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5
May

Amazon and Apple finally playing nicely, Amazon Video coming to Apple TV


If reports are to be believed, tech heavyweights Amazon and Apple may have finally settled some differences, as Amazon’s Video app is believed to be made available on Apple TV in the summer. The news from Recode, which cites “people familiar with the two companies” as providing the leak.

Amazon Video is the last major video app missing from Apple TV, not including All 4 and ITV Hub, and its addition would make the Apple TV a more attractive option as a set-top box. Netflix, Now TV and BBC iPlayer are all already available to use with the box.

It’s not been impossible to watch Amazon Video through an Apple TV up until now, as you can use Apple AirPlay to mirror your MacBook or iPhone’s screen, but having a dedicated app will be much better for everyone involved.

It’s not clear if Apple and Amazon will come to agreements in other areas, such as the Apple TV being available to buy through Amazon’s online store. You can’t currently buy it as it’s a direct rival to Amazon’s own Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick. Similarly, you can’t buy a Google Chromecast for the same reasons, although you can get the Roku players.

If an Amazon app does come to Apple TV, you still won’t be able to watch any content in 4K or HDR, as the Apple TV can’t support it. However previous rumours have suggested that may soon change. 

Neither Apple nor Amazon have officially commented on the matter, so we can’t say for sure if this will actually happen. But if it does, the app should appear on Apple TV later in the summer.

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5
May

Facebook topics could be the antidote to news echo chambers


Facebook, like Twitter, can often serve as a personal echo chamber. Users add people they have things in common with, while following and Liking pages that they perceive to be trustworthy. As the debate around fake news continues, the social media giant is testing a new way of surfacing information that a user may otherwise not see. It’s called “Topics to Follow” and it works by delivering content from a number of publishers based around a specific theme, rather than a specific outlet.

TechCrunch reports that it takes the form of a new box that sits in the News Feed that lets users swipe between various topics, including Theater, Horror Movies or Photography. Each theme has its own landing page, which details how many sources contribute to each topic and offers an option to connect with them all with a press of a button. Once followed, new posts from those sources will then appear in the main feed.

“We’re testing ways for people to subscribe directly to topics in News Feed so they can see more stories about topics they like,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “In addition to following specific Pages, this is a new way to follow the general topics you’re interested in.”

Right now, topics are very light and general in nature, but if the tool proves to be popular, Facebook may decide to expand its reach into more divisive topics like politics. Because each theme pulls from a number of varying sources, followers may be more inclined to read alternative views and question the reporting of their more trusted sources.

Facebook’s influence over news cannot be underestimated. In the UK, Conservative MP and the chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee Damian Collins has warned that misleading information on social media could threaten democracy in Britain. “The risk is what happened in America,” he said. “The top 20 fake news stories in the last three months of the election were shared more than the top 20 most shared stories that were true.”

Source: TechCrunch

5
May

Most American households have abandoned their landlines


A US Health Department study has confirmed that most US citizens have completely stopped using landline phones — shocking no-one. In a report released today, the government revealed that 50.8 percent of American households are now cellphone-only, with just 39.4 percent using both a mobile and a landline. That leaves a measly 6.5 percent of US homes that just use a landline, with the remaining 3.2 percent not owning a phone of any kind. The declining interest in landlines likely has one major culprit: the smartphone.

When the same study was conducted ten years ago, just 15 percent of American households were wireless only. Given the meteoric rise of cellphones, the results of the latest report are hardly surprising. With people increasingly relying on smartphones for access to work emails, GPS and the utterly essential Tinder, that tethered, internet-free landline starts to look a little redundant in 2017.

The government’s survey reflected this, with over 70 percent of 25-34-year-olds reportedly only owning a cellphone. Strangely, adults living with children were more likely to be wireless-only than a household of just related adults. With at least one parent usually having to work, families with kids most likely rely heavily on cellphones to keep in touch on the go. Remember: there’s Facetime now.

As you’d expect with any consumer electronics study, income also plays a fairly large part here. Interestingly, adults who were close to or below the poverty were far more likely to be wireless-only than those who were well off. Although honestly, the landline probably isn’t the sexy status symbol that young people are striving towards.

Via: The Verge

Source: CDC

5
May

The best true wireless headphones so far


By Lauren Dragan

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

We tested 11 of the most promising true wireless in-ear headphones (as in, no wires connecting the earpieces like traditional Bluetooth earbuds). All of them, we found, have some flaws in fit, functionality, or convenience. Because this is the first generation of the technology, manufacturers are still working out the kinks. As a result, we can’t make an overall pick that we think would work for most people.

