Sony is bundling Red Dead Redemption 2 with a 1TB PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony is bundling Red Dead Redemption 2 with a 1TB PlayStation 4 Pro

Considering it’s been eight years since Red Dead Redemption came out, it’s no surprise that fans of the franchise are ravenous for the next installment of the game, which launches October 26.

Last week, Rockstar Games offered some publications the opportunity to preview the game, giving gamers even more to salivate over. But Sony is offering a way to take action.

Sony is offering a RDR2 + PlayStation 4 Pro bundle that actually makes sense for the game. Instead of changing up the physical design of the console, Sony is offering 1TB of storage on a jet black PS4 Pro alongside the RDR2 disc and a dual-shock controller.

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Now, for a game like Red Dead Redemption, which offers a massive open world to explore and an extensive campaign, storage is key. That storage will come in handy for folks playing Red Dead alongside other games without forcing those players to make decisions about what to keep and what to delete.

Pre-orders for the bundle went live today on Amazon for customers in the U.S. and Canada, and costs $399 or $499 CAD.


Source: Tech Crunch

What will Android look like in the next ten years?

What will Android look like in the next ten years?
A decade ago, Android launched… to a world of challenges. But back in 2008, Google wasn't worried about artificial intelligence, it was just trying to make a stable mobile operating system. One that stood out in a very crowded playing field. Back t…
Source: Engadget

FabFitFun expands its video reach with a new experiment in live programming

FabFitFun expands its video reach with a new experiment in live programming

The Los Angeles-based women’s subscription box and media business FabFitFun is expanding its video catalog with the launch of new live programming set to coincide with the launch of its latest seasonal box.

FabFitFun is creating a new slate of live programming which will air every day on its Facebook page from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific and is set to feature interactive product showcases, beauty demonstrations, DIY projects, and a game show.

It’s an expansion of video efforts that the company began last year with the launch of a new app for AppleTV and Amazon Fire.

FabFitFun also has been streaming live shows on its Facebook page; experimenting with subjects like sale previews, product showcases, and “Founder Chats” between its co-founder and editor-in-chief Katie Rosen Kitchens and various entrepreneurs. In early 2017, the company debuted its streaming FabFitFunTV, which includes shows focused on health and fitness, cooking, dating & relationships, and do it yourself projects.

The new slate of live programming will run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5 and will include sneak peaks of the company’s Fall Edit Sale; industry experts for in-studio demos on fashion, beauty, fitness and hair; an expansion of the company’s produced FabFitFun TV content; and a game show called “the Fab Challenge”, where viewers can compete to win prizes.

With the push into live television, FabFitFun moves one step closer toward the vision of creating a millennial version of morning programming like the Today show or something like the Home Shopping Network . Daytime appointment television isn’t what it used to be, but the format does appeal to brands both historic and new.

“Initially we’re doing it in conjunction with the sales we have,” says Michael Broukhim, co-chief executive of FabFitFun. “The plan is to build on that. Make it more than just seasonal. Our goal is what is cheddar for women with commerce and community deeply integrated into it… As we learn about which formats are successful we’ll double down on those.”


Source: Tech Crunch

Microsoft’s AI tech will aid humanitarian efforts

Microsoft’s AI tech will aid humanitarian efforts
Microsoft is offering up its AI technology to those working on humanitarian efforts around the world. Over the next five years, its AI for Humanitarian Action program will put $40 million towards initiatives focused on four priorities — disaster res…
Source: Engadget

Facebook expands its video Ad Breaks to 21 new countries

Facebook expands its video Ad Breaks to 21 new countries

Facebook Ad Breaks, the social network’s pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, are launching in 21 new countries.

Facebook announced that Ad Breaks were generally available last month in five countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Now it’s adding territories in Europe, Latin and South America and Asia to the list.

Maria Smith, Facebook’s director of product for the news feed and media monetization, noted that Facebook first started testing these ad units more than a year ago.

“We started very conservatively,” she said. “It’s a very new initiative for us … We needed to get the user experience right.”

In particular, she said the company found that that these ads work best with longer videos, which is why there’s now a minimum length of three minutes.

Facebook has rolled out other improvements too, like the ability to automatically detect the best moments to insert the ad (though video publishers can still place the Ad Breaks manually, if they choose).

“As you watch a video, there are points in this video where the pause or Ad Break feels natural to the viewer,” Smith said. “For example, between scenes, or where it doesn’t interrupt speech, where the story line feels good to take a break — those are all signals” used to select Ad Break locations.

Facebook Ad Break

Beyond the minimum length for individual videos, Facebook also requires that Pages participating in the Ad Breaks program have at least 10,000 followers and need to have received at least 30,000 one-minute views on videos that are at least one minute long. They also need to meet Facebook’s general monetization standards.

The Ad Breaks sign-up page will now automatically tell creators whether they’re eligible to participate. Smith described these standards as a way to ensure “a really positive experience” for video creators, advertisers and regular users. (After concerns that ads were being played before inappropriate or controversial content, YouTube set a higher bar for eligibility earlier this year, though that’s led to widespread complaints from creators.)

Here are the new countries where Ad Breaks are generally available: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Thailand. As part of this expansion, Facebook is adding support for five new languages, namely French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.

“We’re making sure we’re very thoughtful, rolling this out in phases,” Smith said. “As we get ready to honor our commitment to our partners to enable them to monetize, we’re very excited.”


