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disney hires ex-apple & samsung director to lead its streaming service

disney is continuing to make progress on building itself one of the top streaming video services when it launches sometime in 2019. the media giant has already been pulling its content and ending deals with rival netflix, and now it appears to have hired someone with experience at some of the biggest tech companies to head operations. specifically, kevin swint, who has served as an executive at both apple and samsung in recent years.during his five years at apple, swint worked on the itunes team, eventually running the worldwide movies business and overseeing the launch of hd movies and the itunes extras feature. he was then hired by samsung in 2013 to head its own milk video and music services, both of which never really took off before bei...




google play store will soon sell audiobooks

in this age of podcasts and other forms of streaming media, the audiobook format has been growing in popularity over the last few years. amazon currently dominates the market, however, with its ownership of audible, but it appears google is about to make a big push back. the google play store has revealed that it will soon start selling audiobooks alongside its existing media like movies, tv shows, music, digital books, and more.a banner promoting the arrival of audiobooks has been spotted on the google play website. unfortunately, the link to the audiobook section isn’t live yet, and there’s no specific mention of when content will be available for purchase on the store, possibly indicating the banner has appeared early ...




apple homepod gets fcc approval, expected to launch soon

for those waiting to get their hands on apple’s upcoming homepod, the wait appears to soon be over. the siri-powered smart speaker was delayed from its original release last fall to sometime in “early 2018,” but the device was recently granted approval by the fcc for sale in the us. there’s still no solid launch date, however, but the approval means the homepod could soon be challenging the amazon echo and google home speakers for users’ living rooms.the fcc filing doesn’t reveal many new details about the homepod itself, other than an image of the speaker’s bottom side, where the fcc label will be found. the device is officially identified as model number a1639, and many of the now-released fcc documents are dated from septemb...




baidu reveals a different smart speaker strategy with raven h and dueros

like just about every big tech company these days, chinese web giant baidu is getting in on the smart speaker game. but the company is doing things noticeably different from amazon or google, despite selling its new raven h speaker device. instead the key product is the assistant software itself, the dueros ai platform, and baidu’s goal is to have it used in hardware from other manufacturers.the colorful raven h speaker is the only in-house hardware from baidu, and it’s priced at roughly $250 for the chinese market. alternatively, customers can buy one of several third-party speakers running the same dueros software for only a quarter of that price. this is the opposite of amazon and google, which not only produce the best hardware for t...




final fantasy 14 update reintroduces iconic ff6 villains

the popularity and quality of final fantasy xiv has grown significantly since the release of the stormblood expansion last year, and now developer square enix has detailed the online rpg’s latest update. dubbed rise of a new sun, the new 4.2 update will be released on january 30th and include plenty of new content for players to explore. but what has series fans most excited is the tease of an iconic villain from final fantasy vi making a return.square enix has released a trailer highlighting some of the new content and changes included in rise of a new sun, but it’s the very end that drops a nostalgia bombshell. the clip closes out with the grinning face and distinctive laugh of kefka, the antagonist of ff6, which was first released on ...




lg folding phone patent shows handset transform into tablet

a patent filed by lg shows a folding phone concept in which the handset forms a tablet when unfolded. according to the patent’s details, this model — should it ever be put into production — wouldn’t feature two separate displays like the zte axon m, but rather a single flexible display that can be folded in half. the result is a smartphone that functions as a tablet.the patent was filed with intellectual property agencies and was spotted by the dutch website gsminfo. the document contains numerous illustrations of the folding phone, including several folded arrangements, a view of the top and bottom of the phone when it is folded, and expanded views that resemble a tablet (below).sadly, this particular filing is focused on design, no...




gopro fusion android support arrives for 10 compatible phone models

last year, action camera maker gopro introduced a 360-degree 5.2k camera called fusion, a model that resembles the company’s hero models but with notably different functionality. the gopro fusion has launched in the months since its introduction, enjoying fairly solid user ratings and reviews while helping gopro edge away from its business troubles. thanks to a new app update, fusion just got a little more appealing.read: gopro fusion preview: this video shows the 360 camera’s true potentialthe gopro fusion camera is a great piece of hardware, but it’s only as great as the software that joins it. gopro brags that its mobile app “truly pushes the limits of what is possible on a mobile device,” but the device support was limited.that...




