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Comcast teams with Hollywood to make movies ‘more immersive’

Who doesn’t love having movies explained to them in real time? Comcast announced on Friday that is is collaborating with a number of major Hollywood studios including Paramount, Universal, Lionsgate and Sony to create a new way to watch movies at home. The company’s forthcoming “Enhanced Extras” feature will enable viewers to “explore, connect and engage with a wide variety of online content” — while the film is playing.

The Enhanced Extras feature will be available for Comcast X1 customers. The company is launching a 10-day free trial that runs December 16th through 25th for digitally purchased films including Secret Life of Pets, Jason Bourne, Mockingjay Part 2, Star Trek Beyond, Hotel Transylvania 2, Underworld, Nerve and Warcraft. Comcast plans to expand it to more titles and studios throughout 2017.

The added content will include “games, maps, 360-degree maps and set tours” as well as photo galleries and video clips that will automatically update throughout the film. That way, rather than simply sit still for two hours and watch the film like you’re supposed to, you’ll be able to pause it every couple of minutes and dig through all these extraneous distractions instead. It’ll be like watching Resevoir Dogs with the director’s commentary turn on except that Quentin Tarantino is in charge of the remote and desperately needs to show you this one cool video on his phone real quick.

Source: Comcast


Niantic Says Pokémon GO for Apple Watch is ‘Coming Soon’ Following Cancellation Hoax

Over the weekend, a Reddit user shared an image of a fake email which appeared to claim Pokémon GO for Apple Watch had been abandoned. A subsequent report, citing “a source with knowledge of the plans,” said development of the companion Apple Watch app had indeed been shelved.

Pokémon GO developer Niantic confirmed the image in the Reddit post “is not real” in a statement sent to TechCrunch and Recode, and debunked the subsequent report in the process by noting development of the companion Apple Watch app continues, as it has since before the app was announced in September.

Pokémon GO also confirmed on Twitter that the Apple Watch app is “coming soon.”

Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is coming soon. Stay tuned.

— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 17, 2016

Rene Ritchie at iMore, citing “a couple sources,” believes Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is “still on track for a 2016 launch.”

#pokemongo for Apple Watch is still on track for release. Looking forward to it! (Checked with a couple sources. They’re all excited.)

— Rene Ritchie 🖇 (@reneritchie) December 17, 2016

Ritchie believes Apple and Niantic are likely taking the time to ensure Pokémon GO’s integration with the Apple Watch is done right.

So where is it? There’s a certain amount of complexity involved in making Pokémon Go for Apple Watch. It ties into both the Apple Watch Workout system, which means you’ll get credit towards your activity goals while out catching Pokémon, and HealthKit, which syncs all the information. The latter especially has some of the most involved privacy systems Apple has ever deployed, and my guess is Niantic and Apple are taking the time to make sure all that integration is done right.

Pokémon GO for Apple Watch was unveiled at an Apple media event in September. Skip to the 25:20 mark in the video below.

The app will provide Pokémon GO players with at-a-glance information, such as how far they need to walk to hatch a particular egg. The main screen shows the player’s current level and XP remaining to get to the next. Pokémon GO walks are recorded in Workouts, helping players achieve their Activity goals.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Pokémon GO
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Google Maps tells you if locations are wheelchair accessible

It’s tough using internet maps when you have a wheelchair. If you don’t use a third-party site like Wheelmap, you may have to scrutinize Street View looking for ramps and other signs that you can get in. However, you won’t have to worry about freedom of movement so much from now on. Thanks to spare time work from Google Drive product manager Rio Akasaka, Google Maps now mentions wheelchair accessibility when it’s available. Local Guides (that is, users who answer questions about places they visit) have provided enough answers about access that Google will now display it as an amenity on a location page.

