Have you ever tried using your Apple Watch as a bedside clock, but given up because the screen is just too dang small? Well, boy do we have a $49.99 dock for you. The NightWatch is combination charging dock, magnifying glass, and acoustic amplifier, bringing together these functions to turn the Apple Watch’s nightstand mode into a bona fide bedside alarm, complete with a tap-to-wake feature to show you the time.
We’ve previously covered novelty docks that turn the Apple Watch into a miniature Macintosh replica or an iPod. But the NightWatch attempts to make the Apple Watch work better in nightstand mode, by making its screen bigger and easier to read and using “integrated sound channels’ to amplify the sound of your alarm.
It’s a pretty simple accessory, all told, and basically consists of a single block of polished lucite. That means it doesn’t come with its own charger, so you’ll have to slot in your existing charging puck, and the advertised “tap display” seems to just be relying on the fact that the Apple Watch’s screen will light up at the slightest nudge. “Even nudging or tapping the table might work,” the NightWatch’s support page says.
The NightWatch’s launch comes at a potentially awkward time. Last year Apple added a new sleep tracking feature to the Apple Watch, which means many people now sleep with their watches on their wrists rather than on their nightstand. But if you’re not interested in tracking your sleep data, the NightWatch supports all Apple Watches, is available for pre-order now over on its website, and will be coming to Amazon next week. Shipping is due later this month.
Netflix has tapped the original story of one of the music industry’s biggest startup successes for a forthcoming untitled original series. The series will tell a “fictionalized account” of Spotify’s co-founders, including the service’s chief Daniel Ek.
The six-part series — which is already listed on Netflix, though with limited information — will pull from authors Jonas Leijonhufvud and Sven Carlsson, which documents the rise of Spotify under Ek and his business partner Martin Lorentzon, according to Variety. The book is said to have drawn from “over seventy interviews, along with previously untapped sources” for a “David vs Goliath story about how strong convictions, unrelenting willpower, and big dreams can help small players take on the titans of tech.”
Variety reports that the show has cast Swedish actors Edvin Endre in the role of Ek and Christian Hillborg as a fictionalized Lorentzon character. It’s unclear whether a Steve Jobs-like figure will appear in the film, though it’s certainly possible. Spotify Untold does cover the seemingly never-ending battle between Spotify and Apple, and Jobs does feature in the book’s narrative about Apple’s push-back against Spotify’s launch in the US. As the authors themselves hold that their Jobs intel was central to the book’s narrative, it would be a shame to leave that thread out of the show.
Netflix declined to confirm to The Verge whether a Jobs character would appear in the series. But speaking about the book in 2019, Carlsson told Variety that “we both felt a rush of adrenaline when we unraveled the details about the conflict between Apple and Spotify. After several months of research, we could finally account for how Jobs actively worked to oppose Spotify’s establishment in the U.S., and what he may have been thinking. It gave the story an edge.”
Plus, nothing spells drama like one tech titan producing a “fictionalized” series about the messy origin story of another. Show us fake Jobs, already, Netflix!
Following a number of leaks, the Beats Studio Buds have been officially announced. Apple’s first Beats-branded true wireless earbuds feature active noise-cancellation and “Hey Siri” voice control for £130 (around $190, AU$250).
As predicted, the Beats Studio Buds boast an elliptical-shaped earpiece that is unlike any of Apple’s AirPods buds. They also offer one-touch pairing to both iOS and Android devices (not something you’re likely to see on Apple’s upcoming AirPods 3 buds, that’s for sure).
Digging into the spec sheet, it looks like Apple has pitched the Beats Studio Buds at a sporty audience. The IPX4 rating should provide decent level of protection against sweat and rain, while the choice of three soft silicone ear tips and lightweight design (5g per earbud) could boost comfort during workouts.
The promised “booming” sound might not be everyone’s cup of coffee but, if you’re attempting to smash your personal best, or simply fancy a good dollop of beefy bass, the Beats Studio Buds could be worth considering.
Much like Apple’s pricier AirPods Pro, the Beats Studio Buds feature tiny vents to relieve pressure on your eardrum when listening for longer period. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, the Studio Buds will automatically play Apple Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos tracks when available.
Battery life sounds pretty average. You get 5 hours’ listening time from the buds with ANC on, plus another 10 hours (two charges) from the supplied charging case. If you’re prepared to switch ANC off, the buds will last 8 hours. Throw in another two charges from the case and you’re looking at up to 24 hours playback.
On the subject of noise cancelling, there are two listening modes. ‘Active’ aims to block out all unwanted external noise, whether it’s a rumbling train or a howling wind. ‘Transparency’ lets you have a conversation without removing the buds by pressing the ‘b’ button on the stem of the buds. And, as expected, iOS users can activate Siri hands-free with the familiar “Hey Siri” command.
There’s no mention of Apple’s H1 chip, as found in the Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless earbuds, only ‘Class 1 Bluetooth’. Perhaps because the Beats Studio Buds are the first Beats headphones to offer one-touch pairing for both iOS and Android users.
