SiriusXM, Amazon team up with two Echo Dot deals with freebies

SiriusXM is going all out for new subscribers.  The streaming audio content provider partnered with Amazon to announce two Echo Dot-related promotions.

In the first promotion from the partnership, new SiriusXM subscribers who prepay six months get a free Amazon Echo Dot.  The second promotion offers three months free for new subscribers who already own an Amazon Alexa-compatible smart speaker.

We outline the details for each of the SiriusXM/Amazon Alexa-related offerings below.

Subscribe to SiriusXM and get a free Echo Dot

If you sign up for a new SiriusXM Premier Streaming or All Access subscription and pay six months up front, you get a bargain rate for those months plus a new third-generation Echo Dot for no charge. The upfront charge for six months is $50, which is also the retail cost for a new Dot.

The current monthly rate for SiriusXM’s Premier Streaming plan is $16. Six months at the non-promotional rates would normally cost $96, so with this deal, you’ll save 48 percent and get the latest version of the Alexa-compatible Echo Dot. The All Access monthly charge is $21, or $126 for six months, so the promotion is a 60 percent savings.

The SiriusXM Premier Streaming plan includes listening to more than 200 channels, access to content in the SiriusXM On Demand library, and SiriusXM video. All content is available both online and on the SiriusXM mobile app.

The Sirius All Access package lets you listen to content online, on mobile devices, and in your car. All Access includes more than 175 channels and all available streaming content.

If you already subscribe to SiriusXM with one of the less inclusive content plans, such as the Mostly Music or Select package, you can still take advantage of the free Echo promotion by upgrading your subscription to the Premier Streaming plan. The upgrade plan is not available with the All Access package.

Echo device owners get SiriusXM free for three months

What if you already own an Echo, Dot, Echo Show, or another Echo voice command device? If you sign up for a new SiriusXM Premier Streaming or All Access plan from the Amazon website, you will get the first three months of your subscription at no charge.

Starting with the fourth month of your SiriusXM subscription, you will be charged the applicable regular rate, $16 for the Premier Streaming plan or $21 for the All Access plan. Current SiriusXM subscribers cannot take advantage of the three-months-free promotion; it’s for new subscribers only, regardless of the package.

SiriusXM has been on a winning roll in 2018. The streaming service giant recently agreed to acquire Pandora for $3.5 billion in an all-stock deal. As we wrote earlier in the year,  the company dominates Spotify and, counting its partnerships with automakers and other businesses, SiriusXM is far and away the most successful streaming service, for now.

Best 4K TV sales this weekend: Sony, LG, Samsung, VIZIO, and more

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Save and watch TV in 4K.
Save and watch TV in 4K.

Image: Samsung

Now that it’s Friday, maybe you should make some weekend plans. 

Nah, we both know you’re just going to watch TV until Monday rolls around again. You should treat yourself to a new 4KTV — consider it an early holiday present. 

We’ve gathered the best deals on 4K smart TVs of various shapes and sizes from retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and the Samsung Store so this can be you:

First up, there are a number of sales on TVs that are 40+ inches, such as Samsung’s Flat 49-inch 4K UHD 8 Series Smart TV, which is priced at $697.99, while VIZIO’s D-Series 49.5-inch Class 4K Ultra HD HDR Full-Array LED Smart HDTV is priced at only $399.99. These models would be the perfect fit for a bedroom or guest room in your home.

For something bigger, LG Electronics’ 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV is on sale for just $479.99 on Amazon, while Sony’s 55-inch Class LED X900F Series Smart 4K Ultra HD TV is going for $1,299.99 at Best Buy

One of the largest 4K TVs on this list is Sony’s 85-inch Class LED X850F Series Smart 4K UHD TV with HDR, which is going for $3,999.99. This TV is ideal for any extra large living room or a “man cave” or “she shed” with a lot of space to fill.

Here are the best deals on 4K TVs for this weekend:

40 inches and up

50 inches and up

60 inches and up

70 inches and up

80 inches and up

Looking for more deals, the latest news on cool products, and other ways to upgrade your life? Sign up for the Mashable Deals newsletter here.

YouTube introduces mini-player for desktop browsers

People who primarily watch YouTube videos via their computers can rejoice: in-browser mini-players are finally available for desktop users.

Anyone who’s watched YouTube videos via the company’s mobile app will have already experienced the joys of mini-players. The tool, which rolled out earlier this month, allows people to continue playing a video they’re already watching while browsing for another one. Think of it like Facebook’s video player, which minimizes and moves to the side of your News Feed while you continue to scroll down the page.

YouTube mini-player
Mini-player in action.

Viewers can exit out of the mini-player by hitting the “x” or escape keys on their keyboards. You can also control playlists, queues, and next videos directly through the minimized video. This means that if you’re trying to find that one perfect Vine, but you don’t want to stop playing the compilation you have up or miss out on the next playlist queued, you can.

It’s a quality-of-life update for anyone who watches an exorbitant amount of YouTube. Being able to continue watching a video while searching for something else became a huge improvement when it was introduced as a mobile feature.

To use the mini-player, hover over the bottom of the video, and use the icons in the right-hand corner to select mini-player. Then browse to your heart’s content!

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for Bloomberg to retract Chinese spy chip report

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Apple CEO Tim Cook called on Bloomberg to retract its story alleging that Chinese spies compromised a company server through the use of malicious microchips. It’s the first time Cook has gone on the record to contest the allegations.

“This did not happen. There’s no truth to this,” Cook said in the interview.

The initial Bloomberg report alleged that Chinese spies were able to infiltrate critical tech infrastructure belonging to companies like Apple and Amazon by injecting tiny microchips inside Supermicro servers. Allegedly, these hardware manipulations allowed the Chinese government backdoor access into computer networks run on those servers.

Quickly after the report’s publication, Apple released a statement picking the story apart, denying each individual claim. “On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” the release said. Soon after, the company’s vice president of information security, George Stathakopoulos, wrote to Congress denying the allegations directly.

In the interview with BuzzFeed, Cook said that he “was involved in our response to this story from the beginning.” In the company’s correspondence with Bloomberg, Cook said that “[Apple was] very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions.”

The report has continued to garner criticism from US intel chiefs and cybersecurity experts. No malicious chips have surfaced, and no evidence has been proposed in the weeks following the release of the report. One of the named sources said in a podcast that the claims “didn’t make any sense.”

“Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed and each time we investigated we found nothing,” Cook said.

Huawei Mate 20 X hands-on review

Seven whole inches sounds like quite a handful, doesn’t it. When we’re talking about the screen on a smartphone, it certainly is. Or rather, it certainly was. Cast your mind back to the Nexus 7 tablet from Google, which had a 7-inch screen, and was in no way suitable for one-handed use. The new Huawei Mate 20 X has an even bigger 7.2-inch screen, and amazingly, it’s possible to use with one hand, and on a daily basis.

While the Mate 20 X cannot be described as small, or even truly manageable, it is a technical marvel. It has a screen size we’d normally associate with a small tablet, yet provided your pockets are big enough, it could be carried around and used as your primary device. It is a phone. Whether you’d want to is a different question, but should it appeal, it’s surprisingly normal despite the abnormal screen size.

Small bezels, tiny notch

Huawei has achieved this by minimizing the bezels so much, they hardly exist at all. The chin is tiny, the side bezels are slivers of almost nothing, and the top of the phone has the same cute, almost completely acceptable teardrop notch seen on the Mate 20.

The Mate 20 X is almost all screen with a screen-to-body ratio of 87-percent, and it’s a beauty. The OLED panel has a 2,244 x 1,080 resolution, HDR support, and an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. We looked at some pre-installed photos and demo video, and it was obvious how great this phone will be for media.

The body is comfortable to hold, with the same well-designed curved edges as the Mate 20 Pro, and although it is holdable in a way that such a vast screen size shouldn’t be, this is still a whopping phone. In our comparison picture, the Mate 20 X is alongside an iPhone XS Max, and manages to make Apple’s biggest phone look rather small. No, your thumb is not going to stretch to the other side of the screen, but if you hold it with two hands, it’s acceptable.

Huawei Mate 20 X Compared To

Who is Huawei trying to attract with the Mate 20 X? Outside of one-upping Samsung by having a screen this large on a device with stylus support — it works with Huawei’s M Pen — it’s also targeting the current trend of mobile gaming. It’s not just the Razer Phone 2 or the Asus ROG phone that needs to watch out, it’s Nintendo’s Switch. Huawei has made a gamepad-style accessory that slides over one end of the phone, providing physical gaming controls. It works really well too. There’s more grip, the analogue d-pad was responsive, and in landscape orientation the screen looks superb — full of color and life.

