If you were trying to sneak in a quick game on Xbox Live during your Friday afternoon lunch break and found that you can’t get online: don’t worry, you’re not alone. While still says all things are good to go (Update: Microsoft’s status page has now caught up with the outage, and says that it’s impacting sign-ins, account creations and searches), reports are pouring in of an outage keeping many users from logging in. Microsoft acknowledged the problem on Twitter, saying that they’re “looking into it now.” Update, 2:30 PM: It’s back up! The status page shows all lights as green again, and a Microsoft spokesperson says that services have been fully restored. We're aware that some users are unable to sign in currently & our teams are looking into it now. We'll update when we have more info to share. Thanks for all the reports! — Xbox Support (@XboxSupport)
A set of new features for Android could alleviate some of the difficulties of living with hearing impairment and other conditions. Live transcription, captioning, and relay use speech recognition and synthesis to make content on your phone more accessible — in real time. Announced today at I/O event in a surprisingly long segment on accessibility, the features all rely on improved speech-to-text and text-to-speech algorithms, some of which now run on-device rather than sending audio to a datacenter to be decoded. The first feature to be highlighted, live transcription, was already mentioned by Google before. It’s a simple but very useful tool: open the app and the device will listen to its surroundings and simply display any speech it recognizes as text on the screen. We’ve seen this in translator apps and devices, like the , and the meeting transcription highlighted yesterday at Microsoft Build. One would think that such a straightforward tool is long overdue, but in fact everyday circumstances like talking to a couple friends at a cafe, can be remarkably difficult for natural language systems trained on perfectly recorded single-speaker audio. Improving the system to the point where it can track multiple speakers and display accurate transcripts quickly has no doubt been a challenge. Another feature enabled by this improved speech recognition ability is live captioning, which essentially does the same thing as above, but for video. Now when you watch a YouTube video, listen to a voice message, or even take a video call, you’ll be able to see what the person in it is saying, in real time. That should prove incredibly useful not just for the millions of people who can’t hear what’s being said, but also those who don’t speak the language well and could use text support, or anyone watching a show on mute when they’re supposed to be going to sleep, or any number of other circumstances where hearing and understanding speech just isn’t the best option. Captioning phone calls is something CEO Sundar Pichai said is still under development, but the “live relay” feature they demoed on stage showed how it might work. A person who is hearing-impaired or can’t speak will certainly find an ordinary phone call to be pretty worthless. But live relay turns the call immediately into text, and immediately turns text responses into speech the person on the line can hear. Live captioning should be available on Android Q when it releases, with some device restrictions. is available now but a warning states that it is currently in development. Live relay is yet to come, but showing it on stage in such a complete form suggests it won’t be long before it appears.
is holding a keynote today on its campus in Cupertino, and the company is expected to talk about new services. Don’t expect any new device, today’s event should be all about content. At 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 5 PM in London, 6 PM in Paris), you’ll be able to watch the event as the company is streaming it live. Rumor has it that the company plans to multiple new services. The most anticipated one will be a new video streaming service that should compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others. In addition to that service, Apple will unveil an Apple News subscription to access magazines and premium articles for a flat monthly fee. But we might also hear about a mysterious and a subscription service. Details are still thin, so it’s going to be interesting to hear Apple talk about all those services. If you have an Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones. The app icon was updated a few days ago for the event. And if you don’t have an Apple TV, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. So to recap, here’s how you can watch today’s Apple event: Your favorite web browser on the Mac or Windows 10. An Apple TV with the Apple Events app in the App Store. Google Chrome on your Android phone. Of course, you also can read if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a team in the room.
is holding a press event at the Game Developers Conference today in San Francisco. The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time, 1 PM Eastern Time, 5 PM in London and 6 PM in Paris. While many game companies rely on Google Cloud Platform for their server and infrastructure needs, today’s conference is going to be different. The company has been working on something called Project Stream for more than six months. In its initial , the company let you play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in your Chrome web browser. The game would run on a server in a data center near you, and you’d see the video stream in your browser and interact with your character from your computer. And it sounds like Google is ready to launch its cloud gaming service for real. So let’s see how Google plans to sell this service and the initial game lineup.
