'Avengers: Infinity War' comes to Netflix on Christmas Day


Ever since the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War, there’s been a looming question: when is it coming to Netflix? Right in time for some holiday viewing, it seems. Netflix has revealed that the star-studded superhero flick will be available to stream on December 25th. Yes, you too can pay tribute to Stan Lee while you’re recovering from the family feast. Just be sure to put your blinders on if you haven’t seen the movie yet — this is a Marvel title that can easily be ruined if you’re not careful.

It’s also one of the last chances you’ll have to see a recent Marvel movie on the service. Disney plans to stop offering its superhero flicks to Netflix after Ant-Man and the Wasp. From then onward, it’ll likely save Marvel blockbusters for its Disney+ service launching in 2019. Think of this as the swan song for an era when you could find the latest Marvel TV shows and movies in one place.

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DC Universe's 'Young Justice: Outsiders' premieres January 4th, 2019


DC Universe finally has the premiere date for its first show after Titans. The company has announced that Young Justice: Outsiders‘ third season will reach the streaming service on January 4th, 2019. The teaser clip says precious little about the continuation of the story, but it does offer a peek at a sinister alien planet.

The timing is rather appropriate. With Titans episodes releasing on a weekly basis, Young Justice will conveniently debut right when DC Universe subscribers are looking for something else to watch. That could keep them attached to the service while DC builds up its original video catalog.

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Alexa can now make Skype calls


Starting this week, you’ll be able to make Skype calls on your Alexa devices. Basically the entire line of Echo devices will have the ability to make voice calls via Microsoft’s VoIP platform. The Echo Show and its tablet-style screen will also be able to make and receive video calls.

In addition to calling your Skype contacts via Alexa, users will also be able to call mobile numbers and landlines using SkypeOut. The feature allows you to call existing contacts or a new number on Skype. You’ll get 100 minutes of free calls per month for two months when you link your Skype account with Alexa.

In order to set up Skype for Alexa, open the Amazon Alexa app on your Android or iOS device. Go to Settings > Communication > Skype. You’ll be prompted to login with your Microsoft account. Once you’ve successfully entered your username and password, you’ll be able to make and accept calls from Skype through Alexa.

The integration of Skype and Alexa, which was promised earlier this year, is just the latest example of Amazon and Microsoft teaming up. The companies announced a partnership last year to make Alexa and Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortona work together and earlier this year, Xbox One and Windows 10 got Alexa apps.

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Pandora's on-demand music now streams on Alexa devices

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Amazon Alexa’s repertoire of on-demand music services appears to be growing by the day. Hot on the heels of Tidal’s support, Pandora has enabled Premium streaming on Alexa-equipped devices like Amazon’s Echo speakers. You no longer have to be content with Pandora’s radio feature — you can access your playlists and play albums like you would anywhere else. You can set the service as your default music option as well. It’s not quite complete when Personalized Soundtracks support is “coming soon,” but you otherwise won’t be hurting for choice.

Amazon now supports multiple large streaming music services beyond its own, including Deezer and Spotify. While this won’t help much if you’re deeply invested in Apple or Google services, it’s evident that Alexa is becoming the go-to assistant for people who want options for their voice-controlled music.

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The Morning After: YouTube quietly adds free, ad-supported movies

Legally Blonde

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to your (shorter!) week! This Monday, we’re talking mystery objects in space, a makeshift laptop from Barnes & Noble and rumors about a midrange Pixel 3. We’re also frozen by indecision over Black Friday sale options. Already.

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Not that this eliminates all the mystery involved.
Strange interstellar object Oumuamua is tiny and very reflective

Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to visit the Solar System, can’t be all that big. As the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared detection couldn’t catch the cigar-shaped entity, it’s likely less than half a mile (2,600 feet) at its longest. The research also found something unusual: It’s extremely reflective, potentially up to 10 times more so than Solar System comets. Just what caused this isn’t certain, though.

A smart keyboard and a charging dock are firsts for the Nook line.
Barnes & Noble’s latest Nook tablet can turn into a makeshift laptop

Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble unveiled the Nook Tablet 10.1, a slate whose main appeal is its sheer value for money — $130 gets you a 1,920 x 1,200 screen and 32GB of expandable storage. Now, B&N is adding a $40 Smart Folio Cover with Keyboard that, for the first time, turns the Nook into a pseudo-laptop. Much like with a Surface or iPad Pro, there’s a physical connector that provides power and data without cables or any Bluetooth complications.

Caveats, obviously.Rumored mid-range Pixel 3 might include a headphone jack

New leaks suggest a mid-range Pixel 3 could be happening, with a 5.5-inch LCD screen, plastic body and a slightly less potent processor. Most notably (for some of you) is the return of the headphone jack. And if the leak is legit, this middleweight model would still pack the imaging skills of the more premium Pixel 3 family members.

