Shopify Debuts Product Updates Including Balance Debit Card

At Shopify Reunite, the Canadian company’s first virtual event, the direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform released numerous updates. Among them are Shopify Balance, a business account and debit card; a Local Delivery app; and Shop Pay Installments, a buy-now-pay later option. The company’s AI-powered fulfillment network is also now welcoming merchant applications. Shopify canceled what would have been its fifth annual partner and developer conference, Shopify Unite, due to the coronavirus. Continue reading Shopify Debuts Product Updates Including Balance Debit Card

Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Continue reading Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Spatial lets its enterprise customers use VR or mixed reality headsets to meet in virtual spaces. The company now plans to launch support for desktop web browsers, Android and iOS — open to all and free. That support means virtual meetings can include participants who do not have a headset. According to Spatial co-founder and chief executive Anand Agarawala, “in light of COVID, we’ve actually had an intense amount of demand — about a 1,000 percent increase.” He added that, unlike Zoom, “something like VR gives you that level of presence and personification.” Continue reading Spatial VR/AR Meeting Platform Is Now Free and Open to All

Epic Games Intros Unreal Engine 5 With Dynamic Rendering

Epic Games showcased Unreal Engine 5, with its heightened ability to generate realistic graphics in real time on next-generation game platforms from PlayStation 5 to smartphones. Epic Games chief executive Tim Sweeney stated that Unreal Engine 5, which will roll out in 2021, will offer “a real generational leap in new features … [and] will be a straightforward upgrade for anyone working with Unreal Engine 4.” Epic Games also worked closely with Sony so its games can “take full advantage” of the new engine. Continue reading Epic Games Intros Unreal Engine 5 With Dynamic Rendering

Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

In Q1 2020, Twitter reported 24 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in daily active users to 166 million, which it said is at least in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Although Q1 earnings beat estimates, the company’s advertising business slowed, which Twitter also attributes to the pandemic. Stock was up 12 percent during premarket trading on news of the report, but then fell 7.8 percent during the earnings call because executives didn’t reassure investors that the advertising slump would recover or stabilize. Continue reading Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant operational changes as businesses adjust to new, often experimental or untested processes. ETC has taken this unprecedented time to interview executives from our member companies who generously agreed to share their experiences, information and ideas about how they are adapting to the crisis. The following is the first in a limited series to be published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks. We begin with a conversation with Darcy Antonellis, division president of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity, an Amdocs Company. Vubiquity delivers premium content to viewers on any screen, device or platform. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

The Federal Communications Commission approved in a 5-0 vote that 6GHz Wi-Fi can be used by consumer electronics and industrial sensors for manufacturing. The FCC stated that the innovations possible with the high-speed Wi-Fi will help the U.S. become the leader in 5G. Under chair Ajit Pai, the FCC has modified use of the spectrum to accommodate the demand for mobile signals — and Wi-Fi already carries most mobile traffic. With the new Wi-Fi spectrum, next-gen devices will enjoy faster, more reliable connections. Continue reading FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

As Americans stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are revisiting the issue of closing the digital divide, as part of an effort to spur economic recovery and improve the U.S. competitive edge. House communications and technology subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) noted that, “having affordable broadband — it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Both parties have stated interest in pushing legislation, noting that the pandemic gave impetus to the issue. Continue reading Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

Adobe Publishes Workflow Guide for Quibi Content Creators

Adobe issued a workflow guide for content creators producing short-form video for the new Quibi app for mobile devices. The guide offers a step-by-step process via its Premiere Pro production platform, outlining technical specs for deliverables and use of the machine-learning-powered Auto Reframe feature to streamline creation of both horizontal and vertical versions. Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg also stated that, in May, some Quibi users will be able to cast the service from phones to their TVs. Continue reading Adobe Publishes Workflow Guide for Quibi Content Creators

Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Google Search has been offering personalized movie and TV recommendations since last fall. Now it is adding a new Watchlist tab that enables mobile users to easily track and save desired content. In addition, to help Android TV users navigate news and entertainment as we spend more time sheltering at home, Google has introduced three new rows of content from YouTube on the home screen: COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe videos, and ad-supported free movies from YouTube. These new features are among a larger set of announcements made by the company this week. Continue reading Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Broadcom Warns of Slowdown Due to Supply Chain Troubles

On April 13, Broadcom vice president of sales Nilesh Mistry warned clients that the lead time for ordering parts has now grown to at least 26 weeks due to breakdowns in the supply chain. At Broadcom, which makes components for Apple iPhones, the typical lead time for deliveries had been two-to-three-months. Mistry explained that lockdowns in factories in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines were “closing or severely restricting business operations.” Anything ordered now won’t arrive until the holiday season. Continue reading Broadcom Warns of Slowdown Due to Supply Chain Troubles

Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Facebook will release its free Facebook Gaming mobile app, moving up the original June launch as people are sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, tested in Southeast Asia and Latin America for 18 months, is designed for creating and watching live game play, a burgeoning sector of the $160 billion global games industry. Having invested in gaming to shed a once-drab reputation, Facebook stated that now 700+ million of its 2.5 billion monthly users engage in gaming. Its rivals in live gaming include Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer. Continue reading Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

China Launches Test of DCEP Digital Currency in Four Cities

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, introduced a digital currency known as DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment), which it said will share some features of bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra. It’s being internally tested in four large cities — Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Beijing satellite city Xiong’an — aimed at improving its functionality and, in part, to prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The PBOC started its digital currency research in 2014. Continue reading China Launches Test of DCEP Digital Currency in Four Cities

Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Zoom has gotten a lot of attention as the popular video chat platform that’s soared in usage since the COVID-19 shutdown. But Houseparty is another video chat platform with free mobile and desktop apps that’s gaining traction. Originally targeting teens, Houseparty offers features designed to encourage interaction, such as jumping into a conversation or playing trivia games remotely. In the last month, Houseparty has had 50 million signups, about 70 times its typical number in some markets, said cofounder and chief executive Sima Sistani. Continue reading Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

Apple is readying the fall release of its new iPhone line-up, including the redesign and the addition of 5G to two high-end phones and two less expensive models to replace the iPhone 11. Sources report that among the redesign of the top-tier phones are flat stainless-steel edges and flat screens. Yesterday, the company delivered a virtual unveiling of its new iPhone SE, featuring a design similar to its older iPhone 8. Apple also plans to release a new version of its HomePod speaker that is smaller and cheaper than the original, in addition to Apple Tags for tracking keys, wallets and other objects. Continue reading Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

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