Edge Reveals That "April Update" Is The Name of Windows 10's Next Update

Security - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:45:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

A welcome page shown by Microsoft Edge in the latest Windows 10 Redstone 4 Insider build may have leaked the name of the upcoming Windows 10 feature update. While everyone has been calling the next update the "Spring Creators Update", Microsoft Edges's welcome page in build 17134.1 is calling it the "April Update". [...]

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A first look at Spotify’s redesigned free mobile experience

applemusic - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:30:03 Source: engadget

As rumored, Spotify today unveiled a redesigned app that's geared toward users of its free music-streaming service at an event in New York City. The new mobile experience is all about personalized on-demand listening, with 15 playlists that are curated by Spotify based on your listening habits. That includes sets like the Daily Mix, which feature songs you've \

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Atlanta Projected To Spend At Least $2.6 Million on Ransomware Recovery

it - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:30:00 Source: slashdot

Atlanta is setting aside more than $2.6 million on recovery efforts stemming from a ransomware attack, which crippled a sizable part of the city's online services. ZDNet reports: The city was hit by the notorious SamSam ransomware, which exploits a deserialization vulnerability in Java-based servers. The ransom was set at around $55,000 worth of bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency that in recent weeks has wildy fluctated in price. But the ransom was never paid, said Atlanta city spokesperson Michael Smith in an email. Between the ransomware attack and the deadline to pay, the payment portal was pulled offline by the ransomware attacker. According to newly published emergency procurement figures, the city is projected to spend as much as 50 times that amount in response to the cyberattack. Between March 22 and April 2, the city budgeted $2,667,328 in incident response, recovery, and crisis management. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Purism's privacy-focused phone will support Ubuntu Touch

gear - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:15:03 Source: engadget

Purism's security-focused smartphone, the Librem 5, will come with support for Ubuntu Touch when it ships next year. According to the company, which made its mark building ultra-secure, open platform laptops, the operating system will be \

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China Plans to Bring Artificial Rain to Area Three Times the Size of Spain

Topics - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:15:01 Source: singularityhub

Artificial rain is set to fall on mountainous plains three times the size of Spain. At least, that’s the plan for China’s latest weather manipulation project.

As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the system includes solid fuel burners, drones, planes, artillery, and a network of weather satellites covering vast swathes of the Indian Ocean. The aim is to create a distributed system capable of combatting climate change and increasing rainfall in the region by up to ten billion cubic meters, or approximately seven percent of China’s annual water consumption.

However, while early reports indicate success, the project—and artificial rain technology in general—has its critics and detractors. Some refer to the unproven nature of the technology, and others fear the project could increase international tensions in the volatile region.

Super-Sizing Known Tech and Adding Satellites

China’s new project involves placing thousands of chambers burning solid fuels on the Tibetan plateau. When lit, the chambers will produce silver iodide. The iodide acts as condensate for water molecules in the air. As more and more water molecules gather around the iodide molecules, they become heavier and fall to the earth as rain or snow. The process is known as cloud seeding.

Each year, moist monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean sweep north towards the Himalayan mountains. Real-time data, collected from a network of 30 weather satellites monitoring monsoon activities, will ensure that the burning of fuel coincides with optimal conditions for binding the monsoon water mists with the iodide released by the burners, thereby increasing rain and snowfall. The burner network will be assisted by cloud seeding done by drones, planes, and even artillery in an effort to maximize its effect.

The SCMP, citing an unnamed scientist working on the project, reports that 500 burning chambers have already been erected, with initial results proving very promising. According to the report, a burning chamber costs around $8,000. Once completed, “tens of thousands of chambers” will be positioned throughout the Tibetan plateau. The ambition is to increase rainfall over an area of about 1.6 million square kilometers (620,000 square miles), making it the world’s largest artificial rain project.

Climate change is a prime reason China is undertaking this project. According to the SCMP, climate models predict that the area will suffer severe droughts as temperatures rise and regional rainfall decreases. This would pose significant risks for both China and its neighbors, as the Tibetan plateau is a vital source of water for much of the region.

