FCC needs more time to make its set-top box rules a reality

If #Unlockthebox rules are adopted, pay-tv consumers won’t have to rent a set-top box to watch programming they already pay for.

— The FCC (@FCC) September 28, 2016

Even with the vote tabled for now, a statement from Chairman Wheeler and two other commissioners said the proposal has made “tremendous progress” towards eliminating costly set-top boxes. “We share the goal of creating a more innovative and inexpensive market for these consumer devices,” the statement said. “We are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues and we are committed to unlocking the set-top box for consumers across this country.”

So: the delay does not spell doom for our dreams of a cleaner home entertainment system, one free from the tyranny of clunky cable box interfaces — we’ll just have to wait a little longer to get there. The Commission notes that the proposal will remain under consideration while the commissioners work out these technical and legal issues.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/fcc-delays-vote-proposed-set-top-box-rules/

Watch HBO and Cinemax on PlayStation Vue starting today

PlayStation is beefing up the premium offerings on its PS Vue streaming TV service. As of today, HBO and Cinemax will be available either a la carte or as part of the new Ultra ($64.99 to $74.99 per month based on location) plan. Don’t feel like ponying up that much? Both HBO and Cinemax are $15 per month on their own. A post on the PlayStation Blog says that this is the first internet-based pay-TV service to offer the channels both live and streaming without a bundled package.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/watch-hbo-and-cinemax-on-playstation-vue-starting-today/

HP says it should’ve better explained blocking third-party ink

In a blog post this week, HP admitted that it “should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure.” The company says the reason for the update was to “ensure the best customer experience” and to block any third-party cartridges that don’t contain an HP security chip and infringe on its intellectual property. In other words, the company apologized for the lack of communication, but defended the decision to push the update.

To try and remedy the dust up with its customers, HP is offering an optional software update that will remove the recently added security feature. The company says it will take about two weeks for the second update to be ready, but when the time comes, customers can find information on it here.

“We will continue to use security features to protect the quality of our customer experience, maintain the integrity of our printing systems and protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working,” HP COO Jon Flaxman explained in the post.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/hp-security-update-third-party-ink-cartridges/

Download Android Wear apps right from your wrist

Android Wear smartwatches aren’t yet completely independent of your phone, but they just took one giant step in that direction. Google is releasing a third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 that offers Google Play Store access on your watch, complete with support for paid downloads, beta tests and multiple accounts. Browsing is limited to recommend apps and keyword searches, but you can choose to install apps only on the watch — important when some Android Wear 2.0 apps won’t be available on phones in the first place.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/android-wear-google-play-store/

How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)


How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Image credit: Morris MacMatzen / Reuters

Even though Google is a titan in many fields — search, mobile and maps, among others — it hasn’t done so well in social. Its first attempt was Orkut, which faded into obscurity despite some isolated popularity in Brazil. There was Wave, a real-time messaging platform that was so confusing the project flatlined almost as soon as it launched. There’s also Buzz, a now-discontinued social network which integrated directly with Gmail — a move that unfortunately resulted in users being able to see their friends’ and families’ email contacts.

And, of course, there’s Google+, the company’s most notable attempt yet at a becoming a social network. But even that has proved something of a disappointment. It doesn’t help that tactics like forcing everyone to use it for other Google services have been alienating for some. Today, many of its features feel more disconnected than they used to. Google Plus is now a place for discussion groups than a traditional social network.

Basically, then, for Google to acquire Twitter, which already has over 313 million users, would be an instant boon. It would give the search giant the social cred it’s been chasing for so many years. Plus, Google has a little something called YouTube to help Twitter with its video streaming ambitions.


How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Image credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Out of all the companies whose names have been floated as possible suitors, the unlikeliest is probably SalesForce. Known mostly for customer-relations management software, it’s decidedly enterprise-focused. At first blush, its interest in Twitter seems odd.

Yet it might not be. SalesForce already tried and failed to buy LinkedIn (Microsoft was the winner in that particular contest), so it would seem the company has long wanted to cash in on social. Plus, one of the features of its software is a plug-in that tracks mentions of brands on social media. SalesForce could leverage Twitter’s role as a customer communications tool to boost its own sales-and-marketing arsenal.


How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Microsoft has never done particularly well at social. In 2011 it launched So.cl, a “search-based social network” that lets you share search results with friends, but it’s been unpopular, to say the least. Aside from that, most of the company’s investment in this space has been through acquisitions. A few years ago, it bought Yammer (a sort of Twitter for business), and it picked up LinkedIn earlier this year. Microsoft also tried and failed to buy Facebook back when it was a startup, but that obviously didn’t go as planned.

