Spotify HiFi; Consumer Reports ‘Green Choice’ for Vehicles; Apple Top Smartphone Maker Again; Google Drops Political Ad Ban

Spotify is going ‘HiFi.’ The streaming giant is playing catch up on this with Tidal and amazon Music. Nonetheless, the new lossless streaming ether will allow listeners to get the most out of their digital music library. According to theverge.com, Spotify HiFi will be available later this year, and will feature CD quality, lossless audio. Pricing has not yet been announced. Amazon charges $12.99 a month fort their lossless music if you have Prime, $14.99 otherwise. Tidal gets a princely $19.99 a month. Tidal also offers a Master Quality Audio tier that goes up to 96kHz/24 bit. Apple Music has yet to roll out lossless music on stream, although downloads through Apple Music use the Apple Lossless format. 

Major auto makers are gearing up to go electric…or at least hybrid…across much or all of their fleets. Now, Consumer Reports will begin grading vehicles according to their environmental impact. Arstechnica.com reports that CR has launched a new ‘green choice’ rating, which is indicated by a green leaf icon. The idea is to help buyers quickly identify vehicles with the best fuel efficiency and lowest contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels and smog formation. A CS survey last month showed that nearly half of buyers will use emission info to help them make their buying choice. CS says that right now, some 20% of the cars they rate qualify as green choices based on EPA data. the 4 top green picks right now out of CR’s top 10 recommended cars: Toyota Prius, Corolla, and Camry, and the Tesla Model 3. 

Good news for Apple…and a response to some bad news. First, the iPhone is now #1 in smartphone sales again….beating Samsung got the first time in five years. Zdnet.com says that worldwide smartphone sales fell 5% in the 4th quarter of 2020, but that Apple passed up Samsung as well as Huawei after introducing the 4 new iPhone 12 models. They may not hold on to the top spot long, as more makers roll out cheaper 5G smartphones. Apple really doesn’t have anything in the moderate to low price range. 

On the down side for Cupertino, over the weekend a piece of malware dubbed Silver Sparrow was detected on at least 30,000 Macs. Not only that, a version already runs on the new Apple M1 proprietary chips! So far, the malware doesn’t do anything or have any sort of payload, BUT it phones home to servers every hour, so someone is up to no good. Now, Apple has taken some steps to prevent further spread. They have revoked certificates of the developer accounts used to sign the packages, which will stop attackers from attacking more computers. Interestingly, the malware has a self-destruct mechanism…which is something you normally only see from malware built by state operators so they can escape detection. Expect Apple to take steps to neutralize the malware in MacOS updates soon.

Google has lifted its ban on political ads that was levied after the Capitol riot on January 6th. The ban was instituted on the 13th. According to axios.com, political ads will be accepted again beginning on Wednesday. An emailed statement from Google said “If they [the ads] are otherwise policy compliant, then our reviewers will approve the ad and it will be eligible to begin serving.” At this point, facebook has not yet lifted their ban on political ads. 



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