Twitter’s ‘Hacked Materials’ Rule Tries to Thread an Impossible Needle

Twitter for years functioned as an unrestricted mouthpiece for hackers of all stripes, from freewheeling hacktivists like Anonymous to the Kremlin-created cutouts like Guccifer 2.0. But as the company tries to crack down on hackers’ use of its platform to distribute their stolen information, it’s finding that that’s not a simple decision. And now, less than three weeks before Election Day, Twitter has put itself in an impossible position: flip-flopping on its policy while trying to navigate between those who condemn it for enabling data thieves and foreign spies, and those who condemn it for heavy-handed censorship.

On Thursday evening, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Vijaya Gadde, posted a thread of tweets explaining a new policy on hacked materials, in response to the firestorm of criticism it received—largely from the political right and President Donald Trump—for its decision to block the sharing of a New York Post story based on alleged private data and communications of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Gadde wrote that the company was taking a step back on its “Hacked Materials Policy.” The company will now no longer remove tweets that contain or link to hacked content “unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them,” Gadde wrote. Instead, the company will “label Tweets to provide context.”

Despite that new rule, links to the Post article initially remained blocked, because it also violated Twitter’s policy on sharing private personal information, another spokesperson for Twitter posted last night. But Twitter ultimately backed down from that stance too, allowing the story to circulate as it broadly rethought its treatment of posts about hacked information.1 “Why the changes?” Gadde wrote. “We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers, and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation.”

Rather than solve Twitter’s hacked data dilemma, though, Twitter’s backpedaling on its policy has only highlighted just how stuck it is between impossible options, says Clint Watts, a disinformation-focused senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and author of the book Messing With the Enemy. And it may also leave Twitter open to exploitation by a well-crafted hack-and-leak operation, just as Russian hackers carried out in 2016.

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illustration of 2020 in red and blue

“It’s a super difficult problem to thread,” Watts says. “If they didn’t take that down, and it turns out to be a foreign op, and it changes the course of the election, they’re going to be right back testifying in front of Congress, hammered with regulation and fines.” After all, Twitter faced widespread criticism for allowing itself to be exploited ahead of the 2016 election by Kremlin hackers who distributed information stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, as well as by disinformation trolls working for the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency.

In response to those incidents, Twitter implemented its rule against the “distribution of hacked materials” in 2018, which banned posting hacked content directly or linking to other sites that hosted it. Critics of the policy, however, argued that it also risked blocking legitimate news stories in the public interest if they are based on information released without authorization.

“There’s incredible journalism that starts with hacked materials,” says Lorax B. Horne, editor in chief of the whistle-blowing “leaks” group known as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets.2 DDoSecrets published a massive collection of internal memos, financial records, and other data stolen from 200-plus police organizations in June, and told WIRED that the information had been given to them by a transparency-focused hacker affiliated with Anonymous. Journalists dug through the material and found revealing stories about police misperceptions of antifa and Homeland Security surveillance practices, including those focused on Black Lives Matter protestors.

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The iPhone 12 Is a Smartphone Made for Our Terrible Times

At last, some good news! It’s been a difficult few months, but Apple is ready to help lift your spirits. On Tuesday, the company finally introduced the iPhone 12, in four different variants and a smattering of delightful colors. Could this be the best thing that has happened in 2020? Maybe!

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This was a very special Apple event. Because it’s still not safe to gather in crowds, the usual hoopla was abandoned in favor of a series of prerecorded videos. But you didn’t need to be there to understand that this is the most dramatic iPhone release in years. The new model uses Apple’s new A14 Bionic system on a chip, which has 11.8 billion transistors spread across six cores and powers a whole slew of cool new features.

The Big Picture

The feature that will have the biggest day-to-day impact for most users is the improved set of cameras. When you’re living through history, you really want to have the best possible image capture at your fingertips. The sky can now turn bright orange because of how much of the planet is on fire, and the iPhone 12’s Deep Fusion computational photography system and Smart HDR 3 system will help you catch every last surreal hue. Future generations may not believe it was ever blue, so now is the time to take your final beautiful shots of the horizon using the new 12 megapixel f/1.8 “wide” camera. Kudos, as always, to Apple’s hardware engineers for designing the devices we’ll need in this previously unfathomable future.

