Bluetooth 5 Aims to Increase Speed, Reliability of IoT Devices

With the launch of Bluetooth 5, Internet connectivity is expected to be greatly improved. According to the Bluetooth SIG, which oversees the standard first announced earlier in 2016, Bluetooth 5, in its low-energy format, will enjoy twice the speed and up to four times the distance of today’s version. Manufacturers are just beginning to develop Bluetooth 5-compliant devices, which will be introduced into the market in the next two to six months, with the added prediction that “major products” could debut by the end of 2017. Continue reading Bluetooth 5 Aims to Increase Speed, Reliability of IoT Devices

Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

In April, Sony will start releasing smartphone versions of popular PlayStation games in Japan as well as a pad and playing cards that gamers can connect to their smartphones via Bluetooth technology. Among those games are “Everybody’s Golf” and “PaRappa the Rapper.” Sony’s goal is to have a new and more constant revenue stream, given that the console business is dependent on the introduction of new hardware. Sony already provides die-hard PlayStation fans a subscription program for low-cost game rentals. Continue reading Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

The free encrypted messaging app Signal is gaining users, not just because privacy advocates and security researchers have all given it a seal of approval. The app, available for smartphone and computer, is a bulwark against hacking, which got a national spotlight when WikiLeaks posted emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Others fear increased government surveillance under the incoming President Donald Trump, a reaction to Trump’s choice of CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, who advocates just that. Continue reading Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

Google Play Sells Movies in 117 Countries, Launches 4K Titles

Launched less than four years ago, Google Play has become much more than the official Android app store, establishing itself as a top retailer in home entertainment. Users treat it like a digital media store, where they can buy movies or TV shows digitally — often sooner than they can on Netflix or other streaming services. Google is now selling movies in 117 countries. Next, Play Movies & TV will be offering 4K for over 125 movies in its collection, for sale via Web or mobile. Continue reading Google Play Sells Movies in 117 Countries, Launches 4K Titles

Leap Motion Introduces Hand Tracking for Samsung Gear VR

Leap Motion, a company that provides hand tracking for smartphone-based virtual reality headsets, introduced a reference design for its Leap Motion Mobile Platform to work on top of the Samsung Gear VR. Leap Motion relies on two mini-cameras set in a faceplate to detect finger motion. The company began by providing a desktop-mounted, non-VR hand tracker, but segued into smartphone-based VR headsets. Although no manufacturer has yet announced products integrating Leap Motion, a few may do so at CES 2017. Continue reading Leap Motion Introduces Hand Tracking for Samsung Gear VR

Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In the carefully watched design patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that Samsung may not be liable for its entire $399 million in profits after copying the iPhone’s distinctive look, including its rectangular front face, rounded corners and grid of icons. In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents. “Design patents, which address what products look like, are far less common than utility patents, which cover how products work,” explains The New York Times. “The Supreme Court’s opinion, while not decisively resolving the case, found that liability in design patent cases is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.” The two companies will return to court to determine an appropriate amount for damages. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

A future ambient business model would change the way we think about screens, mobile and IoT in a post-device world — an emerging reality that we expect to see illustrated at CES 2017. Recently, a look at what it means for businesses to operate in a post-device world has surfaced in forward-thinking analyses. Specifically, some reports have examined how Apple continues to prosper as customers increasingly do almost everything on anything. At UBS, analyst Steve Milunovich thinks Apple is already moving towards an ambient (present on all sides) paradigm, with a proliferation of devices that increasingly allow you to interoperate seamlessly across a full range of digital formats. In this new paradigm, the real growth will likely be extensions of services. Continue reading Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

AT&T Reveals Details About DirecTV Now Streaming Service

AT&T filled in details about its streaming service DirecTV Now, which goes on sale this week for between $35 and $70 a month. Four tiers of service range from 60 channels to 120 channels, delivered to Web browsers, mobile phones and streaming devices, including Amazon’s Fire TV stick and Apple TV. AT&T is currently offering a promotional deal of a 100-channel package, which will be priced at $60/month, for $35/month. The company, which bought DirecTV for $50 billion last year, will continue to sell its satellite service. Continue reading AT&T Reveals Details About DirecTV Now Streaming Service

It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

As projected, this week’s Cyber Monday shopping event set a new single-day online sales record, according to Adobe. Following Black Friday’s record of $3.34 billion in online sales, as well as a new record of $1.2 billion in purchases made via mobile devices, Cyber Monday reached a staggering $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., up 12.1 percent compared to the same day in 2015. Thanksgiving weekend is generally considered the start of the holiday shopping season and an indicator of economic health and consumer confidence. From November 24-28, consumers spent $12.81 billion, a 16.4 percent jump over last year. Continue reading It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

Big Tablets Become a Reality in Work and Consumer Spaces

In 2013, Fox News was apparently ahead of the game when it introduced giant touchscreen tablets in its newsroom. What was unusual then is now becoming a trend, as these oversized megatablets are making their way into work and consumer environments. Defined as anything larger than 13-inches, which leaves plenty of room for a range of different sizes, the gigantic tablet has found its way into Carnival Cruise Line ships and McDonald’s fast food restaurants. Continue reading Big Tablets Become a Reality in Work and Consumer Spaces

Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

A future iPhone featuring a curved OLED screen could be available by next year. According to Apple’s suppliers, Apple has requested thinner OLEDs and new prototypes with higher resolution than screens offered by Samsung. As Apple gets ready for next year’s 10th anniversary of its popular iPhone, the company has been contending with slowing smartphone sales. Samsung, Google and Xiaomi are among those that have already made the transition from conventional LCD displays to thinner and lighter OLED tech that does not require the same backlight and allows for flexible designs. Continue reading Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

According to separate research from Adobe and the National Retail Federation, Black Friday set new records for e-commerce with online sales surpassing $3 billion for the first time, while also marking the first day in U.S. retail history to experience more than $1 billion in sales made from mobile devices. Adobe reports $3.34 billion in total online sales, a 21.6 percent jump over last year, with mobile accounting for $1.2 billion, a 33 percent increase. And shoppers were thrifty this time around. While the NRF found that the number of shoppers increased over the weekend compared to 2015, average consumer spending dropped 3.5 percent, including online and offline purchases. Continue reading Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

On December 13, Sony plans to release the Xperia Ear on Amazon in time for holiday gift shopping. Priced at $200, the device, which will also be available eventually at Fry’s Electronics, Abt and B&H, will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home — but in a form factor that resembles a Bluetooth earpiece. Sony had originally said it would release Xperia Ear in the summer, but then pushed the release date. The earpiece, available in black, is a companion to Xperia smartphones. Continue reading Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Instagram just debuted two new features for live streaming video and ephemeral messaging, both of which reflect the popularity of such features in Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope. By doing so, Instagram has heated up its competition with Snapchat and now competes more directly with Periscope. Instagram, which will roll out the new video features to a small group before a wider launch, also recently introduced Instagram Stories, which apes Snapchat Stories.  Continue reading Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

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