Google has introduced a new home phone service, Fiber Phone. The service will only be available in select areas, but will offer unlimited local and nationwide calling for just $10 a month, with the same affordable international rates as Google Voice already offers. You’ll also be able to utilize standard features like call waiting, caller ID and 911 services with ease. From Google’s announcement post:
For $10/month, you get unlimited local and nationwide calling, and the same affordable rates as Google Voice for international calls. You can keep your old phone number, or pick a new one. You can use call waiting, caller ID, and 911 services just as easily as you could before. Fiber Phone can also make it easier to access your voicemail—the service will transcribe your voice messages for you and then send as a text or email.
To start, Fiber Phone will only be available to customers who live in select Fiber cities. Google plans to continue to roll it out over time to residents in all of its Fiber cities. The installation kit from Google will include a Fiber Phone box that will make your existing home phone hardware compatible with the service. You can sign up now to keep up to date on the latest information about Fiber Phone from Google.
Sign up for more information about Fiber Phone
Volkswagen’s US legal woes aren’t stopping with the lawsuit from the Justice Department. The Federal Trade Commission has filed its own lawsuit against the car maker, accusing it of deceiving customers by running a “Clean Diesel” ad campaign between 2008 and 2015 while it was cheating on emissions tests. Simply put, it was touting its diesel cars as eco-friendly when they were anything but — the FTC notes that they cranked out up to 4,000 percent more nitrogen oxides than the legal limit.
The suit demands that VW not only practice truthful advertising, but compensate the drivers who it led astray. VW hasn’t said exactly how it will respond to the FTC, but it’s doubtful that the company will fight this to the bitter end — the brand tells Reuters that it “continues to cooperate” with regulators. The question isn’t so much about whether or not the FTC will win, but how much of a settlement it will have to offer to make the FTC happy. There were hundreds of thousands of Americans who bought the manufacturer’s TDI-badged cars over that period, and giving each of them even a small amount of compensation could add up to a lot of money.
HTC has been on a mission to tease us in the run-up to the launch of the HTC 10, its next flagship handset scheduled to be revealed on 12 April.
This new image appears to give us the most direct view of the handset yet, following the style of HTC’s previous “power of 10” tweets. But it also seems that this image has surfaced before HTC intended, as we’re yet to see it through official HTC channels. (Update: It’s now circulating on HTC’s social channels.)
The tweet shows the lower front of the HTC 10, focusing on the fingerprint scanner and capacitive buttons that flank it. This matches leaked “in the wild” shots we’ve previously seen.
However, this image also pulls into focus the chamfer at the front of the handset that’s been less evident before.
There’s been plenty of talk of the chamfer on the rear, but this front finish looks great. It leaves little to the imagination, but we certainly like what we’re seeing.
Returning to those controls, let’s just make one thing clear here. This isn’t HTC following Samsung with a physical home button. Instead, it’s offering a multi-function fingerprint scanner, as we saw on the HTC One A9.
This is not only a fingerprint scanner, but also works as a home button with a tap. We’re guessing that a long press with give you Android’s Now on Tap functions too.
It is flanked by back and recent apps buttons, meaning the bottom of the display should be clear from navigation apps, so you get a little more screen space to play.
The words simply say Performance 10 and from what we’ve heard so far, the HTC will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset with 4GB of RAM, so we’re expecting it to be fast.
Launch date is rapidly approaching and there’s certainly a lot of anticipation for HTC’s latest phone.
READ: HTC 10: Release date, rumours and everything you need to know
A new online movie-streaming platform called Flix Premiere aims to bring the cinema experience into the home.
Unlike the average streaming offerings, already clogging up app space on myriad devices, Flix Premiere is all about exclusive films that might have been missed. While this could be interpreted as a bargain bin for films that don’t get snapped up by big names like Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, it sounds like a more refined selection can be expected.
The movies on Flix will all be exclusive to that platform for at least a year. The idea is for the films to be released on the service, rather than at the cinema. Again this sounds like straight to DVD failures, but should actually be handpicked gems. Baring in mind that big studios are pushing out multi-million pound turd-cakes topped with lashings of CGI, money clearly doesn’t mean everything.
Netflix and Amazon are focusing budgets on creating their own original content, and cinemas are focused on big budget Hollywood films to get tickets sold, leaving some potentially great films without a place to go.
The Flix movies will typically be lower budget, at under $15 million each, and will come from independent studios. The fact that the platform is due to launch internationally right after the Cannes Film Festival is a good indicator of the level of content we can expect.
Flex Premiere will be available online plus on iOS and Android in the US and UK first with plans to expand to Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Spain at the end of May. Pricing for new releases is expected to be about £4 per film.
READ: Which is the best movie streaming service in the US?
It wasn’t so long ago that Sony released the second-gen Cyber-shot RX10 – a camera, ultimately, similar to the original superzoom in that range. But it’s all change with the RX10 III (which you might see called DSC-RX10M3 on some sites), which embodies a 24-600mm lens – tripling the capabilities of first- and second-gen models – and 1-inch sensor size for optimum quality.
