Make Your TV Smart: Roku to Ship $50 Streaming Stick in April

Video-streaming set-top box maker Roku is planning to launch its anticipated Streaming Stick with Wi-Fi remote next month for $49.99. The thumb-size media stick plugs into a television’s HDMI port and offers a similar interface available through the Roku set-top boxes with access to a host of online streaming services. A simple solution to make your TV smart, the Roku Streaming Stick will compete with the popular $35 smartphone-controlled Chromecast device from Google. Continue reading Make Your TV Smart: Roku to Ship $50 Streaming Stick in April

Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update will include its new personal digital assistant “Cortana,” named after the AI character in the “Halo” game series. Designed to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Now, Cortana’s circular animated icon will replace the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone, and will animate while speaking or thinking, creating a personality similar to the Siri approach. Cortana will save data in a Notebook system that will enable it to track data and generate notifications much like Google Now. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Worldwide Tablet Sales Up 68 Percent, Android Takes the Lead

Global tablet sales reached 195.4 million units last year, a 68 percent increase compared to 2012, according to Gartner. While sales of iOS tablets declined to 36 percent of the market in 2013, Android tablets captured the number 1 spot with with 62 percent of the market, thanks to the growth of low-end smaller screen tablets and first time buyers. However, when looking at sales by vendor, Apple still holds the lead, followed by Samsung, Asus, Amazon and Lenovo. Continue reading Worldwide Tablet Sales Up 68 Percent, Android Takes the Lead

Early Oscar Numbers Look Strong, Ellen Breaks Twitter Record

While total viewer numbers will not be available from Nielsen until later today, last night’s telecast of the 86th Academy Awards from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood scored impressive numbers in the major markets, up 7 percent from last year. In addition, host Ellen DeGeneres set a new social media record by taking a celebrity-filled selfie during the broadcast that has been retweeted more times than any photo in Twitter history, besting President Obama’s tweet after he won the 2012 presidential election. Continue reading Early Oscar Numbers Look Strong, Ellen Breaks Twitter Record

Project Tango: Google Aims to Bring 3D Sensor Tech to Phones

Google recently announced a new initiative dubbed “Project Tango” that plans to integrate 3D sensor technology in a series of prototype Android smartphones. The venture involves a 5-inch phone built by Google that features sensors for tracking the device’s movement while modeling the surrounding space and landscape. “This could impact future game design, virtual set construction and location scouting,” notes ETC staffer Phil Lelyveld. “It could enable crowd-sourced 3D stitching of location modeling data.” Continue reading Project Tango: Google Aims to Bring 3D Sensor Tech to Phones

Digital Music and File Sharing Addressed at DEW Conference

At Digital Entertainment World, Jake Katz and Amrit Singh of Revolt TV discussed how they are reaching their millennial peers. Curation is key, said Amrit. For news, his goal is to be first, right, and “identify the relevant narrative.” Although they call themselves a cable network, they have a large bicoastal (LA, NYC) staff working on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and other social media in real time during the broadcasts. Millennials prefer phones and tablets; 34 percent of the Revolt TV audience won’t watch a television screen. Continue reading Digital Music and File Sharing Addressed at DEW Conference

Phone Makers Target Emerging Markets with Low-End Devices

Although high-end smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung usually get the most press, other established companies are attempting to tap into emerging markets by focusing on inexpensive, low-tech versions of their phones. At the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, companies including Nokia, Google and BlackBerry displayed phones priced between $100-$200. Other companies are aiming to go even lower, below $100, including China’s ZTE Corp. Continue reading Phone Makers Target Emerging Markets with Low-End Devices

WhatsApp Announces New Voice Service After Facebook Deal

During a keynote at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that the mobile messaging service would start to offer voice calls. The move could help justify the massive $19 billion price tag of the recent Facebook deal. While the marketplace for Internet phone services is already crowded, WhatsApp could become competitive since it is now backed by social giant Facebook. The voice service is planned to launch in April. Continue reading WhatsApp Announces New Voice Service After Facebook Deal

Google and LG Partner on New Smartwatch for June Launch

After successful launches of the Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, Google and LG are creating a new smartwatch which will likely debut at the Google I/O conference in June. Google will be responsible for creating the software and logistical aspects of the product launch, while LG will be in charge of manufacturing the product. Wearable technology continues to generate significant buzz; according to Juniper Research the market will be worth $19 billion by 2018. Continue reading Google and LG Partner on New Smartwatch for June Launch

Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatches Switch from Android to Tizen

Samsung recently announced it will make two follow-up smartwatches to the Galaxy Gear. The new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will be available just five months after the release of their predecessor. While most of the key specs are similar to the first Gear, the new models will have a 1.0GHz dual-core SoC of unspecified make, in contrast to the 800MHz single-core chip in the first Gear. The new battery will last twice as long, and most importantly, the next-gen smartwatches will run on Tizen rather than Android. Continue reading Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatches Switch from Android to Tizen

Samsung Expands Retail Presence in Europe and North America

Samsung has become the largest smartphone maker worldwide without having many of its own retail stores. Since its growth has slowed while faced with a variety of cheaper models from rivals, Samsung is looking to expand its retail presence in North America and Europe. In the next few months Samsung is planning to open around 60 stores in Europe, and 90 kiosks in Canada. The company has no independent retail stores in the U.S., but teamed up with Best Buy last year to create 1,400 “store-in-store” kiosks. Continue reading Samsung Expands Retail Presence in Europe and North America

Pandora Aims to Build Ad Revenue Based on Voting Patterns

Pandora is starting a new advertising service that would allow political organizations and candidates to target the majority of the Internet radio service’s listeners based on their likely voting preferences. Pandora is doing this by comparing election results with subscribers’ ZIP Codes and musical preferences. Then Pandora is labeling subscribers’ political preferences based on their musical taste, and if an artist is more popular in a largely Republican or Democratic area. Continue reading Pandora Aims to Build Ad Revenue Based on Voting Patterns

Internet of Things: Technicolor Brings Qeo to AllSeen Alliance

The AllSeen Alliance has announced that Technicolor is joining the organization as a premier member and will contribute its Qeo technology. According to the press release, Technicolor will work with Qualcomm Connected Experiences and the AllSeen Alliance to accelerate the unification of ecosystems related to the “Internet of Things.” Qeo was developed as a secure and future-proof communication framework that enables a user-friendly experience for connected devices and services. Continue reading Internet of Things: Technicolor Brings Qeo to AllSeen Alliance

Smarthome Devices Offer Many Benefits, Raise Privacy Concerns

As was evident at CES in January, a number of smarthome products are entering the market, designed primarily for home security and automation. Most of the products include camera features and the ability to easily watch and/or record activity via apps and mobile devices. While surveillance inside the home isn’t new (think nanny cams and video security systems), the new wave of affordable devices intend to democratize and perhaps even glamorize home surveillance. For homes with multiple inhabitants, this may raise questions regarding privacy. Continue reading Smarthome Devices Offer Many Benefits, Raise Privacy Concerns

Warner Music Group Uses Shazam to Identify Breakout Artists

Warner Music Group has entered a partnership with Shazam to gain access to unique customer data. This data will allow Warner Music Group to see how often songs are listened to, and help them find breakout artists. Shazam is a popular smartphone app that helps consumers identify songs, and has about 500 million song identification requests per month. Due to this large volume, Shazam’s data gives a strong indication of which songs are popular with the public. Continue reading Warner Music Group Uses Shazam to Identify Breakout Artists

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