Архив метки: TV

Gawq wants to burst your ‘echo chamber’ with its smarter news app

A new startup called Gawq wants to tackle the problem of fake news and the “echo chamber” problem created by social media, where our view of the world is shaped by manipulative algorithms and personalized feeds. Through Gawq’s newly launched mobile news app, it aims to present news from a range of sources, while allowing users to filter between news, opinion, paid content and more, as well as compare sources, check facts and even review the publication’s content for accuracy.
The idea for Gawq comes from Joshua Dziabiak, co-founder and now board member at the now profitable insurance tech startup The Zebra. Dziabiak stepped down from his day-to-day role this March, and founded Gawq shortly after.
“It started as a passion project and then it transformed into a business,” Dziabiak explains. “I wanted to do something that had a larger social impact. And this idea — this problem — has surfaced and been magnified in really big ways over the past year, especially,” he says.

When news is served up through social media channels, people are presented with their own version of reality, as the algorithms begin to filter out the news that doesn’t engage them and show them more of what does. Over time, this system led some publishers to pursue clicks and outrage with over-the-top, sensational headlines, but it also spawned a network of publications that would slant and bias the news in ways that better connected them with an either right or left-leaning audience.

The Zebra reaches $100M run rate, turns profitable as insurtech booms

As a result, the media environment overall began to center itself around eyeballs and not necessarily news quality, Dziabiak says. While there is still quality journalism being created, it can sometimes be hard to find among all the noise.
“I believe journalists and content creators need a new measure for success. One that is based on the core ethics of journalism, and not the number of clicks or shares,” Dziabiak notes.

Image Credits: Gawq

The Gawq name is meant to be a reminder of how today’s headlines often scream for our attention. But it misses the mark for an app about news accuracy. At its core, Gawq is a news aggregator where you are not meant to “gawk” at headlines, but actually read and consider the news with a more critical eye.
At launch, the app organizes more than 150 different top media sources of all types and sizes, including those that lean one way or the other. The publishers cover topics like U.S. and world news, politics, sports, business, tech, entertainment, science, lifestyle news and more.
Gawq also organizes the day’s news without using any sort of algorithms or personalization engines, but instead by topic. As you read, you click to compare coverage of the story with other sources to get a better idea of how different outlets are writing about the same topic. With a clever red and blue slider bar at the top of the screen, you can drag your finger over to the red side to see the coverage from right-leaning sources, or you can drag it to the blue side to see the more left-leaning coverage.
The company says it uses data from three different nonprofits that audit media — AllSides, Media Bias Fact Check and Ad Fontes Media — to determine if sources are “right” or “left.”

Image Credits: Gawq

Just below the slider bar are the related fact checks to the topic at hand, for easy reference.
While Gawq will allow users to toggle some news sources on or off within the app’s settings, it uses language that deters you from doing so by reminding you that it works best when you maintain a “diverse set of media.”
In addition, Gawq introduces a “smart labels” feature to automatically identify and tag non-news — like op-ed’s, sponsored content or even celeb gossip, if you hate that sort of thing. You can toggle these on or off, too, if you want to hide anything that’s not hard news.
Another nice feature — for the news consumer at least, if not the publisher — is that Gawq loads articles by default into a “reader mode” that strips the ads and distractions that tend to fill the pages on news websites these days. You can still click to view the article on the website, if you prefer.
While much of the above is related to how the news is presented to the reader, Gawq’s bigger bet is that it can create a Wikipedia-like community of news reviewers who will rate stories for adherence to journalistic practices. This is a more ambitious and perhaps overly optimistic endeavor.
On every article, users can click a review button that walks them through a short quiz where they’re asked to rate the story’s balance, the details provided and whether the headline was clickbait. Users then add a comment and submit their report. This review process was built off the core ethics of journalism as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists, Dziabiak says.

Image Credits: Gawq

Likely, only a minority of Gawq users would rate the stories. But over time and with scale, the reviews could help give outlets an accurate rating on news accuracy and their tendencies toward sensationalism, in the eyes of news consumers. That data may have external value, but for now, Gawq’s business model is “TBD,” Dziabiak admits.
The problem Gawq aims to tackle is a difficult one. And arguably, those who need to widen their worldview will be least likely to download a new app to do so. They’re often passive news consumers who have sat back ingesting news (and often, outrage and lies) from ever-personalized social media feeds. They then click on one favorite news TV channel for everything else. But there is a growing number of people who want a more neutral media landscape, and Gawq can help them find it with how it positions news as right, left or centered when comparing sources.
The startup is currently self-funded and has a small team of engineers, mostly working on a contract basis. Gawq has not ruled out future investment, however.
The app is a free download on iOS and Android.
 

