For a glimpse at the future of all things Google, you can stream the event live via the video below and on Google s event site.Follow along with us during I/O on Twitter @VentureBeat when Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage at 10 a.m. PDT 1 p.m. EDT .you should follow them, too!The company already released two developer previews of the OS over the last few months this is unusually early for Google , revealing some of the new features planned, like notification improvements, split-screen modes, launcher shortcuts, and a new 3D rendering API.Android VR: After toying with Cardboard for ages — an entertaining, but so-far super low-quality VR experience when compared to its pricer counterparts — Google s rumored Android VR could shake up the industry in a big way, if it ends up being announced today.In an interview earlier this month, Google s head of VR, Clay Bavor, teased the company s next steps:Android VR could end up being a platform, headset, or both.And a few days ago, a placeholder on Google s developer site seemed to officially confirm Android VR s existence.Android Wear: As TechCrunch pointed out, there s an entire panel at I/O dedicated to What s new in Android Wear, Google s smartwatch OS.So far the OS has not blown us away.Project Chirp: Google may be working on its answer to Echo, the surprisingly well-received speaker box that ships with Amazon s personal assistant, Alexa Alexa is like Apple s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft s Cortana .So far the New York Times, Recode, and the Information have all reported on various aspects of alleged product, which may be a reaction to the Echo s early success though Amazon won t share how many Echoes it s sold .Other stuff: More fun rumors and reports include a big update to Project Tango, signs of Android and Chrome OS convergence, some sort of update to Android Pay, and maybe even something in the realm of messaging and chatbots.
Microsoft is selling the feature phone business it acquired from Nokia back in 2013 to a subsidiary of Chinese manufacturer Foxconn for $350 million, it announced today.At the same time former owner Nokia said it has inked a deal to license its brand to HMD Global, a new Finnish company run by ex-Nokia and Microsoft devices staff, to create a new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets .Holding onto a diminishing feature phones business clearly did not hold much appeal for Redmond which — despite its talk of continued development of its own smartphone platform — has been focusing its efforts on building up a services offering via apps made for Android and iOS devices.Last month, for example, it brought its Word Flow keyboard app, originally developed, for Windows over to iOS as an app.The company had already been testing a brand licensing strategy in mobile devices, working with Foxconn on an Android based tablet, the N1, for the Asian market back in 2015.Commenting on the impending return of the Nokia brand to the mobile market, Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies, dubbed it an exciting new chapter , adding in a statement: Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets.
Online giant Nokia said on Wednesday released a bulletin that the Nokia granted Technologies recently established Finnish HMD Global Ltd, a worldwide exclusive rights to use the trademark of Nokia mobile phones and tablets for the manufacture of ten years. These agreements will HMD would be the only licensee for all the Nokia sold worldwide under the trademark for mobile phones and tablets. HMD continue marketing their phones as part of their product offering, which will include the new smart phones and tablets. As FIH Mobile Limited announced today that it will acquire the rest of Microsoft's basic phone business, including manufacturing, sales and distribution of equipment. Under the agreement, the HMD has full operational control over the sale, marketing and distribution of mobile phones and tablets sold under the trademark of Nokia. On the other hand, the Nokia would return to self-production of mobile phones HMD plans to manufacture mobile phones and tablets that utilize and increase the value of Nokia's trade mark in the global market, "says the release of the Nokia Technologies Group Vice President Ramzi Haidamus.
So of course people are going to make a film out of it.Announced today, a Tetris film is being developed via a new company formed in partnership between producer Larry Kasanoff Strange Days, True Lies, Mortal Kombat and Seven Star Works, a production concern financed by Chinese media businessman Bruno Wu.The relevant press release bits say: Tetris, one of the most recognized video game franchises of all time, is a perfect first project for this strategy, adds Kasanoff, the first producer to develop a hit movie based on a video game, with two number-one Mortal Kombat films to his credit.For our debut project, Threshold Global Studios will bring one of the most beloved, cross-generational gaming brands in the world to the big screen as an epic, sci-fi thriller.Line Producer Dane Smith Transformers, Harry Potter, Spiderman will be responsible for implementing the unique Tetris VFX developed especially for the film.We re very excited to bring Tetris fans worldwide this epic tale in the form of a major motion picture.
