Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

In light of the fact that the European Union’s Copyright Directive may soon give publishers the right to demand payment when portions of their articles appear in news search results, Google is considering ceasing its Google News service in Europe. Although the law is not yet finalized, Google public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Jennifer Bernal stated that the company could reluctantly quit Europe after it has the chance to do a close examination of the proposed law’s details. Continue reading Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

According to App Annie, in 2018 India was the country with YouTube’s biggest audience. As 4G rates in that country are below $2 per month, Indians are now streaming mobile video at rates that are 10 times and billions of hours more per year than in the last three years. Research by global consulting firm Analysys Mason boils that down to 85 gigabytes of data, potentially more than 40 hours of video per month without using Wi-Fi, more than rates in the U.S., China or Japan. The mobile video usage is transforming Indian media. Continue reading India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Google and Facebook had a rough 2018 regarding data privacy, but the advertisers haven’t abandoned the two tech giants and their profits continue to soar. This year may be even tougher as concern about privacy grows. In fact, French regulators levied a 50 million Euro (about $57 million) fine on Google, for not clearly disclosing how data collected across its sites are used to personalize ads. Experts believe the behavior of big tech companies will be a “major topic” at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Streaming games are in the news, with Verizon in alpha tests of its Verizon Gaming, reportedly currently running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box and, eventually, Android smartphones. Verizon Gaming can be played using a paired Xbox One controller. Verizon has been recruiting players for its alpha test of the service, which offers 135 games. On the heels of Razer announcing it would integrate Amazon Alexa into its gaming platform, The Information revealed that Amazon is now developing its own streaming game service. Continue reading Verizon and Amazon Planning New Services to Stream Games

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

At CES 2019, in what some are saying has become an annual battle in recent years, Amazon and Google went mano a mano, with the former’s Alexa voice assistant in one corner, and the latter’s Google Assistant in the other. Since the debut of the voice assistants, this sector’s importance has soared, and both companies have been jockeying for dominance. Amazon stated that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, while Google said its Assistant will be built into one billion devices by the end of the month. Continue reading Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

CES Panel: The Evolution of Cloud-Streaming Games With 5G

GameSpot editor-in-chief Randolph Ramsay moderated a panel of game industry experts discussing how 5G will change that industry. “5G’s high speed and low latency will be the next big disruption,” he said. Blade Group platform evangelist Bill Rehbock spoke about his company’s Shadow PC streaming service, which provides a complete Windows 10 PC to users. “5G picks up with a minimum of where 4G left off,” he said. “5G makes hand-over [from tower to tower] so robust it will be an enabling technology.” Continue reading CES Panel: The Evolution of Cloud-Streaming Games With 5G

Highlights From the AR/VR Think Tank Sessions at CES 2019

During the AR/VR Think Tank panel and subsequent panels on gaming and LBE (Location-Based Entertainment) at CES this week, representatives of production and tool companies put the current state of the medium in a broader context. We are past the initial “everything should be shot in 360” stage, and are now asking, “what are you trying to say?” Ultimately the experience must be purpose-driven. Game developer Don Daglow noted that killer apps usually happen by accident when someone’s passion taps into an unrecognized mass market demand. He noted that VisiCalc was a killer app for the PC, for example. Continue reading Highlights From the AR/VR Think Tank Sessions at CES 2019

CES Panel: Impact of Evolving Tech on Autonomous Vehicles

Faye Francy, executive director of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC), led a conversation about the impact of machine learning, deep learning and AI on the autonomous vehicle (AV) ecosystem. “They work together to bring great things — and possibly nefarious things — to the auto industry,” she said. Inivision AI chairman Seamus Hatch noted that the three terms aren’t interchangeable. “We’re many years behind the singularity,” he said. “It’s a machine trained to solve a specific problem faster and more accurately than a human.” Continue reading CES Panel: Impact of Evolving Tech on Autonomous Vehicles

Here’s What We Hope to See This Week at CES Related to AI

With the buzz way down, AI research more vibrant than ever, and more mainstream experimentation, there’s a lot to potentially look forward to at CES 2019 in the field of AI and machine learning. And already it all seems to converge on one very interesting trend: pragmatism. As AI exits the lab, and heads into the world, we’re expecting new and compelling applications. At CES this week, we’re hoping to see advances in areas such as autonomous vehicles, consumer robots, computer vision, smart assistants, and a more integrated Internet of Things. Continue reading Here’s What We Hope to See This Week at CES Related to AI

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

T-Mobile US is pushing back the introduction of its video service until 2019, although those plans might also change, said sources. The reason is that the project became more complex than anticipated; chief executive John Legere had said the carrier would create a “disruptive TV service” that would transform the television industry, setting a high bar that was difficult to meet given the time constraint. Sources said the delay is intended to provide the time for T-Mobile to deliver on Legere’s initial promise. Continue reading T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

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