Google Introduces More Personable Mobile Experience

Google had a terrific showcase this week at its I/O developers conference, talking about the features of its new mobile operating system, one that promises a more personal touch than ever before.

The new version of the Android OS, tentatively called M, will provide a number of new features for developers and marketers alike, including an upgrade to Google Now. Adweek broke down a number of these features, and what they mean for both groups:


  • With the introduction of On Tap into the Google Now service, there’s a deeper integration into the rest of Google. It becomes accessible when consumers view the site either on the Web or in apps, with a number of deep-links that go directly to apps, without needing to navigate away from the home page. Although there are no ads in this service yet, Michael Facemire, principal analyst for Forrester, believes they aren’t too far off. “It could be awfully similar to how you can bid for ad space on search pages,” he said. “Google can set up an environment so that there can be an auction. Brands could get their content to the top of that list.”
  • Push notifications will help in getting apps and brands suggested to interest users, utilizing the Google Cloud Messaging system. It enables developers to send their messages to any given contact, whether consumers are using an Android or Apple-based product. “Before today, you had to use two sets of pipes,” said Facemire, talking about how much easier the system will be. Apple hasn’t given a response to this new system yet, however, but Facemire is interested in seeing what it says.
  • With app ads, Google hopes to reach out with Universal App Campaigns, running through AdWords. This provides a one-stop shop in the hub itself, a useful tool for smaller developers and companies. The ads would then run across a variety of services within Google, including search, Play Store, YouTube and others.
  • With the addition of a buy button, users can now pick and choose items based upon shopping ads, which in turn provide a direct line to inventory, so consumers can know right away if a certain item is in stock. This would enable certain retailers to find success with ads, while at the same time assuring that the sale would be completed, without any delay in shipping or inventory.

Per VentureBeat, here are more details that emerged from the showcase:

  • Google will introduce a new platform called Android M, successively taking over for Lollipop. It’ll come with proper app permissions, as well as improved app links, an Android Pay system, support for fingerprint readings, increased power management and other features. It’s not slated to release until this fall.
  • Google will shift more into the Internet of Things department with a new operating system called Brillo, as well as a common language for connected devices known as Weave. It will work through small processors and low memory, and will manage and store data collected by sensors through the device.
  • As mentioned above, Android Pay will act as a competitor to Apple Pay, providing users to buy items through retail stores and in-app with a simple press of a button. Working via near field communication technology, the device will eventually be inputted into 700,000 stores in the United States.
  • Google Chrome now has over one billion active users, making it one of the company’s biggest ecosystems, alongside the Android platform.
  • A new photo service called Google Photos, which works with Android, iOS and desktop devices, will allow users to backup and store “unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free.” The service offers up to a terabyte of storage for free, which certainly will make competitors reconsider their offerings.
  • Now On Tap has been introduced, allowing users to access its services much more quickly through context, answers and actions. It works closely with Google’s mobile operating system, built with customer satisfaction in mind.


There were other announcements as well, including a new Polymer 1.0 program that allows developers to bring app-like experiences to the web, as well as a new Family Store, a Play Store that’s devoted entirely to younger players. You can learn more about these features, and more, here.

Google Innovates VR With iOS Support, Jump

Yesterday’s Google I/O conference brought a number of announcements to light, as you can see from our adjacent story recapping the event. However, one of the bigger announcements could mean a brighter future for the company’s affordable virtual reality project, the Cardboard.

A number of improvements are being made to the company’s virtual reality platform, which utilizes an Android device coupled with a unit made out of cardboard. In addition to small changes that make it more convenient, the company has also vowed the ability to create YouTube-operated virtual reality videos, with a possible introduction in July, according to USA Today.

One big change is that the platform is no longer Android exclusive, as owners of iOS devices can now try it out. In addition, a new program called Expeditions will bring education into the fold, enabling teachers to take kids around the world through virtual recreations of locations. The teacher can lead a classroom full of kids through a VR experience, if all of them have a suitable smartphone and a Cardboard unit. This could make for much more frequent and interesting “field trips” — the Magic Schoolbus, indeed.

With these changes, Google hopes to remain competitive with the other VR-related tech headed to market next year, including the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. It certainly has the price advantage, as the current model of Cardboard sells for a very affordable $20.

To help make VR-based videos more accessible, Google has teamed up with GoPro, creators of mobile cameras that are used by a number of extreme sports athletes (among others), to create a new platform that enables the capture of videos for VR. Using a 360-degree camera array, users can capture action in a full environment, then post said videos through a program called Jump, which will be supported through YouTube. Users can then pick and choose which experiences they want to check out.