Last but not least, the Beats Studio Buds are the first Beats to support both FindMy in iOS and Find My Device on Android. The buds can emit a high-pitched sound to make them easier to locate when dropped in the street or lost down the back of a sofa.
If you’re in the market for the best Beats headphones with ANC, the Beats Studio Buds will be available in the UK this summer, priced at £130. They come in eco-friendly “plant-based” packaging, too.
Read all our Beats reviews
See all our Apple reviews
Want the AirPods 3 intel? See AirPods 3: release date, price, design, leaks and news
Beats today announced its second pair of true wireless earbuds, the new Beats Studio Buds. Priced at $149.99 and available in red, black, or white, the Studio Buds have a much different, more compact design than the previous Powerbeats Pro. There are no ear hooks on these, nor any stems, and that results in a very lightweight, comfortable fit. Preorders start today in the US and Canada from Apple and other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, and the earbuds will be available in stores on June 24th.
The Studio Buds include active noise cancellation, IPX4 water and sweat resistance, and can last for up to five hours on a charge. (If you leave noise cancellation off, they can eke out eight hours of continuous playback. They also use USB-C for charging — there’s no wireless charging, unfortunately — and either earbud can be used independently.
Interestingly, Beats is supporting both iOS and Android features with the Studio Buds. On iPhone, you get the familiar, easy AirPods-like setup and Control Center integration. They can also do hands-free “Hey Siri” commands. On Android, Beats now works with Fast Pair and Google’s Find My Device features.
Beats came up with an all-new acoustic architecture design for the Studio Buds, which have 8.2-millimeter drivers, and the company claims you can expect “outstanding stereo separation and low harmonic distortion across the frequency curve so you hear every note.”
If you’re wondering how the Studio Buds might stack up to the AirPods Pro or other competitors, I’ve been spending some time testing the just-announced earbuds, and you can read my full review of the Beats Studio Buds here.
This year’s Apple Watch could feature an improved screen and updated ultra-wideband support, Bloomberg reports, but more substantial improvements like temperature and blood glucose monitoring will not appear until later models. The company is also reportedly planning a successor to last year’s more affordable Apple Watch SE, as well as a new extreme sports-focused model, due for release in 2022.
The improvements coming to this year’s model, which will almost certainly be called the Series 7, appear to be small. Its display bezels are said to be thinner, and a new lamination technique could reduce the distance between the display and the front cover. The watch’s ultra-wideband support could also be improved after getting its Apple wearable debut in last year’s Series 6.
But the years ahead could bring more substantial improvements for Apple’s wearable. Top of the list is a new blood glucose monitoring feature, which could automatically log blood-sugar levels for diabetics without them needing to prick a finger to draw blood. There’s also reportedly a new body temperature monitoring feature on the way, which has reportedly seen a surge in interest due to the pandemic. The temperature sensor could appear in the watch’s 2022 refresh, while blood glucose monitoring is several years away, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg previously reported that Apple was internally discussing releasing a rugged smartwatch aimed at extreme sports users. It now reports this model, internally referred to as an “explorer” or “adventure” edition, is unlikely to release this year, and could arrive in 2022. However Bloomberg cautions that this, like all of Apple’s unannounced plans, are subject to change.
Have you ever wanted to make your iPhone your own, with your individualized style and flair? Sure, you can change your home screen wallpaper. But if you really want to personalize your phone, why not create your own app icons?
It’s doable, using Apple’s built-in Shortcuts app. You actually won’t be replacing the icons that the apps came with — rather, you’ll be creating separate Shortcuts that lead to the app. It’s a tedious and time-consuming process, but in the end, you can have a fully customized iPhone home screen.
Here’s how you do it:
First, find and tap on the Shortcuts app. It’s pre-installed; if you can’t see it immediately on your home screen, swipe left until you’re at the App Library and start typing “Shortcuts” into the top search bar.
Once you’re in the app, tap on the “plus” sign in the upper-right corner, and then on “Add Action”
There are a lot of interesting things to try out in Shortcuts. But right now, what we want to do is switch app icons. Type “Open app” in the search bar and then tap on the “Open App” link.
Tap on the word “Choose.” You’ll see a list of your apps; pick the one you want to customize and you’ll be taken back to the New Shortcut page.
Select the three dots in the upper-right corner. You’re now in the Details page. Give your shortcut a name and tap “Add to Home Screen.”
You’ll now see a preview of the icon (which will be a standard, uninteresting icon that Shortcuts automatically adds). Don’t worry, we’re going to make it better. Select Add in the top-right corner.
Now it’s time to find your substitute icon. There are a bunch of icon sources online (Flaticon, for example), or if you’re artistic and / or ambitious, you can create your own. Whether you use someone else’s or your own, save the image to Photos.
Now go back to the Shortcuts preview area. (You can find it again by going to the Details section and tapping on “Add to Home Screen.”) Tap on the icon under “Home Screen Name and Icon.” You’ll have the choice of either taking a photo, choosing a photo, or choosing a file. Assuming you’ve already saved an image in Photo, tap on “Choose Photo” and select the photo you want to use.
