Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Google is beginning to distribute its successor to Android Oreo: Android Pie, which has been known up until now as Android P. The company pushed the source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is updating Android 9.0 Pie to its Pixel phones. During the beta test, Android P was available on an array of phones, including the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. It is not, however, available to consumers with Nexus or other devices. Continue reading Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Facebook Launches Watch Party for Shared Viewing of Video

In January, Facebook debuted Watch Party, an experimental feature that allows shared simultaneous viewing of videos, to a select number of users. Now, the company is opening access of the feature to all groups on the site, in an attempt to make video viewing a social experience. Groups has become an important product for Facebook’s more than 1.4 billion monthly users, and Watch Party is intended to add another compelling reason for users to stick with those who share similar interests. Continue reading Facebook Launches Watch Party for Shared Viewing of Video

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Since Facebook introduced Instant Games on its Messenger platform, its library has grown to 70 games, including “Tetris,” Blackstorm Labs’ “EverWing” and, now, Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds.” Facebook is also now allowing users to live stream their sessions; when a user goes live in an Instant Game, it will stream to his Facebook page and stay posted when he goes offline. Facebook is also debuting an integrated video chat for multiplayer games, which will initially debut only with Zynga’s “Words With Friends.” Continue reading Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

In an effort to foster growth of video communities, Facebook recently rolled out its Facebook Creator app, providing social influencers with tools for creating feature-rich content. Available to all on iOS (and soon on Android), the product is an update and rebrand of the Facebook Mentions app, originally only offered to verified public figures. The new app includes enhanced fan engagement tools to help influencers add intros and outros to their streaming video broadcasts, cross-posting to Instagram and Twitter, and a central inbox for Facebook, Instagam and Messenger. Creator also features expansive analytics. Continue reading Facebook Creator App Offers Tools to Fine-Tune Social Video

DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Until now, Disney had separate Watch apps for children 2-14 that featured entertainment content from the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. Now, the company has consolidated all three into a single app, thus boosting its pay-TV business. DisneyNOW will offer full episodes and live streaming from all the networks to customers whose cable, Internet TV, satellite or telco providers are participating. In addition to DisneyNOW, the company reportedly plans to create its own movie streaming service when its deal with Netflix expires in 2019. Continue reading DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

The new iPhone X offers several new features, but none of them more innovative than the neural engine that is part of Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC processor. Artificial neural networks, which excel at processing images and speech, are behind the phone’s ability to recognize the user’s face to unlock it, transfer facial expressions onto Animoji (animated emoji), and other, as-of-yet unspecified features. As Apple moves into augmented reality and image recognition, the neural engine will likely be central to these endeavors. Continue reading Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

NASCAR and Twitter Sign Pact to Livestream Playoffs Races

NASCAR and Twitter have inked a deal for all 10 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs races in 2017 whereby in-car cameras will livestream the races to Twitter. Viewers can access the stream via the auto racing organization’s Twitter handle @NASCAR, nascar.twitter.com, NASCAR’s website and the NASCAR mobile app, with real-time curated tweets presented in a timeline. NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will broadcast the races; the first takes place at the Chicagoland Speedway on September 17 with Toyota sponsoring the live stream. Continue reading NASCAR and Twitter Sign Pact to Livestream Playoffs Races

YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

YouTube has been testing a feature in select markets that allows the platform to become a kind of mobile messenger. The feature, which began testing in mid-2016, lets users avail themselves of a new tab in the mobile app to send videos to their friends and chat. After a soft rollout to users in Canada at the beginning of 2017, YouTube later launched the new feature in parts of Latin America. The global rollout  this week, but will take a few days to appear on all users’ phones. YouTube also tweaked the user interface in several ways. Continue reading YouTube Introduces In-App Video Sharing and Chat Globally

Google Debuts YouTube Shared Viewing App For iOS Users

Google’s Uptime app, that lets users watch YouTube videos in real time with friends, is now freely available to iOS users following its invite-only limited beta test. The beta, which started in March, was updated a few times, adding the ability to play and share music videos, as well as connect to Facebook to find friends to watch videos with. Users can also chat, leave comments and place emoji on top of the video. A replay of a shared video will include the ability to see comments at the time in the video they were made. Continue reading Google Debuts YouTube Shared Viewing App For iOS Users

Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

For friends who want to share and watch YouTube or Twitch videos together, a new Apple iMessage app, called Let’s Watch It!, is the answer. Group chat in the iMessage App Store has proven to be a hit, with video chat app Fam raising $1.8 million and plans to expand to game-playing, interactive live masks, filters and watching videos with friends. But Let’s Watch It!, which debuted in March, may be beating Fam at its game, adding support for turning on the front-facing camera and microphone, making it even more social. Continue reading Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack came to life three years ago, out of a failed video game, and, as messaging software, combines rich data on how people use a product with information on how people feel about using it. When it debuted in 2014, word of mouth catapulted Slack to a value of $4 billion. Now, the private company has attracted competition from Microsoft, which last fall unveiled Teams, free to 85 million users of Office 365, and Facebook with its free collaboration tool Workplace. A smaller company, Atlassian, has also had success. Continue reading Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Apple is debuting a standalone video app called Apple Clips that allows users to shoot, edit and share video clips for mobile phones. Apple Clips, for iOS 10.3 or higher, features real-time captioning and facial recognition as well as giant emoji, cartoon filters and lively title screens — and the end results can be distributed to iMessage contacts. Automatic captioning, dubbed Live Titles, allows the user to choose a font and style; after hitting record, the app transcribes speech to text. But less ideal features mar the app, say critics. Continue reading Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery it’s said, and that’s what’s going on among social media platforms. Facebook’s WhatsApp is experimenting with a Status feature that is basically a photocopy of Snapchat Stories, sharing photos, videos and emoji. Elsewhere, Periscope is copying both Facebook and Snapchat, by offering its own animated augmented reality selfie masks. The first ones offered, which allow the user to look like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, have been available throughout the duration of the election. Continue reading Facebook Borrows From Snapchat, Periscope Adds AR Masks

Facebook Shows Off AR Masks, Stylized Filters for Live Video

After acquiring the face-tracking and 3D face replacement company MSQRD, Facebook integrated its augmented reality selfie lenses, dubbed Masks, starting with a Halloween skeleton, witch and pumpkin. Users in the U.S., U.K. and New Zealand, and public figures, will be able to use the iOS version of Masks on Facebook Mentions. The company says it will rollout masks to Android and other countries in coming months. Facebook also demonstrated stylized filters, which will be a real-time processing option for Live Video. Continue reading Facebook Shows Off AR Masks, Stylized Filters for Live Video

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