[Tech news] Google spending $2.5 billion to expand operations across the US

Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai attends a session of the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen

Just over two years ago, Google announced it would convert a 1,300-acre former Hemlock Semiconductor facility in Clarksville, Tennessee into a new $600 million data center. Today, the search giant broke ground on the site — and Google CEO Sundar Pichai used the opportunity to announce the company will invest $2.5 billion to oIn addition to the upcoming Clarksville facility, part of the $2.5 billion will go to opening or expanding data centers in Alabama, Oregon, Virginia and Oklahoma. The company will create or add to offices in nine other states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. The expansion plan will add thousands of jobs and bring Google’s operations to a total of 21 states and six data centers.
Google planned the Clarksville site to be a model of efficiency, and purchased enough renewable energy to offset 100 percent of its electricity use, in keeping with the company’s aspirations. Today, Pichai added that the company is donating $300,000 in grant money to Goodwill of Middle Tennessee to add digital skills training to its workforce-development program.pen new facilities or expand existing ones in 14 states.

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Apple has just revealed all of the major new changes that will arrive with the upcoming iOS 11.3 update. This will be a crucial patch, as it will give users the option to disable the battery management features that can decrease performance in iPhones with older batteries.

A slew of other important functionalities will also be included in the update, here’s a list of all the changes mentioned in Apple’s press release:

1. New features will display battery health and recommend if the power cell needs service. These can be accessed by going to Settings -> Battery and are available for iPhone 6 and later models.
2. Users will have a toggle for enabling/disabling the power management feature that can affect maximum performance on iPhones. The feature can be located in the Battery subsection of the Settings menu. Power management is currently present on members of the iPhone 6, 6S, SE, and 7-gen devices.
3. ARKit 1.5 will be introduced to developers. ARKit will be able to place virtual objects on walls, doors, and other vertical surfaces. Additionally, it will be able to map irregularly shaped surfaces in a more accurate manner. The view of the real world through the camera will get 50% greater resolution and support for auto-focus will be added.
4. A new Health Records feature will be added to Health app. It will bring together info from hospitals, clinics, and the app itself to organize and provide quick an organized access to the medical data. The service will be encrypted and passcode-protected.
5. 16 new Animoji characters will be added, including a lion, bear, dragon, and skull.
6. Music videos are coming to Apple Music.
7. Apple News will get improved Top Stories and Video group feature in “For You” section
8. Business Chat feature will be added as a beta to Messages. It will allow users to communicate with businesses more easily.
9. Support for Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to automatically send a user’s current location when making a call to emergency services in countries where AML is supported.
10. HomeKit software authentication allows developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories.
Cupertino has already made iOS 11.3 available to iOS Developer Program members and will release a public beta in the coming weeks. The company says that the update will be available “this spring”. Here’s a list of all the changes mentioned in Apple’s press release:
Source: phonearea
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[TV] Spike Lee Joint, ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ Renewed For Season 2!

Film director Spike Lee and actress DeWanda Wise confirmed [via-Instagram] on Monday that the Netflix series adaptation of the 1986 indie film, She’s Gotta Have it, has been renewed for another season. Happy New Year, [Nola] Darling!

Season 1 aired on Netflix in the fall of 2017 with a millennial spin on the 80’s classic. Which received great reviews both praising and comparing the series to the original film. Nola Darling explores her truth as a black woman while sparing no expense during her journey through life, sex, and art in the 21st century. Season 1 even has a cameo from the original Nola Darling, actress Tracy Camilla Johns, in a scene where Wise is metaphorically passed the baton from her predecessor. Lee admits that the Netflix series was a vision of the film director’s wife Tonya Lewis Lee who, Lee says, deserves credit for her idea to take the film and make it into a series. He praises her in a magazine interview. Isn’t he a great!


Stay tuned for what’s next for the Netflix series.

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[VIDEO GAMES] Assassin’s Creed Origins


Assassin’s Creed Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the tenth major installment in the Assassin’s Creed series and the successor to 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 27, 2017.

The game is set in Ancient Egypt during the Ptolemaic period and recounts the secret fictional history of real-world events. The story explores the origins of the centuries-long conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins, who fight for peace by promoting liberty and The Order of the Ancients—forerunners to the Templar Order—who desire peace through the forceful imposition of order. Origins received positive reviews from critics, who praised the story, voice acting, immersive world of Egypt and visuals, while criticizing some of the pacing and technical issues. Despite this, some critics called it the best installment of the series since 2013’s Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Origins is an action-adventure stealth game played from a third-person perspective. Players complete quests—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story, earn experience points, and acquire new skills. Outside of quests, players can freely roam the open world environment on foot, horseback, camel-back or boat to explore locations, complete optional side-quests and unlock weapons and equipment.

The “eagle vision” mode, which was used by the franchise to give players the ability to scout an area by highlighting enemies and objects, has been replaced by a Bonelli’s eagle named Senu as a companion.Players are able to take control of Senu and scout an area in advance, highlighting enemies which will then be visible when they return to controlling Bayek, the game’s main character. Players can also tame various predators which will serve as a companion for the players and assist them against enemies. Naval combat, underwater exploration and tomb raiding return to the series. However, unlike previous games in the series, Origins Does not include many tall structures for climbing to unlock areas of the map.

The game also features revised combat mechanics. Previous titles in the Assassin’s Creed series used a “paired animation system” whereby the player character would engage with an enemy and combat would be dictated by a series of predeterminted animations based on player inputs and scripted AI movements. Assassin’s Creed Origins will move to a “hit-box system”. When the player wields a weapon, they will strike at whatever is in range, allowing them to hit enemies directly, injure individual body parts, and creating the possibility of missing an enemy entirely. Complementing this is the way weapons fall into different categories and are rated on their damage dealt, speed and range. Enemies will be drawn from several basic archetypes that use a variety of tactics in combat which, combined with the hit-box system, will require players to learn the attributes of individual weapons and tailor their playing style to succeed in combat. As enemy combat is also dictated by the hit-box system, the player will be equipped with a shield and will need to balance their offensive and defensive capabilities. Locations within the game world will be designed to enable players to choose their playing style by offering stealth and open combat as equally-viable choices for completing objectives.

Origins introduces an arena-based combat system where the player fights waves of increasingly-difficult combinations of enemies culminating in a boss fight. While the introduction to the arena is incorporated into the main story, the arena mode stands alone from the wider narrative. The game world features several arenas, with a variety of enemy combinations and unique bosses not found in the game world. Players will be able to unlock additional weapons and equipment by completing arena fights.

A future update to the game will add “Discovery Tour”, a sandbox mode allowing players to freely explore the open world with no objectives or combat, and embark on guided tours that highlight aspects of Egyptian history

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[TECH NEWS] Spotify could be valued at $20 billion when it goes public

Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify in this illustration picture
Spotify could eventually hit $100 billion: GP Bullhound

Spotify could eventually hit $100 billion: GP Bullhound  

Spotify could be valued at $20 billion when it goes public and eventually be worth $100 billion, according to one investment bank.

GP Bullhound, which is an investor in Spotify, laid out a thesis on Monday that could see Spotify’s valuation rise to $55 billion by 2020, before reaching the $100 billion mark, which would make it one of the most valuable stocks in the world.

A number of reasons could be behind the valuation from faster-than-expected subscriber growth to increased penetration in the emerging markets and better deals with music labels, GP Bullhound said in a report.

100 million subscribers

Spotify announced in July that it had hit 60 million paying users. GP Bullhound sees this hitting 100 million by mid-2018, quicker than it had originally thought. And by 2020, the user base could hit 500 million, with 200 million users being premium subscribers.

This will be achieved by penetrating new markets, but along with that will come fewer paying subscribers as a percentage of total users, and perhaps lower average revenue per customer, due to a dilution effect of cheaper subscription plans.

“Spotify have introduced family plans and student discounts and if we factor in that emerging markets have a much lower average revenue per premium subscriber we believe that Spotify will see a steady decline in revenue per premium subscriber moving towards 2020 compared to today’s value,” GP Bullhound said in its report.

“This is the reason why we have decreased our estimated average revenue per premium subscriber to $80 — compared to $88 in 2015 and $89 in 2016.”

But the investment bank said that advertising could lead to a higher revenue per non-premium subscriber than previously anticipated.

Profitability on the horizon?

Even though Spotify is set to grow quickly, it is likely to continue recording an operating loss which could “distract investors from the true value that is being created,” GP Bullhound said.

But the music streaming service’s return on investment should improve. Currently for every dollar it invests in a premium subscriber, it gets $3 back. The return could increase to $5 by 2020 as revenue per user stabilizes, churn decreases, and gross margin improves.

Gross margins will improve as Spotify strikes better deals with music labels thanks to its rising user base.

$100 billion valuation ahead?

GP Bullhound’s forecast of a valuation for Spotify of $20 billion after its initial public offering (IPO), is based on it having 70 million premium subscribers and 100 million non-premium users. Given that this will likely be reached in the next few months, the investment bank said its valuation thesis is “conservative”.

Eventually, the Swedish company could hit a $100 billion valuation.

“Given that Spotify’s growth continues and that emerging market growth keeps average revenue per premium subscriber relatively in shape we envision that Spotify has a long term potential of being valued at $100 billion,” GP Bullhound said.

It’s important to note that Spotify is not going to carry out a traditional IPO. Sources told CNBC earlier this year that Spotify is going to go public in a so-called direct listing.

During an IPO, the company offers investors shares before it goes public, which allows underwriters to set an initial share price. A direct listing only allows investors to buy shares through the open market, and no price is predetermined.

Apple threat?

GP Bullhound said it does not expect to see Apple outgrow Spotify anytime soon. The investment bank said that Spotify’s already large user base and simpler user interface when using the app, is better than rivals’.

But Spotify does face risks. If the industry moves towards more voice-dominated inputs like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, this could be a disadvantage. Spotify does not have its own voice assistant and it should see Apple’s HomePod smart speaker as a “threat”, GP Bullhound said.

To get around this, Spotify could partner with speaker hardware makers. But this could get expensive.

“Both points mentioned above could in turn require significant investment in both capital and time,” GP Bullhound concluded.

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[TECH NEWS] Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: iPhone X is the first iPhone I won’t buy on ‘day one’


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he’s not in a hurry to buy the next iPhone — even though he usually rushes out to upgrade on opening day.

“I’d rather wait and watch that one. I’m happy with my iPhone 8 — which is the same as the iPhone 7, which is the same as the iPhone 6, to me,” Wozniak said, speaking from the sidelines of the Money 20/20 conference. “For some reason, the iPhone X is going to be the first iPhone I didn’t — on day one — upgrade to. But my wife will, so I’ll be close enough to see it.”

Wozniak — who is known to carry several new phones at once — made the remarks just ahead of preorder sales, which open on Oct. 27.

For more than a year before it was released, the iPhone X was hailed as a revolutionary new form factor that could spark a “super cycle” of sales. The phone, unveiled in September, features an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch bright, sharp display, with a smaller chassis than the iPhone 8 Plus. It also has facial recognition.

But Wozniak also said he was skeptical that the Face ID feature would work the way it is supposed to.

Wozniak isn’t the only onlooker who’s uncertain about the new handset. Because the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X were not released at the same time this year, some analysts have struggled to get a handle on how well the phones will sell.

Surveys show that a high percentage of consumers plan to purchase a new iPhone in the next three months but that the iPhone 8 series is accounting for a smaller share of sales than the new iPhones this time last year, according to UBS analyst Steven Milunovich.

“This softness could be good or bad depending on whether users are waiting on the iPhone X,” Milunovich wrote in a Monday note.

Venture capitalist Gene Munster noted that Google searches for “iPhone” seem to have declined 10 percent year over year. But Munster said his firm’s surveys show “positive data points for Apple.”

“The release of the iPhone 8 was underwhelming compared to past iPhone launches, but this is not bad news for Apple. This year’s iPhone cycle will have its units and revenues split between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X,” Munster wrote. “Historically about half of the iPhones purchased in a given year are the most recently released model. This bodes well for iPhone revenue growth.”

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[Video Games] NBA 2K18 Release Date September 19


NBA 2K18, this year’s entry in the Visual Concepts developed basketball sim from 2K Sports, look set to be another essential purchase for sports fans. In this article we’ll detail all there is to know about NBA 2K18, including the NBA 2K18 release date, NBA 2K18 pre-order info, details on the cover stars, NBA 2K18 All-Time Teams, and special editions

NBA 2K18 Release Date – PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch Versions

The NBA 2K18 release date is September 19, 2017. Anyone who pre-orders can get the game four days early on September 15. The latest iteration of the premiere basketball sim will be releasing for PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. 

Anyone still gaming on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 will also be able to buy NBA 2K18, but as these platforms are no longer the focus of development, chances are these editions will be very similar to the previous releases. 

NBA 2K18 Nintendo Switch Details and Hands-On Impressions

We recently got to go hands-on with NBA 2K18 at a special preview event in New York, and we can now confirm that the Nintendo Switch version of the game will be near enough identical to the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Every single mode, including MyGM, MyPlayer, and MyTeam will be included on the Switch version of the game, meaning you won’t be missing out on any features. 

The Switch version of NBA 2K18 will also feature Amiibo support, although we don’t currently know in what capacity, and the game will run at 30 frames per second in both docked and handheld mode. Check out our editor Kat Bailey’s quick impressions of the Switch version just below: 

NBA 2K18 New Neighborhood Social Club Feature

At the aforementioned preview event for NBA 2K18, we got our first glimpse at the new Neighborhood social hub feature for the game, which you can see a few snippets of just below. It looks set to be a forum for player avatars in the game, in the same way that Splatoon 2’s Inkopolis Square lets you show off your equipped clothing items and other accessories. 

NBA 2K18 Gameplay Trailers

The official NBA 2K YouTube channel recently published a video of behind the scenes developer interviews, while also giving us our first look at gameplay for the upcoming NBA 2K18. 

The full trailer, which you can see for yourself just below, highlights the focus on player accuracy in NBA 2K18, with the dev team having rebuilt the entire player body system from previous NBA 2K iterations, in order to accurately match the real life counterparts of the players in the game. 

The team then went into detail about MyPlayer, and about how the facial scan feature from past 2K games is returning in greater detail than ever. There’s now slated to be more options than ever before for when you’re customising your own character, and the team showed off some of the more advanced body proportion controls. 

On August 16, the NBA 2K YouTube account again posted a gameplay trailer for NBA 2K18, highlighting some of the flashier moves seen around the league on a nightly basis

The trailer at points gives some nice looks at defensive plays, as well as showing off some of the more emotional aspects of players on the court. Elsewhere, we could see the likes of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and more doing what they do best. 

NBA 2K18 MyTeam Details Revealed

With less than a month to go until the worldwide release of NBA 2K18, a brand new developer diary on the MyTeam mode was recently posted to the NBA 2K Facebook page, where associate producer Peter Cornforth revealed some of the new details coming to this iteration of the flagship basketball sim. 

Cornforth outlined several new modes and features for NBA 2K18 MyTeam, all of which we’ve highlighted and detailed just below for you: 

  • Pack and Playoffs – In this mode, you’ll start by opening a pack and picking the coach for your team, and then opening successive packs to assemble your full squad, which you’ll then take into 5v5 matchups online with other assembled teams. The further you advance before being eliminated from this tournament, the bigger the prize.
  • MyTeam Super Max – This mode introduces a salary cap and season gameplay to online competition within MyTeam, with each player having to assemble a roster of players based on their salaries. If everyone uses one card, for example Steph Curry, then his value will go up, causing less people to use him in their teams.
  • Strategy Cards – These cards can be played during timeouts, and have certain affects on your team for a limited time only. The higher rank your coach is, the more Strategy Cards you can bring with you into a single game.
  • All-Time Domination – Think you’re good at 2K? You might want to think again, as 2K18’s MyTeam brings in the All-Time Domination mode, where you can take your team to play against lineups compromised of the best players in a franchise’s history. This means Kobe, Shaq, Kareem, Magic, Wilt, Jerry, and more can all be found in a single team, for you to take on.

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[NEWS] Spotify Removes Hate Music as Streaming Companies Struggle to Police Their Tunes


Spotify says it has removed an array of white-supremacist acts from its streaming service that had been flagged as racist “hate bands” by the Southern Poverty Law Center three years ago.

The move came after Digital Music News posted a story headlined “I Just Found 27 White Supremacist Hate bands On Spotify,” bringing the content to Spotify’s attention.

A Spotify spokeswoman told Billboard in a statement that while the music in its catalog comes from hundreds of thousands of record companies and aggregators all over the world, and those are “at first hand responsible” for the content they deliver, “illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”

“Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention. We are glad to have been alerted to this content – and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder,” she said in the statement.

Spotify, which counts tens of millions of tracks, is also reviewing the possibility of blocking this type of content from future music recommendations, while pushing a new playlist called Patriotic Passion that includes a Jimi Hendrix rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, Lady Gaga’s “Americano,” and Khalid’s “American Teen.”

“It’s a soundtrack to an America worth fighting for,” the spokeswoman said in a separate statement.

In trying to keep hate music off their services, Spotify and other music-streaming companies face a tricky task in determining what to remove and what to protect from their vast libraries in the interest of free speech. Deciding whether such content is legal is difficult given the range of laws in different markets, and the task requires careful listening, given the often coded racist slang used in such tunes. There’s also a fear of bringing more attention to hate bands by making them into a legal issue, experts say. Deezer last year launched a site where users could report hate music and help it clean up questionable songs.

Most of the groups listed by Digital Music News had tiny followings and listen counts, but the site’s Paul Resnikoff wrote that “in the wake of violent clashes in Charlottesville and an increasingly vocal, post-Trump white supremacy voice, the presence of white supremacy music on Spotify takes on a different light.”

Resnikoff also pointed out that thanks to digital music services’ increasingly sophisticated recommendation engines, it “was pretty easy to find hate-oriented groups simply by referencing similar artists on Spotify itself.”

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