On the next screen, a highlighted area will indicate what part of the photo will appear as an icon; you can move the photo around until you’re happy with the section indicated. Tap “Choose” in the lower-right corner.
Now, you’ll see your new icon. Tap Add.
You should see your new customized icon on your home screen. Congrats!
There’s the possibility you may see two new icons on your home screen: one with the first boring icon, and one with your wonderful new icon. If that’s the case, just press and hold the icon that you don’t want, and then select “Delete bookmark.” Remember, this (and the other you created) is a bookmark / shortcut — not the original.
You can also hide the original app icon so you’ll just have the new one visible. (You don’t want to delete it completely, of course; that would delete the app.)
Long-press on the original app icon and select “Edit Home Screen”
Tap on the minus sign. On the pop-up menu, tap “Remove from Home Screen.” The original icon won’t be deleted, just hidden; you can always find it in the App Library.
One note: when you use your new icon to go to the app, you will occasionally get a small drop-down notice that tells you what the original app is called and to remind you of the fact that it is a shortcut. But the drop-down will only last for a second or two, so it shouldn’t be much of a bother.
New outbreaks of COVID-19 in Asia could create delays in the global supply chain and exacerbate the global semiconductor shortage, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
Taiwan, which is a significant hub for chip manufacturing, is currently experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center announced that there were 251 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26 deaths. On Friday, the agency reported 287 new cases and 24 deaths. And cases have been on the rise since early May. “Starting on May 10, COVID-19 infections jumped from one to three-digit figures within a matter of days,” South China Morning Post reported.
The outbreak is having a big effect on at least one major chip company in Taiwan. “At King Yuan Electronics Co., one of the island’s largest chip testing and packaging companies, more than 200 employees have tested positive for the virus this month, while another 2,000 workers have been placed in quarantine — cutting the company’s revenue this month by roughly a third,” the WSJ reported.
TSMC, which makes chips for Apple, Qualcomm, and many other big tech companies, says it has not yet been affected, according to the WSJ. But the company already warned in April that chip shortages could last through 2022, and it’s unclear how the COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan might affect that estimation.
The WSJ reported that factories in Malaysia have had their manufacturing capabilities slowed due to COVID-19 as well. “All told, the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association says the lockdown will reduce output by between 15% and 40%,” according to the WSJ.
Shipping centers in Asia have also been affected by the pandemic. For example, Yantian, a major container port in Shenzhen, is at 30 percent of its normal activity, the WSJ reported.
Apple has extended an olive branch to Windows-using Mac owners. The company recently updated its Boot Camp utility to support the Windows Precision Touchpad feature on certain devices, as spotted this morning by Reddit user “ar25nan.”
Windows Precision touchpad drivers offer a variety of gestures you can use to switch between windows, access the action center and open Cortana, among other things. It also enables basic functionality, such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. Most of those features have a macOS equivalent, many of which use the same gesture.
Yet, until now Mac owners running Windows 10 via the Boot Camp utility were unable to take advantage of Windows Precision Touchpad. That’s always been a notable omission, especially since Apple places such emphasis on touch-based interactions with its devices. Even the company’s basic mouse was designed with gestures in mind.
That situation has finally been rectified…for some people.
Macs That Support Windows Precision Gestures
Apple said in a support document that Windows Precision gestures support is limited to Boot Camp users running macOS Big Sur on an Intel-based Mac that features its T2 Security Chip. Anyone using an older version of macOS or an M1-equipped Mac is out of luck.
The list of Macs that meet these criteria is pretty short:
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020)
Mac Pro (2019)
Mac Pro (Rack, 2019)
Mac mini (2018)
MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2020)
MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2019)
MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
That might seem like a fair number of devices, but that’s only because of the way Apple is counting them. The actual list is just “Macs that were released between 2018 and early 2020.” Every other device—and versions of macOS released prior to Big Sur—will be stuck with the limited tracked options available before this update.
Here’s the good news: The limitation to Intel-based Macs almost certainly stems from the fact that Boot Camp doesn’t even support Apple’s custom silicon yet. Apple has said that it’s up to Microsoft to make sure Windows 10 on Arm runs on its new chips. Hopefully, support for Windows Precision touchpads will be there to greet it.
Either way, this should be a welcome change for the subset of Mac owners it affects, and it shows that Apple hasn’t completely abandoned its Intel-based Macs just yet.
Is Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter the most hyped, most mismatched and most bizarre celebrity boxing match yet? We’ll let you decide but the three-round pay-per-view bout is not to be missed. Ice-T and Coco are your hosts. Tonight’s celebrity boxing is exclusive to Fite.TV. Follow our guide on how to watch a Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter live stream on PPV, from anywhere in the world.
Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter live stream
Date: Friday 11th June 2021
Main card: 2am BST / 9pm ET
Ringwalks: 4.30am BST / 11.30pm ET
Venue: Showboat Hotel, Atlantic City, USA
Live stream: Fite.TV ($29.99)
Watch anywhere: Try ExpressVPN
Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter takes place today, Friday, 11th June, live from the iconic Showboat Hotel on the Atlantic City boardwalk (one for Sopranos fans).
