If you’re running out of options to to keep yourself entertained during self-isolation, fret not — Apple is giving users free access to more content.
Customers in over 100 countries and regions can now watch free Apple Originals from Apple TV+ on the Apple TV app for a limited time. Simply head to apple.co/FreeForEveryone to stream the following series and movies for free:
The Elephant Queen
Embark on an epic journey of family, courage and coming home in “The Elephant Queen.” This genre-crossing wildlife documentary narrated by Chiwetel Eljiofor earned the Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award and is the recipient of two prestigious Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nominations, including Best Narration and Best Science / Nature Documentary. The uniquely crafted, character-driven narrative follows Athena, a majestic elephant matriarch, who leads her family across an unforgiving, yet cinematic natural landscape made up of grasslands and woodlands, dotted with seasonal waterholes.
For All Mankind
“For All Mankind” presents an aspirational world where NASA astronauts, engineers and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the moon.
From Lee Eisenberg and executive producers Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon and Alan Yang, “Little America” is an anthology series featuring funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising true stories of immigrants in America, when they’re more relevant now than ever.
A twist-filled, psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan that follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
This acclaimed comedy series, starring Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld and created by Alena Smith, audaciously explores the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of rebellious young poet Emily Dickinson. Wiz Khalifa guest stars in the GLAAD Award-nominated comedy.
A new live-action pre-school series from the makers of “Sesame Street” that has been recognized with several accolades that mark the program’s integrity and quality, including Parents’ Choice Awards and Common Sense Media Awards. Join Cody and the Helpsters – a team of vibrant monsters who love to solve problems. Whether it’s planning a party, climbing a mountain or mastering a magic trick, the Helpsters can figure anything out — because everything starts with a plan.
A re-imagining of Sesame Workshops’ 1992 series. Each episode story arc is grouped around literature, featuring classics and new works commissioned from popular authors like D.J. MacHale and Kwame Alexander. Since its premiere, “Ghostwriter” has earned several Parents’ Choice Awards and Common Sense Media Awards.
Snoopy In Space
Blast off with Snoopy in a series of 12 animated shorts featuring Charlie Brown and the beloved Peanuts gang. Snoopy fulfills his dreams and embarks on his next big adventure: becoming a NASA astronaut. Joined by Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang, Snoopy takes command of the International Space Station and explores the moon and beyond. “Snoopy in Space” is a DGA and ANNIE Award-nominated series, and has earned several Parents’ Choice Awards and Common Sense Media Awards.
The Apple TV app is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, and Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices. You can see the full list of other supported devices here. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free.
TikTok, Reels clone YouTube Shorts launches in the US
Everyone wants a piece of the pie
YouTube unveiled its short-video-making tool called Shorts last year, but it was in beta and limited to India. Shorts is now available to all creators in the US after testing them with select creators.
The initial release was quite hasty as it was supposed to bridge the vacuum left by TikTok’s ban in India. However, Instagram was much faster and well prepared to take on the challenge, dominating the turf over many local apps like Chingari, Roposo, and MX TakaTak.
YouTube is also adding a dedicated space in the bottom tab by replacing the explore button. In India, YouTube Shorts has a dedicated space on the top bar of the app. YouTube also displays Shorts in the home feed of the app after around 2-3 videos.
The goal is to incorporate a short video format in the existing app. While watching a “short”, users can tap on the music option to hear the full song via YouTube. Soon, the feature also will work the other way: From a YouTube music video, you will be able to click a “create” button right from the video to make your own Short.
Shorts will expand
The video platform’s music team has signed licensing agreements to use snippets of millions of songs from over 250 labels and publishers. It plans to expand Shorts to more markets later this year but it hasn’t specified which ones.
Ahead of the US launch, a bunch of new features has been added as well. There’s now an option to record 60-second clips in addition to the 15-second option. But users will not be able to add music from the YouTube library to 60-second Shorts. There are also new filters and effects in the YouTube Shorts camera.
In its most recent earnings report, YouTube confirmed that Shorts were generating 6.5 billion daily views, a substantial uptick over the 3.5 billion daily views that the feature was generating in late January.
After years of settling, Twitter is finally waking up to new features
There’s so many of them in 2021
Twitter has been around for a long time, and it has changed a lot since its debut. The micro-blogging platform was infamous for its 140 character limit, an intentional limitation that ensured everything on the site is short, crisp, and to the point. It’s no surprise that Twitter became the go-to website for news, independent alerts, and much more within no time.
Although, if you’ve been a Twitter user for a decade, you’ll know that the platform hasn’t changed much in all these years. Twitter did increase the length limit to 280 characters in 2017, but it had little change in the overall behavior of users. Twitter was always an easy-to-use “blog,” and it was happy being in its little inconquerable bubble.
