Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Social giant Facebook confirmed a report that it is working on developing its own voice assistant. Originally, two former Facebook employees described the plans to CNBC, which broke the news. The company has been developing its own voice assistant since early 2018 in its augmented reality/virtual reality group based in Redmond, Washington. Facebook Assistant and AR/VR director Ira Snyder leads a team that has been “contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain,” according to sources. Continue reading Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Facebook is moving into augmented reality multiplayer games on Messenger, and some journalists have had a chance to visit the company’s Real Time Communication team in Seattle and experience these unreleased AR games firsthand. Messenger already has 1.3 billion monthly active users, making it the second most used messaging service after WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion users. Facebook owns both apps. One AR game, to be released before year’s end, is “Kitten Craze,” which lets up to six Messenger players dodge flying felines. Continue reading Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers. Continue reading Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Snapchat is making moves to become more conversational, more “sticky,” and to keep users engaged for longer periods of time, according to Variety. The social sharing company announced a new chat feature that allows up to 16 users to video chat through its app, and added mentions to its Snapchat Stories, allowing users to easily tag others (much like they would via Twitter). The chat feature will roll out across the globe this week and will come with filters and the ability to join by audio only as desired. Users can also reply via text messages.

Continue reading Snapchat Releasing New Tools: Group Video Chats, Mentions

Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Since Facebook introduced Instant Games on its Messenger platform, its library has grown to 70 games, including “Tetris,” Blackstorm Labs’ “EverWing” and, now, Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds.” Facebook is also now allowing users to live stream their sessions; when a user goes live in an Instant Game, it will stream to his Facebook page and stay posted when he goes offline. Facebook is also debuting an integrated video chat for multiplayer games, which will initially debut only with Zynga’s “Words With Friends.” Continue reading Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Facebook Builds Video Chat Device, Refutes ‘Scary’ Bot Tale

Facebook is developing a video chat device for the home that features a touchscreen the size of a laptop’s screen and smart camera technology. The device, in prototype form and being tested in homes, is the first to emerge from the company’s Building 8 lab, and, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is aimed at bringing Facebook users closer. Elsewhere, Facebook squelched a widely reported, hyped-up story that it shut down “creepy” chatbots that were communicating with one another. Continue reading Facebook Builds Video Chat Device, Refutes ‘Scary’ Bot Tale

Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

For friends who want to share and watch YouTube or Twitch videos together, a new Apple iMessage app, called Let’s Watch It!, is the answer. Group chat in the iMessage App Store has proven to be a hit, with video chat app Fam raising $1.8 million and plans to expand to game-playing, interactive live masks, filters and watching videos with friends. But Let’s Watch It!, which debuted in March, may be beating Fam at its game, adding support for turning on the front-facing camera and microphone, making it even more social. Continue reading Friends Can Share, Watch Videos Together via iMessage App

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

More Teens Are Hanging Out Virtually with Group Video Chats

Teenagers of Generation Z who are spending less time hanging out with their friends in physical environments are going virtual, increasingly turning to group video chats as a substitute. Apps such as Houseparty, Fam, Tribe, Airtime and ooVoo, as well as more traditional messaging apps with a video chat feature like Facebook Messenger and Kik, are making “virtual chilling” possible as busier schedules and helicopter parenting interfere with more traditional forms of socializing. Continue reading More Teens Are Hanging Out Virtually with Group Video Chats

Zuckerberg Says Facebook ‘Not a Traditional Media Company’

Using Facebook Live for a year-end video chat, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg discussed fake news and the company’s identity. Although Zuckerberg has steadfastly held that Facebook is not a media company, he changed the message just a bit: “Facebook is a new kind of platform,” he clarified. “It’s not a traditional technology company, it’s not a traditional media company. You know, we build technology and we feel responsible for how it’s used.” Continue reading Zuckerberg Says Facebook ‘Not a Traditional Media Company’

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

Group Chat, Chatbots Gain Traction as Business Applications

Chat is the latest significant tool in enterprise, as evidenced by Facebook’s introduction of Workplace by Facebook, a version of its social network for organizations, and Microsoft’s new Office 365 productivity tool Microsoft Teams. More such chat tools come from HipChat and Slack Technologies, the latter of which counts four million daily active users and is valued at $3.8 billion. Facebook also opened Messenger for businesses to build virtual assistants, and developers have already built more than 33,000 so-called chatbots. Continue reading Group Chat, Chatbots Gain Traction as Business Applications

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