Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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Apple Making a Play for NFL Sunday Ticket

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New Apple TV - Credit Apple
New Apple TV - Credit Apple

Apple may be preparing to enter the the streaming TV big leagues, with a play for the NFL Sunday Ticket.

In the battle for the streaming TV market, sports is one of the most important keys to success. A strong emphasis on sports has allowed fuboTV to quickly go from a small upstart to one of the major competitors at the top of the streaming food chain.

Apple appears ready to get in on the action, and is in early talks for the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, according to The Information, via The Verge. The NFL Sunday Ticket would give Apple the ability to broadcast all football games not available on local stations.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand says the negotiations have not officially begun, but the NFL has had preliminary talks with companies, including Apple.

If Apple is able to secure NFL Sunday Ticket, it would be a game-changer for the company’s Apple TV+ service.

Google Play Services Ending Support for Android Jelly Bean

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Google Play Store - Image by Markus Winkler
Google Play Store - Image by Markus Winkler

Google has announced that Google Play Services will stop supporting Android Jelly Bean after August 2021.

Android Jelly Bean was originally released in 2012, making it some nine years old. As such, Jelly Bean only accounts for less than 1% of the installed Android user base.

Google is now preparing to discontinue Play Services support for the older version of Android, with the last update being version 21.30.99 of the Services APK, scheduled for the end of August.

While no one likes to see support for their OS being dropped, it’s not surprising Google is ending support for Jelly Bean after nearly a decade.

Microsoft Employees Receiving $1,500 Bonus

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Microsoft Office Building
Microsoft Office Building

Microsoft employees are receiving a $1,500 bonus, an acknowledgement of the unusual fiscal year the company experienced.

Like many companies, Microsoft has had to adapt to a new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, however, the company has experienced significant growth, driven largely by its cloud business.

The company is now giving its employees a $1,500 pandemic bonus, “in recognition of the unique and challenging fiscal year that Microsoft just completed,” according to The Verge.

Interestingly, employees of LinkedIn, GitHub, and ZeniMax — all Microsoft-owned companies – will not be eligible for the bonus.

OnePlus Throttles Performance With Popular Apps

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OnePlus 9 Series
OnePlus 9 Series

OnePlus has confirmed its OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9 throttle performance when running popular apps.

AnandTech was the first to notice something wasn’t quite right with the latest OnePlus 9 phones. When benchmarking the phones with the Chrome web browser, writer Andrei Frumusanu noticed the phone was not utilizing the high-performance Cortex-X1 cores when running Chrome, instead running it on the slower Cortex-A78 cores. In most cases, the phone wasn’t even running the Cortex-A78 at their full 2.41GHz, throttling them at 2GHz instead. Frumusanu found the OnePlus 9 throttled some of the most popular apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and more.

GeekBench, maker of the popular benchmarking software, followed up AnandTech’s investigation with one of their own, confirming the findings. As a result, GeekBench delisted the phone from their Android Benchmark charts.

After XDA Developers picked up the story, OnePlus reached out to them and offered a statement confirming the phones are, indeed, throttling.

Our top priority is always delivering a great user experience with our products, based in part on acting quickly on important user feedback. Following the launch of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in March, some users told us about some areas where we could improve the devices’ battery life and heat management. As a result of this feedback, our R&D team has been working over the past few months to optimize the devices’ performance when using many of the most popular apps, including Chrome, by matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power. This has helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption. While this may impact the devices’ performance in some benchmarking apps, our focus as always is to do what we can to improve the performance of the device for our users.

This is incredibly disappointing for OnePlus users. The phones’ Snapdragon 888 is an incredibly capable processor, but OnePlus owners will not get to experience its speed, instead being crippled by the device’s throttling.

Tencent Will Use Facial Recognition to Stop Minors From Playing Video Games at Night

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Video Game Controller - Image by Anton Porsche
Video Game Controller - Image by Anton Porsche

Tencent, the Chinese video game juggernaut, has announced it will begin using facial recognition to prevent minors from playing video games at night.

The Chinese government has increasingly come down on video games, with the goal of preventing minors from spending too much time gaming. The government passed a law in 2019 to restrict minors from playing video games at night, and limited the amount of time they can play to 90 minutes per day.

Tencent has introduced a facial recognition feature called “Midnight Patrol,” designed to enforce the new regulations. According to Digital Trends, Tencent will integrate the feature in 60 of its games, including some of its most popular ones, such as Peace Elite and Glory of the King.

Players who avoid the facial recognition tech will automatically be locked out.

