Google Chromecast Shipments Top Apple TV for the First Time

According to researcher IHS, Google Chromecast shipments surpassed Apple TV numbers for the first time. During Q1, 3.2 million Chromecast devices shipped, compared to 1.7 million Apple TV units. The $35 Chromecast has become more competitive since launching its new version in September, designed for easier use with televisions than the previous model. Chromecast also supports “thousands” of popular apps such as Google Play Movies, HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime Anytime, Spotify, Twitch, WatchESPN, YouTube, and many others. Continue reading Google Chromecast Shipments Top Apple TV for the First Time

Amazon Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Amazon is about to launch a full-fledged subscription music streaming service, say two knowledgeable sources. The service, which will put Amazon in direct competition with Apple Music and Spotify, will be priced at $9.99 per month and offer a catalog of 30+ million songs. Amazon, which is currently inking licenses with record labels, is expected to introduce the service in late summer or early fall. The company currently offers a free streaming music service to its Prime subscribers, but the catalog is limited. Continue reading Amazon Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

The Supreme Court yesterday sided with patent holders in a decision that would make it easier to award financial damages when inventions are copied without permission. “The high court, in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, overturned a specialized appellate court that had adopted a hard-to-meet legal standard for winning punitive damages, even in cases where the defendant’s patent infringement was willful,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The decision provides leeway for judges regarding the amount of damages. While the Obama administration supported availability of punitive damages, tech companies such as Facebook and Google argued that strict limits on damage awards would protect innovation and curb unnecessary or abusive lawsuits. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

At its annual shareholders meeting, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated the company’s plan to wirelessly connect homes to high-speed Internet. The technology, viable now due to improvements in computer chips and more accurate wireless signal targeting, can deliver a 1 gigabit per second connection, equivalent to Google Fiber’s capabilities. Schmidt also delved into the company’s plans to advance search features, explore 3D printing for building construction, meatless meat, autonomous cars and other sectors. Continue reading Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Chinese company Lenovo just introduced two new smartphones: Phab 2 Pro, based on Google’s Project Tango, which measures and maps surrounding objects and spaces, and Moto Z handsets that feature interchangeable, snap-on modules. The Moto Z handsets, which come out of Lenovo’s 2014 purchase of Motorola Mobility, already offer three “Moto Mods” – an extra speaker, a projector for presentations and an expanded internal battery. The company will make a reference kit available for developers to build other Moto Mods. Continue reading Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

In its annual ranking of companies based on revenue, the latest Fortune 500 lists Apple third on the list, followed by Walmart and Exxon Mobil. With $233 billion in revenue, Apple is the top tech company on the Fortune 500. “Apple jumped two slots from last year, and it was also the most profitable company, with $53 billion in profits in 2015,” reports Business Insider. Amazon is listed as number 18, with $107 billion in sales, while Verizon is ranked 13th, HP 20th, Microsoft 25th, IBM 31st and Alphabet 36th. Meanwhile, Facebook jumped 85 spots to number 157, and Netflix moved from 474 to number 379. Continue reading Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

Yahoo Plans for Auction of Patent Portfolio, Lines Up Buyers

Yahoo has distributed letters to potential buyers to launch an auction for its portfolio of 3,000 patents that could earn more than $1 billion. The collection dates back to the company’s 1996 IPO, including its original search tech, say those familiar with the plans. “Yahoo has set a mid-June deadline for preliminary bids,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “and hired Black Stone IP, a boutique investment bank that specializes in patent sales, to run the auction.” Yahoo confirmed the sale of patents and pending applications “related to Web search and advertising.” The company is also selling its core Internet business; Verizon reportedly bid about $3 billion. Continue reading Yahoo Plans for Auction of Patent Portfolio, Lines Up Buyers

Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Nest CEO and co-founder Tony Fadell announced he will step down from his leadership position, but will stay on as an adviser to parent company Alphabet. Fadell will be replaced by telecom vet Marwan Fawaz (formerly CTO of Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications), “amid escalating drama at Nest that sent ripples across all of Google,” suggests Recode. “Despite its internal struggles, Nest is a market leader in the connected device field.” Its ability to ship its collection of smart home products and “build out software and energy partnerships for Internet-connected devices” will be critical as it competes in this space with tech giants such as Amazon and Apple. Continue reading Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

AWE 2016 Addresses Rapidly Evolving VR and AR Ecosystem

This year’s Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara was equal parts augmented and virtual reality. Curtis Hickman of The VOID presented some compelling instances in which physical and psychological misdirection are effective tools for the VR experience. Meta CEO Meron Gribetz demonstrated the sub-millimeter hand tracking accuracy of his company’s AR HMD. Jared Finder provided an update on the core tech components of Google’s Project Tango. Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan discussed the importance of image composition and story beats in VR. Highlights from the show floor included the latest ODG AR glasses and waveguide AR displays from Epson and Lumus. Continue reading AWE 2016 Addresses Rapidly Evolving VR and AR Ecosystem

Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

The 2016 Internet Trends report, presented by Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, states that growth of Internet users worldwide is flat and smartphone growth is slowing. At Recode’s media and tech Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Meeker revealed that the global number of Internet users is about 3 billion, 42 percent of the world’s population. The slowdown, she says is part of a global gross domestic product growth below the 20-year average in six of the last eight years. Continue reading Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks

Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all pursuing chatbots, which will function as virtual assistants, answering questions, responding to requests, and anticipating needs. But building functioning chatbots, which are based on artificial intelligence, is harder than it sounds. To further progress, Google open-sourced one of its natural language tools. Although Facebook hasn’t yet open-sourced it, the company introduced DeepText, a natural language engine that it is just beginning to use with its own services. Continue reading Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks

Amazon Creating New Cloud Services for Artificial Intelligence

Amazon is testing an as-of-yet unannounced new cloud service that will let businesses run a wider range of artificial intelligence software on its computers, say people close to the situation. This move puts Amazon, which launched Amazon Web Services in a limited offering in this area last year, in closer competition with Google, Microsoft and IBM, which have already launched various cloud services. The new service will help development of pattern recognition, speech transcription and other robust applications. Continue reading Amazon Creating New Cloud Services for Artificial Intelligence

Emmy Awards to Debut New Short-Form Categories This Year

The Television Academy has added Emmy Award categories for short-form variety, nonfiction/reality and animation series as well as new actor and actress awards. The move reflects recognition of the growing popularity of original content produced primarily for online video services. Contenders on the 2016 ballot include digital series such as Maker Studios’ “Epic Rap Battles of History;” “Scare PewDiePie,” available on YouTube Red; AwesomenessTV’s “Guidance;” and New Form Digital’s “Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures,” produced with Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop and available on Vimeo. Continue reading Emmy Awards to Debut New Short-Form Categories This Year

Tech Firms Test AI Solutions to Combat Inappropriate Content

Digital platforms Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Periscope are implementing new ways to fight some of the worst misdeeds of the Internet: hate speech, pornography, graphic and gratuitous violence, threats and trolling. To do so, they are relying on a new range of solutions mainly but not entirely fueled by artificial intelligence. In recent months, all these Internet companies have been the target of lawsuits and harsh criticism for their inability to remove such content in a timely fashion. Continue reading Tech Firms Test AI Solutions to Combat Inappropriate Content

Google Aims to Take On Apple Devices with Android Updates

Google will introduce new features to its Android mobile operating system to help its Nexus devices better compete with Apple’s iPhones and iPads. At the Code Conference yesterday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company plans to “put a lot more thought” into the Nexus line, and would likely customize Android in the process. Google licenses Android to a wide array of handset makers, which results in a variety of phones, software and apps that work differently. “These fragmentation issues mean Android phones are often harder to use and sometimes less capable than iPhones,” reports Bloomberg. The Nexus line is designed to address this problem. “Creating a new version of Android just for Nexus devices would give Google more control.” Continue reading Google Aims to Take On Apple Devices with Android Updates

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