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17Feb/200

Google is ending its Station free public WiFi program

In an interview with TechCrunch, Google's Caesar Sengupta said the company is ending the program because it was running into issues scaling it. Each of the partners Google worked with to provide public WiFi had different technical and infrastructure needs, which made developing Station into a sustainable business challenging. Google had tried to monetize the service by showing ads to people as part of the login process. He also said the increased availability of cheap LTE data, particularly in India, made Google feel the program wasn't as needed as it was before.

The good news is that most Stations will continue to offer free WiFi. For instance, RailTel, Google's WiFi partner in India, will continue to provide free internet access at all 400 stations where the service is currently available. "We are working with our partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community," Sengupta told TechCrunch.

Besides Google, several other tech companies have tried to narrow the digital divide in developing countries, with some finding more success than others. For example, Facebook's Free Basics initiative was banned in India in 2016 over net neutrality concerns. Despite the shutdown, it seems Station had been widely successful. In 2018, Google said Station had 8 million monthly active users in India, with people who were using the service consuming an average of 350MB per session at the time.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/google-station-free-wifi-shutting-down/

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17Feb/200

Apple Music’s Replay 2020 playlist tracks your favorites week-by-week

You don't have to sit tight until December to start your 2020 retrospective. As promised, Apple Music has made its automatic Replay 2020 playlist available to subscribers through its beta web player. You'll have to visit the site through a mobile browser to add the playlist (the desktop page seems stuck on Replay 2019 as we write this), but you can get an automatically updating look back at your top tracks of the year well before spring has even started.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/apple-music-replay-2020-playlist-available/

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17Feb/200

SpaceX lost another Falcon booster to the sea

The booster was expected to land on a drone ship, called Of Course I Still Love You, approximately eight minutes and 24 seconds after launch. Instead, the booster made a "soft landing" in the ocean next to the ship.

SpaceX has gotten pretty good at landing and reusing its boosters, but this isn't the first time it's lost one to the sea. In 2018, a core booster plummeted straight into the ocean. Last April, the company managed to land three Falcon Heavy boosters, but the core booster, which landed on Of Course I Still Love You, fell off the drone ship on its way back to land. Then, in June 2019, two side boosters landed successfully in Cape Canaveral, but the center core booster missed the ship by a few feet.

Still, the booster used this morning broke a SpaceX record for fastest turnaround. Prior to today's mission, the booster launched just 63 days ago on December 16th. The company's previous record for booster reuse was a 72-day turnaround of a Block 4 booster used to launch the TESS and CRS-15 missions for NASA in 2018. As SpaceX ramps up its Starlink constellation deployment, it will try to reduce its booster turnaround time even more.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/spacex-falcon-booster-sea/

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17Feb/200

The synth tones of ‘Blade Runner’ now fit on your desk

The MK2 has all the features of the MK1 -- the smaller size doesn't mean Black Corporation skimped on the specs. In fact, there are new controls for the synth's sustain mode and timing features. It comes with detachable wooden side panels and can also slot into a rack like the MK1. If you want to hear the MK1 in action, check out the video below.

Deckard's Dream MK2 will cost $3,749. That's a lot, even for an analog polysynth, but compared to the cost of an original CS-80 in good condition, one could see it as a steal. For those not ready to drop thousands of dollars on a synth, Arturia's CS-80 V plug-in ($150) does a fantastic job of recreating the massive tones that are synonymous with Blade Runner.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/deckards-dream-mk2-synth/

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17Feb/200

RCS messaging comes to Windows 10’s Your Phone app

According to Microsoft's Roberto Bojorquez, the new RCS functionality is available "starting with" the Galaxy S20, suggesting the feature will work with other Samsung devices (and perhaps other Android phones) in the future. The integration comes as part of Samsung and Microsoft's ongoing partnership, which has in the past seen the South Korean company integrate apps like OneDrive into its devices.

