Tag Archives: TV

Twitter investor Chris Sacca dives into TV’s ‘Shark Tank’ (Q&A)

The billionaire investor discusses what made him get into the water as a guest “Shark” on the reality show.

Chris Sacca generally has a lot to say. But the influential tech investor couldn’t get a word in edgewise when he joined “Shark Tank,” the popular reality show about entrepreneurs.

In the show, high-profile investors battle one another to buy stakes in startups. The competition can be fierce, and entrepreneurs often try to pit one investor against the other to force a bidding war.

Even for Sacca, known for being intense and direct, the exchanges were a challenge.


“The Sharks step right on each other’s questions, and if I ever did that in Silicon Valley, I would be considered a pariah,” Sacca said in an interview. “I literally had to learn how to interrupt.”

Sacca is known for his vocal support of microblogging site and global sounding board Twitter, one of his big investments, and maintains a blogthat’s become a must-read in the tech and business communities. An investor as well in ride-hailing service Uber and photo-sharing powerhouse Instagram, he has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers.

The angel investor said that negotiating with the “Shark Tank” entrepreneurs and against fellow Sharks, including tech billionaire Mark Cuban, got his competitive juices flowing again. Sacca, who wore his signature cowboy shirts while filming the show, declined to say how many deals he’s cut but acknowledged that the intensity of the experience reminded him why he got into investing.

The first episode of “Shark Tank” featuring Sacca airs Friday. Sacca spoke to CNET about his role in the show.

Q: About a year ago at this time you tweeted out that Shark Tank wasn’t “big boy” enough for you. Then you joined. How was the experience?
Sacca: I had a blast. “Shark Tank” embodies the American Dream. If you watch the show at home, you find yourself constantly hollering at the Sharks. Being able to sit next to them and call them out in real time was quite a privilege. Plus, I got to meet entrepreneurs outside of tech, and that was cool.

So now you’re a believer?
Sacca: One of the things that struck me is how authentic “Shark Tank” is. I don’t know how more real it can be. You have no prior knowledge about the entrepreneurs. They walk up there and deliver a true raw pitch. When you see a Shark fight erupt, we aggressively want to understand what we are committing our money toward.

All five Sharks can be arguing, [and there’s a] passionate, intense back-and-forth, all competing for what we want. That’s what’s so special about it. I’m definitely open to coming back next season.

How did you fare in terms of making deals?
Sacca: I’m really happy with the deals I made. We’re already making money. A couple of them have raised more money and at higher valuations than what I paid for on the show. Overall, the quality of the companies this season is higher than ever before.

Describe each Shark in three words or less. Entrepreneur Robert Herjavec?
Sacca: He underestimated me.

Retail products invention queen Lori Greiner?
Sacca: She bites [in Shark terms].

Tycoon Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful”?
Sacca: Devastatingly honest.

Real estate mogul/motivational speaker Barbara Corcoran?
Sacca: I underestimated her.

Your buddy, clothing magnate Daymond John?
Sacca: Cool customer.

Pro basketball owner and tech titan Mark Cuban?
Sacca: It’s on!

What do you mean by that?
Sacca: We mixed it up more than once this season. The gloves came off. Finally, the show has another deep-pocketed tech guy to keep him honest. We were battling for deals. That’s all I’ll say.

“Shark Tank” airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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Netflix adds gender reassignment to staff benefits list

The streaming service is adding to the growing list of American companies that are adding trans benefits

Netflix has added gender reassignment surgery to its list of staff benefits. The streaming entertainment service is not the only one – other technology companies including Facebook and Tesla also offer the option, along with hormone therapy, in a bid to be as diverse as possible.

The announcement comes in the wake of a recent survey by the Human Rights Campaign that revealed that over 415 of the 780 business asked about LGBT friendliness now covered many related operations – more than double the number since 2012.

While the increase in LGBT benefits is a positive sign, this is also a good way to show you care about diversity without breaking the bank, according to researchers. James Baron, a professor who studies human resources at the Yale School of Management, told Bloomberg Business, “Committing to this form of equality allows a company to put another arrow in its quiver without terribly profound cost implications.” The reason? Very few people actually take advantage of the benefit.

A 2013 report by Jody Herman, a researcher gender law at University of California, Los Angeles, supports this. She found that just 1 employee in every 10,000-20,000 would take advantage of gender reassignment procedures each year. The average cost of the operation is £20,000.

The trend in companies promoting trans benefits comes after the White House recently employed their first ever transgender worker – Raffi Freedman-Gurspan – in the role of Recruitment Director in August.

Netflix in particular has been lauded for promoting gender diversity by promising “unlimited” parental leave in the first year after birth or an adoption.

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Sharp is selling the world’s first 8K TV next month for $133,000

If you think 4K still has a content problem, you’ll probably want to give Sharp’s latest display a miss. That also applies to anyone without ¥16 million ($133,000) to blow, because that’s how much you’ll need for what is technically the world’s first production 8K TV, the LV-85001. Technically, because although this 85-inch monitor does have a TV tuner inside, it won’t pick up any 8K content yet — though it may be used to help with broadcast tests next year.

Instead, Sharp is positioning the panel as a monitor for businesses that can make use of the ultra-high resolution. 8K is 7680 x 4320, which works out to 104 pixels per inch at the 85-inch size; actual 8K output requires the use of four HDMI 2.0 inputs. Sharp says the IGZO panel’s contrast ratio is 100,000:1 with viewing angles of 176 degrees. It’ll be available to business customers from October 31st, following a demonstration at the CEATEC trade show early next month.

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Can the new Apple TV crack the gaming market?

Apple’s new TV will have a dedicated App Store, that could help it break into gaming and entertainment.

IN APPLE’s flawless white testing room to the right of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium’s stage, star designer Sir Jony Ive is keeping a beady eye on the hundreds of journalists eagerly pawing his latest creation, the rose gold iPhone 6s.

Everyone is scuffling to take pictures as t-shirted assistants dutifully wipe the sticky fingerprints from its screen.

Across the hall, the Apple TV demo area is an altogether more civilised affair. It is dark, and the journalists are perched politely on white benches to watch the assistants demonstrate the fourth-generation Apple TV’s gaming capabilities.

It’s a neat metaphor for the event that preceded these two very different visions, which saw Apple launch new luxury Apple Watch faces and straps in collaboration with luxury brand Hermès, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPad mini, new Apple TV and two iPhones – the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus – in an uncharacteristically busy presentation.

Apple launched a range of new products including its next generation Apple TV in San Francisco

Apple TV was the product blessed with the most radical makeover, gaining an App Store, voice control integration and a new focus on gaming. It should have been the star of the show. And yet it was the iPhone the crowd flocked to first, to the extent that the stressed assistants only let 10 people into the gleaming room at a time.

Back in the TV space, Apple’s head of software engineering Craig Federighi strode around chatting into his iPhone, unharried.

Out of Apple’s ever-expanding product roster, Apple TV is likely to be the one most people have had the least contact with, by the very nature thatour phones and tablets have become the second and third screens that divert our full attention away from the television screen.

The argument is that we are moving ever further away from our living rooms. But Apple is hoping its new box’s multimedia properties will keep us glued to our sofas.

The monumental success of the iPhone, the business’s core product, is both a blessing and a curse – how can Apple make sure the golden goose keeps laying?

Analysts have raised questions about the iPad’s steadily declining sales (with the exception of a spike around Christmas time) – falling by 17pc year-on-year in the three months to June.

We’ve known for a long time that the tablet market is plateauing, and trying to draw sales parallels between the iPhone and the iPad is, for want of a better expression, like comparing apples and oranges. They’re different beasts with different purposes.

So can the new Apple TV crack the living-room centric gaming market? The new App Store is central to this plan of domination. It allows developers to create new apps for the platform and expand it beyond the narrow confines of passively watching content, to shopping, gaming and listening to music.

JP Morgan is predicting the new box will shift 24m units next year, adding 3.3pc to the company’s earnings per share. This bold estimate is driven by the belief that app store access to established, well-loved games will transform Apple TV into a real competitor to Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.

But it is Apple’s much-rumoured move into creating its own original TV content, likley to be revealed in the spring, which will cement Apple TV’s place in the market and our homes – not necessarily the box in its current form. But as chief executive Tim Cook eyes “the future of television”, I doubt he’s too worried about which side of Apple’s auditorium we run to first, so long as we keep on running.

