Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

During the star-studded D23 Expo in Anaheim the last several days, Disney announced plans for an Epcot transformation, the new Avenger Campus theme park attractions, a retail collaboration that will bring Disney stores to select Target locations, a first-of-its-kind Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs, a summer 2020 reopening of Disney’s Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris featuring a design based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new port of call for Disney Cruise Lines on Eleuthera, and a new docu-series on the people behind Disney movies and parks. The company also revealed more details of its upcoming streaming video service. Continue reading Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Twitter has purchased Lightwell, an app creation engine originally debuted two years ago by Hullabalu, an interactive storytelling startup. In its Twitter account, Lightwell said its work would focus on conversations and that its toolset, which has required a subscription, will be available for free this week as part of the purchase. Without the need to create an account, Lightwell users will be able to “layout, prototype, and export to iOS.” Lightwell also announced that it would no longer support or add new features to the toolset. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Continue reading Twitter Plans to Improve Conversations, Acquires Lightwell

Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Apple will no longer allow human contractors to listen in on users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, and will not resume the program until it has completed a “thorough review.” The company also stated that, as part of a future update, users will be able to opt out of the quality assurance program. Apple told users that Siri data might be used to improve their experience, but not that humans would be listening to it. Most of the compromised confidential information was recorded via an accidental trigger of Siri. Continue reading Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

SiriusXM’s Pandora unveiled Voice Mode, its voice assistant, to Pandora app users on all platforms. This broad rollout took place after a January debut of Voice Mode on about one million iOS and Android devices. The shortcut to Voice Mode can be found in the upper right of the Pandora app screen. Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips noted that Voice Mode introduces “an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music … like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.” Continue reading Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

According to App Annie, consumers downloaded 11.2 billion mobile games for iOS and Android in Q2 2019. Games served as 35 percent of global downloads, but were responsible for almost 75 percent of consumer spending on iOS and Google Play. Overall, mobile apps had a record quarter: 30.3 billion apps were downloaded, while iOS and Google Play saw $22.6 billion in consumer spending. Arcade, action and casual games collectively represented the third-largest category for Google Play Q2 growth year-over-year. Games served as the top contributor to download growth for iOS, led by arcade, action, and puzzle games. Continue reading Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Social video startup TRASH aims to make it simple for users to create short videos to share with friends. CEO Hannah Donovan, previously general manager at Twitter’s now defunct Vine video app, co-founder of music-discovery site This Is My Jam, and former head of creative at Last.fm, points out that research shows most consumers carry powerful cameras with them, but don’t know much about editing video content. So she set out to leverage computer vision technology to analyze video and synthesize the content into an appealing sequence. The free TRASH app does just that, as explained by its simple tagline, “You shoot, we edit.” Continue reading Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Apple’s 2020 iPhones to Introduce 5G and Design Updates

Industry insider Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple plans to introduce some significant changes in its 2020 iPhones, including 5G connectivity and design upgrades. But owners of iPhones and other iOS devices are likely concerned about the recent news that every one of the world’s current 1.4 billion iPhones and iPads can be hacked. Israel-based Cellebrite demonstrated that it can perform a “full file extraction” on any iOS device, as well as on high-end Android devices. Further, law enforcement can pay for that ability without having to send devices to Cellebrite. Continue reading Apple’s 2020 iPhones to Introduce 5G and Design Updates

Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Apple and Best Buy announced the two companies are extending their partnership so that technicians can repair iPhones at any of the 992 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The companies also revealed that 7,600 Geek Squad techs are now certified for iPhone repairs using genuine parts from Apple. While Apple will continue to offer repairs at its own stores, the new deal should prove beneficial to iPhone users in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, since Apple does not presently have stores in these states. Continue reading Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

For 10+ years, video game developers have given up 30 percent of their revenue from digital stores run by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Valve, which also take a percentage of in-game purchases via a revenue-sharing model that has become the industry standard. Now, Epic Games founder/chief executive Tim Sweeney, whose company put out the immensely popular “Fortnite,” opened a digital store that collects only 12 percent of sales. Sensor Tower reports that an average of $114.5 million was spent between the combined top game publishers in Android and Apple stores last quarter. Continue reading Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Los Angeles-based startup ROW8 has signed licensing deals with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. as part of its strategy to compete with transactional VOD offerings from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The streaming movie service, which launched last year with foreign and indie titles, is now targeting mainstream audiences with library titles and new releases from major Hollywood studios. It is taking an industry standard approach with $5.99 new-release rentals and $2.99-$3.99 catalog titles, but is also adding a feature that offers customers the ability to receive future credits for movie rentals they did not enjoy. Continue reading VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Amazon’s AI-Enabled StyleSnap Is Ideal for Fashion Market

Amazon, which launched its new StyleSnap feature to select iOS and Android users in April, will soon make the in-app tool widely available, said company worldwide consumer head Jeff Wilke at the company’s re:MARS AI conference in Las Vegas. Users can reach StyleSnap via a shortcut found by tapping the camera icon in the Amazon app’s upper right-hand corner. Based on image recognition, the machine learning-enabled StyleSnap (and Pinterest Lens competitor) will offer similar items to any photo or screenshot uploaded by a user. The algorithms also incorporate computer vision and deep learning. Continue reading Amazon’s AI-Enabled StyleSnap Is Ideal for Fashion Market

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