Having that extra focal length on offer does mean the maximum aperture takes a slight cut as the zoom extends: although at 24mm it can achieve f/2.4 wide-open, that stops-down by one and a half f-stops to an f/4.0 maximum at the 600mm equivalent. Still, that’s none too bad considering the focal length.
In plain English, if you’re looking for optimum quality and the ability to shoot in dim conditions using fast apertures, then the RX10 III sets out its stall to achieve all that. The new lens goes the extra mile too, with Optical SteadyShot stabilisation and a close-up shooting mode that functions 72cm from the subject when at the full 600mm equivalent zoom.
It’s a superzoom that promises yet more too, including a trio of lens control rings to handle focus, zoom and aperture value individually. If it’s hands-on you want, it’s hands-on you get here.
Elsewhere the features are familiar to the previous RX10 models. There’s the top quality from the stacked 20.2-megapixel sensor which, as eagle-eyed camera enthusiasts will see, is the same one as found in the RX10 II model. No bad thing, as we were rather fond of that.
READ: Sony RX10 II review
Sony’s Fast Intelligent AF autofocus also makes its return, but not it can – according to Sony – focus-lock onto a subject in as little as 0.09-seconds. Speedy.
It’s not all about stills, though, with a 1000fps slow-motion video capture option available or, if you want ultra-crisp higher resolution, then 4K capture.
As superzooms go, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III sounds like one of the most formidable we’ve heard about for some time. But it’s not exactly a snip, given it’s £1,250 price tag. Release date is April, whereafter we’ll bring you more distinct information in the form of a full review.
Left a file on your desktop and you’re already halfway across town? Want to share that movie, song or photo, but don’t have a local copy or cloud backup? You can do all that easily — and for free — with Younity, a media server that connects all of your devices putting your digital stuff in reach. It creates private peer-to-peer streaming and file access, making it a great free alternative to services like Plex Premium. Younity can serve up media such as iTunes catalogs, Adobe Lightrooom libraries along with your regular files, so you’ll always have your data available. Starting today, Android has joined Younity’s roster of available platforms, which includes iOS, Mac and Windows. This week, the company has provided us with a Nexus 6P to celebrate the addition of Android and one lucky reader will get to stretch their legs in Younity’s world of access on the handset. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.
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- Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
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Last September, the animated classic The Iron Giant returned to US theaters as a “Signature Edition” with high definition visuals and two additional scenes. Warner Bros. has now confirmed a Blu-ray release for this fall, as well as an “Ultimate Collectors Edition” that includes a few extra goodies. For $74.99, you’ll get the “Signature” cut and the original theatrical release, both in high and standard definition. There’s also a documentary on the disc called The Giants Dream, which gives a “definitive” look at how the 1999 classic was put together.
Dig deeper into the packaging and you’ll uncover some Mondo art cards, a hardcover art book, a 4-inch statue of the giant himself and a letter from director Brad Bird. Both the regular Signature Edition — which includes the documentary, as well as the new and original cut in high definition — and the Ultimate Collectors Edition will be available from September 6th, almost a year after the remaster had its limited run in US cinemas.
If you need a reminder, The Iron Giant was the directorial debut of Brad Bird, who went on to spearhead The Incredibles and Ratatouille at Pixar. Most recently, he’s been busy directing live action films such as Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. The Iron Giant tells the story of Hogarth Hughes, a young boy that stumbles upon an enormous mechanical being (voiced by Vin Diesel). Inevitably, the pair are forced to fend off government agents and the military. It won an array of awards and is up there with the best animated works by Disney and Studio Ghibli.
Source: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
If you think it’s too late to change careers, consider 86-year-old former senator and Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who recently became an app developer. Her educational company iCivics has launched a new version of Win the White House, a timely game that teaches kids how presidential campaigns work. Unlike the real-life Jerry Springer-like primary, the game teaches pupils how to run civilly on issues from gun control to alternative energy. “A quarter of students cannot demonstrate a proficient knowledge of how our government works,” Day O’Connor told the New York Times.
You first choose your party (Democrat or Republican), home state, appearance, gender and pet issues. Then, you participate in a series of primary debates via a series of quizzes to demonstrate the necessary proficiency. After showing you understand the core talking points, you can choose “maverick issues” like gun control that differ from the party line. Eventually, you’re chosen as the presidential candidate and can pick a slogan and running mate. (You also get cool campaign T-shirts, bumper stickers and more.)
Could you please challenge the presidential candidates to publicly play Win the White House? @SotomayorScotus @icivics @nytimes @WhiteHouse
— Becky Ohlin (@BraeOhlin) March 27, 2016
iCivics offers 19 apps in total on topics ranging from international affairs to the US judicial branch. Day O’Connor is not the first former politician to develop games, as Donald Rumsfield recently launched a military strategy app. Over 250,000 students have already played Win the White House, which comes with lesson plans and other tools for teachers. Assistant Principal Anna Nelson told the NYT that the game “taught [students] so many things in one short simulation,” leading to increased interest and class discussions about politics. The only problem may be a lack of realism, as candidates remain polite throughout gameplay. As one Twitter pundit put it, the current US primary contenders need to learn that lesson more than the students do.
