Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

With the coronavirus in full force, Apple is one of many companies finding it challenging to predict consumer demand, even as it readies the release of its low-price iPhone model and 5G-enabled iPhones. Apple closed factories in China and its Silicon Valley headquarters as well as stores in Europe, impacting iPhone sales, which peaked in 2015. The new model was scheduled to debut this month but might be delayed; 5G phones are expected to unveil in September. Meanwhile, Huawei is also testing the demand for new flagship phones. Continue reading Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Following several months of testing in 13 U.S. trial markets, AT&T TV launches nationwide today. The broadband service features a 4K- and HDR-capable Android-based set-top box, 500 hours of DVR storage, access to hundreds of live television channels and 40,000 on-demand titles. Streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube are available, as well as 5,000+ apps through the Google Play store. Additionally, the voice-enabled remote control is integrated with Google Assistant. Chromecast support is also built in. AT&T TV will be integrated with HBO Max when it launches in May. Continue reading AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

The Internet of Things is about to offer middle America a new creative outlet. Italian startup LEDWORKS produces strings of individually addressable LED Christmas tree lights. Twinkly’s phone app maps the location of each individual light: one camera scan to map lights arrayed on a flat surface and two or three camera scans to map the lights arrayed around a 3D object like a Christmas tree or a wall outside. The app can then wirelessly load a program into the lights’ plug to display preset patterns and images or, if you are clever, patterns of your design. The current app can control up to 10,000 lights. By the end of 2020, Twinkly should be able to control 20,000 lights. Continue reading CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

LG to Launch 8K TVs, Rollable 65-Inch TV at CES This Week

In advance of CES 2020, LG has alluded to its new TV line-up of eight models, all of which will feature “Real 8K,” reportedly exceeding CTA’s 8K spec. More specifically, LG’s sets will surpass a minimum test for Contrast Modulation threshold requirements. The sets will be able to handle HEVC and VP9, 8K inputs from USB or HDMI, YouTube’s preferred AV1 codec, and 8K 60fps via streaming and HDMI. LG Display will also show off its latest flexible display, the 65-inch UHD OLED TV that unwinds from the ceiling. Continue reading LG to Launch 8K TVs, Rollable 65-Inch TV at CES This Week

Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Nvidia just launched two new Shield TV set-top boxes, making them the third generation after the 2015 debut and 2017 update. The new Shield TV 2019 Editions are both faster and offer a new remote. The Nvidia Shield TV, priced at $149.99, is housed in a new cylindrical form factor, with HDMI and microSD on the top and wired Gigabit Ethernet and power on the bottom. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, priced at $199.99, maintains its existing design, with an upgraded Nvidia Tegra X1+ SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Continue reading Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Google’s Latest Pixel Takes Phone Cameras to Next Level

At Google’s annual hardware event this week, the company introduced the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones, both featuring an extra camera lens, infrared scanner for unlocking the phone, and emphasis on computational photography for automatically processing more professional-looking images (even photos of the night sky). Both phones use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and come equipped with 19:9 “Smooth” displays, which refresh up to 90 times per second, and the touchscreens allow users to poke it or squeeze the body if they want to call upon Google’s built-in Assistant. 

Continue reading Google’s Latest Pixel Takes Phone Cameras to Next Level

Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

Doppio Games and Netflix, teaming up with Rio Games, created multiplayer game “The 3% Challenge,” a prequel to Netflix’s original Brazilian series “3%,” through a partnership to create voice-controlled games and other entertainment. The free-to-play game launched on Amazon Alexa and will appear later this week on Google Assistant, in English and Portuguese. Although Netflix’s core strengths are TV series, feature films and documentaries, it has been moving into games, including “Stranger Things 3: The Game” and “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

Google Debuts New Tools to Protect Personal Data Privacy

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Google is introducing three tools to give users more control over their data when using Google Assistant, Google Maps and YouTube. Maps will roll out “incognito mode” for Android users this month and include iOS users soon. YouTube will feature the “rolling auto-delete” feature available for location and web data history. The company will also build its password checkup into account controls, to make it easier for the user to determine if her logins have been part of a security breach. Continue reading Google Debuts New Tools to Protect Personal Data Privacy

Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

In Pittsburgh, a group of about 80 HCL Technologies contractors working at Google has voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers. Although the group represents only a small number of the many contractors employed by Google, it represents one of the first groups of tech workers to unionize in the U.S., according to United Steelworkers. At Google’s Bakery Square offices, contractors work side-by-side full-time Google employees but are paid less and receive fewer benefits, leading to the push to organize. Continue reading Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

The BBC is developing a voice assistant named Beeb that it promises will understand British accents. Other virtual assistants have struggled with regional accents, but the BBC team will be recording staff voices from multiple U.K. locations to address that issue. While there are no plans to introduce a standalone CE device similar to Google Home or Amazon Echo, the BBC plans to debut Beeb next year to help people interact with online services offered via the company’s website and its smart TV iPlayer app. The assistant’s software will also be available to manufacturers interested in including it in their own consumer devices. Continue reading BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

ADT teamed with technology publications including Digital Trends, CNET and Engadget to survey how consumers feel about smart technology and, more specifically, smart homes. The results are complex but pointed towards a growing interest in and support of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That aligns with other evidence that the IoT market is expected to also grow; by 2023, the smart home market worldwide is predicted to reach $150+ billion. The U.S. leads, with 45+ million smart devices already installed in homes. Continue reading Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

Google Assistant Wins Top Spot in Loup Ventures IQ Test

In Loup Ventures’ 2019 Digital Assistant IQ Test, comprised of 800 questions, Google Assistant came in first, understanding 100 percent of the questions and answering 92.9 percent of them accurately. Last year, Google Assistant, also top-ranked, answered 85.5 percent correctly. Apple’s Siri also improved, understanding 99.8 percent of the questions (versus 2018’s 99 percent) and correctly answering 83.1 percent of the time (versus 2018’s 78.5 percent). Amazon’s Alexa came in third. Continue reading Google Assistant Wins Top Spot in Loup Ventures IQ Test

Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Google now makes it easier for users to find individual podcasts in search results, showing potential episodes that fit search terms and playing back those podcasts. Users will have to ask Google or Google Assistant for podcasts about that particular topic — that is, “find a podcast on golden retrievers” — which will then open in Google Podcasts’ web app. Google, which houses a 2+ million podcast index, said it will eventually support third-party playback and drop the “podcast” search term requirement. Continue reading Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

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