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Microsoft Anchors Minecraft Strategy to Education
July 5, 2015
Microsoft wants to find ways to assist the pioneering teachers who have taught pupils through the sandbox construction game Minecraft. The company earlier this week launched its Minecraft in Education initiative to turn the pioneers into pillars. There was puzzlement over Microsoft's end game last September, when it purchased Mojang, the studio behind the multiplatform hit.
Reviewers Sing Apple Music's Praises
July 1, 2015
Apple rolled out its new subscription music streaming service Tuesday, and it has been getting mostly raves from reviewers. "Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods," wrote Walt Mossberg for Re/code.
Oculus Rift: This Is My Final Form
June 26, 2015
No more screendoor-effect issues or motion-induced sickness. On-board power, outside power requirements under control. With each prior iteration of its Rift headset, Oculus VR assured gamers that they hadn't yet seen the its final form. Finally, in the run-up to this year's E3 and at the show, came the invitation for everyone to "step into the Rift" and behold what the VR headset has become.
Devialet Wants You to Experience an Emotional Sound Implosion
June 24, 2015
Capable of pushing out sound levels that approach the edge of the infrasound spectrum, Devialet's Phantom speaker system finally reached the U.S. market last week. Two versions of the speakers will be available: the 740 watt, 99 db base model, the Phantom, will sell for $1,990; the 3,000 watt, 105 dB Phantom Silver will sell for $2,390. Devialet will begin fulfilling U.S. preorders this September.
Sony Meets Microsoft in Game Console Muscle Match
June 23, 2015
Beefed up and slimmed down, the new 1TB PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player Edition is scheduled to arrive in Japan before this month concludes and then launch in the UK in the middle of July, Sony announced on Sunday. The revised console, bearing twice the storage capacity of its predecessor, will arrive in the U.S. somewhere inside of the two weeks that follow its July 15 launch in the UK.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
3 Things That Will Change Electronic Entertainment Forever
June 22, 2015
E3 -- perhaps the biggest and most important gaming conference in the world -- took place last week. Sony and Microsoft came ready to do battle, Nintendo showed up, and we were up to our armpits in little companies doing amazing things with virtual reality. However, companies that weren't at the event likely have more to say about the future of gaming than those that had a big presence there.
Nintendo's E3 Direct Gives It to Fans Straight
June 17, 2015
Nintendo allayed the fears of some gamers in Tuesday's E3 Direct presentation, assuring them that long-term projects have not been scrapped. Many fans and analysts had been expecting the company to close the pipeline of games designed for its current hardware as it gears up for a new console. However, the main focus of E3 Direct was the near term -- that is, the second half of this year.
Bethesda Dazzles in E3 Debut
June 16, 2015
With a sackful of news about additions to its library and an expansion of its lore, Bethesda Softworks held its first-ever showcase on Sunday, as the Electronic Entertainment Expo gathered heat for its official kickoff on Tuesday. Jolly staffers dished news and trailers for the next entries in some Bethesda's most successful franchises, as well as a pair of spinoffs.
Battleborn Ventures Beyond the Borderlands
June 15, 2015
Gearbox Software on Friday demoed Battleborn at a pre-E3 event, stirring interest in the title, along with many comparisons to its Borderlands predecessor and other games. Gearbox previously had released details about the game and shared a new trailer. Battleborn features 25 playable characters. Online, the game pits players in five-on-five fights in three game modes.
E3 2015: Evolution or Stagnation?
June 15, 2015
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo officially kicks off in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the festivities already have begun with a number of press events leading up to the opening. The trade show for the video game industry regularly draws in game developers, retailers and journalists from around the world, and it provides gamers with a preview of upcoming titles.
Spotify Ain't Afraid of No Apple
June 11, 2015
Spotify has raised $526 million in its latest round of funding, according to reports that surfaced Wednesday. That's more than half the $1 billion Spotify raised in funding over the past nine years, said Susan Schreiner, analyst at C4 trends. Given that Apple just announced its new music-streaming service, why would companies pump all this money into Spotify?
Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.
Amazon Seeks Talent for Ambitious PC Game
June 8, 2015
Amazon on Monday announced a casting call through a sponsored article in a gaming publication. The company is looking for talent to join Amazon Game Studios to help develop "an ambitious PC game project." Amazon Game Studios initially was viewed as a way to fuel Amazon's Fire lines of mobile devices, but it now appears the company is trying its hand at developing AAA video games.
It's Streaming Time for Showtime
June 8, 2015
CBS-owned pay-TV service Showtime on Monday announced that it will make its standalone streaming service available on Roku players and Roku TV models, as well as via Sony's PlayStation Vue, for US$10.99 per month. The service will be accessible through those channels in July -- coinciding with the season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, which are slated to air on July 12.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
Fallout 4 Trailer Lets Waiting Fans Exhale
June 3, 2015
The last second has since ticked off the countdown timer on the teaser site, and Fallout 4's official website has gone live. Fallout 4's confirmation on Wednesday may have invoked more feelings of relief than surprise. Even before the teaser site went up, gamers looking for another loot-and-shoot role-playing game have been demanding a followup to 2010's Fallout: New Vegas.
Doppler Labs Kickstarts 'Bionic Ear'
June 3, 2015
Doppler Labs on Tuesday launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Here Active Listening system, which takes noise-canceling technology to a new level. Unlike typical noise-canceling headphones, Here's Bluetooth earbuds allow a listener to customize ambient sound, not just block it out. Paired with a smartphone app, Here can be used to control volume, mix sounds and even add effects.
Customer Satisfaction With Pay-TV, ISPs Hits New Low
June 2, 2015
"Customer first" is the motto businesses live by -- or should -- but that doesn't seem to resonate with companies providing pay-TV or Internet-access services, based on ACSI data gathered in Q1 of 2015. Customer satisfaction with information services fell to 68.8 percent, the lowest level in seven years. Subscription-TV services and ISPs are at the bottom of the 43 industries covered by the index.
Nintendo Scotches Android Console Rumor
June 2, 2015
Nintendo not only has embraced the idea of releasing its iconic intellectual properties for mobile devices, but also is planning to base its next videogame console on a version of the Android operating system, according to a Japanese-language business publication. The publication claimed an inside source revealed that Nintendo's next console, code named "NX," will run on Android.
Google's Cardboard May Help Build Strong VR Foundation
June 1, 2015
It's a whimsical approach to virtual reality, but Google's Cardboard VR platform breaks down the barriers of entry and allows consumers to bring their own devices to the movement. "I think [Cardboard] will help with the general popularity of VR," said Marxent CEO Beck Besecker, "but I think the folks that are really going to gravitate to VR are going to want a high-quality experience."
Netflix Stars in the Internet's Big Motion Picture Show
May 29, 2015
Streaming video accounts for more than half of all of fixed network Internet traffic, according to the newly released "Global Internet Phenomena" report from Sandvine, which based its findings on data from 250-plus communication service providers, or CSPs. Web browsing and social networking accounted for far less peak traffic -- with browsing accounting for just 6 percent of Internet traffic.
Charter, TWC Approval May Not Be Enough to Revitalize Cable
May 28, 2015
Will the Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable merger be approved? Comcast and Time Warner Cable decided to merge last year, but that deal eventually was blocked by regulators. After it fell apart last month, we all wondered what big deal might be next. Now we know. So will the Charter, TWC deal be approved? It's way too early in the process to know for sure one way or the other.
Splatoon: Nintendo Seeks Bloodless Coup in Online Shooter Genre
May 27, 2015
With its bloodless battles of attrition between squads of human-squid chimeras, twitch-shooter Splatoon oozes classic Nintendo charm that has enamored many early reviewers. It takes a crack at the competitive shooter genre, but instead of the visceral shock of bullet wounds, blood, and the wails of the wounded, Splatoon supplies brightly colored ink to wield in chaotic matches.

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