Some have speculated that the front-facing cameras’ FaceID unlocking feature may be significantly faster on the new phones. This is all a bit theoretical for now, given that your face will always be covered by a mask. Still, it’s nice to know that the feature will be waiting for us if we do ever manage to develop a vaccine. Also, credit where it’s due: Apple’s is one of the only widespread facial-recognition technologies on the market that helps people instead of surveilling them.

In the meantime, the stress of long-term isolation has made it more important than ever to keep in touch with your support network, particularly if your terrible health insurance doesn’t include mental health benefits. This is still technically a phone, after all, even if the unchecked proliferation of spam callers makes it nearly impossible to use it as one. Tools like Facetime are absolutely vital when you can’t safely see your friends and family in person, and on the iPhone 12 you’ll always look great no matter how you’re actually doing. FaceTime is end-to-end encrypted, too, so your conversations will be private—although if you’re really worried about that you should probably just switch to Signal.

The Silver Lining

The iPhone 12 does its part to keep up with the breakneck pace of life in 2020. Connectivity speeds have been dramatically upgraded, with the new models all operating over high-speed 5G networks and delivering data at up to 4 gigabits per second. That’s especially welcome given that most of the mainstream internet is now bloated with ads that are difficult to block from mobile device operating systems. I guess you could try to solve that problem by addressing the underlying economic forces, but as usual Apple has a more elegant solution: Just move everything to higher speeds!

At this week’s unveiling event, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out that faster connectivity also helps improve your personal security, since you won’t need to connect to the internet as often via sketchy Wi-Fi hot spots. He’s right: You really can’t afford to trust foreign networks anymore. At the very least, you have to use a VPN service anytime you connect to the internet through a network that you don’t personally control. In fact, it may even be wise to just use a VPN all the time, even over your own connection, now that the FCC has explicitly allowed ISPs to undermine net neutrality and the FBI doesn’t need a warrant to examine your browsing history. Whether you pay for an extra layer of protection or not, 5G is a big deal.

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Celebrity star Betelgeuse is smaller and closer to us than we thought – CNET

Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse.

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/E. O'Gorman/P. Kervella

If you're experiencing the creepy sensation of someone breathing down your neck, it might be Betelgeuse. The infamous star -- subject of an exciting will-it-or-won't-it supernova discussion earlier this year -- may be much closer to Earth than we suspected.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant and it's monstrous compared with the size of our sun. A study published in The Astrophysical Journal this week unveils some new calculations of the star's mass and distance, and gives us an estimate for when it's likely to go supernova. 

The speculation around Betelgeuse exploding kicked into high gear when the star went through some odd dimming and brightening episodes starting in late 2019. Scientists believe a dust cloud caused one of these events. "We found the second smaller event was likely due to the pulsations of the star," said lead author Meridith Joyce, in a statement from The Australian National University (ANU) on Friday. 

The science team used modeling to sort out what was going with the pulsations, tracing it to what co-author Shing-Chi Leung of the University of Tokyo described as "pressure waves -- essentially, sound waves." This activity helped the researchers figure out where the star is in its life cycle.

Scientists had previously estimated this as the size of Betelgeuse compared with our solar system, but the new study revises that estimate down. 

ESO

The upshot is that Betelgeuse isn't in danger of going supernova anytime soon. It could easily take 100,000 years before it gets to that stage. This is in line with what other scientists have suggested.

The study also shakes up our knowledge of the star's size. "The actual physical size of Betelgeuse has been a bit of a mystery -- earlier studies suggested it could be bigger than the orbit of Jupiter. Our results say Betelgeuse only extends out to two thirds of that, with a radius 750 times the radius of the sun," said co-author Laszlo Molnar of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest.

With Betelgeuse's size dialed in better, the team was able to make a more accurate calculation of its distance from Earth, placing it at around 530 light-years away, or about 25% closer than previously known. That's still plenty far enough that Earth won't be harmed by Betelgeuse's future explosion.

"It's still a really big deal when a supernova goes off. And this is our closest candidate. It gives us a rare opportunity to study what happens to stars like this before they explode," Joyce said.   

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This Book Will Change How You See Game of Thrones

James Hibberd’s book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, about the making of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, draws on more than 50 new interviews with the cast and crew—many of them more revealing than anything that came out when the show was on the air.

“I knew there was an opportunity to circle back on some of the controversies, and see if people would open up more now that the show is over, and they did,” Hibberd says in Episode 436 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Game of Thrones was a lightning rod for controversy throughout its eight-year run, and many fans have second-guessed the choices made by showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Hibberd hopes his book gives readers a clearer understanding of why those decisions were made.

“One thing I was trying to do throughout the book is, ‘You might like something, you might not like something, but here’s why certain decisions were made, and why people did what they did, and what the thinking was behind it,’” he says.

The book makes it clear that Game of Thrones was a gamble from start to finish, with Benioff and Weiss counting on the show becoming a cultural phenomenon just to reach the finish line. “It was such an incredible feat for them to pull that off, and a really ballsy thing to do,” Hibberd says. “You’re really just on a total high-wire act trying to do that.”

Hibberd also devotes six chapters to the show’s divisive final season. He hopes the book will appeal to those who enjoyed the ending as well as those who hated it. “I was trying to write it so it can either play out like watching the movie Titanic or like watching the movie Rudy, depending on your point of view,” he says. “I was trying not to put a thumb on the scale, and let the reader decide how they felt about everything as it went along.”

Listen to the complete interview with James Hibberd in Episode 436 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

James Hibberd on journalism:

“I don’t tend to take cheap shots, I don’t think, and I don’t make assumptions about, why somebody did something unless I know why they did something. In other words, I don’t go from ‘this was a bad decision’ to ‘this was a bad decision that they clearly did because they wanted this or wanted that,’ when I don’t know. And I think that just comes from being a reporter all my life. The fewer assumptions you can make, the better off you are and the more accurate what you’re doing is going to be.”

James Hibberd on season 8:

“I think the average fan has a much clearer sense of how it played than I do, because they watched it correctly —they watched it relaxed, and enjoying it, and not knowing what was going to happen. I came into it having known everything, and I also have my laptop open in front of me—I didn’t see the episodes in advance—I’m frantically taking notes for my recap, and preparing to post my postmortems. So the way I watched it was all screwed up, because I was in the middle of working through it. So it’s really hard for me to put on a ‘TV critic’ hat.”

James Hibberd on George R.R. Martin:

“We talked for hours at his favorite restaurant in Santa Fe. He was really candid. When you read his quotes, you’re never quite sure which direction he’s going to go on something, because there are things that he really praises about the show, and there are things where he’s really critical about the show. The journey for him in this is very emotionally complex, and he’s pretty open about that—you can sort of feel the emotional complexity as he goes on. So of all the things in the book, I was most happy with the interview that I had with George.”

James Hibberd on HBO:

“[The showrunners] were looking at this as, ‘How do we do [George’s ending] on our budget? We can’t do anything close to that. The only way we could do it is as movies, so maybe the final season can basically be three movies instead.’ … I called HBO for a comment. They had a big reaction, and then there was a whole summit meeting between HBO and the showrunners about it. HBO did not want to do that, because they’re not in the business of doing movies. They’re not in the business of saying, ‘OK, now that you’ve watched a show on our network for seven years, go to a movie theater to see how it ends.’”


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ISS oxygen supply system in Russian module fails, but the crew is OK – CNET

The ISS is facing a few issues with an ongoing air leak and problems with an oxygen supply system in the station's Zvezda module. 

NASA

The International Space Station is all about redundancy. There's more than one toilet on the ISS, and there's more than one oxygen supply system that provides precious air for the crew in orbit. It's still not great when one of those systems fails.

 An oxygen supply system in the Russian-built Zvezda module of the station failed Wednesday, according to an AFP report. It's not the only oxygen generation system on board, so the crew of six -- which includes three new arrivals from NASA and Roscosmos -- is not in danger.

A Roscosmos spokesperson told AFP that the crew will work to repair the issue this week.

Zvezda has been in orbit for 20 years. NASA describes it as "the early cornerstone for the first human habitation of the station." It contains living quarters, flight systems and life support systems. 

This is the latest in a series of air-related issues on the ISS. The crew and ground controllers have been trying to track down a lingering air leak that was recently traced to the Zvezda module. There's no indication yet if there's a connection between the leak and the oxygen system. 

CNET reached out to NASA, but didn't immediately hear back.

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This $115 Vizio soundbar is a perfect match for your new TV – CNET

vizio-sb3651-e6

Although the satellite speakers aren't wireless, the Vizio SB3651 5.1-channel soundbar system is an amazing deal at $115.

Vizio

It's the rare TV that wouldn't benefit from an audio upgrade, in part to get speakers that are actually pointed at you (rather than down) and in part to bring bass into the mix (courtesy of a subwoofer). Let's not forget overall volume, either. Even a cheapie soundbar would improve your aural experience -- though, as evidenced by today's deal, you can spend just a little more and net a lot.

Read more: The best soundbars for 2020   

For a limited time, and while supplies last, Daily Steals has the refurbished Vizio SB3651-E6C 5.1 SmartCast Sound Bar System for $114.99 with promo code CNETVZO. It originally sold for $238, and the best deal I've seen for a refurb elsewhere today is $140.

The SB3651-E6C combines a three-channel soundbar (left, right and center) with a wireless subwoofer and two wired rear speakers. If you can't easily accommodate those rear speakers, it should be no problem to just leave them out of the mix.

Like most soundbars these days, this one doubles as a Bluetooth speaker: Just pair it with your phone or tablet when you want to play your tunes. However, the SB3651 is also Google-savvy: You can use any Google Assistant-equipped device to play music ("OK, Google, play my Herb Alpert playlist on the soundbar") or take advantage of built-in Chromecast to stream from compatible apps.

When shopping for any soundbar, be sure it supports HDMI ARC (which this one does). That's so you can use your TV remote to control the volume. On the other hand, I like that Vizio's remote has a little LCD window so you can easily see the selected mode and whatnot.

CNET hasn't reviewed this exact model, but the similar, slightly lower-end Vizio SB3621 was dubbed "the king of budget sound bars." Reviews elsewhere (for this exact model) are mostly good, and average customer ratings tend to fall in the 4.3-star range.

This being a refurb, the warranty is just 90 days. I don't feel like there's much that can fail here unless there's a power surge, but it's something to consider. Even so, this is a pretty amazing deal for a 5.1-channel sound system.

Your thoughts?

Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new sale availability. Removed expired bonus deal.


CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon, and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

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Apple TV Plus: Everything to know about Apple’s streaming service – CNET

iPhone app: Apple TV+

Apple TV Plus launched Nov. 1, offering a yearlong free trial to people who purchased Apple gadgets. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple TV Plus is the Apple's subscription video streaming service featuring original TV shows and movies. It costs $5 a month, but many people can unlock it free for as long as a year -- and the first wave of people who signed up for that promotion are getting their trial periods extended three months. With the first expirations of those free trials approaching on Nov. 1, Apple's is emailing free-trial subscribers that their free Apple TV Plus subscriptions have been extended until Feb. 1. 

"We're giving you extra time to discover the latest Apple Originals and catch up on shows returning for a second season," Apple TV Plus said in emails to trial members. "You don't have to do anything -- just keep watching for free until February 2021. 

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Apple is extending the free trials of its earliest subscribers until Feb. 1.

Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

With a reported budget of $6 billion to rope in some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Apple TV Plus was the first to the battle lines in the so-called streaming wars, a period of months when media giants and tech titans released a raft of new streaming services to take on Netflix. These battles -- pitting rookies like Apple TV Plus, HBO MaxDisney Plus and NBCUniversal's Peacock against heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video -- have spurred huge corporations to pour billions of dollars into their ambition of shape the future of television. 

Of its originals, Apple TV Plus seemed to stake the most on The Morning Show, its marquee drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, with an eye-popping $300 million reported budget. Apple TV Plus launched with just nine total programs, but since then the service has expanded to about 40 shows and movies. 

Some of the most popular additions include Defending Jacob, a thriller miniseries starring Chris Evans about a family dealing with the accusation that their 14-year-old son is a murderer; Ted Lasso, a fish-out-of-water workplace comedy about a college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a Premier League soccer in England, based on a character spun off of an NBC Sports ad campaign (really); The Banker, a movie about African American entrepreneurs who take on racist real estate practices in the 1960s, starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson; and Mythic Quest, a comedy series about a dysfunctional video-game studio; and Little America, an anthology series telling stories of immigrants in America.

But unlike rivals Netflix and Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus doesn't have a big back catalog of things to watch. It focused on new, original content, even if that meant having much less programming for subscribers to choose from versus competitors. But Apple switched gears earlier this year and began licensing some older programming. So far, the licensed titles are very limited -- it released the original Jim Henson TV series Fraggle Rock to stream, for example, as a complement to its own new series of shorts based on the 1980s show. 

