Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

More than 60 percent of eligible Instagram users have enabled interoperability between that platform and Facebook Messenger, said Facebook vice president and head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky, who added the rate is “beating our expectations in terms of how fast and how many people are upgrading.” “People are definitely buying into the convenience,” he noted. The cross-app communication began rolling out in September 2020. Facebook plans to add end-to-end encryption but neither app is expected to be encrypted until next year. Continue reading Sixty Percent of Instagram Users Link Accounts to Messenger

T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Five months ago, T-Mobile debuted its TVision streaming service. Now, the company explains that its three live channel bundles — Live, Live Plus and Live Zone — will end April 29th. That’s due to its new partnership with Google and YouTube, in which YouTube TV will “now fill the role of its live TV solution.” Customers who subscribed to one of the TVision Live packages will get one free month of YouTube TV, and all T-Mobile subscribers can save $10 on the YouTube TV monthly rate of $64.99 and get three free months of YouTube Premium. Continue reading T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Netflix just added First Laughs to its iPhone app, offering comedy clips from movies, TV shows and its own stand-up comedy specials, with the full-screen vertical video running via an auto-playing feed. The company stated it will debut up to 100 curated clips per day. Fast Laughs also includes social features and lets users add titles to their watch list or start watching a program immediately. The length of each video segment will run from about 15 seconds to up to 45 seconds or longer. The idea of watching content on the go echoes TikTok and the now defunct Quibi. Continue reading Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

At WWDC this week, Apple officially announced its plan to move from Intel chips to ARM-based “Apple Silicon” chips. With its own chips, Apple will no longer have to rely on Intel’s update cycles. It also means that Apple will be able to bring its customized neural engines to Macs for tasks that use machine learning. Apple stated that developers will be able to create apps that run on ARM-based Macs in Xcode’s new version, which will also continue to support Intel x86 Macs. Additionally, the company announced iOS 14 (with home screen widgets), iPadOS 14 (with Scribble handwriting-to-text conversion), macOS and Safari upgrades, spatial audio for AirPods Pro, Apple TV updates, and more.  Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook has acquired the GIF platform Giphy for $400 million. Giphy’s 100+ million active daily users send over 1 billion GIFs a day. Facebook stated that Giphy’s content database will be integrated into its apps including Instagram, although it didn’t state a timeframe. Since every social app offers at least some GIF integration, including many that rely on a GIF keyboard and Giphy’s database, Facebook’s purchase is both a competitive edge and another way to harvest the kind of data that attracts advertisers. Continue reading Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

Adobe plans to release three apps — Aero, Fresco and Photoshop for the iPad — that focus on mixing physical elements with digital ones. The apps will allow users to switch back and forth easily between mobile and desktop devices and are cloud-native, enabling easy collaboration. The company’s chief technology officer Abhay Parasnis also recently showcased Project Glasswing, a mixed reality display prototype that will bring all the apps’ features as Photoshop or After Effects layers on a transparent screen in front of real 3D objects. Continue reading Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

Facebook Growth Slows in Early Stage of its Shift to Video

Facebook recorded lower Q3 revenue than expected, the result said chief executive Mark Zuckerberg of “an unsteady transition” from News to more popular but less profitable Stories, which allows users to build photo/video montages that disappear after 24 hours. The company relayed that the transition’s early stage will be marked by higher costs, including more investment in 2019, and continued slow growth. Investors took the news in stride, unlike the July earnings report that resulted in a stock price plummet. Continue reading Facebook Growth Slows in Early Stage of its Shift to Video

Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Although Q3 is typically Apple’s weakest quarter, the company revealed stellar revenue, proof of its success in finding ways to grow in a diminished global smartphone market. Chief executive Tim Cook said the company is reaching into emerging markets and expanding its services business, to achieve “strong double-digit growth in revenue.” According to Apple finance chief Luca Maestri, demand for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus have been steady. On Tuesday, Apple’s market value hit $950 billion. By Thursday, Apple had become the first U.S. company to exceed $1 trillion in market value. Continue reading Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App

Messaging has become increasingly confusing, as users pick among Instagram, iMessage, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter and Google’s Hangouts and Allo — not to forget the basic but limited SMS. Notifications pile up and search becomes difficult if not impossible. According to Wired, all that confusion would disappear if users would simply pick a single app, Signal, which is free, has strong encryption and works on every mobile platform. Signal’s developers say they won’t add emojis, ads, stickers or web-tracking, to keep it simple to use and speedy. Continue reading Signal’s Encryption Features Make It a Choice Messaging App