US Newspapers Threaten Legal Action Against Brave Browser Over Ad Blocking

The Brave Browser was created to offer a more streamlined user-experience by automatically blocking intrusive adverts and software which tracks user history. This allows pages to load faster and reduces the possibility of your PC being subjected to malware. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with a large number of major US newspaper publishers and they’ve now decided to threaten Brave Software with legal action. Seventeen publishers produced a letter to Brave Software’s founder and CEO, Brendan Eich which reads:

“Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website [emphasis in original],”

Clearly, the publishers are unhappy that the Brave Browser replaces their adverts with the company’s own alternatives. They feel it’s effectively stealing and allowing them to make money from other people’s content. If Brave decided to resist the demand, the publishers are prepared to take legal action:

“We stand ready to enforce all legal rights to protect our trademarks and copyrighted content and to prevent you from deceiving consumers and unlawfully appropriating our work in the service of your business,” the letter stated. “We reserve the right to seek all remedies for this infringement, including but not limited to statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work. We believe your planned activities will also constitute unfair competition and misappropriation under relevant federal, state and common law. By engaging in Brave’s plan of advertising replacement, Brave is liable for breach of contract, unauthorized access to our websites, unfair competition, and other causes of action.” 

According to Computerworld, Brave’s ad revenue model works by:

“Brave will scrub websites of most of their ads and all tracking, then replace those now-empty slots with ads it sells. Seventy percent of the revenue from Brave’s ad sales would be shared with publishers (55%) and users (15%). The latter will be able to turn that money — in Bitcoin form — over to their favorite sites or keep it. Brave will retain 15%, with the remaining 15% going to advertising partners.”

Do you think the Brave Browser employs a fair business strategy?

Netflix to Increase Prices For 37 Percent of US Customers

Netflix has rapidly become a legitimate rival to traditional Television broadcasts and revolutionized the way we all watch video content. Instead of having to view your favourite programmes based on their pre-arranged listings, you can instantly access a huge library without adverts. Furthermore, exclusive programming such as House of Cards showcases the quality content, and value when subscribing to Netflix’s service. While there is competition from Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others, none of these really compared to Netflix’s ability to offer a massive range of blockbuster films.

Unfortunately, price increases have been occurring on a regular basis which might deter some users from continuing their subscription. Furthermore, the company recently clamped down on users accessing the US library with a DNS or VPN. Annoyingly, consumers outside of the US often have to put up with a fairly restricted selection of TV shows which is down to licensing agreements. Once again, this is another reason why certain long-term subscribers might feel inclined to cancel.

Some time ago, Netflix announced that they would be increasing prices gradually and freeze the cost for current users for a limited time. The ‘grandfathering’ period has now expired which means that almost 17 million US subscribers protected by this scheme will face a price increase from $7.99 a month to $9.99. This follows a 50p price hike in the UK and it looks likely that the company will continue with this strategy especially for those purchasing the HD tier. Of course, acquiring the broadcasting rights to expensive programming is bound to cut into Netflix’s profit margins. It’s clear they want to offer the best possible library and form the new instant form of Television.

However, if the prices continue to rise and eventually cost more than a cable service, I’m not sure how many subscribers they will lose. In the USA, I don’t think it’s likely, but disgruntled customers outside of the US market might feel they’re receiving poor value due to the smaller library while paying a similar price.

PDP Official Universal Media Remote for PlayStation 4 Review

Introduction


PDP are one of the biggest aftermarket peripheral brands around, having had great success with products such as the AfterGlow controllers for Xbox and PlayStation, now they’re back again with another great addition, this time exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Sony’s latest console is a great hub for home entertainment, offering a fantastic Blu-Ray player, as well as a host of multimedia applications such as Amazon Prime, iPlayer, PlayStation Video and Plex, but there’s been one glaring omission from the setup; a remote control.

The PlayStation 3 had a Bluetooth remote for ages, so it was expected that one would be made available at the console launch, or at least very close to it, but nothing came to light. Now, all this time after release, PDP has stepped in to make the officially licenced controller and while it almost feels like too little too late, I’m sure many of you are happy to see that a remote has finally been made available! The question is, is the control any good?

“Enjoy the convenience of having one remote to instantly control the endless entertainment options of your PlayStation®4. Want quick and easy access to all your favorite TV shows, movies, music, and videos? Coordinate everything with the officially licensed Universal Media Remote for PS4 and manage up to 4 devices—PS4, Set Top Box, TV, and Audio Receiver. Whether you’re listening to music, watching a video, or settling down with Netflix for the night, the Universal Media Remote for PS4 puts you in control right from the comfort of your couch.”