Microsoft today a new initiative that combines under a single umbrella all of the company’s gaming-related products for developers like Xbox Live, Azure PlayFab, Direct X, Mixer, Virtual Studio, Simplygon and Azure. That umbrella, , is meant to give game developers, no matter whether they are at a AAA studio or working solo, all the tools they need to develop and then operate their games across devices and platforms. “Game Stack brings together our game development platforms, tools and services like Direct X and Visual Studio, Azure and Playfab into a robust ecosystem that any game developer can use,” said Kareem Choudhry, the corporate vice president for the Microsoft Gaming Cloud. “We view this as a journey that we are just beginning.” It’s worth noting that developers can pick and choose which of the services they want to use. While Azure is part of Game Stack, for example, the overall stack is cloud and device agnostic. Undoubtedly, though, Microsoft hopes that developers will adopt Azure as their preferred cloud. These days, after all, most games feature some online component, even if they aren’t multiplayer games, and developers need a place to store player credentials, telemetry data and other info. One of the core components of Game Stack is , a backend service for building cloud-connected games, which now falls under the Azure family. Microsoft the service early last year and it’s worth noting that it supports all major gaming platforms, ranging from the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch to iOS, Android, PC and web. With today’s announcement, Microsoft is launching a number of new PlayFab services, too. These include PlayFab Matchmaking, a matchmaking service the company adapted from Xbox Live matchmaking, but that’s now available to all developers and on all devices. This service is now in public preview. In private preview are PlayFab Party, a voice and chat service (also modeled after Xbox Party Chat), PlayFab Game insights for real-time game telemetry, PlayFab Pub Sub for pushing content updates, notifications and more to the game client, and PlayFab User Generated Content for allowing players to safely share content with each other. So while Game Stack may feel more like a branding exercise, it’s clear that PlayFab is where Microsoft is really putting its money as it’s competing with and , both of which have recently put a lot of emphasis on game developers, too. In addition to these announcements, Microsoft also today said that it is bringing an SDK for Xbox Live to iOS and Android devices so developers can integrate that service’s identity and community services into their games on those platforms, too.
If you’re looking to cut the cord but still watch great content, you’ll definitely want to consider Hulu with Live TV. The company started about 10 years after Netflix, when the streaming craze was just starting to hit. Hulu has surfed the wave and now offers both on demand content and live shows. This popular streaming service can help you lower your cable bill without losing the option of watching your favorite show. With original content and tons of cable channels, you can’t go wrong with Hulu’s newest plan. Take a look at our Hulu with Live TV reviews below to learn more about this hot service and everything it can provide to you. Hulu with Live TV Packages and Pricing Hulu with Live TV offers two plans at very similar price points. Hulu offers two live TV plans and price points. Having such a simple pricing structure is helpful for anyone who gets overwhelmed with a huge number of choices. You do also have the option of adding a variety of extra features, if desired, which we’ll discuss a little further down the page. You can purchase with Live TV or the Live TV Only plan. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two. Hulu with Live TV It costs $39.99 per month. This package includes 60+ top live and on demand channels, including major networks and some local channels. You also get access to Hulu’s streaming library, which contains a variety of licensed TV shows and movies and Hulu’s on demand exclusives like the popular show The Handmaid’s Tale. With this plan, you get 50 hours of DVR storage to record your favorite shows. You can watch simultaneous streams on up to 2 devices. Hulu with Live TV offers your first week for free. Live TV Only It costs $38.99 per month. This package includes the same 60+ channels as Hulu with Live TV. 50 hours of DVR storage. No access to the on demand library. No premium channel upgrades. With a difference of only a dollar per month, it’s worth it to go with the Hulu with Live TV plan every single time. The on-demand content alone is worth the extra dollar per month. Hulu with Live TV Extras and Add Ons Hulu offers a variety of add ons and premium features for an added price. If the 60+ channels and exclusive Hulu content isn’t enough to wet your whistle, you always have the option of purchasing extras and add ons to your plan. This is an essential aspect of any on-demand service, and Hulu makes sure you have a bunch of different options from which to choose. While the add-on choices aren’t as customizable as other services, they still give you a good amount of flexibility. If you want to stream on more than 2 devices, you can purchase the Unlimited Screens add-on for an additional $14.99 per month. This is worth it if you have a bunch of people wanting to watch at the same, especially considering the alternative option is paying another $40 a month for a separate plan. You can also pay an additional $14.99 per month for the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on. This gives you a total of 200 hours of DVR storage, which is awesome for keeping sports and movies recorded. For $7.99 per month, you can get the Entertainment add-on, which gives you access to American Heroes Channel, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FYI, LMN, and Science. Hulu has also partnered with a variety of premium channels to bring you even more content, including: HBO – $14.99 per month STARZ – $8.99 per month Showtime – $10.99 per month Cinemax – $9.99 per month Hulu with Live TV User Experience Hulu’s interface is clean, modern and easy to use. Hulu recently updated all of its apps and the results are impressive. The interface on both desktop and mobile apps is clean and looks modern. Using the apps is intuitive, especially if you’ve used other streaming services in the past, and features things like watch lists, currently watching sections and easy-to-use controls. Unfortunately, Hulu’s interface is simply packed with too much content. While this may seem like a good thing, it can make it difficult to navigate at times, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This used to be even worse with the Live TV section, but that has since been improved by transitioning to a standard grid view that most cable users are familiar with. You can access Hulu on a variety of different streaming devices, including iOS and Android mobile devices, Roku, Apple TV, gaming consoles, Fire TV and Fire Stick and a few different . How Does Hulu with Live TV Stack Up vs. Other Streaming Services? Hulu with Live TV offers one of the best solutions for anyone looking to transition away from traditional cable TV. It still provides a wide variety of popular channels and a huge library of content you won’t be able to find on live TV. This streaming service is definitely on the more expensive side of the equation, especially when compared to services like and AT&T Watch TV, but it makes up for it in the sheer amount of content available for you to watch. You don’t get as many choices for affordable add-ons with Hulu with Live TV and when you start adding on premium channels, you might find yourself getting dangerously close to your old cable bill. Hulu’s additional features like DVR storage are comparable to other streaming services, so you won’t find much difference there. Overall, Hulu with Live TV offers the most content you can get in the streaming and live TV world, but you’ll be paying more for it. Is Hulu with Live TV for You? Hulu offers plenty of pros and a few cons to consider as well. So, is Hulu with Live TV for you? If you’re ready to pay premium prices for both on-demand content and live TV, we think this streaming service is worth it. The type of content and channels available on this plan are popular and of good quality. The interface is easy to use and navigate. You have plenty of add ons and extra features to purchase, if desired. Of course, there are a few downsides to using Hulu’s service. Their exclusive content and streaming library are interspersed with ads that can be disabled for a price. Premium channels are expensive, and if you want all of them, you’ll be paying a pretty penny. Overall, Hulu with Live TV is a high-quality plan that should be attractive to most, if not all, cord cutters. You might be paying more than you would with other streaming services, but the extra, high-quality content is definitely worth every cent. The post appeared first on .