Nintendo Unveils OLED Switch

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Nintendo Switch OLED Model
Nintendo Switch OLED Model

Nintendo has unveiled its latest Switch, a major upgrade that boasts an OLED screen.

The Switch is one of the world’s most popular consoles, and the star of Nintendo’s current product lineup. The console accounted for 87% of the Japanese console market in 2020, and sold more than all other consoles combined in the UK. One of the biggest elements contributing to its success is its form factor, allowing it to be used as a handheld device, or a traditional docked console.

Nintendo has now announced the latest version, featuring a 7-inch OLED screen.

The new system features a vibrant 7-inch OLED screen, a wide adjustable stand, a dock with a wired LAN port, 64 GB of internal storage, and enhanced audio.

The new model has a MSRP of $349.99 and will be available October 8.

YouTube TV Adds 4K Support…For a Price

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YouTube TV Website
YouTube TV Website

YouTube TV has announced support for 4K video, although it comes at a $20 premium.

YouTube TV is one of the leading streaming platforms and has become a popular option among cord cutters. The platform has similar pricing ($65 per month at time of writing) as Hulu with Live TV and fuboTV, although it does have some competitive advantages. Chief among them is unlimited DVR space.

The company is looking to add another major advantage in the form of full 4K content, something that most platforms have only limited support for. The caveat is that YouTube TV will charge more per month for 4K.

4K Plus will be available at an additional $19.99/month, but right now, new users can get a one-month free trial and then a price of just $9.99/month for one year.

Customers who upgrade to the 4K plan can also enjoy unlimited simultaneous streams at home, up from the three streams currently allowed. In addition, content can be downloaded to a phone or tablet for on-the-go watching.

The company is also adding 5.1 Dolby audio for all members.

Overall, the upgrades are welcome additions and help cement YouTube TV’s position as leader of the streaming pack. Nonetheless, $20 a month is a rather steep price for what are largely unnecessary upgrades.

Parallels Plans to Bring Windows 11 to macOS

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macOS Parallels
macOS Parallels

Parallels is already working on supporting Windows 11 on Apple’s macOS, although no release date has been set.

Parallels is one of the leading virtualization companies and has been a stalwart on the Mac platform for years. The software allows Mac users to run Windows and Linux from within macOS.

The company recently updated its software to support Apple’s M1 processors, based on the same processor the company uses in its iPhone and iPad. The company confirmed to iMore that it is now working to support Windows 11 as well.

“Since Windows 11 has just been announced recently, the Parallels Engineering team is waiting for the official Windows 11 Insider Preview build to start studying changes introduced in the new OS to deliver full compatibility in future Parallels Desktop updates,” Nick Dobrovolskiy, SVP of Engineering and Support told iMore.

Parallels did not give a release date, or even a window, but did say it “will surely do everything that’s possible to make it happen.”

TikTok Introducing Three Minute Videos

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TikTok - Image by Kon Karampelas
TikTok - Image by Kon Karampelas

TikTok is introducing longer videos, up to three minutes, giving users even more opportunity to express themselves.

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, and has redefined social media with its short videos. While 60 seconds allows creators to do quite a bit, the company is now looking to expand the length of the videos even more, up to three minutes long, giving content creators even more freedom.

Some users may have already noticed three-minute videos. The company says it has letting some creators around the world experiment with the new feature in advance of a full release.

Three minute videos will be rolling out in the coming weeks to all users.

With all the ways our community has redefined expression in under 60 seconds, we’re excited to see how people continue to entertain and inspire with a few more seconds – and a world of creative possibilities.

Google Bringing HTTPS-Only Mode to Chrome

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Google Chrome Web Browser
Google Chrome Web Browser

Google appears to be working on an HTTPS-Only Mode for Chrome, a move that will significantly improve the browser’s security.

HTTPS is the secure version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). When a website’s address begins with “https”, the communication between web browser and website is secure. While many websites automatically use HTTPS, some still do not, representing a potential security risk if any sensitive information is sent or received from it.

Google is now working on an HTTPS-Only Mode for Chrome that would automatically upgrade any insecure website connections to secure ones, at least where possible. The move follows similar ones by Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.

According to The Record, Google is working on the feature in Chrome Canary 93. It’s unclear, however, if the finished version will be ready in time for the official release of Chrome 93, or if HTTPS-Only Mode will debut later.

As the maker of the most popular web browser (by far), it’s disappointing Google is so late to the party with such an important feature. Nonetheless, at least it is joining the party.