All the features you could hope for are here too, as you can not only control the PlayStation 4, but also up to three additional devices such as your cable box, surround sound and more, meaning the PDP controller has the potential to be the only remote you’ll need to pick up for movie night. It also promises additional support for many of the multimedia applications that are available on the PS4, which is certainly a big benefit overall.

  • Intuitive Control: Enjoy a convenient way to navigate and control your PlayStation® 4 system with ease.
  • Command up to Four Devices: Control your PS4system and up to three additional devices, including a TV, cable box and audio receiver.
  • Connects via Bluetooth: Uses Bluetooth to control your PS4 system.
  • Dedicated PS4 Buttons:   Includes the most important buttons for navigating system menus and apps including the Action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, and square), Share, Options, and PS buttons.
  • App Control:  At launch, the Universal Media Remote will be fully compatible with the following apps on PS4, with more to come later:
    • Blu-ray Disc Player
    • Crunchyroll
    • DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket
    • FUNimation
    • HBO GO
    • Media Player
    • NBA GAME TIME
    • Netflix
    • PlayStation Video
    • PlayStation Vue
    • Youtube

The packaging is nicely designed and shows off that official product badge proudly. PDP have a small logo on there, but overall this looks pretty much like a Sony branded package.

Again, we see that it has support for PS4 via Bluetooth, as well as other devices via IR.

In the box, you’ll find a simple multi-language user manual.

There’s not a lot here that isn’t obvious, but for setting up other devices to the control, you’ll likely need to read the booklet. Either way, it’s all fairly straightforward.

The Fine Brothers Rescind “React” Trademarks

The Fine Brothers is an incredibly popular YouTube channel with almost 14 million subscribers and gained popularity with a series of “react” videos. The concept is quite simple and revolves around of the idea of filming people’s reactions to viral videos, old technology and film trailers. Unbelievably, brothers Benny and Rafi Fine caused outrage by trying to trademark the word ‘react’. Not only that, they had the nerve to launch content ID claims against people making react style videos without their approval via the ‘React World’ license. Rightfully, people voiced their disgust and couldn’t believe the duo’s egotistical behaviour. Thankfully, after a great deal of media scrutiny and public disdain, the brothers have decided to release an official statement which reads:

“Hello,

We’re here to apologize.

We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them.

We have decided to do the following:

1. Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.*

2. Discontinue the React World program.

3. Release all past Content ID claims.**

The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward.

This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.

Sincerely,

Benny and Rafi Fine

*This includes “React,” “Kids React,” “Elders React,” “Lyric Breakdown,” etc. Please note: It takes a while for the databases to update, but the necessary paperwork has been filed.

**Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system that automatically flags content that looks like or sounds like copyrighted content. This mostly flags videos that are direct re-uploads of our videos (which is what the system is built for), but if you know of a video that has been claimed or removed incorrectly, please email us with “false claim” in the subject line.”

Clearly, this is just damage control after seeing the hatred directed at the Fine Brothers. Either they’re stupid for not expecting this or so arrogant that they honestly believed it was possible to trademark a word in the English language.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Suggests Like Attack On ISIS

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wants us to use make love and not war when it comes to dealing with pro-ISIS users on Facebook. This message comes as Facebook admits defeat in the effort to stop the tide of Islamic State accounts and propaganda that is appearing on the social media network lately.

It isn’t like Facebook isn’t trying to combat this hate coming from these terrorists, they simply can’t keep up with the sheer amount of posts and accounts being created. This was revealed at the World Economic Forum in Davos where it was said that Facebook is “doing everything it can to prevent extremist content being published”, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. “When you take one down, another pops up”.

While this technically sounds like a defeat, it isn’t. It just means that the tactics have to change and it also means that the social aspect of the site is needed. Facebook is proposing that everyone ‘like’ ISIS posts, which in itself sounds ludicrous. But there is deeper thought behind this and this tactic has worked in the past. The method that Sandberg calls a “like attack” is simple and it aims to defeat negative posts by clicking the like button and then flooding that page with positive messages.

Sandberg went on to explain that this action in no way is a sign of support for this kind of hate speech, but rather a way to stand united against the enemy. A single branch is easy to break, but when you got a whole stack of branches together, then you got something close to unbreakable. The same tactic was used a while ago against the german NPD, the far-right National Democratic Party, where over 100,000 people “liked” that page that actually didn’t like the message. Instead of posting hate and defamatory posts, they simply flooded the page with messages of tolerance and hope instead.

The effect is simple, right now it’s Facebook that is trying to catch up by banning people and deleting posts. The suggested method would turn it all around and put the ISIS supporters on the defense. They’ll be so busy themselves trying to delete all the positive messages that they won’t have time to spread their hate.

Whether people will accept this proposal and whether it will work, that’s something only time will tell. But I think we all can agree on one thing: The faster we get rid of this plague, the better off we are and the entire planet too for that matter. What is your opinion on this strategy, let us know in the comments.