Gawq wants to burst your ‘echo chamber’ with its smarter news app

Everything Google announced at its hardware event

This year, Google’s annual hardware event consisted of a brisk 30 minutes of pre-recorded promotional videos, but the company managed to pack a number of new product announcements into that time.
To make things easy for you, here’s a quick rundown of everything that Google announced, including the Google Pixel 5, a new TV interface and an upgraded smart speaker.
Google Pixel

Google’s latest mobile flagship, the Pixel 5, comes in a 100% recycled aluminum body and offers reverse wireless charging — in other words, you can use the Pixel 5’s battery to charge other devices. There’s a 6 inch display and the whole package costs $699. Pre-orders started today, with the phone available in nine countries on October 15.
In addition to the Pixel 5, Google also announced the 5G version of the Pixel 4a, which will cost $499, with specs that are closer to the Pixel 5 than the existing 4a. This one will be available in Japan on October 15, then launches in the United States and elsewhere sometime in November.
Both phones come with improved cameras, including a new ultrawide lens in the back. And beyond the hardware, Google also said it’s introducing a new Google Assistant feature, which will stay on the line for you when you make a call and then get put on hold, then send you an alert when someone picks up.
Google TV and Chromecast

Image Credits: Google

Google TV — at least in this iteration — is the company’s name for a new interface bringing streaming, live TV and other services together in one place. It includes most existing streaming services while also offering live TV via YouTube TV. And Google seems to be putting a lot of resources into the voice search experience.
The interface is included as part of the new Chromecast with Google TV, which also adds a remote control to Google’s streaming dongle and costs $49.
Nest Audio

Image Credits: Google

Nest Audio is the successor to Google Home, the company’s mid-range smart speaker. Google said the device will offer more bass, increased volume and clearer sound. And the form factor is closer to the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max. The Nest Audio smart speaker will cost $99 and will be available starting on October 5.

Everything Google announced at its hardware event

‘Hamilton’ gives Disney+ a holiday weekend bump in US, with app downloads up 74%

The much-anticipated addition of “Hamilton” seems to have paid off for Disney+. According to new data from app store analytics firm Apptopia, Disney’s streaming service saw a big jump in downloads over the July 4 holiday weekend in the U.S., following the worldwide debut of “Hamilton” on Friday, July 3rd. Between Friday and Sunday, that translated to over half a million new global downloads (752K+) for the Disney+ mobile app, excluding India and Japan. Some 458K+ of those downloads were in the U.S, the firm estimated.
These figures represent a 46.6% increase over the average seen during the previous four weekends in June (Friday through Sunday), Apptopia noted. But the numbers don’t include India or Japan as Disney+ is streamed via Hotstar in the former; and in the latter via a partnership with NTT Docomo through an existing service that later transitioned to Disney+.
Image Credits: Apptopia
The download figures also represented a 74% increase over the four prior weekends in June, in the U.S, indicating that a significant amount of interest in “Hamilton,” not surprisingly — given its “founding fathers” subject matter — comes from U.S. subscribers.
Notably, these downloads represent paid subscribers, not free trial users, as Disney+ ended its free week-long trial offering back in June. 
Rival firm Sensor Tower estimates a slightly different “Hamilton”-related bump for Disney+. During the week of June 29 to July 5, downloads spiked 64% over the week prior, Yahoo reported. Its preliminary estimates for July 3-5 put installs at 1 million across all available markets.
Image Credits: Apptopia
Apptopia also found that “Hamilton” represented the biggest content launch of all of 2020, so far, in terms of downloads. That means it also outpaced the streaming launch of “Frozen 2,” which arrived while consumers were under coronavirus lockdowns. It was also bigger than “Onward,” “Artemis Fowl,” and others, the firm found.
Image Credits: Disney
Of course, mobile download numbers don’t provide a full picture of how many signed up just for “Hamilton.” Many of the new Disney+ subscribers likely only signed up via a TV app and have yet to download the mobile companion.
If Roku’s online channel store offered a “top charts” section with rankings, we would have another window into Disney+ popularity given its status as a top streaming device and TV maker in the U.S. But it’s worth pointing out that Roku’s user base has given the Disney+ app a 4.3-star rating across 1,55,006 total reviews. For comparison, Netflix has 3,675,383 reviews — which shows how quickly the still relatively new service Disney+ is gaining on the market leader.
In May, Disney announced its streaming service had grown from 33.5 million subscribers as of March 28 to 54.4 million Disney+ subscribers as of May 4.
The service appeals to those who follow Disney’s top brands like Star Wars and Marvel, for example, but it’s also found a lot of growth among families who now more than ever need content to keep kids entertained amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has limited families’ usual activities and kept kids indoors.  At the $6.99 per month price point (or $69.99/yr), it’s one of the more affordable streaming services available.
Updated 7/6/20 3 PM ET: Apptopia revised its estimates this afternoon to indicate a larger increase of 74%, not 72.4% as the earlier headline stated. We’ve updated the article with its most recent data as well as the firm’s latest estimates on downloads. We’ll continue to update if newer numbers arrive. 