Things are changing fast this year as Twitter aggressively adds new features and intends to open a subscription model soon. Obviously, there won’t be any change in the way we tweet or interact, but the number of features we have will surely increase. The platform is still silent about the most asked feature — the edit button on tweets. But rest assured, the classic Twitter experience isn’t going away anytime soon.
In fact, it’s going to get a lot more interesting as the platform now supports Spaces, a feature that allows users to join virtual rooms where they can engage in real-time audio conversations with others. Instead of typing, why not just talk candidly to all your followers?
Twitter began working on the audio-chat feature in November 2020, and it was available for beta and alpha users a few months ago. It’s now ready for public use, and any user with more than 600 followers can create a room and start talking. Audio-only features are the trend, and every company, including Facebook and Spotify, is doubling down on it.
Twitter has also confirmed that it is working on an upcoming feature called “Ticket Spaces.” This feature will allow users to create Spaces that require others to purchase a ticket to join. The platform has never been so keen on monetization, but the shift in strategy is clearly visible. Hosts will earn the majority of revenue from ticket sales, while Twitter will pocket a small fee.
In January 2021, Twitter discreetly acquired Revue, a Dutch startup that allows users to publish and monetize email newsletters. Just like SubStack, Revue lets you create your own newsletter and monetize it. However, what’s special here is, the newsletter is now integrated within Twitter. So, it makes it easier to persuade your existing followers to subscribe, helping you directly monetize your reach on Twitter.
The feature is already available on Twitter’s web app. Many say that a newsletter doesn’t work in Twitter’s favor, but the company tends to disagree.
“Many established writers and publishers have built their brand on Twitter, amassing an audience that’s hungry for the next article or perspective they Tweet. Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers while also helping readers better discover writers and their content. We’re imagining many ways to do this, from allowing people to sign up for newsletters from their favorite follows on Twitter to new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. It will all work seamlessly,” said Kayvon, Product Lead at Twitter.
New functionality isn’t the only thing that’s keeping the engineers busy. The platform has always attracted controversy due to moderation, troll attacks, and indecent behavior. Thousands of accounts are removed every week to ensure community guidelines are followed to maintain a safe space for everyone.
In 2020, the company began testing a new safety mechanism that prompts users to reconsider before they reply to a tweet using “harmful” language.
If a user types out a reply with any of the language that the company has deemed harmful, they’ll see a warning message asking, “Want to review this before tweeting? We’re asking people to review replies with potentially harmful or offensive language.”
While this may not seem like much, previous reports have shown that these minor design-based hurdles help curb negativity. Based on trials, Twitter said that 34 percent of people revised their initial reply after seeing the prompt or chose not to send the reply at all.
Lastly, Twitter has changed the way its algorithm crops a picture to show it on the timeline. Now, when users tweet a photo uploaded with their iOS or Android device, it will appear in the timeline in its entirety. There’ll be no cropping, so you won’t be forced to open the picture and see all the details.
Earlier, the algorithm would determine the most sensible part of the picture, crop it, and show a preview on the feed. This prompted many to share memes that could be completely seen only when the picture is opened. Else, it could look context-free and random. While most users are cheering the minor change, many feel that the surprise element behind seeing a photo is now gone. Fair to say, it’s going to be impossible to please everyone!
Though, we’d really appreciate it if Twitter could give us an edit button as well.
Read Also: Twitter acquires ad-removing news app Scroll
Apple Music could soon support HiFi audio streaming
Launch alongside the AirPods 3?
Apple is primarily a hardware company, and a majority of its revenue comes from iPhones. However, it has actively diversified and monetized services like Apple Music. Taking a step forward, the company could soon unveil HiFi music playback on the streaming service, directly going up against niche players like Tidal.
According to Hits Daily Double, Apple Music will soon get a new tier that’ll provide higher-quality output. Interestingly, it’ll be available for just US$ 9.99, far affordable than the competition. However, this is still a rumor and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Many other streaming companies offer HiFi music streaming, and recently, Spotify also announced its plans to provide better streaming quality. It’s not clear which markets will be among the first to get HiFi playback.
Apple Music streaming quality currently tops out at 256kbps AAC, and while that’s very crisp and clear, it’s still compressed. On the other hand, a studio-quality CD has an audio output equivalent of 9,216kbps. The difference in quality isn’t easily differentiable via an ordinary earphone and headphone, though. Audiophiles use high-end equipment that isn’t required if you’re just an average Joe wanting to listen to Taylor Swift.
The source also speculates that Apple will unveil the AirPods 3 alongside the HiFi announcement. Although, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had gauged a launch in Q3 of 2021.
It’s also worth noting that Apple Music getting Hi-Res audio playback is practically useless because the iPhone doesn’t have a DAC (digital to analog converter), which plays a critical role in sending accurate signals to the audio device.
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