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27
Sep

Is Amazon Music Unlimited really a better deal than Spotify?


We’re a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. We understand that music is the soundtrack to our lives, and we want to make sure you get the best deal.

Spotify Premium

Awesome Algorithms

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$10/mo at Spotify

Pros

  • Top-notch subscription catalog.
  • Best-in-class playback handoff between devices.
  • Generous bundle options available, especially for students.

Cons

  • 10,000 song library limit is easier to hit over time.
  • No cloud integration for purchased or uploaded music.

Spotify is the most popular name in streaming music today, and with that popularity comes big exclusives, big marketing, and lots of algorithmic data to fine tune its musical suggestions. Spotify Connect works with more smart speakers and connected devices than any music service on the planet, and their student discount is currently the best deal in media streaming.

Amazon Music Unlimited

The underdog

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$8/mo at Amazon (with Amazon Prime)

Pros

  • Solid, stable cross-platform music player.
  • Integrated music store for augmenting subscription catalog.

Cons

  • Works with Amazon Alexa, but not Google Assistant or Apple Siri.
  • Abounding confusion over tiers and features.

Amazon Music Unlimited is quite a decent music service, especially if you’re an Amazon Echo user or you frequently buy music from Amazon’s store. Amazon just makes the tiers of its music services more confusing than Google does, which is a feat in and of itself.

Playing what you want where you want

Amazon Music and Spotify have been around the block a few times, so they’re both pretty stable music streaming apps. Both have Android apps with Android Auto compatibility, web clients for easy listening at work (or on Chromebooks), and desktop clients for Windows/Mac. Spotify has a Linux app, too. Spotify also has a higher maximum streaming quality at 320 kbps, and is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Android Auto compatibility ✔️ ✔️
Chromecast compatibility ✔️ ✔️
Google Assistant compatibility ✔️
Amazon Alexa compatibility ✔️ ✔️
Max audio quality 320 kbps 256 kbps
Lyrics Genius Lyrics (display on device and Chromecast) Xray lyrics (only on phone)
Gapless playback Crossfade only (and not when casting)

Amazon Music is only compatible with Amazon Alexa, but both apps have Chromecast compatibility, so you can at least cast Amazon Music to a Google Home and then use the basic voice commands to control the music once its being cast. Spotify also puts lyrics for available songs up onscreen when Chromecasting, whereas for Amazon Music, lyrics can only be viewed in the apps. Spotify has far, far, far more compatibility with smart speakers and a melee of other platform thanks to Spotify Connect.

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Amazon only says “tens of millions of songs” are available on their platform, which is really vague compared to the “35 Million +” available on Spotify. However, Spotify still has a 10,000 song limit for user’s libraries, whereas the song limit for an Amazon Music library is 100,000 songs.

Songs available 35 million+ “Tens of millions”
Library limit 10,000 songs 100,000 songs
Playlist size limits 10,000 Device-dependent (500 on some platforms)
Offline limits 5 devices 10,000 songs 10 devices, unlimited songs
Device limits Only for offline (5 devices) 10 devices

Want to build a bigger playlist? Spotify allows you to have up to 10,000 songs in a playlist. However, if your playlist is over 3,333 songs, you won’t be able to download the whole playlist on your device, and both Amazon and Spotify’s Android apps have issues when shuffling playlists with more than a few hundred songs in them. Amazon Music’s playlist song limit isn’t concretely stated anywhere in their support documentation, but its Android app has trouble building or viewing past 500 songs on a playlist.

How often do you go offline with your music? Spotify has one of the worst offline policies among the major streaming music services: three devices, 3,333 songs each. The idea is that you can download a third of your 10,000-song library on each of your three devices, but that’s not really the practice most users want with offline downloads.

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Best bang for your buck

Before we go any further: if you’re a college student, Spotify’s $5/month student bundle with Spotify, Hulu (ad-supported), and Showtime is going to be the best value for you by far. For those of us who aren’t currently in a 4-year university, Amazon Music Unlimited offers a discount to Amazon Prime members, but is that deal really the best one you can get?

