Slack Uses Artificial Intelligence to Build New Virtual Assistant

Stewart Butterfield, founder and CEO of office chat software maker Slack Technologies, says his company is using AI to help build an advanced virtual assistant. Slackbot, Slack’s current built-in assistant, is an icon used for tips, searches and even a sprinkling of humor. In discussing the future potential of Slackbot, Butterfield compares it to the Samantha software voiced by Scarlett Johansson from the film “Her.” Butterfield is leveraging natural language processing and machine learning to build a truly helpful digital office assistant. Continue reading Slack Uses Artificial Intelligence to Build New Virtual Assistant

WhatsApp Messaging Service Launches Encryption Protection

WhatsApp, currently one of the most popular messaging services in the world, wants to make it nearly impossible for anyone to snoop on its users. The company announced that it is taking privacy a step further by implementing end-to-end encryption for its 600 million users. This is considered to be one of the largest deployments of this type of encryption, which scrambles messages so that even the company doesn’t have access to its users’ unique cryptographic keys. Continue reading WhatsApp Messaging Service Launches Encryption Protection

Google Maps App Includes OpenTable’s Reservation Service

Google is integrating OpenTable’s booking service into its Maps mobile platform feature. Not only can users view turn-by-turn directions, reviews for businesses, and related photographs, but the addition will allow them to reserve a table at a restaurant from inside the application. Google has used other services in similar ways, such as displaying Uber fares, times of arrival and times to destination inside its app. The latest addition is a result of Google’s growing partnership with OpenTable parent Priceline.

Continue reading Google Maps App Includes OpenTable’s Reservation Service

Snapchat Teams with Major Media Companies on New Feature

Snapchat is in talks with Buzzfeed, ESPN, CNN, Vevo and others to help launch a new feature for its popular app that offers a much wider variety of content than friends’ selfies. These media companies will produce articles, music and video for the upcoming “Discover” section of the Snapchat app, making it more of an all-inclusive media consumption app. No date has been announced regarding when the “Discover” section will make its debut on the popular photo- and video-messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Teams with Major Media Companies on New Feature

Nearly 40 Million Twitter Users Do Not See Ads on Site or App

About 14 percent of Twitter’s 271 million users do not log in directly to the mobile app or website, where Twitter features its ads. These 37.9 million consumers instead access Twitter content through third-party apps such as Flipboard, Instagram, Foursquare or various news sources. When Twitter filed its IPO last year, the company projected that the number of people accessing via third-party apps would decline. However, growth of the third-party app population has doubled since then. Continue reading Nearly 40 Million Twitter Users Do Not See Ads on Site or App

Survey Finds the Twitter Buzz Around Movies Has Real Impact

Nielsen and Twitter teamed up to study how consumers decide to go see a movie, and they found that Twitter played a major role in that decision. About 87 percent of surveyed moviegoers said that Twitter influenced their choice of movie and 47 percent said that they saw a movie based on recommendations from family or friends on Twitter. The survey also found that in general, 62 percent of moviegoers use the Internet or mobile apps to look up films before their theatrical release. Continue reading Survey Finds the Twitter Buzz Around Movies Has Real Impact

Google’s Skybox Purchase is About More Than Satellite Images

By 2016, Skybox Imaging will use six satellites to capture daily images of the Earth. By 2018, the company plans to launch 24 satellites, imaging the entire planet with exceptional resolution. Google’s acquisition of Skybox for $500 million will allow the Internet company to use these satellites to provide faster online access to high-quality images. The deal, in the long run, is also expected to improve Internet access and assist with disaster relief. It could also collect new levels of information on people and companies. Continue reading Google’s Skybox Purchase is About More Than Satellite Images

NPD Reports Consumer Satisfaction with UltraViolet Service

According to a new study from NPD Group based on a survey conducted in February, 82 percent of consumers who currently have an UltraViolet account plan to continue using the digital locker service in the future. The NPD study also found that UltraViolet users were about 11 times more likely to make an electronic sell-through movie purchase than other consumers in the last year. UltraViolet launched in 2011, and there are now more than 16 million accounts. Continue reading NPD Reports Consumer Satisfaction with UltraViolet Service

‘In Your Eyes’: Joss Whedon Releases New Movie via Vimeo

With little fanfare, Joss Whedon’s Bellwether Pictures has released its newest film, “In Your Eyes,” for online distribution via Vimeo. During the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, Whedon announced that the movie was already available online for $5. Whedon, the writer and producer of the film, previously experimented with bypassing traditional distribution methods with his 2008 Web series, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” This is his next step in exploring ways to release content directly to the audience. Continue reading ‘In Your Eyes’: Joss Whedon Releases New Movie via Vimeo

Sony Plans Original TV Series for PlayStation Gaming Console

Sony has plans to offer original series through its PlayStation gaming console, in an effort to expand its media offerings beyond video games. The move is separate from the company’s planned online pay TV service, and part of a larger push to broaden the appeal of the device in the living room. PlayStation users already have access to streaming services and digital downloads of TV shows and movies. The first original will be a one-hour supernatural drama series called “Powers,” produced by Sony Pictures Television. Continue reading Sony Plans Original TV Series for PlayStation Gaming Console

Disney Teams with Shanghai Media, Producer Forms New Studio

Disney has signed a multiyear deal with Shanghai Media Group that will have writers in the U.S. collaborate with Chinese writers and filmmakers to develop Disney-branded movies that incorporate Chinese themes. The partnership will also expand training opportunities between the creative teams of both countries. Meanwhile, film producer Robert Simonds is forming a new movie studio that intends to meet the growing needs of China and self-distribute the types of films that have been displaced by summer blockbusters. Continue reading Disney Teams with Shanghai Media, Producer Forms New Studio

Paramount: First Studio to Go Digital-Only with Movie Releases

In a move toward all-digital formats, Paramount Pictures announced it will stop distributing major motion pictures in the U.S. using 35mm film. The Adam McKay-helmed “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” was the studio’s last film to be distributed in 35mm, while Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” became Paramount’s first wide release to be made available theatrically only in digital format. This year could mark a complete phase-out of film by major Hollywood studios. Continue reading Paramount: First Studio to Go Digital-Only with Movie Releases

Survey Suggests Consumers Prefer Smartwatches Over Glass

A common discussion about wearable technology is whether consumers will actually want to wear products like Google Glass. A survey among consumers commissioned by technology writer Jessica Lessin indicates that more people believe they might be more likely to own Apple’s smartwatch than they would Google Glass. A large number of respondents, however, also indicated they didn’t think they were likely to own either. Continue reading Survey Suggests Consumers Prefer Smartwatches Over Glass

Sony is First Big Studio to Ink Production Deal with Netflix

Sony Pictures Television has inked a deal to produce a psychological thriller for Netflix. From the creators of the FX legal drama “Damages,” the series is slated to begin production early next year. It marks the first time a major Hollywood studio will produce a program for the streaming video service. Following in the footsteps of cable networks such as HBO and AMC, Netflix is aggressively pursuing original content. The success of its Emmy-winning “House of Cards” could help pave the way. Continue reading Sony is First Big Studio to Ink Production Deal with Netflix

Online Shopping Goes Visual: Hi-Res Images Replace Text

The text-driven model of e-commerce that emerged during the first 15 years of online shopping is giving way to a more visual model. Today, many consumers are more inclined to peruse high-resolution images of products posted by family, friends and online colleagues than read traditional product descriptions that appear as text. These same consumers will then often click through from the images to purchase products that sound and look the coolest. Continue reading Online Shopping Goes Visual: Hi-Res Images Replace Text

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