Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Twitter will debut Spaces, a rival to audio-chat app Clubhouse, in April according to a tweet in a public Twitter Space audio room by host Alex (@akkhosh). Twitter will also soon allow anyone to host a Twitter Spaces room. Twitter Spaces was released in beta on the Android platform late in 2020. The product will roll out for Android and iOS; Twitter is also considering support for using music and allowing tweeting in Spaces. In addition, Twitter is working on a Spaces “Tip Jar” to let users donate to content creators with donations. Continue reading Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

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

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

According to sources, Facebook is developing an audio chat product to compete with Clubhouse, a social networking app that has gained popularity with young people who gather and chat about various topics. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly interested in audio products, has appeared on Clubhouse to chat about augmented reality and virtual reality. Facebook is also known for cloning popular products. Facebook’s audio product is, added the sources, in an early stage of development. Continue reading Facebook Developing a Product to Rival Chat App Clubhouse

Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Discovery launched its discovery+ streaming service in the U.S. this week, which can be downloaded from an extensive list of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire Edition TVs, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (2017 and newer), Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S (but not PlayStation 4 or 5), on mobile via Android and iOS, and via the web on Chrome OS, macOS and Windows PCs. TVs with built-in Chromecast or AirPlay support can cast content from the app. The SVOD service launches with more than 55,000 episodes from channels including Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, ID, OWN, TLC, Travel Channel and others. Continue reading Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Spatial Intros Augmented Reality Platform for Mobile Devices

With the COVID-19 pandemic, use of Zoom and other platforms enabling remote collaboration has skyrocketed. Now, Spatial Systems, a holographic platform for augmented reality and virtual reality, debuted an AR app for iOS and Android that can run on nearly any current generation mobile device. Pricey AR and VR headsets have remained out of reach for many, but there are billions of smartphones enabled for augmented reality on the market. Spatial relied on ARKit and ARCore for iOS and Android to achieve its AR and VR capabilities. Continue reading Spatial Intros Augmented Reality Platform for Mobile Devices

Apple’s Mandatory Privacy Labels Launch on All iOS Platforms

Apple launched mandatory labels that provide easy-to-grasp information of the privacy policies for apps in the Mac and iOS App stores. The mandatory policy applies only to new apps or updates of existing ones. Although countries such as Finland, Singapore and the UK have adopted such labels, Apple appears to be the first global Big Tech company to “embrace and promote” the idea. The labels list three items: Data Used to Track You, Data Linked to You and Data Not Linked to You, with details under each. Continue reading Apple’s Mandatory Privacy Labels Launch on All iOS Platforms

App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

App Annie predicted that mobile game and app spending will have grown 25 percent to $112 billion in 2020. Director of market insights Amir Ghodrati added that the company will likely revise these numbers upwards at the end of December. Both iOS and Android showed record-breaking growth, with 65 percent of spending going to the former and almost 30 percent to the latter. Apple iOS and Google mobile app and game downloads are expected to reach 130 billion in 2020, up 10 percent from 2019. Continue reading App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Google stated that, on January 18, a day before the release of Chrome 88, it will require that every extension publicly display its privacy policies and developers will be limited with what they can do with the collected data. Meanwhile, Apple stated that its mandatory app privacy “nutrition labels” program applies to its own apps as well as those from third-party developers. Apple and Google also banned data broker X-Mode Social from collecting location information from mobile devices using their operating systems. Continue reading Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally. Continue reading Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

To help businesses hold paid digital events during the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple stated that companies offering virtual events or digital classes via iPhone apps won’t have to pay the 30 percent commission fee ordinarily applied to App Store in-app purchases. This concession will extend through the end of June 2021. Apple will also reduce its commission for smaller developers. Meanwhile, Epic Games, which with other developers has been fighting Apple over its in-app commission fee, now has an ally in Nvidia. The GPU and gaming company is testing its GeForce NOW gaming platform on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Continue reading Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

Apple Clips 3.0: New Interface, Multiple Aspect Ratios, HDR

Three years after Apple released its simple video creation app named Clips, the company is updating the app to Clips 3.0, now available in the App Store. Apple streamlined the interface with the intent of making it faster and easier to add effects. Also new are full-screen browsers on the iPhone to make it easier to record and include effects. Version 3.0 lets video creators access multiple aspect ratios, including vertical and horizontal, to accommodate Instagram Stories, Snapchat, YouTube and other popular platforms. Continue reading Apple Clips 3.0: New Interface, Multiple Aspect Ratios, HDR

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

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