Although the multi-camera system won’t come cheap – it’s expected to run around $8,000 at launch, using 16 specialized cameras made by GoPro – it will no doubt open the door to companies and clients that want to show a virtual experience made on their own terms. And that’s something that should be of interest to potential VR fans that want to give Cardboard a shot.

“Soon, I hope we’ll all be able to jump between the 1,000 most beautiful places on Earth with Cardboard,” said product vice president and project lead Clay Bavor. “We’re going to enable anyone who’s motivated to capture events and places anywhere in virtual reality. We’re leveling the playing field.”

Cardboard has proven to be a pretty modest hit, with over one million devices sold since last year, and a large number of apps downloaded through Android devices. No doubt these changes – and the introduction to iOS accessibility – will pick up those numbers.

Expeditions will also play a huge part, allowing students to visit exotic locations from the convenience of the classroom – and giving teachers a new platform to work from. “Who doesn’t like field trips ” said Bavor. “This is all about teachers having a new tool at their disposal. Some of the (test) classrooms have gone to Verona while reading Romeo and Juliet, or visited the Great Wall of China to learn more about the math that went into its construction.”

More details about Jump, Expeditions and more can be found here.

Adult Swim Enters VR Game With ‘Virtual Brainload’ App

by Sahil Patel

Adult Swim has launched Virtual Brainload, a new virtual-reality app developed in partnership with VR company WEVR.

In typical Adult Swim fashion, the description for the app makes it seem very odd: “The Virtual Brainload meets fans where they are with a dazzling animated presentation that gives a special glimpse of the backside of reality.” (In other words: expect some weird stuff, otherwise it wouldn’t be a VR experience from Adult Swim.)

Available for free via Google Play, the app is compatible with the Google Cardboard headset, which is sold separately.

Keep reading…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Marvel, Samsung Team Up For Phone Promotion

With Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron cleaning up at the box office ($1.1 billion worldwide and rising), it’s no surprise that a number of companies are looking to team up with the superhero juggernaut. Samsung is the latest company to hop on board, producing a special model of its Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge mobile device that fans will no doubt be clamoring for.

The Verge recently provided details on the device, which focuses primarily on Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron man character. The casing for the phone features a depiction of Iron Man’s helmet on the back, surrounded by gold and red coloring – the same as Iron Man’s armor. There are also special wallpapers included on the device, so users can automatically get their fix of Marvel goodness without needing to set them up on their own. The package also comes with a wireless charging pad that resembles one of Iron Man’s ARC reactors, further simulating the superheroic zest of the overall package.

This is just the latest in a long line of goods related to the Avengers franchise, which continues to be a boon for Walt Disney. Last year’s Disney Infinity 2.0, which focused on Avengers characters alongside others in the Marvel universe, has become a best-seller for the company; and its toy division continues to thrive, alongside the traditional comic business and home video success of the movies.

The video below showcases the unboxing of the limited edition device, complete with a collector’s case and all included components.

However, there is a downside to Samsung’s latest device – it isn’t being planned for a U.S. release. The special Avengers-themed phone is currently set for release in South Korea, Hong Kong and China sometime this year, for a yet unnamed price. Samsung didn’t explain why the device isn’t getting a release in this market, but that shouldn’t stop die-hard fans from importing the device. After all, Tony Stark would’ve bought one, right?


PlayStation Giving Audiences E3 Experience At Theaters

Sony is no stranger to showing love to the owners of its popular PlayStation 4 console. This past December, it hosted a special PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas, complete with special presentations, hands-on events and announcements for games coming to its console. Now, it’s hitting movie theaters nationwide, in an effort to boost its presence at the forthcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

The PlayStation E3 Experience, which will take place on Monday, June 15th, will broadcast live in theaters, enabling viewers to check out the company’s full press conference as it happens, including exclusive announcements for forthcoming titles, including Street Fighter V and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, among others.

Sony held a similar event last year, but many people didn’t get to go because tickets “sold out” very quickly. To improve this system, the company confirmed that it will increase the number of theaters by more than 150 percent, with at least one theater in every state across the U.S. – including Alaska and Hawaii. Three cities in Canada will also get the theater broadcast.

In addition to the press conference, the PlayStation E3 Experience will also include a special post-show hosted by GameTrailers’ Geoff Keighley, who will speak with developers and other parties involved with the conference. Attendees will also get to take home a special surprise, in the form of goods and digital codes that haven’t been disclosed just yet. Tickets will be available starting next Wednesday, May 27, at 9:00 AM PDT on the official E3 Experience site.

