Ypulse Essentials: Xbox Is The Future Of TV, Google+'s 17%, Sony's Pre-Release Digital Downloads

Xbox Live Microsoft is billing its upgrade of the Xbox Live platform (as the “future of TV.” The new user interface comes with a wealth of content from video partners, including 26 live channels from Verizon Fios, thousands of On Demand options from Comcast, apps for networks like Syfy, an improved Netflix app, and a new YouTube app. Oh, and there’s also cloud storage for a better video experience, as well as to enable users to access their media on any Xbox they sign into. The Xbox is looking less and less like a gaming device, and more like a media server on steroids. The update officially rolls out to users tomorrow. Here’s a walk through showing the interface and improved voice controls. This system is definitely built with Millennials in mind. Of course, Apple is also planning to revolutionize the home screen with iTV. There’s not doubt that Apple wins having iTunes vs. Microsoft’s Zune, but Xbox has an advantage with 56 million Xboxes out there already. Who do you think will win the war?) (VentureBeat) (The Verge) (Advance TV)

- Here’s an infographic about Google+ users (but the most interesting stat by far is that a mere 17% of those with accounts on the site are active users. Time for a new catch phrase: We are the 83%... In other social media news, Facebook has reportedly acquired Gowalla, a social check-in site similar to Foursquare, which means it may have plans to make its Places Deals revolution a reality) (PR Daily) (Telegraph)

- Hailee Steinfeld may not have landed the role of Katniss in ‘Hunger Games’ (but she’s won another coveted role in Hollywood: that of Petra Arkanian in the film adaptation of “Ender’s Game,” the story of future children being groomed to lead Earth’s army in an epic interstellar battle. Elsewhere in movie news, Sony has announced it will be making another…

 
 

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“Most of the role models and leaders in my life have been Gen Xers so far."

–Male, 16, WI

Instagram has reached 700 million active users, and its growth has been speeding up. The app hit the new user mark just four months after reaching 600 million, and the introduction of Instagram stories in August may be a major contributor to its accelerated growth. The feature has a reported 200 million daily active users compared to Snapchat’s 161 million. Overall, Instagram now has twice the user base of Twitter and is quickly approaching the coveted 1 billion user mark that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger have reached. (TechCrunch)

Millennials are using social media and YouTube to decide what to buy. A U.K. study found 32% of 18-24-year-olds are using social media to research their purchase decisions before checking out, and 25% are using video platforms like YouTube. There are also signs they’d like to search for products on social media: 25% of U.K. 18-24-year-olds reported the desire to search media based on their lifestyle and 23% would like search to understand their current mood. These findings, paired with the detailed targeting available to advertisers, are changing the consumer journey from search query to cart. (AdvertisingWeek)

Millennials are keeping 70% of their money in cash, reluctant to invest in anything, from stocks to their own retirement plans—according to new BlackRock research. Clearly impacted by the Great Recession, Millennials are most likely to agree, "What you might earn investing isn't worth the risk of losing your money," and a third say “they learned what not to do with their money” from watching their parents. They also tend to undervalue the potential returns of investments by millions of dollars, which is not good news for their futures—at their current rate, most Millennials will have less than $1 million saved for retirement. (TheStreet)

Influencer marketing is proving its worth. Though marketers have worried about determining ROI with the approach, one report is claiming it’s more effective than advertising alone, showing a direct lift in results rates of up to 30%. Across 450 influencers and 11 campaigns, the expansive research compared results from consumers exposed to ads featuring influencers versus control groups, overwhelmingly showing increased action when an influencer was involved. Good news for marketers, who spent $570 million on influencer marketing on Instagram alone last year. (Adweek)

The Amazon Echo can now help pick your outfit—and tell you when you don’t look good. LED lights and a depth-sensing camera will let the new Echo Look take pictures of any look, and “Style Check” software “combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists” to evaluate which outfit is best, and lets you compare pictures of multiple outfits, from multiple angles. Amazon’s already extensive product recommendations could feasibly be a part of this product’s future—and, if all goes well, a drone will ship the recommended new clothes to your door. (Quartz)

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