If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you also have access to the Prime Video streaming service. If you have Prime Video, there are a ton of great original shows and movies worth checking out. New on Prime Video in October is Upload season 3, Totally Killer starring Kiernan Shipka, a documentary about The Wiggles, and Godzilla vs. Kong.
“I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.” So begins Edgar Allan Poe's creepy, Gothic short story The Fall of the House of Usher from 1839, which is both something of a deep cut from the horror master as well as the title of Mike Flanagan's highly anticipated new Netflix series set to premiere on Oct. 12. Think of it as Succession meets a gory blast of horror, and you'll have a good idea what to expect from this Poe-inspired extension of the streamer's so-called "Flanaverse."
It's not just that The Fall of the House of Usher is a modern adaptation of Poe's short story of the same name, which is about a man who travels to the house of a friend after that friend complains of an illness and asks for help. Each episode of this Netflix series is also named after either a Poe short story or poem from him (like, for example, the first and last episodes, which have reportedly been titled A Midnight Dreary and The Raven, respectively).
Without spoiling too much of the story and twists that await viewers, this series' cast includes Bruce Greenwood portraying Roderick Usher. Here, he's the CEO of a corrupt Pharma giant, and he must come to terms with his shady past after his children start to die in mysterious and brutal circumstances.
“It’s batshit crazy in the best possible way,” cast member Carla Gugino, who plays a demonic shape-shifter, said in a Netflix promotional interview about the series. “It has quite a lot of very dark humor, but also really touches the soul.”
She continues: “There is a fantastical supernatural element to the story, and she is the manifestation of that ... You could say she’s the executor of fate or the executor of karma."
If you need any more reasons to put Flanagan's latest Netflix series on your watchlist, critics are already calling The Fall of the House of Usher a near-perfect series and raving that it's a must-watch. It's got a 97% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, which also makes it the best-reviewed of all of Flanagan's previous Netflix series, which include:
Apple previously released iOS 17.0.2 for iPhone 15 devices. But now the tech company is making the latest iOS update available for all applicable iPhones, including the older iPhone SE 2nd generation or later and the iPhone XR and XS. The tech giant has also released the latest version of watchOS, version 10.0.2, for Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 devices.
The latest updates for Apple devices provide several bug fixes and important security updates. In fact, it was previously recommended that users picking up the iPhone 15 update to iOS 17.0.2 before moving over their data, as a terrible bug was introduced in previous versions of the operating system that could brick the iPhone.
Along with the release of iOS 17.0.2 and watchOS 10.0.2, Apple has also released iPadOS 17.0.2, which also fixed a similar issue with transferring data from one iPad to another. Seeing these issues resolved quickly is very important. Now that Apple has released the update to all applicable devices, you should be able to download it from the Update Software section within your phone’s settings.
It’s been just five days since the release of the previous iteration, iOS 17.0.1, which introduced its own bug fixes and security changes. It isn’t unusual for us to see additional updates to major OS releases like iOS 17, which offers several new and revamped features for iPhone users to take advantage of.
While watchOS 10.0.2 is only available on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 at the moment, the update will likely appear on other supported Apple Watches in the coming days, so keep an eye on your Update notifications so you can download it when it becomes available.
When people ask if I use Google Search, I always respond, "We're an Ecosia family." I'm not sure that Apple VP Eddy Cue even knows that Ecosia exists, though.
Today, Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Services, took the stand to testify in US v. Google, the antitrust suit that claims Google holds a monopoly with its search business. Cue was summoned as a witness in the case and to specifically talk about Apple's longstanding deal with Google to make its search engine the default on Apple's products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
If you use Alexa around your house, I have bad news. According to an outgoing executive, Amazon may start charging a subscription fee for Alexa in the future.
The executive in question is Dave Limp, who is leaving to take over Blue Origin. Limp told Bloomberg that he “absolutely” believes Amazon could start charging a subscription fee for its Alexa assistant, blaming the cost of training and running generative AI models.
Amazon plans to offer additional smart AI features on its Alexa products, which would explain why additional training and other AI models are involved. Limp also added that it is likely that the current iteration of Alexa would remain free, with a more “premium” option being available that has more advanced capabilities and features.
Generative AI, and AI as a whole, has been taking the world by storm. ChatGPT’s continued success and the launch of Microsoft’s Copilot AI in Windows this month are both big pushes for the AI models that will one day be integrated into our current software options. As such, it isn’t surprising at all to see Amazon and others leaning into it so early on.
In fact, Amazon is leaning pretty hard into generative AI. The company has already started utilizing AI-generated reviews, paraphrasing multiple reviews into one item. The company also offers generative AI to help sellers create text and copy for their product pages. Seeing them leaning towards a subscription-based AI in Alexa, as such, isn’t a surprise at all.
I’d even wager that hearing about Amazon planning to charge for Alexa isn’t that surprising, especially after the success Amazon has seen others have with their more premium AI offerings. ChatGPT offers a premium subscription, which offers more access to its generative AI, and plenty of other AI services, like Midjourney, require a subscription to even access. It makes sense for the company to try to make money off it in some way.
Of course, the real question is how much turnover we see from free Alexa users to paid users. Amazon will have to contrive some interesting features to make paying for Alexa useful, especially with other virtual assistants like Siri and even Google Assistant offering what you could arguably call better experiences overall.
For the second year in a row, iPhone rumors claimed Apple would raise the iPhone Pro prices. And Apple surprised buyers by keeping the same price structure in place for the iPhone 15 series, with one twist. You don't have the option to get a $1,099 128GB iPhone 15 Pro Max this year. It starts at $1,199 for the 256GB storage option, but that matches the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max price tag from last year.
Pixel rumors predating the iPhone 15 launch event similarly claimed that Google would raise the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro prices this year. We saw at least one wild price rumor that suggested unreasonable price hikes. And then we saw a more down-to-earth leak listing purported price information for the 2023 Pixel phones.
In either case, these prices would have been more affordable than Europe's then-accurate iPhone price structure. But Apple then lowered iPhone prices in Europe for the iPhone 15 series and older models.
With just one week to go until Google's October 4th Pixel 8 event, everything about the two handsets has leaked after an insider obtained marketing materials made by Google for the handsets.
It turns out the Pixel 8 phones will not be more expensive, though there is a tiny caveat. Not only that, but Google is ready to offer a few amazing perks for preordering the new handsets. And I wonder whether the iPhone 15 launch forced Google to reconsider its Pixel 8 pricing structure.
Apple having dropped iPhone prices in Europe and other regions makes sense, considering the current landscape. The smartphone market is in a slump, and most vendors have been suffering greatly. The iPhone is the rare exception, and strong demand for the expensive iPhone 15 Pro Max is proof of that.
But the US dollar isn't as strong as last year, which prompted the iPhone price hikes in Europe and other markets last year.
Also, Wojciechowska posted the price comparison above between the Pixel 7 and Pixel 8 series.
As you can see, the Pixel 8 will start at $699 instead of $599, which is a $100 price increase compared to the base Pixel 7 model. But the Pixel 8 Pro will start at $899, just like its predecessor.
The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will come with 6 months of free Google One Premium 2TB plan, 6 months of Fitbit Premium, and 3 months of YouTube Premium.
The most exciting Pixel 8 perk will be available to Pixel 8 Pro buyers: The new Pixel Watch 2. The first-gen Google smartwatch cost $350 at launch. It's likely the successor would be at least as expensive.
That said, it's unclear whether Google will offer the same Pixel 8 Pro preorder deal internationally. But it shows that Google is looking to convert as many buyers to the Pixel 8 as possible, even though customers aren't spending as much money on Android phones this year.
The Pixel 8 phones will probably be available for preorder online next week after Google's big Pixel-centric event.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 17 state attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. The plaintiffs allege that Amazon is a monopolist that "has seized control over much of the online retail economy." According to their suit, Amazon's practices harm consumers and businesses.
In a news release, the FTC explains that Amazon's alleged illegality is not a result of its size, but due to the fact it "engages in a course of exclusionary conduct that prevents current competitors from growing and new competitors from emerging."
Amazon has effectively snuffed out any competition by making it extremely difficult for any other retailers to compete on price, quality, or selection, the FTC claims.
“Our complaint lays out how Amazon has used a set of punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan in a statement. “The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them. Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition.”
Some of the anti-competitive tactics the FTC says Amazon uses include punishing sellers for lower prices by burying their goods in search results, coercing sellers into obtaining Prime eligibility, and replacing organic search results with paid advertisements.
David Zapolsky, Amazon's senior vice president of global public policy and general counsel, pushed back against the suit's allegations in a statement:
Today’s suit makes clear the FTC’s focus has radically departed from its mission of protecting consumers and competition. If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses — the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do.
I truly hope that we never get close to a dating future as Apple's new film proposes.
Today, Apple TV+ released the first official trailer for Fingernails, its upcoming romantic comedy/drama starring Academy Award-nominee Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Academy Award-winner Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Golden Globe Award-winner Jeremy Allen White (The Bear) and Luke Wilson (The Goldfinch). The film will premiere on the streaming service on Friday, November 3rd.
Chase UK To Ban Cryptocurrency Purchases Over Fraud Fears An anonymous reader writes: Chase UK, JPMorgan's UK Bank, has told its customers that it will not carry out transactions related to crypto assets.
The Financial Times writes: JPMorgan's UK bank will stop customers buying cryptocu
German energy giant RWE has put a new airborne wind test facility in Ireland to work for the first time, as it explores alternative forms of green electricity. The experimental technology was developed by Dutch startup Kitepower. It connects a large kite to a generator with an ultra-strong rope, generating electricity as the kite goes up in altitude. “Kitepower, as the name suggests, uses a large kite structure with a hybrid inflatable and fixed fibreglass skeleton to hold the kite open. It has a wingspan of 60 square metres and weighs only 80kg, including the Kite Control and sensor unit,”…
Spotify has launched a new feature today called “Jam,” which will give you and your buddies a way to curate a shared playlist and listen to it together in real-time. Unlike existing multi-playlist features Blend and Duo Mix, Jam will sync everyone’s playback so you’re all listening to the same songs simultaneously — whether you’re in the same room, or scattered across the world. Now, explains the hugely successful Swedish company, instead of having one person in control of the music at a social gathering, everyone can have their say. The feature is available to both free and Premium subscribers,…
The EU Commission has blocked Booking’s €1.6bn takeover of Swedish online travel agency Etraveli, citing competition concerns. “Booking’s acquisition of Etraveli would strengthen Booking’s dominant position in the online travel agencies market and likely lead to higher costs for hotels and, possibly, consumers,” said Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice. According to the Commission, Booking is already the leading online hotel agency in the EEA, accounting for a 60% share of the total market. Meanwhile, Etraveli is the number two provider of flight services. The merger would, therefore, enable the travel giant to broaden its travel services ecosystem, increase traffic on…
AI has thrust deeper into carnal pleasures with the launch of a new “roleplaying” chatbot system. The feature is the brainchild of Bloom, an erotic audio platform based in Germany. The app also comes with 800 original sex stories, which range from the vanilla to the kinky (anyone for sploshing?). Some of the tales offer guided erotic play, while others feature creator content from real couples. There are even stories that synchronise with the vibrations of sex toys. The new chatbots add another level of interaction. Hannah Albertshauser, Bloom’s CEO, says the feature takes the character-driven storytelling “to the next…
London-based startup Bioniq, which creates hyper-personalised supplements for its customers — who range from pro athletes to regular people on the quest for longer life — has gone global. Founded in 2019, Bioniq leverages a patented algorithm based on blood test data from more than 40,000 people across 4 million biochemical data points to create a supplement regime tailor-made to your body and health goals. “STOP GUESSING which mass-made supplements to take. None are meant for you,” it exclaims on its website. The company was founded by former German national team basketball player Vadim Fedotov and Dr Konstantin Karuzin, a…
With the plethora of legitimate streaming options available today, you’d be forgiven for thinking pirated TV shows were a thing of the past. But a new study by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) shows that after a multi-year decline, online piracy is on the up. The study, based on data from UK piracy tracking firm MUSO, suggests that there was a notable increase in piracy levels over the past two years. “The main finding is that the declining trend seen in the earlier studies seems to be reversing, with piracy increasing again, mainly due to increases in piracy of…
The world’s first self-stabilising walking exoskeleton, Atlante X, has entered a rehabilitation trial in Germany. The exoskeleton will be provided to patients with hemiparesis, an after-effect of stroke that causes muscle weakness on one side of the body. Atalante X’s efficacy will be compared with standard rehabilitation methods. The trial, named EarlyExo, will take place at two renowned neurorehabilitation clinics: the Vivantes Klinikum Spandau in Berlin and Schön Klinik Bad Aibling Harthausen near Munich. Both clinics will this month begin recruiting a total of 66 patients. “Recovery from a stroke and other acute neurological conditions is complex and can take…
The future of influence is here: a digital avatar that captivates millions of adoring fans while offering unparalleled customisation and round-the-clock availability. Virtual influencers are transforming the way content is created, consumed and marketed online. They represent an electrifying dance between cutting-edge technology and our desire for connection. But, at the same time, they are yet another product being peddled by marketers that want our money. Upon close inspection, we can see the risks that emerge with these blurred realities. What are virtual influencers? While virtual influencers aren’t a particularly new concept – virtual Japanese popstar Kyoko Date has been…