Source: Tech Crunch

Apple has completed its acquisition of music recognition app Shazam

Apple has completed its acquisition of music recognition app Shazam
Back in December of 2017, Apple announced it would purchase the music discovery service Shazam. Now, that acquisition is complete, and it means that the Shazam app experience will soon be ad-free for all users.
Source: Engadget

Apple closes its $400M Shazam acquisition and says the music recognition app will soon become ad free

Apple closes its 0M Shazam acquisition and says the music recognition app will soon become ad free

Last year, we broke the news that Apple was buying the music recognition startup and app Shazam for about $400 million, and nearly one year later, the deal has finally closed. Today, Apple announced that it has completed the acquisition, and that it would soon be making the service ad free to use for everyone, removing the app’s ad-supported free tier.

“Apple and Shazam have a long history together. Shazam was one of the first apps available when we launched the App Store and has become a favorite app for music fans everywhere,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music, in a statement. “With a shared love of music and innovation, we are thrilled to bring our teams together to provide users even more great ways to discover, experience and enjoy music.”

It’s not clear how Apple longer term will integrate Shazam’s core product into its service — a pretty clever piece of technology that can identify a song by hearing a fragment of it. The two main directions appear to be to let it continue to remain a standalone app longer term, or to subsume part or all of it into a bigger Apple Music offering. (The two are not mutually exclusive.)

At $400 million — a figure confirmed to us by several sources when we were first reporting on the deal — Shazam is one of Apple’s biggest acquisitions both in music and overall, and it underscores the amount of investment that the iPhone maker is willing to put into expanding its role as a force not just in hardware, but in the services that run on that hardware.

In music, it’s in hot competition with over-the-top providers like Spotify — which, along with Snap, was also looking into buying Shazam — and Pandor, (which is now going to be a part of SiriusXM. Other notable Apple acquisitions specifically in music have included the acquisition of Beats, which became the basis of Apple Music, which Apple acquired for $3 billion in 2014.

In May, Apple announced that it has passed the 50 million user mark for Apple Music.

The deal comes three weeks after the EU finally gave a green light to the deal after Apple first made public its intention to buy the startup. (We write “startup” only in name: it was venture-backed to the tune of about $143 million but had been around since 1999.)

The app has hundreds of millions of users and had passed 1 billion downloads back in September 2016, but it had never managed to turn a profit.

In September 2017, Shazam reportedly made £40.3 million ($54 million) in revenues in its 2016 fiscal year, which was a turnaround from the declines between FY 2014 and 2015. It made a statutory pre-tax loss of £4 million ($5.3 million) in 2016, which was still a loss but significantly smaller than the £16.6 million loss in FY 2015.

Although it is one of the most popular apps in the music category, Apple was not found to be making an antitrust violation in buying it.

“Any concerns in that respect were dismissed because Shazam’s data is not unique and Apple’s competitors would still have the opportunity to access and use similar databases,” the EU noted in its approval earlier this month.

More to come.


Source: Tech Crunch

‘Death Stranding’ adds Troy Baker to its star-studded cast

‘Death Stranding’ adds Troy Baker to its star-studded cast
Death Stranding's latest trailer sans gameplay footage has debuted at the Tokyo Games Show. Again, the talking point is the game's star power, with one Troy Baker (of Uncharted and Telltale's Batman fame) the latest addition to its stacked cast. He j…
Source: Engadget

Hulu is first to live stream TV to Amazon’s Echo Show

Hulu is first to live stream TV to Amazon’s Echo Show

Amazon’s Echo Show will apparently also work like a little TV, not just a visual interface for Alexa and her many apps. When the newly announced 10-inch HD screen Echo Show begins shipping next month, it will offer support for Hulu – the first live streaming TV service to work on the screen-based Alexa device. Users will be able to tune into Hulu with Live TV using just their voice, by saying things like “Alexa, play…” followed by the name of TV show, movie or channel.

Amazon also tells us that the streaming won’t be limited to only the new Echo Show devices – the first gen Echo Show will support live streaming, too.

Company execs at Amazon said at an event last week that one of the primary use cases for Echo Show was in the kitchen – and the new device takes particular advantage of that, by offering step-by-step cooking instructions from apps like Kitchen Stories, Allrecipes, Epicurious, Food52, TheKitchn and SideChef.

But there are many other times you’re working in the kitchen, but not following a specific recipe, when you’d rather just have the TV on to keep you entertained instead. That’s where Hulu’s live streaming service comes in. You could have the news on, or a game, or whatever else you want to watch while you prep your meal.

Hulu was one of two TV apps announced for Echo Show, the other being NBC. But Hulu is the only one for now that supports live streamed TV.

As to why Hulu would bother building for what is still a fairly niche Echo device – after all, the top seller is the entry-level Dot, not the Show by any means – the company says it’s about engagement.

Since launching a voice app on Fire TV last November, Hulu says that those who use Alexa watch double the number of hours of content, compared with those who use remotes.

Separately from its live-streaming plans for Echo Show, Hulu also announced a redesigned web version last week. The updated site now supports multiple windows, picture-in-picture mode while browsing, and support for Chromecast.


Source: Tech Crunch

'The Gardens Between' is a bittersweet time-bending puzzler

'The Gardens Between' is a bittersweet time-bending puzzler
How much of your childhood do you remember? Fleeting moments, I suspect, that made you chuckle, laugh or sob. The days you spent with classmates, perhaps, pulling pranks or killing time during summer break. But not everything. The Gardens Between, a…
Source: Engadget