Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Facebook has launched a new iOS feature (coming soon to Android) that enables users to cast News Feed videos to TV sets for stream through AirPlay devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Google Cast devices. “The move could help Facebook generate more video ad revenue, and increase usage time by giving people the richest possible viewing experience while at home,” suggests TechCrunch. Users can continue to scroll through the Facebook feed as the video streams, allowing the social platform to serve as both first and second screen. Periscope is taking a different tack to do the same “by allowing professional content broadcasts to be piped into Periscope and Twitter via its new Producer feature.” Continue reading Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

In the latest update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 saga, the company announced it would permanently discontinue production and sales of the smartphone, “pulling the plug on a premium product whose botched recall has brought headaches to consumers and inflicted damage on the Samsung brand,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In the wake of overheating problems and reported fires, the company explained to South Korean regulators that it would cease making the device. Analysts including Sanford C. Bernstein’s Mark Newman suggest Samsung should drop the Galaxy Note series altogether, while Macquarie analyst Daniel Kim estimates losses could reach $2.8 billion for the last three months of 2016, explains WSJ, “enough to wipe out the entire mobile division’s operating profits for the fourth quarter.” Continue reading Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

Samsung Temporarily Halts Production of its Troubled Note 7

Samsung has reportedly stopped production of its Galaxy Note 7 as the company struggles with the smartphone’s recall and additional reports about battery problems, overheating and fires regarding replacement devices (including one incident prior to takeoff of a Southwest Airlines flight). “Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note 7 devices,” the company said, noting that an investigation is underway. According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T and T-Mobile “said that they would stop issuing new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to replace the ones turned in by U.S. customers.” Continue reading Samsung Temporarily Halts Production of its Troubled Note 7

BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

BlackBerry, whose phones were once so popular they were dubbed “Crackberry,” has licensed its brand to a group owned by Indonesian phone companies. The Canadian company — whose market share is now in the single digits in North America and Europe — made this decision despite the fact that it recently adopted the Google Android operating system. The strategy, led by executive chair/chief executive John Chen, is intended to evolve BlackBerry into a software and wireless device security business. Continue reading BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

Amazon’s soon-to-debut music streaming service will reportedly be priced at about $5 per month, say sources. That price point is less than that charged by competitors Spotify and Apple Music, but Amazon’s end game is to increase sales of its voice-controlled Echo. With a focus on its digital assistant, Amazon most recently debuted a less expensive version, the $50 Echo Dot and is promoting the devices, and its virtual helper Alexa, in its physical bookstores and pop-up stores. Continue reading Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

Fandango Tests Selling Movie Tickets Directly via Facebook

Fandango has built a business helping moviegoers purchase tickets online and via a smartphone app. Now the ticket retailer owned by NBCUniversal is partnering with Facebook to sell tickets directly from the social network. It began this past weekend when fans were given the opportunity to buy tickets to “The Magnificent Seven,” “Kevin Hart: What Now?” and “Storks” through each film’s Facebook page. The move is part of a larger strategy to attract millennials; the company’s next step to reach a younger audience is a Snapchat interface. Continue reading Fandango Tests Selling Movie Tickets Directly via Facebook

Samsung Formally Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phones in the U.S.

In response to 92 reports of batteries overheating, in some cases leading to explosions and fires, Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have issued a formal recall of the Galaxy Note7. “Consumers have the option of a refund or a replacement device with a new battery,” reports Recode. “Samsung is offering customers $25 extra if they stick with either a new Note7 or opt to exchange their phone for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge.” Replacement devices are expected to be available in retail stores by September 21. Less than 15 percent of the one million Note7 phones sold in the U.S. have been returned since Samsung launched the exchange program two weeks ago. Continue reading Samsung Formally Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phones in the U.S.

