Tag: services

OnePlus 5T needs an update to play Netflix in HD

The OnePlus 5T is defined by its cinematic 18:9 screen, but don't expect to get the full effect while you're watching your favorite streaming service... at least, not yet. Owners have learned that the 5T and its OnePlus 5 ancestor can't play Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in HD, since they both lack the Widevine rights management certification need to play at anything beyond standard definition. Yes, your $500 pride and joy currently plays video at a lower resolution than phones costing half as much. Thankfully, there's a solution in the works.

The company has explained to The Verge that an update is in the works to enable HD streaming on these devices. There's no indication as to when this update is coming or why more advanced Widevine support wasn't included from the start, but a solution is in sight.

However quickly the update comes, the situation doesn't help OnePlus' current situation. It has already had to fix some glaring software mistakes, and this is one that you'll definitely notice if you're streaming Stranger Things or American Gods. It also illustrates one of the concerns about digital copy protection: your ability to watch video at the best possible quality is dependent on software factors outside of your control.

Source: OnePlus, The Verge


Sony may finally let you change your PlayStation Network name

Many a gamer has had regrets about their choice of username -- xXxDeathCrusher420xXx might not be quite so appealing in adult life as it was in your teenage years. And for PlayStation fans, that's been a big problem when your PSN name has always been set in stone. Sony may have seen the light, though. In an interview at PlayStation Experience, the company's Shawn Layden said he hoped to have a name change option available by next year's Experience. So what's the holdup? Layden didn't dive into specifics, but he said the technical solutions were "more complex than you think."

As Gamespot notes, Layden said in 2014 (yes, 2014) that Sony had to take steps to prevent griefing. It didn't want trolls to cause havoc in one game, change their name and promptly ruin someone else's play session. There's also the matter of making sure that all your friends see the change. It's unclear whether or not Sony might ask you to pay to change your handle, as Microsoft does on Xbox Live (again to discourage griefing), but setting up those exchanges could involve some work as well.

There's no guarantee that Sony will have name changes in place. As you might have noticed, it's been talking about the idea for years. The narrow time frame suggests the feature is getting close, however, and it's easy to see this becoming a higher priority given that a PSN account is increasingly vital to making full use of your PS4.

Source: Gamespot


‘Jessica Jones’ season 2 reaches Netflix on March 8th

To say that the second season of Jessica Jones has been a long time in coming would be an understatement. Netflix premiered the first season of the investigator-turned-superhero show in November 2015, and it committed to a second season at the start of 2016. At last, though, it's nearly here: Netflix has posted a trailer confirming that season 2 will premiere on March 8th, 2018. The preview hints that the new season will dive deeper into Jessica's nebulous past, and that she continues to take no crap -- there's a not-so-subtle dig at Spider-Man, for one thing.

The return helps flesh out Netflix's Marvel catalog, which still includes a number of single-season shows (although they almost all have commitments for more episodes). Also, it's arguably one of the more anticipated Marvel releases to date. In addition to starring an unconventional superhero, the first Jessica Jones season tackled serious topics like gaslighting and sexual assault with an intelligence you wouldn't necessarily expect. If that keeps up in the second season, it could be worth watching even if you don't normally care for comic-inspired programming.

Source: Netflix (YouTube), (Twitter)


Uber to settle second lawsuit from India rape victim

Uber's determination to address its past scandals remains in effect. The ridesharing firm has agreed to settle the second lawsuit from the Indian rape victim who accused the company of improperly obtaining her medical records. While the company isn't commenting on the settlement or its terms, a court filing revealed that the two sides will formally reach a deal in June. The suit represented a particularly dark chapter for Uber, as it underscored the outfit's Kalanick-era tendency to fight legal challenges that few other companies would resist.

The lawsuit argued that Uber obtained the records because it privately doubted the woman's claims. While Uber executives publicly supported the victim, they reportedly theorized in secret that she had conspired with Uber's Indian rival Ola to undermine their business. In other words, they were apparently willing to violate the accuser's privacy in hopes of discrediting her.

This isn't to say that Uber has refused to settle cases in the past. It settled the victim's original lawsuit in 2015, and settled multiple American sexual assault cases in 2016. However, this is still somewhat reflective of the strategy under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber wants to make amends for past abuses and improve its reputation, both to keep customers and to reassure investors who want to know that Uber's unscrupulous days are in the past.

Source: Reuters


All the cool gifts are made for spying on you

It's the gift-giving season, and high-tech gadgets are more exciting than ever. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and even "Okay Google" are ready to come over for holiday ham, ready to help you turn on a light or play you some Spotify. Those always-on microphones, cameras, and WI-FI connected devices are cheaper, cooler, and more convenient than ever.