Roku Announce 4K Smart TVs And HDR @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Streaming various forms of video content has revolutionized our viewing habits and provided a more convenient, legitimate alternative to traditional TV broadcasts. Roku’s ability to offer over 100 video channels has made their devices a popular choice for consumers wanting a flexible and no compromise viewing experience. During CES 2016, the company unveiled their plans to integrate streaming functionality into 4K TVs and already working with TCL, Haier, Hisense, Insignia and Sharp to launch nearly 60 new Roku TV models.

Additionally, Roku is releasing the TV HDR reference design to partners which enables them to utilize HDR technology in upcoming 4K smart TVs. Not only that, the system is based on the HDR 10 standard and should contain Dolby Vision support.

Is There a Connection Between ISIS and UK Government IP addresses?

Information has been both circulating and updating over the last 48 hours concerning a possible link “that a number of Islamic State supporters’ social media accounts are being run from internet addresses linked to IP addresses from the Department of Work and Pensions” This possible connection has been traced and subsequently exposed by well-known hacking group VandaSec.

Reports have also stated that, as is the norm in the digital age, been unearthed by four teenage computer hackers who claim to have traced “IP addresses from their supposed Saudi Arabia location back to the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions after using a set of specialized tools to track the IP addresses”. These accounts are at first glance noteworthy due to being utilised to recruit new ISIS members online.

It’s a conspiracy! Probably not, after further analyses by an external source, it has so far been concluded that these IP addresses were part of an unpublicized set of transactions between Britain and Saudi Arabia. It has been discovered that the British government sold a large number of IP addresses to two Saudi Arabian firms (Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company). After the sale had been finalised around October of this year (2015) extremists piggybacked onto these and utilized the protocol to spread the standard message synonymous with the group.

Jamie Turner, an expert from a firm by the name of PCA Predict, confirmed the trace back to the UK government was more obvious than first thought owning to the fact that records for the IPs had not as yet been fully updated.

At the very least it’s certainly embarrassing for Whitehall, yes, as the government has stated it had no control over what happened to the IP addresses after they had sold them, but, perhaps further vetting of potential clients needs to take place in order to mitigate against unlawful use at the extreme end. I wonder where other sold IP addresses will end up in the future?

Image courtesy of wired

EU lawmakers Propose Banning Under 16s From The Internet Without Parental Consent

Well this is, err, something, reports are circulating that under 16s could technically be banned from online services that include Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat unless they get permission from a parent. This quirk of fate if you will is all down to proposed new EU data protection rules which look set to be agreed.

So, how did we get to this? Well, new regulations would make it illegal for companies to handle data from anyone 15 years or younger without parental consent. These proposals open up a can of worms for various social media companies who have based their business models on targeting a younger audience with their products with hopes of an increased adoption of services.

The “ban” would leave millions of kids and teenagers having to ask their parents for permission to use internet services including email accounts, social media platforms and the downloading of apps. Somewhat understandably US tech groups are aiming to amend such a proposal through intense lobbying.

The proposal of new data protection regulations is much more stringent and companies must comply or face fines up to 4% of their global turnover, which could result in a massive bill for the biggest of online giants.

On the flip side, a petition has been launched by “The Diana Award Youth Boardwho state that “We don’t believe young people should be required to seek their parents’ consent every time they use a new app or website.”

It is certainly bizarre and impossible to police against, it will be compelling to see the outcome of these proposed regulations.

Image courtesy of mashable

BBC Three Will Move Online in February 2016

 

BBC Three broadcasts a number of hard-hitting documentaries and comedy favorites including American Dad. The channel is quite popular among the 20-30 age bracket and an integral part of the BBC. The BBC’s budget has spiraled out of control in recent years and they have been forced to make efficiency savings. As a result, the broadcaster lost the viewing rights to expensive sports contacts including the French Open Tennis and full Formula One coverage. On another note, the BBC’s Trust has finally confirmed that BBC Three will move to an online only model and no longer be broadcast on traditional TV. BBC Three’s Controller Damian Kavanagh described the announcement and said:

“BBC Three is not closing, we are reinventing online.  We will not be a scheduled 7pm to 4am linear broadcast TV channel but we will be everywhere else giving you the freedom to choose what to watch when you want. We will be available on BBC iPlayer on connected TV’s and via set top boxes and consoles like the PS4 so you can watch on a big TV with friends, if you want. We will be on mobiles and tablets so you can watch on your own in the bath, if you want. The truth is we will be available to you in more places than ever before including linear TV.”

While this has angered quite a lot of BBC Three’s audience, the decision does seem logical given the future of media and the channel’s young demographic. Most people in their early 20s are accustomed to streaming online video via YouTube, Netflix and similar services. In the modern age, people expect content instantly and don’t want to rely on traditional scheduling. The BBC’s long-term future is still up for discussion but it appears this move is going to cause some controversy.

