Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Pandora just launched AMPcast, which lets a musician communicate with his fans via audio messages that he can record on his mobile phone and post to run in conjunction with his music streams. Pandora, which has 80 million users, is competing in this space with Spotify, which has acquired startups to expand messaging and social networking. AMPcast also competes with Superphone, a new service from musician Ryan Leslie that uses SMS and users’ phone numbers to directly message fans. Continue reading Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

Apple’s ongoing privacy battle with law enforcement received a boost yesterday when U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of New York’s Eastern District denied the federal government’s request that the company release data from an iPhone relevant to a New York drug case. The ruling could provide Apple with a leg up as it pushes forward with its defense of privacy concerns regarding its smartphones, and may impact other cases such as efforts by the FBI to compel Apple to open the iPhone related to last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Continue reading Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

Advertisers Excited About New Reaction Buttons on Facebook

Facebook just began its global rollout of five new social Reactions. Rolling the cursor over the Like button on the computer (or, a long-press on the smartphone) will reveal those options: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. As with Like, the bottom of each post will tally the number of Reactions. Although many hoped for it, there will be no Dislike button. While Facebook does not have immediate plans to use these new Reactions for ad sales, advertisers and brands are reportedly excited about the concept. Continue reading Advertisers Excited About New Reaction Buttons on Facebook

Samsung Demos Gear 360 Camera for Virtual Reality Capture

Slated for release in Q2 2016, Samsung’s new Gear 360 is a compact camera with two lenses designed to capture 360-video for its Samsung Gear VR viewing system. At 153 grams, the Gear 360 is one gram lighter than the new Galaxy S7 and includes a pair of microphones for audio capture, a microSD slot for memory expansion up to 128GB, and a removable battery for up to 140 minutes of active use. Unlike the Project Beyond 360-camera, with 16 HD cameras, demonstrated in late 2014, the Gear 360 appears to be aimed at consumer use. Continue reading Samsung Demos Gear 360 Camera for Virtual Reality Capture

HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

HTC announced shipping and price details of its highly anticipated Vive virtual reality headset during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. In conjunction with Valve, HTC will begin shipping the VR headset in early April. At $799, Vive will be $200 more than its rival Oculus Rift. Pre-orders for the goggle-like headset, two wireless controllers, and two room scale movement sensors will begin on February 29 on HTC’s website. The pre-order bundle also comes with two games: “Fantastic Contraption” and “Job Simulator.” Continue reading HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

SpecOut Lists 99 VR, AR Headsets for Comparison Shopping

Product comparison site SpecOut.com provides “detailed information and specs on thousands of gadgets” for those researching smartphones, streaming media players, motherboards and more. Now the site has added a section on virtual and augmented reality headsets that features currently available and soon-to-be-released devices such as the Sony PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, Avegant Glyph, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens and 94 others. This is a great resource for those interesting in HMD product descriptions, pricing, and details such as refresh rate, processing source, and field of view. Continue reading SpecOut Lists 99 VR, AR Headsets for Comparison Shopping

Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

Google is doubling down on its virtual reality investment with a new $20 version of Cardboard, which uses the smartphone as a screen and a standalone, all-in-one headset that doesn’t need to be tethered to a smartphone, computer or game console. Up until now, Google, which has sold five million Cardboard VR viewers since late 2014, has been seen as experimenting with VR. With the new VR headset — and appointment of Clay Bavor as its first VR chief, Google is entering the VR arena in earnest. Continue reading Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

The ONAGOfly drone fits in the palm of your hand, but it comes with built-in features that are comparable with bigger and more expensive drones. The $259 flying camera system captures 1080p HD video and has smile-recognition technology and auto-follow technology to help operators capture the perfect shot. As far as safety, the ONAGOfly has obstacle avoidance sensors and can withstand wind speeds of up to 3.3 m/s. The drone is so small that it doesn’t even need to be registered with the FAA. Continue reading Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Up until now, “zero rating” has been a gray area in net neutrality, but Verizon’s recent action might force the FCC to clarify its stance. Zero rating means that an Internet provider allows certain video and/or music streams to not count against a subscriber’s data cap. Verizon just confirmed that it has applied zero-rating to its new go90 service, thus giving itself preferential treatment and putting competitors such as Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services at a disadvantage. Continue reading Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

GoPro Partners with Periscope to Livestream Extreme Video

Periscope users can now live stream video from their GoPro Hero4 camera by toggling a button in Periscope’s iOS app. GoPro cameras are popular for drone videography and recording extreme sports, both of which might be able to draw new live streaming viewers. Many of those viewers are on Twitter, the social media platform that plays Periscope live streams directly in its timeline. This new partnership may bring new sales to GoPro and new users to Periscope and Twitter. Continue reading GoPro Partners with Periscope to Livestream Extreme Video

Digital Domain Moves into VR with Hong Kong Post Acquisition

Visual effects facility Digital Domain, known for its digital work on the “Transformers” series, the “X-Men” series, “Iron Man 3” and “Her,” acquired an 85 percent stake in Hong Kong’s Post Production Company Limited and its parent company for about $17.3 million, with the goal of making a big move into virtual reality. Post Production — which Digital Domain chief executive Daniel Seah calls “the Digital Domain of China” — has worked on many major Chinese movies, TV ads, and music videos. Continue reading Digital Domain Moves into VR with Hong Kong Post Acquisition

Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Apple fans browsing the Internet were excited to read about a new 4-inch iPhone 6c. Not so fast. According to sources who have used the upcoming iPhone with a 4-inch display, the information is false. Rather than release a smaller version of the iPhone 6s (for customers yearning for a less daunting screen size than 4.7 or 5.5 inches), Apple is upgrading the iPhone 5s first released in fall 2013. The upgrade is not a preview of the iPhone 7, as rumored, but retains the 5s’s design and include a headphone jack. Continue reading Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Spotify, Apple Focus on New Ways to Experience, Create Music

Spotify is acquiring Soundwave and Cord Project, two small startups founded in the last few years and known for their design abilities. Soundwave is a social tool for finding, sharing, and talking about music, and Cord Project is an audio-first messaging app for Android, iOS, and the Apple Watch, with a tap-and-talk voice messaging system. Although Cord might seem to be a puzzling fit for Spotify, its founders Thomas Gayno and Jeff Baxter have launched other companies that focus around providing “an audio experience.” Continue reading Spotify, Apple Focus on New Ways to Experience, Create Music

Intel Technology Debuts Multifactor Security for Business PCs

Intel unveiled Authenticate, a technology that introduces a new, heightened level of security and computing performance. Authenticate makes it easier for multifactor authentication by which users put in place up to four safeguards before they are able to log in to their computer. That could be any combination of a password, fingerprint, set of numbers on a touchscreen or presence of an authorized employee smartphone. Authenticate is already built into new versions of Intel’s Core chips, which are used in business PCs. Continue reading Intel Technology Debuts Multifactor Security for Business PCs

New Roller Coaster at UK Theme Park Utilizes VR Headset

The Alton Towers theme park in the United Kingdom will open a new attraction this spring that combines the movement of a roller coaster and the immersive experience of a VR headset. The ride is called Galactica and it is designed to make riders feel like astronauts. People will climb into the seats, put on the headset, and go on a space journey complete with real g-forces and visuals that exaggerate the movement of the coaster. The “world’s first virtual reality roller coaster” will open in April. Continue reading New Roller Coaster at UK Theme Park Utilizes VR Headset

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