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

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

Apple just submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a light field panoramic camera system for next-generation iPhones, iPads and head-mounted displays (HMD). With the camera, the user will be able to capture images (as well as position and orientation information) by holding up the device. Processing the images for relative positions and depth information, the light field panorama will allow a viewer to explore 3D views of the image with 6 degrees of freedom (DOF). Continue reading Apple Files Patent for Light Field Camera System With 6DOF

Streamer Quibi Is the Most Downloaded App on Its First Day

Short-form streaming video service Quibi (“quick-bites”) launched on Monday and, according to App Annie, had 700,000+ iPhone and Android downloads, making it the most downloaded app that day in the nation. App Annie also revealed that Quibi was No. 2 in entertainment apps for the iPhone on Monday from 3:00 am to 2:00 pm (the No. 1 app during that period was TikTok). App Annie director of market insights Amir Ghodrati stated that this was “a strong start for a brand-new app without an established brand or content.” Continue reading Streamer Quibi Is the Most Downloaded App on Its First Day

AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

In the transition to 5G, AT&T has focused on the 39GHz millimeter wave radio band, purchasing sizable blocks of this spectrum from FiberTower. Now, the carrier stated that its 39GHz spectrum holdings have more than doubled to 786MHz, which, in principle, should allow it to offer “at least 3Gbps download speeds” across the U.S. The big “if” in this scenario is AT&T’s ability to build nationwide towers to support this short distance mmWave bandwidth. By betting on 39GHz, AT&T will have 800MHz bandwidth in some markets. Continue reading AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

With the coronavirus in full force, Apple is one of many companies finding it challenging to predict consumer demand, even as it readies the release of its low-price iPhone model and 5G-enabled iPhones. Apple closed factories in China and its Silicon Valley headquarters as well as stores in Europe, impacting iPhone sales, which peaked in 2015. The new model was scheduled to debut this month but might be delayed; 5G phones are expected to unveil in September. Meanwhile, Huawei is also testing the demand for new flagship phones. Continue reading Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Starting three years ago, Stanford University researchers began the Human Screenome Project to create a digital map with detailed information about how people use their phones. Stanford School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Thomas Robinson, one of the lead researchers on the project, is focused on the portion of the project on adolescents. Although the iPhone first debuted over ten years ago, said the researchers, we have very little information about how such screens impact this cohort’s well-being. Continue reading Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

The European Commission is set to extend its eco-design directive to cover laptops, phones and tablets, setting a standard for changeable and repairable parts, dubbed “the right to repair.” It is estimated that, in the European Union, less than 40 percent of electronic waste is recycled. The law currently covers energy efficiency standards for computers, dishwashers, TVs and washing machines. European commissioner for the environment Virginijus Sinkevičius said this Circular Economy Action Plan is a “new economic model.” Continue reading EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

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