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Google Calls In Legal Eagles in MPAA Piracy Skirmish
December 19, 2014
Google has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the latest salvo in its piracy battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. Hood targeted Google with an "unreasonable, retaliatory and burdensome" subpoena, the complaint says. The referenced subpoena likely is part of a coordinated campaign against Google known as "Project Goliath."
Minecraft Players Will Get to Shape the Game's Story
December 18, 2014
Mojang has partnered with Telltale Games to create a brand new Minecraft game that will be narrative-driven. Dubbed "Minecraft: Story Mode," the series will be set in the world of Minecraft, but it will feature an original story that combines new characters with familiar themes and is driven by player choice. It will be a separate standalone product.
Terrorist Threats May Blow Up 'The Interview's' Box Office
December 17, 2014
The now-notoriously controversial action comedy The Interview, which was expected to deliver profits of $90-$95 million for Sony, may have become a financial black hole. The movie's Thursday premiere in New York has been cancelled, and several movie theater chains have scrapped plans to screen it, following a hacker message referencing 9/11 and threatening physical attacks on theaters.
Google's Cardboard VR Kit Is Really No Joke
December 17, 2014
Google last week announced an updated app for its minimalist Cardboard virtual-reality viewer, as well as software development kits for both Android and the Unity game engine. It also published new building specifications for those interested in making their own Cardboard viewers and announced that it's hiring more people to work on the project, with five new positions now open.
Sony Sends News Outlets a Stern but Toothless Warning
December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines."
Viber Eases Into Casual Gaming
December 16, 2014
Viber on Monday announced the launch of Viber Games, the latest expansion in its app development. This is the third such expansion for the company in as many months, following the launch of Mobile Video Calls and Viber Public Chats. Viber partnered with social game developers to create gaming experiences featuring Viber characters and exclusive content.
For Sync 3, Ford Picks BlackBerry, Kicks Microsoft to the Curb
December 12, 2014
Ford Motor on Thursday introduced Sync 3, its new communications and entertainment system. It is faster, more intuitive and easier to use than MyFord Touch, the company said. Sync 3 offers conversational voice recognition technology with enhanced response to driver commands, along with a smartphone-style touchscreen and graphical user interface. Sync 3 will roll out in new vehicles next year.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
No Respite for Sony
December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers.
Samsung Offers Cool Gear VR Headset but Content Is MIA
December 09, 2014
Samsung on Monday began offering what may best be described as the "alpha version" of its Gear VR headset, developed by Oculus, in the U.S. This Gear VR Innovator Edition works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and is priced at $200. The headset comes with sample gaming and experiential content such as the dungeon exploration adventure HeroBound and the space shooter Anshar Wars.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.
Grooveshark Tries a Different Tack
December 09, 2014
Grooveshark on Monday confirmed that it will launch a new mobile app that allows subscribers to chat while listening to user-created music stations. Dubbed "Broadcasts," the new app will debut next month, offering an ad-free social radio listening experience on both Android and iOS. Stations will be "created by people rather than by algorithms," said spokesperson James Pearson.
Video Gamers Recall 'Father' Ralph Baer's Extraordinary Legacy
December 08, 2014
Ralph H. Baer, the father of the home video game, died Saturday at 92. Baer invented the Odyssey video game system and co-invented the electronic game Simon. While working as a military contractor for Sanders Associates in the '60s, Baer began to explore the possibility of creating a video game system that could be played on the television. The result of his work was the "Brown Box."
Apple Doesn't Need No Stinking Streaming Media Stick!
December 05, 2014
In the first three quarters of 2014, the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV made stunning gains in sales activity versus the market-leading Roku and the No. 2 device from 2012 and 2013, the Apple TV. Roku snapped up 29 percent of sales, while Google Chromecast rose to claim 20 percent, edging past the Apple TV's 17 percent. The Amazon Fire TV, which launched in April, is already in fourth place.
PS4 May Deliver Street Fighter V's First Punch
December 05, 2014
A trailer leaked on Friday indicates that Capcom's biggest upcoming title, Street Fighter V, will be an exclusive for Sony's PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. Many video games arrive as "timed exclusives," though, and eventually make their way to other systems. Given the importance of the brand to Capcom, it is unlikely that the company would forever limit it to just the PS4 and PC.
Sony's Cyber-Whodunit Is a Page-Turner
December 05, 2014
Who breached Sony Pictures' network and why continues to be a puzzle a week after news of the hack first emerged. Some speculate it was an inside job. A few have pointed fingers at North Korea, which returned its own one-finger salute in response. Others discount that possibility. In the meantime, the FBI has issued a warning stating destructive malware is on the loose.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Apple Fights Yesteryear's iTunes DRM War
December 03, 2014
Apple this week clomped into court to continue fighting a nearly 10-year-old class-action suit stemming from its use of digital rights management technology in iPods. The suit originally was brought in 2005. Both sides' lawyers have filed dozens of trial documents in several hearings. The courts have dismissed some of the items in the original complaint, but have refused to dismiss the case.
Did North Korea Get the Last Laugh Against Sony?
December 02, 2014
Upwards of 1.2 million people reportedly have used pirate sites to download Brad Pitt's unreleased World War II drama Fury. That was one of five films hackers leaked onto the Web following an attack on Sony Pictures' network last week. Sony has called in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It's rumored that the hack was launched by North Korea.
Cyber Monday Brings Sweet Deals for Video Gamers
December 01, 2014
A batch of great online deals on Cyber Monday, on the heels of strong Black Friday sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, could make Microsoft's Xbox One video game system the big winner in the run-up to the holidays. The video game console headed into its second holiday season in second place to Sony's PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles to draw in gamers.
Amazon Free Video Could Hook Non-Prime Audience
November 24, 2014
Amazon reportedly plans to introduce a new ad-supported streaming video service early next year. The new service will be separate from Amazon's Prime membership offering, which already includes a video-streaming component. That Amazon already has a presence in the streaming video market is almost beside the point. The growth projections for this type of service are very high.
Nintendo Launches Super Smash Bros Charm Offensive
November 21, 2014
Nintendo on Friday released what is expected to be its biggest title for the upcoming holiday season, and it also made a play in the collectible toy market with a line of interactive figurines. Since the release of its Wii U console, the company has found itself in much the same position as its signature characters -- an underdog fighting for survival against much bigger rivals.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Ubisoft Under Siege for Glitch-Filled Assassin's Creed
November 14, 2014
Ubisoft on Friday released a second patch for Assassin's Creed: Unity, in an effort to quell the uproar that has arisen over problems with the game. The first patch was released earlier this week. Ubisoft has been the target of harsh criticism from gamers and game reviewers alike for releasing Assassin's Creed: Unity with numerous bugs and glitches.

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