Yet, you still feel a little weird about their, you know, baser functions. Google and Amazon only record what they need to. Plus, you've read 1984, watched Big Brother (and thought the contestants were nuts for being watched 24-7), and you think spying on people's everyday lives is generally bad.

And yet, look at us. We're marinating in surveillance tech. We carry an always-on combination tracker and eavesdropping device everywhere we go (a smartphone). We agonize over picking out the best smart home microphone-speaker combination. We snarf up the latest in connected appliances. We say "yes" to all the apps, and surf the web looking for deals like it's the pre-condom era of porn.

We know the connected devices, no matter how big the company they come from, are all bug-infested, insecure, preyed upon, and riddled with shady backroom data deals. And yet.

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And yet.

The trend toward in-home surveillance devices is only continuing, with this year's gift-giving aspirations. Here at Engadget, we're modeling the trend: decrying privacy invasions, yet playing with privacy fire, indulging our lust for convenience and futurism with all the sexy gadgets on our 2017 best-of gift list.

We want the Echo, the Google Home, a Sonos One, and all the privacy-devouring spy tech we can cram into our voice-activated games console. I'm with you! Yet I know better than to let companies spy on me! Give me a new MacBook, a Chomebook, an iPad or a Surface, damn the easily-hackable onboard cameras and microphones, full speed ahead. I'd push grandpa into a mall fountain and jam his walker into Best Buy's revolving doors to get my hands on the hottest new tracking devices, the iPhone, a Pixel, a Galaxy.

And that's the thing: We all know the risks these days. It's not like ten years ago when some of us were trying to raise the alarm about webcam hacking and data dealing, and everyone thought we were fringey conspiracy weirdos in tinfoil bras doing Flickr updates from our freaky internet-connected phones.

If anything, security and surveillance are even bigger concerns. Just in October, a woman's new webcam was taken over practically the minute she plugged it in. In a Facebook post, she described the incident, going on to film the camera's complete hijacking while in progress. But here's the thing: The story didn't surprise anyone, and didn't compete with any headlines. We're all like, yeah, that's a thing that happens now, while in our heads we silently practice what we'll do when it happens to us.

young male technician...

I know what you were thinking when your eyes traveled the wishlist above, with the Echos and the Homes, and the highly desirable appliances that make Inspector Gadget's kit look like unimaginative stupidity. You're thinking, "but Amazon will protect me from unlawful requests" and "Google Home wouldn't do that on purpose, it would harm consumer trust."

And in the instances we know of, you'd be right. When a man was murdered in November 2015, Amazon initially refused to hand over its Alexa data from the scene of the crime when prosecutors demanded the records. The company said that Alexa's questions and answers are protected by the first amendment and Amazon "seeks to protect the privacy rights of its customers." Amazon later relented and shared the data when the defendant, the Echo's owner, gave permission. That a hacker had fun turning the Echo into a wiretap did not endeavor to reassure.

And that whole thing where Google Home was recording everything just this last October, well that was a "bug." Never mind that "bug" is Facebook's perennial catch-all term/excuse for getting caught doing something people don't like (and that's not a good look for anyone). Google said its little smart home speaker was having an "issue" that caused it "to behave incorrectly." That probably wasn't reassuring for journalist Artem Russokovskii, who discovered he was being recorded 24-7.

What can we do, but take Google and Amazon at their word? No one trusts these companies or their interests in serving us better ads or suggestions. They say they'll protect us, they're big companies and can afford to properly test everything, and they fix their mistakes when we find them.

Haven't we learned anything from dystopian books and films? How is this now aspirational? Or is it just that we're so miserable from politics that a little convenience-at-a-cost is our only salve to soothe our tortured souls?

Don't feel bad. Everyone's doing it, the gleeful self-surveillance. Even hackers, who know better than anyone, and I can tell you that they're shopping for the same things and going home to strip down and roll in piles of connected crap like they hate privacy, too. We're all going to privacy hell together.

I'm sure it'll be fine. As long as we remember that it pays to be paranoid because we're all so depressed and angry at the state of the state that we deserve a little fluff, a little fun, a little convenience.

Facebook may be insidious, Apple might've conditioned us, and everyone with a stake in the surveillance pie has tried to soothe us. But we still need to cover our webcams, turn off geotagging, drill into settings to fight the data creeping, and stay awake and alert to the ways that companies make us targets.

Take my advice for the holidays: Shop like no one's watching, but never forget that someone might be listening.

Images: Brendan McDermid/Reuters (Amazon Echo); Shutterstock (Security camera).


Uber will soon have to compete with China’s Didi Chuxing in Mexico

China's major ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing is expanding its services to Mexico, Reuters reports. This will be Didi's first international expansion and sources told Reuters that the company is planning to launch in Mexico during the first quarter of 2018, though exactly where in the country wasn't made clear.

