European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that calls for banning law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition. The vote signals what Parliament is willing to adopt as part of the Artificial Intelligence Act being developed by the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) advocate for a permanent ban on automated recognition of individuals in public spaces in addition to the use of private facial recognition databases such as those developed by companies including New York-based Clearview AI.  Continue reading European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

In the midst of troubling press attention as the company faces antitrust claims and ongoing criticism of its App Store business model, Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 during a streaming event yesterday. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared live on a virtual set rather than the traditional in-person stage as a precaution during COVID-19. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera system that promises a new cinematic mode, improved low-light capabilities and an updated ultra-wide lens. The Apple Watch 7, touting a revamped look, includes new features such as a larger screen, softer corners, more support for e-bikes and fall detection for cycling. Continue reading Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

Facing increased regulatory scrutiny, Apple announced significant changes to its App Store, enabling developers to inform customers about ways to pay outside the App Store and expanding prices they can offer for subscriptions as well as in-app purchases and paid apps. The company settled a class-action lawsuit with software developers and is expecting a judgment in a suit filed by Epic Games over many of the same issues. Apple’s move is the biggest it’s ever made in response to developers alleging anticompetitive behavior. The company separately announced plans to cut its commission rate for publishers on Apple News. Continue reading Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaped rewards for Big Tech companies that benefitted from the shift to remote working and learning. Apple earned $21.7 billion in profit for the quarter that ended in June, the most successful quarter in the company’s 45-year history, while Alphabet and Microsoft also enjoyed strong quarterly earnings. Apple’s revenue rose 36 percent from the same period a year earlier to $81.4 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Apple is on track to earn $86 billion for the fiscal year, according to FactSet analysts. Continue reading Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

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

Amazon and Apple Expand the Capabilities of Mesh Networks

Wireless bandwidth emitted by our Amazon and Apple devices is being used by other nearby devices to supplement existing Wi-Fi. Now, Amazon and Apple are expanding those programs. Amazon Sidewalk is adding post-2018 Echo devices including Echo speakers, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus and Echo Spot devices and newer Ring Video Doorbell Pro models to communicate on the Sidewalk network via Bluetooth. Apple’s new AirTag device also sends out a wireless signal that can be used by iPhones, iPads and Macs in the area. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Expand the Capabilities of Mesh Networks

Hardware Demand Results in a Successful Quarter for Apple

Apple’s last fiscal quarter brought in a profit of $23.6 billion, with analysts predicting the year’s total profit will exceed $70 billion, almost one-third more than last year. Revenue also surpassed Wall Street estimates, up 54 percent to $89.6 billion. Apple announced a 7 percent increase to its cash dividend to 22 cents per share; the board authorized an increase of $90 billion to an existing share-repurchase program. Strong consumer demand for the iPhone 12, Mac computers and iPads is responsible for the results. Continue reading Hardware Demand Results in a Successful Quarter for Apple

Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

The Apple App Store is full of scams, according to Kosta Eleftheriou, who has hunted down scam apps for iPhones and iPads that lure consumers into a “free trial” and then charge them insanely high monthly subscription rates without an obvious way to cancel. Eleftheriou, who said these scam apps advertise themselves with thousands of fake 5-star reviews, has come to the conclusion that Apple doesn’t care or is incompetent. Apple isn’t the only target for fraudsters, who have a lucrative business scamming digital advertisers. Continue reading Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

New Camera-to-Cloud Technology Available for Productions

Feature film “Songbird,” directed by Adam Mason, is a thriller based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Shot last summer in Los Angeles, the production used new camera-to-cloud technology that enabled remote participation — including live feedback — by any crew member that couldn’t be on set. Cloud-based video review company Frame.io had been working on the concept, streaming footage from connected cameras over 4G or LTE to remote crew. The company’s C2C solution launches this month. “Songbird” co-producer Max Votolato dubbed it “like having a video village in your pocket.” Continue reading New Camera-to-Cloud Technology Available for Productions

Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

During Sundance Film Festival 2021 (January 28 – February 3), Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution and Disney Television Animation is showcasing an interactive short — “Baymax Dreams of Fred’s Glitch” — that plays via Nvidia’s GeForce NOW streaming service. The game-like short features the cast from “Big Hero 6” and challenges the viewer to fix Fred’s destructive “glitch” and Baymax’s programming. “Baymax Dreams” is part of the New Frontier Alliance Showcase at Sundance. GeForce NOW, officially unveiled in 2015, recently launched for the Chrome web browser and M1 Macs in beta. Continue reading Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

In its first fiscal quarter, ending December 2020, Apple earned record-breaking profits with $111.4 billion in sales driven by high-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-related demand for laptops and tablets. Investors are worried if high-flying companies including Tesla and Facebook can sustain rapid growth. Tesla posted a sixth straight quarter of profits and Facebook also reported record net income. But Apple’s strong numbers came under attack from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sees the company as a rival. Continue reading Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of streaming media services have thrived and, according to a J.D. Power survey, Americans now subscribe, on average, to four streaming services, up from three when the pandemic began. That translates to 24 percent more in subscription fees, for an average consumer outlay of $47 per month in December, up from $38 in April. Netflix and Disney+ have surged, and newcomers HBO Max and Peacock have also done well. Apple wants to boost its Apple TV+ service but may find itself at a disadvantage. Continue reading Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Facebook took the offense against Apple for its new policies limiting personalized ads on its products, stating that this would disproportionately hurt small businesses that rely on such ads. It pointed to internal research that found small businesses earned 60 percent less without access to targeted advertising. Facebook vice president for ads and business products Dan Levy called Apple’s move anticompetitive, benefitting the company’s own profits at the expense of not just small businesses but also app developers. Continue reading Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues