In other headlines, YouTube’s questionable video suggestion algorithm comes under heavy fire, Apple wins a seven-year battle for the “iPad” trademark, and Skrillex may save you from mosquitoes this summer. Let’s talk some news, shall we?
Apple News: News+ is a Hit
It looks like Apple News+ is on its way to success—it garnered more than 200,000 subscriptions in the first 48 hours. Apple also won a battle for the “iPad” trademark, Clips got a nice little update, and more.
- After seven years of battling for trademark rights to the term “iPad,” Apple finally won. Not like there was ever any question. [Appleinsider]
- Apple’s Clips video editor app got a nice little update that brings the ability to add a custom soundtrack from songs created in GarageBand. One step closer to being a “real” video editor. [The Verge]
- According to a new report, over 200,000 subscribed to Apple’s new News+ service in the first 48 hours. That’s…a pretty good number. [Appleinsider]
- MacRumors went hands-on with the new 27-inch 5K 8-core iMac. If you’re interested in that, give it a read. [MacRumors]
Let’s talk about Apple News+ for a second. I was among the 200,000 who subscribed early, mostly to see what the fuss is all about. While I had my initial complaints about how counter-intuitive some features of the app are, overall it’s pretty solid once you figure the ins and outs.
I currently have eight different magazines in the “My Magazines” list, which means I’m paying about a buck twenty-five each. Of course, that’s just what’s relevant to my particular interests—since the $9.99 monthly subscription also lets my wife read her favorite magazines, it seems like a steal.
The only issue (heh) I have with this is one that’s so common with Apple services: it’s only available on Apple products. If I want to read a magazine on my PC or Chromebook, I’m out of luck. That’s one area where Google Magazines has a clear advantage—it’s available everywhere (even iOS).
But really, if you’re not a multi-device user and like the idea of reading a bunch of different magazines, News+ is an excellent service.
Google News: YouTube Values Engagement Over Everything Else
We all know that YouTube can be a wasteland of conspiracy theories and fake news if you’re not careful where you click. It turns out this could’ve been avoided, but those suggestions were ignored. Oof.
- Bloomberg published a pretty brutal report on YouTube, stating that company executives were warned about potential issues with toxic videos, but they ignored them in the name of engagement. It’s a scathing read, and one that’s worth your time. [Bloomberg]
- In news unrelated to YouTube toxicity, the Chrome OS developer channel got Google Assistant in the app drawer search. Assistant in more places on Chrome OS is always a welcome addition. [Android Police]
- A screenshot of Chrome Tab Groups in action surfaced, and it looks pretty nice. [Techdows]
- Some users are experiencing a strange issue in Chrome 73: a new “Managed by your organization” entry is appearing in the menu, even for users who aren’t part of a larger domain. [Techdows]
- Spotify for Android is testing a sleep timer, as well as improved Maps and Waze integration. [XDA Developers]
- Verizon’s Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note 8 are all getting Android Pie with One UI. Sure, it’s not directly related to Google, but it’s close enough. [Android Police]
- After the most recent update, Android TV users are starting to see sponsored ads in the launcher. Yuck. [XDA Developers]
- Google’s reservation making assistant, Duplex, is now available on more Android devices and iPhone. I wish ti could make doctor’s appointments too. [Ars Technica]
- If you love the soothing sounds of John Legend’s voice, you can now tell Google Assistant to “Talk like a Legend” to hear it all the time. Lucky you. [Google Blog]
- The first custom ROMs that work with the OnePlus 6T’s in-display fingerprint scanner are on the way. You know if you’re into that sort of thing. [XDA Developers]
According to Bloomberg’s report, YouTube’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki likens the service to “a library,” claiming that “There have always been controversies, if you look back at libraries.” And while that may be true, that’s only part of the story.
The thing is, libraries don’t recommend books to you on a personal level—you have to go out and find them. What you read about is your decision, so if you want to read conspiracy theories or other topics of questionable integrity, that’s all you. With YouTube, however, it’s using AI to push these kinds of videos. Bloomberg writer Mark Bergen sums this up perfectly:
The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.
Fortunately, YouTube appears to be “fixing” this issue—albeit slowly. How about we use machine learning to destroy videos like this instead of recommending them? Now there’s an idea.
Other News: Did You Know Microsoft Sold eBooks? Apparently Yes, But Also No
Streaming accounts for nearly half of global music revenue, Raspberry Pi gets an official mouse and keyboard, Skrillex may save you from mosquitoes, and more.
- Microsoft is closing the eBook store that no one knew it had. It’s also issuing refunds to everyone who bought books from the store. That should be tens of dollars in refunds, I imagine. [Thurrott]
- Raspberry Pi announced its first official accessories: a keyboard and mouse. Also, it comes in red and white, which is just awesome looking. [Liliputing]
- Streaming music now accounts for half of all global music revenue. [Engadget]
- Good news: Mosquitoes may hate Skrillex as much as the rest of us. Just kidding (about everyone hating Skrillex, not mosquitoes). Anyway, maybe you jam some Skrillex at your family cookout this year and keep the mosquitoes away. I bet grandma will love it too. [CNET]
- Steven Spielberg called for a rule to prevent Netflix and other streaming exclusive movies from Oscar eligibility. Now the DOJ is getting involved and saying this could violate antitrust laws. [Variety]
- Sony announced its Crackle Plus service last week, but it turns out it doesn’t own the trademark or domain for “Crackle Plus,” and now a squatter is trying to get the company to shell out $10k for the URL. [Variety]
- Instagram is sunsetting its Windows Phone app. Also, Instagram had a Windows Phone app. [MSPowerUser]
- Brace yourself, friends, Netflix price hikes are coming to US users in May. [Engadget]
- Did you know Facebook used to ask new users for their email account password for verification? Yeah, the password for their actual, personal email account. Well, it’s going to stop doing that. [CNET]
So this Facebook thing—I read the headline, then I read the story. Then I read more headlines and more stories. Someone had to be confused, right? Surely Facebook wasn’t asking for users’ email passwords…right?
Yeah, no. It was. I haven’t experienced this for myself, but I cannot fathom any other service on earth having the audacity to ask for the password for a totally unrelated service. It’s unreal.
The good news is that it’s going to get rid of this as a type of verification. But let’s be real here: it should’ve never been an option in the first place.