Standard Price $10/month $8/month + Prime
Video bundle offerings Hulu (Bundle is $13/month) Prime Video
Yearly cost (before tax) $120 ($156 Hulu Bundle) $216
Student discount $5/month w/ Hulu On Prime, not Unlimited
Family plan $15/month $15/month
Family-oriented content settings Allow Explicit Content Block Explicit Songs
Music integration offerings Amazon Music Store integration
Available countries 65 46

At first glance, $8/month looks better than $10/month, but it requires Amazon Prime, which boosts your yearly cost to $216. Granted, Amazon Prime has a lot of other features, from two-day shipping to unlimited photo backups and, of course, Amazon Prime Video, which has been delivering award-winning original content the last few years. You can also mix Amazon Prime’s catalog with movies purchased through the Amazon store and digital copies through Movies Anywhere.

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Meanwhile, Spotify’s Hulu bundle gets you significantly fewer products and services, but the two services it gets you — Spotify Premium and Hulu (ad-supported) — are high-quality streaming services with competitive features, robust support, and availability on just about every streaming box or smart speaker. It’s also $60 cheaper a year than Prime + Unlimited.

When it comes to family plans, Amazon Music Unlimited loses most of its pricing advantage. Prime members can only save $30 a year on Amazon Music Unlimited’s Family Plan — and only if they take the annual plan instead of the monthly plan — but if you buy your kids Amazon Fire Kids tablets or an Amazon Echo Dot for Kids, those devices will have Block Explicit Songs on by default with Amazon Music Unlimited.

Spotify Premium

Algorithmic powerhouse

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$10/month at Spotify

Better bundles and magical mixtapes make Spotify a delight.

Spotify’s student bundle is the best in media streaming today, and the Spotify/Hulu bundle for non-student users is a price-performer as well. Between its many exclusives, famous algorithms, and the simple magic of Spotify Connect, it’s hard to say no to the biggest name in streaming music.

Amazon Music Unlimited

The underdog

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Amazon’s music subscription is a decent alternative if you still buy music.

$8/month at Amazon

There are fewer and fewer music subscription services that will allow you to augment their selection with purchased music. If you’re a dedicated Amazon Echo user or Amazon Prime user, Amazon Music Unlimited can fit well and keep your music flowing.

27
Sep

UK Deal: This £9 3-in-1 cable is a must-have for all Android and iOS fans


This cable can charge pretty much any device.

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There’s no such thing as too many charging cables, especially when they come with three different charging connectors. Right now, you can snag Anker’s PowerLine II 3-in-1 cable for just £8.99 when you checkout using coupon code CC78YGCO. It normally sells for around £12, and this is the first time the cable has ever dropped below £10.

The cable itself is a Micro-USB cable that happens to have two additional adapters connected right to it. There is one for Lightning ports to charge your iPhone and iPad, along with a USB-C connection to charge your newer Android devices and accessories. It offers a max speed of 2.4A on both the Lightning and Micro-USB chargers, and 3A on the USB-C end. The Lightning connector is MFi-certified, meaning that Apple has approved it for use in safely charging and syncing your iPhone or iPad.

Anker is so confident that you’ll love this cable and won’t have issues with it that the company is backing it with a hassle-free lifetime warranty. These are handy to have around since not everyone uses the same devices these days. Be sure to grab a few of these to have in your car, home, travel bag, and more today.

For more UK deals coverage, be sure to keep an eye on Thrifter UK, sign up for the UK newsletter and follow the team on Twitter.

See at Amazon UK

27
Sep

How to Customize the Monogram on Your Apple Watch


The monogram complication on Apple Watch is designed to let you choose up to four letters to appear on your watch’s display. Previously it was only available on the Color watch face, but if you’re a Series 4 owner, you can also use it on the new Infograph watch face.

The idea behind the monogram is to let you add your initials to your watch display, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding other characters. Emoji aren’t supported, but most unicode characters are, including of course the Apple  symbol.

You can find all manner of unicode characters on the web – try searching for “unicode faces” for some fun combinations. You could also download a unicode iPhone app like UniChar for a more complete selection. Just remember that you can only combine up to four characters in your monogram.

