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Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer 15 Feb 2017, 5:42 pm

Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer

Apple has positioned itself against some of the biggest TV and movie conglomerates by beginning the production of its own content. Following Netflix's and Amazon's lead, the Cupertino based giant has released a trailer of one of its first original TV shows.

The show is aptly called Planet of the Apps and is to applications what Shark Tank is to business ideas. Well, actually, it is a combination of Shark Tank in terms of pitching the idea of the app and The Voice in which the celebrity judges choose whether they want to help out the pitcher.

As the video shows, the pitch to the celebrity judges (Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk) is just the first step. If they are accepted by one – or if many, they can choose their mentor – they must prepare for a pitch to four members of venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The best will get a featured spot on the App Store (obviously) and a lot of publicity. The show will be exclusive to Apple Music.

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Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder 10 Feb 2017, 6:22 pm

Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder

Microsoft has announced an update to its voice assistant Cortana with a single new feature. The so-called Commitment feature allows the Windows 10 assistant to remember things you forgot to add to your reminders.

How does this thing actually work? Well, it's as simple as your assistant going through your emails and remembering to add reminders for you. Cortana essentially reads your emails and determines whether there are any commitments that you make.

Once it finds one of these instances it saves a reminder with the subject, persons involved and possible deadline. The result is, as seen in the picture and video, a surprise reminder that will present you with the part of the email that triggered the feature as well as who the commitment was made to, ie. the recipient of the email.

Microsoft's Cortana assistant might not be the most popular of the voice assistants but it is definitely challenging the competition in terms of machine learning. Google's new Google Assistant is also heavily focused in machine learning and context specificity.

The update comes available first on Windows 10 in the U.S. followed by iOS and Android updates in the coming weeks.

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Fully loaded 'Kodi box' sellers arrested 9 Feb 2017, 6:35 am

Fully loaded 'Kodi box' sellers arrested

Police have arrested sellers of so called 'Full Loaded Kodi Boxes' as pirate streaming add-ons become more popular.

The devices are typically low-cost Android-based media set top boxes that come with apps and add-ons pre-installed. Despite being called 'Kodi boxes', they have nothing at all to do with the development of the Kodi media center software.

Last year, developers of Kodi threatened legal action against individuals who use the Kodi brand or images while selling devices marketed to enable piracy.

Kodi, formerly XBMC, is a very powerful media center solution that can run on Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Android. Its support for third party add-ons has made it very popular, as third-party add-ons can provide access to live TV, including live sports, while some provide a Netflix-like experience with access to tens of thousands of movies and TV shows, all without paying a subscription fee.

That does not make Kodi illegal of course, but marketing a media device as "fully loaded" with piracy add-ons pre-installed may be illegal in some places. It is currently being tested in the UK.

In the latest action against the growing trend of streaming, five traders were arrested in the UK for advertising and selling such devices online. The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) estimates that the individuals have earned more than £250,000 selling such devices.

The action was taken on behalf of Sky, BT, Virgin Media and the Premier League, possibly due to worrying declines in sports package subscriptions.

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Film and music streaming geoblocking to be eliminated in EU 9 Feb 2017, 6:21 am

Film and music streaming geoblocking to be eliminated in EU

EU Netflix, Sky, Amazon, etc. subscribers will be able to continue using their service as they travel through the 28 nation bloc, if current proposals go through.

An agreement made on Tuesday between the European Parliament and Malta, which currently holds the rotating presidency in the EU, is likely to see subscription service barriers between states abolished. Essentially that means that customers of services such as Netflix and Sky should be able to access their subscription services if they travel to another EU member state.

The move has some opposition from rights holders, but is seen as a positive step for subscribers who travel frequently throughout the 28 nation bloc. It would effect services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sky and Apple Music.

The plan is yet to be formally approved but is expected to be part of new regulations that come into force at the beginning of 2018.

Many subscription services lock their subscriber to their home country because the library of content offered varies in different territories. If this regulation comes into effect, the subscriber should have access to the same library of content they have in their home country, but it does not force streaming services to offer the same content to all 28 EU member states.

