Streaming music still has a lot of room to grow, it appears. Counterpoint Research has determined that paid music subscriptions jumped 32 percent in 2019 to reach 358 million thanks to a mix of exclusives, phone service bundles, regional price cuts and extended trial periods. Not that the services will want to get complacent -- competition is heating up, according to analysts.
Apple is joining Roku and others in offering free access to premium TV, albeit with a slight twist. From now until May 2nd, Apple TV Channels is making Epix content free to watch without a subscription -- you won't have to sign up for a trial and risk racking up charges later. You'll also see extended, month-long trials for a host of familiar services that include Showtime, A&E, History Channel Vault and Smithsonian Channel Plus.
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"Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible," said Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the New York City Dept. of Education. Instead, the city's Dept. of Education is transitioning schools to Microsoft Teams, which the spokesperson said has the "same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place."
Concerns about Zoom's security are having a real impact on its use in remote education. Some US school districts, including large ones like New York City and Nevada's Clark County, have banned or disabled Zoom over security and privacy worries. Others, such as Washington state's Edmonds School District and Utah's Alpine School District, are rethinking their policies on Zoom use. And unsurprisingly, both are either switching apps or considering it, such as NYC teachers moving to Microsoft Teams.
Congrats on surviving week three of the coronavirus quarantine... or, first if you happen to live in the American south. With so many people spending their days indoors, it should come as little surprise that headlines over the past few weeks have come to reflect our new normal. Here are five highlights.
ABC is expanding access to its live news app right at a moment when as-it-happens updates are particularly vital. The broadcaster has released versions of its ABC News Live app for Android TV sets and Fire TV, giving many more people access to its mix of anchored news, on-demand clips and documentaries. The additional apps are part of a redesign that includes breaking news alerts, an updated programming guide and an overall fresher interface.
AMC is joining the ranks of high-profile TV networks in streaming shows for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. To start, it's making the first half of The Walking Dead's tenth season free to watch from the AMC website and apps until May 1st. IFC, meanwhile, is offering free full seasons of comedy shows throughout April, including Mystery Science Theatre 3000. BBC America is offering free nature documentaries like Attenborough and the Giant Elephant, while SundanceTV's first season of Liar and other shows will be available until April 14th.
Unfounded beliefs about 5G are leading to real damage to the UK's telecom network. People have torched cellular towers in multiple parts of the country in attacks possibly linked to debunked conspiracy theories claiming that 5G masts could play a role in spreading COVID-19. On top of this, telecom engineers have been facing verbal and even physical threats for supposedly putting lives at risk by installing 5G infrastructure.
Widgets have been present in iOS for years, but they're usually on a dedicated screen rather than wherever you want them to be, as with Android. Soon, however, you might have that flexibility. As part of an ongoing string of code leaks, 9to5Mac has reportedly discovered that Apple is developing a 'real' widget system for iOS 14. Codenamed "Avocado," the feature would let you place widgets anywhere on your home screen as if they were app icons. The 9to5 crew warned there was a chance Apple could cut the feature (say, due to development time).
The Entertainment Software Association may have cancelled E3 2020 due to COVID-19, but it's still committed to holding an event next year. The organization has announced that E3 will return between June 15th and June 17th, 2021. It characterized the future expo as a "reimagined" event, although that's the language it used for its since-scrapped 2020 gathering. It won't be surprising if the 2021 event is really a look at what you might have seen this year, just with a different mix of games.
Apple's augmented reality plans may have received a quiet but important boost.The 9to5Mac team claims that Apple is the midst of acquiring virtual event broadcasting company NextVR in a deal worth about $100 million. While the deal hasn't closed, an Apple shell company is reportedly hiring "most" of NextVR's engineers and asking them to relocate to Cupertino.
Amazon might follow up its COVID-19 safety measures with full-fledged testing for the associated virus. Reuters has obtained notes that reportedly reveal discussions with Abbott and Thermo Fisher about the prospect of testing warehouse workers, including at a facility near Amazon's Seattle headquarters. The internet retailer was also exploring testing more than one person at a time, and hoped to team with a medical organization for its testing initiative.
It's also true of its thematic material — right around the time one of the characters accuses another of being communist, you'll slap yourself on the forehead and say, "Oh, it's about capitalism." The new Netflix film takes place in a mysterious prison, with two prisoners on each level (they're randomly rotated each month).