twitter starts notifying users who followed russian propaganda accounts

following facebook’s publication of a tool that shows users whether they followed russia-linked pages comes an update from twitter: it is emailing users who followed a russia-linked page on its platform. twitter revealed its plans in an update on the topic, where it details its progress and what it is doing moving forward. among its users, 677,775 people located in the united states either liked, followed, or retweeted russia-linked accounts.the matter revolves around russia’s interference in the us’s 2016 presidential election. the nation was found to have used major social media platforms, namely facebook and twitter, in an effort to manipulate the public, destabilize the nation’s population, stir up tensions, and more. the propaga...




flu virus can be spread by simply breathing: study

being around a random sneeze or cough during flu season is enough to strike paranoia into one’s heart, but it turns out it takes far less to potentially infect you. researchers with the university of maryland and other institutions are behind a newly published study that details how easily the influenza virus can be transmitted. sneezing and coughing can spread the virus, of course, but so can simply breathing.the research was detailed in a study published in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences, where it details the process that found flu virus transmission risk. coughing is problematic, as far as spreading the virus is concerned, but so is simply exhaling. to determine this, the researchers monitored the influenza virus in...




twitter bookmarks feature appears in beta on android

back in october, twitter announced plans to add a feature that allows its users to save tweets for later. the feature was referred to as “save for later,” but its in-app name will actually be “bookmarks.” with bookmarks, a user can privately save specific tweets, a feature the company says has been a frequent request from users. the idea behind a bookmarking feature is that users can easily save tweets to review later; this eliminates the need to “like” them so that they’re easier to return to. key here is that the bookmarking feature is private, plus simple to use. assuming you have the latest android beta version, you can use the feature now.in the beta app, tap the carrot in the upper right corner of a tweet to reveal its me...




psn flash sale discounts a bunch of ps4 indie games

as it’s been known to do every once in a while, sony has kicked off a flash sale on the playstation store. this sale comprises deals for playstation 4, playstation 3, and ps vita, though those buying for playstation 4 are unsurprisingly going to have the most offers to take advantage of. if you’re going to buy something, you’ll need to act quick, because this sale isn’t going to last very long (though that should have been a obvious given its designation of “flash sale”).though these flash sales can sometimes feel like a mish-mash of deals on games that aren’t usually top sellers, this particular flash sale actually has quite a few indie games that might be worth checking out. of course, that’s assuming you haven’t already ...




samsung cloud will delete third-party app backups next month

samsung is changing its samsung cloud service’s backup policy, the company has announced in an email sent to users, a change that will affect app backups. according to the email, samsung cloud will stop supporting third-party app data backups soon, at which point samsung will purge the data it has already backed up from these apps. users only have a couple weeks to arrange an alternative.samsung cloud is the korean company’s cloud backup platform for galaxy devices. thus far, users have been able to backup third-party app data on the service, but according to an email the company is sending out, that changes next month. starting on february 6, samsung cloud will no longer support third-party app backups and users will not be able...




verizon go unlimited will soon include service in mexico and canada

back in august, verizon diced up its unlimited plan and with that came multiple varieties of “unlimited,” one of them being verizon go unlimited. that plan clocks in at $75/month versus beyond unlimited’s $85/month price, though with restrictions, such as “dvd-quality” video streaming versus actual hd quality over mobile. now the company is adding a new feature to its cheaper plan, and travelers will be pleased.verizon go unlimited, the budget-tier of the unlimited plans, will soon offer service in mexico and canada as part of its offerings, meaning those subscribers won’t have to pay extra to use their plan in either country. the change will take place on january 25.previously, verizon customers who wanted service in either coun...




amazon prime price just rose, did you notice?