The listings are only available in the US right now, and you can expect to see gaps in coverage given that it’s based on user input. Still, it could make the difference between visiting that hot new restaurant and having to consider something else for dinner. Akasaka also notes that this could help anyone who might have an extra challenge getting up stairs, such as families with prams. Even if you don’t have a specific need for these accessibility notices, then, you might well benefit from them.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Business Insider


Facebook test lets you hide upsetting ads

Targeted ads can be annoying, but they’re much worse when they’re insensitive to tragedies in your life. If you lose a child, seeing ads for children’s products is understandably traumatic. Facebook wants to change this. It’s testing a feature that lets you hide potentially upsetting ads. The option is currently restricted to blocking ads for alcohol and parenting products, but the social network tells Ad Age that it may add other topics if users report concerns.

It’s part of a larger change to ad preferences that should make them easier to use than before. They’re both more visual and remain consistent whether you view them from your settings or the ad itself.

This is just a test, and a broader rollout will likely depend on its success. Even so, it’s a big shift for Facebook. The company has been willing to let you skew the type of ads you see, but it hasn’t given you the option of completely wiping out certain ads. It’s an admission that short-term ad money isn’t everything — there’s not much point to showing you an ad if it’s so insensitive that it leads you to quit Facebook.

Source: Ad Age


‘Vanity Fair’ editor sues Twitter troll for giving him a seizure

Who knew trolls can use social media not just to dish out death threats but to cause someone actual physical harm? A Twitter user who went by the name @jew_goldstein very recently tweeted a GIF with rapidly flashing graphics at Vanity Fair and Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, a known epileptic and Donald Trump critic. Shortly after that, Eichenwald’s wife replied that the auto-playing animation gave Eichenwald a seizure and that she called the police to report the assault along with the info they have on the user.

@jew_goldstein’s account has since been suspended, but you can see a screenshot of the message below, courtesy of Mediaite.

@jew_goldstein This is his wife, you caused a seizure. I have your information and have called the police to report the assault.

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

The weaponized tweet went out a day after Eichenwald had a face off with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on TV. In fact, this is the second time someone tweeted him a seizure-inducing animation this year. Back in October, Eichenwald wrote in Newsweek that someone pinged him with a video of “flashing circles and images of Pepe flying toward the screen” after he wrote about how the President-Elect’s businesses could undermine national security. He was able to drop his iPad before the animation triggered a seizure that time, though — he wasn’t so lucky this time.

In a series of tweets he sent out after the event, the editor announced that he’s taking a Twitter break to pursue a case against @jew_goldstein.

Last night, for the second time, a deplorable aware I have epilepsy tweeted a strobe at me with the message “you deserve a seizure’ on it…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…it worked. This is not going to happen again. My wife is terrified. I am…disgusted. All I will be tweeting for the next few days are…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…copies of documents from the litigation, police reports etc. Once we have the lawsuit filed, we will be subpoenaing Twitter for the…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…identity of the individual who engaged in this cross-state assault. At this point, the police are attempting to determine if this is…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…a federal crime because it appears to be cross state. This kind of assault will never happen again without huge consequences. This…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…individual will be going to court, and he will be paying a price. And if any of you others ever try this again, I will make sure it…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…happens to you. Online anonymity does not protect criminals. Thats why subpoenas exist. You are facing a criminal investigation and a…

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

…lawsuit. So if any of you others think about trying this “cute” prank, consider the consequences. They will be severe.

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016

Keith Lee, a lawyer based out of Birmingham, Alabama, posted an analysis of the situation on his blog. He examined whether what happened to Eichenwald could be legally classified as an assault and whether you can sue someone for a tweet. He concluded that “there is no reason to think that someone cannot be held liable for assault delivered electronically across great distances.” But since what he’s written is all speculative, we’ll just have to wait for Eichenwald’s updates on the litigation.

Via: The Verge

Source: Mediaite, Kurt Eichenwald (Twitter)


On Privacy — your data is priceless


We’re all data-millionaires and should start acting like one.

I like to talk a lot about security and privacy. It matters to me, and I place the same astronomical value on my personal data that Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook do. I think we all should feel the same way and be aware of how our data is used by the people who use it. And when those people blunder, because we all do from time to time, how they handle the issue(s) and what they do in the future is very important. This is why I’ll never use another Netgear router, or set up a Yahoo account.

