Spotify’s Daily Mixes use your listening habits to make playlists

Sitting atop the “Your Library” section of the Spotify app, Daily Mixes are a combination of tunes by the artists you listen to on the regular and other material you might not be as familiar with. As you might expect, there’s the option to “heart” a song to add it to your collection or “ban” a track to keep it from popping up in future playlists. Unlike the name suggests, the Mixes aren’t updated daily per se. Spotify says the name implies that you can enjoy them daily and while the track order may shuffle every day, the data that selects the songs will be updated on a weekly basis.

Daily Mixes are divided by genre. For example, I have playlists for hardcore, hip hop, indie rock, electronic, metal and hard rock. Most of those are an equal mix of artists that I listen to often (or at least from time to time) and new songs that I hadn’t heard of yet. Not all the songs are new releases, so there’s a blend of old and new in each list as well.

These new playlists work a lot like Pandora stations or Spotify’s own radio feature, only now the queue is automatically compiled for you and you can start wherever you want. You don’t even have to pick an a specific artist to get started. Spotify says the new playlists will be “consistently refreshed” and feature “near endless playback” to make listening to music on a daily basis a bit easier. Just like those aforementioned stations, Daily Mixes are based entirely on what you’re listening to and get better the more music you play.

After a few days with Daily Mixes, the playlists seem useful at times when I have trouble deciding exactly what to play. I’m a big fan of both Discover Weekly and Release Radar for learning about new artists and keeping up new material from all of the acts I listen to often, but I don’t think I’ll use Daily Mixes quite as often. It’s still early though, so that may change. Spotify’s focus on discovery continues to provide its users with ways to keep their listening habit fresh. Multiple options mean you can find the one that you like best.

If you want to give the new feature a shot, it’s available now on Spotify’s Android and iOS apps for both paid and free users. New to Spotify? You’ll need to use the service for about two weeks before Daily Mixes will show up for you. For faithful desktop users, the tool will be rolling out to other platforms “soon,” so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long to employ the new goods there.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/spotify-daily-mixes/

Indie game darling ‘Firewatch’ is heading to movie theaters

Physical photographs aren’t the only way Firewatch will invade the real world. Developer Campo Santo recently revealed a partnership with production house Good Universe (Neighbors and Last Vegas) to make a movie based on the indie game about a fire lookout in a Wyoming forest, according to The Hollywood Reporter. No other details are available at the time, but fingers crossed that some enterprising Ford dealership doesn’t repurpose the movie’s eventual trailer for a summer sales event.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/indie-game-darling-firewatch-is-heading-to-movie-theaters/

BBC iPlayer will require an account from ‘early 2017’

As BBC News reports, the new sign-in system will require users to enter a postcode. The BBC says it won’t be used to enforce the licence fee, however it’s hard not to see the move as a preparatory measure. Even with the “iPlayer loophole” closed, it’s still possible for licence fee avoiders to watch the service by marking the “I have a TV licence” checkbox. A compulsory sign-in process could change that, however — the BBC could, in theory, check each postcode to see if a TV licence is active at their current address.

Helen Boaden, the BBC’s Director of Radio, said:

“Some of you might be thinking that this is driven by the changes to the so-called ‘iPlayer loophole’ which means you now need a TV licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer. It’s not – it’s about giving you a better BBC. As we said earlier this month, we’ll carry on using our existing enforcement processes and techniques which we believe to be adequate and appropriate. In fact, early TV Licensing data shows that – as we expected – significant numbers of new people have bought a licence since the new rules came into force.”