51 Percent of US Internet Users Watch Netflix

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others have revolutionized the way we watch video content. In the digital age, there’s no need to wait for your favourite TV shows, or watch a bunch of adverts, as streaming services offer instant gratification. Netflix is evidently the most popular choice due to the superb TV and film library. However, many customers outside the US have to use a VPN as content is restricted on a geographical basis. Nevertheless, the affordable pricing and huge range of shows in the USA is proving a popular combination and according to research firm RBC Capital Markets, 51 percent of US internet users watched content on Netflix during the last 12 months.

Netflix’s viewing figures as a percentage even surpassed YouTube which finished in second place. The data is intriguing and illustrates the popularity of streaming services. As a result, it’s perfectly feasible for traditional TV to struggle in the next decade as consumers expect more and become sick of TV scheduling. Furthermore, Netflix now offers a premium service capable of 4K streaming, which is bound to please customers with a brand new 4K television. Although, the company has gradually increased the subscription costs over time. Therefore, it’s unknown how expensive Netflix might be in the next few years.

CEX Now Offers 24 Month Warranty on Second Hand Goods

Purchasing any used electrical item from smartphones to CPUs involves a high degree of risk unless the product includes an original proof-of-purchase. As a result, when looking for expensive graphics cards on eBay or premium mechanical keyboards, you have to take into account the lack of consumer protection. It’s quite baffling that the selling price is usually so close to a new retail sample which often contains a 2-5 year warranty. Throughout Europe, new goods legally have to come with a 2-year warranty, but there’s some confusion if this applies to used items.

Thankfully, there are some retail stores in the UK which provide guarantees on pre-owned hardware. However, the duration varies quite dramatically and some chains do not disclosure this information in a clear way. Recently, CEX announced they will provide a 24 month warranty on all used items as standard. This is a fantastic scheme and offers piece of mind on used products. Personally, I would probably pay the extra compared to eBay to have that extra year of cover. This enhanced protection encourages consumers to spend money on higher ticket items such as a used Intel Core i7-4770K. The savings are impressive and the warranty period buying used is only reduced by one year in this particular case.

While I’ve not always had the best experience with CEX, I have to applaud this consumer-friendly move. Hopefully, this will force the company to enforce greatly improved testing, and make sure traded-in products meet the standards.

Do you care about the warranty period when buying components?

YouTube is Now Offering Content Creators Business Loans

YouTube is a phenomenon which has revolutionized people’s viewing habits and provided a legitimate rival to broadcast Television. The service has progressed at a rapid rate and helped forge the careers of internet celebrities like PewDiePie. Initially, the website was created as a networking tool to bring communities together and share hobbies. Although, my viewpoint is a little idealistic. Google’s acquisition of YouTube contained a long-term plan to make the service profitable. Currently, this isn’t the case but it’s certainly turned into a professional organization where serious money can be made from content creators.

Youtube has decided to enter a business relationship with Lending Club to provide the funds to make a professional YouTube channel or take it to the next level. The announcement reads:

“We’ve partnered with Lending Club to provide YouTube Creators a limited finance offer you can put toward building your channel:

  • Personal & business loans
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Funds in your bank account quickly

YouTube exclusive perks:

  • Rebate for any origination fees: YouTube will pay back the origination fee, which will be rebated to you by Lending Club.

  • Qualify for a 5% loan rebate: If you increase either your channel’s average upload frequency or watch time, in the 12 months after you take out your loan, you’ll get a 5% rebate on the original total loan amount. Find out more.

This is a terrible move on Google’s part and I’m not convinced a cash injection will help YouTube channels to become successful. Additionally, the revenue streams from smaller channels are tiny, so the length of repayment could be extremely long. I feel a lot of people will just ignore this measure, and proceed without relying on loans. However, it’s concerning because people in desperate situations could take out a loan they cannot pay back. As a result, certain vulnerable individuals might end up in hardship, or being sued by the loan company.

If you want to read more information about this loan scheme, please visit here.

Do you think Google are wrong to partner with a loan company?

CS:GO Gets TV Spot On Fox Sports 1

E-sports are becoming more and more of a publicly known event, it used to be that players would gather around with their friends and watch their teams fight out through their web browser. There have been documentaries about e-sports in the cinema and now tournaments are also backed by crowd funding events, making their prices and people’s interest in the events seem to grow day by day. Now it would seem that you may soon be able to watch your favourite teams fight out on your TV.

Fox Sports, one of the main broadcasters of sports in Australia, have hidden in their schedule a slot for none other than the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament that starts on Tuesday. While it is common for e-sports to have some representation in the media, it will be the first time that Counter-Strike matches have been shown in full, and not just in a highlight reel, on TV.