How to Add a Monogram to Your Apple Watch

Copy the unicode character(s) you want to use in your monogram to your iPhone’s clipboard. To copy from a web page, highlight the symbol(s) with a long press and then tap Copy from the popup menu.
Next, launch the stock Watch app on your iPhone.

Tap the My Watch tab if it’s not already selected.
Tap Clock.
Tap Monogram.
Paste the character(s) into the Monogram field.

Now, return to the main menu in the My Watch tab, and a select a Color or Infograph watch face from My Faces. (If you’re not yet using one, you can choose one from the Face Gallery.)
If you’re using an Infograph face, tap Sub-dial Top and choose Monogram. If you’re using a Color face, make sure the Monograph toggle is on.Once that’s done, your monogram should show up the next time you switch to the Color or Infograph watch face on your Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums

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27
Sep

Uber agrees to pay $148 million for 2016 hack and cover-up


Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Uber’s 2016 shenanigans that saw it fail to report a massive data breach and led to it paying the hackers $100,000 has ended up costing the company $148 million.

The ridesharing giant has agreed to pay the sum after reaching a settlement with all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that had accused it of breaking the rules.

The breach, in which hackers gained access to personal information linked to 57 million Uber customers and drivers around the world, came to light toward the end of 2017, a year after it had taken place. Uber knew about the hack but had tried to conceal it, going so far as paying the hackers $100,000 to destroy the stolen data.

The Washington Post described the $148 million settlement as “the largest multi-state penalty ever levied by state authorities” for an incident of this nature, and marks “the first time the company has settled a matter with the top law enforcement officials from all 50 states and the District.”

“Uber’s decision to cover up this breach was a blatant violation of the public’s trust,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “The company failed to safeguard user data and notify authorities when it was exposed.”

Becerra said that consistent with Uber’s substandard corporate culture at the time, the company “swept the breach under the rug in deliberate disregard of the law. Companies in California and throughout the nation are entrusted with customers’ valuable private information. This settlement broadcasts to all of them that we will hold them accountable to protect their data.”

The data breach took place during Travis Kalanick’s time as CEO and at a time when the company was fighting battles on multiple fronts. Dara Khosrowshahi replaced Kalanick in August 2017 and during an overhaul of the company’s business practices, insiders revealed its wrongdoing.

Khosrowshahi said he only found out about the hack shortly before it was made public, admitting that the company should have notified regulators as soon as they learned of the incident.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” the CEO said at the time while insisting that Uber would learn from its mistakes.

The $148 million fine will be split among the states and each will decide how the money is used. Uber has also agreed to continue with ongoing efforts to incorporate new systems aimed at preventing future hacks, and to improve its corporate culture.

In his first day in the job as Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West said on Wednesday that he was “pleased” the agreement had been reached, adding that it had been right for its current management team to disclose the incident, and that the decision “embodies the principles by which we are running our business today: transparency, integrity, and accountability.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Hack affects 2 million T-Mobile customers, unclear if passwords included
  • Millions of health records may be at stake in ransomware attack
  • Dixons Carphone hack exposes 5.9 million cards, 10 million accounts
  • Timehop data breach may have compromised 21 million email addresses
  • Apple shrugs off Fitbit and Garmin to remain king of smartwatches



27
Sep

Google celebrates 20 years with a slew of Easter eggs and new Google Images


Google is turning 20. The company may lead the way in mobile technology and self-driving cars these days, but 20 years ago it started as a humble search engine that ultimately changed the internet forever. To celebrate its 20th birthday Google has announced a slew of Easter eggs that flash back to when the company first started — and they can be found in a few different Google products.

For starters, as you might expect, there’s a Google Doodle celebrating the 20th birthday of the company. The Doodle is playable and when you click on it, the video will show a number of popular searches from the past 20 years.

For those searching some arguably outdated terms, Google will also now help you flash forward to 2018. For example, if you search “MP3 file,” Google will ask if you meant “stream music.” If you search “chat room,” Google will ask if you meant “text the group.” And so on.