High specification, little convenience

The Mate 20 X has the Kirin 980 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage space, a massive 5,000mAh battery, and a new cooling system that uses vapor and graphene to keep temperatures under control. We were in a queue of people testing the Mate 20 X with the gamepad attachment, and the phone wasn’t even warm to the touch when our turn came, despite constant, power-intensive use. There’s no 3D face unlock though, and the fingerprint sensor is on the back, and it was a little bit of a stretch to reach.

There’s a reason few phones have a screen this big, and it’s because they’re inconvenient to carry around.

Huawei has not confirmed where the Mate 20 X will be sold, and traditionally these large devices have been released only in China and a few other locations. The phone will be released on October 26 for 900 euros, or $1,040. That’s a high price to pay, and although the specification is also high, and the device is technologically impressive and designed very well, it’s hard to see how it has much life outside a very specific audience.

There’s a reason few phones have a screen this big, and it’s because they’re inconvenient to carry around. It’s not a stay-at-home device either, because it really is a phone, despite home being the place we mostly watch movies and play games for any length of time. It’s a confusing, yet strangely alluring phone that’s still difficult to recommend over the Mate 20 Pro, which has all the features, the best camera, and is a sensible size so you can enjoy all those things everywhere you go.

The best Google Pixel 3 tips and tricks

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are phones with hidden depths. In this guide, we’ve got step-by-step instructions for you here to help you customize your new phones, dig into the best shortcuts, and uncover the most exciting features.

We’ll run through some features exclusive to the Pixel line, and some that will work on any Android 9.0 Pie phone. Before we dive in, Pixel 3 XL owners might want to look at how to hide the notch. Without further ado, here are our top Pixel 3 tips.

How to customize your home screen

Tap and hold on any open area of your home screen and you’ll get a pop-up menu that lets you select Widgets and Wallpapers – we recommend the Living Universe section in Wallpapers, where Google offers some fantastic animated wallpapers. Some of the other categories offer a Daily wallpaper option that changes your wallpaper every day.

You’ll also find Home settings in here, where you can decide if you want Notification dots, whether new app icons should be added to the Home screen, set At A Glance info like calendar events to stay at the top of the screen, and more.

How to choose quick settings toggles

Pull down the notification shade with two fingers and tap the wee pencil icon at the bottom right to edit the quick settings toggles that appear. You can simply tap and drag icons to add or remove them and select your preferred spot.

How to use Night Light

Because blue light can make it harder to fall asleep, most phone manufacturers now offer a blue light filter that can be scheduled to kick in near bedtime. On your Pixel 3, go into Settings > Display > Night Light and tap Schedule, where you can choose to have it turn on precisely when you want or automatically align with the sunset and sunrise in your area.

You can also set this as a part of your Wind Down bedtime routine in Settings > Digital Wellbeing.

How to free up storage space

With 64GB of storage in the base model and no room for a Micro SD card, you might find that you run out of space on your Pixel 3 or 3 XL. Apart from uninstalling apps you don’t need, you should also go to Settings > Storage and tap Free up space.

Another way to free up space is to back up photos and video to Google Photos, where you can back up everything in its original quality for free. Once everything is backed up, tap on the small hamburger menu at the top left in Google Photos and then tap Settings > Free up device storage.

How to have Google Assistant screen your calls

If a call comes in that you suspect may be spam — or you just don’t want to take it — tap Screen call and Google Assistant will answer for you, saying, “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you’re calling.”

You’ll see what they say transcribed in real time on your Pixel 3 screen and you can choose whether to answer, send a quick reply, or report as spam.

How to use split screen

To use split screen, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the multitasking view showing your recent apps and tap the app icon at the top of one of the apps you want open. Then select Split screen and choose the second app you want open. You can drag the bar in the middle to resize, then simply drag it all the way to the top or bottom when you’re done to go full screen with one of the apps.

How to configure Ambient Display

We definitely recommend turning Ambient Display on, so that you can see new notifications and other information on your Pixel 3’s screen even when it’s locked, but you should configure it. Since battery life isn’t the best, we wouldn’t recommend leaving it on all the time. Go to Settings > Display > Advanced > Ambient Display and make sure that the Always on mode is off, but New notifications is on. We also turned on Double-tap to check phone and Lift to check phone, but you might feel one of those options is enough.

How to quick launch the camera

Pixel 3 power button
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

You can simply double tap the power button to quickly launch the camera app at any time, even when your Pixel 3 is locked. It’s a handy shortcut when you want to capture a spontaneous moment and speed is important. You can toggle this feature on and off in Settings > System > Gestures > Jump to camera.

How to use volume keys for camera gestures

You can use your Pixel 3’s volume keys to snap photos or zoom in if you configure them. Open the camera app and swipe over to More > Settings, then tap Gestures and choose your preference.

You can also set what double tapping on the screen in the camera app should do here: Zoom in or switch cameras.

How to quickly switch to front-facing camera one-handed

Sometimes you’ll negotiate into the perfect group selfie position and realize that the main camera is on instead of the front-facing camera. Don’t worry, just twist your wrist twice and it should switch to the front-facing camera. This should be on by default, but you can find the option in Settings > System > Gestures > Flip camera.

If you haven’t already, you might want to check out key settings you need to change on your brand-new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL.

Editors’ Recommendations

Facebook launches “Hunt For False News” debunk blog as fakery drops 50%

Facebook hopes detailing concrete examples of fake news it’s caught — or missed — could improve news literacy or at least prove it’s attacking the misinformation problem. Today Facebook launched “The Hunt For False News”, in which it examines viral B.S., relays the decisions of its third-party fact checkers, and explains how the story was tracked down. The first edition reveals cases where false captions were put on old videos, people were wrongfully identified as perpetrators of crimes, or real facts were massively exaggerated.

The blog’s launch comes after three recent studies showed the volume of misinformation on Facebook has dropped by half since the 2016 election, while Twitter’s volume hasn’t declined as drastically. Unfortunately, the remaining 50 percent still threatens elections, civil discourse, dissident safety, and political unity across the globe.

In one of The Hunt’s first examples, it debunks that a man who posed for a photo with one of Brazil’s senators had stabbed the presidential candidate. Facebook explains that its machine learning models identified the photo, it was proven false by Brazilian fact-checker Aos Fatos, and Facebook now automatically detects and demotes uploads of the image. In a case where it missed the mark, a false story touting NASA would pay you $100,000 to study you staying in bed for 60 days “racked up millions of views on Facebook” before fact checkers found NASA had paid out $10,000 to $17,000 in limited instances for studies in the past.

While the educational “Hunt” series is useful, it merely cherry picks random false news stories from over a wide time period. What’s more urgent, and would be more useful, would be for Facebook to apply this method to currently circulating misinformation about the most important news stories. The New York Times’ Kevin Roose recently began using Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool to highlight the top 10 recent stories by engagement about topics like the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

If Facebook wanted to be more transparent about its successes and failures around fake news, it’s publish lists of the false stories with the highest circulation each month and then apply the Hunt’s format more explaining how they were debunked. This could help to dispel myths in societies understanding that may be propagated by the mere abundance of fake news headlines, even if users don’t click through the read them.

The red line represents the decline of Facebook engagement with “unreliable or dubious” sites

But at least all of Facebook’s efforts around information security including doubling its security staff from 10,000 to 20,000 workers, fact checks, and using News Feed algorithm changes to demote suspicious content are paying off.

  • A Stanford and NYU study found that Facebook likes, comments, shares, and reactions to links to 570 fake news sites dropped by over half since the 2016 election while engagements through Twitter continued to rise, “with the ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares falling by approximately 60 percent.”
  • A University Of Michigan study coined the metric “Iffy Quotient” to assess the how much content from certain fake news sites was distributed on Facebook and Twitter. When engagement was factored in, it found Facebook’s levels had dropped to early 2016 volume that’s now 50 percent les than Twitter.
  • French newspaper Le Monde looked at engagement with 630 French websites across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit. Facebook engagement with sites dubbed “unreliable or dubious” has dropped by half since 2015.

Of course, given Twitter’s seeming paralysis on addressing misinformation and trolling, they’re not a great benchmark for Facebook to judge by. While it’s useful that Facebook is outlining ways to spot fake news, the public will have to internalize these strategies for society to make progress. That may be difficult when the truth has become incompatible with many peoples’ and politicians’ staunchly-held beliefs.

In the past, Facebook has surfaced fake news spotting tips atop the News Feed and bought full-page newspaper ads trying to disseminate them. The Hunt For Fake News would surely benefit from being embedded where the social network’s users look everyday instead of buried in its corporate blog.

