Intuitive Mammoth App Aims to Simplify Accessing Mastodon

Mozilla-backed Mammoth wants to lure social media users to the fediverse, presenting its latest iteration, Mammoth 2, as “the easiest way to quit Twitter/X for good and join Mastodon.” Having added a “For You” feed earlier this year, Mammoth 2 now debuts on the iPhone, iPad and Mac, delving deeper into news and curation. New “Smart Lists” are filled with recommended posts, suggested connections and accounts to follow. The future of social “is being built today on ActivityPub and Mastodon,” Mammoth’s creators claim, calling for “an open protocol anybody can build on,” as with “email or the open web.” Continue reading Intuitive Mammoth App Aims to Simplify Accessing Mastodon

Spotify Redesigns TV Interface to Better Match Its Mobile App

Sweden-based digital music service Spotify has redesigned its television user interface to make it look and feel more like the platform’s desktop and mobile experiences, a move its users have been waiting for. The frequently played content now appears at the top of the interface, while playlists and favorites are also easily accessed. A playback queue that opens from the side of the screen lets you see what’s playing and program what’s coming up, and you can easily switch accounts by toggling profile options. A dark mode option has been added for the television interface as well. Continue reading Spotify Redesigns TV Interface to Better Match Its Mobile App

SiriusXM to Close Its Stitcher Podcast App and Site in August

SiriusXM is shuttering its Stitcher podcasting app and merging podcast delivery into its flagship SiriusXM subscription offerings. As of August 29, “the Stitcher app and web listening experience will be disabled,” the company told users this week. Stitcher offered listeners the choice of free-to-listen ad-supported programs or a la carte show subscriptions. It also had the $4.95 per month ($34.99 per year) Stitcher Premium, providing a wide variety of ad-free podcasts. “Subscribers can listen to podcasts within the SiriusXM app and will see an all-new listening experience later this year,” the company said. Continue reading SiriusXM to Close Its Stitcher Podcast App and Site in August

Peacock Signs Up for Vizio’s WatchFree+ Discovery Feature

Vizio has added a new discovery feature, Content Connections as part of its WatchFree+ service and smart TV interface. NBCUniversal’s Peacock has climbed aboard as the platform’s first Content Connections partner. With Content Connections, users can move seamlessly from Vizio’s FAST environment, WatchFree+, to services available through paid subscription. The Peacock Preview channel will let consumers with Vizio smart TVs have free access for a three-week period to select episodes from more than 16 Peacock series. Content Connections will serve viewers with “intuitive messages” directing them to participating platforms’ streaming apps. Continue reading Peacock Signs Up for Vizio’s WatchFree+ Discovery Feature

Runway Makes Next Advance in Consumer Text-to-Video AI

Google-backed AI startup Runway has released Gen-2, an early entry among commercially available text-to-video models. Previously waitlisted in limited release, the commercial availability is impactful, since text-to-video is predicted as the next big bump in artificial intelligence, following the explosion of AI use generating text and images. While Runway’s solution may not be ready to serve as a professional video tool, this is the next step in development of tech expected to impact media and entertainment. Filmmaker Joe Russo recently predicted that within the next two years, AI may have the ability to create feature films. Continue reading Runway Makes Next Advance in Consumer Text-to-Video AI

Telly Offers Free Smart TVs Featuring Ads on Second Screen

Telly, the TV hardware startup led by Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin, is shaking up industry business models by offering 500,000 smart TVs free to consumers willing to watch 24/7 ads on a split screen with streaming TV shows and movies. The ad-subsidized sets feature a dual-screen that includes a 55-inch 4K HDR display with a nine-inch “smart screen” mounted beneath. The smaller screen is where the ads will appear, running alongside feeds featuring information such as weather, stock reports, and sports scores. Powered by TellyOS, the sets also have a built-in five-driver soundbar. Continue reading Telly Offers Free Smart TVs Featuring Ads on Second Screen

Viacom Music Group and Spotify Form Streaming Partnership

Viacom’s Music Group is partnering with Spotify to provide consumers with free music from featured artists via their website and apps. The company will also provide music from its series and franchises, including MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop,” CMT’s “Party Down South” and the “MTV Video Music Awards.” More than 150 Spotify playlists will be available across Viacom’s network of sites, while Spotify will promote them to its 40 million global users. Continue reading Viacom Music Group and Spotify Form Streaming Partnership