Isn’t that like watching them on TV?YouTube quietly offers free ad-supported movies

AdAge has confirmed that the Google video service quietly started adding free ad-supported movies to its Movies & Shows section in October. The roughly 100-title collection largely revolves around older, but notable, movies that are long past their money-making prime, such as Legally Blonde and the original Terminator. However, that makes it an easy fit — studios can rake in some ad revenue (YouTube hasn’t said how it shares ad money) from people wanting to watch a classic during a sleepy afternoon.

Company product management director Rohit Dhawan hinted that companies could well sponsor individual movies going forward. You could watch the first movie in a franchise when its sequel hits theaters, for instance. Whether or not that happens will depend on how studios react.

But wait, there’s more…

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Apple and Microsoft are fixing a serious iCloud bug in Windows 10

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The return of Windows 10’s October update wasn’t welcome news for everyone. Microsoft says it’s “working with Apple” to solve an iCloud for Windows bug that creates problems updating or syncing shared photo albums when using the latest Windows release. Suffice it to say that’s a serious problem if you’re interested in seamless access to your photos across your devices.

It’s not certain when you can expect a solution, but the two companies aren’t taking any chances in the meantime. It’s blocking PCs with iCloud for Windows from installing the latest Windows 10 update, and those who try to install it after the fact will get a warning that Windows doesn’t support that version of iCloud. Like it or not, you may have to forego iCloud or the Windows update for a while.

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Italian law requires domestic movies hit theaters before they stream

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France isn’t the only country particularly wary of streaming services. Italian Culture and Tourism Minister Alberto Bonisoli recently unveiled a law that would require all Italian-made movies to show in theaters before they reach Netflix, Prime Video and other streaming providers. It also formalizes a 105-day delay between the theatrical and streaming releases, although that can be shortened to ‘just’ 60 days if a picture either shows in fewer than 80 theaters or has fewer than 50,000 viewers in its first three weeks.

Bonisoli wasn’t shy about the reasoning: it’s meant to “protect theaters,” which he contended “need films that can guarantee an income.” Italian media industry figures, such as Agis’ Carlo Fontana, have claimed that streaming services represent “unfair competition.”

This isn’t necessarily as harsh as the French law, which requires a three-year wait between a theatrical premiere and availability on streaming services (although it doesn’t require a theater debut like Italy does). However, the goal is ultimately the same: it’s an attempt to guard a traditional approach to movie-going (and the businesses that depend on this) against disruption. Whether or not it works is another matter. Italy’s mandatory buffer may prevent domestically-made movies from going directly to Amazon or Netflix, but it won’t necessarily persuade audiences to visit the theater — they might just wait until they can watch a production at home for no extra cost.

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Microsoft is selling Amazon Echo speakers in its stores

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Microsoft’s deepening relationship with Amazon’s Alexa now extends to its stores. WalkingCat and others have noticed that Microsoft is carrying both the new Echo Dot and the regular Echo in its online and retail stores. The company isn’t just supporting Alexa, then — it’s encouraging you to buy into Amazon’s ecosystem.

The addition reflects Cortana’s changing role at the company. Where Microsoft originally pitched Cortana as a direct competitor to other mainstream voice assistants, it has shifted the AI helper’s focus toward chatbots and behind-the-scene tasks that are more useful to the corporate crowd than home users. The VP in charge of Cortana, Javier Soltero, is reportedly leaving Microsoft as the company moves its assistant from its AI team to its Experiences and Devices group. For now, Alexa appears to be Microsoft’s voice assistant of choice for everyday users.

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Microsoft opens the door to native ARM apps on Windows 10

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ARM-based Windows 10 devices have improved in performance, but the software is another story — without official tools to write native 64-bit ARM apps, it’s been difficult to help these machines reach their potential. That shouldn’t be an issue after this week. Microsoft has released Visual Studio 15.9, which gives developers the tools they need to craft native ARM64 apps. They can submit those apps to the Microsoft Store, too, although they can also release ARM apps elsewhere (or bundle them into releases for other chip architectures) if they’d prefer.

It may take a while before you see these apps arrive in earnest. However, they could help make a more compelling case for ARM-based Windows PCs. Right now, their frequent dependence on emulated x86 apps (not x64) offsets their touted advantages in battery life and portability. While a Snapdragon-based laptop isn’t about to outperform a reasonably quick Core i5 system any time soon, the gap may shrink enough that more people will give the ARM computer a chance.

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Google may add public comments for searches

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Google+ is shutting down in the wake of a data privacy flaw, but that doesn’t mean Google is now uninterested in social features. The 9to5Google crew has discovered what appears to be in-testing support for comments on search results. The feature would be limited to live sports matches (at least at first), but it would separate feedback from both pro commentators and viewers and would include filters to highlight the top comments. And yes, there would be moderation to cut down on spam and other abuse.

We’ve asked Google if it can say more about its potential plans. There’s no certainty this will arrive soon, if at all. With that in mind, the allure is clear for Google. Comments on specific events could keep people engaged on Google well after they’ve run a search, rather than just the few moments it takes to check scores or visit another website. That, in turn, could help with advertising, sports deals and other aspects of Google’s bottom line.

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