YouTube Updates Desktop and Mobile Apps; Google Maps Adds Parking Lots in 25 Cities; Aston Martin Going All-Electric or Hybrid

YouTube is rolling out updates to its desktop and mobile versions. Cnet.com reports that it will have a more consistent look across platforms. They have also added a feature to mobile that the desktop had…speeding up or slowing down playback. The newer apps will also adjust to fit the video format you are watching. If the video is vertical, the player will become vertical. They have also added a Dark Theme for the desktop that lets you make the background go dark.

Google Maps has added a feature called ‘Find Parking,’ 9to5google.com says it will show you parking lots and garages in 25 major cities in the US on the Android app. San Francisco, LA, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston are included…although parking is obviously not the issue in Houston right now! The feature works in tandem with the Parking Difficulty one Google rolled out in January that indicates how tough parking is based on machine learning and current parking data.

In the future, Bond…James Bond, will be looking for a Supercharger instead of pulling into a gas station. Storied British sports car maker Aston Martin has announced that they will be 100% hybrid by the mid 2020’s, and a quarter of all DB models will be EVs by 2030. Maybe Q can rig one up that uses an electric powered lightening bolt instead of the usual machine guns and rockets 007 has used to make his high speed escapes from SPECTRE. Arstechnica.com says the first all-electric Aston Martin will be the RapidE, a quick 4 seater due on the pavement in 2019.

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Comcast Partners with YouTube; Twitch Readying ‘Buy Now’ Button for Games; iPhone Getting Cam with 3D For Both Biometrics and Putting Users in Games

Comcast is partnering with YouTube, and will offer an app to watch it over their Xfinity boxes later this year. According to variety.com, no details are out about the deal, but you will be able to browse and watch YouTube’s entire catalog of videos, and use the X1 remote to do it by voice command if you like.

Twitch is getting ready to roll out a buy now button to allow you to pay streamers and buy games right in a stream you’re watching. Partnered streamers will get 5% share of the purchase, an game developers 70% of the revenue. Cnet.com says for starters it will only be available in the US to players with Amazon accounts. Ubisoft, Telltale Games and 11Bit are making their games available through Twitch stream.

Apple appears to be working on a camera for iPhones with ‘3D sensing and modeling capabilities,’ that will reinvent the user experience. Businessinsider.com reports that KGI Securities thinks it may appear in the new iPhone 8, but may well be improved on even more in a later phone. One application might be facial recognition for new biometric security, but another could be to put the user’s face into games on a character.


Netflix Offers Selectable Stream Quality on Cells; Periscope Tests Save Feature

Last month, it was revealed that Netflix was quietly throttling video quality over Verizon and AT&T cellular systems. Since the word got out, theverge.com says Netflix has responded by offering users the choice of upping the quality and gobbling up more data…and the inevitable hit to your cell bill…or staying with a lower quality and saving a few bucks on your cell bill. You have to dig through the settings to find it, and the default is set to automatic. The app jumps back to higher quality automatically whenever you’re on Wi-Fi. It’s activated as of now.

Periscope is beta testing a feature to save your live streams. Up to now, they only save for 24 hours, but in the beta, you can save them indefinitely by putting hashtag save (#save) in the title. Up to now, you had to save the video to your camera roll, then upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Thenextweb.com reports that the feature is partly because Facebook live saves closed streams on your timeline unless you delete them.


Samsung Announces Galaxy Unpacked Date; Tesla May Mirror Apps On Big Screen

It’s official…Samsung has announced their Galaxy Unpacked event at Mobile World Congress February 21st in Barcelona. 9to5google.com says the event will be live streamed at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern over Samsung’s YouTube channel. A teaser video has a person wearing a Gear VR virtual reality headset reaching for a cube with a 7 on it, a nod to the rollout of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

Tesla is looking at allowing smartphone apps from iPhones and Androids to be mirrored on it’s big display in the centre console of the cars. Theverge.com reports that the maker may be going this direction instead of putting out their own native developer kit to wall the phone apps off from the system that controls the functionality of the car itself. Although Tesla has one of the better infotainment systems in any car, they haven’t embraced Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at this point.


ESPN Pulls Out of YouTube Due To YouTube Red Issues; World Series Updates on Facebook Messenger

On the heels of YouTube’s announcement of their ad-free subscription service called Red last week, ESPN has pulled all content from YouTube. The content is still available on ESPN’s own digital properties, according to 9to5google.com. The only reason given is ‘rights and legal issues.’ It appears that ESPN can’t sign on with YouTube Red due to deals it has with other distribution partners. Since ESPN is a Disney property, it’s a good bet that YouTube can get their content back by throwing money at them.

Meanwhile, if you’re where you can’t catch world series games on the tube or radio. Facebook has started letting some Messenger users subscribe to MLB World Series news, stories, and hi lights, embedded in a one on one chat. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s a slick way for Facebook to get into Twitter’s turf. So far, it seems to be just a test feature, but if you can’t catch the game, start a chat about it with a friend, and you may see the game updates invite from Facebook Messenger.


Future Fuel Cell Powered Macbook Could Run Days or Weeks

We just reported about 10 days ago about a British company called Intelligent Energy working with Apple on a fuel cell battery case that can keep your iPhone going for a week. Now, businessinsider.com says Apple has a patent for a fuel cell battery that could run some of its devices for days or even weeks. This one describes a “portable and cost-effective fuel cell system for a portable computing device,” and it joins others Apple already had on the books. This one seems to be aimed at MacBooks…the filing mentions the ‘MagSafe’ connector, but not the Lightening connectors used on iPhones and iPads. Apparently, you would just replace a fuel cartridge ‘detachably affixed to the fuel cell system’ when the fuel runs out.

It seems like everyone has a smartphone now…and that perception isn’t far from reality. According to an analysis by ComScore picked up by marketingland.com, US smartphone penetration hit 77% in July. In the social media race on smartphones, Facebook dominates more than ever. They stay #1, and Facebook’s freestanding Messenger app is now #2, bumping YouTube to third place. Don’t shed a tear for Google though…their apps hold down slots 3, 4, 5, and 6! Pandora radio, Gmail, Instagram, and Yahoo stocks round out the top 10.


Apple’s Next Generation iPhone Cameras

You have probably heard that Apple is holding their rollout event for the new iPhones and more on September 9th. One of the marquee features, as reported by 9to5mac.com and others is a 12 megapixel main camera, and upgraded signal processor for larger, higher resolution pictures. 4K video is also in store on the 6S and 6S+…which a lot of people won’t need as they don’t have 4K TVs or monitors. One thing you WILL use is the upgraded front selfie cam with flash…no, there’s not a front-facing LED flash…Apple will flash the screen white when you shoot, like Snapchat and Photo Booth. The front cam is also likely to get panorama and slo-mo video, too.

In a move that will improve performance, Google’s Chrome web browser will start pausing Flash ads by default September 1st. The function has been in the beta version for a while now. By pausing auto-playing flash, Chrome users should see speed improvements and better batter life. Google, in addition to Apple, has been trying to get away from Flash tech for quite a while. YouTube switched over to streaming HTML5 video by default the first of the year.