Nintendo Bringing its Popular Games to Apple Mobile Devices

At the Apple iPhone 7 launch, Niantic Labs chief executive John Hanke announced that “Pokémon Go” — which has been downloaded 500 million times worldwide — is coming to the Apple Watch. Following the announcement Nintendo shares skyrocketed 20 percent; since that and the debut of “Super Mario Run” (coming to iOS this year), the company’s shares have risen more than 65 percent in the past few months. With the new Pokémon app, the company has improved its safety: players can simply walk without having to constantly look for what Pokémon are nearby. Continue reading Nintendo Bringing its Popular Games to Apple Mobile Devices

Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon VR820, a reference platform for a standalone virtual reality headset, developed with Chinese electronics company Goertek and built on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 mobile processor and SDK. VR820, expected to be available by the end of 2016, offers higher resolution than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, although a lower refresh rate. The Snapdragon 820 was also used for the Pico Neo, a $500 Android-based VR device with handheld controller co-developed by the same two companies. Continue reading Qualcomm and Goertek Develop High-Resolution VR Headset

Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Google has reportedly suspended its Project Ara initiative to build a modular smartphone with interchangeable components. The goal was to develop a phone that consumers could customize with cameras, speakers, batteries and other parts in an effort to prolong lifespan and reduce electronic waste. “The move marks an about-face for the tech company, which announced a host of partners for Project Ara at its developer conference in May and said it would ship a developer edition of the product this autumn,” according to Reuters. “Axing Project Ara is one of the first steps in a campaign to unify Google’s various hardware efforts, which range from Chromebook laptops to Nexus phones.” Continue reading Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Apple Rolls Out 2TB iCloud Storage Tier Ahead of New iPhone

Apple fans now have more choice when it comes to storing their photos, videos and documents. One week before the company is expected to unveil its new iPhone, Apple is introducing a new top-tier option for iCloud, offering up to 2 terabytes of cloud storage for $20/month. The new “macOS Sierra is about to be released with iCloud Drive support built in, so it’s entirely possible that the new 2TB tier was released in anticipation of users wanting more than the previous 1TB option,” notes Digital Trends. In addition, the company is reportedly planning “to unveil a 256GB iPhone option, an amount of storage that might previously have been a little too much for those with 1TB limits, especially when all of a computer’s files are added into the mix.” Continue reading Apple Rolls Out 2TB iCloud Storage Tier Ahead of New iPhone

Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Cereal company Post created its first virtual reality content: a 30-second pre-roll spot for Fruity Pebbles’ “Yabba Dabba Doo” campaign that will run on multiplatform apps VirtualSky and StartApp. Rather than place the viewer in an environment to explore, the Pebbles spot is a carefully guided, organized experience. It’s still quite immersive, with 360 visuals that spray the viewer with water guns among other activities that include dodgeball, painting a mural and jamming with a garage band. Continue reading Post Cereal Gets Immersive with New Fruity Pebbles VR Spot

Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

At the Cannes Lions advertising festival, Google issued its first ranking of 360-degree video ads on YouTube, which have already garnered 20 million views. BMW’s VR racing experiences earned a No. 1 spot on the list, which also included McDonald’s, Oreo and Hyundai. Google has distributed 5 million Cardboard viewers for watching VR with a smartphone. The company acknowledges these are early days for virtual reality, but also believes that more access to smartphones will hasten more adoption. Continue reading Cannes Lions Advertising Fest Highlights Branded VR Content

Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

By the end of the year Google plans to release its own smartphone, which will compete directly with the Apple iPhone and extend the company’s reach into hardware. Google is presently in talks with carriers about the branded phone. Its Android operating system already powers 80 percent of smartphones sold around the world in phones made by, among others, Samsung, LG and Huawei’s Google Nexus brand. With its new smartphone, Google will take charge of design and manufacturing as well as software. Continue reading Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

Anki, the company that introduced Anki Drive, artificial intelligence-powered racecars, will ship its second product in October: a robot dubbed Cozmo, the size of a coffee mug that costs $180. By combining artificial intelligence, computer-vision science, advanced robotics, character development and machine-learning algorithms, Cozmo is a toy that is intended to be much like a real-world Wall-E or R2-D2, says chief executive Boris Sofman. The company is also offering SDKs for Cozmo’s components. Continue reading Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

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