Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

European Commission executive vice president in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager is ramping up her scrutiny of U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Amazon. She’s currently targeting Apple’s “gatekeeper” position with third-party apps and Apple Pay. She is also looking more closely at Amazon’s position in online retail. Bloomberg Intelligence antitrust analyst Aitor Ortiz, however, noted that the $9 billion fine she levied against Google didn’t stop the tech giant from continuing to dominate search. The fines “don’t really have a deterrent effect,” he concluded. Continue reading Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

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

Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

Streaming services have operated worldwide, largely untouched by local censorship laws. As Netflix expands, however, it’s starting to encounter local sensitivities. So far, the company has experienced the impact of local laws in Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia. In its 2018 annual report, among business risks, Netflix listed “censorship” and “the need to adapt our content and users interfaces for specific cultural and language differences.” But with subscriber growth plateaued at home, Netflix must seek expansion abroad. Continue reading Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Amazon’s upcoming $109.99 Kindle Kids Edition features a six-inch e-ink display, adjustable front light and long battery life. The device, whose hardware is identical to the entry-level Kindle that costs $20 less, offers cases and wallpapers that appeal to young people. A two-year guarantee will replace a broken unit. Amazon also provides a one-year subscription to its FreeTime Unlimited, which gives access to curated e-books within a walled garden. When the year is up, subscriptions range from $2.99 to $9.99 per month. Continue reading Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

“Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?” asked Fred Stutzman, founder and chief executive of Freedom, an app designed to limit screen time. Freedom had 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it from the App Store in August, and other app makers have similar stories. According to analysis from The New York Times and app-data firm Sensor Tower, Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control apps as well as clamping down on similar but lesser known apps.

Continue reading Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

Kid-safe technology startup SuperAwesome is introducing an alternative to YouTube’s embedded video player intended for publishers of children’s content. The new offering — which joins the SuperAwesome platform of “kidtech” tools created for areas such as advertising, authentication, parental controls and social engagement — provides brands with a viable video player alternative as privacy issues dominate the spotlight. According to the company, the player does not collect data on kids and adheres to COPPA and GDPR. Continue reading SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Tech companies rely on artificial intelligence algorithms to recommend content, thus keeping users on their apps and platforms. While the benefit of that is obvious for the companies using AI, how the consumer might reap rewards is less clear. Some of those same companies are now asking themselves if they can both use AI to keep the consumer’s attention while also adhering to an ethical framework. IBM Research and MIT Media Lab have developed a recommendation technique that its research scientists say does just that. Continue reading IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

Amazon is introducing the Show Mode Charging Dock to provide an easy charge for the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 while keeping them propped up. To debut in a software update on July 2, new Show Mode features will also essentially turn these tablets into a portable Echo Show with weather, time, and news displays in addition to hands-free voice control via Alexa. Putting the tablet on the dock, which aligns via magnets, launches Show Mode; the tablet reverts back to its standard tablet interface when the user removes it from the dock. Continue reading Amazon Show Mode Converts Fire Tablets into Echo Shows

YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Since YouTube debuted YouTube Kids three years ago, parents have complained about their ability to control the content. Now, the company is adding three features to respond to those concerns. A white-list feature parents requested allows them to handpick the content for their children. The company also introduced pre-screened content with partners, including, initially, Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids. Third is an option to set search settings to only permit channels “verified by the YouTube Kids team.” Continue reading YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Page 1 of 212