Google will make announcements related to the coronavirus pandemic a lot more visible within Search results. The tech giant has introduced a way for websites to highlight special announcements, so that people can instantly see COVID-19-related information without even having to click through. At the moment, the feature is only accessible to health and government agency websites, which can use it for important updates like school closures or stay-at-home directives.
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Under new guidance issued by the Small Business Administration it seems non-profits and faith-based groups can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to keep small business afloat during the COVID-19 epidemic, but most venture-backed companies are still not covered. Late Friday night, the Treasury Department updated its rules regarding the "affiliation" of private entities to include religious organizations but keep in place the same rules that would deny most startups from receiving loans.
In tandem, telehealth has rapidly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for U.S. health systems. This timing is prescient, as the technologies for telehealth have existed for several decades (at varying levels of sophistication) with modest uptake to-date. From 2005 to 2017, only one out of every 150 doctor visits and one in every 5,000-10,000 specialist visits were conducted via telemedicine.
TV networks are already trying to fill the void in sports coverage left by the COVID-19 pandemic, but ESPN is going all-out. The broadcaster's ESPN2 channel is airing a 12-hour ESPN Esports Day on April 5th starting at 12PM Eastern, and there will be some high-profile live events in the mix. The highlight may be the second F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix at 3PM, when racers (including some current Formula 1 drivers) will compete online in a digital version of Australia's Albert Park. The marathon will also represent Rocket League's debut on ESPN television (it was only streamed before) with the Season 8 World Championship's Grand Finals broadcasting live at 4:30PM.
Zoom will make a couple of important security changes in an effort to prevent trolls from crashing shared video calls on the app. To be exact, it will require passwords to enter calls and will switch on waiting rooms by default starting on April 5th. The platform's explosive growth due to COVID-19 brought its security shortcomings into stark relief, and one of the biggest issues its users have to deal with is bad actors entering calls uninvited. According to TechCrunch, people "Zoombombing" calls usually go around guessing meeting IDs and then blasting participants with offensive imagery or just shouting profanities and slurs.
PlayStation 5 uncovered: The Mark Cerny tech deep dive Richard Leadbetter, Eurogamer If you're craving even more explanation on the PlayStation 5 than lead architect Mark Cerny shared during his in-depth chat a couple weeks ago, get comfy. Eurogamer shared part two of its chat with Cerny this week, and while there weren't any new revelations per se, there was more detail on the things we'd already heard about.
Hey, good morning! You look fabulous. Engadget's review of the first iPad ten years ago lauded its potential, even if the first version of tablet software couldn't do much for one's productivity. Since then, Apple has slowly gotten around to adding multitasking, external storage management and even mouse and keyboard support, all while maintaining a tight grip on the segment. To remember how that happened, check out Chris Velazco's look back at the iPad killers that missed their shot, as well as Engadget readers' impressions of the first-gen model. Separately, Jessica Conditt recalls one use case that developers have mostly given up on: second-screen gaming. -- Richard
Disney has adjusted the theatrical release dates for its biggest upcoming movies this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, except for Artemis Fowl. Instead of pushing back its opening date from May 29th to a later one, the entertainment giant won't be showing it in theaters altogether: The young adult fantasy film about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind will be heading straight to Disney+.
With people forced out of their offices and schools to avoid spreading coronavirus, there are more video calls going on than ever. However, a significant chunk of the action has gone to Zoom, and not Skype, Microsoft's product that has been at the center of online voice and video chats since well before smartphones were commonplace. That's mostly because Zoom has made sharing meetings and the necessary software so easy -- perhaps too easy, with some security and privacy compromises -- but Skype is finally ready to fight back with "Meet Now." With Meet Now, hosts can create and share a free meeting with just three clicks, according to the company. Even the host doesn't need to have Skype installed -- you can start the process from its website right here -- and then invite people either using a simple link or the share button. If the person you're inviting has Skype installed then it will open the app directly to the call, and if not then it will open the web client that works in Chrome or Edge. Zoom has already made some changes and pledged more to address its issues -- we'll see if this setup helps Skype claw back any users who've already gotten used to using competitor's software for their meetings.