Ever wanted to be chased by ghosts down your own street while you hoover up pellets in an endless loop of stress? Of course, some of you already have a life that’s is exactly that, thanks to your delusions.
For the rest of you, there’s hope. For April Fool’s Day (one of the more trying days of the year), Google have decided to turn Google Maps into a playable Pac-Man game.
Of course, the rules of the game are simple – charge around while the famous music plays and eat power pills and get chased by Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde. And when you die, you get that infamous noise that has frustrated so many over the years.
All you have to do is go to Google Maps, hit the Pac-Man icon and you’re away.
Basically, Jay Z, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Martin, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and a load of other people including Calvin Harris, have teamed-up to make Tidal the first major artist-owned streaming service. If you remember, United Artists did something similar with a record label (and that ended well).
The funny thing is, is that these artists are all talking about Tidal like it is Live Aid or something, looking at what they’re doing as something akin to social justice when, of course, the idea behind it is to get people to spend their money.
Basically, Tidal will cost you roughly twice the amount of a Spotify account. Or, if you use torrents, then this will cost you money, period. The idea is that, through Tidal, musicians will release their music there first, at a higher quality than anywhere else. Those involved in it made a little film about it all too, which will make you grind your teeth.
Of course, Jay Z in 2015 is a businessman first and a rapper, second. It isn’t really surprising that he wants to get in the world of tech. Dr Dre has made a pretty penny through Beats and signing up with Apple.
Sadly for him, a lot of music fans aren’t convinced. Some are even angry at the whole thing, with the general bile being along the lines of “Oh, poor you – you’ve been destitute for so long haven’t you? With your champagne, fur coats and helicopter pads…”. It seems that one of the biggest jobs Tidal will have, is PR, if they want a load of disposable income to be thrown their way.
What do music fans actually get from this? Lossless music, demo versions of songs and the chance to hear new releases for a week on Tidal, before it goes to the other platforms. And… uh… that’s about it really.
If you want to check it out, find it here. Do you fancy it and, perhaps more pertinently, do you think it is going to be the saviour of the recording industry?
The app is available today (which means, hurray, yet another update to do on your PS3 or PS4) and you’ll be able to listen to albums over the top of in-game audio. That means you can play a super bleak horror game while listening to ‘Yakety Sax’ by Boots Randolph. And who wouldn’t want to do that?
Of course, if you like tutting about things like Spotify, you can always ignore all this and play Solitaire with some playing cards while listening to an LP.
For those of you interested, the app is available even if you don’t have a premium Spotify account.
Gustav Soderstrom, chief product officer at Spotify, said: “Music has always been a big part of gaming. I remember playing computer games like Quake and Counter-Strike with my favourite tunes on in the background, taking the experience to a whole new level. With today’s launch, we’re bringing back that magic of gaming with music – all in a beautifully-designed and smooth experience that looks great on the big screen.”
You’ll get all the usual features through the app, as well as a new the option to control the music in-game via a pop-up volume menu. Spotify Connect technology will be part of the app too, which means other people in the room with access to your account can control the tunes with their phones or whatever.
Google wants to get in on all that lovely television action that everyone else is weighing into. Apple are going to start streaming TV shows, and Amazon have their Fire TV box and stick. The internet godzilla is prepping the launch of the Nexus Player on 26th March in the UK.
As you’d expect, the Nexus Player will let you stream films and telly programmes from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Of course, this is pointless if you have a console, but for non-gamers, this is a good move and yet another option to look at.
That said, this offering from Google hasn’t exactly won everyone over in America, Canada and Japan.
One problem is that the Nexus Player us likely to cost somewhere in the region of £75 and, if you want to play games on it, then the joypad is another £30.
Google haven’t made an official announcement on all this, but the product has appeared on an Amazon listing.
Is there any point buying one if you can already stream Netflix from other devices to your television, for a much cheaper price?
Amazon have launched the Fire TV Stick. A rubbish name but the device itself looks alright. Basically, this new thing is a budget version of Amazon’s Fire TV box and at £35, there’s a lot of people who’ll be interested in it.
Provided your telly has an HDMI port and you’re paying your subscriptions, you can whack it in and watch all manner of television shows and the like. It even comes with a little remote control, or you can hook it up to your phone and use that to navigate the menus.
Of course, it isn’t quite as powerful as Amazon’s £79 Fire TV box, which launched last October, but that’s why it is cheaper.
This stick has more features than Google’s Chromecast and Amazon say that their gadget has a dual-core processor, which is apparently six times the processing power of Roku Streaming Stick. There’s 8GB of storage too, which is 32 times more than the Roku stick and quadruple Chromecast’s.
“When we launched Fire TV in the UK last September, it quickly became our fastest-selling Amazon device,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and boss. “We’re excited to introduce Fire TV Stick in the UK. Fire TV Stick is the most powerful streaming media stick available, with a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi, included remote control, voice search with our free mobile app, and an open ecosystem.”
“The team has packed a huge amount of power and selection into an incredible price point – Fire TV Stick is just £35.”
If this sounds like your thing (it might not – loads of people hate Amazon on pure principal), then you can preorder it now and it’ll ship on April 15th. Amazon Prime members can get it for £19 for a limited time. Click here to have a look at it.
So what’s the deal? Well, this new promotion gives you movie nuts who are on EE, Orange or T-Mobile the chance to rent films for £1 plus the price of a 35p text, every week, from Wuaki.tv. That doesn’t even vaguely match the previous offer.
People liked Orange Wednesdays because they could leave the house and go to the cinema with friends for cheap. This new offer is a squib in comparison.
Anyway, if you think that EE Film Club sounds like something you’d be into, it launches on 30th March and is available to all EE, Orange, T-Mobile customers with mobile or broadband contracts. You’ll have to text EE to get a code each week. Text “film” to 241 to get your promotional code.
You’ll have 48 hours to watch your movie choice.
“Today’s announcement is very much part of EE’s longstanding support and commitment to the film industry in general,” said an EE spokesperson, “but also recognises how consumer habits are changing. EE is a digital brand so this new offer makes sense for our film-loving customers as more people than ever before are downloading and streaming movies so they can watch at home or on the go.”
They’ve been talking to companies like ESPN, FX, CBS, and Fox, which isn’t going to set the world on fire, but is a start. You can presume that any deal won’t involve NBCUniversal, as Apple fell out with the broadcaster’s parent company Comcast.
Looks like Apple are going after the subscription market, with rumours that their service will set you back around £25 per month. If the mutterings are to be believed, we’ll be hearing much more about this around June.
It isn’t surprising they want in, what with Netflix doing so well and Amazon Prime Instant Video muscling into the market. If Apple manage to get HBO and deliver that around the world, that could be a game-changer. Only last week, they announced that they’d secured exclusive early access to the HBO Now streaming service, which means Game of Thrones devotees will be keeping an eye on all this.
Apple, as ever, aren’t commenting on the speculation, leaving berks like us to do all their promotional work for them.
Well, that’s been questioned after one PS4 owner had some problems.
A Reddit user named Kadjer had their account hacked, with $600 worth of content bought through his account. In addition to all that, their console had been unlinked from their PSN account and replaced with a different one.
What was PlayStation’s solution? Well, depressingly, they apparently have a maximum refund policy of a paltry $150, which is offered as PSN credit, rather than cash in the bank.
Have you spotted the problem with this? Seeing as the customer is locked out of their account, they can’t even use the PSN credit. It doesn’t stop there either – if they decide to challenge the illicit purchases with his bank, Sony has stated that they will ban his PSN account and erase his licenses, which means he’ll lose everything, forever.
“As the transactions came in, one-by-one, it became immediately clear that my account had been hacked. I immediately logged into PSN and removed my card from the account, changed my email and password, and simultaneously launched support chats with both Sony and my bank,” Kadjer explains.
“My account will not be able to activate a new system for six months, per Sony policy. I’m completely locked out of my own account until that date. I then asked about what would happen if I got my bank to reverse the charges, and he informed me that it would result in a banned account. I asked if there would be any way to restore my purchases, and he told me that there would not be.”
“Absolutely furious. Change your passwords, everyone. Better yet, don’t have your credit card on file with Sony – if something were to happen, you won’t be taken care of.”
Sony, dropping the ball again.
HTC and Valve have teamed-up for their thing, but the one making us really giddy is Sony’s Morpheus VR set. Coupled with the PS4, this could make for some mindblowingly great and daft games.
And, the good news is that it will be launched properly in early 2016, according to Sony bigwig Shuhei Yoshida.
The improved Morpheus has an OLED display with 1080p resolution, which can notch up 120 frames per second, which is twice as good as the one shown off last year. There’s less than 18 millisecond latency too, which is thought to be indistinguishable from the way you move and react in the real world.
With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, the race for VR is well and truly on.
Yoshida said: “Over the last year we have all seen the virtual reality world explode. Whether it’s Morpheus, Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR, an increasing number of people are looking at moving virtual reality from the realm of science fiction into our living rooms.”
Sony have shown off a number of game demos, with The London Heist showing off some gangster shoot-’em-up action, as well as a ‘street luge’ game. There’s also Keep Talking And Nobody Explode, a bomb-disposal affair too.
Yoshida continued: “VR is a new medium: the demos that we have been creating are just the beginning. We will deliver a VR experience that pushes boundaries of play, and ignites a passion in players. Creativity is thriving in this industry.”
Here’s some gameplay involving a shark. We can’t wait!
MPs have said that it is hard to justify the TV licence fee as it stands, and it turns out that the BBC agree, with boss Tony Hall saying the Auntie is at “a crossroads”, with the licence fee in need of being updated.
The people of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that, instead of a licence that you have to buy and renew, there should be a universal household levy, which means that everyone pays for the BBC whether they watch TV or not. That’ll be controversial.
Hall says: ”We’ve always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times. I welcome the committee’s endorsement of our proposal to make people pay the licence fee even if they only watch catch-up television.”
“The committee has suggested another route to modernising the licence fee – a universal household levy. Both proposals have the same goal in mind: adapting the licence fee for the internet age. This is vital. Because I believe we need and we will need what the licence fee – in whatever form – makes happen more than ever.”
The MPs report said that the licence fee needs to include the fact that iPlayer exists, which you don’t need a licence for. It said: “The German model of a broadcasting levy on all households is our preferred alternative to the TV licence. Such a levy on all households would obviate the need to identify evaders and would be a fairer way of ensuring those people who use only BBC radio and online services contribute to their costs.”
“A broadcasting levy which applied to all households regardless of whether or not householders watched live television would help support the use of a small proportion of the revenue raised for funding public service content and services by others, enhancing plurality.”
So for those who resent paying the licence fee at all, would now possibly have it taken straight from their wages. Presumably, they’d prefer a subscription based model, as seen in North America with cable channels and the like.
If the licence fee is changing, it looks like it is going to become mandatory, whether you like it or not.
Are you one of those people who just can’t work out the lyrics to things and forever singing stupid stuff on night’s out, much to the amusement of your friends? Have you been singing “if I gotta love Eda, honey!” to ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’? Have you been thinking The Beatles were singing about taking a chicken for a ride?
Well, help is at hand as Spotify are adding a new thing into their desktop app in the shape of a button where you can get all the lyrics to your favourite songs!
This is because Spotify have now integrated the Musixmatch service, who reckon that they’re the world’s largest lyrics catalogue.
The feature will be extra handy to those of you who have heard a song on the radio or in a club, and can remember the refrain, but didn’t catch the song title as you’ll be able to search for songs with the lyrics. When you don’t have time or battery to whip Shazam out, this could be priceless. Although, Google’s search engine does exist too.
