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3
Apr

Offline Netflix belatedly hits Windows 10 PCs


Android and iOS users have been able to download content from Netflix since late last year, but the service’s Windows apps conspicuously lacked the feature. Well, that’s starting to change. Windows Central reports that the Netflix app for Windows 10 PCs now has the ability to download certain titles for offline watching — just hit up the Windows Store and get that update going.

As usual, the list of stuff you can save for your next flight skews pretty heavily toward Netflix’s own lineup, but that’s more broad than some would think. I, for instance, never expected to fall in love with the eminently addictive Terrace House. The assortment of non-Netflix originals is fairly healthy, too: there are plenty of BBC documentary series available (especially if you like animals), not to mention every episode of The Office and My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Given Windows’ global popularity, it’s not hard to look at today’s update as a push for greater relevance overseas. After all, desktops and laptops often can’t be found without stable internet connections nearby, and Netflix is itching to expand its reach to wherever it can find a screen and some extra bandwidth. Unfortunately, there’s no word on when the feature will go live for the Windows 10 Mobile and Xbox Netflix apps. Here’s hoping the mobile version is only taking a little longer because it’s getting a Continuum-friendly reboot — what’s the point in being able to hook up a Lumia 950 to a bigger screen if you can’t kick back and make fun of Iron Fist?

Via: The Verge

Source: Windows Central

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3
Apr

ESPN’s new Apple TV app behaves like your cable box


As great as the streaming TV era may be, it frequently lacks the immediacy of conventional broadcasts. You can’t always flip to your favorite network and start watching right away like you can with cable or satellite. ESPN, however, wants to recreate some of that experience. It just released a revamped Apple TV app whose centerpiece is automatic live streaming. If you’ve authenticated with a TV provider, the app will start playing a channel as soon as you hop in. This won’t help much if it’s playing the wrong channel, of course, but it could make the difference between catching a big play live and having to visit the on-demand video. Thankfully, that last part should also be easier.

The refreshed app now has a collection of curated on-demand video from both studio shows like 30 for 30 as well as sporting events like the X Games. Interface tweaks also help you browse clips by the channel or sport if you’re looking for something specific.

By itself, the upgrade isn’t likely to have you rushing to subscribe to conventional TV service if you’re a cord-cutter. However, ESPN is betting that internet-first content will give you a reason to check out the app when you’d otherwise reach for your regular TV remote. The app will give authenticated TV users partial access to the Chicago Bears-themed We the Fans miniseries on April 9th, two days before it its broadcast date. While ESPN may be hesitant to embrace the future and offer internet-only streaming, it at least acknowledges that you shouldn’t always have to wait for a broadcast.

Source: ESPN

3
Apr

With Amazon Cash, you can shop online without a bank card


Internet shopping is great, but most of it is off-limits if you don’t have a credit or debit card. Unless you thrive on gift cards, you’ll have to settle for whatever is in physical shops. Today, though, Amazon is removing that barrier. It’s launching an Amazon Cash service that lets you apply cash toward your online account. It’s a bit convoluted — you have to visit a participating store, show a barcode (either on your phone or on paper) and fork over your money. There are no fees, however, and you can contribute between $15 to $500 at a time.

You can find your barcode both on the web and through Amazon’s mobile apps, and there are shortcuts (such as a home screen icon or Apple’s Wallet app) if you use it often.

The cash option is only available in the US and is limited to a handful of retailers (CVS and Speedway are among the examples). It’s safe to say that Amazon’s most direct competitors (Best Buy, for example) aren’t about to cooperate. Still, it’s a big deal for both Amazon and shoppers. As TechCrunch points out, more than a quarter of American consumers rely primarily or exclusively on cash. This lets Amazon reach a wider audience, and gives these cardless customers a chance to buy products that are either hard to get offline or more affordable than they are at retail. In other words, they won’t be cut off from one of the internet’s bigger advantages.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Amazon

3
Apr

Amazon wants social media influencers to sell you products


Amazon’s always kicked a few cents the way of its unpaid salespeople if they convince family and friends to purchase something. Now, however, the company is making a big play for people and companies with large social media followings. The retailer has launched an “influencer program” that enables folks that are big on the internet to set up their own branded stores.

Let’s imagine that you’re a YouTube star, called Davina Internet, with a following in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. If Amazon accepted your invitation to join its program, you’d be able to set up a storefront at amazon.com/Shop/DavinaInternet. You’d then curate a list of products from Amazon’s site that you recommended on your channel or otherwise think would be neat for other people to buy.