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Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch 8 Feb 2017, 8:05 pm

Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch

It's been months since Nintendo first unveiled its upcoming gaming console to the public but we still have to wait over three weeks to get our hands on one. However, Nintendo – as well as unofficial rumors – have given us some new information about the device and its features in the past couple of months.

However, there's still some things that aren't as clear as we would hope them to be. How do the controllers work? Can you use it separately? How about multiplayer gaming? Well, many of the questions have been answered in a new video Nintendo published on YouTube today.

Due in early March, Switch consists of a handheld console, a dock for your TV as well as two JoyCon controllers that can be used in different ways. In the video Nintendo goes through the different methods of playing, which include, the Handheld Mode with JoyCons attached to the tablet, the TV Mode with the controllers attached to the JoyCon Grip, and using JoyCon controllers separately in the Tabletop Mode.

When it comes to multiplayer games, you can connect up to 8 devices in local multiplayer with WiFi and play together. Unfortunately the video doesn't go much deeper than this in the multiplayer aspect, which might be the most controversial thing about the console in addition to the lack of support for web browser or streaming services.

The video does, however, go into detail about the JoyCon controllers. Despite their simplistic appearance they pack a lot of features, including NFC, gyroscopes, accelerometers, infrared camera, screenshot button, and vibration motors they call HD Rumble. If you still don't quite understand how Switch and JoyCons work, then the video is perfect for you.

Nintendo Switch will hit the stores on March 3rd starting at $299.

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Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps? 7 Feb 2017, 5:59 pm

Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps?

When it comes to leaking government secret there are few names that have more weight than Edward Snowden. A man who's been featured in an Oscar-winning documentary may have inspired a new leaker.

According to Washington Post, prosecutors are currently seeking for indictment as soon as this week for a former National Security Agency contractor that allegedly leaked secret government information.

Harold T. Martin III has been accused of stealing over 50 terabytes of information from the agency and will likely be charged with violating the Espionage Act. The 52-year-old was arrested in August last year and has been detained since. In October, Martin requested to be released pending a trial but was refused by a U.S. District Judge.

Martin was a former contractor for the NSA and was part of the agency's elite hacker unit, Tailored Access Operations. Some of the leaked data has been said to reveal secret techniques and tools used by the TAO. Estimates have it that this is the largest theft of government data in U.S. history and could include as much as 75 percent of TAO hacking tool data.

The defense attorneys have claimed that Martin brought data to home to get better at his job and not to leak it to foreign actors.

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Netflix original programming is destroying Amazon's and Hulu's in comparison 2 Feb 2017, 10:44 pm

Netflix original programming is destroying Amazon's and Hulu's in comparison

Netflix in globally a streaming giant no one has managed to challenge. However, in the United States, there are few streaming services that could if not topple at least put pressure on Netflix. A new report from Parrot Analytics, though, suggests that Netflix is a force to be reckoned with in one specific category: original programs.

According to the analytics company the lead Netflix has in terms of original program viewership has only increased in the past 12 months. A steady growth has been met with largely stagnant competitors.

Amazon has managed to create some buzz in the last weeks of 2016 which might suggest that its highly anticipated car show The Grand Tour has been doing well. The Grand Tour of course being the show by former BBC's Top Gear trio. But one or two hit shows aren't going to be enough to challenge Netflix.

Netflix's last years original hit shows included Stranger Things, The OA, The Get Down, and Luke Cage.

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Apple's year ended in record figures 1 Feb 2017, 9:18 pm

Apple's year ended in record figures

For the past year of two Apple's future hasn't seemed quite as bright as we've been used to. After record iPhone sales for year after year the growth slowed down and threatened to start, what some called, an inevitable decline.

Apple fought through, though, and had some amazing news to tell about the last quarter, which marks the first quarter for the fiscal year 2017. With 78.3 million iPhones sold, most in any quarter so far, the company posted a record-setting $78.4 billion in revenue. Earnings at $3.36 was another record high for the Cupertino giant and the net profit topped $17.9 billion.

We're thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple's highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

Tim Cook also added that the App Store saw record customer activity and the company is very excited about upcoming products.

"Revenue from Services grew strongly over last year, led by record customer activity on the App Store, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline."

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Apple loses the number one spot in China 31 Jan 2017, 9:06 pm

Apple loses the number one spot in China

Apple's iPhone has been the number one smartphone around the world for much of the last 10 years. Even in China, which the Cupertino, CA compnay had a slow and tough start but managed to clinch the number one spot in 2012.

After 2012 the ride hasn't been exactly smooth either, but the spot has been captured every year by Apple – until now. A new smartphone model has overtaken Apple's iPhone as the most popular smartphone in China, CNBC reports.

Last year Apple's most popular iPhone model was the iPhone 6s released in fall 2015 and it managed to move approximately 12 million units in 2016. Even though China's smartphone sales is far from the huge growth couple years back, Apple's 21 percent decline in sales is unnerving for the giant.

The new king of smartphones in China comes from the multitude of manufacturers their homeland produces. Although selling a whopping nearly 17 million million R9 (pictured: R9 Plus) units you might have not even heard of the brand, unless regularly watching America's Next Top Model which, as you might have guessed, has been sponsored by the company.

The company is Oppo, which might be more known in the West via its subsidiary OnePlus that has been producing some of the best Android phones while keeping the prices at bay. As you can probably tell, there's a lot of similarities, coincidentally, between Oppo's R9 lineup and recent iPhone models.

In addition to Oppo, much of the world's largest smartphone market is dominated by domestic companies, such as Xiaomi, ZTE and Huawei. China's smartphone sales increased 6 percent year over year, and nearly one in three smartphone's in the world are sold in China, the world's second largest economy.

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Apple joins Google, Facebook, Amazon, to study and advance AI 28 Jan 2017, 7:41 pm

Apple joins Google, Facebook, Amazon, to study and advance AI

It is clear that artificial intelligence is going to be a huge part of future computing. It might not mean Haley Joel Osment's David from 2001 movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence is going to be reality for quite some time but computer learning and other AI technologies are going to play an increasingly important role in our lives even in the very near future.

This is definitely what most of the technology giants believe as they combine forces to educate the industries and public about what all of this might mean. The research collaboration is called Partnership on AI, shortened from Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, and it has just added another big, perhaps the biggest, name to its already impressive list of contributors.

The creation of Partnership on AI tracks back to last fall, in September to be precise, when a number of leaders from the world's largest technology giants decided to have a serious conversation about what type of challenges AI poses to the society and what kind of benefit one could reap from its emergence.

Now the research firm has announced that one of the early collaborators, Apple, has been named one of the founding members alongside Google/DeepMind, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. It also added six new members to its Board of Trustees to join the six board members that represent the founding members. New members come from leading AI foundations and universities, including OpenAI, UC Berkeley, and MacArthur Foundation.

The official mission statement on its website says Partnership on AI was "established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public's understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society."

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This is the first leak of Galaxy S8 you should look at 27 Jan 2017, 2:24 pm

This is the first leak of Galaxy S8 you should look at

Samsung is preparing one of its most important launches in quite some time as they are getting close to ready to launch this years Galaxy S flagship smartphone. Because of the catastrophic failure of Galaxy Note7 last year this launch carries a special significance.

The phone has been leaked in dozen or more photos and lists of features but now we have the first one that we should definitely take seriously. Evan Blass (@evleaks) of VentureBeat has revealed pictures and details of the upcoming phone.

Blass, known for his accuracy amongst the leakers and journalists alike, shows off pictures of the metallic silver device from back and front. The front picture reveals that there seems to be no home button, as suspected, and the back on the other hand shows the new position of the fingerprint reader next to the camera.

He continues to unveil the specs that bring a huge boost in screen real estate. The phone comes with two versions, S8 and S8 Plus?, like last year and they feature 5.8 and 6.2 inch displays respectively. Because the displays cover almost the whole phone their aspect ratio is also rather unusual 18.5:9 instead of the traditional 16:9.

Samsung has also taken one feature from Apple's playbook as it bring the pressure sensing to its displays. Battery capacity stays pretty much at par with previous year at 3000 and 3500 mAh.

According to the report nothing spectacular is going to be done to camera, SoC or memory. Snapdragon 835, 12 megapixel camera, 4 GB of RAM and 64GB microSD expandable storage are everything we expected.

Samsung is expected to reveal its Galaxy S8 models on March 29 instead of April release that was rumored.

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Windows Insiders get their hands on the new Game Mode 26 Jan 2017, 3:59 pm

Windows Insiders get their hands on the new Game Mode

The upcoming and anticipated Creators Update for Windows 10 is still a long way from being released but there are some parts of it that you could be getting to try soon. As a Windows Insider you get to try out the features early and this week Microsoft is bringing the Game Mode to testers.

Previously Game Mode was supposed to be added for Insider today but it's been delayed a bit. However, as some point this week it'll become available.

The idea behind Game Mode is rather simple but it should make gamers' lives a little easier. Entering the Game Mode the PC optimizes it automatically for the labor intensive future. The CPU and GPU are tuned for maximum performance and this should mean smoother gaming and better frame rates.

Microsoft wants testers to seek the complications within the Game Mode so it can iron out the end product. Obviously there are tons of games so Microsoft wants to get feedback from as many situations as possible before launching the feature.

In addition to the Game Mode, Microsoft will introduce Windows 10 a new Game Bar for shortcuts during the games. This will be available via the Win+G keyboard shortcut. From the Game Bar you can easily take screenshots, start recording video or stream gaming directly to Microsoft's Beam-service.

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Apple and Foxconn investing billions in a new display plant in the U.S.? 23 Jan 2017, 5:12 pm

Apple and Foxconn investing billions in a new display plant in the U.S.?

Apple and Foxconn are in talks about a display manufacturing plant in the U.S., Nikkei reports. According to the paper, the two mega corporations are planning to invest billions of dollars to a new facility that would employ tens of thousands.

The founder and chairman of Foxconn Terry Gou estimates that even though the plant would be highly automatized it could bring as many as 30 000 to 50 000 new jobs indirectly. The total cost of the facility could measure in the $7 billion range.

It has been previously reported that Apple has been asking Foxconn what kind of investment a manufacturing plant in the U.S. would require. According to Nikkei, display manufacturer Sharp has also been interested in a U.S. based manufacturing facility.

Bringing blue-collar jobs back to the U.S. was of course one of the main themes in Donald Trump's campaign as well as his inauguration speech three days ago. While it is still far from a sealed deal, this would be a huge victory for the new POTUS. However, Foxconn has estimated that this would definitely raise the prices.

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Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch will be delayed 23 Jan 2017, 4:52 pm

Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch will be delayed

Samsung's investigation into last years Galaxy Note7 battery problems has finally concluded but there might still be some worries for the Korean smartphone giant. The company has revealed that it will be delaying its next flagship phone's release.

In previous years Samsung has released their Galaxy S flagship during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This time around that won't be the case, the mobile chief Koh Dong-jin revealed Reuters.

For a while now rumors have had it that Samsung's investigation to battery issues would delay the upcoming Galaxy S8. Even though it is not confirmed yet that this was indeed the reason of the delay, Koh said that the company is working hard to regain trust by making sure every measure is taken to ensure product safety.

Samsung's investigation concluded that there was two separate problems in the batteries of two different batches. Both of them could be detected with the new safety protocol in place for new devices.

The company did not reveal when the press conference for Galaxy S8 release will be held. However, we can assume that it will happen sometime before summer.

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Netflix is closing in on 100 million subscribers 19 Jan 2017, 6:08 pm

Netflix is closing in on 100 million subscribers

Netflix has been growing steadily over the years, and the secret lately has been the international market which has given much needed boost to slowing down U.S. growth. New report from the company says the domestic customer base grew still with more than 2 million subscribers in the last quarter only.

The majority of added customers came from abroad, though, with 5 million new subscribers. This is a significant increase compared to previous years and quarters. Most of the investments are still made with U.S. customers in mind while growth overseas is stronger. However, Netflix Originals and other U.S. based programming have been hugely successful abroad.

According to TechCrunch, Netflix also said that localized content, like the first Brazilian original series 3% was a big success throughout Latin America. Netflix is investing $6 billion in content, up from last years $5 billion. That will have more room for increase in local content, including Japanese Anime for example.

Netflix had 93 million customers ending the year and it will cross the 100 million subscriber landmark somewhere in the first half of the year. If the company continues to exceed growth expectatations it might have already happened before the next quarterly results.

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