Evernote had their own privacy mistake this week, and though the original idea of letting actual humans read your private data in any capacity was downright stupid, they decided to change course and do the right thing. I’m not a user of their services (I like simple notes and reminders versus the do-everything that is Evernote) but I would use them if I had a need because they handled things transparently. That’s also part of the reason I, and many others, use Google services.

Your data is part of the reason companies like Google or Microsoft are so successful and have billions of dollars.

Google harvests a scary amount of my (and your) personal data. They know where I am, they know what I buy, they know what bank I use and which airline I prefer. They know about my family — which schools the kids attend or where my spouse is employed. The know everything. And they aren’t alone. Look at the phone and/or computer you use, and see what things that connect to the internet are installed on it. If any of those companies are big enough and rich enough, they are taking the same types of data in one way or another. The amount of personal data and the kind of data Google takes — and Apple, and Microsoft and Facebook, and Amazon, and you get the picture here — makes how they handle it and the way they let you know the most important thing about them.


Everything is based on a barter system. I trade my data for a service or product. I look at what data a company wants, how they collect it and what they will do with it once they have it. Then I look at what they are offering. This way, I can decide if the trade is worth it to me. Being able to say “OK Google what’s my day like?” and getting a ton of pertinent information from my phone or a Google Home is worth letting a machine look at every word and number that I ever typed online, because I have a very clear and concise document that explains exactly how it’s collected, stored, and used. I trust that my data will be kept safe, and if something ever did happen things would be handled in a way I can approve of.

Make sure the things you get in return are as valuable as the data you pay for them with.

I trust Apple and Microsoft the same way. I do wish some of their privacy policies were a bit clearer and less vague, but they do a good job covering the things I’m looking for in general. But I don’t use Cortana or One Note, or Siri because that extra bit of my data they need is worth more to me than the duplication of services I get from Google Now and Assistant. Sorry, Microsoft and Apple, you don’t get to read my keystrokes and listen to my voice. But only because I don’t need what you’re offering. Millions of others do, and I’m glad you take care of their private information. On the flipside, I’ll never trust Facebook and think the rest of the world should feel the same way — they like to play fast and loose with their privacy policies and surely the things they have been caught doing are just the tip of an iceberg of bad practices. The sooner they go away the better the internet will be because of it.

You might feel differently about your private information and the companies that harvest it. I can’t say I blame you if you follow a tin-foil hat and scorched earth policy when it comes to being online because that’s the only way to stop the internet giants from taking what they want from you. I will say that folks who feel they have nothing to hide and don’t care about any of this need to rethink their position. I don’t have anything to hide either, but I don’t want someone from an internet services company to come into my house and rifle through my underwear drawer unless they have something to give me in return.

Google is worth billions of dollars, and the bulk of what made them all that money is our user data. We all need to realize how valuable our information is and make a conscious effort to spend it wisely.


How I learned to love Electric Objects’ digital art display

“The last thing I need is another screen in my apartment.” That was my first thought when I heard about Electric Objects, a company that makes digital art displays. Between my 55-inch OLED TV, 34-inch ultra-widescreen PC monitor, MacBook Air, multiple tablets and iPhone 6S, what use would I have for more screens? But after spending some time with the $299 EO2, the company’s latest product, and its accompanying $10-a-month “Art Club” subscription, it wasn’t long before I saw the appeal of a cloud-connected display on my wall.

You could call me an aspirational art owner. I’d love to fill my apartment’s walls with unique pieces, but the process of finding and framing things is just too tedious. (Heck, I have a closet full of posters that still need to be properly mounted and framed.) The EO2 promised to bring a bit of culture to my home without much fuss. How could I say no to that?

The EO2 is basically just a 23-inch 1080p display with an internet connection. Its screen has a matte finish, which helps it avoid reflecting light sources and keeps it from looking like a glossy TV screen hanging on your wall. While its aluminum black case looks pretty basic, you can also snap on a $99 hardwood frame (available in maple, walnut, white wood and black wood) to make it match your decor.