This marks the latest move by Sony to reach out to the hardcore PlayStation community, and to keep a step ahead of competition from Microsoft and Nintendo, who will have their own presentations during the event. Microsoft has already confirmed it will air its press conference live on Spike TV on Monday morning, while Nintendo’s Digital Special will air on the Internet Tuesday morning, before E3 kicks off.

Considering that gaming is more popular than ever, as indicated by Newzoo’s recent study, this is a smart move on Sony’s part to stay competitive, while at the same time providing new information to people who can’t wait to buy its upcoming games. And considering that the PlayStation 4 is the best selling console on the market, it doesn’t look ready to give up that position anytime soon.

Check out the advertisement for PlayStation E3 Experience below.

Twitch Expands Music, On-Demand Possibilities

Twitch has done a good job establishing an audience over the years, as it currently has over 100 million monthly viewers, checking out everything from live events to gaming tournaments to devotees showing their skills in a number of games. Now, with a few new moves made this week, it hopes to expand this service even further.

First off, it’s pushing its music service a bit further through a new partnership with Boiler Room, a global broadcaster that specializes in underground music. The company has launched its official Twitch channel today, providing a 24/7 video broadcast of both live and archival music performances, featuring the best in underground music.

This could be beneficial for both the channel and the artists featured on it when it comes to audience expansion, as fans would flock to it to hear what’s up and coming, while the artists would get a better outreach.

“We’re really excited to launch our Boiler Room channel for music lovers within the Twitch community,” said Mazdak Sanil, CCO for the broadcast service. “The convergence between consumption of different forms of entertainment is a trend that creates great opportunities for partnerships like this one, between leaders in their respective scenes.”

Twitch’s Music Library has come a long way in attracting a variety of artists to the service since its launch earlier in the year, becoming a beta broadcast category in its own right. It’s sure to align with many more partners in the months ahead, expanding the offerings for broadcasters to use in the background of their gaming sessions.

The company is also introducing a new on-demand service, where mobile viewers can catch the best moments from past tournaments and select sessions however they please. VentureBeat has reported that, through Twitch’s own blog, the service allows users to look through past broadcasts and highlighted videos with ease, simply by browsing through the activity feed.

The videos are usually deleted after 14 days (or 60 days for those that sign up for the monthly premium service), but this is a great way to catch up on content that was missed during a live feed – and it’ll be beneficial next month, as a lot of companies will be utilizing Twitch to showcase its up-and-coming games, straight from the show floor.

This could also prove beneficial for potential advertising partners, since companies are taking more interest in teaming with Twitch. Old Spice’s previous promotion with the company, following “Nature Man” for three days while users controlled his actions, paid off big-time.

And for those who want to get a better understand of how Twitch clicks when it comes to the streaming business, check out his blog entry on the company’s official page, breaking down the science of streaming. “Twitch is the fourth largest stream of data on the Internet. Conclusion: People really like watching each other play video games,” the opening line reads.

The blog entry breaks down a number of areas where success has come into play for Twitch, including offline channels and how they can divert users to seek out live programming; browsing for new content that relates to the viewer; and overall engagement. “Understanding the path to video is foundational knowledge for anyone who wants to understand or improve Twitch,” the post concludes. “If data is your jam, we’re still making huge insights. Consider joining Science.”

The post can be found here, and is great reading for those who want to get a better understanding of the “streaming craze,” as it were.

What Spotify’s Expanded Services Means For Marketers

Streaming music service Spotify has proven in the past that its integration with an audience has been quite effective, between paid subscribers and free listeners alike. And it’s slowly been expanding this service, even reaching out beyond mobile and desktop devices with the launch of a new PlayStation app. However, its latest move – into new types of format – could be the biggest yet, both in terms of outreach and advertising possibilities.

Rolling Stone has reported will now include more original programming, enabling the integration of both video and podcast content. This includes content from a number of services, including Disney, ABC, NBC, ESPN, BBC News, Comedy Central and MTV, among other partners. A number of artists will be contributing to said content, including Icona Pop and Type, the Creator, and video from comedienne Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). The move is meant to make Spotify more competitive with other services, like VEVO (a popular video channel on YouTube) and Vimeo. It should begin rolling out over the next month.

This will open up a number of new opportunities for advertisers, not only to sponsor certain shows (such as Spotify Sessions, which will focus on a variety of musical artists), but also ads to integrate with the video content. Spotify hasn’t laid these plans out just yet, as it’s focused more on the genuine experience that users will get from these new add-ons.

“We’re bringing you a deeper, richer, more immersive Spotify experience,” said Daniel Ek, Spotify founder and CEO. “We want Spotify to help soundtrack your life by offering an even wider world of entertainment with an awesome mix of the best music, podcasts and video delivered to you throughout the day.”