What we can tell you is which sets are the better options right now, and what they offer in terms of pros and cons. Depending on how you plan to use your headphones, we have picks for iPhone/iOS users, budget-oriented folks, those who prioritize sound, fitness buffs, and Samsung users. This way, you can decide for yourself which, if any, will fit best into your lifestyle or be worth your money.

What are “true wireless” headphones, and who are they for?

In case you’re unfamiliar with the technology, “true wireless” headphones are in-ear Bluetooth headphones that don’t have a cord connecting them either to your music device or to each other. Many look a little like hearing aids, held in place similarly to earplugs. Mics and any controls are built in, because no cable is available to support a traditional in-line remote. Due to diminutive size, most don’t have more than a five-hour battery life. However, most can recharge in their carrying case, generally taking around 20 minutes to charge for an hour of listening.

Right now, we recommend true wireless headphones only for early adopters. Though one model offers speech enhancement, and a few that auto-pause when removed from your ear, as of now, other than the lack of a cable running behind your head, true wireless headphones provide no real advantages over standard in-ear Bluetooth headphones. Most cost at least $100 more than traditional Bluetooth headphones but don’t upgrade the sound, battery life, or available features.

But if you really hate that cord, or if you just want to be the first to try something new, true wireless headphones are sure to be the future—eventually. It just might take a little while before they develop into something most people will be happy using.

Best for iOS and phone calls

In our testing, the Apple AirPods’s better connectivity and extra sensors made them the best for phone calls. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Pros:

  • Of all the headphones we tested for this guide, the AirPods are by far the easiest to set up and use with Apple products. (They will pair with non-Apple devices, too, just not as seamlessly.)
  • Apple’s proprietary W1 chip does seem to give the AirPods better connectivity. The AirPods use a combination of microphones and jaw movement to detect when you are speaking, so phone calls sound great to the person on the other end.
  • The fit is pretty comfortable—AirPods feel just like corded EarPods.
  • The latency delay when watching video is nearly nonexistent.

Cons:

  • Like corded EarPods, AirPods are unsealed and lack any low bass. At more than $150, we’d like better sound.
  • Only one control can be assigned to AirPods: either play/pause or triggering Siri (you have to choose just one). Everything else (e.g., volume, track skipping) must be done via your phone, Apple Watch, or voice commands. “Hey Siri” does work, but can feel awkward in public.
  • Though Apple claims that AirPods are designed to take the same stress as EarPods, neither is rated for sweat or water resistance, so we wouldn’t use these headphones for serious exercise. If they break because of sweat exposure, you might void the warranty.
  • Because AirPods are not noise-isolating, you will need to listen at a higher volume in busy environments, and that can be bad for your hearing health.

Best for the money

Bragi’s The Headphone offers easy-to-use physical buttons, but pressing them can be uncomfortable in your ear. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Pros:

  • Bragi’s The Headphone have easy-to-use controls let you adjust volume, change tracks, and issue voice commands.
  • Only a very slight delay when watching video.
  • One of the more affordable true wireless headphones available.
  • Sweatproof design.
  • Awareness mode lets you hear your surroundings without removing the earbuds.

Cons:

  • The sound quality is similar to that of $50 corded in-ears, but with diminished low frequencies.
  • The physical buttons are tough to push, so you end up jamming the earbud into your ear every time you need to toggle something, which gets uncomfortable.
  • The tips go deeper into the ear canal than those of most earbuds, which can be a dealbreaker for people who find that sort of fit uncomfortable.

Best sound

The Erato Apollo 7 earbuds are comfortable and offer great sound, but in our tests the sound had a noticeable delay when we watched videos. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Pros:

  • The Erato Apollo 7 earbuds have great sound quality—balanced and clear, with a nice low end. Overall they sound like a good $100 pair of corded in-ear headphones.
  • The simple button controls allow for track changes, volume adjustments, and voice commands.
  • In our testing, these headphones tied with the Apple AirPods for the longest range.
  • The traditional fit will be comfortable for the most ear shapes.
  • Sweatproof design, with an IPX5 rating.

Cons:

  • The Apollo 7 is the most expensive of the headphones in this category.
  • They produce a nearly half-second latency delay when watching video.
  • We didn’t love the microphone. Callers may think you sound distant.

Best for Android (but really just Samsung devices)

The Samsung Gear IconX headphones are comfortable, but the touch controls are wonky. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Pros:

  • The Samsung Gear IconX offer decent sound, probably on a par with that of $70 corded in-ear headphones, although treble spikes give consonants and strings an icy edge.
  • The fit is mostly comfortable and secure for most ear types.
  • Touch-sensitive volume, track, and voice-command controls mean you don’t have to press the earbud uncomfortably into your ear to use controls.
  • You can upload music to the IconX headphones themselves, so you can listen without bringing along your music player or phone.
  • Sweat-resistant design.