This move means Didi will be encroaching on some of Uber's territory -- Uber already has seven million users throughout 45 cities in Mexico -- but this isn't the first time Didi and Uber have battled it out. Uber tried to gain a foothold in China and lost around $2 billion doing so. But last year it gave up that fight and sold its Uber China arm to Didi. In another challenge to Uber, Didi has invested in its rivals around the world including Southeast Asia's Grab, Brazil's 99, India's Ola, Estonia's Taxify, the Middle East's Careem and Lyft.

Along with Uber, Didi will be competing with Cabify -- another ride-hailing company currently used in seven Mexican cities. And this could be just the first global move on Didi's part. It raised around $5.5 billion from investors back in April, part of which was to spur its international expansions.

Via: Reuters


Kaspersky Lab is closing its Washington, DC office

Kaspersky Lab Inc. has had a rough time with the US government this year and now Bloomberg reports that the company will be closing its Washington, DC office. However, while its government business seems to be dead in the water, Kaspersky still plans to sell to non-federal US customers and will be opening offices in Chicago and Los Angeles next year.

In July, the Trump administration removed Kaspersky from its list of approved IT vendors and in August reports surfaced that the FBI was trying to convince companies to ditch Kaspersky's products. These moves were a result of US government suspicions that Kaspersky funnels information from its customers to the Russian government. Best Buy pulled Kaspersky products from its shelves shortly thereafter and the US government ultimately banned federal agencies from using the company's security software in September.

While the UK's cybersecurity authority, the National Cyber Security Centre, also advised government agencies against using Kaspersky software, the company's vice president, Anton Shingarev said in a recent interview, "We are in talks with NCSC and are trying to figure out what's needed to deserve an opposite recommendation. In general, they support the idea of opening the source code of our software for independent audit." He also said that Europe's regulators are "fact-driven" while the US ban was based on "emotions" and "speculations." Kaspersky has repeatedly maintained that it does not share its information with the Russian government.

To quell concerns about the company, Kaspersky announced in October that it would open up its source code to third-party review. That's set to begin early next year.

Via: Bloomberg


SiriusXM now streams radio stations to your Apple TV

SiriusXM is now available on 4th generation Apple TVs and Apple TV 4K. Subscribers with streaming access can use the SiriusXM app to access its over 200 channels, which can be customized with MySXM. Users will also be able to access archived programming on demand and the app's user interface has been optimized for Apple TV.

The SiriusXM app has already been available on LG, Roku, Samsung and Sony smart TVs as well as Amazon Fire TV and Playstation. Apple TV owners also recently just got access to the Amazon Prime Video app.

To start listening to SiriusXM on your Apple TV, just go to App Store and search for SiriusXM. Then click "Get" to install, sign in with your SiriusXM username and password and you're good to go.

Source: SiriusXM


YouTube’s ‘Remix’ subscription music service could launch in March

Another attempt by YouTube to mend fences with the music industry -- internally referred to as Remix -- is a few months away from launching, according to a report by Bloomberg. Late last year industry vet Lyor Cohen arrived to hold the title head of music, and a proposed new service would include both Spotify-like (or Google Play Music-like) on-demand streaming, plus video clips.

With YouTube Red apparently focused on original video channels and the existing YouTube Music app an also-ran, it's difficult to see what will be different enough about this service to break through. While Warner Music Group is reportedly already signed up, other labels have not, and beef over whether or not they get enough money from YouTube persists. However, the Bloomberg report notes that much of Google Play Music's staff is now a part of the YouTube team, plus the added complication of upcoming negotiations with Vevo.

Source: Bloomberg


Quincy Jones has a streaming service for jazz documentaries

It's easy enough to find concert movies or music documentaries online, but watching them across various services is kind of a pain. Jazz legend Quincy Jones wants to help with that. Along with a French TV producer, Jones is launching Qwest TV. For between €7.49 and €9.90 per month ($8.83 - $11.68; the higher price is for HD/4K streaming) you'll get access to "hundreds of hours" of jazz programming, sourced from European TV and other places. Annual subscriptions are available as well.

Jones is hand-picking the first round of videos, and from there a different curator will play tastemaker each subsequent month, according to the New York Times. Each video is accompanied by an essay from either a journalist or a jazz expert. Jones seems optimistic that the service will at once help preserve and present jazz in a way that's particularly suited for modern audiences. "I know I won't convert the world to jazz," he said. "If I serve high quality programs in HD, with good curation and have a good, close relationship with my audience, I'll be fine."

That confidence doesn't seem misplaced. Earlier this year the service almost doubled its €75,000 ($88,447) Kickstarter goal. Qwest TV goes live December 15th.

Via: New York Times

Source: Qwest