One advertiser is already on board, as Spotify will team with Starbucks for a new music “ecosystem,” with music programmed by actual baristas for play within their coffee shops. As part of the program, fans of the popular coffee shops will be able to earn loyalty points for using Spotify, although specific rewards haven’t been mentioned as of yet. (Free coffee, perhaps )

That’s not all, as Spotify mobile apps also have a new feature that detects the speed of someone’s running or walking pace, and provides music that’s around the same tempo. This will tie in with a new Spotify Running service to launch later this year, a collaboration between the music service’s RunKeeper system and co-sponsor Nike.

The company has recently been pushing to up its subscriber base, despite some certain bumps along the way (like Taylor Swift removing her music from the service, insisting it should be “free”), and this move should no doubt help it expand both its audience and advertising possibilities. The only question is to what extent ads will be used – and if it could attract consumers to give the premium service a try. Only time will tell.

Newzoo: Global Games Market Hits $113 Billion In 2018

The upcoming 2015 Global Games Market Report by market research and predictive analytics firm Newzoo shows that the worldwide games market will reach $113.3 billion by 2018. This represents a 2014 to 2018 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of +7.9 percent. The market for (smart)phones and tablets will rise from $30.0 billion this year to $44.2 billion in 2018, ultimately taking 39 percernt of the global games market. In 2015, China and the US are neck and neck for number one market, with China expected to outgrow the US by the smallest of margins: $22.2 billion versus $22.0 billion. By 2018, China and the US will grow to $32.8 billion and $24.1 billion games markets respectively, together claiming 50 percent of the world’s games revenues. Newzoo’s annual Global Games Market Report, to be launched on June 8th, is available for pre-order as of today. The report will include gamer and revenue projections by region, country and segment towards 2018, as well as the top trends that will define success several years from now.

Global Growth Per Screen Towards 2018

As the market has evolved and the boundaries between traditional market segments have disappeared, Newzoo’s Screen Segmentation Model, introduced in early 2012, has become the primary model for understanding and sizing growth opportunities. The Computer Screen (PC/Mac) with $41.2 billion will account for 36 percent of the market by 2018 and will remain the most revenue generating screen, growing at a robust CAGR of +6.9 percent driven primarily by PC/MMO games. The Entertainment Screen (TV/Console, VR) with $26.8 billion will have 24 percent of the market by 2018, down from 27 percent in 2015. Both the Computer Screen and the Entertainment Screen will lose a small portion of their share to the continuously growing Personal Screen (Phones, Smartwatches). In 2018, the Personal Screen with $30.2 billion will account for 27 percent of the pie, leaving 13 percent for the Floating Screen (Tablets, Handhelds). The decline of the handheld console market (CAGR of -22.5 percent) will be offset by the robust growth of tablet revenues (CAGR of +17.1 percent), resulting in the Floating Screen maintaining its market share towards 2018. This year, digital game revenues will account for 78 percent of the global market totaling $70.9 billion, up from a 74 percent share in 2014.

US & China Take 50% of the Global Games Market in 2018

As previously reported, China could move ahead of the US and become the world’s largest games market by revenues this year. In 2015, Chinese revenues are expected to reach $22.2, just surpassing US revenues of $22.0 billion. A notable difference in the two markets can be seen in digital games sales; in 2015, the share of digital to total revenues in China is expected to reach 97 percent (or $21.4 billion) versus 72 percent (or $15.8 billion) in the US. Comparing 2015 revenues per screen, the Chinese games market is dominated by the Computer Screen (PC/Mac), with 68 percent of total revenues, while the Entertainment Screen (TV/Console, VR) continues to prevail in the US, with 45 percent of the market. In both countries, mobile segments have been growing with huge impact, but while the US mobile market is showing signs of maturing, China’s is still on the uptake. This year in the US, smartphone games and tablet games will still see YoY growths of +13.4 percent and +17.8 percent respectively. In China, tablet games will see a YoY growth of +39.0 percent, while smartphone games will jump an outstanding +50.0 percent. Overall, China’s games market will grow at a CAGR of +16.1 percent to reach $32.8 billion in 2018, while the US will grow at a CAGR of +3.1 percent to reach $24.1 billion in 2018. Together, they will account for 50.1 percent of the global games market, up from 47.0 percent last year.

Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report & Service Methodology

Newzoo performs continuous analysis of the global games markets and individual public and non-public company performance. To generate reliable player and revenue data on a global level as well as for the top 130 countries in the world, we combine an array of data sources, including primary consumer research in 26 countries, quarterly revenues of public companies, transactional data and third-party research. Forecasting also involves market trending analysis and projections for macro KPIs, such as population growth, online/mobile connectivity and economic growth for all countries in the world.

