Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Spotify just debuted Group Sessions, a feature in beta testing for exclusive use of Premium subscribers. Group Sessions acts as a kind of “party mode” to allow two or more users in the same space to share control of the music being played in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group. The company points out that it is ideal for those quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify anticipates the feature will now encourage more free users to convert to subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

Sonos just debuted ad-supported Sonos Radio, which splits offerings into three categories: Sonos Presents, which is curated music and original programming; Sonos Stations, a collection of 30 genre-based music listening stations; and Local Radio, which lists thousands of streaming radio options. Napster streams the music for the first two options. Sonos director of business development Ryan Taylor noted that Sonos is experiencing a “New Year’s Eve-level of engagement” during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Sonos Rolls Out Radio Channels for Smart Speaker Owners

TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to a poll by Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, Americans have doubled their TV viewing in the last month-and-a-half and expect to continue watching TV and streaming more after the coronavirus pandemic is over. E-Poll also found that people are wary of going into spaces such as theaters, concert venues, sports stadiums and theme parks where social distancing is problematic. Polling lowest was “taking a cruise.” E-commerce is also booming in the current crisis, with Amazon seen as the biggest winner. Continue reading TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

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

Amazon Takes Steps to Become the Next Major Game Player

Amazon is readying the launch of Relentless Studios, the company’s video-gaming division. In May, it will introduce its first original game “Crucible,” a big-budget sci-fi shooter. It is also in development on its new cloud gaming platform, code-named Project Tempo and developing more casual games for its Twitch streaming service. With these new efforts, Amazon is competing on another front with Google and Microsoft, which have increased their gaming offerings. Video-gaming has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Takes Steps to Become the Next Major Game Player

Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

According to Nielsen, radio reaches 92 percent of Americans over 18 years of age every week. Whereas Netflix and other streaming services have loosened over-the-air TV’s grip on the viewing audience, AM/FM stations still dominate in vehicles. But that might change since the coronavirus has kept millions of Americans from commuting — and listening to radio — while stuck at home. U.S. drivers, who listen to 100 minutes of radio every day on average, are worth $67 in radio industry revenue annually, according to Deloitte. Continue reading Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

The stage appearance of a Tupac Shakur hologram at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival marked the beginning of the music industry’s fascination with the new tech. Now, augmented reality startup 1RIC convinced five artists to dance and pose, surrounded by 106 cameras. The resulting 3D images of these performers reside on Jadu, 1RIC’s app, which consumers can use to create their own videos of themselves dancing with the stars. Chief executive Asad Malik said Jadu is an effort to make 3D holograms more accessible. Continue reading New App Leverages AR to Let Users Dance with Music Stars

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Tech and Media Industries Feeling Impact of the Coronavirus

Hollywood, digital media and technology are among the growing number of industries being impacted by the coronavirus. As the virus continues to spread globally, a range of business sectors are feeling the effects, including media production, movie theaters, theme parks, touring performers, music acts and consumer electronics. In addition, major tech conferences such as Google I/O, Facebook’s F8, Adobe Summit and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona have been canceled, representing about $500 million so far in lost revenue for airlines, hotels, restaurants, and related businesses. China’s film industry has lost close to an estimated $2 billion in box office grosses since its theaters closed earlier this year. Continue reading Tech and Media Industries Feeling Impact of the Coronavirus

AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Following several months of testing in 13 U.S. trial markets, AT&T TV launches nationwide today. The broadband service features a 4K- and HDR-capable Android-based set-top box, 500 hours of DVR storage, access to hundreds of live television channels and 40,000 on-demand titles. Streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube are available, as well as 5,000+ apps through the Google Play store. Additionally, the voice-enabled remote control is integrated with Google Assistant. Chromecast support is also built in. AT&T TV will be integrated with HBO Max when it launches in May. Continue reading AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

RIAA Study Shows Growing Dominance of Streaming Services

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) just released a study that revealed the degree to which streaming has the upper hand in music revenue. It now accounts for 79 percent of the industry, having grown 13 percent in 2019 from $9.8 billion to $11.1 billion in retail value. Another promising sign was that revenue from paid subscription services grew 25 percent year-over-year, to $6.8 billion. Such subscription services now account for 61 percent of all U.S. revenue for recorded music. Continue reading RIAA Study Shows Growing Dominance of Streaming Services

HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Immersive audio standards are complete, said Sony Pictures Entertainment executive director of audio Brian Vessa, and now the task is to encourage widespread use. Immersive Audio Bitstream (IAB) is the interoperable system that allows one mix — the IAB DCP — to play back in multiple immersive sound systems in movie theaters. “For home entertainment, a single mix can be transcoded to multiple deliverables,” Vessa said. Most tentpole movies are already being mixed natively in immersive audio, he added. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

In China, four major mobile companies have teamed up to replace Google Play, which cannot operate there. Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo have revealed plans to debut what they’ve dubbed the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), to make it easier for game, music, movie and other app developers to sell their wares in overseas markets. According to sources, GDSA was originally going to launch in March, but it’s unknown whether that might be delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. Continue reading Chinese Mobile Giants Join Forces to Develop App Platform

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

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