However, she added: “We will keep our processes under review to make sure they are effective. The Government has asked us to review whether a verification system for accessing Player will be required in the future.” Indeed, such a request is outlined in the new BBC Charter, which comes into effect next year. A decision on the matter won’t be made for some time — the BBC has until 2020 to report its findings — but clearly, it doesn’t hurt the organisation to lay some of the groundwork now, just in case.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/bbc-iplayer-sign-in-requirement/

Roller coasters might help you pass a kidney stone

While that patient’s experience may seem coincidental, Wartinger and Mitchell set out to test it in the most scientific way possible: They built a 3D printed silicone model of a kidney, filled it with urine and three kidney stones, and then tossed the whole contraption in a backpack that rode Thunder Mountain along with them a total of 20 times. According to a statement from Wartinger, the team’s findings, “support the anecdotal evidence that a ride on a moderate-intensity roller coaster could benefit some patients with small kidney stones.” And where you’re sitting on the train can also make a difference. As CNET notes, sitting at the front of the ride helped get things moving with a 16.67 percent passage rate, but sitting in the back was even more effective – resulting in a 63.89 percent passage rate. On the other hand, a ride that is too fast or pulls too many G’s can actually hold the kidney stones in place, making things worse. (And you won’t get the same result on a VR coaster, obviously.)

Of course, riding a roller coaster isn’t a surefire way to get ride of a kidney stone, but when used in addition to standard treatments, the research team believes it could be useful therapy for the 300,000 people who suffer from kidney stones in the US every year. “If you have a kidney stone, but are otherwise healthy and meet the requirements of the ride, patients should try it,” Wartinger said. “It’s definitely a lower-cost alternative to health care.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/study-roller-coasters-kidney-stone/

Best Buy’s new project highlights tech startups’ creations

Under the project, startups chosen by Best Buy will get a chance to work with multinational product innovation company PCH. It will help them with product development, marketing and other aspects that will get their creations out of the lab and into buyers’ hands, so to speak. It will also give you the chance to see new products you might never have heard of otherwise, as well as test them out before buying.

Best Buy has already opened its first Ignite space in its new Silicon Valley HQ, and it has quite a few products we’ve talked about before on display. You’ll see Muzik’s Spotify- and social media-connected headphones there, as well as Noke’s Bluetooth padlock, the Zuli smartplug, the Tangram smartrope, among other crowdfunded and unusual wireless and audio electronics. BB didn’t say when its other locations will get their own Ignite space. But you’ll at least be able to look at its partner startups’ devices when it launches the project’s official web page later this fall.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/best-buy-ignite-startup/

Microsoft puts AI to work in Office 365

Some of these intelligent features are available now, although you’ll have to wait until later this year to get the Excel and PowerPoint helpers.

There are some more behind-the-scenes uses of AI as well. Microsoft’s sales service, Dynamics 365, will use AI assistance to bring up relevant data and point sales reps in the right direction when they’re trying to clinch a deal. The company is even using an AI agent in its American call centers to help staff answer your questions. While you might not notice these as much as the Office upgrades, they’re evidence that Microsoft sees machine learning as useful in many parts of the computing world.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/26/microsoft-ai-in-office-365/

Canada’s main answer to Netflix shuts down November 30th

As to why Shomi didn’t reel people in? It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s not for a lack of licensed content. The service is closer to Hulu than Netflix through its focus on conventional TV, but it occasionally has an advantage over both. You get access to TV shows that simply aren’t available on Netflix (such as Mr. Robot), and Shomi is currently the Canadian home for Amazon originals like Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle.

It might be the combination of a slow rollout with Netflix’s overwhelming presence. Shomi was exclusive to Rogers and Shaw customers for its roughly year-long test phase, leaving many Canadians unable to sign up. And the blunt truth is that Netflix is not only good enough for many viewers, but had a years-long head start. Why pay an extra $9 per month to stream regular TV shows when Netflix exclusives like Narcos or Stranger Things are already fitting the bill, especially if you have cable service? As well-executed as Shomi might be, it has always faced daunting odds.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/26/shomi-shuts-down-november-30th/

Google Pixel render shows off its software tweaks

Along with its leak of the 4K Chromecast earlier today, VentureBeat is showing off this picture that it says is of Google’s upcoming Pixel phone. Along with the larger Pixel XL, it’s expected to be the successor to previous Nexus devices, with a 5-inch 1080p screen and 32GB of storage onboard. A potential $649 starting price is also raising eyebrows, but previous leaks from Android Police indicate that the most notable feature will be software built to maximize Google’s new Assistant AI.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/26/google-pixel-render/