Google may charge up to $40 per Android device for app suite following EU ruling

Recently, it was reported that Google is set to significantly change how it works with Android manufacturers, at least in Europe. Rather than having the ability to load Google’s apps and services onto their Android phones for free, the company will begin to charge device makers that want to use its main Google apps. According to documents obtained by The Verge, that fee apparently will be as much as $40 per device in order to install the “Google Mobile Services” suite of apps.

The report goes on to mention that the new fees will vary based on the type of device and on the country, and will go into effect on devices activated on or after February 1, 2019. The pricing documents show that in Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, a device that has a pixel density that’s higher than 500 ppi would pay the $40 fee in order to license the suite of apps, while devices with 400 to 500 ppi pay $20. Meanwhile, any device that’s under 400 ppi would be charged $10 and lower-end phones would cost as low as $2.50 per device.

The Verge notes that it’s unclear why pixel density effects pricing, but this could be based on the fact that higher pixel density is normally associated with more highly priced devices. Tablets, on the other hand, could have a different set of pricing across countries of up to $20 per device. A source close to the matter claims that while manufacturers might be able to negotiate separate deals, the prices wouldn’t vary that much between them.

Manufacturers who don’t pre-install Chrome, however, might lose out on search revenue tied to the browser. With the new agreement, Google will only pay search-revenue sharing fees if Chrome is pre-installed and specifically placed on the home screen dock.

The move comes as a response to a July ruling in the European Union which ordered Google to stop “illegally tying” Google Chrome and some search-related apps to Android. Companies will now be able to license Chrome, the Play Store, and other Google mobile apps rather than being required to bundle all of them together. Companies will also be able to license Google apps for forked versions of Android, which may make for more phones with alternative versions of Android.

Traditionally, Google hasn’t charged for the use of these apps because of how much money it makes from search and Chrome. Being required to stop tying them together, though, changes how much money Google could potentially make from them.

“Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the [European Economic Area],” Android head Hiroshi Lockheimer said in a blog post.

It’s important to note that Android as a whole will still be free — it’s just that now those apps that we most often associate with Android may not be. Not only that, but those apps may not come pre-installed on every Android device — so if you want them, you may have to download them separately.

Ultimately, Android device manufacturers may still be tied to Google. They will likely still need to license the use of the Google Play Store, where users can download all of the Google apps that otherwise would have come with their phone. Not only that, but it’s possible Google will be able to continue bundling all of its apps together in the future — the company is appealing the European Commission’s decision. Still, in the meantime, it has to comply with the decision, and as such the changes will go into effect starting on October 29.

Updated October 19: Documents indicate Google app suite may reportedly cost $40 per phone under EU Android deal.

Editors’ Recommendations

YouTube now lets you subscribe to a channel from an embedded video

YouTube keeps the updates rolling in.
YouTube keeps the updates rolling in.

Image: Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

YouTube launched a new update to its website two days ago allowing users to browse while watching a video at the same time. Now, the video platform is quietly rolling out another major update to the offsite YouTube experience.

The video giant is finally giving its embedded player a major overhaul — making it easier for people to subscribe to channels from embedded videos.

[embedded content]

Now, when you come across a YouTube video embedded on a website, you will see the channel’s avatar on the top left corner, next to the title of the video on the thumbnail image. Hovering over the channel image reveals the channel’s name, subscriber count, as well as a new actionable “subscribe” button. You can also click on the channel image to open its YouTube channel page in a new window. These changes were first pointed out by 9to5Google.

Mashable has confirmed that this new feature began quietly rolling out across YouTube video embeds two weeks ago. The update was designed to provide more context about the video being watched. 

YouTube videos embedded on a third-party’s website had long been void of any additional information. You may not have even realized it, but shockingly before this update, video embeds simply displayed the video’s title without any information about the channel or creator who uploaded it.

On its surface, this update may seem like a small change, but in action, it makes it much easier for channel creators and YouTube personalities to grow their subscriber base.

All viewers have to do is hover over the channel avatar, and as long as they’re logged into their YouTube account, they can click the “subscribe” button from the pop-up menu that appears. The viewer would then be subscribed to the video uploader’s channel without ever having to even leave the website or post where the video is embedded on. So, next time you see a YouTube video embedded on one of your favorite websites, do the uploader a favor, and smash that subscribe button.

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