Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Analytics service Mixpanel reports that Apple had a decent holiday season, as more iPhone 7 devices were sold than Google Pixel smartphones. During the first few days following Christmas, iPhone 7 numbers “increased by 12.7 percent, compared with an 8.5 percent increase for Google’s newest flagship,” explains TechCrunch. “And when comparing iOS to Android devices in general — including phones, tablets, and iPods — more new Apple devices were switched on … after Christmas than Android devices.” Apple devices had the most global activations leading up to Christmas, while Samsung came in second. The number of “Apple Watches increased by 8.9 percent … the first three days after Christmas,” but “that’s down from 18.6 percent during the same time last year.” Continue reading Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Marking the biggest week of the year for mobile games, research firm Sensor Tower reports that sales of game apps between Christmas and New Year’s Day jumped 53 percent over the same period last year. “Smartphone and tablet users spent a record $967.6 million on game apps for iOS and Android devices,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Two factors typically goose spending during the week: mobile devices given as gifts, and people off from work and school who have free time to load up on apps.” Additionally, game developers typically introduce “discounts and special holiday-timed events during the week.” According to Newzoo, mobile is now the largest slice of the $100 billion video game pie. Continue reading Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

CES: Future of Transportation Drives Innovation, Investments

The decision by automakers such as General Motors in 2016, Fiat Chrysler and the conceptualist Faraday Future this year to debut new cars at CES instead of the traditional Detroit Auto Show the following week is about more than making headlines. Rather, it is indicative of how much the future of transportation is connected to so many other moving parts and innovations across the massive consumer electronics landscape. Driverless cars won’t widen eyes this year as much as it will be what we can do in and with this massive shift. Continue reading CES: Future of Transportation Drives Innovation, Investments

Disney-ABC to Produce Short Form Video Series for Snapchat

Disney-ABC Television Group has signed an agreement with Snapchat to produce several original shows for the social media platform. The first production will be “Watch Party: The Bachelor,” an aftershow for ABC’s “The Bachelor” that will debut Jan. 3, the day after the premiere of that reality dating show’s 21st season. The original episodes will run three to five minutes each and be available for 24 hours on Snapchat, appearing in the Discover section. The season finale will be produced as a Snapchat Live Story. Continue reading Disney-ABC to Produce Short Form Video Series for Snapchat

Twitter Debuts Live Video From Mobile Apps, Pares Down Vine

With tighter integration between Twitter and Periscope, updated iOS and Android Twitter apps now feature a “LIVE” button on the screen that activates the camera and starts live video. Since Twitter acquired Periscope early last year, it enabled Periscope broadcasts within the Twitter stream, introduced a way to alert a Twitter user when someone you followed began live streaming, and debuted high-end tools for streaming to Twitter from professional cameras and VR headsets. The company is also introducing a pared down version of its previously shuttered Vine. Continue reading Twitter Debuts Live Video From Mobile Apps, Pares Down Vine

CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

As noted by Bolter and Grusin in their seminal work Remediation: Understanding New Media, there is a trend towards transparency of the supports that underlie media content. For example, consider the current obsession with grinding down smartphone bezels so that all that remains is a gleaming, five-inch window into the world of “Angry Birds.” Or, look to the excitement of panel manufacturers who boast of new color spaces, dynamic ranges, and resolutions. Virtual reality presents the possible apotheosis of this kind of mediation: a technology where content has no borders, instead utilizing the totality of one’s senses, the net cast by its content so wide that the machinery which deploys it becomes eclipsed. Continue reading CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

SkyLights and Gogo Bring Personal Entertainment to Airlines

People are accustomed to accessing on-demand video at will, so a flight on an airplane with a communal TV screen can be jolting. Now, startup SkyLights aims to let airline passengers don a virtual reality headset to watch the latest 3D Hollywood movies. French entrepreneur David Dicko’s company offers a headset with six-hour battery life and noise-canceling headphones, which has been tested on flights for almost one year. French carrier XL Airways will soon begin to offer SkyLights headsets for rent, at $16 per flight. Continue reading SkyLights and Gogo Bring Personal Entertainment to Airlines

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

Oculus and Facebook Aim to Make Virtual Reality More Social

Oculus debuted Parties and Rooms for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset, a significant move in making virtual reality more social. Parties allows a multi-person conversation to take place on top of whatever else the individuals are doing in VR, and Rooms is a digital lounge where up to four people can gather to watch videos, play simple games or just relax. Facebook also just launched its “Coordinated App Launch API,” which will enable those friends hanging out in Rooms to launch a developer’s multiplayer game. Continue reading Oculus and Facebook Aim to Make Virtual Reality More Social

Facebook Pursues Funding, Licensing Original Video Content

Facebook plans to fund original productions and license original video content from media companies and digital celebrities for its platform. To be led by Facebook head of global strategy Ricky Van Veen, the new initiative is still in its nascent stages; a spokesperson only says the company is reaching out to many potential partners. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has steadfastly insisted Facebook is not a media company, but given this decisive move towards content, that will be a difficult position to maintain. Continue reading Facebook Pursues Funding, Licensing Original Video Content

CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

At CES 2017, Honda’s theme will be a “cooperative mobility ecosystem,” a confluence of last year’s two showstoppers: autonomous driving and the rise of artificial intelligence. These arenas could foster mass adoption of differential privacy. Data aggregation is critical to the success of autonomous driving, and the AI-centric, newly coined notion of autonomous living, but this collection requires user buy-in. With nearly half of all Internet users expressing that privacy and security concerns are limiting their use of the Internet, new means of protecting user data will be a key theme throughout CES. Continue reading CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

As Viewing on Smart TVs Increases, Advertisers Gain Interest

More Americans are watching TV on-demand and over-the-top. Although some services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are ad-free, the number of OTT ads is growing. Pivotal Research reports that smart TV viewing skyrocketed 65 percent over the last year, accounting now for 8.1 percent of TV viewing for the 18-to-49 demographic. In line with that finding, Innovid, which serves ads to TV apps and web video outlets, says the share of ads now placed on connected TVs has quadrupled in the same time frame. Continue reading As Viewing on Smart TVs Increases, Advertisers Gain Interest

CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is finally here. After nearly 50 years in the doldrums of research, the science of designing “thinking machines” has jumped from academic literature to the lab, and even from the lab to the store. This is largely because its precursor, machine learning, has been enjoying a dramatic revival, thanks in part to the commoditization of sensors and large-scale compute architectures, the explosion of available data (necessary to train advanced machine learning architectures such as recurrent neural networks), and the always burning necessity for tech companies to find something new. We expect AI to have a significant presence at next month’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Alphabet recently unveiled a system of tools called Conversation Actions, designed to help developers create chatbots that work with Google Assistant. The move is the latest by Google to compete in the emerging digital assistant space with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook that are investing heavily in artificial intelligence. Google’s virtual assistant “is the strategic centerpiece of an effort to keep its lucrative Web search business relevant in an age of mobile devices and wearable gadgets,” reports Bloomberg. “Just like its search engine sent people to the right places on the Web, the company’s assistant should connect users to the most relevant and useful services.” Continue reading Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

Eighty-four million wearables were sold in 2015, and experts are predicting the market will grow to 245 million by 2019. That means that, once again, CES 2017 will be the venue to check out the latest commercially available products and the newest technologies that will power wearables of the future. MEMS and sensors are key to wearables’ capabilities and, Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, says CES 2017 will showcase some “exciting” new wearables features. Continue reading CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

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