Former NBA basketball star Lamar Odom, aka Khloe Kardashian’s ex, is bursting with confidence. Possibly because he’s over six inches taller than Carter and has a huge reach advantage. “I’m gonna put him to sleep early,” said Odom earlier this week.
Why is Odom fighting? He’s friends with MMA star Nate Robinson, who was knocked out in the second round by Jake Paul recently. Odom believes he may have a shot at avenging that loss – if he can outbox Carter.
As for Aaron Carter, the US rapper and producer is best known for his song, Aaron’s Party. He is the brother of Nick Carter, of Backstreet Boys fame.
“I’m really excited to be fighting Lamar Odom,” said Carter. “This is a crazy matchup. It’s like David and Goliath. He’s 6 foot 7, I’m 6’1. So it’s gonna be kind of crazy, know I can [beat Lamar]. Come June 12, like I said, like Apollo Creed said, ‘I’m gonna drop him like a bad habit,’ and I mean that.”
Tonight’s celebrity boxing pay-per-view is exclusive to Fite.TV. Follow our guide to watch an Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carte live stream from anywhere in the world.
Watch a Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carte live stream on Fite.TV
Boxing fans can see Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter live on Fite.TV tonight. This celeb boxing bonanza is a $29.99 pay-per-view.
You can order it right now and get prepped for a fascinating night of entertainment. The price includes unlimited replays to re-watch the fight online for free.
Fite.TV is accessible worldwide but if you find yourself geo-blocked, simply use a VPN to access Fite.TV from anywhere in the world. We recommend ExpressVPN because it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support.
The Fite.TV app is available from the Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Roku TVs and players and Huawei App Gallery.
Special guests include former UFC star Chuck Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr.!
Watch a Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter live stream anywhere in the world using a VPN
Even if you have subscribed to the relevant Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter live stream rights holders, you may find yourself geo-blocked if you’re away from your own country. If that’s the case use a VPN to make sure you can access the stream.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps you get around this obstacle. A VPN creates a private connection between your device and the internet, such that the servers and services you’re accessing aren’t aware of what you’re doing. All the information passing back and forth is entirely encrypted.
There are many VPN providers out there, with some more reliable and safe than others. As a rule, we’d suggest a paid-for service such as ExpressVPN.
Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee with its VPN service. You can use it to watch Lamar Odom vs Aaron Carter on your mobile, tablet, laptop, TV, games console and more. There’s 24/7 customer support and three months free when you sign-up.
The first drop of Record Store Day 2021 records arrives on Saturday 12th June. It’s that time of year when record shops stock all manner of rarities, reissues, special editions and exclusives produced especially for the big day itself. For us vinyl anoraks, it’s like Christmas, but without the family commitments. So better than Christmas, then.
This year, Record Store Day 2021 takes place over two days – the next is Saturday 17th July. Both days will offer another bumper crop of vinyl, with the first drop alone comprising no fewer than 347 releases. If you want to see what’s worth checking out without trawling the full list yourself, see our picks below. And if you do want to do the trawling for yourself? We’ve got you covered there too, with our full list of Record Store Day drop one releases. Enjoy!
The Doors – Morrison Hotel Sessions
The Door’s Morrison Hotel studio album turned 50 recently, and here for the first time on vinyl is a collection of rare session tapes from the original recording sessions. It promises to give a unique insight into the creative process that birthed Roadhouse Blues, Peace Frog/Blue Sunday and Queen Of The Highway, among others. The limited edition package was mixed and assembled by The Doors’ original engineer Bruce Botnick, who also put together the new liner notes. It’s limited and numbered to 16,000 copies, so better get in early Doors (sorry).
The Academic – Tales From The Backseat
Mick Jagger likes this Irish four-piece (he handpicked them as a support act for the Stones), and so should you. Their guitar-driven sound is uplifting and melodic, and tight as a drum – hardly surprising considering they’ve been playing together since school. This is their debut album, originally released in 2018, and now getting a special limited edition re-release on yellow vinyl. Very summery.
Warpaint – The Fool. Andrew Weatherall Sessions
Andrew Weatherall, the legendary musician and producer, who sadly died last year, was given access to the master tapes of 2010’s The Fool, with two of his efforts making the finished product: Baby and Undertow. For the first time, this Record Store Day edition brings together all the mixes Weatherall created while working on the project, including a never released before, finished version of Jubilee. A must for fans.
Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap
This is a reissue of the band’s critically acclaimed album, on green vinyl. Don’t know what an Arab Strap is? (Neither did the band, reportedly.) Trust us, don’t Google it. But do enjoy this excellent slice of indie rock.
Bernard Butler – People Move On
The ex-Suede guitarist’s first solo album gets a reissue for the first time since 1998, and it’s no standard repressing – this one comes on two 180g clear vinyl discs, marking it out as a Record Store Day special edition. Get it while it lasts.
