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Reviewers Sing Apple Music's Praises
July 1, 2015
Apple rolled out its new subscription music streaming service Tuesday, and it has been getting mostly raves from reviewers. "Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods," wrote Walt Mossberg for Re/code.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
Nintendo's E3 Direct Gives It to Fans Straight
June 17, 2015
Nintendo allayed the fears of some gamers in Tuesday's E3 Direct presentation, assuring them that long-term projects have not been scrapped. Many fans and analysts had been expecting the company to close the pipeline of games designed for its current hardware as it gears up for a new console. However, the main focus of E3 Direct was the near term -- that is, the second half of this year.
Bethesda Dazzles in E3 Debut
June 16, 2015
With a sackful of news about additions to its library and an expansion of its lore, Bethesda Softworks held its first-ever showcase on Sunday, as the Electronic Entertainment Expo gathered heat for its official kickoff on Tuesday. Jolly staffers dished news and trailers for the next entries in some Bethesda's most successful franchises, as well as a pair of spinoffs.
Spotify Ain't Afraid of No Apple
June 11, 2015
Spotify has raised $526 million in its latest round of funding, according to reports that surfaced Wednesday. That's more than half the $1 billion Spotify raised in funding over the past nine years, said Susan Schreiner, analyst at C4 trends. Given that Apple just announced its new music-streaming service, why would companies pump all this money into Spotify?
Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.
It's Streaming Time for Showtime
June 8, 2015
CBS-owned pay-TV service Showtime on Monday announced that it will make its standalone streaming service available on Roku players and Roku TV models, as well as via Sony's PlayStation Vue, for US$10.99 per month. The service will be accessible through those channels in July -- coinciding with the season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, which are slated to air on July 12.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
Customer Satisfaction With Pay-TV, ISPs Hits New Low
June 2, 2015
"Customer first" is the motto businesses live by -- or should -- but that doesn't seem to resonate with companies providing pay-TV or Internet-access services, based on ACSI data gathered in Q1 of 2015. Customer satisfaction with information services fell to 68.8 percent, the lowest level in seven years. Subscription-TV services and ISPs are at the bottom of the 43 industries covered by the index.
Netflix Stars in the Internet's Big Motion Picture Show
May 29, 2015
Streaming video accounts for more than half of all of fixed network Internet traffic, according to the newly released "Global Internet Phenomena" report from Sandvine, which based its findings on data from 250-plus communication service providers, or CSPs. Web browsing and social networking accounted for far less peak traffic -- with browsing accounting for just 6 percent of Internet traffic.
Popcorn Time Offers Smooth-as-Butter Streaming
May 20, 2015
Popcorn Time, known as the "Netflix for Pirates," has introduced a browser-based service that lets users play streaming videos without having to download anything. The videos play on the company's servers. However, the browser-based service does not include a built-in virtual private network, a feature of the downloadable Popcorn Time app. Most of the videos stream in HD.
Verizon Pursues OTT Dream With $4.4B AOL Buy
May 12, 2015
Verizon will make a tender offer of $4.4 billion for AOL, the companies announced Tuesday. AOL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon upon completion of the merger agreement this summer. The deal drives Verizon's LTE wireless video and over-the-top video strategies, and provides support and connectivity for the company's Internet of Things platforms.
Splatoon: Nintendo Hits You With Its Best Shot
May 7, 2015
Nintendo has invited players to paint the town red -- and green and blue and a palette of other colors -- in Global Testfire events over the weekend for Splatoon, a new game launching May 29 exclusively on the Wii U. The Testfire events will provide three hour-long windows to try out Splatoon and provide Nintendo with the server stress-testing the game will need for a successful launch.
YouTube Marks 10 Years of Nondisruptive Revolution
April 23, 2015
YouTube on Thursday celebrated its first full decade in business. It was 10 years ago to the day that cofounder Jawed Karim uploaded the site's first video. It was a humble beginning: a 19-second clip of elephants, with Karim declaring that the pachyderms have "really, really long trunks." In fairness, it may have been in keeping with other notable firsts in technology.