Cons:

  • The touch controls are easy to bump and activate accidentally when adjusting the IconX earbuds in your ears.
  • When connecting to a device, you can accidentally trigger the songs uploaded to the earbuds themselves, which can get really annoying.
  • All of the fitness features work only on Samsung devices.
  • In our testing, the heart-rate monitors were hit-or-miss in accuracy.
  • The range is very short; we could get only one room away from our source device before signal drop began to occur.
  • You can’t power these headphones off without putting them in their case.
  • The fit can get fatiguing after a few hours.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

5
May

Twitch is launching a new live show about sneaker culture


Now that Twitch is helping its community of streamers grow into professional broadcasters and expanding into original content, the popular social video platform is also ready to move beyond the gaming world and flip the switch on some new, regularly scheduled programming. On May 11th, Twitch will premiere a weekly, live and interactive show called FreshStock, celebrating everything there is to love about sneakers and sneaker culture.

Introducing #Freshstock, a new Twitch show celebrating sneaker culture. 👟🙏

Premieres May 11th at 11am PT on https://t.co/xoTh1bG5Yr pic.twitter.com/5xcn14nZ05

— Twitch (@Twitch) April 28, 2017

According to Twitch, the show will feature staffers and “resident sneaker freaks” Bash “Bashlol” Mussa and Ray “Hypebeast” Li alongside weekly special guests showing off the latest sneaker releases and their own personal style. Each episode will follow Bash, Ray and their guests as they check out San Francisco’s local sneaker boutiques, discuss their favorites and dive into brand histories along the way. Rounding out the episodes will be live DJ performances, special guest appearances from “fashion icons” and interactive segments where viewers at home can comment, vote and generally show some hype in the chat.

FreshStock kicks off Thursday, May 11th at 11 AM PT with special guest Zhieeep.

Source: Twitch

5
May

Microsoft is hosting a Surface event in Shanghai on May 23rd


The Surface Laptop isn’t the only new piece of hardware Microsoft has coming up. The company sent out invites last night for an event in Shanghai on May 23rd, where it will “show the world what’s next.” That’s pretty cryptic, but a tweet from Microsoft’s Surface head, Panos Panay, might have spoiled the surprise a bit.

See you in Shanghai. May 23. #MicrosoftEvent #Surface https://t.co/aMgvkkqE52 pic.twitter.com/vzcK9MqIpf

— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) May 5, 2017

Our guess? We might finally see a follow-up to the Surface Pro 4, a machine that we love, but is currently stuck with 2015-era hardware. The Surface Pro 5, as we’ve been referring to it so far, should update the internals to Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs, but we’re not expecting much of a design change, according Paul Thurrott.

Source: Microsoft, Panos Panay (Twitter)

5
May

Google Photo’s Mother’s Day video tool is no substitute for a card


Google often likes to dip its toes into holidays and notable days to remind everyone what its apps can do (and could you use them, please?), and it’s recently added a special Mother’s Day assistant to its Photos app. Given that Google selects the photos and cuts it all together, it’s possibly the lowest-effort Mother’s Day ‘gift’ if you’ve totally forgotten and / or have no intention of buying a genuine card or seeing mom in person next weekend. (But seriously, you have a week and two days left to sort something, pull it together.)

Naturally, you’ll need to have taken photos of your mom to start with, and uploaded them to your Google Photos account. If you have the app installed on iOS, — it’s already there on most Android Phones — you can choose to sync photos every photo you take, which helps with facial identification needed for this maternal highlight reel. The notable part, this time, is that you can select not only your mother’s face, but also multiple kids, meaning I could get Google to shoehorn photos of my sister and brother alongside your madre, although that has its own drawbacks…

A few minutes later, an automated movie will appear in the app’s Assistant tab, complete with heartstring-tugging soundtrack. The irony with such a lazy tool is that you need plenty of uploaded photos to fill in a 45-second highlight reel. This included combinations of me, my brother, my sister and my mom, as well as several enforced sibling-mother family photos. Unfortunately, as my sister and I like to take drunk selfies when we hangout (siblings!), there was an awful lot of those too, with no mother in sight.

Also, unlike the manual highlight videos you can make inside Google Photos (or Facebook’s friendship anniversary clips), you’re stuck with what Google picks, meaning there’s a few blurry shots and HDR iterations of the same photo, twice, in my Mothers’ Day tribute. If you’re often taking photos with your mom, this will result in better Mother’s Day clips, but it’s still no substitute for putting a little more effort in.

(Update: That said, I sent my automated video to my Mom, who immediately texted me to say she had tears in her eyes. Aww.)