is set to announce a brand new hardware device at MWC in Barcelona — the new HoloLens headset. The conference starts at 6:00 PM CET (5:00 AM GMT, 12:00 PM ET, 9:00 AM PT). If you’ve ever tried the HoloLens, you know that this it is a magical device. But Microsoft quickly realized that it had more potential for industrial use cases. It is now positioned as a B2B device. Let’s see what Microsoft has in mind with the second-generation HoloLens. The company is also going to talk about its mobile strategy when it comes to apps and services on iOS and Android. You can check it out live via Microsoft’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of .
Microsoft Photo In a potentially seismic move for the video game industry, Microsoft is preparing to extend Xbox Live compatibility to several additional platforms, including Android and iOS mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch, according to a session description for next month’s 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The session was reported by , and , but it had touted plans to show off a new software development kit “to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.” Xbox Live users will be able to “take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen,” the description said. This would extend Xbox Live’s reach from the 400 million Xbox and Windows 10 gaming devices, to a couple of billion devices worldwide. Microsoft declined to confirm or comment on the plans in response to GeekWire’s inquiry. However, such a move would fit with the tech giant’s strategy under CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft has increasingly been seeking to make its apps and services work across a variety of platforms, including those that the company has traditionally considered rivals. The SDK will be discussed at GDC 2019 as part of a session hosted by Team Xbox’s Jeffrey Shi and Ramsey Khadder, “.” The idea as proposed is to let the Xbox Live community take their groups, achievements, friends lists, games progress, and other means of engagement with them to non-Microsoft platforms, most notably the Switch, in the same way that Minecraft players can currently bring their data with them via Live if they change over to another system. There are a few other publishers in the games industry that attach their own independent networks to their games, most notably Ubisoft’s and Electronic Arts’s . When you install a new Assassin’s Creed or Madden game, you also run into requests to sign up for the related services. There’s also a larger movement in games right now towards “crossplay,” where certain cross-platform titles will allow you to go head-to-head against players on different services or consoles, which used to be anywhere from rare to impossible. Rocket League, Fortnite, Paladins, and SMITE, just to name a few games, all either have crossplay as of this writing, or intend to roll out the functionality soon. Last summer, Microsoft and Nintendo made big news by allowing Xbox and Switch owners to play together in Minecraft. Hey , since we can play together in now, did you want to build something? — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) What’s different here is that Microsoft is extending the Xbox Live service, one of the pillars of its video game business, to platforms that are owned by what are ostensibly its direct competitors. Imagine an announcement by Netflix that it has reached a deal where you could watch several of its exclusive shows on Hulu, and you get an idea for how unusual this move could be. It does make sense, however, when viewed in conjunction with other initiatives like . Microsoft is still happy to sell you an Xbox if you want one, but this is consistent with its stated desire to focus on the services it provides, rather than the products it sells. It also opens up the possibility of Microsoft’s trademark first-party franchises being available for play on Android, iOS, or Nintendo devices, albeit with potential required engagement with Xbox Live. You could probably get a pretty good game of multiplayer Halo 5 or Sea of Thieves going on a Switch. Part of the session’s description also played up the appeal of the decision to independent developers, who ostensibly could “save time & expand their customer base” by offloading their social, communications, and multiplayer interactions onto Microsoft’s Xbox Live network. Instead of coding up your own account structure and online presence, the argument goes, why not simply plug into the preexisting, millions-strong Xbox Live user base? Microsoft has been criticized for its lack of platform exclusives, which tend to be the bread and butter of any video game console, but if its game plan is to use its high-engagement online service as a method of colonizing competitors’ marketplaces with its service portfolio, it’s a truly audacious move. It means that the value of the Xbox to Microsoft doesn’t necessarily involve a customer owning an actual Xbox. It also positions Microsoft as a social-network client for indies looking to build ready-made communities around their games, and gives Xbox Live a foothold on a variety of devices as the mobile gaming market continues to heat up.