Increasing Quest for Weather Control

China has been working on technological ways of manipulating the weather, including finding ways to gather or distribute fresh water, for many years, including during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Another recent proposal is the so-called Sky River project, first announced in 2016. Its goal is to increase water supply in China’s arid northern regions by evaporating water and using north-turned air currents to transport the vapor north.

Closer to the ground, weather manipulation has been suggested as a way to combat the high pollution levels found in many of the country’s major cities. The project involves attaching large sprinkler-like systems to the outside of skyscrapers. Spraying water out into the air would—hopefully—bind toxins and gases to the water, thereby reducing toxic smog.

China is by no means the only country pursuing weather manipulation projects. In 2016, 56 countries had such programs, compared to 42 in 2011.

The idea has been around for a while and was even used during the Vietnam War. Known as Operation Popeye, the objective was to increase rainfall during monsoon season to make the terrain muddy and difficult to traverse for enemy fighters. According to a Paleofuture article, the unofficial moniker of the Air Force pilots who carried out the missions was “make mud, not war.”

Given Rain by Taking Water?

Final approval for the project by Chinese authorities is still pending, but it has already raised concern in other regions in China as well as neighboring countries. Manipulation of the weather to produce more rain over the Tibetan plains might lower rainfall elsewhere. Tibet is also often referred to as Asia’s water tower and is the source of rivers like the Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow River. Could increased rainfall in certain geographic regions have an influence on how much water flows to each river? This question is thus far unanswered, and these kinds of worries extend to other weather manipulation projects around the world.

Critics also point to the less-than-proven viability of weather manipulation.

Ma Weiqiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, called the experiment “unprecedented,” but he doubts the chambers’ ability to affect the weather.

“I am skeptical about the amount of rainfall they can produce. A weather system can be huge. It can make all human efforts look vain,” Ma said to SCMP.

Others are more optimistic about the potential found in such projects.

“[…] even a ten percent increase in rainfall or snowfall may be worth the expense,” Bart Geerts, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wyoming, put it to Business Insider.

Image Credit: Thomas Bredenfeld / Shutterstock.com

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MIT researchers turn water into 'calm' computer interfaces

art - Posted On:2018-04-24 11:00:05 Source: engadget

Our lives are busy and full of distractions. Modern computing. with its constant notifications and enticing red bubbles next to apps, seems designed to keep us enthralled. MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group wants to change that by crafting \

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Meet the quantum blockchain that works like a time machine

Gadgets - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:59:57 Source: techcrunch

A new – and theoretical – system for blockchain -based data storage could ensure that hackers will not be able to crack cryptocurrencies once we all enter the quantum era. The idea, proposed by researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, would secure our crypto futures for decades to coming using a […]

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TrickBot's Screenlocker Module Isn't Meant for Ransomware Ops

Security - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:59:56 Source: bleepingcomputer

The screen-locking feature added to a popular banking trojan was never intended to be used for ransomware-like operations, researchers from Fortinet revealed on Monday. [...]

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How to make your old Game Boy as good as (or better than) new

Features - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:59:56 Source: arstechnica

Old Nintendo consoles are clearly having a Moment.

This interest has been spurred in part by official hardware releases like the NES and SNES Classic Editions, tiny replica consoles that have more in common with your smartphone than with the original hardware. But lots of people still want to dig out their old cartridges and play games on actual hardware, as evidenced by the Analogue NT, the Super NT, and Hyperkin’s unabashed Game Boy Pocket clone.

It’s that last one I want to focus on. Nintendo’s retro revival has so far focused mostly on the classic boxes that you hooked to a TV, ignoring the portables that buoyed Nintendo when home consoles like the GameCube and Wii U faltered. But Hyperkin’s backlit Game Boy clone and the (heretofore totally unsubstantiated) rumors about a Game Boy Classic Edition suggest that people want to relive their long childhood car trips just like they want to relive hours in the basement parked in front of a TV and an NES.