Guitar Hero Strikes Back
April 15, 2015
Rock Band 4's race to the top of the gaming charts this fall will be rivaled by a new release from Activision. Returning with a music video mode and first-person perspective, Guitar Hero Live offers a unique take on the music game genre. It "lets people rock real crowds with real reactions," said Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg. "Our goal was literally to give people stagefright."
Gadget Ogling: Dashing Buttons, a Plug-In PC and a Smart Teakettle
April 7, 2015
Amazon Dash is a series of WiFi connected buttons you dot around your home for various products. Once you run out, hit the button, and Amazon will ship out more of what you need. Run out of things like trash bags, razors, detergent, diapers, paper towels, dog food or toilet paper, and Amazon can ship you more at the touch of a button. It's wonderfully simple.
Roku Offers Shiny New Streamers
April 7, 2015
Roku, the original "Netflix box," has seen a good deal of its market share divvied up by newcomers with names like "Fire" and "Chrome." However, what Roku has going for it that other streaming device manufacturers don't is freedom. "They aren't shackled to their own content business, so they can offer the widest choice of content -- and a big choice of apps," noted Sky VP Hilary Perchard.
John Oliver Tackles Surveillance in Surprise Snowden Scoop
April 6, 2015
Comedy talk show host John Oliver boldly went where few journalists from the mainstream media have dared to tread, grilling whistle-blower Edward Snowden about his leaking of thousands of NSA documents to the press. He raked Snowden over the coals for not having read every one of the documents, insisting there's a difference between understanding what's in documents and reading them.
Apple TV Won't Go Out on 4K Limb
April 6, 2015
The fourth generation of the Apple TV set-top box won't support 4K video when it arrives later this year, according to a Monday report on Buzzfeed News, which cited unnamed sources in a position to know. This is a bit of a surprise, given that the third-generation Apple TV incorporated the higher-resolution 1080p video standard and included HDMI-video outputs.
Top Talent Jumps on Tidal Wave
April 1, 2015
It has about 5 million songs fewer than Spotify's streaming library, but the big draw to Tidal is audio quality. Its premium tier streams FLAC audio at up to 1411 kbps, which requires lots of bandwidth. The service now counts 25 million-plus music tracks in its library and more than 75,000 music videos. It's available via dedicated apps for Android and iOS, as well a Web player for Macs and PCs.
Halo Fans Hunt for Truth, Microsoft Hunts for Hearts
March 31, 2015
Xbox and 343 Industries have released two live-action trailers for Halo 5: Guardians to encourage both Xbox One owners and holdouts to "hunt the truth." The trailers aired during The Walking Dead's season finale. In one, the story catches up with Master Chief scorning an injured and supine Spartan Locke with an unsettling benediction. In the other, their roles are reversed.
PlayStation Vue Could Put Cable TV in Rear-View Mirror
March 19, 2015
Sony on Wednesday launched its PlayStation Vue streaming service in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. A combination of live and on-demand TV with a cloud-based DVR, Vue is available on the PS4 and PS3 in those cities. Users' favorite shows and channels will be right on the home screen whenever they fire up the service. The DVR lets users save favorite shows and store them for up to 28 days.
Apple's TV Plans Come Into Focus
March 18, 2015
Apple is expected to launch a Web-TV service this fall, offering 25 channels of content from various providers. Its pending move "is yet another sign that the traditional pay-TV provider lock on programming distribution continues to erode," said IDC analyst Greg Ireland. "The availability of more options ... will attract attention from cord-cutters and current pay-TV subscribers alike."
Samsung Offers Free Milk to All
March 12, 2015
Samsung has opened its Milk Music streaming music service to anyone via a Web browser, one year after introducing it on its mobile devices. "In a word, why?" questioned Mike Goodman, director of digital media at Strategy Analytics. "There's Pandora, there's Spotify, there's Google Music Play ... . They're offering a lot of the same things everybody else is offering."

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