The Chemical Brothers – The Darkness That You Fear
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simon’s first new music since 2019’s No Geography is a proper summer anthem – an uplifting jam that provides a much-needed glimpse of hope. The single came out in April, but is getting another bite of the cherry for Record Store Day, alongside a B-side which is as yet unreleased. Exciting.
The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (Companion Disc)
This was originally only available as a promo CD, handmade by the band’s management and dished out to lucky media outlets around the release of The Soft Bulletin (one of The Flaming Lips’ best-selling albums). It has since been widely circulated among the fan community, and now is available as an official Record Store Day 2021 release. It features outtakes, alternate mixes, and radio sessions from the era. Essential.
Genesis – Live at Knebworth
This legendary concert was only ever released on DVD and as a two-CD set, but now for the first time it gets the full vinyl treatment. Each one is numbered, so you can be sure you’re getting a piece of musical history, and each sale helps raise money for Nordoff Robbins, a charity that uses music to enhance the quality of life for those with life-limiting illness, disabilities or feelings of isolation.
The Jaded Hearts Club – Live At The 100 Club
This supergroup is made up of Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets), Nic Cester (Jet), Matt Bellamy (Muse), Graham Coxon (Blur), Sean Payne (The Zutons) and Jamie Davis. Their ambition? To mine the history of rock and soul music to create original interpretations of lost classics. And with a lineup like that, they’re better equipped than most to do so. This is a live recording of their first ever gig, at London’s legendary venue, and includes the hits Gloria, Have Love Will Travel, My Generation and Sunshine Of Your Love. It’s like the best wedding set ever.
Oneohtrix Point Never – Russian Mind
Daniel Lopatin’s experimental electronica has gained popularity since his award-winning soundtrack for Good Time and, more recently, Uncut Gems. He’s also grown in stature since gaining production credits for major pop acts like The Weeknd. For RSD 2021, five of his out-of-print works are being released on coloured vinyl.
Primal Scream – Dixie Narco EP
This rarity hasn’t been reissued since its original release in 1992, so it’s something of a treat. Recorded at Ardent Studios, Memphis, it picks up a lot of the themes explored in the preceding – and critically acclaimed – Screamadelica album; namely it’s a similar blend of acid house and country blues influences, with the same thrilling end result. There’s even a rare Dennis Wilson cover. If you missed it first time around, this is the perfect opportunity to right that wrong.
Thelonius Monk – The Custodian’s Mix
Step back in time to 1968 Palo Alto, before that town became a tech hub that’s home to Apple, Google, Tesla and Facebook. Then, legendary jazz pianist Thelonius Monk took to Palo Alto High School’s auditorium with his quartet to deliver an electrifying performance. This limited edition LP was recorded by an unknown high school custodian, so you’ll hear the concert as if you were right there in the audience.
Mogwai – ZeroZeroZero
Mogwai created the soundtrack to the eight-part crime drama TV series ZeroZeroZero, and now it’s available exclusively on double white vinyl for RSD 2021. It’s only been available digitally before, and comes with a free MP3 download, should you want to listen to it on the move as well. But it’s of course all about the vinyl really…
View all the vinyl: Record Store Day 2021 release list
Soon the Xbox experience will come baked right into your TV. That’s thanks to an Xbox TV app that Microsoft is launching that will bring games directly to your big screen with no console required.
Don’t have a smart TV? No problem. Microsoft has streaming devices in the works, too, which will bring Xbox gaming to any set with an HDMI port.
Microsoft made the announcement ahead of the E3 games conference, which kicks off tomorrow.
“We’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs so all you’ll need to play is a controller,” the blog post reads.
There’s no word on when the app will launch, nor which TV makers will offer it. There’s also no mention of which games will be available, although the suggestion appears to be that it will tied into Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate service, which gives subscribers unlimited access to over 100 top-tier games (including all first-party Microsoft titles) for £10.99 ($14.99, AU$15.95) a month.
The spec of your TV will likely matter a bit, too, but the speed of your internet connection will likely be a bigger factor. Both the Xbox Series X and S are powerhouse consoles, so with no dedicated games machine in the equation, all that processing grunt will have to be handled somewhere.
“We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” the post goes on. These could be a streaming stick or dongle along the lines of the Google Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, or it could be a bigger, Apple TV 4K-sized device.
The Vergedescribes it specifically as an xCloud streaming stick, but this appears to be an assumption on their part as Microsoft hasn’t confirmed this in the announcement.
Microsoft is also opening up cloud gaming to more devices by enabling it through the Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari web browsers. According to Microsoft, “players will be a click away from gaming on almost any device.” Again, there’s no word on hardware or internet requirements.
Xbox’s Phil Spencer has previously hinted at these developments, saying in November that he would expect the TV app to land within a year. So it could be a Christmas treat for anyone still unable to lay their hands on a new Xbox.
Find your next console: Xbox Series X stock update
Prefer a PS5? PS5 stock and where to buy
Or are you unsure which to buy? PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which is better?
During the iOS portion of Apple’s WWDC keynote, it showed some amazing demos of 3D cities and AR transit directions, but amid all the beautiful features there were a few things missing from the stage and Apple’s iOS 15 feature list. Namely, some basic navigation tools that would let me get around easier.
Since Apple seems to be focusing a lot on Maps (it got stage time at last year’s keynote, too), perhaps they’re also taking requests? Here’s my wishlist.
Without a cellular signal or Wi-Fi, Apple Maps turns into a brick — you can’t search for locations, find routes, or do anything useful. This is, to put it lightly, a bit of a problem for a navigation app that’s been around for eight years. Imagine you used Apple Maps to navigate to somewhere that doesn’t have reliable cell service (like, say, many national parks), then want to go home. Apple Maps can get you through a dead zone, but if you’ll be staying a while, you won’t be able to use Apple Maps to get back.
While leaving civilization and never coming back may appeal to some people (hello), it’s not the experience most are looking for. There are various ways to solve this — Apple could create a system where Maps caches the places you’ve recently traveled through, making at least basic routing available without an internet connection, or it could go full Google Maps and let you arbitrarily download massive parts of the map that will be available offline. There just needs to be some way to navigate your way out of a cellular dead zone should you find yourself in one.
Since Apple Maps will work offline if you’ve got navigation going, maybe there’s a workaround? Could you create a route that brings you to a place, but then also takes you back home? That’s very clever, but no, because Apple Maps doesn’t have…
The ability to create routes with more than one destination is, admittedly, more useful while you’re planning a trip than while you’re actually traveling, but it can still save you the hassle of having to choose a new destination every time you arrive somewhere. Apple Maps, however, doesn’t have this ability — you can do point-to-point travel, and that’s it. As far as I (and people on Apple’s forums and Reddit) can tell, you can’t even do multiple stops in the desktop Apple Maps, which would at least help with planning. Meanwhile, in Google Maps land…
But wait, isn’t there an Add Stop button in Apple Maps? Indeed, there is, but I regret to tell you that it’s not for creating multi-stop routes — it’s for adding a brief detour. And, to add insult to injury, it’s almost useless for what it’s actually designed to do.
The Add Stop button lets you find a temporary pit stop along your route, so you can take a break from driving to get food, gas, or whatever. The problem is that it’s extremely limited in this capability — it only lets you choose from a few predetermined categories and will only show you a few from each one. It does provide a quick and easy interface for use while driving, but if you want to do something specific, you’ll be in for a rough time.
If you want to stop at a specific restaurant, you can’t search for it using the Add Stop menu. As an example, say I was traveling to Seattle but wanted to stop at a McDonald’s along the way. I’d have to stop my navigation to Seattle and set it to McDonald’s instead. Then, after I was done there, I’d have to set my navigation to Seattle again. With Google Maps, I’d just be able to search along my route, add McDonald’s, and be good to go.
Google Maps’ search along route feature is great for another reason — if I want to stop in, say, 60 miles instead of right now, I could set Google Mapsto a gas station that’s a ways up the road. Apple Maps can only show what’s around you, not further on along the route.
This one is small, but if you’re trying to visually plan out a route where you’ll be walking or biking, you’ll really have to hunt for paths in Apple Maps. Look at this comparison between a local paved trail in Apple Maps versus what it looks like in Google Maps.
The path on Apple Maps.
The path on Google Maps.
It’s safe to say that the one in Google Maps is just a tad easier to notice and trace. Apple did mention improving details like this in iOS 15, but those improvements seemed to be in the cities that were getting the upgraded 3D maps, not everywhere (though I’d love for that to not be the case). Either way, Apple obviously knows my trail exists, so it’d be great if it could highlight it in some way.
This is, again, a small one — Apple talked about Maps helping people navigate better while driving, but for the areas that won’t get 3D mapped anytime soon, actually being able to see a satellite view while driving could help improve their navigation experience. Satellite view may not be for everyone all the time, but if you’re navigating a tricky intersection, or a dense area where landmarks may be key, being able to see a top-down picture instead of just an abstracted map could help you avoid missing a turn.
Of course, there are navigation apps available that have these features — I’ve directly compared Apple Maps with Google Maps several times, and Google also makes Waze. However, while Google Maps and Waze do have CarPlay integration, they’re generally not as well-integrated as Apple Maps is (for obvious reasons). There’s also the matter of privacy — some people, myself included, would rather not give Google all the location data that comes with using their mapping service.
Whatever reason people decide to stick with Apple Maps, they deserve to have a useful navigation experience, and it’d be nice to see Apple getting the basics done before adding an (admittedly lovely looking) moonlight aesthetic to Maps.
On Friday, House Democrats introduced five new bills meant to chip away at the power of big tech companies, targeting a variety of practices that antitrust advocates say are stifling competition.
These measures are the House Judiciary Committee’s historic, 16-month long investigation into the business tactics of companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. With this new slate of bills, Congress is getting ready to legislate based on the concerns raised by that investigation — and the move could reshape the tech industry as we know it.