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Spotify Wants More Paid Subscribers, So It Has Launched a New App To Give Away More Music For Free

entertainment - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:59:56 Source: slashdot

Spotify on Tuesday announced a new redesigned app for free customers, its first major change to the free tier in four years, as it attempts to lure more customers into buying its subscription service. Free listeners will now get on-demand access to 15 playlists; they can play any song they want in those playlists and are no longer stuck in a world of shuffled playback. From a report: The idea: If people get more stuff without paying, they are more likely to end up paying in the long run. The new mobile app gives free users the ability to play more songs on demand, from 15 pre-populated playlists -- some of which are personalized for individual users, like its popular "Discover Weekly" feature. Spotify has always let users listen to on-demand music for free via an ad-supported option -- it's the main thing that set the company apart from other streaming services in the past. But it has limited full, free access to its library of songs to desktop users, and limited what free users could get to on its mobile app. Today's move doesn't remove those limits entirely, but gives users more opportunity to sample. Paid users get full access to Spotify's entire catalog, on-demand, without ads. The new app also offers users the ability to stream songs with lower data usage. The company says users can save up to 75% of mobile data with data saver mode while streaming on 3G. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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What we're playing: 'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze'

av - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:44:59 Source: engadget

This month, Reviews Editor Jamie Rigg discovers one of Nintendo's many slept-on classics. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze came out back in 2014, but because the Wii U wasn't the most popular console around, it didn't exactly sell like hotcakes. Four years on, Nintendo has a hit console on its hands and is rereleasing Tropical Freeze for the Switch. \n\n\nJamie Rigg\nReviews Editor\n\n\nThe Switch sold more in nine months than the Wii U did in its entire lifetime, which is very good news for Nintendo. It means the company's formula of quirky hardware plus treasured IP is working once more, but better yet, there's a whole wave of Switch owners out there who will have skipped the Wii U altogether. And if they didn't, they more than likely picked up a game or two and let the console gather dust in between major launches. This presents Nintendo with a unique opportunity to recycle some of its better Wii U titles for a new, Switch-wielding audience. The fact that Nintendo did this very thing with Mario Kart 8, positioning it as a Switch launch-window title, did not sit well with me. But putting a less cynical hat on, it does mean people get a chance to play games they would've missed out on had Nintendo tried to forget the Wii U ever existed (like everyone else).\n\nCase in point: I'd never even heard of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze until a colleague flagged it, and I had a Wii U. (It's in a cupboard at a friend's house right now, where it will probably live forever.) What particularly interested me about this DK game was that it's a 2D platformer in a very real sense. Franchises like Zelda, Grand Theft Auto and Mario have conditioned us to expect sprawling 3D worlds as the norm, and yet Tropical Freeze plays almost exactly like the original Donkey Kong Country released on the SNES almost 25 years ago. Outside of some great indie games, I couldn't tell you the last 2D platformer I've played from a big developer. Little Big Planet 3 is the closest thing I can think of, and that's a completely different type of game, really.\n\n\n\nI would say Tropical Freeze is the ultimate archetype of a 2D platformer, but then Nintendo basically defined what makes a game like this good decades ago, so no surprise there. This starts with a completely random and unimportant storyline. The opening cutscene shows a fleet of ice-covered ships crewed primarily by penguins encroaching on Donkey Kong Island, presumably seeking warmer shores. They spoil DK's birthday party with the family, so they have to be sent packing. I think that's what's happening, anyway, but who cares? You're not here to get wrapped up in believable storyline; you're here to bounce off penguins' heads and beat the game.\n\nName a platformer trope, Tropical Freeze has it. A little map of the world you navigate to move between levels? Check. A set of collectibles on each stage for the completionists among us, à la Crash Bandicoot? Absolutely. There's also the mid-level power-ups -- in this case, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Kong, which hop on Donkey's back, give him more health points and augment his jump to make everything a bit easier. The DK version of Yoshi, in other words. What's relatively unique about Tropical Freeze is that on each world, there exists a shop. You collect coins within levels, which can be exchanged for things like extra lives, fall saves or a Kong on your back when you start the level. I find the parrot particularly useful, which squawks when you're near a secret, helping massively with hard-to-find collectibles.