With international tournaments picking up speed, with games like Heroes of the Storm and Smite joining the likes of Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Dota with large prize pools and even larger audiences, could you soon see a mainstream channel dedicated to all of your favorite e-sports games?

Thank you Kotaku for the information.

New Craze Called ‘Extreme Phone Pinching’ Trends On Social Media

Ok, I will say it, what in the hell is going on these days? You have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was certainly for a good cause, well here is a  new “challenge” and I use this word loosely, which is trending on social media whereby consumers are dangling their precious and I assume very expensive iPhones over balconies and or through gaps in drains.

This craze of what looks to be insanity for anyone attached to their gadgets was started by an indie pop band by the name of “Twenty One Pilots”, anyone? No me neither, who posted a series of videos on various social media accounts which conveys one of the band members lightly gripping an iPhone while dangling it through a gap in a street drain cover.  Below is a video to convey this, not sure many people would attempt this,

Oh, they would, below is a gentleman who succeeded in dangling his phone while standing at a precise height of 2,487 feet in the air, he was standing on a platform and not levitating.

Below is another individual who thought stretching over what looks to be an internal hotel balcony and lightly gripping his phone was a good idea, good job he did not drop his phone otherwise it would have either hit the ground or someone would have caught a free phone.

Last moron, sorry, individual, who dangled theirs out of a train/bus window, as you do I suppose.

For me it just goes to show that a certain section of society will follow any trend which is placed before them, spending hundreds of pounds on a new phone should be a sign to keep it out of harms way. One thing that would not surprise me if this is found to be a publicity viral video stunt in some way, after all, who would risk an expensive phone for a trend? as of writing apparently the above people. One things for sure, I would not have thought Apple Care would cover acts of stupidity, if it was broken then the genius bar would have to be actual geniuses in order to stick it back together again.

Thank you mirror for providing us with this information.

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Out in Europe Now

After privileged North American users were blessed with the system back in May, the people of Europe have finally been afforded the opportunity to get their hands on the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV. Available now in the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia, the SHIELD Android TV box is available in 16GB (standard) and 50GB (SHIELD Pro) models, plus microSD and USB 3.0 slots for expanding its storage capacity.

The SHIELD Android TV box boasts a Tegra X1 processor which, according to NVIDIA, “delivers graphics performance that’s 3x faster the new (2015) Apple TV, 25x faster than Roku 3, and 4x faster than the new (2015) Fire TV.” The box can stream 4K video from Netflix and YouTube – offering 10-bit colour and Dolby 7.1 surround sound – while also supporting Kodi (the new name for XBMC) and popular media sharing app Plex. Included in the bundle is the SHIELD wireless game controller, which supports voice commands and connects via WiFi Direct and offers 40 hours of gameplay from a single charge.

As well as being a streaming media player, the Android TV box, like its other SHIELD siblings, doubles as gaming system, supporting NVIDIA’s new GeForce Now game streaming platform.

The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV is priced £150 for the standard model, while the Pro version costs £230.

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

Google Announce Second Generation Chromecast And More

A few weeks ago we discussed the possibility of Google announcing and releasing their second generation of the popular streaming hardware Chromecast. It would seem like those rumours have been put to rest with the official announcement of several pieces of hardware today.

Google Chromecast allows you to stream your media to any TV as long as it has an HDMI port to plug the Chromecast into and a USB port to power it. It would seem they want to take its strengths and make it better with the Chromecast 2. Now available in black, orange or yellow the new Chromecast is circular in design and supports 5GHz WiFi for that even faster connection, allowing you to stream 1080p with greater ease. Atop the new design the USB is now at the end of a cable, where the previous Chromecast plugged directly into the HDMI port, sometimes making it difficult to use surrounding  ports or even plugging the Chromecast in. To help even more the new Chromecast will even feature 3 antenee which will be automatically selected and adapted to give you the best signal for streaming and recieving at any moment.

Alongside the Chromecast 2, Google have announced the Chromecast Audio, pictured above on the rights. A streaming device spercifically for your audio. Using the same principles that made the original Chromecast your favourite Google hope to catch your attention again with the Chromecast audio. With the ability to use either optical or standard headphone connections you can plug the Chromecast audio into almost anything with a sound input and have your phone stream your favourite songs from across the room.

Thank you Ars Technica and Tech Crunch for the information.

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch.

Second Generation of Chromecast Rumoured For Announcement Next Month

Google have announced several big products in the past, ranging from the high-end Google Glass to the low-end, as well as innovations such as the modular smartphone Ara. One of their more successful pieces of technology has been the Chromecast, and it is set for a new generation with rumours spreading stating that the next version could be announced as soon as next month.

