Google Chrome Turns Your Phone Into A Lightsaber | Crunch Report


Netflix is on a re-encoding extravaganza,
is Apple finally gonna make their own display screens? Android Pay comes to mobile apps,
and more… It’s Tuesday, December 15th and this is Crunch
Report. Netflix currently represents 36.5% of U.S.
Internet traffic, and as 4k video gets more popular, that number is just going to increase.
So, what to do? Variety reports Netflix is now re-encoding its entire catalog with more
granular bitrates, which should result in 20% in bandwidth savings for customers. This
is a change from how Netflix usually does things, which is the same bitrate for everything.
The new method means that more people will be able to stream movies and TV shows in HD
without any noticeable loss in quality. Netflix will get a cheaper bandwidth bill, ISPs won’t
get as clogged up during peak hours, and customers can save on their data plans, or watch more
stuff in HD. It won’t happen overnight though, this process will take months. Netflix has
a big catalog! But this solution isn’t Netflix’s only option- the company’s been hiring peer-to-peer
engineers, and one application that TorrentFreak got a hold of earlier this year read “Our
team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly
talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies
and lead the technology design and prototyping effort.” Apple may be working on its own display technology,
which would ease the pressure of depending on third-party suppliers like Samsung and
Sharp to make its displays.. this is according to a report in Bloomberg. Apple is said to
have opened a secret facility in Taiwan – and is actively hiring positions there – that
could churn out screens for iPhone, iPads, and other devices, and also work toward improving
the battery life of these products by making the screens “thinner, lighter, brighter
and more energy-efficient”. Sources say Apple wants to switch to organic LEDs, which
would save on power consumption. Rumors are rumors, but if Apple doesn’t have to depend
on another company to power its profit bread and butter, it’ll build what it needs to build. Facebook is testing a new feature to rival
Yelp and Angie’s List – Facebook.com/services is now directing users to the best-rated and
reviewed local service providers in their area. This includes contractors, painters,
plumbers, doctors’ offices, auto repair techs, child care providers, pet groomers,
salons, event planners, and so on. Amazon’s Home Services and Google’s AdWords extension
have both made inroads recently to connect users to local service providers as well.
Hot market. By the way the new feature was first spotted by Search Engine Land. As for
Facebook’s layout, which is currently only available via the desktop, it’s pretty basic..
a search box based on your current location, surfacing businesses with Facebook pages.
The company now says it has over 50 million active business Pages on its social network,
which is up from 40 million in April. Google’s Android Pay is now available to
use within mobile apps… bringing it in line with Apple Pay to pay for things within shopping
apps like Jet, on-demand services like Lyft, and well-known apps like Hotel Tonight and
OpenTable. Google’s encouraging users to try Android Pay by offering discounts in select
apps – like taking $20 off on OpenTable dining, $10 off your first Lyft, or $10 off DoorDash.
Android Pay for apps like Uber, Seamless, and Groupon are in the works as well. Like
Apple Pay, Android Pay bypasses the annoying process of having to manually enter payment
data on a small mobile screen. Google also announced Android Pay is coming to Australia
in the first half of 2016 in partnership with several of the country’s major financial
institutions, MasterCard and Visa will both also be supported. Google says over 1 million
U.S. locations support Android Pay at checkout via NFC technology, which is also used by
Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. So there’s this movie called “Star Wars:
The Force Awakens”, opening in 3 days. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Disney has partnered with
every company on the planet to promote this film, and today, we have yet another experience…
this time a partnership between Disney, Google, LucasFilm and Industrial Light & Magic called
“Lightsaber Escape” that runs right in your mobile Chrome browser. The deal – You’re
in a Star Destroyer and your phone is used as a lightsaber and you’re battling Stormtroopers
that pop up on your computer. Just go to g.co/lightsaber on your desktop and get a unique URL to open
this up on Chrome, earlier today the server was getting hammered and went offline, so
if it goes down again for you, have patience. The 3D graphics you’ll see were built with
WebGL which renders pretty fast, with no plug-ins needed. How very Googly of Google. And may
the force be… nah. That’s the report for today. I’m Sarah
Lane. Crunch Report airs every weekday at 7 pm Eastern,
4 pm Pacific, on Techcrunch.com. You can also find us on iTunes, and on YouTube. See you
tomorrow!

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