YouTube TV gaining new channels and expanding to new markets, also increasing price

YouTube TV Google Pixel

Looks like those rumored YouTube TV changes are true.

YouTube today confirmed that YouTube TV is gaining some new channels and expanding to new markets, but that it’s also getting a price hike. First, the new channels include TNT, Adult Swim, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, and others.

YouTube TV is also gaining new sports content like March Madness, nationally televised NBA games, NBA All-Star weekend, NBA Playoff games, MLB Postseason games, UEFA Champions League soccer, and PGA Championship golf. Coming soon will be NBA TV and MLB Network, too, with customers able to add NBA League Pass and MLB.TV for an extra fee if they’d like.

Also of note is that in the coming weeks, YouTube TV will expand to new markets like Lexington, Dayton, Honolulu, Richmond, Mobile, and Syracuse.

Finally, YouTube TV will see its monthly price increase to $ 40 per month on March 13. Customers who sign up before March 13 can keep the original $ 35 price.

Price increases are never exciting, but at least YouTube TV is gaining several new channels to help make the increased price worth it. Plus, we’ve gotten one month’s notice of the price increase, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up at the $ 35 rate.

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Should Essential make a mid-range phone?

Essential Phone

The Essential Phone is an interesting device. It’s a handset that’s designed to be the hub for a lot of different products, especially through its modular design. Snapping on accessories is meant to be a breeze, and, eventually, the idea is that the smartphone will be the central part of an ever expanding ecosystem of Essential (-branded) devices.

That hasn’t really happened just yet. We’ve got the Essential Phone –with three new Spring Collection colors!– and if you take a quick look at the company’s online storefront, there isn’t a lot to be excited about. There is the 360-degree camera, which attaches via the modular design, and . . . wireless charging support, even through the “Click Connector”. That’s not even available yet, so there’s just one option right now.

If this were Apple we were talking about, or Samsung, or HTC, or even OnePlus at this point, there might be something to build upon here. But the truth of the matter is that, technically speaking, Essential is a startup company that’s just trying to get up off the ground. Yes, the company is worth a ridiculous amount of money, and there are some very talented people working there –including Andy Rubin– but that can’t change the reality of the situation.

Essential is a new company that’s trying to make a name for itself in a very, very competitive market.

The Essential Phone didn’t seem to make much of a wave in 2017, either. The latest report from research firm IDC shows that Essential sold 88,000 devices since launch — not a great number. One of the recurring elements I saw when that report came out was that Essential was trying to not only jump into the smartphone market, but jump into the market right at the high-end level.

Basically, Essential came out swinging, but it was trying to hit targets like Apple and Samsung. I don’t think anyone thought that would actually work out, and, well, that looks to be the case. Essential wants to sell more phones, and so it will be interesting to see how the Essential Phone’s successor attempts that.

The trouble for me comes from the fact that if the Essential Phone, which is a great flagship handset, couldn’t make a dent, why would the Essential Phone 2? Samsung isn’t going to stop making phones. Neither is Apple, or LG, or HTC, or even Nokia (by way of HMD Global). The competition is only going to get more competitive, and the high-end market isn’t going to somehow free up space anytime soon.

So, I thought about Essential changing its tactics. Maybe the company goes for a mid-range device this time around, and it gets even more aggressive with the price tag. Essential could go after the likes of OnePlus, and maybe Andy Rubin and crew have a shot there.

Then again, the mid-range market is even more saturated, and Samsung, HTC, Nokia, and other major companies have a foot in there, too. But then, maybe Essential can try to start over, launch a mid-range smartphone this year, and then work upwards. Kind of like how OnePlus has slowly increased its flagship smartphone’s features, but also gradually given the price tag an uptick, too.

None of that would work, though, probably. Because that would be honestly pretty crazy if Essential suddenly changed its game plan and opted out of launching a high-end smartphone as a successor to a high-end smartphone. Plus, the backlash there would be intense. The safe bet is that Essential is going to offer another high-end flagship device this year, and it will be up to features, marketing, and more to try and propel Essential to the top of the heap.

Now that we’ve seen where Essential stands in the market, even if it’s just a brief look via a research note, it’s going to make whatever happens next pretty exciting. I’d love it if Essential became a major player in the market. And it will be interesting to see if they can achieve that. And, if they do, how they get there.

What do you think? What should Essential do to shake things up this year and get even more people to buy the Essential Phone successor? Let me know!

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Heads of CIA, FBI, NSA say that you shouldn’t use Huawei phones

Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

Huawei’s 2018 hasn’t gotten off to a great start, with both AT&T and Verizon reportedly dropping plans to offer Huawei’s flagship Mate 10 Pro, and now Huawei’s bad year is continuing.

Six US intelligence chiefs have said that Americans should use Huawei products. This group included the heads of the CIA, FBI, and NSA, as well as the director of national intelligence.

Here’s what FBI Director Chris Wray said to the Senate Intelligence Committee:

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.

“That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

In response, Huawei explained that its products are used by governments and consumers in 170 countries around the world and that it “poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor.”

Near the end of 2017, rumors said that Huawei’s new Mate 10 Pro flagship would be sold on AT&T and Verizon in the US. That would’ve given Huawei’s presence in the US a huge boost, as most US consumers buy their phones from their carriers but Huawei has largely only been selling its devices unlocked. However, it’s said that AT&T and Verizon backed out of those deals at the last minute due to pressure from the US government.

The unlocked Huawei Mate 10 Pro is now available for pre-order in the US ahead of its February 18 launch.

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Apple HomePod may leave white rings on some wood furniture

Apple HomePod white rings wood furniture

The HomePod is now available to the public and blasting tunes in owners’ homes, but Apple’s device is doing more to peoples’ homes than just filling them with music.

Some Apple HomePod owners have found that the smart speaker can leave a white ring on wood furniture. The Wirecutter discovered in its HomePod review that the device left a white ring on both an oiled butcher block countertop as well as a wooden side table. Owners on Twitter have noticed the issue, too.

When asked about the white rings, Apple confirmed the problem and said that “the markets can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface.” If the rings don’t go away on their own, Apple suggests that users “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method.”

This is a weird issue that could be serious if HomePod ends up damaging expensive wooden furniture. It’s kind of a weird problem for the HomePod to have since we haven’t heard any other smart speakers running into the same issue, and it’ll be interesting to see what exactly is causing these white rings to appear.

HomePod owners, have you noticed any white rings on your furniture?

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Please don’t use your phone at all while driving

It Can Wait

I don’t see a lot of the initiative anymore, but there was a while there, at least a couple of years ago or so, where there seemed to be a concerted effort to get people to stop using their phones while they were driving. I saw commercials all the time, and hashtags all over social network.

I’m not saying that the movement has stopped entirely. At least, I hope it hasn’t. Just that I don’t see a lot of the material anymore. For what felt like a really long time I was seeing “#itcanwait” all over the place, but not so much anymore.

I did see a sticker that said the same thing once, though, on the back of a car. That should count for extra points.

Not texting and driving is one of those situations that I feel should be a no-brainer. But you and I both know it isn’t. Any time I go out I see someone on their phone. It happens a lot when people are stopped, waiting for a light to change or something, but I see it enough when cars are in motion that it’s genuinely disheartening.

I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never done it, because that would be deliberately untruthful. Over the years, a notification has typically been enough to grab my attention and I’ve taken a look while driving. But I was young then. Young and stupid. And as I’ve grown older, I have realized that it’s just not worth it. Whatever’s there on the phone will still be there whenever I get to where I’m going. And if I think it might be important, there is usually a way to find somewhere to park and check.

Ignoring my phone while I’m in the car has gotten easier thanks to a a couple of different things. First, I just keep it in my pocket. Out of sight is out of mind, especially hen it’s paired with the second thing: Do Not Disturb While Driving, one of the newer features Apple introduced into iOS. It turns on when I start driving (as the phone’s connected via Bluetooth), and at that point no alerts or notifications will show up or make a sound while I’m driving.

Calls still come through, though.

Keeping the phone out of sight and the notifications disabled helps a great deal.

But, even then, I think it goes beyond those things. I don’t agree with folks who want to use their phone at any point in time if they are behind the wheel of their vehicle. We can get sucked into whatever we’re looking at, which means we can be quick to react to something that catches our attention in the periphery. That can lead to some stupid mistakes.

I bring all of this up because I had an accident today (the day I’m writing this). It was minor and I’m fine, as is the driver of the other vehicle. Cars are fine, too. But the 20-something kid was on his phone, stopped behind me, while we were waiting for a red light to change. Meanwhile, the lanes on his left were turn lanes, and they were allowed to go first.

So he was on his phone, looking at whatever he was looking at (I caught sight of him in my rearview mirror just a few moments before the accident), and then when the cars on his left started going he thought his lane was moving, too. He hit the gas and ran right into me.

When we pulled over and had the obligatory chat, he told me that he was sorry, that he was in a hurry because he was late for work, and he saw the cars moving so he went for it. He didn’t bring up the phone. Before we parted ways, I told him that he should probably keep his phone in his pocket. He looked embarrassed, which I can understand, and then said he would.

He immediately ran a red light to turn right back onto the street we were on, so I just assume he won’t heed my advice.

Consider this my public service announcement. A plea, even. Please don’t use your phone while you’re behind the wheel of your car. Not even when you’re stopped at a light. It’s not just your life that could be changed forever because you were distracted, but anyone around you in that moment. It’s not worth it, and, yeah, it can wait. So, please. Wait.

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