VIRTUAL + AUGMENTED REALITY
Last month, when Apple announced its new augmented reality development kit, the company made it clear that it intends to dive into AR in a big way; now it looks like the tech giant will make the technology a defining feature of its flagship device. According to Fast Company, Apple has been working to add a rear-facing 3D laser system to its next-gen iPhone, enabling improved depth perception for AR apps. The technology might debut on the 10th anniversary iPhone (likely called the iPhone 8), or possibly on a 2018 phone. The move makes sense. Most analysts predict that the next iPhone will start at around $1,000; if that’s true, it can’t hurt to incorporate some desirable new features.
Bloomberg reports that Facebook is working on a low-cost standalone VR headset, to be released by Oculus sometime in 2018. (Well, low-cost by VR standards: It’ll sell for $200.) The headset, which won’t require a high-end computer or mobile phone, appears to be separate from the higher-end standalone headset project that Facebook announced earlier this year. Rather, the $200 headset will be less powerful, designed to make it easier to consume simple 360-degree videos and VR games. Facebook is reportedly making the device in conjunction with Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone maker.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL…
…Or perhaps let’s not. Fantasy sports sites DraftKings and Fanduel have halted their plans for a merger, citing the Federal Trade Commission’s opposition to the deal. Last month, the agency said it would try to prevent the deal on antitrust grounds. The companies first announced their plans to merge back in November. Between them, they control over 90% of the U.S. market for paid daily fantasy sports competition.
Slate is getting set to debut Conundrums, a new virtual reality talk show for the Facebook Live platform. Actors and celebrities will speak with Slate Culture Editor Dan Kois in a virtual environment, with the aid of VR avatars. It’ll be the first professionally produced Facebook Live show to make use of Spaces, Facebook’s social VR app, as a production platform.
APPS + DEVICES
Snapchat has partnered with Formula One for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, as well as for future races. The app will cover the races through its Our Stories feature, putting out curated Snaps from race attendees. It’s the first time that Formula 1 has entered into such a partnership with a major digital platform.
Amazon Studios is shifting its programming team around. Nick Hall, who previously headed up the unit’s comedy development, is now overseeing drama. Two executives who had been working under Hall at the comedy department, Gina Kwon and Ryan Andolina, have been promoted as co-heads to replace him. They’ll all continue working under Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ original programming chief.
Actor/comedian Marc Maron has a role in which recently-premiered Netflix series? (Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)
Our Last Trivia Question: Netflix recently acquired its first foreign-language stand-up comedy special. Who’s the comedian? Answer: Joaquin Reyes. Kudos to Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Alex Kanner-Sublime Skinz/NY, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, and Lorrie Shilling/CA