Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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Sling Rebrands Its Free Tier As ‘Sling Freestream’

Sling TV rebranded its free tier in February, representing one of the best deals in the streaming TV market.

Sling TV is one of the oldest and biggest TV streaming services. In recent years, however, it has been eclipsed by YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, and others. Nonetheless, Sling remains one of the best deals on the market, and its rebranded free tier solidifies that reputation.

Called “Sling Freestream,” Sling’s free tier includes “more than 210 channels and 41,000 on-demand titles – for free,” thanks to ad-supported programming.

“Sling Freestream is a great new service that helps meet consumers’ evolving needs,” said Gary Schanman, group president, Sling TV. “We know some people want free content, some may want a year-round paid subscription, while others may want to subscribe for certain events or shows. We have coupled world-class content with the option to easily flex in and out of premium pay TV, creating a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience.”

“On top of the popular content and a seamless user experience, Sling Freestream provides a premium advertising experience that benefits viewers and advertisers alike,” Schanman added. “Built on the same advertising tech that powers SLING, Freestream is yet another opportunity for us to lead, innovate and deliver a greater impact for our advertisers.”

The free service supports a wide range of streaming hardware and smart TVs. Users can sign up here.

iPhone Won’t Get New OLED Till the iPhone 16


A new report says the Apple iPhone won’t receive new OLED tech until the iPhone 16, with the iPhone 15 slated to receive the existing tech.

According to The Elec, via AppleInsider, Samsung will use the same M12 OLED materials in the iPhone 15 as is currently used in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

The next generation of materials, M13, seems slated for Samsung’s own phones, as well as those of other non-Apple clients. The next material upgrade for the iPhone will be M14 materials Samsung is already working on, and will likely be used in the iPhone 16.

While some will no doubt be disappointed that the iPhone will skip a generation of OLED tech, most people probably won’t notice, given how good the iPhone’s screen already is.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Returning for a Third and Final Season

Lucasfilm announced Monday that its hit animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch will be returning for a third and final season.

The Bad Batch follows Clone Force 99, a group of clones that have unique abilities and did not follow Order 66 to attack the Jedi. In the aftermath of the Jedi and Republic’s fall and the rise of the Empire, Clone Force 99 is trying to find its way, all while protecting Omega, a young clone who is their sister.

Much like Star Trek is best when it’s on the small screen, Star Wars does some of its best storytelling in animated series, and The Bad Batch is no exception.

Fans of the series will enjoy one more season, with Season Three set to debut in 2024.

Microsoft Cracks Down on Emulation on the Xbox


Microsoft Xbox users are being told they can’t run emulated software, ending a long-standing ability gamers have enjoyed.

Gamers have been able to load emulation software on the Xbox Series X and Series S since their introduction, giving them the ability to run any number of legacy games. According to The Verge, Microsoft appears to be cracking down on the practice, with users being met with a message saying it violates Microsoft Store Policy.

“Unable to launch this game or app,” the message reads. “The game or app you’re trying to launch violates Microsoft Store policy and is not supported.”

According to Microsoft Azure developer Alyanna McKenna, the decision is the result of “legal issues with Nintendo.”

Disney Delivers Mixed News on Its Disney+ Streaming Platform


Disney turned in its quarterly results, including a mixed bag of news regarding its Disney+ and other streaming services.

Disney+ gained some 12 million subscribers from the previous quarter, bringing the platform’s total to 164.2 million. The company’s total streaming subscribers, including Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu has now topped 235 million subscribers. This is an increase over the previous quarter’s 221 million.

“2022 was a strong year for Disney, with some of our best storytelling yet, record results at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment, and outstanding subscriber growth at our direct-to-consumer services, which added nearly 57 million subscriptions this year for a total of more than 235 million,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Our fourth quarter saw strong subscription growth with the addition of 14.6 million total subscriptions, including 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the streaming services, with increased costs leading to a larger loss than the previous quarter.

Direct-to-Consumer revenues for the quarter increased 8% to $4.9 billion and operating loss increased $0.8 billion to $1.5 billion. The increase in operating loss was due to a higher loss at Disney+ and a decrease in results at Hulu, partially offset by improved results at ESPN+.

