PCWorld


5 reasons to switch from Spotify Premium to its new free tier (and 5 reasons not to)

PCWorld

Spotify announced a major upgrade to its mobile app at an event at the Gramercy Theater in New York City today. The service will no longer treat its free users as second-class citizens. Now, whether you're one of Spotify's 90 million free users or opt to pay $10 a month to unlock the full experience, your music will take center stage, with curated playlists, on-demand listening, and smarter playlist creation. It's so good, in fact, some users might want to consider downgrading to the free tier from the premium one. Here are five reasons why you might want to switch (and five reasons why you shouldn't): When you sign up for the free plan inside the new Spotify app, you'll be greeted with a redesigned on-boarding screen that asks you to select your favorite artists.


How to check your Google Assistant history

PCWorld

With just a few clicks it's possible to delve into the history of your Google Assistant to see all the commands you've issued, the replies it's given, and hear audio recordings of exactly what it heard. Here's how to do it. Via the Google Home app: Open Google Home and click on the hamburger icon (the three horizontal lines in the top left). In the drop-down list, click on "My Activity" and you'll soon see a list of all the interactions you've had with Google Assistant. Click on the plus button under the search bar and choose the filter for Google Assistant.


Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus and Home Assistant Pack review: A middling tablet is a poor Alexa speaker

PCWorld

It's safe to say that Android tablets will never be a thing. It's safer to say the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus and the Home Assistant Pack will never replace anyone's Echo home speaker. It's hard to figure out Lenovo's strategy here. While Apple has carved out a nice niche with the iPad, and Chromebook makers are beginning to experiment with keyboard-less models, Android-based tablets never really caught on with fans of the platform who were content with using their larger-screened phones to get things done. But Lenovo has nonetheless plugged away with making tablets, most recently with the Tab 4 8 Plus.


This week in games: Call of Duty and Battlefield bound for battle royale, Shenmue comes to PC

PCWorld

We are well and truly in the grips of the battle royale era at this point, with rumors this week pegging a PUBG-style mode coming to both Call of Duty and Battlefield in the fall. At this point the question's not whether we see a new battle royale game at E3, it's how many we see. This is gaming news for April 16 to 20. Humble's habitually giving away games nearly every weekend it seems, and the trend continues this week with Satellite Reign. A blend of real-time tactics game and open-world adventure, it was intended as a successor to Syndicate--the original isometric one from the '90s, not the 2012 reboot.


Amazon's custom Alexa Blueprints skills show how far ahead of Siri and Google Assistant it is

PCWorld

Amazon has unveiled a new set of skills for its Echo smart speakers called Alexa Blueprints. The new feature make it easy for anyone to create custom responses to Alexa queries. There's no code to write, no files to upload, and really nothing to learn. Anyone with a web browser can create a custom skill in mere minutes that will be accessible to any Echo device in your home. When I tried it out this morning, I didn't even need to watch the minute-long instructional video to figure it out.


How to create private Alexa skills without code

PCWorld

Amazon's Alexa devices can be a lot of fun, but her answers aren't always the ones you'd like to hear. Now you can easily create your own personal Alexa skills with one of more than 20 pre-made Blueprints, swapping in your own content for Amazon's. It's always been possible to write custom Alexa skills, but that involved computer programming or learning some sort of third-party tool. With Blueprints, that barrier is gone for anyone interested in creating private skills available just for devices registered to their own account. Categories include Fun & Games, Learning & Knowledge, At Home, and Storyteller.


LIFX Mini smart bulb series review: Not quite as bright, but smaller and cheaper than the LIFX A19

PCWorld

At some point, LIFX surely heard the complaints one too many times: Your bulbs are great, but they're too big, too heavy, and--well--they just look weird. Clearly bowing to consumer sentiment, LIFX has introduced a second series: LIFX Mini. As the name implies, these three bulbs are indeed a bit smaller and easier to fit into most fixtures. One of them takes home TechHive's Editors' Choice award. Ejecting the cylindrical design of its earlier smart bulbs, which remain on the market, the bulbs in the Mini line look a bit more traditional.


Intel offloads virus scanning to the GPU for better battery life and performance

PCWorld

Intel actually has nearly a dozen different technologies that it has developed to secure PCs--many of which fly beneath the radar, even those that it has marketed at consumers, like True Key. Intel's sought to lock down the PC from the BIOS, to the OS, to the apps and data. Intel's final announcement was what it called Intel Security Essentials, a way to standardize the security features built into the Atom, Core, and Xeon processors so that developers could build applications that take advantage of these in a consistent way.


Google makes AI easy as (Raspberry) Pi with new DIY Google Assistant kits

PCWorld

Google's do-it-yourself AIY kits released last year are already a great way to learn the ins and outs of designing a smart home speaker powered by Google Assistant, but they always came with a caveat: You needed to bring your own Raspberry Pi to the party. But with an update available today, Google is giving you everything you need right in the box. Once again available in two flavors, Voice and Vision, Google's new kits are a one-stop solution for building the next-generation of AI devices, and include a Raspberry Pi Zero WH, micro USB connection cable, and pre-provisioned SD card. Each kit also comes with the appropriate hardware you'll need to get your smart device up and running: Google's AIY Voice Kit includes everything you need to make a smart speaker. Google's AIY Vision Kit includes everything you need to make a smart camera.


LIFX A19 (2018) smart bulb review: The Wi-Fi bulb to beat keeps getting better

PCWorld

Smart light bulb pioneer LIFX continues to innovate in the space, with its Frankenstein's-head-shaped bulb continuing to lead the pack on everything from build quality to software features. Little of physical significance has changed with the bulb in the last couple of years, as it retains its somewhat odd, oversized cylindrical design. Responding to concerns that most of the light emits upward from the bulb (or downward, if installed in a ceiling can) instead of to the sides, where it is needed in a typical lamp environment, LIFX has seemingly chosen a brute-force solution: Now packing 1,100 lumens of power, the LIFX A19 stands as seemingly the most powerful smart light bulb on the market. And in my testing, its brightness was unmatched by the competition. In simple terms, the LIFX A19 is essentially the same bulb as the LIFX, which adds an infrared nightlight to what is otherwise a standard, color-tunable smart bulb.