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Apple TV Plus And The New Apple TV App, Explained.

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Here are some takeaways from today’s loaded, software-focused Apple event: Apple TV Plus is a subscription service with only Apple originals. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you don’t get access to a back catalog of licensed shows or movies.

Apple TV Plus is not a separate, standalone app. Instead, you’ll get to it using Apple’s TV app, which is expanding to many more devices over the coming months.

Starting in May, the Apple TV app will offer add-on paid subscriptions and will be able to stream some shows and movies from Apple’s partners like HBO without bouncing you out to a third-party video service.

All of this is separate from Apple TV the product, which is a streaming set-top box you can buy in stores today and important to Apple’s living room ambitions. The company would tell you that the Apple TV is the best way to experience all of this art and content.

Confused? It was easy to miss some of this or get mixed up, especially when Apple lumped these announcements together with a new credit card and magazine subscription service.

How does all the new TV stuff fit together? Let me do my best to lay it out in a way that makes sense.

WHAT IS APPLE TV PLUS?
Apple TV Plus is a video subscription service that will feature Apple’s growing list of original TV shows and movies. When it launches this fall, Apple TV Plus will be the exclusive way to watch that content. And Apple has poured money into forming a star-studded roster of talent working to produce programming that can hopefully stand equal with Netflix’s best shows. Even Oprah’s on board.

But Apple TV Plus is not its own app or a separate experience. It will actually be accessible through the Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, and other platforms. It will likely have its own dedicated tab or section of the TV app, but Apple didn’t go into the specifics on that at today’s event — and the website on Apple TV Plus is extremely light on details. The best we got was a short glimpse of an Apple TV Plus row with flashy animations during today’s keynote.

The service will be ad-free (since you’ll be paying for it) and Apple plans to launch in over 100 countries.

WHAT IS APPLE TV PLUS NOT?
A true Netflix or Amazon Prime Video competitor: As Peter Kafka correctly predicted at Recode, Apple is not (yet) building a full streaming service that mixes originals and licensed programming like its rivals. Instead, the Apple TV Plus service focuses exclusively on Apple’s own original programming. There’s no older stuff to endlessly scroll through as we tend to do on Netflix or Prime Video. No Hollywood movies or past TV hits to speak of. Not yet, anyway.

On Android or Windows: Though it announced a TV app for several platforms (even including Fire TV), Apple gave no indication that the service and its originals will be available on Android or Windows. That’s a huge hole if the company is hoping to make these high-profile shows accessible to as big of an audience as possible. Native apps for these platforms, at least right now, don’t seem to be in the cards.

On the web: Same goes for web browsers. Apple made no mention of a way to stream Apple TV Plus via popular desktop browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO WATCH APPLE TV PLUS?
Apple says it will share pricing and availability details for Apple TV Plus this fall, but didn’t get more specific than that. We have no idea how much Apple TV Plus will cost per month or whether you’ll be able to bundle it with the company’s other services at a discount.

WHAT IS THE APPLE TV APP?
The Apple TV app was first announced in October 2016 and launched on the fourth-generation Apple TV and iOS devices at the time. It is now a preinstalled app on all iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices.

Apple positioned the app as a modernized TV guide: it’s an all-in-one hub for finding recommendations on shows to watch. The “Watch Now” tab offers personalized picks suited to your own tastes and pulls from many different popular video subscription apps.

The Apple TV app also has a sports component, offering live scores and notifications for close games. And lastly, it provides easy access to your iTunes TV show and movie purchases or rentals. Beginning in May, the TV app will become the place to go for those same movie and TV show digital purchases on Apple TV.

DOES THE APPLE TV APP COST MONEY TO USE?
No. Unless you’re paying for Apple TV Plus or an Apple TV Channel subscription (and neither of those are available yet), the TV app itself is completely free to use.

SOON YOU’LL BE ABLE TO SUBSCRIBE TO NETWORKS LIKE HBO AND WATCH (SOME) SHOWS AND MOVIES RIGHT INSIDE THE TV APP
So the TV app is a helpful resource for finding something to watch. But until now, the Apple TV app has always directed users to third-party apps to actually stream something. You could search for an HBO show in the TV app, but when you hit play on Game of Thrones, you’d get switched over to HBO Go or HBO Now. This jumping between apps can be a little awkward and makes what Apple’s trying to do feel less seamless. That’s about to change — in some cases.