5
May

India is cracking down on dissidence posted to WhatsApp


India’s hardline stance against spreading misinformation on social media is getting real. An administrator of a WhatsApp group has been arrested following accusations that he altered a photo of prime minister Narendra Modi “to look ugly and obscene,” according to regional publication News18. It follows a recent ruling passed by Indian officials that posting materials that are fake, rumors or that could cause “religious disharmony” to social media is illegal — something similar to what Malaysia has passed.

In the case of WhatsApp, Times of India reports that group administrators are directed to remove members from a group chat if they’re breaking the law. If that doesn’t happen, the admin shoulders the responsibility and is considered guilty by proxy. More than that, group chats are supposed to only include people that the admin knows personally.

This most recent arrest (there has been at least one prior; immediately after the law was passed), admin Krishna Sannathamma Naik was detained after another group member, Anand Manjunath Naik, reported Krishna and two other members of the group to the police. Ganesh Naik has been arrested and is out on bail, and Balakrishna Naik is on the lam. It isn’t clear if the members are related, but man, if they are, ratting out your family over something like this is kind of cold.

India’s apparent justification for the law is that since WhatsApp is incredibly popular in the country — it has over 200 million users, according to News18 — the chances of fake news spreading virally on the platform are high. While that’s noble, this could be seen as censorship and the state impeding free speech.

Via: CNET

Source: News18

5
May

Apple’s Stock Has Already Bounced Back After Earnings Results Slightly Missed Expectations


Apple’s stock has recovered from early week losses incurred after the company’s earnings results fell slightly below Wall Street expectations.

Apple shares are currently trading for roughly $148, slightly above Tuesday’s closing price of $147.51, set just before the company’s earnings report. The stock had dropped to as low as $144.27 on Wednesday, but Apple has bounced back since alongside an overall rise in the S&P 500 index today.

Wall Street remains bullish on Apple heading into the second half of the year, as most analysts think the so-called “iPhone 8” with an OLED display and wireless charging will be a hit among customers. There’s also a larger than usual “supercycle” of customers with older iPhone models due to upgrade.

MacRumors obtained research notes from 19 analysts tracking Apple, and 15 of them continue to rate the company’s stock as a “buy” or equivalent following the company’s second quarter earnings results. All but three analysts believe that Apple’s stock price could rise to between $150 and $185.


Apple’s stock has been steadily climbing in value since dropping to a 52-week low of $89.47 in 2016, when the iPhone maker reported its first decline in annual revenue since 2001, and its first drop in iPhone sales ever.

AAPL touched $148.20 in intraday trading this morning, a new all-time high. The stock is on pace to top Tuesday’s record close of $147.51.

Tag: AAPL
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5
May

Apple Music May Become Exclusive Home to Prince’s Unreleased 1983 ‘Purple Rain’ Concert Film


An unreleased Prince concert film and a documentary about the making of the film could be heading exclusively to Apple Music, according to sources close to the Prince estate (via Billboard). The late singer’s estate is said to be shopping around the rights to the concert film and doc to a variety of streaming services, namely including Apple Music and Spotify.

The agreement for the two films is said to potentially be a “multi-million dollar deal” thanks to the rarity of the footage. The concert film covers Prince’s August 3, 1983 show in Minneapolis, at which time he debuted numerous songs for the first time from the soundtrack to Purple Rain, which released in theaters the year after in 1984. The footage is said to be exhaustive enough that the winning streaming service could use it to create and produce a documentary about the making of the concert film.

Image via Billboard
Helping to negotiate terms of the deal is Troy Carter, an executive from Spotify and advisor to the Prince estate, but the sources believe that Spotify “isn’t likely” to become the exclusive home of the Prince films.

The lucky streaming service isn’t likely to be Carter’s employer, though: the estate is talking to a range of Spotify’s rivals including Apple Music, sources say.

The storied show at Minneapolis’s First Avenue nightclub was a surprise gig billed as a benefit for the Minnesota Dance Theatre, with a set list that included “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain.”

Demand for Prince’s robust back catalogue of songs has increased following the artist’s death in April of 2016, and this past February his music became available to stream on Apple Music, as well as services like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Pandora. Prince’s music was previously exclusive to Tidal after he pulled all of his tracks from everything but the Jay Z-owned service in July of 2015.

If Apple acquired rights to Prince’s unreleased concert footage, the late artist’s films would be the newest in a line of exclusive music documentaries that Apple Music has acquired over the past few years. In the first year of Apple’s music streaming service, it launched Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour LIVE film, and last month announced that Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs’ documentary Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop will be hitting Apple Music this June.

Tags: Apple Music, Prince
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