Apple Music launches on Amazon Fire TV, coming to Echo for UK users soon

Apple Music launches on Amazon Fire TV, coming to Echo for UK users soon – 9to5Mac:

Following the Apple Music launch on Amazon Echo speakers in the US, Apple Music is now available on the Amazon Fire TV as well. The Apple Music skill can now integrate with Alexa on Fire TV, so you can ask your TV to play Apple Music with your voice.

Moreover, Amazon announced that it is now expanding Apple Music on Amazon Echo to more countries. The service will be available to Echo owners in the United Kingdom ‘in the coming weeks’.

NatWest trials fingerprint debit cards

NatWest trials fingerprint debit cards to remove £30 limit | Money | The Guardian:

The major stumbling block for the widespread adoption of the card is likely to be how the bank initially obtains the customer’s fingerprint. NatWest said customers in the trial would have to visit their local branch so that the bank could copy their fingerprint, but it is working on ways to capture the data remotely.

The technology has been developed by a Dutch company, Gemalto, which is also behind a similar trial launched in December by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest bank.

Gemalto said: “Fingerprint authentication sweeps away limits on the value of contactless payments, removing the need to enter a pin or sign the receipt. As a result, it simplifies the consumer experience at the point of sale and makes it faster and safer.”

It said that as a security measure the customer’s fingerprint was stored on the card itself, not the bank’s servers.

Users of Google Pay or Apply Pay on smartphones are likely to be suspicious of how widely the so-called biometric payment systems will be accepted by retailers. In theory, mobile users can already authenticate contactless payments above £30 on their smartphones using fingerprint technology, but in practice many have found the process frustrating.

BBC and ITV team up to launch BritBox

BBC and ITV team up to launch Netflix rival BritBox | Media | The Guardian:

The BBC and ITV have confirmed plans to join forces and launch a paid-for streaming service called BritBox by the end of this year, in an attempt to head off Netflix.

Netflix is eating into the market share of traditional broadcasters, as audiences increasingly desert established channels and expect shows to be available instantly on streaming services.

BritBox will mainly feature archive BBC and ITV shows, alongside new British commissions made especially for the service. There were no details on pricing; the announcement said it would be “competitive”.

However, BritBox will not have the latest BBC and ITV shows, which will remain available through the catch-up BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub services. Other broadcasters are expected to join the service later, with Channel 4 known to have taken part in discussions, which were revealed by the Guardian last year.

ITV has pledged to invest up to £65m in the joint venture over the next two years. The publicly funded BBC would not comment on whether it was putting a similar amount of money into the project.

The decision means British broadcasters are likely to stop licensing their archive material to services such as Netflix to try to drive subscribers to the new UK service, which will operate on a fraction of the budget of its deep-pocketed US rivals.

If it will mainly feature archive content and not current as stated, then that pricing better be “competitive” otherwise I can’t see it being that compelling. Subscription services are dominant now in the streaming media industry and having another monthly cost for archive only will appeal only to a minority of die-hard fans.

HomePod has 6% of US smart speaker market

HomePod captures 6% of US smart speaker market as cheaper Google Home and Amazon Echo models dominate – 9to5Mac:

The report says that Echo has 70% of the install base and Google Home speakers account for 24% of the whole. It says the relative shares of each manufacturer have roughly remained the same throughout 2018.

This market share is not likely to improve greatly without Siri offering something more compelling that it currently does to Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices. The majority of customers will go for affordability in this voice-activated market and that will keep Amazon on top and Apple lagging behind going forward on their current iterations.

Apple says iOS fix for Group FaceTime bug now coming next week, issues apology

Here’s the full statement 9to5Mac received from Apple:

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week. We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.

We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix. We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports, in order to get them to the right people as fast as possible. We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”

I don’t think Apple could do any more here – perfect response.