Sling TV Raises Prices


Sling TV has announced it is raising prices, citing increased programming costs and rising inflation.

Sling TV is one of the more popular streaming TV platforms, appealing to users with its low pricing and à la carte package selection. Unfortunately, users are in for a price hike, with the company sending out an email to explain the increased charges.

“Thanks for being a valued Sling TV subscriber,” the email reads.

“Sling always fights for our customers and works with programming partners to keep costs as low as possible. Due to a continuous rise in programming costs and record inflation, Sling Orange + Sling Blue will increase by $5.”

The company does say that the price increase will not apply to extras, premium channel pricing, or other Sling TV services.

CutFishOS Linux Distro Is Being Developed Once Again


CuteFishOS appears to be under active development once again after a mysterious pause that left its fans worried.

CuteFishOS is a Linux distro that looks similar to macOS and quickly gained a following. Development appeared to stop, with no explanation given. According to The New Stack, ten fans of the distro even went so far as to fork it in an effort to keep it alive and moving forward.

It appears the effort was in vain, with the project’s GitHub page announcing that CuteFishOS is back.

“Your Favorite CutefishOS are back now! New website in the works (coming soon)…”

There’s still no explanation of what transpired, or why the development appeared to stall. In the meantime, the fork briefly undertaken by the fans has been put on hold since the official distro appears to be moving forward again.

HBO Max and Discovery+ Will Merge to Create New Streaming Service

Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav has said HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge to form a new, larger streaming service.

WarnerMedia and Discovery joined forces in May 2021 in an effort to take on larger streaming rivals. The combined company is taking it a step further, according to NBC News, with plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ to form an even larger streaming platform.

According to the company’s earnings report, the two streaming platforms collectively have some 92 million subscribers. Executives did not offer a name for the new service, but said it would launch in the US in the summer of 2023.

The company’s goal is to have 130 million subscribers by 2025 and may introduce a free, ad-supported tier in an effort to reach that target.

Timeshift Backup Tool Finds New Home at Linux Mint


The popular Linux backup tool, Timeshift, is moving to Linux Mint as the distribution (distro) takes over development of the utility.

Timeshift is used across multiple distros, providing users a way to create snapshots of their system before performing updates. If something goes wrong, the system can easily be restored to a previous snapshot, giving users peace of mind. After the original developer was no longer able to continue work on the project, Linux Mint assumed responsibility for it.

“Thanks to Timeshift, Linux Mint has been able to come up with a robust update strategy and a very clear message: Take snapshots, apply all updates,” the company writes in a blog post.

“Timeshift was created and maintained by a very talented developer called Tony George. You probably also heard of UKUU and Aptik, Tony develops many exciting tools: https://teejeetech.com.

“Unfortunately he had to stop developing Timeshift to focus on his other projects. We got in touch with him to see how we could help and the decision was made to take over the maintenance.”

Linux Mint says Timeshift will become an XApp, the company’s suite of apps it develops in-house. Fortunately, in typical Linux fashion, Linux Mint creates its XApps to be used on a variety of distros, not just its own.

Given how popular Linux Mint is, it’s a safe bet Timeshift has a bright and secure future ahead of it.

Bethesda Sunsetting Its Game Launch in Favor of Steam


Bethesda has announced it is sunsetting its own Bethesda.net Launcher, embracing Steam instead.

Bethesda has a long and storied history in the video game industry, eventually being acquired by Microsoft in 2020. The company has maintained its own game launcher, Bethesda.net, but is now shutting it down in favor of the Steam platform.

The company plans to begin the migration in April, providing detailed instruction to users on how to migrate their game library and Wallets.

We’re saying goodbye to the Bethesda.net Launcher this year. We would like to thank you for your support and assure you that all of your games are safe. If you’re not playing PC games through the Bethesda.net launcher then your work is done here. Thanks for reading! If you do have games through the Bethesda.net launcher, don’t worry. Starting in early April you’ll be able to migrate your games and Wallet to your Steam account.

The migration process is expected to be completed by May, at which point the Bethesda.net Launcher will no longer be available.