‘Hamilton’ gives Disney+ a holiday weekend bump in US, with app downloads up 74%

Podcast app Majelan pivots to premium audio content around personal growth

French startup Majelan is pivoting a year after launching a podcast player and service. The company, created by former Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet and Arthur Perticoz, is ditching the podcast aggregation side of its business and focusing on premium audio content going forward.
Like many podcast startups, Majelan faced some criticism shortly after its launch. Aggregating free podcasts with premium content next to them à la Luminary is a controversial topic in the podcast community. Spotify has been going down the same path, but Spotify is also an order of magnitude bigger than any other podcast startup out there.
Some podcast creators have decided to remove their podcast feeds from Majelan to protest against that business model.
Podcasts remain an open format. Creators can create a feed, users can subscribe to that feed in their favorite podcast app. You don’t have to sign up to a particular service to access a particular podcast — everything is open.
“We have decided to stop aggregating free podcasts — free podcasts mean podcasts, period. For us, podcasts are RSS feeds, it’s an open world,” Perticoz said in a podcast episode. “We need an app that is more focused on payment. We can’t aggregate free podcasts given that our strategy is paid content.”
The result is a more focused service that is going to launch on July 7th in France. After a free trial, you have to subscribe for €5 to €7 per month, depending on the length of your subscription. You can then access a library of premium audio content — Majelan rightfully doesn’t call them podcasts.
“Going forward, we’re going to focus on original content, we’re going to focus 100% on paid content,” Gallet said in the same podcast episode.
And in order to be even more specific, Majelan will focus on personal growth, such as creativity, activism, mindfulness, innovation, entrepreneurship and health. According to the co-founders, some content will be produced in house, some content will be co-produced with other companies, and the startup will also acquire existing podcasts and repackage them for Majelan.
That move has been in the works for a while. The startup pitched it to its board of investors back in December. Premium subscriptions have worked well for movies, TV and music. Now let’s see if subscriptions will also take off with spoken-word audio.

Podcast app Majelan pivots to premium audio content around personal growth

An already struggling smartphone market takes a big hit from COVID-19

Quarter after quarter, familiar stories have appeared. The smartphone market, once seemingly bulletproof, has suffered. The list of factors is long, and I’ve written about them ad nauseam here, but the CliffsNotes version is: costs are too high, innovation is too incremental and most people already own a device that will be plenty good for the next few years.
But 2020 was going to be different. Smartphone makers were set to finally give consumers a reason to upgrade in the form of 5G. The first handsets appeared in earnest last year, but between a much wider carrier roll out, lower-cost 5G radios from Qualcomm and the arrival of a 5G iPhone, this was going to be the year the next-gen wireless technology helped reverse the smartphone slide.
And then COVID-19 disrupted everything. For many of us, life is on hold — and will likely continue to be for months. I’m writing this from my home in Queens, N.Y., the hardest-hit county in the hardest-hit country in the world. It still feels strange to type that, even though it’s been a reality for a month and half now.
Purchasing a smartphone is most likely the last thing on anyone’s mind during what is shaping up to be the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu pandemic. With a number of key manufacturers reporting quarterly earnings this week, the numbers are starting to bear out this disconnect. Earlier this week, both Samsung and LG reported weak mobile numbers. Yesterday, Apple reported revenue of $28.96 billion, down from $31.1 billion the same time last year.
More troubling, all three companies appeared to be united in suggesting that the worst might be yet to come. Samsung suggested that both mobile and TV demand would “decline significantly” in the following quarter. LG used virtually the same exact wording, stating that, “market demand is expected to decline significantly YoY due to COVID-19 pandemic.” For its part, Apple simply didn’t issue guidance for the next quarter, a surefire indication of uncertainty in these uncertain times — to borrow a phrase from every commercial airing currently.

An already struggling smartphone market takes a big hit from COVID-19