\n\nIt's very easy to bank up a shedload of coins, though, and since none of these items are anywhere near essential to completing levels, they feel like an element you could completely ignore if you wanted to. Perhaps in time I'll come to value the help more, because I haven't actually played that much of the game yet -- not through lack of trying, but because it's really hard. Don't let the cartoony graphics and cuddly characters fool you: This is a precision platformer. It feels almost like Super Meat Boy meets Super Mario, only the deaths sting that much more. It's worth noting here that I'm playing on the classic setting, not the new Funky Kong mode that's exclusive to the Switch edition launching May 4th. In fact, it's the only major difference between the two versions.\n\nPlaying as Funky Kong is the game's equivalent of an easy mode. He has a double jump, air glide, permanent roll attack and way more health points. He also looks pretty rad, with a California surfer–style outfit, shades and a board. I couldn't resist playing the game the way it's meant to be played, though, which by comparison is brutal. Accurate jumps and timing are essential to making it through even the early levels. Tropical Freeze isn't particularly unique in its level design, though it does an excellent job of rewarding exploration of your limited 2D plane. After a while, you'll start to see hallmarks of where a secret area might lie, concealed in plain sight. Otherwise, the game is about jumping between platforms, vines, etc., and avoiding enemies or bopping them on the head for extra height.\n\n\n\nThat sounds easy enough, but Donkey Kong has a weight to him. The character physics are subtle but extremely important. DK has a turn rate, a short acceleration period and a braking distance. In many levels, you'll get into a rhythm and find a line: this platform to that vine to that enemy's head, and so on. If you get off-beat with a poor jump (assuming you didn't fall right away) and you've got too much or too little momentum, it can be hard to recover. It can get frustrating when you can't settle in, but it makes it all the more satisfying when you cruise through part of a level at optimum speed. Throw some light problem-solving into the mix and you've got yourself a charming platformer.\n\nEvery time it starts to get a bit samey, the game throws another enemy type or mechanic at you to keep you interested. After completing anything particularly hard, you typically get something easier to cruise through, like a runaway mining cart level. This gives you a sense that progress is always being made. While I'm now invested to the point that I'm going to have to beat the game and find every secret, which is praise in and of itself, there is room for improvement. In my experience, you've no choice but to die occasionally to see what comes next, which is a lazy way to make something challenging. Similarly, you can find yourself in an awesome rhythm and then an enemy spawns out of nowhere that seems intentionally placed to ruin your flow. Mid-level checkpoints are rarely well positioned, either. You often have to repeat a really easy, mundane section collecting bananas and coins before hitting the harder element you're likely to die on a few times.\n\nDonkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the type of game I rarely play anymore. It's not competitive, requiring countless hours of practice, nor is it some grand story you're immersed in for weeks or months. You grab a controller, blast out a level and then go make dinner. Not having to invest too much time and energy into a game and feeling like you're getting somewhere is refreshing. That said, I imagine you're going to need to be pretty excited about the title to feel comfortable spending $60\/£40 on a Wii U rerelease.\n\n\n\

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Spotify brings on-demand listening to its free mobile app

android - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:29:59 Source: engadget

Spotify's free tier is now decidedly more useful when you're on the move. The streaming music service has unveiled a new free version of its mobile app that no longer forces you to shuffle tunes -- you can listen to songs on-demand so long as they appear on one of your 15 personalized discovery playlists, such as the Daily Mix or Release Radar. That's roughly 750 songs (about 40 hours of music), but it beats having Spotify take charge of the track order every time you push play. Accordingly, you'll now get song recommendations based on user-made playlists. That music should consume less of your precious bandwidth, too. Spotify now has a low data mode that cuts usage by as much as 75 percent, which could make all the difference if you're on a slower connection or a capped plan.\n\nThe updated free service is rolling out worldwide.\n\nIt may seem odd for Spotify to push the free tier mere days after it became a public company, and after a long period of limiting free access to assuage labels. Wouldn't it want to focus all its attention on paid users? However, Spotify has previously stated that as many as 60 percent of its Premium subscribers were initially free customers -- that no-cost option is still its best chance at pitching you on the service. In theory, you're more likely to start paying if the free tier is more representative of what you'll actually get when you subscribe.\n\nAnd Spotify has a strong motivation to bring more customers into the fold. Growth rate estimates suggest that Apple Music could catch up to Spotify's paid tier by the summer despite launching years later without any free access beyond a standard trial period. Free service is Spotify's ace in the hole, and it's bound to exploit that in a bid to maintain its lead.