There are Easter eggs beyond those in Google Search. For example, you can stroll through the original Google Garage in Street View, and check out where the now-massive company was started 20 years ago. As you walk through the side door of the garage, you’ll find things like an old CRT computer monitor showing the original Google beta website. Then, you can walk through the house, you’ll find things like ideas for the Google logo, a series of power cables snaking through the house, and more. It’s a good look into the history of the company. As Google describes, as the company grew, it grew into the bedrooms and the rest of the bottom floor of the house, and as you explore that area, you’ll find different items like a collapsible mini rainbow sphere, surf-frog terrarium, and so on.

Google isn’t just celebrating with Easter eggs, it’s also launching a redesigned Google Images desktop website, which includes a new ranking algorithm designed to help you find what you’re looking for more easily.

“Over the last year, we’ve overhauled the Google Images algorithm to rank results that have both great images and great content on the page. For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects. We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently,” Google said in a blog post.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best Google Home tips and tricks
  • Google’s improvements to Sound Search will help it recognize songs better
  • The best Google Home-compatible devices
  • Google Feed is now known as ‘Discover,’ will be available on mobile browsers
  • Google Pixelbook review



27
Sep

Google celebrates 20 years with a slew of Easter eggs and new Google Images


Google is turning 20. The company may lead the way in mobile technology and self-driving cars these days, but 20 years ago it started as a humble search engine that ultimately changed the internet forever. To celebrate its 20th birthday Google has announced a slew of Easter eggs that flash back to when the company first started — and they can be found in a few different Google products.

For starters, as you might expect, there’s a Google Doodle celebrating the 20th birthday of the company. The Doodle is playable and when you click on it, the video will show a number of popular searches from the past 20 years.

For those searching some arguably outdated terms, Google will also now help you flash forward to 2018. For example, if you search “MP3 file,” Google will ask if you meant “stream music.” If you search “chat room,” Google will ask if you meant “text the group.” And so on.

There are Easter eggs beyond those in Google Search. For example, you can stroll through the original Google Garage in Street View, and check out where the now-massive company was started 20 years ago. As you walk through the side door of the garage, you’ll find things like an old CRT computer monitor showing the original Google beta website. Then, you can walk through the house, you’ll find things like ideas for the Google logo, a series of power cables snaking through the house, and more. It’s a good look into the history of the company. As Google describes, as the company grew, it grew into the bedrooms and the rest of the bottom floor of the house, and as you explore that area, you’ll find different items like a collapsible mini rainbow sphere, surf-frog terrarium, and so on.

Google isn’t just celebrating with Easter eggs, it’s also launching a redesigned Google Images desktop website, which includes a new ranking algorithm designed to help you find what you’re looking for more easily.

“Over the last year, we’ve overhauled the Google Images algorithm to rank results that have both great images and great content on the page. For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects. We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently,” Google said in a blog post.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best Google Home tips and tricks
  • Google’s improvements to Sound Search will help it recognize songs better
  • The best Google Home-compatible devices
  • Google Feed is now known as ‘Discover,’ will be available on mobile browsers
  • Google Pixelbook review



27
Sep

PlayStation 4 players will get Black Ops 4 content a week early


Boots are back on the ground.

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It wouldn’t be a year in gaming without the annual Call of Duty release blessing the fall launch schedule. The last title we got was a non-Black Ops game, which means we’re due for another from the talented team over at Treyarch.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is poised to build on the previous game by implementing changes inspired by fan feedback and introducing some interesting new game modes that’ll change your expectation of what a Call of Duty experience is supposed to be. Here’s everything you need to know.

September 26, 2018 — PS4 gets content a week early

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Sony has revealed new details about their timed content exclusivity deal for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. New content — which you get as part of owning the Black Ops Pass — will arrive 7 days early on PlayStation 4. Such a deal isn’t new for Sony and Activision, though it does mark the first time since this marketing partnership began that the gap has been narrowed from 30 days to 7.

