Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

With COVID-19 continuing to drive the popularity of video chatting, Facebook is doubling down with new iterations of its Portal devices that includes the battery-powered Portal Go and a new Portal+ along with the announcement of Portal for Business, a service that will make it possible for small and mid-size businesses to purchase, deploy and remotely manage Portal devices for employees. Facebook’s Portal devices, which debuted in 2018, compete with Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub products for the home. The recommitment indicates Facebook believes video calling is here to stay. Continue reading Facebook Unveils New Video Devices and Portal for Business

Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

In the midst of troubling press attention as the company faces antitrust claims and ongoing criticism of its App Store business model, Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 during a streaming event yesterday. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared live on a virtual set rather than the traditional in-person stage as a precaution during COVID-19. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera system that promises a new cinematic mode, improved low-light capabilities and an updated ultra-wide lens. The Apple Watch 7, touting a revamped look, includes new features such as a larger screen, softer corners, more support for e-bikes and fall detection for cycling. Continue reading Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

The Federal Trade Commission released Comscore figures showing Facebook’s marketplace dominance. From September 2012 through December 2020, the network generated 92 percent of the monthly time U.S. users spent on social media. In contrast, the combined market shares of Snap, Google+, MeWe and Friendster never exceeded 18 percent in any month during that time frame. A federal judge dismissed the case in June noting that the FTC did not offer details of its monopoly claim; these findings are now part of the FTC’s lawsuit. Continue reading FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

YouTube Adds Visuals and Multi-Language Results to Search

Google’s YouTube revealed a plan to release improvements to its search functionality that will use visual appeal to provide a better sense of what videos contain, making it easier and more efficient for users to find their desired video content. In the YouTube app, both the Android and iOS versions, users will be able to see a snippet of video rather than a mere thumbnail while scrolling through the content. A section below the videos will also show all chapters, if relevant, enabling the user to click on a specific chapter of the video. Continue reading YouTube Adds Visuals and Multi-Language Results to Search

Google Reduces Developer Fees via Its Play Media Experience

Google has unveiled the Play Media Experience Program, offering app developers “additional discovery and engagement opportunities across devices” and a “service fee of 15 percent for all applicable earnings.” The company said the program is the global expansion of a previous invite-only program that it had never publicly revealed. Amazon and Apple apparently had similar programs that they’ve expanded, but Google’s program is distinct in that it asks developers to support Google TV, Wear OS, Android Auto and its other platforms. Continue reading Google Reduces Developer Fees via Its Play Media Experience

Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

According to IDC, although computer sales have been decreasing for the past decade, during the COVID-19 pandemic PC sales shot up 50 percent or more per quarter compared with the previous year. As a result, laptop manufacturers are now integrating technologies once reserved for smartphones, including powerful processors, higher-resolution displays, and increased battery life. New designs such as tablets that snap onto keyboards (detachables) and thin laptops with 360-degree hinges that fold into tablet form are also emerging. Continue reading Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Google will reportedly soon let Android users opt out of being tracked by apps, a move recently taken by Apple. Industry watchers were tipped off by a Google support page detailing the new option and an email to developers announcing a Google Play app store policy change to be introduced later this year. The feature will turn off sharing for the advertising ID, which Android users can already manually reset, and also allow users to opt out of any alternative device identifiers used to track activity across apps. The news leaked several days prior to Apple’s June 7 WWDC21 event. Continue reading Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

Sales of televisions, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people switched to working and learning online. It also sparked a shortage of semiconductors that is now predicted to last until 2023. NPD reported that, also as a result of the shortage, prices of larger TV sets have skyrocketed about 30 percent year-over-year from last summer, and some manufacturers of tablets and other devices relying on chips are warning about imminent price increases due to shortages. Continue reading Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Google debuted “Entertainment Space,” a feature on the left side of the home screen of Walmart tablets that the company dubs “a one-stop, personalized home for all your favorite movies, shows, videos, games and books.” It is soon to expand to Lenovo, Sharp and other manufacturers’ devices. Google Play product manager James Bender said that with Entertainment Space users will “save time and avoid having to hop between apps to try to figure out what to do.” Each family members can have their own profile on the hub. Continue reading Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Wi-Fi 6 Will Eventually Benefit Homes with Connected Devices

Wi-Fi 6 has arrived, promising faster speeds, broader coverage and the ability to share connections across a single household’s wireless devices. The latter means that if one device is consuming huge amounts of data, it will not slow down the household’s other devices. The new generation Wi-Fi actually debuted in 2018 but is only now affordable enough and more widely available on Internet routers to become mainstream. While consumers can now purchase smartphones and computers including chips that enable use of Wi-Fi 6, the tech’s real benefits will likely have a stronger impact once households have more connected devices. Continue reading Wi-Fi 6 Will Eventually Benefit Homes with Connected Devices

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

In its first fiscal quarter, ending December 2020, Apple earned record-breaking profits with $111.4 billion in sales driven by high-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-related demand for laptops and tablets. Investors are worried if high-flying companies including Tesla and Facebook can sustain rapid growth. Tesla posted a sixth straight quarter of profits and Facebook also reported record net income. But Apple’s strong numbers came under attack from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sees the company as a rival. Continue reading Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

During CES 2021, LG provided a peek into its LG Rollable, the company’s first phone that transforms between smartphone and tablet form factors. One company executive said the LG Rollable — positioned as a strong alternative to existing foldable phones — will debut sometime this year. Meanwhile, TCL is developing a device based on the same approach, but the company reported it is only at the conceptual planning stage. But both LG and TCL did leak some information about the upcoming devices’ specifications. Continue reading CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

SoftBank Is Considering the Sale of ARM Holdings to Nvidia

SoftBank, which spent $32 billion to buy ARM Holdings in 2016, is now actively considering ARM’s sale to Nvidia, according to SoftBank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son. The company has also invested in Slack, WeWork, and Uber, which have experienced high-profile problems. The U.K.-based ARM Holdings, originally founded by Acorn, Apple and VLSI, designs low-power RISC chips that have become ubiquitous for mobile phones. Last month, SoftBank reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to explore options for a sale or going public.

Continue reading SoftBank Is Considering the Sale of ARM Holdings to Nvidia

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant