All posts in “Tech News”

Verizon gets exclusive mobile rights to sell NBA League Pass

Verizon and the NBA have expanded their digital partnership with a new deal that allows Verizon to sell subscriptions for NBA League Pass and let users stream out-of-market games through its Yahoo Sports app. League Pass subscriptions had previously been offered through Go90, but Yahoo Sports — under Verizon’s Oath brand — is an app that’s likely used by far more consumers and football fans. League Pass will cost $99 per season. In hopes of convincing them to buy in, Verizon will let viewers stream eight NBA games for free. (In-market and nationally broadcasted games that air on ESPN or Turner stations aren’t part of League Pass.)

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, this new arrangement gives Verizon mobile exclusivity on selling League Pass, effectively blocking AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint from doing the same — not that they had signaled interest in doing so. AT&T’s DirecTV satellite business is of course free to continue offering the out-of-market subscription package. Non-Verizon customers who have League Pass will be able to use it through Yahoo Sports.

Beyond the subscription service, Verizon and the NBA will create original content that will be made available across Oath properties. “We’ll work together with the NBA to create those behind-the-scenes stories, in depth on certain players, seeing what’s going on in the developmental leagues. Those are the things that a real fan wants to be immersed in,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in a joint interview with NBA chairman Adam Silver.

They’re also working together on plans for 5G-powered augmented reality and fantasy football experiences. “The technology is now coming of age to support a vision that the commissioner’s had and that we see from a Yahoo Sports perspective. You’ll be able to take from your phone and cast it up onto your IP-based TV set. You’ll be able to integrate all those different experience and have people around the country with you and do things real time because of the latency of the network and the capacity of the network.” Any future that leans heavily on 5G is probably farther off than Verizon’s CEO would like to believe, but since this new deal is a multi-year pact, at least they’re planning ahead.

Nintendo Labo is a new DIY way to play games on the Switch

Nintendo has revealed a whole new lineup of video game accessories for the Switch … and they’re all made of cardboard.

Nintendo Labo is a new line of accessories that allow players to transform their Switch console and Joy-Con controllers into new ways to play. The different Labo creations (called Toy-Cons) include one that turns the Joy-Con into a fishing rod and another that turns the Switch into a 13-key piano. They all require a bit of DIY construction and interact with the console in different ways.

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Nintendo Labo takes advantage of the infrared motion camera in the right Joy-Con to detect what’s happening with the cardboard creations and translate it into a game. For instance, with the Toy-Con Piano, when players press down a key, the Joy-Con will sense it and trigger that note in the game you’re playing.

Nintendo Labo is launching with two different kits, the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit. The Variety Kit contains multiple Toy-Cons, including the Toy-Con Fishing Rod, the Toy-Con Piano, two Toy-Con RC Cars, a Toy-Con Motorbike, and a Toy-Con House. The Robot Kit turns your Switch and Joy-Cons into a Toy-Con Robot that allows you to control a robot with a backpack on your back, a visor on your head, and straps for your hands and feet.

Image: nintendo

One of the most interesting Toy-Cons is the one that turns a pair of Joy-Cons into an RC Car that you control with the Switch’s touch screen. Instead of using wheels to move around, the Toy-Con RC Car uses the controllers’ HD rumble feature to move via vibrations.

The Toy-Con House is basically a cardboard house that’s home to a cute creature you can interact with and feed, like a souped-up tamagotchi.

For fans of racing games, the Toy-Con Motorbike turns the Joy-Cons into handlebars which you twist and turn to control a motorbike on the Nintendo Switch’s screen.

Image: nintendo

The Variety Kit and Robot Kit, which are $69.99 and $79.99 respectively, come with all the necessary components — including software — to work. Both kits launch on April 20.

Nintendo Labo is one of the first projects on the Nintendo Switch that utilizes the right Joy-Con’s infrared motion sensor outside of a few of the minigames in the launch game 1-2-Switch

Nintendo Labo is being marketed toward younger gamers, but there’s no reason an adult wouldn’t enjoy putting together their own cardboard fishing rod for some indoor angling. Or outdoor angling, because the Switch is portable.

On top of the announced Toy-Cons, the reveal video appears to tease a few other Labo creations — including one that looks like a camera and one that looks like a gun.

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Amazon Music Unlimited is getting even more unlimited

Following the much anticipated, closely analyzed launch of Amazon in Australia, the company is finally gearing up to introduce Amazon Music to the country.

Set to launch in Australia and New Zealand on Feb. 1, Amazon Music Unlimited will become available with a catalogue of more than 45 million songs. 

Feb. 1 also marks the shipping date for Australia and New Zealand’s first Alexa-powered Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus devices. Preorders begin today. Amazon announced the coming of its hands-free device, activated by smart voice assistant Alexa, to both countries in November

You can expect pretty much the same product already enjoyed in countries like the U.S. and the UK. Listeners will be able to ask the Echo to play music from Amazon Music’s most popular and trending artists, with the old, “Alexa, play the ‘Top Australian Pop’ station,” or “Alexa, play the ‘Divas Down Under’ playlist” — a selection of notable female artists from Australia and New Zealand (though we truly hate that playlist title).

The biggest local competitors for the service will be Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music.

Amazon Music Unlimited will launch with three monthly plan options: the full access Echo Plan at AU$4.99, the Individual Plan at AU$11.99, or the Family Plan, coming soon, in which up to six people can share a subscription for AU$17.99. 

Alexa will come embedded with skills from international companies with a local presence, like Uber, Spotify, Philips Hue, LIFX, and more. In Australia, Alexa will utilize information from companies like Sky News Australia, Fox Sports, Qantas, and Coastalwatch. 

Developers will be able to build localized voice experiences and embed uniquely Australian and New Zealand knowledge within Alexa with the expansion of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) — a collection of self-service APIs — and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

The Echo will find a direct competitor with the Google Home, already available in Australia and New Zealand. But with Alexa ready and able with 15,000 skills by now, it could prove a formidable opponent. The Echo has been priced at AU$149, which is between $20-40 cheaper than what some major retailers are selling the Google Home for.

For keen beens Down Under, here are 10 things you can do with your Echo when it finally arrives in February.

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Your grandparents will love being friends with this robot

Meet the friendly robot that is designed to converse… with the elderly. Although human company may be nicer, this robot is quite possibly smarter. It can arrange appointments, remind you to Skype your family and take your medicine, and suggest fun activities. This robot could be a great friend.

This Ikea magazine ad is also a pregnancy test

Ikea collaborated with Medical Lab Mercene Labs to create an ad that doubles as a pregnancy test. Peeing on the marked area will show whether you’re pregnant. If you are pregnant, a discounted price will appear right on the ad. Peeing on an ad may be unconventional but it could also be the future of advertising.