We also have a bit better of an idea regarding the timeline of the first content drops. Here’s what’s planned:

  • Nuketown: This fan-favorite map returns in November in an all-new take.
  • Specialists: The first of several new characters will debut in December.
  • Blackout: Launch day is only the start; Blackout will continue to evolve after launch with regular map updates, expansions and new Blackout modes.
  • Events: Seasonal, weekly, and time-limited events bringing new game modes and content to players.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches October 12th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

September 4, 2018 — New Blackout beta details arrive

Waiting for the Blackout beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4? The wait isn’t long now, with PlayStation 4 gamers finally able to check the new Battle Royale game mode out on September 10th, while friends on other platforms will get a chance to play starting on September 14th. No matter which camp you fall in, you’ll have until September 17th to see what it’s all about.

The official Call of Duty Twitter is getting folks hype about its arrival by sharing our first look at the Blackout map, which is naturally the largest in franchise history. The map shows several classic names, including Nuketown Island, Hyro Dam, and Firing Range. You’ll note that these are based on maps from older Call of Duty games, except they’ll all exist on the same seamless map in Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode.

Where are you dropping first?This is Blackout, featuring the largest map in Call of Duty history. Pre-order #BlackOps4 and get access to the Blackout Beta, playable September 10 on PS4: https://t.co/XFvGMDwF3M pic.twitter.com/RAxzzDxjPO

— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 5, 2018

We count just 14 unique locations named throughout the map, which is a little on the light side compared to Battle Royale games like Fortnite and PUBG. But the areas should be highly detailed, and there are lots of other smaller settlements and compounds which don’t have names littered throughout the map. It’ll be just a few days before we can see how all of this looks inside the actual game world, so get ready.

July 20, 2018 — Mystery Box Collector’s Edition is now up for pre-order

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There’s a new pre-order option for those who eat, sleep and breath Black Ops. It’s the “Mystery Box Edition” and it’ll launch October 12, 2018.

The biggest thing that comes with the Mystery Box is, well, the box itself. If you aren’t in the know, these boxes are scattered throughout Zombies maps, and allows the player to get a random weapon, item, or perk upon opening it. It looks like Black Ops 4’s box is more ominous than ever, with skeleton heads whose eyes light up in blue. It looks really cool.

You’ll find an interesting assortment of collectibles inside the box. There are FigPins, a pop socket, the first edition of a new Dark Horse-made Zombies comic, 10 specialist patches, 3 lithographs, as well as the game itself inside a nice steelbook case. On the digital side, you’ll be getting the Black Ops pass, which grants you access to all the new zombies and multiplayer content that’ll be released in Black Ops 4’s life cycle.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Mystery Box Edition will run you a whopping $199.99, but considering all it comes with it just may be worth the money. Head to Amazon to pre-order yours today.

See at Amazon

What is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4?

This is the latest game in the Call of Duty series, and, specifically, the fifth such game made by Treyarch, the studio which got its start with Call of Duty: World at War and exclusively made Black Ops games ever since.

Black Ops games have never followed traditional Call of Duty standards in terms of story. They’re set in a dystopian-like universe that explores alternate realities. One of the games even straddled the line of supernatural, with Black Ops 3’s events all taking place inside someone’s head.

While the original Black Ops game was set in a period during the Cold War, subsequent titles have gone for a more futuristic setting so as to introduce interesting new gameplay mechanics.

Is there a story mode?

Earlier Black Ops games featured original stories, but Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will not. In fact, this will be the first ever Call of Duty game that doesn’t have a single-player campaign.

It was originally rumored that Treyarch had started on a campaign for the game, but scrapped it during development as it wouldn’t be finished in time. We later learned that this wasn’t the case, and it was instead a conscious decision by the team to focus their time on multiplayer as a majority of players don’t finish the single-player campaigns in Call of Duty games.

If you love a good single-player campaign and nothing more, it’s wise to skip this one. But Treyarch has mentioned that this isn’t necessarily the start of a trend and that single-player campaigns can and will return to future Call of Duty titles.

Gameplay

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With multiplayer being the sole way to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Treyarch wants to ensure they make the deepest shooter possible, and also looked to address some of the more unpopular things they tried in Black Ops 3. Jetpacks and wall-running have been completely removed from the game.

