Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Amazon now lets you make calls through Alexa-enabled tablets

Amazon now lets you use Alexa to place phone and video calls and send messages on tablets, so you no longer need an Echo to talk to other Alexa users. Compatible tablets include Android tablets, iPads, and Amazon’s Fire tablets. The update requires you to download the new Alexa app, which begins rolling out today.

To set it up on the Fire HD 10 tablet in Hands-Free mode, just ask Alexa to place a call. On other Fire tablets that don’t yet have the Hands-Free mode, first tap the home button and then ask Alexa to make a call. On all other devices, just open the Alexa app, head to Conversations, select a contact, and press call.

Alexa users can now receive calls on their tablets through the Alexa app as of today. Amazon’s Drop In feature lets you connect tablets and other Echo devices in the home, so now your tablets can be flat and wide walkie-talkies.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Facebook will stream 25 MLB games this season

Facebook and Major League Baseball have reached a deal that will give the social network exclusive streaming rights to 25 regular season games in 2018. All of those will be weekday afternoon games, so traditional TV networks will maintain their hold on primetime and weekend play. Even so, as Bloomberg notes, this is the first time Facebook has nabbed exclusive streaming rights for regular season games from one of the major US sports leagues. The first Facebook-only game will be on April 4th between the Phillies and Mets.

The viewing experience won’t feel out of the ordinary, as MLB Network will be producing the games. So you’ll get the familiar presentation of televised games — but you’ll be able to watch on mobile, desktop, and on TVs through Facebook’s app. Facebook also has the ability to integrate “social integration and graphics during the broadcast,” according to Bloomberg.

The deal will also see MLB produce highlight packages for every regular season game in 2018 for Facebook Watch, and it will also release weekly video recaps for each team. Facebook and Major League Baseball will update the schedule of to-be-streamed games month. Last year, Facebook streamed 20 MLB games on its platform, but didn’t have any exclusivity on those games. MLB team owners are said to have unanimously approved this latest agreement.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Netflix just made upgraded improvements to its parental controls

Netflix’s newest updates give parents more granular control over the content their kids watch. They can now set custom PINs for specific movies and TV shows, regardless of age recommendations. So if you think Moana isn’t appropriate for your 10-year-old, you could have a PIN lock the movie. Parents can already set broad PIN protections that lock up content at specific maturity levels.

The company also says it’s going to display these maturity levels at the start of each program, so parents are fully aware of what their kids are consuming from the onset. These features will roll out over the coming months.

Netflix’s parental control expansion seems to be timed with the impending launch of Disney’s own streaming service, which clearly targets parents and their kids. Netflix inked a streaming deal with Disney in 2012, but it didn’t go into effect until 2016. Disney has said it will end the deal beginning with films released in 2019, and Netflix will keep older films through the end of that year. Clearly, Netflix knows it needs to beef up its features for parents and, eventually, create and provide compelling enough content to keep parents on the platform.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Skiing and snowboarding tracking comes to the Apple Watch Series 3

Apple is giving third-party apps on its smartwatch new access to winter sport tracking today. Several third-party ski and snowboard tracking Apple Watch apps are releasing updates on the App Store that integrate with the Watch’s fitness tracking features for winter sports enthusiasts.

The support for the new features originally rolled out with the watchOS 4.2 update released in December, which added custom workout APIs focused on tracking winter sports activities, but it seems that Apple is only now letting developers roll out software updates that use them.

Apps that have been updated with the new features include snoww, Slopes, Squaw Alpine, Snocru, and Ski Tracks. Using the new APIs and the Watch 3’s built-in GPS and altimeter, they now offer the ability to track vertical descent, horizontal distance, number of runs, average and maximum speeds, and calories burned.

Users will also be able to send active calorie measurements to the Activity app and get credit toward filling their rings like with any other workout. Some apps, like Slopes and snow, also offer Siri integration, allowing users to start tracking with voice controls.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

DEAL: Anker’s Wireless Chargers are Super Cheap Today

Thanks to wireless charging being invented, the kids can’t get enough of it. And that means that accessory makers are also cashing in by selling boatloads of them in various forms through places like Amazon at deeply discounted prices. Like today, Anker is selling their regular and fast wireless chargers for $14.99 and $16.99, respectively.

At $14.99, the Anker PowerPort Slim Wireless Charger is $6 off its normal price. It won’t fast charge your Samsung phones, but it’ll get the job done as a typical wireless charger. It’s also slim as hell, and provides a good pad to lay your phone on.

At $16.99, the Anker PowerPort Fast Wireless Charger is a steeper $9 off. This bad boy will fast charge your fast charge-equipped Samsung phone, plus it’s as ridiculously thin as the Slim charger.

Both chargers are Qi-certified and have Prime shipping. These are 1-day only deals, though. No code needed. I have also included a link to the one I personally love and use (not on sale but inexpensive as well) because it fast chargers and is upright.

Amazon Links:
Senso Fast Wireless Charging Pad Stand ($21.99)