Source: iCivics, The New York Times
SoundCloud first tipped its hand for a music streaming service in late 2014, and after wrapping up a series of licensing deals with labels, it’s finally here. The subscription plan, called SoundCloud Go, cost $10 a month, and includes a library of additional content in addition to the usual remixes, emerging artists and podcasts. SoundCloud’s variety of music and its community of creators could make Go an attractive option for listeners willing to pay for a monthly subscription. Right now, though, it’s difficult to use and lacks many songs that other services offer.
To start the 30-day free trial of SoundCloud Go, just fire up the regular SoundCloud app on iOS, Android or in your browser. If you’re an iPhone owner, you’ll want to enter your payment info on the website to avoid paying an extra $3 for Apple’s transaction fee on in-app purchases. Once you’ve handed over all of your details, you’re good to go. Start searching for an artist or song that you want to listen to, just like on any other service. From there, unfortunately, is where SoundCloud Go’s flaws start to surface.
When I searched for the band Thrice, for example, SoundCloud only offered up 37 tracks. Hop over to Spotify and there’s a dozen albums to choose from and various singles. What’s more, of those 37 songs, five are the kind of one-offs SoundCloud is known for while the rest come from two albums and an EP. Since this particular band has 12 albums to their name, this means Go has about a quarter of their catalog. That doesn’t bode well if SoundCloud hopes to lure customers from another service.
Since Thrice is only moderately popular, I tried some bigger names to see if they were available. I only found more disappointment. A search for Lady Gaga turned up a single song snippet that Interscope Records posted to its account some time ago. Names like Katy Perry, Rihanna and Jack White are either completely absent, or the artist page only lists a handful of remixes. You can’t listen to album tracks from any of those well-known artists. SoundCloud says its library includes 125 million songs, but as The Verge notes, around 110 million of those were the kind of remixes and other user-uploaded tracks that were already there. This would leave SoundCloud Go with 15 million tracks, or about half of what Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and others offer.
Let’s talk about how you use SoundCloud Go. The streaming service was added on top of SoundCloud’s existing mobile apps and website, so the interface is the same. The difference is, when you search for an artist or song title, the results now include songs from the paid subscription mixed in with any free tracks. Unless you have some knowledge of the musician, then, there’s not really any way to tell which songs are which. My biggest gripe with SoundCloud Go is how it still relies on a single-track approach to listening. Songs aren’t organized into albums, and if you want to listen to a full-length track without having to manually play each song, you’ll have to make your own playlist track by track.
The single-track format works great for SoundCloud’s library of remixes and unique content, as those songs are usually posted one at a time. It becomes a chore to use when you try to employ Go like any other streaming service. I skip around genres so much during a typical work day that I’d have to spend hours making playlists to cover my go-to favorites. And that’s if I could find them all.
Similar to Spotify and others, SoundCloud does have a stations feature to help you find new music. You can start with any track and the service will create a mix based on your selection. When I started a “track station” based on The White Stripes’ “Blue Orchid,” the second song that popped up was Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper.” A good song, no doubt, but it wasn’t listed under the artist as a SoundCloud user had posted the song. The same was true for the third and fourth songs in the collection. It took until the fifth song to get one that was seemingly posted properly, and it was listed under a label, not the artist.
SoundCloud is touting its massive library of remixes and user-submitted content alongside more common streaming options as what makes Go unique. While that could certainly be an attractive lineup of content, it’s difficult to use right now and lacks the selection the competition serves up. Being able to view an artist’s music by album would help, as would the ability to easily make entire albums playlists rather than having to add each song individually. With some work, SoundCloud Go could indeed be a solid streaming option, but for now, it’s a pain to use when you want to listen to more than just one song.
It feels like Sony announces a new camera every other day. Following the HX-80 point-and-shoot from earlier this month, the company is now introducing the RX10 III, its latest superzoom camera. For starters, Sony’s new Cyber-shot features a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-600mm (f/2.4-4) fixed lens, an improvement over the 24-200mm found on the RX10 II. That long glass is coupled with a 20.1-megapixel, 1-inch type stacked sensor, an ISO range of 64-12,800 and a Bionz X processor, the same chip that’s on other mirrorless models like the A6300.
Sony, of course, wants you to focus on that high-zoom lens, which sports built-in optical image stabilization and an aperture system designed to push out “a near perfect circle” in the f2.4-11 range. In theory, it should capture some pretty impressive pictures. The RX10 III also shoots 4K (3,840 x 2,160) as well as slow-motion videos at 240, 480 and 960fps, while the 14-fps burst mode should be good enough for most people.
If you’re in the US or Canada, you can get it in May for $1,500 and $2,000, respectively. As for those of you in the UK, the RX10 III arrives in April priced at £1,250.