20 percent of queries on Google are performed via voice search.Because voice assistants, such as Google Now, are making up progressively larger percentages of our searches, Google wants to ensure its industry leading voice processing natural language processing platform is up to the task.It s designed to work with Google Home, an Alexa-like always-on listening device that helps you manage everything from search, to playing music or even having a conversation with Google — or so it says.The digital assistant is designed to provide an on-going two-way dialogue with Google and the company wants to handle your most mundane tasks and searches without any real input from you, outside of your voice.The demo was rather impressive, featuring Google Assistant using contextual clues when performing a search about The Revenant, that led to information, trailers, reviews and ultimately a QR code to buy the tickets based on conversational language.If the timeline is the same as other products announced today, expect fall to be a busy season at Google.
Zynga announced today that it has launched Wizard of Oz: Magic Match, a free-to-play, match-3 puzzler based on the classic film.Zynga has started to find success in the mobile space thanks to its slots offerings, including one based on Wizard of Oz.It makes sense that it would go back to that golden brick well for a different type of game.Wizard of Oz Slots is currently the 184 ranked game on the iOS app store, according to App Annie.While match-3 games have flooded the market trying to capture Candy Crush Saga s success, many still remain popular.The Wizard of Oz film has captured the hearts of fans across generations through an endearing story of friends working together to solve an imaginative puzzle, said Mark Turmell, the senior creative director at Zynga, in a press release sent to GamesBeat.. Wizard of Oz: Magic Match keeps the movie magic alive with exciting match-3 gameplay and fresh new features.
A South Korean mobile hit is going to try its luck with a global audience.Nexon announced today that Heroes of Incredible Tales, an action role-playing game for mobile, will get a worldwide release this summer.It has already been downloaded more that 5 million times in South Korea.The mobile industry was worth $34.8 billion last year, according to market research firm Newzoo.NAT Games, a studio created by Yong-Hyun Park who was the lead designer for popular online games Lineage 2 and Tera , developed Heroes of Incredible Tales.Built on Unreal 4, we are able to push today s powerful mobile devices to deliver truly immersive, visceral gameplay, said Lawrence Koh, general manager at Nexon, in a press release sent to GamesBeat.Yong-Hyun Park creates incredible RPG experiences that resonate with players globally.We are very excited to bring his epic slasher to mobile devices worldwide later this year.
Today Google revealed that it s developing a powerful chatbot that will be able to answer people s questions and carry out certain tasks.The Google Assistant will be able to respond to voice queries, not just text input, making it more accessible than the M virtual assistant in Facebook s Messenger app.That s great, and I m excited about using it across many devices, including the Google Home speaker that was announced today.But the overall Google Assistant strategy is missing something.See, in today s keynote, Google executives showed how the Google Assistant could do things while relying on many third-party tools, and not just Google s own existing capabilities: buying movie tickets, purchasing and delivering food, getting updates on travel plans, displaying restaurants to visit, making and changing dinner reservations, sending text messages, offering miniature games to play, and providing status updates on deliveries.But when you re using the Google Assistant, the interaction is nearly always with Google — when you tell it to buy movie tickets, for example, you re not talking to a Fandango bot.There are already Messenger bots for 1-800-Flowers and online retail Spring, and there are Skype bots for Westin Hotels & Resorts and Domino s Pizza.In Google s bot world, there is one lone bot, and that is Google — interactions with other services are brief.You could defend this model by saying that it will be simpler for users — you don t have to jump from bot to bot, and instead you use just one.Never mind that chatbots can be used for sales or marketing or customer support — many companies already have plenty other things to implement and maintain, and the fact that their services won t be prominently displayed could be a turnoff.
ThoughtSpot, a search-driven analytics service for enterprise, announced today that it snagged a $50 million investment led by General Catalyst Partners.Based in Palo Alto, California, the business intelligence startup just opened offices in London.The company said it will use the latest funds to fuel technology advancement and further global expansion.The businesses of the future will not wait days or weeks for reports to be built.And the analytics teams of the future will no longer be report factories, said ThoughtSpot s CEO, Ajeet Singh.We create a win-win scenario for both groups — business people get data instantly to make decisions, while analytics teams can focus on more advanced analyses.Geodesic Capital and existing investors Lightspeed Ventures and Khosla Ventures also participated in the round.The series C round brings ThoughtSpot s funds to at least $90 million.
China is becoming the most important market on mobile, and Ubisoft wants to tap into this $7.1 billion moneybin.The French publisher announced today its Chinese partner, Ourpalm, will work on a pair of games for mobile players in the world s largest gaming market: Hungry Shark World and an unannounced Assassin s Creed.Ubisoft Montreal is also working on the Assassin s Creed game.Hungry Shark World, out worldwide for iOS on May 5, is the follow-up to Hungry Shark Evolution, which debuted in 2015.Chinese mobile players prefer Android, and to get your game in front of them, you have to find partners — hence the relationship with Ourpalm.Hungry Shark mania is on in China and we are really confident with the launch of this new episode, which is even bigger, hungrier, and sharkier, said Aurelien Palasse, Ubisoft s head of publishing for Greater China.The Assassin s Creed game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and Ourpalm s Beijing studio is working on it.We ve got our most experienced team working on the new Assassin s Creed title, and have high expectations for it.We can t wait to show the Assassin s Creed community in China what the game is about, said Zhang Pei, VP of operations, Ourpalm.
Samsung announced today that it has cemented a deal that will make Alipay, China s largest online payments platform, available through Samsung Pay.The partnership, made between Samsung Electronics and Ant Financial, the Alibaba financial tech affiliate that owns Alipay, is important because Alipay is one of the most formidable rivals mobile payments like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay face as they tackle the Chinese market.Alipay, which claims about 450 million active registered users, launched the Alipay Wallet smartphone app, which stores credit card and coupon information and can be used for offline payments, back in 2013.The deal hasn t been announced yet, but the popularity of iPhones in China—they still hold about a 14.6 percent market share, despite competition from Android rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi—means it would not be surprising if one was announced soon, too.In a press statement, Fan Zhiming, the president of Ant Financial s payment business unit, said the partnership will allow Alipay to expand its reach beyond e-commerce: Alipay covers the vast majority of online payment use cases.At the same time, it also developed a variety of offline use cases, including restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, taxis, hospitals, and public services.
Starbreeze announced today that it has started a joint venture with Imax to produce the Imax experience to the company VR headsets Star WR. In addition, it will come Starbreeze developing VR experiences and games that will go to feast at Imax cinemas. More specifically, that will result from this cooperation, we will see in the future, but it seems that Starbreeze not just want that Star WR will be a game accessories, without a solid entertainment device.
Even if you re launching esports on your cable channel, you probably still want to include Twitch.The livestreaming site announced today that it will broadcast live event and on-demand content for Turner s new esports program for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Eleague, as part of a multi-year deal.. Twitch has over 100 million viewers a month, and 21.3 percent of them are watching esports.That makes it a logical partner for Turner, which will air a Friday night showcase of its league on TBS.Starting May 24, Twitch will host living streaming coverage of Eleague every Tuesday and Wednesday showing six games per day .On Thursdays during Eleague s regular season, Twitch will air two best-of-3matches.Twitch has become the live streaming destination for millions of gamers on a global scale and we re looking forward to directly connecting Eleague with its passionate community, said Christina Alejandre, the general manager of Eleague, in a press release sent to GamesBeat.We re incredibly excited for the launch of Eleague and Twitch provides us with a premier destination for fans to congregate and engage with our live event coverage.The first season culminates in the Eleague Global Championship on Saturday, July 30, in Atlanta.
Microsoft is bringing Minecraft, the insanely popular game it acquired when it bought Mojang for $2.5 billion, to China.The U.S. firm announced today that it and Mojang, which continues to operate the world-building game, have struck a five-year agreement with top Chinese media firm NetEase to distribute PC and mobile versions of Minecraft in the country.There s no immediate date for the launch at this point though.We re used to seeing international game makers customize their titles to China and Chinese culture in a bid to increase their appeal, and that appears to be the strategy that the trio will take with Minecraft.The companies said they will develop a version of Minecraft tailored for the Chinese market — it isn t exactly clear what that might mean, but we can probably expect to see a Chinese take on buildings, terrain, characters and other features within the blockbuster game, which is particularly popular among kids.Minecraft counts more than 100 million gamers — three of which hail from my household alone — and Microsoft will be looking to add a sizable chunk more to that figure from China, which has well cover 650 million Internet users.