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New Apple TV tries to snatch the control from Google, Roku, Amazon

Apple finally refreshes its streaming-media box, adds a dedicated App Store and revamps its remote control for gaming and shopping.

Apple unveiled an updated connected TV box for the first time in three years Wednesday, turning Apple TV into a contender against its more modern rivals.

The revamped Apple TV weaves in Apple’s voice-controlled digital assistant, allowing users to search through Netflix, Hulu and other services connected to the device. It comes with a new remote control that incorporates a trackpad.

Apple also took a page from its own iPhone playbook, introducing a new operating system that supports a world of apps. Called tvOS, the software allows Apple TV to now run new kinds of media, including games and fitness programs.

“Our vision for TV is simple,” Chief Executive Tim Cook said at an event in San Francisco, where the company also revealed its updated iPhones. “We believe the future of television is apps.”

The new Apple TV, which will be available in October, comes as the consumer electronics giant finds itself battling companies like Roku, Google (with its Chromecast television plug-in) and Amazon to attract buyers. Some of those products already include voice-activated features. Amazon’s Fire TV also has an optional game controller.

Apple was early to streaming media though it was careful to position Apple TV as a “hobby.” Still, the company has sold 25 million Apple TVs during the product’s lifetime. But Apple hasn’t upgraded the Apple TV to a new generation since March 2012, and sales have suffered even amid rising consumer demand for online media. Competitors have been quick to capitalize on that demand by updating their products with new features and content, according to analysts.

The new version of Apple TV is more expensive than earlier versions (it currently costs $69) and pricier than its competition. An Apple TV with 32 gigabytes of storage costs $149, and one with 64GB is $199. By comparison, Roku sells a $100 streaming-media box and a $50 streaming stick. Amazon’s Fire TV box sells for $99 and its Fire TV Stick cost $39. Google’s Chromecast, which plugs into the back of a television, is $35.

The new Apple TV will include an App Store and a new remote control that responds to touch. With it, viewers can slide through a thumbnail display of movies, for example, or fast-forward through a show.

The remote also features a button that summons Siri, Apple’s voice-command digital assistant. Siri will search across Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime and Apple’s own iTunes, but not direct competitor Amazon. Viewers can also use their voices to tell the Apple TV to jump ahead in a video, or find content by cast, director, age rating or date.

Apple on Wednesday showcased Apple TV running the Airbnb app for short-term rentals, Gilt for shopping and the game Crossy Road.

Apple TV will be sold in more than 180 countries by the end of the year.

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New Apple TV Goes All-In for Apps

Apple on Wednesday held a mammoth two-hour event to introduce a long-awaited new Apple TV set-top box, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Further, Apple announced new Apple Watch colors and bands, and a special collaboration with Hermes.

While the iPhone is clearly Apple’s most important product, it’s arguable that the Apple TV is its most important new addition.

Apple TV Gets an App Store, Remote and Siri

Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that TV “plays a huge role in our lives” but noted that the experience hasn’t changed much in decades.

“Today we are going to do something about that,” he promised, adding that Apple’s vision for TV is “simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”

Cook then pointed out that 60 percent of pay streaming TV already is consumed on Apple devices — consumed through apps.

To deliver on its TV-app vision, Apple needed to deliver a new foundation for TV through powerful hardware, a modern OS, a new user experience, developer tools, and an App Store. “We’ve been working really hard — andreally long,” he joked, “to bring all of these things together.”

The result is a new Apple TV set-top box with a shape that’s similar to the previous-generation Apple TV, but about 10 millimeters taller. It will be available in late October at US$149 for a 32-GB model or $199 for a 64-GB model. Interestingly, it does not have the latest A9 Apple processor — it uses a 64-bit A8 processor that can stream 60 frames per second at 1080p.

The key innovation is a layered Apple tvOS that you can navigate via a new Bluetooth remote — aka Siri Remote — that includes a touch-sensitive section along with tactile buttons. There’s a mike for using Siri to help you find videos, apps, and content from apps. You can even direct Siri to help out during playback.

For example, one feature lets you ask Siri what a character in a TV show said by asking something like, “What did she just say?” Siri will respond by rewinding the video 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions.

Apple also added a new Apple Music app, which closely aligns with the new Apple Music experience with iTunes and iTunes Radio.

As for other kinds of content, namely live sports and games, the new Apple TV is enabling those living room experiences, too. With a new MLB.com At Bat app for Apple TV, customers can stream live games, view live data synced to the game broadcast, watch two games at the same time in split-screen mode, and easily navigate all of it through a combination of the new Apple TV remote and the app. NHL GameCenter Live will come next year.

What about games? Apple showed off a new Crossy Road multiplayer game, but it did not delve deeply into console-quality games. The company did not mention any specific new controllers, but the new Apple remote can be used as a controller for games.

In one video clip, you could see the Siri Remote turned sideways to let someone play Asphalt 8, which is a racing game. (Incidentally, the Amazon Fire TV also can use the Amazon remote in a sideways orientation to play racing games.) The new Apple Siri Remote includes a built-in gyroscope, and it recharges via an Apple Lightning connector.

The New iPad Pro – With Keyboard and Pencil

Ever since Apple announced its enterprise app collaboration with IBM, rumors have persisted that it would come out with a larger iPad designed for work purposes, if not an outright laptop replacement. The Apple answer is a 12.9-inch iPad Pro that boasts 5.6 million pixels at 2732 x 2048 pixels, which is more pixels than are packed into the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

“Watching movies on it is incredible,” gushed Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller. “It’s an amazing experience.”

Phil Schiller iPad family

The iPad Pro is 1.8x faster than the iPad Air 2. “This is desktop-class performance,” said Schiller. “Our chip team is just on fire.”

The iPad Pro uses the new Apple A9X chip, which has twice as much memory bandwidth as the previous generation A8X chip, as well as storage performance that’s twice as fast.

The iPad Pro is “faster than 80 percent of portable PCs shipped in the last 12 months,” Schiller bragged, and when it comes to graphics tasks, it’s faster than 90 percent of portable PCs shipped in the same time period.

With iMovie, the iPad Pro is capable of editing three streams of 4K video simultaneously, he also said.

For the first time in an iPad, the iPad Pro now includes four-speaker audio, which automatically senses orientation and adjusts how the iPad pumps out sound.

Interestingly, the iPad Pro has taken a page from the Microsoft Surface playbook. The new Apple tablet keyboard is now the Smart Keyboard, and it’s an accessory for the iPad Pro. The keyboard is built into a cover that folds around to become a stand where the integrated keyboard connects to a new magnetic port on the side of the iPad Pro. (The keyboard uses the Apple dome switch that first appeared in the new MacBooks.)

Because enterprise apps might need new levels of precision, Apple also introduced a new stylus, called the “Apple Pencil.” It uses orientation and senses force to create a variety of lines and styles of interaction, all the while communicating with the iPad Pro with the capability to select just a single tiny pixel.

iPad Pro Apple Pencil

With 5.6 million pixels on the iPad Pro, it’s unclear how this precision might work with most humans, but Apple says you can do it.

To recharge the Apple Pencil, there is a built-in Lightning connector, chargeable through the iPad Pro’s Lightning port.

The new iPad Pro comes in three models: 32 GB with WiFi for $799, 64 GB with WiFi for $949, and 128 GB with WiFi + Cellular for $1,079. The Smart Keyboard is $169, and the Apple Pencil is $99. All of it will ship in November.

With the iPad Pro, the iPad mini 2 now slides down to become Apple’s entry-level tablet, starting at $269. Apple briefly mentioned a new iPad mini 4, which sports the processing power of the iPad Air 2 crammed into the iPad mini 4 form factor. It starts at $399. Apple will continue selling the iPad Air ($399+) as well as the iPad Air 2 ($499+).

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Get Force Touch

The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus share the same basic form factor as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple introduced a new Rose Gold color, as well as new, stronger glass, but the inside is where everything has been completely redesigned — primarily to support the new “3D Touch” interface formerly known as “Force Touch.”

Phil Schiller iPhone 6S introduction

New user interface gestures supported by the new touch-sensitive screens include Peek and Pop, which are functions built into iOS 9 that also are available to developers. How do Peek and Pop work? If you see an element you want to learn more about — say a time in a text message — you can touch and hold the time, which will introduce a layer over the Messages app that lets you “peek” at your calendar. Press harder and you’ll “pop” into the Calendar app.

In addition, 3D Touch allows for contextual menu commands throughout iOS 9 and within apps. For example, if you press and hold an app on the home screen, you could see a popup window that will let you launch into some specific portion of the app.

There are lots of other little improvements, too. For instance, Touch ID is twice as fast at recognizing prints. The motion coprocessor is built into the A9X chip and is always on. There is also a new Taptic Engine — like the one in the Apple Watch — that can provide haptic vibration feedback through iOS and apps that use it.

Perhaps most important to consumers will be the leap in camera tech. The new iPhone 6s series gets a 12-megapixel iSight camera (up from 8 megapixels). Plus, the iPhone 6s will shoot 4K video. The FaceTime selfie camera is 5 megapixels and uses a neat new trick of lighting up the whole iPhone screen as a high-intensity flash for low-light selfies.

Live Photos?

The coolest enhancement of the day may be the introduction of Live Photos. Basically, whenever you take a photo with the new iPhone, you’ll record a 1.5 second video clip on either side of the shutter press. The photo acts like a single photo until you touch and hold it, which makes it briefly come alive in the tiny video-like clip.

In addition — and this looked amazing during the Apple event — when you’re flipping through your photo library, your photos will shimmer alive with brief action as you navigate through them.

For people who love iPhone photos, this could be the key feature that will encourage early upgrades.

As it turns out, Apple almost offhandedly mentioned another thing that will help spark faster upgrades — a new iPhone Upgrade Program that’s available through Apple Retail Stores, starting in the U.S.

Consumers can get a new unlocked iPhone each year, choose their own carriers, and get AppleCare+, all for a monthly fee that starts at $32, which is on par with the monthly charges that cellular service companies now levy for 24-month payment plans. This new plan, it turns out, is a pretty impressive move to help Apple control its most important customer engagements and keep them addicted to new iPhone tech.

Preorders begin on Sept. 12 with availability beginning Sept. 25. Existing iOS users can upgrade to iOS 9 on Sept. 16.

What About the Apple Watch?

Apple kicked off the event talking about the Apple Watch, but the updates — though important overall — were relatively small. Apple watchOS 2 will arrive as an update on Sept. 16, bringing third-party complications to Apple Watch faces. Developers will be able to offer apps that run natively on Apple Watch.

Apple also introduced new Gold and Rose Gold colors and a wide variety of new band colors and combinations, which Apple referred to as its “fall collection,” borrowing from the fashion industry. More importantly, Apple introduced a new collaboration with Hermès, introducing the Apple Watch Hermès Collection.

Apple Watch Hermes Collection

The new collection offers Apple Watch owners some cool — but spendy — leather bands and watch faces that deliver Hermès style. It will be available starting Oct. 5.

One last element of note: Apple made its iCloud storage tiers slightly more appealing. Users can get 50 GB for $0.99/month, 200 GB for $2.99/month, or 1 TB for $9.99/month.

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Hands-on: Philips’ AmbiLux is TV plus fireworks

Philips has created a most mesmeric televisual experience; the company debuted a new television set, the Philips AmbiLux, at IFA in Berlin, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Philips has been playing with surrounding its TVs with ambient light (AmbiLight… get it?) to complement on-screen colours for several years now, but the AmbiLux takes it to a whole new level. This television set has nine pico-projectors on its rear that cast ambient light in just the right colour shades, and extends the image onto the wall.

The 4K Ultra HD image itself is sharp and pops with colour, and thanks to the strength of projector bulbs and the thin bezel, the illusion is mostly uninterrupted.

WIRED spent some time sitting in front of the television in a dark room, watching colours and scenes extend and flicker over the walls, and can confirm that it is extremely impressive — a little bit like watching fireworks in your lounge. The aim is to add an immersive element to watching TV, which it does indeed achieve.

With screens in every direction we look, we are used to focusing these days solely on what is inside the box, but when it comes to entertainment, Philips has shown that is doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be that way. A gaming demo we observed saw the reverberations of exploding asteroids ripple off the screen and across the wall. It creates more space within whatever world you are looking into and swaps the blunt edges of that world for a more subtle, more ambiguous slow fade.


We’re used to seeing TVs shown off at technology shows that are far away from heading to market — not so with this 65-inch set, which will go on sale within the next few months for an as-yet unknown sum. On board you will find everything that you might want from a high-end telly, including Android TV and the piercing pixel density of 4K.

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Netflix takes gamble with Epix film cull

Thousands of movies will be removed from Netflix after the streaming service decided not to renew a deal with distributor Epix.

Removed titles will include the Hunger Games and Transformers movies.

Netflix, which has more than 60 million subscribers worldwide, said it wanted to focus on exclusive content.

Rival service Hulu will take on the Epix catalogue. “Our subscribers have been asking us for more, and more recent, big movies,” Hulu said.

“We listened. Through this new deal with Epix, we are proud to now be able to offer a huge selection of the biggest blockbusters and premium films.”

Netflix’s deal with Epix – which was worth a reported $1bn – runs up until the end of September 2015, at which point the films will disappear from the service.

Explaining the move to subscribers, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos wrote: “While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods.”

He then went on to list a variety of exclusive shows coming up on the service, including new work from Ricky Gervais, Idris Elba and Adam Sandler.

He also praised an upcoming Netflix-made documentary about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

‘Data decision’

As competition between video on demand (VOD) services intensifies, Netflix’s decision may appear to be an unlikely move.

However, Forrester analyst Jim Nail said he believed the company was making a calculated gamble.

Ricky Gervais
Image captionNetflix is banking on original content, from the likes of Ricky Gervais, will set it apart

“Netflix is a very smart data company,” he told the BBC.

“They didn’t make this decision without looking at how many people are viewing these titles.”

He said Netflix was positioning itself to be considered a luxury service with high-quality offers rather than an enormous library.

“They’re not trying please everyone. They’re pleasing people who want premium content. That’s not all of America.”

Globally, Netflix faces similar battles. In the UK, its film library is hindered thanks to existing deals between movie distributors and Sky, which has its own on-demand offering, Now TV.

Exclusive battle

As well as signing content deals, VOD services are investing heavily in creating original content. The platform is seen by some in the industry as a welcome alternative to the commissioning processes and priorities of established cable networks and film studios.

The approach is reaping dividends. At this year’s Emmy awards, Netflix enjoyed 34 nominations, while Amazon – it too a major VOD player – earned 12.

Yahoo, a minor player at this stage, earned one nomination for Community – a comedy that had been cancelled by US network NBC.

The breadth and success of VOD programming means Netflix’s decision is a reflection that no single firm will be able to dominate the market, said Mr Nail.

“Netflix is thinking about what they want their role in the viewers’ video consumption to be, as opposed to thinking they can monopolise all video consumption.

“I think they’re taking a bet here – but they’ve made those calculated bets in the past.”

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Apple TV May Finally Grab the Spotlight

Apple is finally getting serious about its TV set-top box, if leaked information is correct. The next Apple TV, likely to be unveiled on Sept. 9 in San Francisco, is expected to be a lot pricier. With considerably beefed-up specs and support for Siri and app development, it could be the start of something big. Once a mediocre Roku rival, Apple TV could become the center of the smart Apple home.

The next version of the Apple TV set-top box could be ready for prime time in October, priced at either US$149 or $199, based on rumors circulating Monday as the company gears up for its Sept. 9 event in San Francisco. The current version goes for $99.

With the higher price could come a seriously upgraded device: The new — and apparently quite improved — Apple TV reportedly will feature an A8 processor, flash storage support upwards of 32 GB, and 1 GB of RAM.

It will include support for Siri, a new touchscreen remote control, a new and more intuitive interface, and support for an app store — something that has been missing in past versions, according to the latest buzz.

It’s likely the next Apple TV also will serve as a hub for a long-rumored pay-TV service that will bundle multiple TV channels and could become available to subscribers for $40 per month.

App-Enabled Platform

The lack of app support for the current-generation Apple TV has been a major shortcoming for the platform. The set top box is little different from competing streaming media devices, albeit with support to stream music and video content from iTunes.

A new app-centric device that could deliver a greater range of third-party content could be a major game-changer for Apple TV.

“The home streaming box remains wide open,” said Joel Espelien, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group.

“Apple is as well positioned as ever to try to take the Apple TV product from an iPod-like limited peripheral to an iPad-like app platform for the living room TV,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Third-party apps are Apple’s biggest long-term advantage against things like Comcast X1.”

