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YouTube Wants to Create Video-Focused Social Network Called 'Backstage'

Popular video platform YouTube is reportedly seeking to greatly expand its social features with a new section called "Backstage," where users can share photos, polls, links, text posts, and videos to anyone subscribed to their channel (via VentureBeat). According to internal sources at YouTube, Backstage will launch in the fall both on the company's mobile apps and desktop. The initial soft launch will only be for "select popular YouTube accounts" and include "limited features," however. YouTube's social expansion is believed to be in response to the popularity of services like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, which are increasingly improving their own video functionality -- particularly Facebook -- and pulling away users from sharing YouTube videos within each network. Posts shared on Backstage will curate in a reverse chronological order, and each user's content will be found next to the "Home" and "Video" tabs within a YouTuber's channel. Backstage posts will also be pushed to every subscription box, similar to any time a new video is posted, "making them highly visible to fans." Backstage marks a pivotal shift for YouTube, whose sole focus on video and unsuccessful Google+ integration have left the door open for popular users to flock to competing services like Twitter and Facebook in order to better communicate with fans. By introducing new ways for users to converse, Backstage could reverse the historically one-way communication between stars and their fans. Video sharing and watching will remain the primary function of YouTube, but Backstage may help make

Apple's Rumored Amazon Echo Competitor Could Be a Next-Generation Apple TV

Earlier this week, The Information said Apple was actively developing an in-home hub that would compete with the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, and now VentureBeat has shared new details on the product and its prospective features. Citing an unnamed source, VentureBeat says rather than developing a new product, Apple could add Echo-like features to a revamped version of the Apple TV. The Amazon Echo, for those unfamiliar, is an in-home personal assistant device with a built-in speaker and a robust AI system. The Echo is able to perform a wide range of functions, from giving weather reports and answering queries to controlling smart home devices. A future version of the Apple TV may gain a dedicated microphone and speaker, along with deeper Siri integration to allow it to function like the Echo. Processing queries and serving up results is said to require additional computing infrastructure, which Apple is working on. It is not clear what extra computing infrastructure is needed as the fourth-generation Apple TV includes the same A8 processor that was used in the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, two devices more than capable of processing Siri inquiries.The company will build on its enhancements to the Apple TV announced last year, which brought the Siri virtual assistant to the set-top box. A new version of the Apple TV will solve problems with the existing box and remote control, a source familiar with the matter claims. "They want Apple TV to be just the hub of everything," the source told VentureBeat.Apple reportedly considered several options, ranging from a

Apple Working to Create its Own Cloud Storage Infrastructure

Apple is working on building its own cloud infrastructure to reduce its dependence on services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, according to information shared by Re/code and VentureBeat. A project called "McQueen" is underway at Apple, with a team of employees working to create an in-house cloud storage system.According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple already has a team working on this; it's known internally as "McQueen," as in Steve. It's unclear if that project will materialize or when. But a source tells Re/code that the codename refers to Apple's intent, sometime in the next few years, to break its reliance on all three outside cloud providers in favor of its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure.According to VentureBeat, Apple is unhappy with AWS's inability to quickly load photos and videos onto iOS devices, something its own cloud system could fix. Apple executives reportedly believe that creating a full cloud infrastructure could pay for itself within three years. Estimates suggest Apple spends upwards of $1 billion on cloud services each year.Project McQueen kicked off after a conversation between a Microsoft employee and an Apple employee, the source said. Azure won't be able to handle the growth of Apple's workloads in the future, meaning Apple would have to pay much more in order to help Microsoft cover the cost of expanding Azure's data center infrastructure, the Microsoft person told the Apple person.Apple is already investing significant money into building new data centers around the world and is said to be

'Glide' Update Brings Video And Text Messaging Service to Apple Watch

Every day more and more companies announce Apple Watch versions of popular iOS apps. The trend continues today, with video and photo messaging app Glide confirming a companion app on Apple's new wearable will be available to its users when the Watch launches on April 24. The Glide iPhone app allows users to send and receive live video messages from friends - up to five minutes long - even letting its users watch someone live as they record a Glide video, or catch up later if they missed anything. The Apple Watch version will act as a companion to its iOS counterpart, notifying users of live Glides, missed messages, and allow them to peruse the app and watch videos right on their wrist. The app, like Apple's own Messages, will also allow users to send truncated text, emojis, or use speech-to-text to dictate a response to someone's Glide video. Although the Apple Watch version of Glide will allow users to view full Glides on their Watch, it will also support Handoff, so users can go from watching a video on the Watch to an iPhone's bigger screen without missing a single beat. Although impossible with the current Apple Watch hardware, Glide CEO Ari Roisman looks to the future to envision Glide and future iterations of the Apple Watch - with a front-facing camera - working together to provide incomparable video chatting services to users right on their wrists. Speaking to VentureBeat, Roisman believes that live video messaging, via wrist-worn devices, will become the most widely used way in which to catch-up with friends and family, possibly even without a