Image Source: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesGoogle is going all in on virtual reality, and we saw the early stages of its plan for VR domination take shape this week at the annual Google I/O developer conference.In fact, the entire event was streamed live in 360-degree video so that anyone with a VR headset anywhere in the world could follow along as if they were sitting right there in the audience.The company s mission is clear: Google wants to own VR.These were the first steps on our way toward a truly immersive video experience, and now we re taking another one with the YouTube VR app for Daydream, Google s platform for high-quality mobile virtual reality, announced today at Google I/O.The user interface isn t yet finalized, but this early look shows that it provides quick and easy access to all of YouTube s core features.It also comes with all the YouTube features you already love, like voice search, discovery, and playlists, all personalized for you, so you can experience the world s largest collection of VR videos in a whole new way.
Minecraft may be an inescapable household game around the world, but the billion-dollar gaming phenomenon has actually missed out on the world's most populated country until now.Minecraft developer Mojang announced today that its blocky blockbuster will finally be coming to China, courtesy of a licensing agreement with Chinese internet affiliate NetEase, Inc.It's certainly odd it's taken so long for one of the most financially-successful and well-known video games in history to make it to China, but what isn't as surprising is the fact that the game will be altered for its release in the country.NetEase has experience bringing some of the PC's biggest online games to Chinese audiences, having struck a deal with bigwig Blizzard Entertainment to bring World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and StarCraft II into the country in the past."With our deep understanding of the Chinese market and our ability to successfully launch world-renowned online and mobile games, we offer a strong platform for the introduction of Minecraft to China's vast user base. "Unfortunately, Mojang didn't go into any other details regarding what changes would go into Minecraft per NetEase's licensing agreement However, the developer did clarify that mainland Chinese audiences can look forward to playing both the PC version of the building phenomenon and the portable Minecraft: Pocket Edition when the work is completed.
Announced today by the streaming video company, Netflix has snagged the exclusive rights to stream new films from companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel.As detailed in the Netflix Media Center, this deal will start during September 2016 and run for multiple years.Of course, Netflix subscribers will have to wait until after the release of digital versions and physical discs, like Blu-ray and Ultra HD, in order to access the content over streaming video.Hypothetically, Disney could have developed a platform like HBO GO and force consumers to subscribe to yet another streaming service, specifically to access an exclusive library of content.Beyond the licensing deal, Netflix also announced a barrage of films that will hit the streaming service over the summer months.During July, Netflix will be adding The Big Short, a Netflix original film Brahman Naman and older films such as Back to The Future and Lethal Weapon.
You don t need to be a journalist or industry person to experience a little E3 magic this year.The Entertainment Software Association, which puts on the Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 industry show every summer in Los Angeles, announced today that it is starting an event for the public.It s called E3 Live, and it takes place June 14 through June 16, the same days as the trade event.E3 Live will take place at L.A. Live, the entertainment, dining, and shopping district right across the street from the convention center that houses E3.The biggest event in video games is bringing gamers to the next level, said Michael D. Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of the ESA, in a press release sent to GamesBeat.We are excited to introduce E3 Live, an exciting, high-energy video game event that brings some of the best in video games directly to fans.Participants at E3 Live include publishers like Ubisoft and Warner Bros., the PC hardware company Alienware, and the virtual reality headset HTC Vive.You can get tickets for the event here.
History is repeating itself.Smartwatch maker Pebble returned to Kickstarter for a third time today, raking in thousands of preorders for two new epaper smartwatches and a funky little wearable called a Core.After 70 or so minutes, the company surpassed its $1 million goal  hey, just like last time , and I bet Pebble always planned on doing just that — we re talking about the company that perfected the Kickstarter marketing strategy.Last year, after securing enough preorders for the original Pebble Time, Pebble announced an additional watch to satiate fans: the Time Steel.Will Pebble do something like that again?A spokesperson for the company says no: This is the product line-up for 2016.Anyways, here s a closer look at everything Pebble announced today.
Newark Venture Partners announced today that it closed a $23 million investment fund, part of a $50 million intended fund, to finance seed and series A-stage tech startups.The CEO of Amazon subsidiary Audible, Don Katz, founded Newark Venture Partners with backing from Audible, Dun & Bradstreet, Prudential Financial, and angel investors.The recently launched venture firm also announced that it will start accepting applications for its accelerator program, which will be homed in 25,000 square feet of state-of-the-art coworking space in Newark, New Jersey.Newark Venture Partners Labs, as the program is called, will be working with New York tech entrepreneurs, as well as people from all over the globe, starting September 2016.NVP will funnel $80,000 into each participating company, and award alumnus that complete a qualified financing with up to $1 million in follow-on investment.