Facebook briefly suspended accounts of Palestinian journalists

Accidental or not, temporarily banning journalist accounts chills a social media platform’s assumption of freedom of speech, especially if the suspensions are one-sided. Under the Israeli government’s conviction that some posts on networks have directly inflamed a new wave of attacks against Israelis since last October, they have pressured Facebook to delete such content. Soon, they might progress past asking, as the Israeli government continues drafting a law legally compelling social media companies to comply with their takedown requests.

As expected, the collaboration has raised concerns that Facebook has become complicit in silencing portions of its userbase. Facebook, along with Google and YouTube, has reportedly complied with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s requests to take down content it deemed would inspire more attacks. At least 100 Palestinians have been arrested for posting similar content since last November, according to the Israeli military. Sentences have varied, from days of house arrest to months in jail and the equivalent of thousands of dollars in fines.

Facebook has certainly been thrust into a complex geopolitical situation, but it’s been accused of censoring viewpoints before. No less than a Congressional committee and an internal investigation determined that, no, the network’s Trending Topics was not biased in its selections, and wasn’t muffling conservative voices. The censorship anxiety was so acute that Mark Zuckerberg himself came out to defend the news digest’s neutrality.

Seeing him stand up for equal conservative and liberal representation in Trending Topics while Facebook takes down most of the content that the Israeli government wants removed seems conflicting. But they aren’t the same: According to Al Jazeera, 230 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese have been killed since in the country and the West Bank since last October. Israel believes policing speech on the social network will prevent others from getting inspired to commit more attacks.

But what they consider “inciting” violence is broad. According to reports, it ranges in intensity. Some have been arrested for praising a bus bombing that injured 20 settlers to instructions on “how best to stab an Israeli.” Other statements fall more into what is usually considered free speech, from poems calling for resisting Israel to simply “disparaging authorities.” And the government legislation being developed would lower the threshold even further for what content they consider inflames further violence.

Under these circumstances of scrutiny, mistakenly suspending social media accounts from separate Palestinian news outlets is unfortunate at best. Ultimately, only those in legal control of the digital space can truly say whether the content of their posts got them banned. Facebook says the pages were accidentally removed after being flagged, and mistakes happen when their team processes millions of reports per week. When they realized the error, they restored access. But this is the fourth time Shehab News Agency’‘s accounts have been taken down in a year, they told Al Jazeera. Twice, those suspensions were permanent, and they had to entirely recreate their Facebook pages.

Engadget reached out to Facebook, which did not respond at press time.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/26/facebook-briefly-suspended-accounts-of-palestinian-journalists/

Debate venue offering journalists $200 ‘bargain’ for WiFi

As a bit of confirmation, Vocativ‘s social media specialist Ryan Beckler posted a tweet with the following image, presumably from within the university:

$200 for WiFi at tonight’s debate. $600 for a seat, WiFi, and Ethernet. #Debates2016 pic.twitter.com/U1LPVzSGc0

— Ryan Beckler (@RyanBeckler) September 26, 2016

$200 for WiFi access, $75 for a seat in the media filing room (without internet access) or $325 for a hardline connection and a seat in the media filing center. Sounds like a veritable circus of value. However, given that nearly every modern smartphone can act as a modem, the chances of this keeping journalists offline are pretty slim. That doesn’t mean the event’s staffers aren’t trying.

A tweet from Politico‘s Kenneth P. Vogel shows an AIrcheck WiFi Tester in use for detecting any unauthorized networks. If you’re on the ground and reading this, know that using USB tethering will sidestep the $2,000 tool’s methods.

Technicians patrolling #debatenight press file using this device to detect & shut down hotspots, so they can sell $200 wifi accounts instead pic.twitter.com/JzbkzlZR1g

— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) September 26, 2016

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/09/26/debate-venue-offering-journalists-200-bargain-for-wifi/