Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Walmart is debuting Walmart Pay, a mobile payment system integrated into its existing smartphone app, which has 22 million active users. The new system will roll out to the company’s 4,600 stores in early 2016. With Walmart Pay, the company is competing with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay, neither of which have gained widespread traction. Based on QR code technology and near-field communication (NFC) technology, Walmart Pay’s success — or lack thereof — rests on the consumer experience. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Apple has put its plans to offer a live Internet-based television service — a package of 14 or more channels for $30 to $40 a month — on hold, say sources. Media companies balked at the prices Apple wants to pay, in order to keep its own subscription price low. Executives from Starz and other outlets have already stated they expect Apple and Amazon to pay more, not less, than existing distributors for media. Instead, Apple has pivoted to opening up its App Store so media companies to sell directly to customers. Continue reading Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

CES: Emerging Opportunities and Equally Growing Risk of IoT

The Internet of Things will grow larger once again at CES 2016 with both incremental and innovative advances in objects, systems and simplicity, but for the entertainment industry the past year should also serve as a cautionary tale. Smart home sensors that track and analyze movements to enable new levels of seamless interaction will impact both the home and the world at large. Security will likely become an increasing concern as the infrastructure is created to effectively connect devices and systems. Continue reading CES: Emerging Opportunities and Equally Growing Risk of IoT

Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

Panasonic has renewed its efforts to develop 8K image sensors for video. The company had stopped R&D in this area in 2011, in response to financial considerations, but as its earnings increased, it revived its work in this sector, now pledging to invest $80.8 million (10 billion yen) into R&D. Production of the sensors is likely to be outsourced, and production models are expected on the market by 2018. The first targeted use for the 8K sensors will be consumer and broadcast cameras. Continue reading Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

LucidCam Developing $299 VR Camera, Partners with Sephora

LucidCam successfully raised $100,000 on Indiegogo from 264 backers, and now is well on its way to creating the camera that sounds too good to be true: a $299 device that’s small enough to fit in a pocket and yet can shoot immersive virtual reality content. The company, headed by chief executive Han Jin, says the LucidCam team is now busy creating partnerships with content creators and brands — its first is with make-up brand Sephora — and reveals that the company will release its first 360-degree 3D video in December. Continue reading LucidCam Developing $299 VR Camera, Partners with Sephora

Drone Manufacturers Pursue Self-Regulation via Geofencing

Small-scale drone manufacturer DJI, a Chinese company that dominates the drone space, now offers a geofencing system built on flying restrictions it first introduced in 2013. The system already has built-in restrictions around airports and other locations such as prisons and power plants. The company plans to continually update airspace information, possibly including the ability to respond to an emergency request. The drone will not, however, be able to operate in areas deemed to be of national concern such as Washington DC. Continue reading Drone Manufacturers Pursue Self-Regulation via Geofencing

Apple in Talks with Banks About New Money-Transfer System

Apple is in talks with banks to develop a new payment service to allow an iPhone user to send money to another iPhone user, most likely bypassing Visa and MasterCard by working directly with banks. The talks are at an early stage and no one involved would comment on the evolution of the plan. But multiple sources confirm Apple’s talks with the country’s largest banks and that the company is serious about moving forward. Unknown is whether credit card companies are engaging Apple or waiting for the company to contact them. Continue reading Apple in Talks with Banks About New Money-Transfer System

Shopify’s New Mobile App is Like Instagram for Classified Ads

Shopify — known for helping small businesses create e-commerce websites — has launched a new mobile app called Sello that joins a crowded field of peer-to-peer commerce efforts. Sello resembles Instagram and provides easy-to-use functionality for individuals and small businesses to sell products online. It is free to list items, but the Sello app collects a 3 percent fee for each transaction. Sellers simply post a product photo and description, list payment and shipping options, and specify a choice of social platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Continue reading Shopify’s New Mobile App is Like Instagram for Classified Ads

YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

After a year in beta testing, YouTube Music is finally available for Android and iOS. The app — meant to compete with streaming music offerings such as Apple Music, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify and Tidal — emphasizes music videos and amateur recordings. YouTube’s catalog of 50 million songs does not mean a video for every song, since the collection mixes video, audio-only, fan covers, emerging indie artists and much more. Discovery continues to be the underlying focus, and each song is connected to an auto-generated station of related songs. YouTube Music also blends human and algorithmic curation, similar to Apple Music’s approach. Continue reading YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

Apple Goes After Enterprise With High-End, Pricier iPad Pro

Apple’s new iPad Pro is the company’s biggest, priciest tablet and the first aimed squarely at enterprise users. The company says it’s pitting the iPad Pro against laptops, not other tablets, but it almost immediately draws comparisons with Microsoft’s Surface, that company’s business-focused tablet. Apple has not typically targeted the enterprise market, but this new focus is driven by the need to bolster revenues in light of declining iPhone revenues. Sales of the iPad have also declined since the 2013 peak of 71 million units. Continue reading Apple Goes After Enterprise With High-End, Pricier iPad Pro

New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

Ericsson and Cisco Systems, leaders in mobile and Internet equipment respectively, are forming an alliance to beat back the competition, enjoy synergies in the mobile market and target the growing fields of Internet of Things and 5G. The alliance isn’t a merger, but in many ways acts like one: Ericsson and Cisco plan to integrate their existing equipment, combine some sales and consulting areas and perhaps develop new hardware and services. Competitors include Chinese company Huawei and Nokia, which just bought Alcatel-Lucent. Continue reading New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

Though LeTV is little known in the U.S., that’s about to change. The Chinese online video and consumer electronics behemoth, which posted an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue last year, is about to introduce U.S. consumers to its Android-based smartphone, a bike with an integrated GPS device, smart TVs with voice control, a 4K video streaming box and a VR headset. The company plans to initially focus on the 3 million Chinese speakers in the U.S. but has also inked a two-picture deal with “Lion King” director Rob Minkoff. Continue reading China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

YouTube is introducing 360-degree VR videos as well as a virtual movie theater for all YouTube videos. Anyone with a Google Cardboard headset and the Android app can begin viewing the ten or so VR videos that YouTube produced; the iOS app is coming soon. YouTube’s VR features come just before The New York Times ships 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets and its own VR documentary, “The Displaced.” YouTube’s assertive move into VR is widely seen as a way to stay a step ahead of the competition, Facebook in particular. Continue reading YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

Apple Goes All Retina with iMac Displays, Updates Peripherals

Apple is introducing 4K Retina screens for its 21.5-inch iMacs and 5K resolution for its 27-inch iMacs. Displays also tout a 25 percent increase in color gamut. Larger iMacs will feature enhanced graphics capabilities and Intel’s new Skylake processor. And now that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus offerings include the ability to record 4K video, an updated iMovie supports 4K footage and 1080p HD video at 60 fps. The company has also redesigned its Magic line of keyboards, mice and trackpads to include new features, including the ability to recharge batteries with the same Lightning plug used by the iPhone. Continue reading Apple Goes All Retina with iMac Displays, Updates Peripherals

Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

Roku officially revealed the Roku 4, priced at $129.99, which supports 4K/Ultra HD and HDTVs, and features a new operating system, faster processor, improved Wi-Fi and more memory. Roku OS 7 improves users’ ability to discover specific content among its 3,000+ apps and channels. The company also unveiled an updated mobile app, which offers a streamlined design for Search, the Roku Feed and remote control from the smartphone. The Roku 4 joins several upgraded connected players from Amazon, Apple, Google and TiVo. Continue reading Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

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