Apple now says that customers will be able to watch content directly inside the Apple TV app. But critically, this only applies to the Apple TV Channels that were announced today.

APPLE NOW HAS THREE DIFFERENT THINGS SHARING THE APPLE TV NAME
WHAT ARE APPLE TV CHANNELS?

Apple will soon offer optional add-on subscriptions similar to what Amazon does with its Prime Video Channels. You’ll be able to pay for HBO, Showtime, and other services using your Apple account. Now, you can already subscribe to those networks on iOS and from their respective Apple TV apps, but there are benefits to doing it through Apple’s new TV app method.

For one, you can share access to your Apple TV Channels with up to six family members. Second, instead of having to watch content from those Channels across several different apps, everything will be viewable right inside the TV app. And last, you’ll be able to download shows for offline viewing.

Apple showed a slide of Apple TV Channels that it plans to offer, and I’ve put the heavy hitters (for most people, anyway) in bold below:

Acorn TV
BritBox
CBS All Access
Cinemax
CollegeHumor’s Dropout
Epix
Eros Now
HBO
Lifetime Movie Club
Mubi
MTV Hits
Nickelodeon Hits
Noggin
PBS Living
Showtime
Shudder
Smithsonian Channel Plus
Starz
Sundance Now
Tastemade
Up Faith and Family
Urban Movie Channel

It’s a weird mix, but it at least puts Apple at par with Amazon. If you like TV shows from any of the services above, you’ll be able to watch that content directly inside the Apple TV app. And Apple says it will deliver top-tier picture and audio quality for all Apple TV Channels since it’s handling the streams for Channels directly instead of relying on HBO, CBS, Starz, etc. Combine that with the option to download content for offline viewing, and you can see why people might opt to start handling their subscriptions through Channels.

Pricing for the various Apple TV Channels hasn’t been disclosed. It’s been rumored that Apple will offer bundles of them at a discount, but the company didn’t delve into any of that today.

BUT YOU’LL STILL DO SOME HOPPING AROUND
Other apps — even those with shows featured in the TV app like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — will still require you to move over to their own apps to watch something. Apple’s website is a bit misleading on this, hinting that users will be able to “easily watch” Hulu “inside the app.” A Hulu spokesperson has directly confirmed to The Verge that this is not the case.

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE APPLE TV APP?
At present, the Apple TV app is available on Apple TV set-top boxes (fourth-generation and Apple TV 4K) and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. But at today’s event, Apple said the TV app will make its way to the Mac this fall. Additionally, the company confirmed it will bring the TV app to Samsung smart TVs this spring and TVs from Vizio, Sony, LG, and others “in the future.” Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV devices will also be getting the app sometime “in the future.”

Source: The Verge.

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Instagram Makes It Easier To Take Back Hacked Accounts.

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Instagram is finally addressing a huge problem on its platform: hacked accounts.

The company says it is making a series of changes that will make it easier for people to regain access to a hacked account. The update comes almost a year after Mashable first reported that a wave of bizarre hacks had hit Instagram users, leaving them little recourse to get their accounts back.

With the newly announced changes, which are currently being tested ahead of a wider rollout, Instagram will allow users to access its account recovery tools directly in the app, even if a hacker has changed their account information. So when a person is unable to login to an account, Instagram will prompt users to enter information associated with your account like your email address or phone number. (Users can also access this via "need more help" in the app's login screen.)

From there, Instagram will send a verification code you can use to access your account. Instagram will also remove any other devices logged into your account, so a hacker who has access to your email will be unable to use the recovery code.

This may sound fairly straightforward, but these changes address significant issues with Instagram's previous account recovery process. Because hackers often changed the email, phone number, or username associated with an account, it could be incredibly difficult if not impossible for the actual account owner to navigate the automated support system.

Users have reported Instagram sending recovery emails to the address of their hackers, for example, or inexplicably telling them it could not verify their identity even though they provided the information requested. This caused some people to resort to more elaborate schemes, such as reporting a hacked account for impersonation or leaving voicemails for Instagram support.

This new process will hopefully make those kinds of moves a thing of the past, as Instagram says its goal is to move the entire account recovery process in-app. Additional support will still be available to those who need it though, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

Notably, this new process will also apply to people whose accounts have previously been hacked and unable to regain access.

