Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Online sales boomed this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with record-breaking $4.2 billion in purchases on Turkey Day, followed by $7.4 billion spent on Black Friday. Although this was a new high — up $1.2 billion from last year’s Black Friday — it didn’t meet Adobe Analytics’ prediction of $7.5 billion. Salesforce reported $7.2 billion in sales, even lower than Adobe’s numbers. Of those numbers, $2.9 billion in sales were conducted on smartphones that day. Top-selling electronics included Apple laptops, AirPods and Samsung TVs. Continue reading Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Consumers around the world are warming to wearables, including activity trackers, fitness bands and smartwatches. IDC reports that the global wearables market increased more than 31 percent during Q4 2018, representing a new record of 59.3 million units. Total shipments of 172.2 million units for 2018 mark a 27.5 percent jump over the previous year (although IDC now includes ‘hearables’ such as headphones and earbuds in its calculations). Apple led the charge with 16.2 million devices shipped in Q4 2018, 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches. Continue reading Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

Research firm Gartner published a Q3 report indicating that global smartphone shipments are continuing a slow but steady growth pattern. Handset sales only increased 1.4 percent to 389 million units overall. However, Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi are doing much better (Huawei recorded a 43 percent jump). Meanwhile, IDC reports a more dramatic uptick in the international wearables market. Xiaomi experienced a 90.9 percent year-over-year increase in shipments for Q3, overtaking Apple for the world’s top spot. According to IDC, Fitbit is holding strong in third place. Continue reading Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Intel’s Vaunt smart glasses look like ordinary eyeglasses. Unlike past smart glasses, with cameras, LCD screens and other paraphernalia that draw attention, Vaunt is designed to be incognito when the wearer is in public. The “smart” factor means that the user sees a stream of information projected onto her retina. The glasses, which come in several styles, also work with prescriptions. That fulfills the goal of the Intel Vaunt team, which aimed to create a pair of smart glasses comfortable enough to wear all day. Continue reading Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Apple’s current Watch requires wireless connection to an iPhone to function, but the tech giant is on track to release a new version that connects directly to mobile networks, according to sources. This new smartwatch, at least a few of which will be released by the end of 2017, is made possible by LTE modems supplied by Intel, which has waged a persistent effort to get its technology into more Apple mobile devices. Up until now, Qualcomm has been Apple’s primary modem supplier for its mobile devices. Continue reading Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

After producing Bluetooth earpieces and wireless speakers for years, Jawbone pivoted to fitness wearables in 2011, with the debut of its UP health tracker. Then came two lawsuits in 2015, with Flextronics and Fitbit, and research that reported the company had captured only 2.8 percent of the fitness wearables market. So it should come as no surprise that Jawbone has entered into liquidation proceedings, and co-founder/chief executive Hosain Rahman is no longer with the company, having left for a new venture named Jawbone Health Hub. Continue reading Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

At SXSW in Austin, Google and Levi’s debuted the Commuter, a $350 “smart” jean jacket targeting those who bicycle to work. The Commuter also signals a potential direction for wearables; unlike clunky wristbands and watches, the denim jacket gets its smarts from technology woven into the cloth’s fibers. The joint project enables bicycle commuters to tap or swipe the jacket’s sleeves to make phone calls, get directions and check the time through headphones. The jacket will be available for sale in the fall. Continue reading Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

With Google’s streamlined Android Wear 2.0 on two new LG watches, starting at $250, and Samsung’s $300 Gear S3 smartwatch, fans of the Android operating system finally have some good smartwatch choices that even offer Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Apple is still the giant in the smartwatch market, cornering an estimated 80 percent of smartwatch sales last quarter. Although Apple didn’t release specific figures, it says its smartwatch “hit record numbers” in units and revenue during the recent holiday season. Continue reading Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

Eighty-four million wearables were sold in 2015, and experts are predicting the market will grow to 245 million by 2019. That means that, once again, CES 2017 will be the venue to check out the latest commercially available products and the newest technologies that will power wearables of the future. MEMS and sensors are key to wearables’ capabilities and, Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, says CES 2017 will showcase some “exciting” new wearables features. Continue reading CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

According to a report from The Information, fitness band market leader Fitbit is close to finalizing a deal to purchase smartwatch maker (and Kickstarter success story) Pebble. The startup was said to be facing financial challenges and looking to sell. Fitbit is reportedly looking to pick up Pebble’s intellectual property and software, and is expected to shutter the brand and its products over time. While a dollar amount for the deal has not been revealed, some place the purchase price in the $34-40 million range. “Watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015,” reports TechCrunch. “This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million.” Continue reading Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Best Buy is going all out to promote sales of the Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, with what’s regarded as the first mainstream test of VR products. The Oculus Rift demonstrations, which began their rollout in May, will be in 500 stores in time for the holiday season, with an added 200 demonstrations for PlayStation VR starting in October. The genesis of the push to VR began with chief executive Hubert Joly, who had a “mind-boggling” VR experience with a man-eating shark. He’s betting the U.S. public will be equally smitten. Continue reading Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

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