Chromecast is a small dongle and from the looks of it, you would expect not much, but the small device packed a big punch and was in many was a forerunner to the generation of home media streaming. The original Chromecast supported features such as streaming Twitch and a whole host of apps, including Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. By turning any TV is a wireless streaming device for pictures, movies and online content the Chromecast quickly became popular.

The next generation looks to improve on this according to files found by 9to5Google. The documents indicate that not only will the next version contain improved Wifi and a slew of new features, of which “Fast Play” seems to be designed for streamlining connecting your devices in a quick and simple fashion.

The new Chromecast seems to also support something titled Chromecast Audio, a system where you can connect Chromecast to your speakers by auxiliary cord. With multi-room support and “high-quality” sound, the new Chromecast could see you streaming your party music all over your house.

With more and more features being added and upgrades like this, the Chromecast could quickly become my go to device for streaming any media content. What about you, do you stream media content in your home? Would you be looking at a Chromecast or do you avoid media streaming?

Thank you The Verge for the information. 

Image courtesy of Youtube user Marques Brownlee.

Over 44% of Streamed Videos Are on a Mobile Device

A report conducted by research firm Ooyala has charted the dramatic growth of mobile video playback which accounted for over 44% in Q2 2015. According to current trends, more than half of videos played will be on mobile devices by the end of this year. This marks a staggering 74% increase year-on-year and illustrates the changing nature of consumer viewing habits. However, Ooyala admitted that the growth rate will hit a peak point and progress at a much-reduced rate. The research paper specifically said:

“The second quarter saw mobile video plays exceed 44%, up 74% from a year ago and up a whopping 844% since Q2 2012. By the end of 2015, we expect mobile to account for more than 50% of all video plays.”

Additionally, the company divulged intriguing statistics regarding video lengths. Videos lasting 10 minutes or more was viewed most on tablets with a figure of 57%. Connected TVs achieved a similar rate of 53% and desktop viewing trailed behind with 40%. Unsurprisingly, mobile handsets are mainly used to watch short-format videos and access quick forms of entertainment.

The rise of community video and YouTube has dramatically altered what we watch and how we watch certain programming. Tablets can easily connect to apps and stream content in up to 4K video on Amazon Instant Video. Furthermore, consumers can now leisurely browse a huge library of programming without having to leave the armchair. Clearly, media is changing, and the desktop is not longer the optimal way to watch online videos.

Thank you Marketing Land for providing us with this information.

BBC Looking To Open Up iPlayer And Create New Online Services

Over the past few years, online streaming services have boomed and most recently have started to take over from mainstream television channels, with companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime creating and buying up series to entice users to their services. The BBC is not one to shy from online services, with iPlayer offering up most of their shows from both radio and TV for users to watch and even download to play later through their own app should they be on a long journey with no internet. With television licenses being discussed, it’s not surprising that more information about the BBC’s digital future is coming to light, with more services focused on a greater crowd.

One of the steps the BBC want to make is to open up their iPlayer streaming platform to other content creators, meaning you could soon be watching shows run on other channels through iPlayer or variations of the service. Other internet-led plans include the creation of a video-led mobile news channel, titled BBC Newstream and the creation of iPlay, a variation of iPlayer designed for use by children.

Amongst the plans are also a new digital music discovery service, possibly expanding on the already large series of music that is used on their website and radio shows on a daily basis.

Do you use iPlayer or do you avoid it? If so why and could these features entice you to come back and use the BBC’s features on a more regular basis?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information. 

Image courtesy of the BBC.

Apple Unleashes New Apple TV and ‘TVOS’

Apple has unveiled the highly-anticipated updated to the Apple TV and described it as “the future of Television”. According to Apple, Apps are paramount to modernizing TV and offering consumers a huge range of content through multiple providers such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. With the latest Apple TV, you can use the Siri remote which supports voice commands to search your entire library of Apps and not just within each program. If you use lots of video streaming services, then this could be a real time-saver. Although the voice recognition isn’t anything new considering Amazon’s Fire HD set-top box already includes this feature.

Another interesting announcement revolves around the new, dedicated operating system for the large screen called TVOS. Rather surprisingly, Guitar Hero is coming to Apple TV and Apple appears to be cashing-in on the mobile gaming market. Although, don’t expect too many mainstream console or PC games. A rather strange demonstration involved the extremely successful indie games, Crossy Road, and the developer appeared on stage to announce an exclusive Mulitplayer mode to iOS devices.

Other games coming to Apple TV include Disney Infinity, and a new title from the creators of Rock Band. Beat Sports combines music and motion controls using the Apple TV remote. Instead of playing notes, you have to move the main character and swing a baseball bat in time with the rhythm.

