Amazon adds podcasts to its music subscription service – CNET


Amazon Music subscribers can now listen to podcasts without leaving the app.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Starting today, Amazon Music subscribers across all tiers will be able to listen to podcasts from within the Amazon Music app, the company announced Wednesday. In addition to established favorites, Amazon will offer original productions and has signed an exclusivity deal with the popular Disgraceland podcast, which covers true crime stories centered around famous musicians. 

The service will allow syncing across multiple devices including on the web, on phones and tablets with the Amazon Music app, as well as the company's line of Alexa-powered smart speakers and displays, without the need to log into a separate service, like Apple Podcasts.

The move comes as competition in the podcast space continues to heat up, with Spotify and Stitcher, as well as Apple and Google, currently dominating the field

See also: Best music streaming service for 2020

There are several tiers of Amazon Music, including a free version with ads. Prime Music is included in the company's $119 a year membership program and gets rid of ads. The company also offers Amazon Music Unlimited, which features an expanded catalog for an extra $8 a month for Prime members or for $10 a month as a standalone subscription.

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Apple to discontinue Sign In with Apple for Epic Games accounts – CNET


Apple users will no longer be able to use "Sign in with Apple" when logging into their Epic Games accounts, starting Sept. 11.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In a further escalation in the feud between Apple and Epic Games, Apple will no longer allow Epic Games users to use its Sign In with Apple system starting Sept. 11, according to a tweet from the official Epic Games Twitter account. 

Sign In with Apple is the company's authentication tool, built to rival similar options from Google and Facebook, but with added privacy controls. Current iPhone, iPad and Mac users who are signed into their Epic Games accounts with it will have to update their email and passwords or risk being locked out of their Epic accounts on Apple devices.

The feud between the two companies started back in August, when Epic attempted to bypass the 30% commission Apple and Google charge on payments collected through their app stores. Apple and Google responded by booting Epic's popular Fortnite game off their platforms, and Epic hit back with lawsuits. The suits aren't seeking damages, but ask that the court prohibit Apple and Google from what Epic considers monopolistic practices.

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Apple reportedly developing augmented reality content for Apple TV Plus – CNET

Tim Cook Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus could be adding augmented reality elements to some shows.


Apple is developing augmented reality (AR) content to accompany its Apple TV Plus offerings, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The move is apparently intended to stoke interest in AR technology, as well as drawing more subscribers to the streaming service. 

The AR feature, which was revealed to Bloomberg by anonymous sources, would display elements of a TV show in the room where the viewer is watching it -- like a lunar rover traversing the coffee table during For All Mankind, Apple's alternate-history series about the space race of the 1960s.

This comes on the heels of a report that Apple is working on a bundled subscription service, which could charge a single monthly price for multiple services like Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and the Apple Arcade gaming platform. Seemingly dubbed "Apple One," the bundled service could debut as early as October.

Apple, which launched its Apple TV Plus last fall, promoted the new service by giving away a free year with the purchase of a new or refurbished Apple device. Those free trials will start expiring Nov. 1.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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BlackBerry phones to return in 2021, with 5G and physical keyboard – CNET


TCL's BlackBerry Key2 was released in 2018, but despite a rumored update, the Key3 never materialized.

Josh Miller/CNET

BlackBerry is back, again. Sort of. The smartphone brand once synonymous with corporate success and government-level security will return thanks to security startup OnwardMobility and FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Chinese device manufacturing giant Foxconn. OnwardMobility plans to launch a new 5G BlackBerry Android phone in the first half of 2021, the company said in a press release Wednesday. 

This isn't the first time the iconic brand has licensed its dotted logo to another smartphone maker. After parent company Research in Motion discontinued the BlackBerry line in 2016, Chinese manufacturer TCL picked up the license and started making BlackBerry phones in 2017. That contract runs out at the end of this month, and TCL says it's decided to let go of the BlackBerry brand beyond that point, having launched TCL-branded phones to moderate success earlier this year.

Die-hard BlackBerry fans can still pick up TCL's BlackBerry Key2 until Aug. 31, which TCL says it will continue to support for at least another two years.

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Google reportedly commissions Samsung to make chip for tracking body movements – CNET


Google has reportedly contracted with Samsung to produce a chip that tracks body movement, which could eventually make its way into a fitness tracker or other wearable tech.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google has contracted with Samsung to design and manufacture a chip that'll be used to track body movements, according to South Korean tech blog ETNews. The report comes as Google faces staunch opposition to its acquisition of fitness tracking pioneer FitBit in the EU. 

Samsung is reportedly both designing and manufacturing the chip, as opposed to building a chip to spec based on a client's design, as is usually the case. According to a different report earlier this year, Google has been working with Samsung to design custom processors for its Pixel line of Android phones. Google currently uses Qualcomm CPUs in its phones.

European regulators have said they're concerned such a move could give Google too much advertising pull by adding to its already vast database of users' private data. Google, for its part, has pledged not to use personal fitness data for ad tracking. It's unclear, however, if the chip detailed in the report is related to Google's FitBit acquisition. 

Google and Samsung didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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