Beyond the Hobby

Apple has not pushed its set-top box with the same marketing fervor that has propelled its other devices to the top, but that could change.

“They been careful about how they’ve positioned the product,” said Dan Cyran, director of digital media at IHS.

“It has been perpetually a hobby of sorts for Apple — even if, for a hobby, it has been doing well,” he told TechNewsWorld.

It has helped drive iTunes movie and TV show behavior, but fundamentally, “it has been little more than a peripheral to get content on the TV set,” Cryan pointed out.

“That’s an interesting position to be in, but not what you’d call a marquee device today,” he added. “The rumors suggest that Apple is migrating from a peripheral to a fully fledged product, one that is part of the strategy for Apple to move further into the home.”

The Pay-TV Connection

A building trend could be influencing that strategy.

“Cord-cutting looks like it is accelerating,” said Erik Brannon, senior analyst for U.S. television at IHS.

“Like other OTT pay services, Apple has an opportunity to pick up subscribers as they flee pay-TV,” he told TechNewsworld.

However, Apple TV could be adding much more than a content-streaming alternative.

“There are a lot of ifs, but with this comes a lot of potential,” said IHS’ Cryan.

“Apple TV could be used to play video games or connect to the Apple HomeKit and more. An app platform makes it easy for Apple to think globally as well — but the change will require that it migrate from a closed device to a more open one.”

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Five ways Microsoft just made the Xbox One a lot more attractive

Microsoft confirms its console will play older Xbox 360 games and get a fresher user interface in November. Next up: TV recording capabilities in 2016.

Microsoft piled on the reasons Tuesday for gamers sitting on the fence to finally pick up an Xbox One gaming console.

The company is in a dogfight with Sony and its PlayStation 4console for dominance in the video game world. With the PlayStation 4 taking an early lead in console sales, Microsoft has had to go the extra mile to win over fans — many of whom have clung to their older Xbox 360 systems. Its push comes as the video game industry grapples with a shift in how people play games — with many of them opting to forgo consoles altogether in favor of more casual smartphone games.

So Microsoft had to state its case during its presentation Tuesday at the Gamescom video game conference in Germany, which was made available via webcast.

Xbox One gets DVR. The world’s largest software maker said digital video-recording capabilities will come to the Xbox One next year, allowing gamers to record television that feeds through the console with the use of their over-the-air digital tuners and an external hard drive.

Straight from the OneGuide, the services’ digital television guide, viewers can record a show in the background and access their recordings from their Xbox. Recordings will also start automatically if their console is set to the instant-on mode.

The Xbox App on Windows 10 will allow viewers to schedule recordings on the go, stream their recordings to their device and download their shows for offline viewing.

Backward compatibility. At the E3 video game conference earlier this year, Microsoft announced that Xbox 360 games would run on Xbox One. Today, it confirmed the feature will appear in November.

All future Xbox 360 games in the “Games with Gold” campaign, which gives Xbox Gold subscribers free games, will be backward-compatible.

The company reiterated that it would launch with 100 titles in the program, with more to come down the line.

A fresh coat of paint. The Xbox One will see a user interface upgrade that’s powered by Windows 10. The interface isn’t new, but the company confirmed the upgrade will take place in November.

The addition of Windows 10 means Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated virtual assistant, will also work with the Xbox One, but you need Kinect to be able to ask questions.

A new way to chat. Microsoft also announced a Chatpad for the Xbox One. Similar to the Xbox 360 version, it includes a full keyboard and a connection for your headset. It plugs into the bottom of the Xbox One controller.

Unlike its predecessor, it has two programmable buttons at the bottom. They can be used for quick access to screenshots, gameplay recording and other features.

Software galore. Microsoft discussed three exclusives coming in 2016, including Quantum Break, a game with an in-game TV show, set to launch on April 5, and Crackdown 3.

Halo 5: Guardians showed off some multiplayer footage from prereleased software. Putting the game through its paces were two e-sports teams, Epsilon Esports and Optic Gaming, playing on the newly announced Coliseum map.

This comes after the news that split-screen multiplayer, a staple of the Halo games series, won’t be back in Halo 5. Also in the Halo universe, Halo Wars 2, a follow-up to the 2009 real-time strategy game, is coming next year.

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