The fan cry for “boots on the ground” has been quite loud, which is why many were ecstatic for Call of Duty: World War 2’s launch. Treyarch’s removal of the feature is a testament to their ability to listen to feedback and not only understand what their fans want, but take action on it.

A lot of the good stuff is returning, though, including the game’s use of Specialist characters. These characters are unique and feature special traits, abilities, and finishing moves. We’re getting four new characters with this launch for a grand total of 10:

  • Torque: This is the builder of your team. You can make barricades to control firing lanes in the game, as well as more advanced deployment of barbed wire. Torque’s barricades have heat and distortion fields built-in, so anyone looking to challenge the area you’re denying will have a tough time.
  • Ajax: When you need someone to push into an enemy zone, Ajax is the pick. He has a shield, and the shield has a hole in it, so whoever uses him can still be a deadly force. Ajax also has a flashbang that can be cooked, and the longer you cook it, the more flashes it will set off.
  • Recon: A new fog of war mechanic means enemies won’t always show up on your radar whenever they shoot, so Recon’s goal is to reveal them.
  • Crash: Medic fans will love Crash. He can not only heal allies, but he can also buff them in certain ways. And if you’re wondering why he has to heal anyone, it’s because Black Ops 4 will not have regenerative health.

All of these specialists share much of the same weapon and equipment pool, but there will be some mods and attachments specific to each character. And not all attachments will be made equally, with tier 2 versions of mods offering greater benefits than their standard ones.

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Speaking of which, gunplay is getting a big upgrade in Black Ops 4. Treyarch has implemented predictive recoil patterns for each gun, which means you’ll have a rough idea of how your gun will react whenever you shoot it. The recoil mechanic in previous games was based on RNG, something Treyarch felt was important to eliminate as they wanted all of the game systems in Black Ops 4 to be learnable.

Scorestreaks are back. This staple Call of Duty feature nets you game-changing perks and bonuses as you rack up kills. Treyarch hasn’t yet revealed any new scorestreaks or changes to existing ones.

Players will do battle on a number of maps, five of which are fan favorites from previous Black Ops games that have been remade. Those include Jungle, Slums, Summit, Firing Range, and, of course, Nuketown. The former four will be available at launch, though Nuketown will arrive a bit later.

When you want to take a break from multiplayer, you can play Solo Missions, a collection of missions that’ll let you test your skill with any of the specialists. These missions will contain light backstories for each specialist if you’re interested in learning more about them.

It’s clear Treyarch wants more for Call of Duty than its roots as a simple twitch shooter. The continued focus on unique character abilities and an upgraded ballistics system puts it in league with the likes of Rainbow Six: Siege, and should help position it well to become a fun game to follow and play for eSports.

Zombies

What’s a Black Ops game without a zombie mode? Zombies in Black Ops 4 will have the most launch content we’ve seen yet. This coop mode lets you and up to three other friends take on a horde of zombie enemies across several big maps, with each wave being interspersed with time-sensitive objectives.

Black Ops 4 will feature three such maps at launch, two of which are entirely new and one that has been remade from a previous game. The new maps – Voyage of Despair and IX – have a short storyline of their own to follow, and will feature all-new original characters Scarlett, Shaw, Diego, and Bruno.

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The remake is Blood of the Dead, which is based on the Mob of the Dead map from Black Ops 2. Its story will feature the original Primis gang, including Nikolai, Takeo, Richtofen, and Dempsey. A fourth map made for the Primis characters named Classified is also on the way, but will only be available for Black Ops Pass owners and anyone buying the Special Edition versions of the game.

You’ll get more customization than ever before, as players can now customize their starting loadouts before each game. And the game at large can be played to your exact liking with over 100 variable “mutations” that can be applied. These mutations can alter things like zombie speed, health, damage, and overall difficulty.

And to give players a reason to keep coming back, Treyarch will run events called Callings. These limited time events may offer rewards or introduce new gameplay twists to help keep things fresh.

