Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

On Wednesday, Vizio debuted WatchFree to its TV sets with its SmartCast operating system, adding more access to free, ad-supported TV programming. Pluto TV, an ad-supported streaming service, powers the service, which will offer 100 channels including NBC News/MSNBC, Fox Sports, MST3K and The Surf Channel, as well as movie channels. In the near future, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and “Unsolved Mysteries” will appear as pop-up channels. Vizio’s SmartCast operating system was first launched in 2016. Continue reading Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

NAB 2018: Post-Millennial/Gen Z Survey on Cinema, TV, VR

If you want to know what’s on the mind of a post-millennial, the best person to ask is a member of that demographic. At NAB 2018, a 15-year-old high school sophomore did even better than that, presenting the results of her own survey of over 200 members of her age group. Based on a family conversation (that included her father, industry consultant Pete Ludé), Helen Ludé, a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco, decided to poll her friends on cinema attendance, home consumption habits and virtual reality.  Continue reading NAB 2018: Post-Millennial/Gen Z Survey on Cinema, TV, VR

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

With a team of 30 to 35 people, Netflix is creating apps to streamline parts of the production process, such as crew management, scheduling and budgeting. One app, dubbed Move, has been in beta with a few Netflix productions since November. Move, which was built as a progressive web app, replaces all the paperwork related to scheduling shoot days and distributing the script, sending email and SMS to notify the crew of any schedule changes. It was first tested on the second season of “Glow,” and since used on 10 different shoots. Continue reading Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

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Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

For the last five years, Amazon’s average profit margins remained at 1 percent, and founder Jeff Bezos counseled patience. Amazon Web Services, its profitable cloud services business, drove shares up to $1,300, and now BMO Capital Markets raised its Amazon price target to $1,600 per share. That’s because Bezos’ end game is becoming clearer: a marketing platform that takes advantage of Amazon’s immense audience. Some analysts believe its shares could reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value. Meanwhile, Amazon continues plans for its second headquarters. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

An increasing number of YouTube’s 1.5 billion viewers are watching its videos on the living room TV set rather than smartphones. With Internet-connected TVs, users are having an easier time streaming over-the-top content at home, where they can enjoy the content on a much bigger screen. Other over-the-top providers, from Roku to Apple TV, Facebook to Twitter, are experiencing the same kind of migration from smaller digital devices to the TV. That means more advertisers than ever are buying YouTube and its ilk. Continue reading Advertisers Follow YouTube Viewers to Living Room TV Sets

Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

Google and MIT scientists have collaborated to explore how computational photography, which uses machine learning and specialized algorithms, can be used to retouch photos in real time. The team trained neural networks via 5,000 images created by Adobe and MIT; five different photographers retouched each image, teaching the software the various ways a photo could be improved. Elsewhere, Nvidia and UC Santa Barbara created a computational zoom for photographers that lets them change a photo’s perspective in post production. Continue reading Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

Intel Is Topped by Samsung After 25-Year Lead in Chip Sales

Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor unit posted Q2 sales of $15.7 billion and operating profit of $7.1 billion, surpassing Intel’s Q2 earnings of $14.8 billion and operating profit of $3.8 billion. This marks the first time in nearly 25 years that Intel has lost its No. 1 position in the chip-making market. Up until this quarter, Santa Clara, CA-based Intel has enjoyed a comfortable lead over Samsung’s chip unit, which got its start with a focus on mobile devices. The semiconductor industry is currently valued at $365 billion. Continue reading Intel Is Topped by Samsung After 25-Year Lead in Chip Sales

Sony, National Cable TV Group Ink Deal for PlayStation Vue

Sony Interactive Entertainment America and the non-profit organization National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) inked a deal that will allow local cable companies to offer Sony’s PlayStation Vue’s “cable TV bundle.” NCTC is a programming-and-hardware purchasing group for 850 cable and broadband systems in the U.S., serving more than nine million customers, mainly located in rural areas. In addition to the Sony deal, NCTC also made a deal with fuboTV, a startup that offers streaming sports channels. Continue reading Sony, National Cable TV Group Ink Deal for PlayStation Vue

Google Brings Customized Feed to Its Search Landing Page

Google is introducing a new look for its search product that will appear just beneath its search box. The user will find a feed of news, entertainment and other content customized to her searches, video views and other personal information, including her location, email and digital calendars. Available first for the desktop, the new Google search page will eventually be available for mobile web browsers as well. Since Google launched in 1998, it has kept its landing page simple, only tweaking it in minor ways. Continue reading Google Brings Customized Feed to Its Search Landing Page

Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Alphabet’s Google began releasing augmented reality tools in 2014, but Apple now plans to put AR software in up to one billion mobile devices by the end of 2017. That is nearly certain to give Apple an advantage, since the company’s ecosystem will easily integrate devices and software. Google, with its Tango AR software system, has put AR in the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR smartphones. Apple also just introduced its ARKit, which lets developers build AR apps for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

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