You have a variety of options for setting it up: Simply lean it against something (there are two rubber feet in the box to prevent it from slipping) or hang it up on your wall with the included wall mount. Since my wife and I live in a Brooklyn apartment and want to preserve our walls, we chose to hang it with a single nail, like a typical picture frame, instead of using the two nails required for Electric Objects’ mount. The power cord that juts out of the bottom of the EO2 wasn’t much of a problem for us, but there are plenty of cable-hiding products on the market if that’s the sort of thing that bugs you.

Once the display is mounted, you just need to download the company’s app and step through the setup process to get it online. I initially ran into some trouble getting it connected, but that turned out to be a separate issue with my T-Mobile-issued ASUS router — I’ve moved over to a Netgear Nitehawk and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

Next, it was time to get my art on. From the EO app, you can sift through the free content available from the Electric Objects community. There’s some good stuff there, but if you really want to get fancy, you can shell out for the $10 monthly “Art Club” subscription, which gives you full access to a plethora of classic and modern pieces from museums and well-known artists. Pushing a static image to the EO2 takes anywhere from two to five seconds on my 802.11AC 5GHz wireless network, while video pieces could take several minutes, depending on the size of the piece.

It wasn’t long before my wife and I really got into the EO2. We built a cat-themed playlist as a quick mood booster, and the new “Space is the Place” gallery, featuring work by the digital artist Adam Ferriss, ended up being a meditative way to evoke the immensity of the cosmos. The possibilities feel endless. Want to show off fine pieces of art? Go ahead! Want a playlist full of memes and pop culture references? You’re covered there too. You can even throw in your own photos and movie clips, which is perfect for when family comes over.

Just about everything I threw on the EO2 looked good, no matter if they relied on big, bold colors or fine lines and detail. Of course, it’s not something you’ll be staring at for hours on end like a TV or computer monitor; it just needs to make a good impression whenever you glance at it. Given the EO2’s price, I wasn’t expecting a world-class display, so I was surprised there wasn’t even much to complain about. Settings-wise, there’s not much to tweak. You can choose various levels of “auto brightness” support, which changes the screen’s brightness throughout the day, as well as set up a sleep timer. There aren’t any intricate image settings to deal with. (Colors looked decently calibrated to my untrained eyes.)

The EO2 isn’t exactly a revolutionary product. It didn’t completely change my life like my first smartphone, but it’s a nice way to quickly change up the mood in your home. After setting up several Philips Hue lightbulbs in my living room, I was surprised by how much slight lighting changes could influence the way I felt. Sending art to the EO2 had a similar effect; it’s hard not to feel contemplative when you run into a classic painting in your living room.

It’s also hard to compare the display to an actual framed print. There’s something about a physical piece of art, even if it’s a cheap reprint, that feels different than something projected on a screen. Choosing to frame a work of art and mount it on your wall has a feeling of permanence and commitment that a mere connected display, which can be changed in seconds, can’t replicate.

The key to appreciating the EO2? Don’t expect it to replace your framed art. Instead, think of it as a quick way to aesthetically remix a space. It’s also expensive at $299, and to truly enjoy it you have to subscribe to a service that costs as much as a Netflix subscription. If both of those prices end up dropping (hardware typically does, after all), Electric Objects might actually succeed at bringing fine art to the masses.


Google’s search-savvy keyboard comes to Android

Ever since Google introduced its Gboard keyboard on iOS, there’s been one main question: when is it coming to Android? You can relax. The company has released Gboard for its own phone platform, replacing the previous (and relatively plain) Google Keyboard app. As with iOS, the interface revolves around a search feature that not only digs up common search results (including location and weather), but also emoji and those seemingly inescapable animated GIFs. Gboard will also autocorrect in any enabled language, so you don’t have to worry about making typos if you switch between languages on a frequent basis.

Gboard is available now, and works with over 100 languages. Don’t expect to drop GIFs into conversations regardless of the app, though. GIF sharing only works for Android users in Allo, Hangouts and Messenger right now, and sharing in other apps depends on developers integrating image keyboard support.

Source: Google Play, Google Blog

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