Of course, this does mean that there’s yet another link between social media stars and the murky world of advertising. One of the way that many Instagrammers can make some serious bank is by recommending a product as if they used it. In fact, Kim Kardashian has had a few stern looks from the FTC and FDA for promoting products without disclosing that she was paid to do so.

Source: TechCrunch

3
Apr

Google gives devs a way to prove they can build fast mobile sites


Google hasn’t been shy about promoting its vision of faster mobile web browsing. The company’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is focused entirely on developing “light-weight” mobile sites that load more quickly on phones and tablets. Now, it’s giving developers a way to show off their efficient design skills with the Google Mobile Sites certification. After reading up on the company’s design guidelines and passing an exam, devs will snag a certification on their Google Partners profile.

“Through codifying best practice in mobile site development, we hope to improve the general standard of mobile design and speed, and make it easier to find the best talent,” wrote Chris Hohorst, Google’s head of mobile site transformation, in a blog post today.

Sure, it’s just a small certification, but it’ll make it easier for potential clients to find developers who can build them AMP-ready sites. While AMP has earned its fair share of criticism — to some, it seems like Google is trying to obfuscate where articles really come from with its own links — the company has been slowly addressing complaints. For example, it recently added the ability to share original URLs instead of needlessly hiding them.

3
Apr

Try ‘Dishonored 2’ for free on April 6th


It’s common to see big game studios offer free multiplayer weekends in a bid to reel you in, but you don’t see that quite so often for single-player titles. You either have to trust reviews or go in blind. Bethesda is offering an olive branch in the case of Dishonored 2, at least: the publisher is offering a free three-mission trial of the stealth action title on April 6th. PC, PS4 and Xbox One owners can all participate, and any progress you make as part of the trial will carry over to the full game if you decide to buy.

The concept isn’t that revolutionary, but this is a game that still tends to sell at or near full price. It’s a good way of deciding whether or not it’s worth handing over $60 for a title with no multiplayer option. And frankly, it might be — Dishonored 2 was one of the runner-ups in our best-of-2016 picks, and it picked up its fair share of awards elsewhere.

Source: Bethesda

3
Apr

‘Amazon Cash’ Lets Cardless Users Add Funds to Their Accounts With App-Based Cash Transfers


Amazon today announced a new way for its users to add funds to their Amazon accounts, called Amazon Cash. By visiting a participating retailer, Amazon users will be able to show a barcode to a cashier, choose an amount between $15 and $500, and pay the amount in cash to see it transferred digitally and able to be spent on Amazon.com.

As TechCrunch reported, Amazon Cash is aimed at “cash customers” who don’t shop online as consistently as everyone else, including people who are paid in cash, who don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards. The entire process doesn’t require any sort of fee to be paid by the user.

This “cash customer” (the unbanked or “underbanked”) accounts for around 27 percent of consumers, said a 2015 report from the FDIC.

While they may have money to spend online at times, there isn’t an easy way to do so. Until today, they would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card in a designated amount or add cash to prepaid payment cards, to be used at checkout.

More broadly, the service could appeal to anyone who just wants to deposit some cash in their Amazon.com account, without hassle.

These customers will be able to use the Amazon iOS and Android app to bring up their unique Amazon Cash barcode, which will be reused any time they want to add more money to their account. After telling the cashier how much they want added and scanning the barcode, the customer pays at the register with cash and the amount instantly appears in their Amazon account. Confirmation of the money’s arrival will be sent to users via email, text, or push notification.

Amazon Cash will even let users print out their unique barcode at home and bring it into the store in lieu of using a smartphone. Those who have a smartphone with a cracked screen are also recommended to print out the barcode instead of using their phone.

Participating U.S. stores at launch include: CVS Pharmacy, Speedway, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Sheetz, Family Fare Supermarkets, and VG’s Grocery, with more coming soon. The service is launching now across the U.S.

Tag: Amazon
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3
Apr

Next-Generation DDR5 RAM Will Double Speeds of DDR4 RAM as MacBook Pro Remains on DDR3


JEDEC, the organization that develops global standards for computer memory, has announced it will be previewing its next-generation DDR5 standard for RAM in June 2017. The standard is expected to be finalized by 2018, at which point chipmakers like Intel will be able to add support for the technology.