Dutch Startup Blendle Develops Yet Another iTunes for News

A Dutch startup named Blendle has built what it calls an iTunes for news, where instead of buying songs, customers can purchase stories from different newspapers, magazines and websites. The benefit is that, rather than subscribing to an entire publication, users can select specific content. Individual articles go for as little as 14 cents. Available for a month, the service now has 60,000 registered users, and this week signed its first English-speaking publisher, The Economist. Continue reading Dutch Startup Blendle Develops Yet Another iTunes for News

Amazon Launches Ad-Free, Streaming “Prime Music” Service

As expected, Amazon has launched Prime Music featuring more than one million songs and hundreds of playlists. The new service offers unlimited streaming without ads or restrictions. It is free to Amazon Prime members and could potentially help attract new subscribers (those who are interested can sign up for a free 30-day trial). Prime members can also listen to downloaded music offline on their Kindle Fire, HDX, iOS, Android and Mac/PC devices via Amazon’s Cloud Player. Continue reading Amazon Launches Ad-Free, Streaming “Prime Music” Service

UPS: Free Shipping Attracts More Online Shopping Customers

UPS’s “Pulse of the Online Shopper” survey shows that 93 percent of customers are willing to take some action in order to qualify for free shipping. Not only will people do more to get free shipping, but 58 percent have also cancelled orders because shipping costs were too much, with 50 percent doing the same because the shipping wasn’t free. Along with attraction to free shipping, there has also been a 12 percent increase in the amount of people that have returned an item.

Continue reading UPS: Free Shipping Attracts More Online Shopping Customers

E3 2014: $99 Game-Streamer PlayStation TV Coming to U.S.

During its E3 press conference yesterday in Los Angeles, Sony announced that the PlayStation TV device is coming to North America this fall for $99 as a standalone, or for $139 bundled with a DualShock Controller, an 8GB memory card for storing downloaded games, and a copy of “The Lego Movie” video game. Users can pair the set-top box with their PlayStation 4 console for remote play on a second television. Video and music streaming services will be accessible, as will games via PlayStation Now. Continue reading E3 2014: $99 Game-Streamer PlayStation TV Coming to U.S.

Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Mortar Data, a New York-based company known for building and hosting custom big data applications, recently announced the launch of a recommendation engine platform that allows anyone to build their own system, and use it with their own data, for free. Recommendation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and have become a gold mine for big companies such as Pandora and Netflix, which use the services to make recommendations based on customer history. Continue reading Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Professor Develops Free DIY Online Image Verification Service

With the recent growth in citizen journalism via the Internet, questions have arisen regarding the authenticity of photographs, and whether there are ways to verify if an image is accurate or not. The rise of Photoshop and other digital tools has made it easy for people to edit images prior to sharing them on Facebook or Twitter. However, a computer science professor at Dartmouth College has developed a free online image verification service that quickly confirms whether an image is authentic or not. Continue reading Professor Develops Free DIY Online Image Verification Service

FedEx Responds to E-Commerce Boom with Increased Pricing

While FedEx has traditionally charged to ship packages based solely on weight, the company has changed its policy to also price packages according to size. The move is expected to increase the price of over a third of FedEx’s U.S. ground shipments, and dramatically impact e-commerce companies. The next question is whether or not UPS will follow FedEx’s lead and consider a new pricing strategy as well. In the past, UPS and FedEx have kept similar pricing, rather than use pricing as a competitive advantage. Continue reading FedEx Responds to E-Commerce Boom with Increased Pricing

Reset the Net: Campaign Opposes Mass Internet Surveillance

More than twenty tech companies and civil liberties groups have started a coalition to fight the National Security Agency’s mass Internet surveillance programs. On June 5, these groups will participate in a “Reset the Net” day of action by posting the campaign’s splash screen on websites and mobile apps. The coalition is distributing free privacy protection software tools to users and calling on developers to add NSA resistant features to sites and apps. Continue reading Reset the Net: Campaign Opposes Mass Internet Surveillance