If you don't plan to buy the S20, you can still send RCS messages on your computer by using the Google Messages web client. But as with everything RCS-related, there are a lot of requirements both you and the person you're texting have to meet before you can see the protocol at work. While it's a small step, efforts like the one Microsoft is making here help make the platform more useful.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/rcs-windows-10-your-phone-s20/

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17Feb/200

Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to combat climate change

He says the Bezos Earth Fund will support scientists, activists and NGOs, with the first grants slated to go out sometime this summer. Besides that information, Bezos didn't provide many details on the fund.

While Bezos is likely to get a lot of favorable coverage for the move, it's worth pointing out that, as the CEO of Amazon, he's not had the best track record when it comes to climate change. Bezos only announced Amazon's recent climate pledge after the company was pressured by its employees to take action. Moreover, there are aspects of the plan that come off as self-serving. For instance, Amazon said it would purchase 100,000 electric vans from Rivian, a company in which the retailer lead a $700 million investment round. It's also worth pointing out that Amazon's Prime delivery service is likely a contributor to the overall problem.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/jeff-bezos-10-billion-climate-change-fund/

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17Feb/200

EU won’t let Facebook tell it how to regulate tech giants

This comes as Facebook is promoting its "Charting a Way Forward: Online Content Regulation" white paper, which offers guidelines for future regulations. Breton dismissed the guidelines proposed in Facebook's white paper as insufficient. He noted that Facebook didn't mention its own market dominance or clearly outline its responsibilities.

"It's not for us to adapt to this company, it's for this company to adapt to us," Breton told reporters after a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

On Wednesday, Breton is expected to announce proposals to regulate US tech giants and state-aided Chinese companies, as well as proposals for governing artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg has called for regulation in the past, but Facebook's current recommendations propose, for example, giving tech companies flexibility to experiment with content moderation technology. Critics say the company isn't acting fast enough.

In a statement EU justice chief Vera Jourova said, "Facebook cannot push away all the responsibility. Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg have to answer themselves a question 'who do they want to be' as a company and what values they want to promote."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/eu-rejects-facebook-regulation-guidelines/

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17Feb/200

Watch the first trailer for Spielberg’s Apple TV+ series ‘Amazing Stories’

Amazing Stories first aired on NBC in 1985. After just two seasons, it has taken a long and seemingly difficult path to make its way back onto TV screens. Reports that Apple and Spielberg were working together to revive the series first came out in 2017. It seems to have suffered production delays along the way, with showrunner Bryan Fuller (of Star Trek: Discovery and American Gods fame) departing in 2018.

We'll have to wait to see how the series turns out, but it's clear Apple needs more interesting content to make TV+ compelling. Besides The Morning Show and For All Mankind, there haven't been a lot of reasons to revisit the service -- even if Apple has been generous about giving out free trials.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/amazing-stories-apple-tv-plus-trailer/

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17Feb/200

Apple warns of iPhone ‘supply shortages’ due to coronavirus outbreak

Apple is expecting a hit to its bottom line as a result of the supply shortages.

On top of this, retail demand is a problem. Many official and third-party stores have closed, and those that are open have reduced schedules and "very low" traffic. Apple is slowly reopening stores, but there's little doubt that the company is feeling the pinch.

The company stressed that the health of its workers was its "paramount priority," and that it intended to restore operations as safely as possible. It was also more than doubling its donation toward fighting the coronavirus strain. As a consequence, though, it no longer expects to meet its revenue targets for the quarter ending in March. Apple is far from the only business affected by the outbreak, but it may feel the effects more severely than others.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/apple-warns-of-iphone-shortages/

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17Feb/200

Microsoft releases its unified Office app for Android

Microsoft has followed through on its promise of a unified Office mobile app -- for some people, anyway. Following months of beta testing, the company has released the all-in-one productivity app for Android phone users. Like before, this lets you edit Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents without having to switch apps. You can also sift through your OneDrive files, scan real-world documents with Office Lens and read QR codes.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/17/microsoft-unified-office-app-android/

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