Tag: av

Amazon’s Alexa can now wake you up with music instead of alarms

One of the greatest perks of connected speakers is waking up to whatever music you like, not just a buzzer or the radio. However, that hasn't been an option for Alexa-equipped devices like the Echo -- until today, that is. Amazon has added a feature to Alexa that lets you wake up to the music of your choice from one of several streaming services, including its own options and Spotify.

To begin with, your criteria can be as broad or narrow as you like. You can name a song, playlist or genre, or ask to play any kind of music if you're not picky. Alexa can stream radio channels from the likes of TuneIn and iHeartRadio. Naturally, there are a few perks if you use one of Amazon's music services. You can ask Alexa to wake you based on a mood (like "relaxing"), or find a wake-up song by reciting the lyrics.

This sounds like a minor feature, but it's potentially very important. If Amazon is going to make the Echo Spot a viable alarm clock, it needs to give the device better functionality than that 20-year-old clock radio sitting on your nightstand. This also makes all Echo models more directly competitive with rivals that have had music wake features for years, such as Sonos. And let's face it: even if you're just using Alexa on your phone, Amazon would rather be the one to start your day.


Xbox One can now stream YouTube video in 4K

The Xbox One X and S both allow you to watch 4K video, but the consoles didn't have a way to watch YouTube in 4K. That is, until now. This week, Microsoft is rolling out an app for both versions of the Xbox One console that provides support for 4K videos at up to 60 fps -- but not HDR.

While the Xbox One X is a tough sell for us, we think the 4K experience on the Xbox One S (which doesn't allow for 4K gaming, but does upscale graphics and supports HDR) is definitely worth it if you're in the market for a new console. Adding (long overdue) 4K YouTube support just makes it even better. If you have the console, you'll see the updated YouTube app this week, or if you're impatient, you can download it from the Windows Store today.

Via: The Verge

Source: Microsoft Store


Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


The best gifts for a console gamer

Don't worry, we're not out to start a console war in our comments: If you're in the market for a new games system, the Xbox One S, PlayStation VR, Nintendo Switch and 2DS XL all made it into our holiday gift guide, for different reasons. Once you figure out which platform is best for your intended, we have a wide assortment of games and accessories, from a 400GB microSDXC card to a custom Xbox controller to the PlayStation Gold wireless headset, among other things. Find all that and more in our gift guide at the link below.

Source: Engadget Holiday Gift Guide 2017


Google’s Pixel AR stickers are available starting today

During Google's Pixel 2 event in October, the company teased its upcoming AR stickers and starting today, Pixel users can actually get their hands on them. Those with Pixel phones running Android 8.1 Oreo will have access to AR stickers like Foodmoji, 3D text and celebratory balloons and champagne just in time for the holidays. And ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Pixel users can also get a pack of Star Wars-themed AR stickers.

You can check out the Star Wars stickers in the video below or the image above and overall they look pretty great. They seem to have a much better quality than the Stranger Things AR stickers that we've seen previews of before and are also being released today. And they look way better than that Snapchat Star Wars Lens.

To add these stickers to your photos or videos, just open the camera app, switch to AR Stickers mode, select which sticker pack you'd like to use and the drop the stickers into the scene. You can then resize them and move them around and they'll also interact with whatever else is in the image.

The new AR Stickers are rolling out to Pixel users over the next few days and Google says more sticker packs will be released in the future.


Netflix leads the streaming pack with nine Golden Globe nominations

Nominations for next month's Golden Globes ceremony were announced this morning and streaming services had a pretty decent showing. Netflix led the pack with nine TV nominations while Amazon and Hulu each received three.

Netflix's The Crown took two nominations -- one for Best Drama Series and another for Best Performance by an Actress, which went to Claire Foy. Stranger Things also received two nominations -- another Best Drama Series nod and one for David Harbour, nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Master of None received two as well with the first going to the show itself for Best Comedy Series and the other going to Aziz Ansari for Best Performance by an Actor. Ozark, 13 Reasons Why and Glow each received one nomination each. All were for Best Performance by an Actor or Actress and they went to Jason Bateman, Katherine Langford and Alison Brie.

Two of Amazon's went to the brand new show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. One nomination was given to the show for Best Comedy Series and the other to the show's lead, Rachel Brosnahan. The third nomination was for Kevin Bacon's role in I Love Dick.

All three of Hulu's nominations were for The Handmaid's Tale. It received a Best Drama Series nomination and Elizabeth Moss and Ann Dowd received nominations for Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

The Golden Globes ceremony will air on January 7th on NBC.

Via: Variety

Source: Golden Globes


Google’s high-quality Home Max speaker goes on sale for $399

Google launched its high-quality Home Max speaker with Google Assistant in October, and the last we heard (via a Best Buy leak), it was set to arrive on December 11th. That date was spot on, it turns out, as the Home Max has indeed gone on sale at both Best Buy and Verizon. It's still not up on Google's own store (the "buy" button still says "join waitlist"), but it just seems like a matter of time now.

The Home Max speaker sports a pair of 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers and custom tweeters, putting it in the same class as serious audio products like the Sonos Play:5. We had a brief hands-on with it during the launch, under controlled conditions, and found it to be "extremely loud, well balanced and crystal clear, with well-defined bass."

Google Home Max, as mentioned, costs $399 and comes in charcoal and white with both Chromecast and the voice-controlled Google Assistant. That's $100 less than the Sonos Play:5, which doesn't have either of those two features. Sonos did say that Google Assistant was coming to the Play:1 in 2018, but the company hasn't said if it'll come to any other products.

Source: Best Buy, Verizon


BBC launches Alexa skill for live radio and podcasts

Every BBC radio station and podcast is now accessible through Amazon's Alexa assistant. So if you have an Echo or Echo dot in your home (or any Alexa-enabled speaker, for that matter), you can now launch Radio 1, 6 Music, or an episode of Desert Island Discs with your voice. The new Alexa "skill" offers granular control too, including "play," "pause" and "resume." You can also skip back to the "previous" episode of a podcast at any time.

It's not the first time the BBC has backed Alexa, however. The news organisation is one of many that support Amazon's "flash briefing," a quick rundown of the day's top stories. The broadcaster has also experimented with an interactive sci-fi drama called The Inspection Chamber, which lets you answer various questions and choices during its 20-minute run-time.

Source: BBC (Press Release)


Mod gives Google’s Home Mini speaker its ‘missing’ line-out jack

For many, Google's Home Mini speaker has one key disadvantage over Amazon's Echo Dot: there's no line-out jack. If you want more powerful sound without buying a higher-priced model, you have to stream to a Chromecast-equipped speaker system. However, that didn't deter SnekTek -- the site has added an aux audio port to the Mini through a clever homebrew mod. To say this required some delicate surgery would be an understatement, mind you. The procedure involved boiling the adhesive off the bottom, finding the one space where a headphone port would fit, and carving out a hole. As with the iPhone 7 headphone mod, the product clearly wasn't designed for this -- there won't be any doubt that you voided your warranty once you're done.

This doesn't disable the Mini's built-in sound, but it otherwise works: Google's puck is suddenly much better-suited to kicking out the jams. And it's not an expensive mod, either, as the biggest costs are the port itself, some wiring work and epoxy. The main catch, of course, is the effort. If the thought of tearing open your speaker triggers a mild panic, you're probably better off springing for a Chromecast Audio adapter and setting your mind at ease.

Via: Android Police

Source: SnekTek (YouTube)