As noted by Ars Technica, DDR5 RAM will double the speed of current DDR4 RAM while offering greater power efficiency.

DDR5 memory will offer improved performance with greater power efficiency as compared to previous generation DRAM technologies. As planned, DDR5 will provide double the bandwidth and density over DDR4, along with delivering improved channel efficiency. These enhancements, combined with a more user-friendly interface for server and client platforms, will enable high performance and improved power management in a wide variety of applications.

It might be quite a while until DDR5 RAM goes mainstream, however, as the first computers with DDR4 RAM did not arrive until two years after that standard was finalized. Apple itself has yet to even adopt DDR4 RAM, with the entire current Mac lineup equipped with older DDR3 RAM.

MacBook: 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 RAM
MacBook Air: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM
MacBook Pro: 8/16GB of 1866/2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM
iMac: 8/16/32GB of 1867MHz LPDDR3 RAM
Mac mini: 4/8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM
Mac Pro: 12/16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro models in particular use enhanced, low-power LPDDR3E RAM, which maxes out at 16GB.

Apple said the 2016 MacBook Pro does not support DDR4 RAM because of battery life considerations. DDR4 memory’s low-power variant LPDDR4 is not supported by Intel’s Skylake processors powering the latest MacBook Pro models, and using regular DDR4 RAM would have reduced space for batteries.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller in November:

The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz. To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.

The often reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said Apple will release a 15-inch MacBook with 32GB of desktop-class RAM later this year, but it is unclear which Intel processor the notebook would use.

Intel’s next-generation Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake processors do not support LPDDR4 RAM beyond ultra-low-power chips, while Cannonlake processors expected by early 2018 are not designed for the MacBook Pro.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tag: RAM
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)
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3
Apr

Apple Places Order for 70 Million OLED iPhone Panels From Samsung


Production on the 2017 iPhone is moving along, with Apple recently having placed orders for 70 million OLED panels, reports Nikkei. Samsung, as we already know, will be Apple’s sole OLED supplier, and will provide Apple with the panels.

Demand for the 2017 iPhone, which is expected to feature a major design overhaul with an edge-to-edge display, glass body, and a premium price tag, is expected to be high as it typically is in a year when a new look is unveiled. Apple and Samsung are gearing up to meet demand with the large panel order.

“iPhone X” concept via Gabor Balogh
Nikkei’s info comes from a supply chain source and also matches with estimates provided by IHS Markit analyst David Hsieh.

“Apple has ordered 70 million units of OLED panels from Samsung this year, while Samsung is preparing to churn out as many as 95 million for Apple in 2017, in case demand exceeds expectations,” Hsieh said.

There have already been rumors suggesting the OLED iPhone will be in short supply when it launches in September, with the majority of the stock unavailable until later in the year, and Hsieh also believes that could be the case. “It is also possible that some of these 70 million handsets will not be shipped to customers this year and be carried over to next year depending on demand,” he said.

Nikkei’s industry source, in addition to covering panel orders, also shared some details on the upcoming device that echoes many rumors we’ve heard in the past.

The site believes we will see a premium OLED iPhone with a 5.2-inch screen and no home button, which will be sold alongside standard 4.7 and 5.5-inch devices with LCD screens and home buttons. All three iPhones will include wireless charging functionality (lately said to be inductive) and waterproofing, while at least one model, presumably the OLED iPhone, will include a 3D sensor that supports facial recognition.

Other features rumored for the iPhone 8 not mentioned in Nikkei’s report include camera improvements, a faster and more efficient A11 processor, Touch ID built into the display, True Tone ambient light adjustment, and perhaps augmented reality functionality enabled through the camera.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: nikkei.com
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3
Apr

Apple Releases iOS 10.3.1 With Bug Fixes


Just one week after releasing iOS 10.3, a major update that included Apple Filesystem and Find My AirPods, Apple has released iOS 10.3.1, which appears to be a minor update to address bugs and other issues that have popped up since the release of iOS 10.3.

iOS 10.3.1 is available as a free over-the-air update for all iOS 10 users, and it can also be downloaded via iTunes.

According to Apple’s release notes, iOS 10.3.1 includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad. The notes do not go into more detail about what bug fixes or security improvements might be bundled into this release, so we’ll update this post if and when we learn more about the content of the iOS 10.3.1 update.

Related Roundup: iOS 10
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