Acquiring Twitter would be the easiest and fastest way to make headway in social, but for Microsoft the deal would mean more than that. Despite a string of well-reviewed products like the Surface Book that have helped get consumers excited about Microsoft, the company may still seem stodgy to some, especially compared with younger rivals like Google and Facebook. Though Twitter itself is now a large, publicly traded company that doesn’t necessarily know what it’s doing, its user base is at least younger and more media savvy than Microsoft’s. That might be just what Satya Nadella and co. are looking for.


How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Mike Blake / Reuters

If you think Verizon is just a plain old wireless carrier, you have it wrong. The company has had its sights set on the media space for a while now. Last year it bought AOL (Engadget’s parent company), and a few months ago it announced its intention to buy Yahoo. (The purchase isn’t set to close until 2017.) Both deals were made in the name of increasing Verizon’s advertising portfolio.

And, seeing as Twitter is a pretty big media company in its own right — it’s often the place to go for breaking news, and the company has recently made a push around livestreaming — it could fit right into Verizon’s video ambitions. Plus, let’s not forget that Twitter is yet another source for advertising revenue. With all of these companies under one umbrella, Verizon might have enough ammo to compete against the likes of Google and Facebook.


How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Jacky Naegelen / Reuters

Another strange potential bedfellow in this Twitter acquisition rumorfest is Disney. To be fair, CEO Jack Dorsey is on Disney’s board, so they’re already friendly enough that getting early-stage discussions off the ground may have been easier than it would have otherwise. Also, Disney owns several media entities like ABC and ESPN, so having Twitter would be great as an in-house marketing tool.

The issue here is that Twitter is also used by its rivals — you know, Fox, CNN, Comcast, and every other brand on earth — and those companies might not feel so great having their engagement analytics in the hands of the competition. Twitter’s poor history of handling abuse complaints might not sit well with Disney’s squeaky-clean image either.

Fantasy pick: Amazon

How these companies would benefit from owning Twitter (or not)
Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

While Amazon wasn’t named as a potential buyer, a Twitter acquisition would make some sense for the Seattle-based company. Sure, it’s largely known as an e-tailer, but Amazon has shown it isn’t afraid to experiment. It’s dabbled in hardware — the Kindle and Echo come to mind — and it’s making a strong play in video streaming too. And that video isn’t limited to just Prime subscribers: Amazon is also dabbling in live video after acquiring Twitch two years ago. Buying Twitter would provide yet another live vertical for Amazon and, of course, access to one of the world’s largest social networks. It might seem odd, but Amazon isn’t a normal company. And lest you forget, CEO Jeff Bezos already owns the Washington Post, indicating he might well have media mogul aspirations.

Anyone’s guess

Regardless of who ends up owning Twitter, it seems clear that somebody will eventually need to buy it, if only to keep it alive. On Monday, Twitter was the place on the internet to congregate during the US presidential debate. It was a firestorm of heated commentary — lively, interactive and emotional. It is this quality that has made Twitter such an effective launchpad for political movements like the Arab Spring. The company might have problems making money and gaining users, but its value to modern society is clear. Let’s hope somebody can keep it going.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/twitter-suitors/

VW and Mercedes open Paris Auto Show with futuristic EVs

Volkswagen had the first major press conference of the show and CEO Herbert Deiss certainly took a conciliatory tone, without mentioning the diesel-gate crisis. He threw around words like “fresh start,” “new challenge” and so on, adding that VW sales had picked up over the last few months. Then, he revealed the swoopy Volkswagen ID prototype with 370 miles of potential range. The collective air went out of the room when he said the EV wouldn’t come until 2020, however.

VW and Mercedes open Paris Auto Show with futuristic EVs

The brand new Jaguar F-Type SVR

Then it was Mercedes’ turn, and it also did a dramatic reveal of its Generation EQ, an entirely new electric vehicle lineup. The launch prototype vehicle will never be built, but represents the technology to come in the lineup. Both Mercedes and Volkswagen specifically mentioned Tesla by name as a primary rival, though they’re now playing big-time catch-up with Musk’s company, which has already pre-sold over 300,000 Tesla 3 EVs.

As for the rest of the show, let’s just take it for what it is — pure vehicular porn. In a quick tour around several pavilions, I saw new vehicles from Jaguar, Lexus (including its wild UX crossover concept), Infiniti, Porsche, Audi, and Range Rover, to name a few. Those vehicles are out of our remit in terms of coverage (and price), but it doesn’t mean we can’t throw them all into an ogle-worthy gallery. Enjoy!

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/paris-auto-show-day-one/

Stream performances from the Austin City Limits Festival this weekend

When the time comes, Red Bull TV has apps for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and Windows 10 or you can watch on the web. What’s more, the livestreams are also available on Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Samsung Blu-ray players and both Samsung and LG smart TVs. There are plenty of viewing options and the live shows are free to watch, so if you didn’t have any plans this weekend, there’s an easy activity that doesn’t require you to leave your favorite chair.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/austin-city-limits-music-festvial-livestream/

AOL’s Alto Dashboard is a daily organizer for your email

Alto Dashboard should look familiar to anyone who’s ever availed themselves of the cards in Google Now: Important bits of information like upcoming flights, hotel reservations and package tracking are given their own slides, arranged in chronological order with all the most important details displayed out front. You can glean the relevant data at a glance, or tap on each card to access the entire message.

Alto’s function as a keeper of info is way to raise it above a sea of similar apps, part of a larger trend of programs like Facebook Messenger branching out past their core functions and adding more and more functionality to varying degrees of usefulness. And, while the Alto Dashboard is distinctive and useful, it’s also strongly reminiscent of how TripIt can trawl your email for flight and hotel reservations and then bundle all that information into a single trip file.

AOL's Alto Dashboard is a daily organizer for your email

Alto will capture all the same info, like car rentals and theater tickets, and put it all on your timeline. What it doesn’t do yet is group them together, like “trip to Chicago” or “Saturday with mom.” But the team at Alto has plans to add that eventually, which would definitely make filing expense reports easier.

Where Alto Dashboard differs from Google Now or TripIt is not just how everything is contained within the app itself, but how the information can be acted on. The improved dashboard will not only remind you about your Hamilton tickets or pull up directions; you can actually call an Uber to take you there. You aren’t limited to a specific app for each task either: You can choose what maps program to use, or maybe choose Lyft instead. You can even send receipts to Expensify, though each item will have to be sent individually for now.

When you just need your email to just be email, the Alto app still helps you out with its existing “stacks” feature, which functions similar to the tabs in Gmail. Your messages are sorted by subject using the same algorithms that determine what shows up in your dashboard. There are preset stacks for shopping, travel and finance, but most useful are the ones that keep track of all the photos and files you’ve been sent — no need to keep them on your device, and you won’t have to scramble to find a photo attached to an email you got two years past.

I’m a weirdo who still keeps my AOL account around but, even if you kicked your aol.com address to the curb ages ago, you can still use Alto; it also works with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud and Exchange, or any other IMAP email provider. Everything can be viewed in one dashboard, so you have both your business and leisure events organized into one stream to create a fuller picture of your days and weeks. Alto and its new dashboard are available today on iOS, Android and the web.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/aol-alto-dashboard/

Restauranteur hopes the Apple Watch will improve fine dining

When the Union Square Cafe in Manhattan reopens next month, Apple Watch-toting managers and sommeliers will roam the floors, being made aware of every minor interaction by an enterprise app created by mobile booking platform Resy. Taking cues from other front of house employees, ResyOS will notify the appropriate people when customers are first seated, the kitchen runs out of crab, a bottle of wine is ordered, when a group is done and requires their coats, or when someone vaguely famous strolls through the door.

In the future, it’ll be improved with a consumer-facing twist, too. Guests will be able to share booking information with their group, thereby telling the restaurant who else is in the party. A diner will also have the opportunity to flag when they’re running late, and a floor manager will be notified on their wearable. Furthermore, the platform will soon allow groups to split the bill and pay separately via smartphone. And if all goes well, Meyer could introduce the system at other eateries.

The new Apple Watch Series 2 is a slightly better fitness tracker than the first-gen model, but otherwise it’s much as the same as every other smartwatch: A companion device lacking that killer, standalone purpose. Perhaps enterprise-focused roles are where smartwatches will have a renewed impact. That said, ResyOS sounds like it could easily lead to better customer service and restaurant efficiencies, or send managers into perma-notification comas. Either way, we’re sure they’re looking forward to the first system outage.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/nyc-restaurant-apple-watch/

Surgeons could use these fake elastic bones to fix injuries

More importantly, it remains porous and absorbent even if it’s crammed into a small space. Those properties are significant, because your biological materials, such as your blood vessels, need to be able to infiltrate the materials to regrow real bones. Adam Jakus, one of the the team members from Northwestern University, said their hyperelastic bone is “purely synthetic, very cheap and very easy to make.” Since it can also “be packaged, shipped and stored very nicely,” he hopes it can be used even in developing nations.

That won’t be anytime in the near future, though, since the material has to undergo further testing before any hospital starts using it to mend fractures and other bone injuries. The team is pushing for human trials within five years’ time, but it’s worth noting that the FDA has yet to approve a 3D-printed regenerative bone material for testing on actual patients.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/29/3d-printed-bone-regenerative-surgery/