In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.
Every Act comes with a new battle pass, which offers rewards in exchange for experience points, gained by playing the game. The new Episode 2 battle pass will cost $10, and include three new skin lines, as well as player cards, gun buddies, titles and sprays. One of the new sets of skins, titled Infinity, will have three color variants, a novelty for weapons in the battle pass. Players who opt not to pay will still receive a few free rewards spaced throughout the pass.
Fox News Flash top entertainment and celebrity headlines are here. Check out what's clicking today in entertainment. Lin Qi, an executive producer on "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' upcoming Netflix series, died at age 39 after being poisoned. Lin was the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group, which he founded in 2009. The company was working with the TV creators on an adaptation of a science fiction series based on "The Three-Body Problem" trilogy of novels by Chinese author Liu Cixin.
So you just got a smart speaker as a holiday present. Now what to do with them? You've come to the right place. On command, by saying "Hey Siri," for the HomePod, "Hey Google" for the Nest Audio or "Alexa," on Echo speakers, you can instruct them to play music of your choice, either via a subscription service, or more generically, as part of a themed radio station via the Pandora service. Amazon's speakers play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and iHeartRadio, while Apple plays just from Apple Music and Pandora.
While the circumstances were hardly ideal, 2020 was a big year for cord cutting. Streaming services like Netflix and Disney saw their subscriber numbers soar as people looked for ways to pass the time at home, and the temporary suspension of live sports accelerated the decline of traditional pay TV bundles. While not coronavirus-related, this year introduced two major new streaming services in HBO Max and NBC's Peacock, and we saw some bold attempts to rethink the streaming device with Google's new Chromecast and the TiVo Stream 4K. I've been writing this weekly column (and newsletter) on cord-cutting through it all, so in accordance with annual tradition, I'd like to cap off 2020 by recounting my favorite developments of the year. Here are TechHive's fifth-annual cord-cutter awards: At the start of the year, I wrote that unified streaming TV guides would be one of cord-cutting's biggest trends, and no streaming device delivers on that idea quite like the Chromecast with Google TV.
In some stores, sophisticated systems are tracking customers in almost every imaginable way, from recognizing their faces to gauging their age, their mood, and virtually gussying them up with makeup. The systems rarely ask for people's permission, and for the most part they don't have to. In our season 1 finale, we look at the explosion of AI and face recognition technologies in retail spaces, and what it means for the future of shopping. This episode was reported and produced by Jennifer Strong, Anthony Green, Tate Ryan-Mosley, Emma Cillekens and Karen Hao. Strong: Retailers have been using face recognition and AI tracking technologies for years. And what if you could know about the presence of violent criminals before they act? With Face First you can stop crime before it starts.] It detects faces, voices, objects and claims it can analyze behavior. But face recognition systems have a well-documented history of misidentifying women and people of color. And they're trying to sell it and impose it on the entirety of the country?] Strong: This is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a 2019 congressional hearing on facial recognition.
If you just watched The Mandalorian Chapter 16 (and if you haven't, why are you here?), And now, let's scream together. The Mandalorian's Season 2 finale, "The Rescue" would have taken a much darker turn and required an entirely different name if it weren't for the eleventh-hour arrival of the galaxy's most powerful Jedi. When Din and his allies are about to face an entire platoon of Dark Troopers (after we watched just ONE of them beat the hell out of him), they suddenly stop upon the arrival of a mysterious X-wing. A sole, hooded figure disembarks and proceeds to demolish trooper after trooper with a green lightsaber -- and a gloved robot hand.
The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency has issued a report calling for policymakers to consider new guidelines to accompany the spread of artificial intelligence technology. Among other suggestions, the agency says firms should protect privacy rights and better disclose how they use AI. Also today, Indian farmers continue to protest reforms that pave the way for private companies to play a larger role in the country's sprawling agricultural sector.
Without revealing all its secrets, Netflix has laid out how it uses AI to market shows and predict their success. We already knew that Netflix shuffles and redesigns its interface and show tiles, apparently on the fly, to hook more viewers. But it also uses AI to compare new shows to those its country-by-country viewership watched in the past and to tap into metadata and information on non-Netflix shows, too. The explanation is a little (well, very) dry, but the AI goes beyond Netflix's own data to hedge the company's bets, for less risk, more profit. If, for example, a drama is likely to fare well in Spain, Netflix could increase marketing in the region and prep dubs and subtitles earlier than usual.
Lately I've come to think of the list Netflix provides on its homepage of its Top 10 most popular shows and movies at any given time as the streamer's version of the roll call at the Democratic National Convention this summer: Taking it in, one can only marvel at what a big country this is and how many, many different people, with very different entertainment preferences, occupy it. Where else does one find prestige programming like The Crown and The Queen's Gambit cheek by jowl with docufiction about aliens, a Christmas movie from 20 years ago, and, always, between one and five options you're convinced don't actually exist beyond their thumbnail images? For the past week or so, the honor of most fake-seeming show on the list has belonged to something called Virgin River. In contrast to the months-long publicity campaigns that precede some Netflix releases, others, like Virgin River, just seem to show up one day, their Rotten Tomatoes pages suspiciously lacking in reviews. With its blandly scenic setting and its generically good-looking leads, Virgin River feels, even more than most Netflix shows, like it could have been generated entirely by artificial intelligence.