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Amazon Key expands to deliver packages inside your car

Cars - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:29:57 Source: arstechnica

Amazon added a new delivery location to the ever-growing number of spots it can leave your packages: inside your car. The company announced an expansion of its Amazon Key in-home delivery service that now lets Prime members get packages deposited in their cars at no extra cost. The service is available today in 37 cities across the country for Prime members with eligible vehicles and active subscriptions to connected car services.

Rather than needing extra Amazon Key hardware, the in-car delivery service only requires the Amazon Key app and a car of recent vintage. Before placing an order on Amazon, Prime members can choose the "in-car" delivery option at checkout. On the day of delivery, customers can check if their car is parked in-range of the delivery location in the Amazon Key app.

Before couriers gain access to the customer's car, Amazon uses an "encrypted authentication process" to make sure the right courier is present in the right location with the right package. After authorization, the car is unlocked so the courier can deliver the package inside. As with most Amazon delivery services, customers receive alerts when a package is about to be delivered and after the package has been left in their car.

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'Wolfenstein II' blasts its way to the Switch on June 29th

av - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:14:59 Source: engadget

It's been a long time in coming, but the Nintendo Switch adaptation of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is (almost) here. Bethesda has announced that the Nazi-punching sequel will be available on June 29th for $60. You'll generally know what to expect, and that's likely to be a good thing. Panic Button's conversion appears to be on par with its well-received Doom port, with Switch-friendly motion controls and the kind of rich graphics detail you wouldn't expect from a portable console. And in case you're wondering, Bethesda is vowing that this release is complete and uncensored. If you've seen even a sliver of the game, you know what that means. It also shows just how far Nintendo has come in terms of its attitude toward games, for that matter. Nintendo demanded heavy censorship of the SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D back in 1994, when it insisted that games be as family-friendly as possible. Now, it's allowing a Wolfenstein title that could be considered risqué even by the standards of jaded gamers. While it's been clear for a while that Nintendo is happy to court adults, this serves as the ultimate proof.

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Scientists Plan Huge European AI Hub To Compete With US

science - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:14:56 Source: slashdot

Leading scientists have drawn up plans for a vast multinational European institute devoted to world-class artificial intelligence (AI) research in a desperate bid to nurture and retain top talent in Europe. From a report: The new institute would be set up for similar reasons as Cern, the particle physics lab near Geneva, which was created after the second world war to rebuild European physics and reverse the brain drain of the brightest and best scientists to the US. Named the European Lab for Learning and Intelligent Systems, or Ellis, the proposed AI institute would have major centres in a handful of countries, the UK included, with each employing hundreds of computer engineers, mathematicians and other scientists with the express aim of keeping Europe at the forefront of AI research. In an open letter that urges governments to act, the scientists describe how Europe has not kept up with the US and China, where the vast majority of leading AI firms and universities are based. The letter adds that while a few "research hotspots" still exist in Europe, "virtually all of the top people in those places are continuously being pursued for recruitment by US companies." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Ford's electric GoBikes have arrived in San Francisco