Pinterest’s New Cinematic Pins a Marker For Advertisers

Want to get someone’s attention Maybe try putting a pin in it — electronically, that is.

The Wall Street Journal reports that popular social site Pinterest has introduced a new ad program that allows users to scroll through a series of images that are put together via cinematic pins. The ads play short animations when a user checks out images on the page, allowing the user to view a longer version of said ad when it’s clicked on.

This is a change of pace from the usual video ads users see on Twitter and Facebook, aiming more towards specific groups, which advertisers can target with its own set of pins. For instance, a Walgreens’ ad that focuses on lip-gloss shows sunglasses blowing kisses as the user scrolls through pictures. Clicking on the image opens up even more kisses as a reward, along with an ad for the lip-gloss.

The program will provide a number of improved targeting options, along with a revised fee model and an ad-creating service for clients that are looking for a more experimental way to reach out to consumers. With it, Pinterest hopes to find a change of pace from the usual video ads on other social sites.

With the program, brands can seek out specific audiences, like Millennials and “foodies” with said images, as well as other groups. With 72.8 million unique visitors tracked on the site back in March, it’s clear there are a lot of people who could easily catch on.

“Pinterest is such a visual medium by definition that it makes sense to me that that was the direction they would go in,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer for Visa. “The dynamic motion that changes with the scroll is something else that’s very compelling.” Visa is one of the partners on board for the beta program for cinematic pins, alongside Virgin America and Crazy8. Other companies are expected to be on board for the general launch as well.

Still, some are showing skepticism, like Wendy’s. “We’re frankly still trying to figure out Pinterest,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital experience at Wendy’s. “We’re not a considered purchase. You don’t create a giant board of cheeseburgers that you’re going to go eat in the next week, or salads.” Regardless, the popular restaurant chain is currently using the site as a story-telling platform with some of its items, like the Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad.

More information on the new cinematic pins can be found in the video below.

Konami Shifts Focus To Mobile

Konami has been producing top-notch video games for the past 30 years, including entries in the Castlevania franchise, as well as Pro Evolution Soccer and Metal Gear Solid. However, following the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this September, it’s looking to focus on making mobile games rather than console games.

Pocket Gamer has reported that Konami intends to shift into producing more mobile games – which means producing far less on the console gaming front. Konami president Hideki Hayakawa recently spoke with Nikkei about the company’s future plans.

“Following the pay-as-you-play model like Power Pro and Winning Eleven with additional content, our games must move from selling things like ‘items’ to selling things like ‘features’,” he explained. “We saw with these games that even people who buy physical games are motivated to buy extra content. The success of Power Pro especially has motivated us to actively push more of our popular series onto mobile than ever before.”

Previous earnings report have pushed the company to focus on the mobile market, even though sales of console-related titles haven’t exactly been bad. That said, Hayakawa explained that “our overseas games such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Winning Eleven continue to do well, but we are always thinking about how to push our franchises onto mobile there, too.”

Konami is the latest company making the foray into the mobile world, alongside these other companies:

Square Enix: The longtime publisher of the Final Fantasy franchise continues to actively work on consoles with releases like Just Cause 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider coming this year, but it’s also been releasing a number of its older titles on mobile with great success, despite prices that run into the $9.99-$19.99 range. It’s also been making waves with mobile innovation, as it did last year with Dive In.

Nintendo: Although we won’t be seeing Nintendo’s first mobile effort until later this year as part of its recently announced partnership with DeNA, the company has been promising a strong strategy for tablets and smartphones alike, as president Satoru Iwata explained earlier this week. And with familiar faces like Mario and Yoshi sure to be involved to some extent, they should be big hits.

Electronic Arts: For years, EA has taken a strong initiative with mobile games, releasing a number of its popular franchises for devices, including Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Battlefield, amongst others. That trend is likely to continue with the upcoming fall season, as new football and soccer games are already in the works, along with a possible new racing game from Firemonkeys, the developers of the highly popular Real Racing series.

Ubisoft: While it still has a strong console presence, Ubisoft’s mobile division has picked up quite a bit over the last year, with such free-to-play releases as Trials Frontier and Driver: Speedboat Paradise gaining big audiences. The Rayman games have also been quite accessible for players of all ages, with their beautiful presentation and easy-to-grasp running mechanics. As far as what the future holds, the company hasn’t revealed its slate yet, but it’s likely to launch an app alongside its next big hit, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, when it arrives on October 23rd.

Meanwhile, Konami’s proposed “final” console game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, is still set to debut on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 1st.