News in Short: Youtube’s new ‘Leanback’ feature attempts to replace TV, HTC and Samsung chastise Steve Jobs


YouTube introduces Leanback feature

A problem with the mass-video website has always been that you need to click around for a new video every few minutes. Other sites, such as College Humour, naturally roll through a series of videos—but their content is, by default, all a part of one overarching theme. With YouTube, it would need to develop an intelligent, adaptive algorithm to determine, out of its millions upon millions, which videos you may wish to view next.

YouTube is attempting to accomplish just that with Leanback, a format where high-def videos are selected and automatically played in succession of each other, based on your viewing preferences, which it updates constantly. They want it to be like watching your favourite TV channel, where you don’t even need to bother with the remote: you just let the entertainment come to you.

We want to remove the ‘What next?’ question” for viewers,” said Kuan Yong, Leanback’s product manager.

The feature will be among the options available on Google’s Internet TVs when the Sony-made sets go on sale in the U.S. this fall, according to The Globe and Mail. But because Leanback still requires a Web browser to watch the high-definition video, YouTube expects most people initially will watch the format on their computers, the paper said.

But YouTube is exploring ways to bring Leanback to television screens to complete the technology takeover. Leanback is part of YouTube’s effort to evolve from a website into a full-fledged “video operating system” that’s as ubiquitous and as easy to use as TVs. Although YouTube boasts more than 2 billion videos worldwide, most people spend relatively little time on the site. By YouTube’s calculations, it occupies only 15 minutes of an average consumer’s daily viewing time, compared with several hours on the TV.

Leanback will also offer channels devoted to specific categories, such as sports, entertainment and education.


HTC, Samsung not pleased with Steve Jobs, Apple (and neither is Motorola or RIM)

HTC and Samsung Electronics have rebuked Apple, which recently tried to claim that the iPhone 4’s reception problems are shared by other global smartphone makers.

HTC said reception problems aren’t common on smartphones, and that the trendy tech giant should address the problem on its own, rather than blame competitors.

“The reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones,” HTC CFO Hui-Meng Cheng said. “[Apple] apparently didn’t give operators enough time to test the phone.”

At Friday’s news conference, meant to publicly address the iPhone 4’s problems, Apple showed videos of tests it conducted that indicated similar signal drops occurred when users grasped phones made by RIM, HTC, and Samsung. Samsung, the world’s second-largest cellphone maker after Nokia, said it “hasn’t received significant customer feedbacks on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia II,” which is the phone Steve attempted to attack during his conference.

RIM and Motorola have both also countered Steve’s claims and questioned why he must attempt to bring others down with him.

The iPhone is launching in Canada and several other countries July 30th.