Amazon is reportedly working on an ad-supported video service


Abhishek Chinnappa / Reuters

Amazon is working on an ad-supported video service that would be available to users of its Fire TV devices, The Information reports. According to people familiar with the matter, the service will tentatively be called Free Dive and is being developed by the company’s IMDB subsidiary. It will likely feature older TV shows and Amazon is reportedly in licensing talks with major studios.

Rumors of such a service surfaced last year and Amazon stopped short of denying the project, saying at the time that it had “no plans to create a free, ad-supported version of Prime Video.” According to the details provided by The Information’s sources, Free Dive definitely wouldn’t be a free version of Prime. It would be a separate service entirely and likely with different content. The service would let Amazon compete with similar offerings from Roku and Vudu while giving the company an additional outlet through which to generate ad revenue.

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Texas company sells plans for 3D-printed guns despite ban


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A judge may have extended a ban preventing Defense Distributed from publishing plans for 3D-printed guns, but that isn’t stopping the company from finding loopholes to continue offering the weapons. Company owner Cody Wilson has started selling the plans to US customers through his website on his belief that the ban only rules out publishing the plans online, not selling them directly. Those who purchase the plans can receive them by email, secure file transfers or even USB thumb drives shipped by mail.

Not surprisingly, that isn’t how officials interpret the ruling. Washington state Attorney General and lawsuit overseer Bob Ferguson believed the ruling still made sales illegal, and hoped the federal government would hold Wilson “accountable to that law.” Wilson said he was expecting state lawsuits and was raising funds to defend himself against them.

The question is whether or not Wilson is violating the spirit of the law, not just its letter. Both the recent ban and the 2013 restriction stemmed from concerns about distributing 3D-printed gun technology that’s both “untraceable and undetectable,” as Judge Robert Lasnik put it. That potential security risk doesn’t change with the distribution method, and proponents of the ban will likely argue that an emailed copy is just as risky as publishing the info on a public website.

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LG's first Android One phone is a stripped-back G7


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LG is embracing Google’s Android One program… just not in the way you might have expected. It’s launching the G7 One, a device that melds the G7 ThinQ’s core design with Android One’s streamlined app loadout and focus on timely security updates. Don’t think of this as a G7 with less bloat, however. While it has the 6.1-inch QHD+ screen, glass body and quad DAC, it’s using last year’s Snapdragon 835 processor, reverts to a single 16-megapixel rear camera and carries just half the built-in storage at 32GB (still expandable, thankfully). Really, it’s an upper-mid-range phone in a flagship’s clothing.

The company is also using the opportunity to stuff a mid-range phone into the G7 family. The G7 Fit (below) again preserves the screen, but drops back to an older-still Snapdragon 821 and uses a less sophisticated 16MP rear camera (f/2.2 aperture instead of the G7 One’s brighter f/1.6). Some countries will get a version of the G7 Fit with 64GB of storage, though, and the rest of the design remains intact.

LG only plans to discuss availability and pricing on a local basis, so it’s not certain when these will be available. We wouldn’t count on them reaching your part of the globe, either. LG is clearly aiming at cost-conscious buyers who want the basic G7 formula, and that’s more likely to involve developing countries.

LG G7 Fit

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Microsoft OneDrive will use AI to make searchable video transcripts


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You’ve probably had that moment where you wanted to track down an important piece of information from a video, but weren’t sure when it was said. If so, Microsoft wants to come to your aid — it’s introducing media searching in OneDrive (and SharePoint, for that matter) that uses AI to transcribe audio and video. The feature will show you timestamped quotes alongside the media viewer itself, with a handy search box helping you track down that elusive phrase.

The company is also promising a file view for both OneDrive and the Office.com home page that will recommend relevant files based on your work habits, including who you work with and activity on files shared with you through Microsoft 365. You’ll receive intelligent sharing prompts as well. If you took photos during a meeting, for instance, the OneDrive mobile app will ask you about sharing those with others who were scheduled to attend the meeting.

The transcription combined with OneDrive’s AI-based photo searching might give Microsoft an advantage, particularly in the working world. While AI image searching isn’t new, the addition of transcripting theoretically makes it easy to search all kinds of media based on its content, not just file names.

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Intel's new laptop CPUs focus on gigabit Wi-Fi and voice commands


REUTERS

Intel already has a wide variety of eight-generation laptop processors targeting performance and gaming. But with its latest round of chips — a new batch of U-series CPUs for mainstream laptops, and the debut of Y-series processors for very thin machines — the company is focused on improving the ultraportable laptop experience. For one, they all feature integrated gigabit Wi-Fi, which will vastly improve your networking performance on modern AC routers. There’s also a quad-core audio DSP, which will make it easier for laptops to recognize voice commands for multiple virtual assistants. Even better, it lets you shout commands while your computer is asleep.

With the new Y-series chips — the Core M3-8100Y, i5-8200Y and i7-8500Y — Intel says we can expect to see more ultra-thin PC designs from PC makers. You’ll see some of those announced this week alongside IFA in Berlin, but it’ll be interesting to see how these new chips affect PC designs for next year. (I can’t reveal which model it is, but one machine during Intel’s press briefing felt impossibly light for a 15-inch PC.) The Y-series processors only have two cores, but their low 5 Watt thermal profile means most systems won’t need a fan to run them, and they should offer significantly better battery life than the rest of the 8th-gen lineup.


Intel

Intel’s updated U-series processors are still meant for slightly beefier ultraportables, but they’ll feel faster than last year’s models thanks to that integrated gigabit Wi-Fi. And the new audio DSP could be useful if you’re juggling Cortana and Alexa at the same time. To make sure you’re getting a new U-series model, computers with these new processors will have a bright yellow “Optimized for Connectivity” printed below Intel’s logo. That’s a clunky way to differentiate them, but at least discerning buyers have something to look out for.

Intel claims the new U-series CPUs are up to 6.5X faster than a five-year-old system in 4K video encodes, when comparing the i5-8265U to the i5-8400U. In real-world figures, that means you should be able to encode 4K video in real-time (or at least, much closer to it than before). Additionally, Intel says the refreshed chips are also twice as fast in World of Tanks, when compared to a five year old machine. That’s not too surprising though, given how far the company’s integrated graphics have come.

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