To soften the sting of such a limited library, Apple TV Plus is available free for many people. Apple is offering a free year-long subscription to anyone who's purchased an Apple device. Apple is also bundling Apple TV Plus with its Apple Music student-discount plan, giving it away to a swath of young people at no extra cost.

That one-free-year deal, though, has some terms that may raise eyebrows. Your service is set to automatically renew at the end of the free year. If you cancel it before the end of that term, the service will shut off immediately and cannot be reinstated. You must wait until the day before the deal runs out to cancel or you forfeit any remaining free viewing time. 

And Apple kicking the can down the road with its free trials doesn't signal confidence in Apple TV Plus' traction thus far. Apple has never disclosed how many people are subscribed to Apple TV Plus; issuing three-month extensions to free members will certainly be welcomed by customers, but it may be interpreted as a sign Apple had meaningful doubts about those free members converting to paid one.  

Below is everything to know about the service.  

What does Apple TV Plus cost?

Apple TV Plus costs $5 a month, or $50 for an annual subscription, and it offers a standard seven-day free trial. By comparison, Disney Plus is $7 a month, with a large library of movies and shows available immediately. Streaming channels based on cable networks, like Showtime or HBO Max, usually range between $9 and $15 a month. Smaller, niche streaming services often are priced around $5 or less. And Netflix, the world's biggest subscription streaming service, prices its most popular plan at $13 a month in the US; it offers other tiers at $9 and $16 a month.

People who buy an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac starting back on Sept. 10, 2019, qualify for a free subscription for one year. Previous Apple device owners aren't grandfathered in. 

Apple TV Plus talent gathers with CEO Tim Cook in the lobby of the Steve Jobs Theater.

Art Streiber/Apple

The free-year offer applies to both new and refurbished models, including devices from the iPhone Upgrade Program, and it's not restricted to any specific sales channel, so it applies to both Apple Store purchases and those at resellers. It's available in all countries where Apple TV Plus launches. The first yearlong free trials for Apple TV Plus were set to expire Nov. 1 for anyone who signed up and unlocked the deal on the service's launch day, but Apple extended them to February. 

Free trials have long been the industry standard: Most streaming video services offer introductory free periods for new members, though that has begun to change for services like Netflix and Disney Plus, which no longer do. But Apple's one-year free period for gadget owners is atypically long. That tactic worked well for Apple Music -- Apple launched its music service with an extended, six-month free trial, and Apple Music quickly became the world's second most popular music service by subscribers behind only Spotify. 

Apple is also including Apple TV Plus with its Apple Music student-discount plan, now offering both streaming services in the $5-a-month deal at no extra cost.

Soon, Apple TV Plus will be available as part of a discount bundle of services called Apple One. Long expected since Apple began making subscription services a bigger strategy, Apple One is expected to launch sometime in the fall and ranges in price from $15 to $30 a month for different combinations of subscriptions. Apple TV Plus is included in all tiers of Apple One; depending on the tier, Apple One bundles may also including Apple MusicApple ArcadeApple News Plus, storage service iCloud and the coming guided-workout service Apple Fitness Plus. (Disney Plus had offered something similar by packaging that service with both Hulu and ESPN Plus.) 

What's Apple's TV service like? 

Apple TV Plus is a subscription streaming service to watch the company's original series and movies exclusively. Like Netflix, it doesn't have ads. 

Unlike Netflix, it doesn't have a big library of licensed shows or movies, nor will it release full seasons of its shows all at once in a binge-able bunch (for the most part). Most Apple TV Plus series premiere a small cluster of episodes, often three, followed by one new episode every week. Full seasons of some series drop all at the same time, though. 

Also unlike Netflix, Apple TV Plus doesn't have its own dedicated app. The Apple TV Plus programming resides inside Apple's TV app, which also serves as a hub to watch programming from other video subscriptions and to rent or buy movies and shows a la carte. 

Apple TV Plus is available in more than 100 countries and is also part of Apple's family-sharing feature, which allows you add up to five family members to share a plan. Apple originals are available in 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision, and most titles also offer Dolby Atmos sound, according to this Apple support page.

How do I sign up? And get that free year?