The Apple TV was used to broadcast a Major League Baseball game in 1080p at 60fps and allows for multi-game watching via split screen. Another neat feature, is the huge amount of optional data overlaid on the screen. In terms of specifications, the Apple TV employs Bluetooth 5.0 and a 64-bit A8 CPU. Interestingly, the Siri remote works in any direction and doesn’t have to face the sensor. The new Apple TV utilizes 802.11ac Wifi, and a decided Ethernet port for stable connections. Currently, the Apple TV is scheduled for release in October, and will come in two variants. The 32GB model wil cost $149 while the 64GB version retails for $199.

Spotify’s CEO Clarifies New Privacy Policy After Controversy

Spotify’s updated terms and conditions page has caused outrage amongst users and resulted in a number of high profile individuals to cancel their membership. To access the Spotify streaming service, you need to accept a privacy policy which allows the company access to sensitive data including pictures, videos, messages and contact numbers. The official statement reads:

“With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.” 

“Depending on the type of device that you use to interact with the Service and your settings, we may also collect information about your location based on, for example, your phone’s GPS location or other forms of locating mobile devices (e.g., Bluetooth). We may also collect sensor data (e.g., data about the speed of your movements, such as whether you are running, walking, or in transit).”

“You may integrate your Spotify account with Third Party Applications. If you do, we may receive similar information related to your interactions with the Service on the Third Party Application, as well as information about your publicly available activity on the Third Party Application. This includes, for example, your “Like”s and posts on Facebook.”

Unfortunately, Spotify’s handling of the new agreement has been fairly forthright and doesn’t really care if you disagree with the terms:

“If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the Service.”

Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft, has been critical of the policy and believes the data snooping is a complete breach of privacy.  In lieu of the negative press, Spotify’s CEO has issued a statement to address people’s fears:

“In our new privacy policy, we indicated that we may ask your permission to access new types of information, including photos, mobile device location, voice controls, and your contacts.”

“Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to. We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data – and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customize your Spotify experience.”

According to Spotify, your data can only be accessed if you give express permission. However, does this mean an opt-in process? I’m quite sceptical as you have to agree to the new terms and conditions before accessing the service. This could constitute as a green light for Spotify to monitor you data usage and even sell it to third parties. Subsequently, I believe Spotify needs to go further and clarify the impact of accepting the privacy policy’s terms.

Amazon Cancels Trade-In Programme

Amazon has officially canned their trade-in scheme for physical entertainment goods and ends on August 31st 2015. This isn’t a surprising move considering the poor trade-in prices compared to CEX and cash value on eBay. Also, physical media is being phased out for digital content and takes up storage space for items with a larger profit margin. Nowadays, there are so many digital platforms available including Netflix, Spotify, Steam, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and more!

Of course, there are collectors out there and people who prefer physical media, but they rarely trade-in products towards another item. As a result, it makes business sense to drop this policy and improve Amazon’s digital streaming services. You only have to look at the PC Gaming market to see how quickly digital has revolutionized purchasing habits. Only a few stores stock retail PC games and I presume they are quite a niche outlet. Generally, other media such as film, and books will eventually catch up and be predominately digital.

The only reason to trade anything in is convenience and not wanting to bother with eBay selling. Stores offer pitiful amounts because they know consumers will accept low prices to avoid the hassle of eBay. I do wonder what will happen to retail stores and the second-hand market in an increasingly digital future.

When was the last time you traded in a product, and what was it?

Website Calculates Time “Wasted” Watching Your Favourite Shows

Ever sat there on a rainy weekend and binge watched your way through an entire boxset of your favourite TV show, got hooked on Game of Thrones and got lost in every episode for days on end, or given yourself a headache working out what the hell is really going on with Lock and Sheppard in Lost? Of course you have! We’ve all been guilty of watching a lot of TV in our lives, I realise that’s an assumption, but I’m confident it’s a pretty accurate one.

TV shows can span huge seasons, over many years and keep us going back for more. Ever wondered just how much of your life you’ve spent watching your favourite shows? Although, keep in mind, you may not want to actually know the truth, the result may be longer than you think!

tiii.me asks you to search for your favourite shows, how many seasons you’ve watched and tells you how many days, hours and minutes they take up. I put in the first twelve of my favourite Sci-Fi and fantasy shows and clocked up almost 31 days just on those alone and that’s without factoring in the amount of times I’ve rewatched them, yikes! Let’s not even bother counting that I’ve seen quite a lot of episodes of Red Dwarf over a hundred times (really).

So go on, what’s your big number? and do you have any regrets for “wasting” so much time watching it all? I know I don’t!

Hulu Planning An Ad Free Subscription?

On paper, the media streaming service Hulu is a great idea, either watch selected shows for free or pay a $7.99 (£5.12) fee to view an expanded array of content. But the problem lies with United States based consumers who pay a subscription but are still subjected to commercials within the lowest tier package, which I think is a cheek considering if you pay a price, you should not have to view ads as well.