Blackout Mode

Peg Call of Duty as another game jumping on the Battle Royale bandwagon. Black Ops 4 will have its own royale mode called Blackout, and it’ll feature the single largest map we’ve ever seen in a Call of Duty game. It’s said the original test map for Blackout mode was 144 square miles wide. We don’t know how much it’s been shrunken or enlarged since then, but it sounds massive either way. The map will have iconic locations from previous Black Ops games, and it can be traversed by land, sea, or air.

Treyarch doesn’t seem to be touting any crazy twists on the genre. The teaser trailer for the mode suggests players will parachute down into the play area to find their starting loot before the game eventually shepherds players into tighter areas. Their whole selling point, then, is that this is a Battle Royale game with the tried and true gunplay, smooth controls, and fast-paced action that Call of Duty is known for. They’re also taking care to ensure each game feels different through the mode’s core mechanics, something they hope will keep players hungry for more.

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In the mode, you’ll be able to play as series favorites Alex Mason, Raul Menendez, and all of the original Primis crew, among other characters. Treyarch didn’t have much to say regarding how, exactly, the mode will operate, but we do know the company is looking to incorporate bullet drop, a first for a Call of Duty game.

Black Ops Pass

Treyarch is trying a different monetization model with Black Ops 4. Instead of offering up new maps in flat-rate map packs, you will now have to buy a Black Ops Pass. The pass will offer up access to new content as soon as it becomes available.

Pricing information for the Black Ops Pass hasn’t yet been revealed, but we do know that the pass will eventually offer up 12 additional multiplayer maps, four exclusive characters to use in Blackout mode, and four Zombies maps throughout 2019, as well as the Classified Zombies map at launch.

Activision has also confirmed that you will need to buy special editions of the game starting at $100 if you want the Black Ops Pass at launch. They have plans to make the pass available separately, but not until a later date.

Beta

Yes, there’s a private beta, and you’ll be able to play it by doing one simple thing: pre-order the game. Treyarch hasn’t ruled out other ways to access the beta, but this is your safest best to try it out early if you don’t mind committing your money to a pre-order.

A beta launch date has yet to be set, but previous rumors suggest we’ll see it at some point in August. An open beta is also still a possibility leading up to the game’s launch.

Pre-order deals

There are lots of good things to be had for pre-ordering Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. All standard edition pre-orders will be in line for a Black Ops 3 map pack that will feature Jungle Summit, Slums, and Firing Range. You’ll also get access to the private beta in August.

See at Amazon

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Get the Digital Deluxe Edition for $100 and you’ll get 2,400 Call of Duty Points and the Black Ops Pass to go along with it.

See at Amazon

The Digital Deluxe Enhanced Edition is the same as the Digital Deluxe Edition, but comes with 8,500 Call of Duty Points. It’ll run you $130.

See at Amazon

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Finally, there’s a $120 Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Pro Edition that adds in a steelbook, a pop socket, 10 specialist patches, three Zombies-inspired collectible art cards, 1,100 Call of Duty Points, and a Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) calling card. This version of the game is available exclusively at GameStop.

See at GameStop

When can you play it?

The boots hit the ground for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on October 12th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Let us know if you’ll be joining in on the fun.

Updated September 2018: We’ve added new information about content timing plans for PlayStation 4 players.

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

27
Sep

Epic Games working on unlinking Fortnite accounts from consoles


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Sony hasn’t opened PS4 for cross-play like other platforms have

This year at E3 2018 it was announced that Fortnite is now on the Nintendo Switch. Now you can cross-play with Fortnite on your PC, Switch, Mac, iOS, Xbox, and soon on the PlayStation 4.

Update September 26, 2018

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Sony finally caved and said there will soon be a Beta program for PlayStation users to be able to use cross-play abilities across all of the consoles. Users are excited to soon get the chance to play with their friends who own different consoles. But, what does that mean for all your purchases and all the problems with linking your Fornite accounts (like what we’ve noted below)?