Nice that Spotify are doing something new with the desktop app, as they’ve been largely focused on getting people to use the mobile app mostly. And now, you’ll never have to sing the wrong words again!
The licence fee is a bugbear for many and again, it is coming under attack, this time with the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee saying that, as it stands, the current subscription system isn’t really justifiable.
As you’ll know, it is mandatory for anyone who has a TV to have a TV licence if you’re going watch live broadcasts, and it costs you £145.50 every year. You’ll also know that loads of people don’t pay it on principal, for a whole host of reasons.
The MPs have knocked their heads together and said that the way we pay for the BBC is likely to change in the next 15 years.
“In the short term, there appears to be no realistic alternative to the licence fee, but that model is becoming harder and harder to justify and sustain,” said committee chairman John Whittingdale.
It looks like this notion has come about thanks to the change in attitudes to the way people watch things, with more people utilising subscription services like Netflix and Amazon TV. With catch-up TV services, you don’t really need a TV licence to watch them. That means we could see the BBC having shows behind paywalls.
The report also suggested that it might be an idea to change legislation so that it is no longer a criminal offence if you don’t have a TV licence. ”We recommend that as a minimum the licence fee must be amended to cover catch-up television as soon as possible,” added the report. Maybe the BBC could move toward a HBO model, as seen in the States? Either way, it looks like things are getting shaken up with licence fee.
Well, after the Big Brother TV Sets debacle with Samsung, we now hear of one of their smart TVs inserting commercials into a video that were stored locally on a Plex media server. The Reddit user in question complained that a Pepsi ad played while they were watching shows and movies on his Samsung television.
Of course, this could well be a look into the future as advertisers try and get their wares into as many platforms as possible. However, in this case, it looks like it was an error Samsung’s part, with a bit of faulty programming.
It seems a few people have had this problem and it isn’t happening on sets made by anyone else. A recent software update seems to be the cause of this particular irritant.
The way to stop this happening, if you’re the owner of a Samsung TV set, is to click “disagree with the Yahoo Privacy Notice” in the options in your Samsung’s Smart Hub options.
However, this does appear to be something Samsung are interested in, as in 2014, the company said that they were looking at “interactive experiences” which will be offered to people on an ‘opt-in’ basis.
Both issues are have a similarity though – it appears that Samsung are treating your data with a reasonable amount of recklessness and, if they don’t get these problems sorted, they might find that customers are going to lose all confidence in them.
They’ll be showing 168 live matches a year in a deal that as part of the £5bn deal that totals £5.136bn. Back in 1992, broadcasters were paying £663,000 per game. Now they’re paying £1,887 per second, so you can see how much football means to broadcasters with the ever increasing hikes.
However, while this is all very impressive/sickening [delete as applicable], the main concern for us is how much this is going to affect those who want to buy a Sky subscription.
Firstly, if Sky are throwing all that money at football, there’s a chance you’ve had it if you’re getting a subscription for dramas and movies, as they might have to cut back on those to get the money back from the football. However, this is such a large amount of money, that cutting costs probably won’t recoup the cash.
So the only real option is to raise prices.
You know the money is getting silly when Premier League chief exec, Richard Scudamore, finds himself being surprised at how much money is coming their way. He said: “I continue to be surprised by every TV deal because of the numbers… but then you look at who’s at play here. [BT and Sky are] both successful companies.”
So while Sky are coughing up billions, BT bagged themselves 42 matches for £320million a season.
While BT offer their football as an add-on bonus for those who sign-up to use their broadband, Sky attract viewers with the lure of football. Sky subscribers who get the full package pay upward of £800 a year, which could well increase over the next couple of years to somewhere around the £900 mark.
Sky boss Jeremy Darroch is certain that this can all be balanced out, saying: “We have a clear plan to absorb the cost of the new Premier League deal while delivering our financial plans. This is a good result and confirms that Sky is the unrivalled choice for sports fans. We are pleased to have secured the rights that we wanted.”