New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

Apple is gearing up to make a big play for the smart home market, according to reports that put it on a trajectory to challenge Google and Amazon. This week, the company released a new HomePod smart speaker with superior audio, enhanced Siri capabilities, and better security. But a report surfaced of Apple preparing a dedicated smart home control device to rival the displays for Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub. Although the iPad currently offers some smart home features, standalone devices are growing in popularity, kickstanding on countertops or mounted on walls. Continue reading New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

CES: Matter Smart Home Protocol Marks Major Trend in 2023

While smart home technologies have often made a strong showing at CES, adoption has been hampered by issues of interoperability. This year at CES saw the widespread reveal of Matter (originally known as Project CHIP), a new smart home standard designed to support interoperability. Matter was originally announced in 2019 as a partnership between Apple, Google and Amazon to create an open-source smart home standard. Today, if CES 2023 is any indication, the standard is becoming more prevalent across a wide variety of connected devices and different product sectors. Continue reading CES: Matter Smart Home Protocol Marks Major Trend in 2023

Roku Partners with Walmart on Line of Smart Home Products

Roku is expanding into smart home products in partnership with Walmart. Roku Smart Home features security cameras, smart lights, video doorbells, and voice-enabled smart plugs. A new Roku Smart Home mobile app and subscription-based security camera service will help keep everything running. The move makes Roku an upstart competitor to Amazon and Google in the connected home space. Roku Smart Home offerings are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in addition to Roku Voice. Roku TVs and streaming players will display video feeds from the Roku security cameras. Continue reading Roku Partners with Walmart on Line of Smart Home Products

CSA Releases Global Connectivity Spec for Internet of Things

The Connectivity Standards Alliance has announced the release of the Matter 1.0 specification, a global connectivity standard for the Internet of Things, simultaneously opening the product certification program, administered through authorized test labs. Member companies “now have a complete program for bringing the next generation of interoperable products that work across brands and platforms to market with greater privacy, security, and simplicity for consumers,” said CSA. The Matter standard was developed so the devices from companies including Google, Apple and Amazon can communicate with each other via a local controller device. Continue reading CSA Releases Global Connectivity Spec for Internet of Things

CES: Panasonic Debuts New OLED TV with Surround Sound

Panasonic unveiled its flagship JZ2000 OLED TV, following last year’s HZ2000 4K OLED TV. Both feature support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ but the JZ2000 now supports “ambient-aware” versions of both formats — Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Ambient — which adjust HDR brightness in response to light levels around the TV, especially useful for daytime viewing. The Panasonic JZ2000 also features 360° Soundscape Pro, which supports side-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos, resulting in better support of multidirectional sound. Continue reading CES: Panasonic Debuts New OLED TV with Surround Sound

CES: LG Unveils Evo OLED Display with Improved Brightness

During CES 2021, LG Electronics introduced Evo, its high-end OLED TV that features greatly improved light output. OLED TVs offer superior picture quality to LCD TVs, as each pixel can turn on and turn off its own light. But OLED TVs offer half that of the brightest LCD TVs, hobbling the overall picture quality. This year, LG’s Evo and Sony’s new OLED TVs offer more brightness. In addition to LG, only Sony and Vizio sell OLED TVs, all produced by LG Display. During CES, LG also showcased new QNED Mini LED and NanoCell TV models. Continue reading CES: LG Unveils Evo OLED Display with Improved Brightness

CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

During a CES 2021 panel moderated by The Female Quotient chief executive Shelley Zalis, AI industry executives probed issues related to gender and racial bias in artificial intelligence. Google head of product inclusion Annie Jean-Baptiste, SureStart founder and chief executive Dr. Taniya Mishra and ResMed senior director of health economics and outcomes research Kimberly Sterling described the parameters of such bias. At Google, Jean-Baptiste noted that, “the most important thing we need to remember is that inclusion inputs lead to inclusion outputs.” Continue reading CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

Sony’s Cognitive Processor Tech Comes to Next-Gen TV Sets

Sony Electronics debuted the Cognitive Processor XR, a new type of image processor that will be incorporated in its new Bravia XR LED and OLED TVs. According to Sony Electronics president and chief executive Mike Fasulo, the new processor surveys the entire frame in real time, breaking down specific zones to concentrate on — such as realistic skin tone — as a way to mimic how our brains process images. Sony global display and processor expert Kazuo Kii says the Cognitive Processor XR will aid the TVs’ 8K performance. Continue reading Sony’s Cognitive Processor Tech Comes to Next-Gen TV Sets

Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google is adding new features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service, to personalize 90-minute news feeds from each user’s preferred sources. The goal is to create a seamless listening experience akin to a customized song playlist. Each news playlist, similar to those on public radio, will begin with short clips about the major headlines moving into longer stories. The end product, available only in the U.S., will compile radio, podcast clips and text-to-speech translations tailored to the individual user. Continue reading Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Google disclosed that it had changed its policy regarding how long it will hang on to users’ search data. Last year, the company introduced an option that allowed users to automatically delete data related to Internet searches, requests made to Google Assistant and location history after three months or 18 months. Beginning now, Google’s default policy is to automatically delete location history, voice recordings and web/app activity on new accounts after 18 months. The settings on existing accounts will remain the same. Continue reading Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

Google has a lot of assets: consumer tech, social networking, messaging, music streaming, Chromecast. Yet when it comes to streaming television, it falls behind the big players, such as Amazon and Roku. The company has tried to get Android TV built into television sets but hasn’t achieved any momentum, and Chromecast requires consumers to navigate layers of abstraction. The XDA Developers portal revealed insider information about Google’s next streaming video dongle, featuring an Android TV interface and, for the first time, a remote control. Continue reading An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

TiVo launched Stream 4K, its first device that focuses on streaming video. The Stream 4K dongle, which plugs into HDMI and hangs from the bank of the TV set, was announced at CES 2020 and is shipping today for $50. It uses Google’s Android TV system to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and other familiar apps and provides 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR if available from the app. Stream 4K will compete with Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+. Continue reading TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

Sonos just debuted ad-supported Sonos Radio, which splits offerings into three categories: Sonos Presents, which is curated music and original programming; Sonos Stations, a collection of 30 genre-based music listening stations; and Local Radio, which lists thousands of streaming radio options. Napster streams the music for the first two options. Sonos director of business development Ryan Taylor noted that Sonos is experiencing a “New Year’s Eve-level of engagement” during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Google Search has been offering personalized movie and TV recommendations since last fall. Now it is adding a new Watchlist tab that enables mobile users to easily track and save desired content. In addition, to help Android TV users navigate news and entertainment as we spend more time sheltering at home, Google has introduced three new rows of content from YouTube on the home screen: COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe videos, and ad-supported free movies from YouTube. These new features are among a larger set of announcements made by the company this week. Continue reading Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home