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Last Week In Digital - 25th July 2017

Google brings back Glass, NBC takes to Snapchat, and YouTube TV expands

25Jul

Youtube TV takes major step forward

As part of its plan to tackle the already overcrowded TV streaming market, Google has rolled out Youtube TV to 10 more US cities. Initially available only in New York, LA, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, the service will now be accessible in Washington DC, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Miami, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Charlotte, and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to TechCrunch. As explained by YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, the service is designed to offer ‘comprehensive national coverage’ and Google is piling funds into it to make it a success.

What sets YouTube TV apart from the myriad of other live television streaming services is that it includes live local feeds from the US’ major broadcasters - NBC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. These major names sit among a wide variety of other cable networks, and YouTube is hoping that it can boast a more complete package than any of its rivals to stave off competition. Ultimately, YouTube is targeting its younger, more digitally savvy audience, as opposed to traditional TV viewers. It’s low price point ($35 a month) will be used to reel them in as Google looks to carve out a space in an already bustling market.

Lyft weighs in on autonomous driving

The latest in the long line of companies betting the future on autonomous driving is ride-sharing giant Lyft. The US-based competitor to Uber is intending to hire ‘several hundred’ engineers at a facility in Palo Alto, California, in an effort to accelerate its progress in the area. The facility will see Lyft collaborating with other companies in the field to build self-driving systems that it hopes will eventually power its fleet of cars. In contrast to Uber, Lyft has kept its business relatively simple, but the entrance into autonomous driving suggests that it’s looking to diversify in the future.

The move is actually a departure from Lyft’s previous position - that it would leave the actual building of the autonomous vehicles to other companies, offering its ride-hailing network as a testing ground. After last week, though, you can expect Lyft to be well and truly part of the picture. ‘The one thing that is very, very key is the scale that we have,’ said Luc Vincent, Lyft’s Vice President of Engineering. Scale is something Lyft has in abundance, with 700,000 drivers completing more than 200 million rides (1.2 billion miles) every year across 350 cities. The race to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads rumbles on, and Lyft wants to be front and center as it does.

Google Glass returns

The consumer version of Google’s glass has gone down as one of the tech giant’s major, and rare, missteps. The device appeared considerably ahead of its time, and consumers were simply not ready to adorn themselves with facial tech and accept the privacy issues it throws up. Now, over four years on, and Google is having another stab at making it a success, this time with a focus on enterprise. Glass EE is a head-mounted display that, crucially, isn’t linked to a particular frame and can be made to fit almost any piece of eyewear. This means it can be fitted onto safety goggles, making it ideal for industry work.

On top of the major change, Glass EE also features a better camera, a better processor, longer battery life, improvement Wi-Fi speeds, and an indicator for video recorded, according to TechCrunch. One of Google’s posited uses - published in a Medium post - is an agricultural machinery manufacturer in Jackson, Minnesota. The device is being used to reduce ‘the amount of back and forth workers have to do accessing checklists, viewing instruction manuals or sending photos from tablets or laptops as they assemble machines.’ The consumer model of Glass may never become a success, but it seems Google has found an unlikely home for EE in increasing industrial productivity.

NBC has started broadcasting news on Snapchat

In an effort to snatch the younger, digital-first audience, NBC has begun broadcasting bitesize news bulletins twice a day on Snapchat. Called ‘Stay Tuned’, NBC broadcasts are two to three-minute bulletins covering the tops stories of the day, in something of a stripped-down version of their longer news coverage. The videos mimic the form of video content elsewhere - captions, stickers, etc. - but the network is insistent that it will not be dumbing the content down.

‘We’re assuming the audience is not necessarily attuned to every last coming and going with the news, but we’re also assuming that they have a real hunger for what’s going on in the world,’ explains NBC News’ head of digital, Nick Ascheim. ‘They don’t watch television in the traditional, linear sense, but they’re ready and willing to consume lots of video on their phones.’ The step is part of a wider trend of publishers looking to diversify their output to cater for different audiences. If it can engage just a fraction of Snapchat’s 166 million daily active users, it’s innovative new format will be a resounding success. 

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