charging - Posted On:2018-04-24 10:00:00 Source: engadget

Bike-sharing company Motivate is expanding its San Francisco offering to include electric versions of Ford's GoBikes. They'll be available at no extra cost in the same way as Ford's regular GoBikes, which can be unlocked with the accompanying app or via the Clipper card. The roll out will initially include 250 bikes, which are designed to give riders an added boost while pedalling -- up to 18mph in fact -- so you'll still be able to ride in bike lanes. These pedal-assist bikes aren't new in San Francisco. Uber-owned Jump has been kicking around for a while. Unlike Jump bikes, however, Ford's electric GoBikes have removable batteries, so Motivate can swap them in and out on the streets, rather than taking the bikes away for charging, depleting the stock available on the roads. Eventually, though, Motivate imagines bikes will charge via their docking stations.\n\nThere are currently 262 Ford GoBike stations across the San Francisco Bay Area, with some 2,600 bikes total. Come the end of the year Motivate envisions more than 540 stations with 7,000 bikes, which would make it the second-largest bike-sharing program in North America. If they roll out the electric bikes to New York's Citi Bikes initiative though -- which seems likely given the city's current focus on creating an e-bike framework -- it might not be too long before it takes the top spot.

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Selfie-snapping monkey loses copyright infringement case (again)

copyright - Posted On:2018-04-24 09:44:59 Source: engadget

The copyright battle over who owns that famous toothy selfie taken by a macaque monkey in Indonesia apparently didn't end when the parties involved reached a settlement last year. On Monday, an appeals court has affirmed the lower court's decision that Naruto, the seven-year-old crested macaque in the selfie, can't file a copyright claim for the photo. \

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Roku is getting free live news, starting with ABC

abc - Posted On:2018-04-24 09:15:01 Source: engadget

If there's one thing streaming video watchers love, it's free stuff. So it wasn't a huge surprise to see Roku launch a free ad-supported movie channel of its own last year. Now, it's adding news coverage to that selection, starting with ABC News Live, the network's first stab at a 24\/7 online offering. And on top of that, there will also be live streams from Cheddar, People TV and Newsy. Sure, it may seem like what's old is new again, but it's a smart move for Roku, since it makes its streaming platform much more useful for consumers. And more importantly, it gives them one more reason to stick around. With ABC News Live, the network hopes to provide continuous coverage of breaking news from all over the world. There will be on-air talent, of course, but it'll also incorporate footage from its shows, like a relevant Good Morning America segment. You'll be able to watch the channel on ABC's website and mobile apps, but Roku's platform will be its exclusive home on streaming devices. Roku is planning to deliver the live news channels through a phased roll out in May.\n\n\

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Roku adds private listening for multiple viewers

android - Posted On:2018-04-24 09:15:00 Source: engadget

Many living room media players support headphones to let one person watch videos without disrupting anyone. But that's not how it always works. What if you want to watch Netflix with your spouse when the kids are sleeping, or catch up on YouTube with a friend while your roommate is studying? Roku will have you covered. On top of its new support for live news, it's promising a Roku OS 8.1 update that enables private listening for up to four additional people using the company's Android and iOS apps. That's not enough to support a big house party, but it'll probably handle most instances when you want to keep quiet. The 8.1 release will come in May as a staggered release that will take weeks to complete. While that could be an agonizing wait, it'll give Roku a decided advantage over competitors that limit you to solo listening for those late night sessions. It won't be surprising if competitors follow suit.

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Pandora Premium arrives on Xbox One

av - Posted On:2018-04-24 09:15:00 Source: engadget

Pandora has dragged its heels expanding its Premium service beyond mobile -- a web player only arrived in February, nearly a year after the mobile launch. But now it's opening up its offerings further still. From today, you'll be able to use the streaming service on Xbox One while you're gaming. It'll work in much the same way as it does on web and mobile -- search and play your favorite albums, create the perfect gaming playlist and so on -- but with a couple of new features. The Xbox One version has a refreshed look, making it easier to navigate your music collection, and includes background audio support and an autoplay function that means you'll never be left sitting in silence when your gaming gets too intense to pause and find something else to listen to.\n\nXbox One fans don't have a huge amount of choice when it comes to on-demand background-streaming music services. Since Groove -- which was first on the scene -- is no more, Pandora's main rival Spotify has taken the top spot. Whether Pandora will overtake Spotify as the gamer's streaming service of choice is yet to be seen, but its arrival on Xbox One certainly increases competition between the two.

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