Apple TV Plus is associated with Apple ID, which is the same log-in you'd use for iCloud or downloading apps from its App Store. If you don't already have an Apple ID, you can create one here

If you already have Apple's TV app on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, you simply need to open the app and navigate to any of the places where Apple is prominently promoting its original shows. On newly purchased iPhones, for example, the app already knows you've purchased a new gadget to qualify for the deal. Whether you're starting Apple TV Plus with a year free or just the standard one-week trial, the shows start playing in the app after a few taps.

You can also sign up and watch online with a web browser at the Apple TV Plus site

The free-year deal is set up autorenew at the end of the free year.  And the service will shut off immediately when you cancel, even if you still have time left in the deal. You must wait until the day before the deal runs out to cancel or you forfeit any remaining free viewing time. 

The first yearlong free trials for Apple TV Plus were set to expire Nov. 1 for anyone who signed up and unlocked the deal on the service's launch day, but Apple extended them to February. 

When did it launch?

Apple TV Plus launched Nov. 1 in more than 100 countries and regions. 

The company said its originals will be subtitled or dubbed in nearly 40 languages, including closed captions for people who are hearing impaired, and Apple TV Plus series and movies will also be available with audio descriptions in eight languages.

What devices are supported to stream it?

Apple's programming is available on all Apple devices with the Apple TV app. 

In addition, Apple TV Plus is supposed to be available on some competitors' devices. Apple's TV app is available Roku and Fire TV, two of the most widely used streaming devices in the US, and for smart TVs from Samsung and LG. You can watch it on Sony and Vizio smart TVs via airplay, and the TV app is coming to those smart TVs during the summer. 

Subscribers will also be able to watch Apple TV Plus on the web at tv.apple.com.

03-reese-witherspoon-jennifer-anniston-for-apple-tv-plus-at-apple-event

Reese Witherspoon (left) and Jennifer Aniston revealed the name of their Apple TV Plus series, The Morning Show, at Apple's event in March. 

Claudia Cruz/CNET

But the Apple TV app isn't available on any mobile devices except iPhones or iPads. That means Apple TV Plus subscribers with non-Apple phones -- meaning, the huge population of people with Android phones -- need to stream to their mobiles via the web, rather than in an app. 

What shows and movies does it have?

Apple's shows run the gamut of drama, comedy, documentary -- even undefined deals with a single big star attached. It's also spending big to get top Hollywood names: WinfreySteven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams and other heavy hitters are on board. Apple also struck an exclusive deal with Alfonso Cuarón for the famed director's first television projects. 

Since Apple TV Plus resides in Apple's TV app, you can check out the selection there before signing up. You can also browse the catalog through third-party services like Reelgood

Apple TV Plus titles include: 

  • See, a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Jason Momoa
  • The Morning Show, the drama about a morning news broadcast starring WitherspoonAniston and Steve Carell 
  • Dickinson, a comedy about poet Emily Dickinson as a young woman starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • For All Mankind, an alternative-history retelling of the space race
  • Oprah's Book Club, a book-focused series with Winfrey
  • Helpsters, a Sesame Street spinoff 
  • Ghostwriter, a kids program about four youngsters who team up with a ghost in a neighborhood bookstore
  • Animated series Snoopy in Space
  • The Elephant Queen, a documentary film about a mother elephant
  • Servant, a thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, who directed Sixth Sense
  • Truth Be Told, a mystery drama starring Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul
  • Little America, from the husband-and-wife screenwriting team of Kumail Nanjiani (Dinesh from HBO's Silicon Valley) and Emily V. Gordon
  • The Banker, the movie based on a true story starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson
  • Hala, a movie produced by Jada Pinkett Smith that Apple picked up at Sundance
  • Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, a comedy from Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, who created and starred in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Amazing Stories, an anthology series from Steven Spielberg
  • Central Park, a cartoon musical from the creator of Bob's Burgers and packed with the voices of stars like Frozen's Josh Gad and Kristen Bell and Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr. and Daveed Diggs
  • Defending Jacob, the crime/drama miniseries starring Chris Evans
  • Greyhound, a World War II battleship thriller starring Tom Hanks
  • Little Voice, a series from J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles about a 20-something musician in New York
  • Ted Lasso, a comedy about a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England
  • Beastie Boys Story, a documentary about the band by director Spike Jonze
  • Boys State, a documentary about a high school mock-government exercise in Texas, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival
  • Fraggle Rock: Rock On, a reboot of the '80s Jim Henson kids series
  • Home Before Dark, a mystery series about a young woman investigating a small town's secrets
  • Tehran, a spy thriller about a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover in Iran
  • Tiny World, a nature documentary series narrated by Paul Rudd
  • Trying, a comedy series about a couple's infertility
  • Visibile: Out on Televsion, a documentary series about how the LGBTQ movement shaped TV programming
  • And others.

On the film development side, Apple has a partnership with film studio A24 -- known for such movies as Ex Machina, Moonlight and Room. The partnership will include a film called On the Rocks starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones and directed by Sofia Coppola, set to be released on Apple TV Plus on Oct. 23.  

At the Toronto Film Festival last year, Apple also bought the rights to Wolfwalkers, a movie from famed Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Productions. Wolfwalkers is set to be released Dec. 11. 

Apple also planned to give theater runs to some of its films before streaming them on Apple TV Plus, but the coronavirus pandemic has halted nearly all theatrical releases for the time being. 

Now playing: Watch this: Apple teases its original shows in new trailer

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Apple has come under early scrutiny because of reports that it's restricting its creators from making edgy content and aiming to keep all its programming family friendly. Family friendly programming isn't necessarily a bar to success -- Disney built one of the reigning media empires on it -- but edgy shows have led other streaming services to awards recognition that helps drive interest. Apple's strategy could crimp it competitively on that front.

Who is Apple competing against? 

Apple's service is launching at a time when seemingly every major media property is putting out its own streaming option, from DC Universe's comic-flavored fare to a planned Disney offering, not to mention stalwarts like Netflix. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal and HBO-owner WarnerMedia are both building their own streaming services.

Clearly, an Apple service with $6 billion worth of premium video competes with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and others that stream on-demand, high-quality productions. 

Should Apple expand to bundling other digital networks, then Amazon Channels will be its key rival. Apple would also go up against wireless companies such as AT&T's VRV, a co-op of niche genre streaming services. A channel-bundling model would even bring Apple in competition with traditional cable. 

What's interesting is that Apple's dive into original programming comes as other giants are ramping up their own streaming-service ambitions. Disney launched its $7-a-month Netflix-like service Disney Plus just days after Apple TV Plus rolled out, and it was followed by HBO Max and, soon, Peacock. 

Apple is a gadget giant. Why does it want to become Netflix? 

Apple is taking aim at original video because it could be a crucial enticement for people to buy more iPhones and other gadgets. You can't overstate the importance of the iPhone to Apple. The phone, one of the most popular in the world, still accounts for more than half its sales and was critical to Apple's march to become the first US company worth $1 trillion

Apple is on a deadline to lift its services revenue to $50 billion before 2021. 

Apple quickly established its bona fides in subscriptions businesses with Apple Music. But the content on Apple Music is essentially the same as every other music service. They all have tens of millions of songs. Apple Music has been successful largely because of its presence on the iPhone, already in the pockets of millions of people. It hasn't been nearly as successful working the other direction, acting as a lure to buy the latest Apple gadget.  

Original video from big-name stars and creators you can't watch anywhere else, however, could be different. 

Apple clearly has a hunch it will be.

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Apple’s iPhone 12 livestream was noticeably missing from Chinese social media – CNET

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China is a huge market for Apple.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Apple's livestream of its iPhone 12 launch event on Tuesday wasn't carried by China's top social media and video platforms despite tremendous consumer interest in the event. In an unprecedented move, Tencent Video, Weibo, iQiyi and Bilibili canceled their original plans to carry the livestream, though Apple fans could watch it directly on the company's website, according to a Bloomberg report

Apple had promoted the event on its official Weibo account last week, sharing that the livestream was set to air on all those platforms, the report said. Weibo is a Chinese microblogging site often compared to Twitter, even though the Chinese government maintains strict control over what appears on any China-based media or internet site. 

The cancellation comes at a time of tense geopolitical relations between Washington and Beijing, and it underscores the challenges Apple faces in making further inroads in the crucial mainland China market.  

US President Donald Trump has been waging a years-long pressure campaign against China-based tech companies. In September, Trump moved to ban wildly popular Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat over concerns of user data collection and surveillance. Prior to that, US security concerns about China's tech industry had primarily focused on telecom gear maker Huawei, which could face the collapse of its smartphone division due to US restrictions on its global chip supply.

