Twitter Circle Goes Wide with Tweets for 150 of Your Friends

Twitter is rolling out Twitter Circle globally on iOS, Android and on Twitter.com. The feature, which emulates Instagram’s Close Friends, lets people tweet to a select circle of up to 150 connections. “With Twitter Circle, people now have the flexibility to choose who can see and engage with their content on a tweet-by-tweet basis,” the company said, couching it as a way to “have more intimate conversations and build closer connections with select followers.” Before posting on Twitter, users will now see an option to share tweets with either their circle or full followers list. Continue reading Twitter Circle Goes Wide with Tweets for 150 of Your Friends

YouTube Adds Dedicated Podcast Homepage, New Content

YouTube has added a dedicated podcasts homepage for U.S. users. The page — featuring both audio-only and video-recorded studio shows — went live for some users last month. It appears to be part of a grander scheme by the Google subsidiary to take on pod plays by Apple and Spotify, which it is already outperforming. Both added video podcasts in recent years. Studies say most U.S. podcast listeners get content from YouTube. Last week, NPR announced it is bringing its podcast catalog to YouTube, which is monetizing the podcasting shows with ads inserted by Google and others.  Continue reading YouTube Adds Dedicated Podcast Homepage, New Content

Spotify Puts Podz Acquisition to Test with Discovery Feature

Spotify is testing a feature that lets podcast discovery platform Podz help people find new podcasts they may like. Now, Spotify is taking the algo-driven audio newsfeed for which Podz became known and turning it into a more personalized discovery experience. The big idea here is to extrapolate. Podz provided machine-curated audio samples. As part of its Spotify integration it is targeting the next level: letting users tap to read an audio transcript, review show graphics or hear more of the podcast. Spotify acquired Podz last summer for approximately $49.4 million. Continue reading Spotify Puts Podz Acquisition to Test with Discovery Feature

AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

After acquiring DirecTV six years ago, AT&T has spun it off and, along with AT&T TV and U-verse, formed a new company it will co-manage with TPG Capital. AT&T received $7.1 billion in cash and a 70 percent interest in the new company, and TPG contributed $1.8 billion and owns the remaining 30 percent. In 2015, AT&T had paid $49 billion to acquire DirecTV, absorbing another $18 billion in debt, becoming the largest U.S. pay-TV provider with 26 million customers. It then lost almost 40 percent of its TV subscriber base. Continue reading AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

CES: Sony, TCL Televisions Will Feature Streamer Google TV

During CES 2021, Sony revealed its latest televisions will run Google TV, that company’s newest streaming system. TCL also stated that Google TV would be available in its sets in the U.S. Google TV succeeds Android TV, which can be found on some devices in the U.S., including the Nvidia Shield, TiVo Stream 4K and smart TVs from Sony, Hisense and TCL. Sony added that it had “no concrete plans” to update older Sony TVs running Android TV. TCL said it planned to integrate Google TV in its 8K and MiniLED sets as well as HD and 4K models. Continue reading CES: Sony, TCL Televisions Will Feature Streamer Google TV

Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Apple Music Debuts New Stations, Renames Flagship Beats 1

Apple unveiled two live radio stations on Apple Music, available in 165 countries, and renamed its flagship station, Beats 1, as Apple Music 1. Apple Music Hits will showcase top songs from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and Apple Music Country will highlight country music. Apple Music’s Beats 1, which launched in 2015, has become a popular destination for music listening and offers in-depth artist interviews as well as global exclusives and premieres. The station also promotes human curation and artist camaraderie. Continue reading Apple Music Debuts New Stations, Renames Flagship Beats 1

Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

Google’s internal incubator Area 120 debuted Keen for web and Android. Keen co-founder CJ Adams stated that the app acts as a curator for topics and is intended to be an alternative to “mindlessly” browsing feeds. A “keen,” which can be about any topic, said Adams, allows the user to collect content and share it with others. In essence, Keen is proposed as a rival to Pinterest and any other social media feed that customizes its content for individual users. Similar to Pinterest, Keen also uses a pinboard-style design. Continue reading Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

Continue reading Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Latest Google Feature Provides Shortcut to Video Highlights

Google introduced Key Moments, a feature that enables users to find shortcuts to video highlights. A search for a how-to video, for example, will bring up links that creators have time-stamped. According to Google, the feature will also make video easier to find for people using screen-reading software to navigate the Internet. Key Moments will first appear in English for YouTube videos time-stamped by the creators. It is limited to a small number of creators but those interested can sign up for early access. Continue reading Latest Google Feature Provides Shortcut to Video Highlights

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

Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Facebook is working on a publishing initiative called News Tab that will deliver news content partly curated by a team of editors to the social platform’s mobile app. The Silicon Valley company, which has primarily relied on algorithms to select news stories, plans to hire a team of experienced journalists to serve as editors and launch a test version of News Tab by the end of this year. “Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” said Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships at Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

SiriusXM’s Pandora unveiled Voice Mode, its voice assistant, to Pandora app users on all platforms. This broad rollout took place after a January debut of Voice Mode on about one million iOS and Android devices. The shortcut to Voice Mode can be found in the upper right of the Pandora app screen. Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips noted that Voice Mode introduces “an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music … like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.” Continue reading Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery to Compete with Amazon

This week, Walmart announced that it will start offering free, next-day delivery on select online orders over $35 without any added membership fee. This announcement comes after a similar one from rival retailer Amazon just last month. Amazon, the lucrative e-commerce giant, announced that it is investing $800 million in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure with the goal of cutting the speed of its Prime deliveries from two days to just one. For now, Walmart’s quicker deliveries will only be available in select markets.

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HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database

In a Wednesday morning session at the HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Desert, Netflix’s Rohit Puri, engineering manager of the Cloud Media Systems team took attendees on a tour of the Netflix Media Database. The Netflix service experience, he explained, is made up of a seamless user interface, personalized content recommendation, efficient media streaming and curated content catalog. Other assets that “go a long way in helping users find content,” added Puri, include promotional artwork and video. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Take a Tour of the Netflix Media Database