be more prominent on the site. Continue reading Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

New Google Now API Could Impact the Future of Android Apps

Google will release an open API for the Google Now dashboard/personal assistant, which will allow developers to integrate their apps into the service. Android users might one day be able to get all of the relevant information from Google Now without ever having to open the apps. Currently, Google Now only pulls notifications from Google-based apps like Maps and Search, but another 40 third-party apps are in a pilot program to integrate their apps with Google Now. Continue reading New Google Now API Could Impact the Future of Android Apps

YouTube Upgrades Support Music Artists and Virtual Reality

YouTube has made some compelling new changes in the last week. The video site just announced the launch of its “Cards” system, which is designed to eventually supplant annotations. The company also announced its new site, “YouTube for Artists,” essentially a resource guide for music artists promoting their work on YouTube. In addition, YouTube now supports 360-degree video formats in most of its mobile and Internet platforms, a move the company promised earlier in the year to address the growing interest in virtual reality content. Continue reading YouTube Upgrades Support Music Artists and Virtual Reality

Podcasting App Swell Shutters Following Acquisition by Apple

Earlier this week we reported that Apple would acquire recommendation startup BookLamp, often referred to as “the Pandora for books.” In related news, Apple has purchased podcasting app Swell, described as “the Pandora of talk radio.” Following the acquisition, Swell announced that its service is no longer available. Disappointed users may be hoping that Apple will somehow integrate Swell into its offerings. Meanwhile, NPR just launched its NPR One app, which offers similar functionality. Continue reading Podcasting App Swell Shutters Following Acquisition by Apple

VidCon 2014: YouTube CEO Unveils New Tools for Creators

During her keynote at VidCon in Anaheim, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced new and upcoming tools designed for content creators. Wojcicki unveiled a creator tip jar, analytics app, fan-submitted subtitles, channel management tools and more. The new products are intended to engage a larger worldwide audience, help build successful businesses and manage creative work. She also noted that YouTube’s new ad campaign has helped more than double awareness of creators. Continue reading VidCon 2014: YouTube CEO Unveils New Tools for Creators

Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix has raised its monthly price for new subscribers by $1 to $8.99, marking its first price increase in three years. CEO Reed Hastings recently announced that a price increase would likely be necessary to meet the rising costs of movies and TV shows. The video streaming service introduced a new $7.99 plan for subscribers not concerned with high-definition or the ability to stream programs on multiple devices, while a $11.99 premium plan lets users stream shows to four devices at once. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix Passes 34 Million Subscribers, Previews Price Increase

Netflix announced on Monday that it plans to raise the price of its streaming video service for new members by a dollar or two per month. The service, which now has more than 34 million paid U.S. subscribers, is justifying the rate increase based on its continued investment in original programs, including series such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” In addition to its first-quarter earnings report yesterday, Netflix announced opposition to Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Continue reading Netflix Passes 34 Million Subscribers, Previews Price Increase

STB News: Google Getting Closer to Unveiling its Android TV

According to documents obtained by The Verge, Google is getting ready to launch Android TV, which is expected to be very different than the failed Google TV. Rather than turning your television into a bigger version of your smartphone, Android TV will be a new entertainment interface similar to set-top boxes such as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Major video app providers are reportedly already building for the platform, which is expected to support voice input, notifications and optional game controllers. Continue reading STB News: Google Getting Closer to Unveiling its Android TV

Samsung Unveils Pricing, Availability of Upcoming Ultra HDTVs

Samsung announced details regarding its 2014 lineup of Ultra HDTVs and a new 4K video collection. The entry level U8550 flat panel line, starting at $2,500 for the 50-inch model, will launch this month with a 55-inch set and four other sizes in May. The curved U8700 series is expected by late spring in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. And the flagship line, the U9000 curved sets with proprietary Auto Depth Enhancer, will be available in 55-, 65- and 75-inch models, priced at $4,000, $5,000, and $8,000 respectively. Continue reading Samsung Unveils Pricing, Availability of Upcoming Ultra HDTVs

Twitter Introduces In-Line Video to Make Watching Clips Easier

Twitter rolled out a new platform this week for hosting video that provides iPhone and Android smartphone users with image previews of video clips in their feeds. “In-line video” allows users to play the clips with a simple click. The company has been working with TV networks and video producers over the past year to make watching video clips — such as sports highlights and show previews — easier for Twitter users. The new feature marks the biggest change to tweets since the automatic preview of photos was introduced. Continue reading Twitter Introduces In-Line Video to Make Watching Clips Easier

Sony Plans Original TV Series for PlayStation Gaming Console

Sony has plans to offer original series through its PlayStation gaming console, in an effort to expand its media offerings beyond video games. The move is separate from the company’s planned online pay TV service, and part of a larger push to broaden the appeal of the device in the living room. PlayStation users already have access to streaming services and digital downloads of TV shows and movies. The first original will be a one-hour supernatural drama series called “Powers,” produced by Sony Pictures Television. Continue reading Sony Plans Original TV Series for PlayStation Gaming Console

Will the Future of Visual Effects be Modeled on TV Production?

ETCentric member and contributor Adrian Pennington recently posted an interesting perspective on the direction of visual effects in TV production, including an interview with Adobe’s Steve Forde. “While the feature film visual effects business is in flux, the TV VFX business is thriving by delivering creativity to tight timescales on a budget,” writes Adrian. “Indeed the future of all VFX production could be modeled on the workflows built to support CGI-intensive series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Doctor Who.'” Continue reading Will the Future of Visual Effects be Modeled on TV Production?

Disney Returns to 1928 for Animated Short Featuring Mickey

Fresh from last year’s win for “Paperman,” Disney is nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Short Film category. Animators for “Get A Horse!,” which is partly done in a 1920s style, drew inspiration from early Disney holiday cards. The animation blends computer-generated imagery with traditional hand-drawn work, and the story involves Mickey Mouse on a mission to save Minnie Mouse from her lascivious kidnapper Peg-Leg Pete. A win for Disney would mark a first for an animated short starring Mickey.

Continue reading Disney Returns to 1928 for Animated Short Featuring Mickey

Should Industry Be Concerned with Decline in TV Households?

According to a new report from Forrester Research, the percentage of U.S. households with cable or satellite television is projected to dip from the current 82 percent to 79 percent by 2018. However, Forrester’s Jim Nail suggests that the television industry should not worry about cord-cutters, since those who opt to unsubscribe from cable services do not watch much TV anyway, and are not turning to online options but simply avoiding the cost. Business Insider counters that a decline is difficult to view as a win. Continue reading Should Industry Be Concerned with Decline in TV Households?

LG Plans to Debut its New webOS TV During CES in January

It’s been nearly a year since LG purchased HP’s webOS to power its future televisions. At a recent semiconductor event held in Seoul, Korea, LG researcher Hong Sung-pyo announced that the company has plans to debut a new TV running its version of the defunct smartphone OS at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The webOS-powered TV will reportedly run a 2.2GHz dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM, enabling multitasking features. Continue reading LG Plans to Debut its New webOS TV During CES in January