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Joel Saget / AFP/ Getty Images

This week's cancellation marks the first time that China's video platforms have jointly canceled an iPhone livestream since they began airing them several years ago. The events generate tremendous interest in China, which is Apple's third largest market by sales, and the word "iPhone 12" has been a trending topic on Weibo.

"I vividly remember they hire simultaneous translators and commentators in order to get maximum attraction at midnight," Bloomberg reporter Gao Yuan wrote on Twitter. "No more."

Although Apple has a sizeable fan base in China, the company's market share has shrunk in recent years due to stiff competition from Chinese brands that have increasingly released higher-end Android phones that rival the iPhone. Chinese phone makers like Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo released premium 5G phones in their native China months before Apple unveiled its 5G-enabled iPhone 12 family.

Tencent Video, Weibo, iQiyi, and Bilibili could not be immediately reached for comment. 

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Clarence Thomas Wants to Rethink Internet Speech. Be Afraid

But I suspect a different line of thinking inspired the Thomas comment. A Supreme Court justice’s public reservations about Section 230 do not come in a vacuum. For months now, politicians have been attacking 230. While both sides of the aisle have complaints (including from former Vice President Biden), the most virulent ones come from the right. So whether he intended it or not, Thomas’ words are a dog whistle to those who want to hobble social media’s ability to filter out lies that poison the culture, endanger our health, and generally make us hate each other.

Indeed, it didn’t take long for the justice’s comments to energize conservatives who despise Section 230. Only hours after the Thomas memo was posted, it found its way into the Amy Coney Barrett hearings. Senator Josh Hawley, who wants to strip Section 230 protections from platforms if they moderate misinformation in political speech, cited Thomas’ memo and asked Barrett her views about it. (She gave the same non-answer she had been repeating for days—it’s a hypothetical!) Clearly, Hawley sees Thomas’ words as supporting his views. “It’s quite significant!” he said of the comment.

Then the president himself weighed in. He was unhappy that Twitter and Facebook were correctly withholding distribution of what was possibly a false accusation of Joe Biden’s son. Trump hates it that companies have the right to refuse distribution of destructive propaganda weeks before an election. He tweeted his remedy in upper case, with three bangers: REPEAL SECTION 230!!!

Finally, FCC chair Ajit Pai, again citing the Thomas memo, announced his own intention to reinterpret Section 230. Why him? Well, his general counsel told him it was OK if he took it upon himself to bypass Congress and the courts so that Section 230 will mean what Pai says it means. Pai gave us a hint of his thinking: “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech,” he wrote. “But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

Dude! Platforms might not have a First Amendment right to that “special immunity.” But Congress passed a law that specifically gave them that immunity, because platforms are not like newspapers or broadcasters. If you don’t understand that, I shudder to think what your unilateral “rulemaking” will be.

Hawley, Pai, and Trump are not grappling with Thomas’ relatively nuanced arguments. But they are using his reservations to launch a broader attack on 230. They’re challenging the freedom of companies to interpret toxicity as they best see fit—because they want to use the platforms to spread that toxicity.

Thomas’s subtly incendiary 10-page comment increases the chances that Section 230, and the right to speak freely on the internet, will soon be curtailed or canceled—by legislators, the FCC, or presidential edict. If this happens, the Supreme Court will almost certainly end up determining the outcome. Which is exactly what Clarence Thomas has been asking for. Feel better?

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Time Travel

The Nobel Prize for economic sciences this year went to Paul MIlgrom and Robert Wilson. Milgrom is recognized as one of the world’s great experts in auction theory, and I interviewed him for my book In the Plex (finally out in paper next February!) about Google’s clever AdWords approach to bidding, which was crafted by Google engineer Eric Veach along with his boss Salar Kamangar. I’d asked Milgrom to compare the AdWords system to the competitor, Overture:

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Best Dog Tech & Accessories: 14 Essentials for Your Pup

At WIRED, we really love our dogs. We also love each other’s dogs, whether they’re adorable little nuggets in New York City apartments, pit mixes in the country, or loyal heelers that spend all day, every day, within 6 inches of my left foot. For the past few years, my colleagues Scott Gilbertson and Julian Chokkattu and I (Adrienne) have been trading tips, tricks, and gear. These are currently our favorite pieces of tech that we’ve bought or tested for our very, very good boys and girls.

Are you a recent pandemic pet owner? Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best pet supplies for new adopters. Er, and maybe check out our Best Sustainable Cleaning Supplies guide too.

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