Well, Epic Games gave us a heads up today on Twitter saying they are working on two different things. “1) An account-merging feature to combine Battle Royale purchases, coming in November. 2) Enabling unlinking a console from one Fortnite account, and relinking to another Fortnite account. Coming in a few days.” They have since deleted the Tweet, but we caught it for you.

The current system already allows you to unlink and re-link your account. But, when you do, you lose everything. It’s nice to know that Epic Games will be fixing the issues on their end just like Sony is on theirs!

If you want to use cross-play, don’t link your account to PlayStation 4

If you create a Fortnite account and link it to your PS4, it will not allow you to log in on any other platform besides PC. This means you’ll be required to make a separate account to use on another platform. If you are a new player looking to get into Fortnite who intends on using the crossplay options make sure you link your account to anything but your PlayStation.

.@PlayStation, fix this.Not allowing me to sign-in to Fortnite Switch with my Epic account because it’s linked to PS4 is tone deaf and points more to fear than market dominance. It does the opposite of what you want — it makes me think about moving to Xbox for Fortnite. pic.twitter.com/D9xqv9aWdF

— Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) June 12, 2018

Basically, what I’m saying is, if you want to use the cross-play options then don’t link your Epic account to your PlayStation 4. You don’t want your account locked to a PC and PlayStation when you have so much more abilities to play with a lot more people by keeping it connected to literally any of your other platforms. On top of this, your PlayStation 4 account purchases don’t transfer to your Xbox, Switch or PC accounts. But, if all your friends are playing on PlayStation 4, and you have no intention of linking it to another account, then you have nothing to worry about.

Unlinking your Fortnite account from PlayStation

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There are a few warnings we want you to know before you do this. You will lose just about everything connected to your account as you can not carry it from one console to another. These warnings and instructions will work for PSN ID, Nintendo account, Xbox gamertag, or another external account.

  • All of your saved data lives on your Epic account, not your connected account.
  • If you disconnect your PSN ID from the Epic account that is currently connected to, any purchases, stats, and saved data will be lost.
  • Platform Locks on Fortnite cannot be circumvented, even by replacing one connected account with another.

If you’ve read the warnings and still want to disconnect your PS4 account so that you can connect it to another platform:

Go to your Connected Accounts page.
Click the DISCONNECT button below the external account in question.

Now your account is free to connect to any console you so wish to connect it to.

Update September 2018: Sony will soon allow cross-play, and Epic Games is going to merge account purchases!

PlayStation 4

ps4-controllers.jpg

  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

27
Sep

The PlayStation Gold wireless headset now comes in White


Same design. Cool new color.

The PlayStation 4 Gold wireless headset now comes in White in addition to the standard color. While not quite available yet, you can pre-order it for $99.99 at Amazon before it becomes widely available in October.

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Of course, the regular version is $79.99 at Amazon, Target, and other retailers. So if color doesn’t matter to you, you can get that one right away at a reduced cost.

You might not think of a White headset as matching your current PlayStation setup, but we have been seeing a lot more color variety come out of Sony recently with special editions like the Amazing Red Spider-Man PS4 and the translucent dark blue console. A white headset just opens the door for even more color variety.

These headsets have features you can only get when using them with a PlayStation 4 and the headset’s companion app, including an audio mode that helps you experience the audio of the game the way the developers intended.

This isn’t the only new product announcement from Sony, either, with this limited edition Red Dead Redemption 2 console right around the corner, too.

See on Amazon

27
Sep

Google Maps has a new tool to help you and your friends decide where to eat


Coming to the Android and iOS apps this week.

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If you’re like me, you Google Maps is your go-to app for finding new restaurants to check out. The clean interface and wealth of information make it a joy to use, but if you’re trying to plan a night out with a group of people, deciding where to go can prove to be a chore.

That’s where Maps’ new group planning tool comes into play.

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When you’re looking for places to go, long-press on an option and you’ll now be able to drag it into a shortlist on the right side of the app. After building up your list a bit, you can tap on it to share with your friends. From there, each member viewing the list can vote up or down on the place they want to go to.

Group planning is rolling out to the Google Maps app this week for both Android and iOS. Be sure to give it a look!

Download: Google Maps (free)

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