depending on how much you use amazon for your shopping, amazon prime could be a very worthwhile service. amazon charges $99 per year for access to amazon prime – which offers free two day shipping on a lot of items, along with movie and music streaming (among other things) – but a couple of years ago, it rolled out a monthly subscription option for those who can’t afford to pay a yearly subscription all at once. as with most monthly vs. yearly subscriptions, you total cost works out to be more if you go the monthly route, but you have the benefit of being able to spread that cost out instead of paying it all in one big transaction.it seems that the cost is about to become even greater for monthly prime subscribers. recode first covered...




galaxy s9 release date may hinder tech to truly battle iphone x

the samsung galaxy s9 is just one of three big-name smartphones the company will reveal this year. the company is set to reveal the samsung galaxy s9, the samsung galaxy s9+ (or galaxy s9 plus), and the samsung galaxy note 9. these three devices will be very similar to one another, and the first two will inform the details of the third. this morning we’re going over the latest batch of details from south korea and china on the galaxy s9 and galaxy s9 plus, both of which are expected to be revealed in late february of 2018.the release date for the galaxy s9 shouldn’t be too long after the reveal date. both the galaxy s9 and s9 plus are almost certainly going to be revealed together at a samsung event that’ll take place on the 24th or 25...




samsung investigated for old phone slowdown (just like apple)

remember how apple just got in trouble for deliberately slowing down old iphones? samsung was just called out for the same thing. antitrust authorities are now investigating both samsung and apple for their part in “unfair commercial practices.” more specifically, samsung and apple now part of two separate proceedings for “exploiting the shortcomings of some components to reduce the performance of their products over time and induce consumers to purchase new versions of the same.”if samsung is indeed in the same boat as apple when it comes to slowing down old phones, it won’t look good for the company. it’ll look especially bad, considering they took stabs at apple when apple was first called out on their slowdown policy in the u...




oneplus confirms security breach with a staggering number of affected users

last week, we started hearing word of a potential security breach over at oneplus. users were reporting that their credit cards had been compromised shortly after making a purchase on the oneplus website, which prompted the company to launch an investigation. today we’re getting the first results from that investigation, and things aren’t looking good for oneplus or its users.in a new post to the oneplus forums, the company tells us what it found during its investigation. as it turns out, oneplus was indeed attacked, and as many as 40,000 users who shopped at oneplus.net over the past couple of months might be affected. that, as you can probably guess, isn’t good news for a company that’s been trying to make a name for itself among t...




alexa app finally has a voice

an update for the alexa app for android was given an update this morning with support for alexa voice interaction. this update brings alexa voice interaction on all androids, not just a few – all just as long as they have at least android 4.4 or newer. that’s the basic requirement for the app itself – and was before this update, too.this update brings user support for alexa skills with voice as well as remote control for connected home devices. the app will bring the ability to ask questions of all sorts – right after the user taps the alexa button. in the future we’ll expect ways to get to alexa without having the app open – but for now, the app needs to be front and center to function or respond to voice commands.this update br...




pubg cheaters banned en masse as blue zone changes arrive

if there’s one thing that’s the bane of a pubg player’s existence right now, it isn’t server lag or textures failing to load, but cheaters. the problem with cheaters within playerunknown’s battlegrounds has been well documented at this point, with many players complaining loudly and frequently about the problem. though the pubg corporation has been trying to keep up with cheaters by using battleye and regularly handing out bans, the problem persists.today, however, the pubg team made a pretty big announcement about its efforts against cheating. in a new post to the steam pubg community, pubg corporation announced that it has “recently discovered a new pattern of cheats in action.” this discovery gave way to a data review of 10 ...




ripple price rise with stellar: battling the btc usd drop tide

after a significant dip in bitcoin price last week and over the weekend, several cryptocurrencies are on the rise. notably xrp, the coin for ripple, saw a 50% rise in value one day, then a fall by around 6% the next. ripple saw a 70+ percent recovery from the lowest price in several weeks at $0.897 (according to coinmarketcap.) meanwhile stellar xlm grew 53-percent from january 17th to the 18th, then down 8% from yesterday to today.back on january 11th, stellar validators voted to lower the base reserve to 0.5 xlm on the network. this made “the cost of creating accounts and order inexpensive again.” that’s good news for everybody – especially those in the cryptocoin market with interest only in the results of news, not necessarily th...