Recent reports have suggested that Hulu is planning to respond to this by offering consumers a new subscription package which wipes out adverts altogether. There is speculation that Hulu would be willing to market these new tiers at between $12 and $14 dollars (£7 – £9) approx.

This on paper sounds an improvement, but in order for the rumoured change to be successful, the media streaming service will need to re-think an additional subscription tier by the name of “Showtime”. Which for an additional $8.99 dollars (£5.76) a month on top of the current subscription, consumers can watch a larger library of content which is commercial free.

On top of this there is also another problem, technically, Hulu is only available in the US, Yes we all know where we are going here so I won’t say. So, if Hulu wishes to grow its business model, it will need to offer content to consumers in more countries legally. I do feel Hulu has been dwarfed by Netflix in terms of territories and also notoriety with the most logical outcome being one subscription price for all content.

Will these possible changes be a turn off for consumers? Well here’s the killer, Hulu is owned by many of the TV companies which include-21st Century Fox, Comcast, and the Walt Disney Company. These conglomerates have a vested interest in marketing the product with commercials in order to garner increased revenue. If more people migrate to ad free alternatives and are still able to watch the latest shows at the expense of the traditional TV, what incentive is there for Hulu to move completely away from adverts?

Now, as I write this, I am not condoning or supporting piracy in any way, the facts are this, unless Hulu changes and implements a service which is completely ad free. How will Hulu market the product at new subscribers when said consumers are able to watch the same content, which is available ad free to download illegally or to view on other legal services?

Companies need to drastically re-educate themselves on the effectiveness of adverts in the Internet generation; otherwise there will be a steep decline in revenue as streaming services becomes the prime destination for consumer viewing habits.

Thank you Gamespot for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of gadget review

Netflix Set For Another Price Hike

It seems Netflix is to raise its pricing yet again, according to its CEO. Reed Hastings told investors on Wednesday that the popular video-on-demand streaming service has plans in place to slowly hike up its subscription price.

“We want to take it very slow,” said Hastings. “Over the next decade I think we’ll be able to add more content and have more value and then price that appropriately.”

Netflix also has plans to expand into other global regions, with Chief Financial Officer David Wells revealing, “China continues to be its own entity in terms of its challenges and the characteristics of the market. We hope to be able to launch a service there next year.”

“We described it as a modest investment when we launch, and nothing has changed in terms of our use of the word ‘modest’ with reference to investment levels,” Hastings added, regarding China.

The announcement coincides with the release of Netflix’s accounts for the second quarter of 2015, which saw a rise in after-hours trading, pushing share prices up by over 10%. The company made a profit of $838m from its US streaming service alone, plus $307m from its international streaming platforms, and an additional $130m from its DVD rental service. The number of global Netflix subscriptions hit 65 million this quarter, bringing in a net revenue of $7.7 billion.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

AMD Showcase Project Quantum @ E3

With the upcoming launch of the Fiji processors, AMD have designed an inhouse media PC that is poised to be the most powerful unit on the planet. This little unit hosts not one, but two GPU cores and they are both Fiji units. Thanks to the HBM memory, AMD managed to squeeze all of this power into such a small package.

We will update you as we get the information.

Plex to Allow Free SSL Encryption

Plex gave its users an important security upgrade last week. The home media streaming platform announced that all its users are getting free SSL certificates, enabling them to connect to their media over an encrypted HTTPS connection. The new feature is a partnership with certificate authority DigiCert, Plex says the project is “one of the largest implementations of publicly trusted certificates, ever.”

The new Plex feature isn’t just for Plex Plus subscribers who pay $5 per month to get a host of different features. Even free users will get the added security. The certificates work whether you are accessing a Plex media server remotely or over your local network.Certificates encrypt any data being sent between you and your plex server, preventing anyone spying on your data traffic, it works (in layman’s terms) by your PC / device having the “Key” and your plex server, the “lock”. Neither can see any data on the other without the key or lock. Quite simple, but highly effective.
Anyone using Plex at home just needs  to update their Plex server to the latest version. Then make sure you’re signed into your Plex account. Afterward go to Settings > Server > Network  and ensure that ‘Secure connections’ is enabled.  Once that is  done the SSL feature should start working when you visit app.plex.tv. If it still doesn’t work try rebooting your media server.

Even though your server has an SSL certificate, it currently works to create an encrypted connection with specific Plex apps. You can get a trusted HTTPS connection on Android, Plex Home Theater, Plex Web App, Roku (preview app), Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.Anyone using Plex apps on a gaming console, smart TV, or iOS will have to wait for updates in the coming weeks.

Thank you to PCworld for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of LifeHacker