“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy. They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement Friday. “Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
The package unveiled Friday includes five measures targeting the different ways in which tech companies maintain market dominance. One bill would empower the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission to break up tech firms by forcing them to sell off parts of their business that could create a conflict of interest — potentially forcing Amazon to carve off house brands like Amazon Basics.
Another bill would bar companies from giving their own services preference over their rivals, like Google boosting its own products in search results over competitors. Yet another bill would block companies like Facebook from buying up nascent competitors like in the 2012 acquisition of Instagram.
The last two bills are less controversial. Last week, the Senate already passed a measure put out by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would boost merger filing fees for large companies, giving antitrust enforcers more money to take on cases. A bill mirroring that legislation was introduced Wednesday. The last bill would force platforms to make the data they collect interoperable in order to make it easier for users to jump from one service to another. Both Republicans and Democrats seem eager to move forward on data portability legislation.
The House’s tech investigation was a bipartisan endeavor, and while both parties agree on many of the probe’s findings, they disagree on some of the solutions. The probe culminated into an over 400-page report from Democratic staff detailing its findings. Rep. Ken Buck (CO), the committee’s top Republican, issued his own report focusing on the ways large platforms allegedly censor conservative speech and encouraging other Republicans to support competition reform as a means of addressing the issue.
It’s unclear how lawmakers plan to move forward on the legislation, but the multi-pronged approach could make it easier to enact some changes over the coming Term. More measured approaches like Klobuchar’s to boost regulatory funding could find broad support in the House.
At least one Republican and one Democrat signed on to each of Friday’s measures. Still it’s unclear if all members support each bill. On Thursday, Axios reported that lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch’s media companies, like Fox Corp. and News Corp., were urging House Republicans to support the measures.
“These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition,” Buck said in a statement Friday. “Doing nothing is not an option, we must act now.”
In 2019, facing down extensive investigations by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Timesthat showed Apple’s App Store clearly and consistently ranking its own apps ahead of competitors, Apple claimed it had done nothing wrong — a secret algorithm containing 42 different variables was working as intended, top executives told the Times, insisting that Apple doesn’t manually alter search results.
Why do I bring this up? An intriguing email chain has surfaced during the Epic v. Apple trial where it sure looks like Apple did the exact opposite — admitting it manually boosted the ranking its own Files app ahead of the competition for 11 entire months.
“We are removing the manual boost and the search results should be more relevant now,” wrote Apple app search lead Debankur Naskar, after the company was confronted by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney over Apple’s Files app showing up first when searching for Dropbox. “Dropbox wasn’t even visible on the first page [of search results],” Sweeney wrote. You can read the whole email chain embedded a little ways below.
As you’ll see, Naskar suggested that Files had been intentionally boosted for that exact search result during the “last WWDC.” That would have been WWDC 2017, nearly a year earlier, when the Files apps first debuted.
The email chain actually reflects fairly well on Apple overall. Apple’s Matt Fischer (VP of the App Store) clearly objects to the idea at first. “[W]ho green lit putting the Files app above Dropbox in organic search results? I didn’t know we did that, and I don’t think we should,” he says. But he does end the conversation with “In the future, I want any similar requests to come to me for review/approval,” suggesting that he’s not entirely ruling out manual overrides.
But Apple tells The Verge that what we think we’re seeing in these emails isn’t quite accurate. While Apple didn’t challenge the idea that Files was unfairly ranked over Dropbox, the company says the reality was a simple mistake: the Files app had a Dropbox integration, so Apple put “Dropbox” into the app’s metadata, and it was automatically ranked higher for “Dropbox” searches as a result.
Apple manually boosts its first-party apps in search results? Funny, I feel like somebody testified under oath that that never happens https://t.co/mTgnw8d8CK
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) June 7, 2021
I’m slightly skeptical of that explanation — partially because it doesn’t line up with what Naskar suggests in the email, partially because Apple also told me it immediately fixed the error (despite it apparently continuing to exist for 11 months, hardly immediate), and partially because the company repeatedly ignored my questions about whether this has ever happened with other apps before.
The most Apple would tell me is that it didn’t manually boost Files over competitors, and that “we do not advantage our apps over those of any developer or competitor” as a general rule.
But honestly, it may not matter whether Apple manually boosted its own apps or not. What matters is the result: for 11 months, Apple’s new Files app owned exact searches for its competitor Dropbox, a company Steve Jobs reportedly swore he would kill off, and it took the CEO of a prominent Apple partner emailing the company before Apple did something about it. And based on The Wall Street Journal’s investigation, Apple may not have done much: the Files app still ranked #1 in the App Store for cloud storage in June 2018, a month after this email chain was resolved, according to an infographic that accompanied the WSJ story.
Besides, the distinction between a “manual” boost and any other kind of boost may be purely academic. Algorithms are written by people, after all. If Apple can build a 42-factor algorithm that gives its own apps favorable results, why would it need to override that algorithm and risk its emails getting caught up in a lawsuit years from now?