Additionally, Instagram says it's addressing another major issue often associated with hacked accounts: username theft. Because accounts that have short or original names are considered valuable and desirable, they often face a disproportionate amount of hacking attempts. Hackers will often change a username in order to scoop it up for a fresh account or sell it on shady forums.

Now, Instagram says that a previously used username will not be available for anyone else for several days in order to make it more difficult for hackers to steal valuable usernames. (The company isn't disclosing exactly how long names will be inaccessible to others but a spokesperson says it will be "multiple days.")

While it's unlikely these changes will put a stop to hacking attempts, or the massive business of buying and selling stolen accounts, it could make life more difficult for hackers — at least until they find new ways to circumvent Instagram's policies. But it should also give users more power to get their accounts back.

Source: Mashable

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YouTube Reportedly Considers Moving All Children’s Content To YouTube Kids.

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YouTube is reportedly considering major changes after a long string of terrible headlines involving everything from pedophiles to gun-wielding Disney characters.

The company might remove all children's content from YouTube and show it exclusively in the YouTube Kids app, a new Wall Street Journal article says.

The other option under discussion involves entirely turning off auto-playing recommended videos on children's content. This is the system that leads viewers from a seemingly harmless video to extreme content and conspiracy theories.

These changes would be immense for YouTube. The platform has reportedly been relying on down-ranking and reducing the reach of controversial content, rather than removing it outright. But turning off the recommendation algorithm for children altogether would amount to some sort of admission that it's the platform's architecture — not the content — that is the problem.

It could also potentially affect revenue by moving a sizable chunk of videos off the platform, away from YouTube's advertisers. YouTube Kids does have ads, but there are additional requirements for advertisers there.

The Journal also reports that Google CEO Sundar Pichai has recently been taking a more active role in the management of YouTube, which is run by Susan Wojcicki. Recent scandals involving the wildfire-like spread of the Christchurch shooting video and pedophilia rings enabled by YouTube's recommendation algorithm have reportedly caused internal upheaval.

In 2018, YouTube Kids added controls to allow parents to manually select the channels and creators that their kids would be able to watch. It also added more human moderators to remove harmful content. But not all kids watch videos on the Kids app alone, which means they currently could be exposed to the same algorithmic wormhole that adults are.

YouTube told the Journal that it considers "lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that—ideas."

Source: Mashable

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Google Desperately Wants To Win Over Geeks’ Hearts

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Google's acting really strange these days.

First, the company basically says "fuck it," then both confirms the Pixel 4 and its huge square-shaped camera bump. And now they company has publicly admitted to Business Insider that they've canceled two unreleased tablets and will instead focus on making Pixelbook laptops.

These two PR moves are unusual for a tech company. Usually, outfits like Google never acknowledge upcoming products. Why would they? It would take all the excitement out of their own launch event.

Moreover, tech companies don't ever talk about canceled products because they'll never see the light of day. No point in getting people all worked up over products that technically don't exist.

That's why it's so out of character for Google to suddenly be so open. What's the goal here?

Maybe these two instances are unrelated, but to a tech observer like myself, it sure looks like Google's trying its hardest to court geeks in an effort to convince super fans that it's serious about hardware this year. In fact, these moves feel like they're coming straight out of startup phone maker OnePlus' playbook, which has built its fanbase catering to geeks as well.

Source: Mashable

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Apple Recalls MacBook Pro Batteries Over ‘Fire Safety Risk’

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If you have an older MacBook Pro, you might need to get its battery replaced.

Apple is recalling 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between between September 2015 and February 2017 over a battery issue it says poses a "fire safety risk."

"Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk," the company writes on a support page about the recall.

Affected laptops should not be used until the company can issue battery replacements, Apple says. The recall only applies to 15-inch Pro models and other MacBooks are unaffected. Even if you're not totally sure if your laptop is impacted, it's probably a good idea to double check.

Here's how Apple recommends you check to see if your laptop is affected:

To confirm which model you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu () in the upper-left corner of your screen. If you have “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015),” enter your computer's serial number on the program page to see if it is eligible for a battery replacement.

The recall comes shortly after one musician posted videos of his smoking MacBook Pro, which he said "exploded" after normal use. The musician, who goes by the name "White Panda," told Mashable in an interview that he had his laptop in his lap when smoke suddenly began pouring out of it. It later "popped" and caught fire.

It's not clear if the current recall is related to that issue, but Apple does make it very clear that the MacBook Pros in question could pose a serious safety risk.

Source: Mashable

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