It could just tweak that algorithm at will — which is exactly what it did to resolve the WSJ and NYT’s scrutiny two years ago. It only took a single engineer to change the algorithm in July 2019, according to the Times, and Apple’s own apps immediately fell in App Store rankings. But that time, executives said the previous formula wasn’t a mistake. Apple simply wanted to make it look less like its own apps were getting special treatment. So it “improved” the algorithm to achieve the new result it wanted.
Apple provided this statement:
We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. App Store Search has only one goal — to get customers what they are looking for. We do that in a way that is fair to all developers and we do not advantage our apps over those of any developer or competitor. Today, developers have many options for distributing their apps and that’s why we work hard to make it easy, fair and a great opportunity for them to develop apps for our customers around the world.
Apple is bringing one of streaming’s trendiest features to iPhone users with the debut of SharePlay in iOS 15 later this year, allowing FaceTime users to stream music, online videos, and movies together with friends. The move positions FaceTime to compete more directly with platforms like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Houseparty, which all offer ways to video chat while watching things as a group.It offers Apple a chance to hook a new generation of users on FaceTime — but the service is still missing some key integrations to make that happen, particularly for the teens most likely to use it.
SharePlay, announced earlier this week and likely arriving in the fall, will allow FaceTime users to share and stream media in real time from an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. It’s a neat tool for the pandemic era, and it takes inspiration from the watch party modes that many major streaming platforms — including Disney Plus, Hulu, and Prime Video, among others — added themselves in the last year. For services where it’s not supported, like Netflix, there are popular extensions that enable simultaneous streaming and chatting as well.
The goal isn’t to compete with those native platforms, though. After all, you’re still watching Hulu, just in a different space. Instead, the update puts FaceTime square against services like Facebook Messenger that dominate messaging and have already been trying to build out co-watching experiences, but without as robust of a service list as Apple has the ability to line up.
SharePlay particularly makes sense for the next generation of iPhone users, as teens are more inclined to watch videos on their phones. Video-based social media apps like Instagram and TikTok are immensely popular among teens, and an overwhelming majority of teens have access to these apps on their own personal smartphones. Video chatting is hugely popular, too, with a 2015 survey from Pew Research finding that 59 percent of US teens video chatted with their friends.
The introduction of SharePlay also jibes with Apple’s reported plans to make iMessage compete more directly with Facebook-owned WhatsApp by becoming more of a social network. It makes a lot of sense that the company would similarly invest in developments for its video-calling product as well, which is just a couple of taps away.
But if Apple wants SharePlay to be a success among the demographic of consumers most likely to use it, it’ll need to expand the number of apps that support it.
Apple said that at launch, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch will be supported on SharePlay, which is a somewhat limited grab bag of streaming options. Granted, there’s plenty of time for that list to get longer before iOS 15 officially rolls out to users in the fall. And Apple told The Verge that SharePlay will be available to any streaming app that wants to support it, so we’re likely to see wider adoption down the road.
Some of the best applications of this feature failed to make their way into Apple’s initial slide of supported services, though. Netflix is perhaps the most obvious of these simply on the basis that virtually everyone has a Netflix login, whether they’re actually paying for it or not (at least until the inevitable password crackdown). But YouTube was not mentioned either, and neither company had comment to share about potential support down the line when contacted by The Verge this week. A spokesperson for Peacock, however, told The Verge that SharePlay support was on its “roadmap.”
YouTube, in particular, seems like a huge miss for Apple, especially where teens are concerned. YouTube hosts just about every digital media format imaginable — music, movies, news, personalities, tutorials, live feeds, etc. — but most importantly, it’s free. As video callers tend to skew younger already, apps with highly shareable content like livestreams seem like the best use case for SharePlay outside of live sporting events. That’s particularly true given that for paid services, each participant in a SharePlay streaming session will need a login for the app. After all, if the tool didn’t require credentials and allowed just anyone to drop in a FaceTime stream of content from a paid service, SharePlay would be a piracy nightmare.
But that’s part of what makes the practical application of SharePlay a bit of a puzzler. Streaming the game or a movie premiere could get expensive fast. If your friends are watching NFL coverage on Sling TV, you’ll need a $35 subscription to join in (assuming the content is included in one of the service’s base plans). If you wanted to watch a Premier Access release like Cruella on Disney Plus, you’d need to pay the $8 monthly subscription cost on top of an additional $30 early access ticket fee. (A spokesperson for Disney Plus confirmed to The Verge that SharePlay users still need to pay for access to watch.)
It’s hard to imagine that most users would pay for a service just to be able to FaceTime while they’re watching a title. Then again, based on recent media consumption trends among teens, maybe SharePlay is part of the future of how entertainment is consumed, at least for the younger subset of Apple users.
It makes sense that a company investing heavily in its services offerings would jump on the watch party trend, if not a little late, and it does feel like a natural way for Apple to not only stay relevant but also sell subscriptions and hardware — even if right now, SharePlay alone seems unlikely to balloon numbers for streaming services. Free, social-leaning services and streaming titans are most likely to see success with this feature, and livestreaming apps seem likely to perform best. But they’ll actually have to beon SharePlay for that to work. As it currently stands, many are not.
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