Twitch is raising prices for its ad-free Turbo service

Get ready to pay a bit more to watch live-streamers without being constantly interrupted by ads. Twitch’s ad-free Turbo subscription plan is raising its price, jumping from $9 to $12 per month in the US. Twitch has offered no feature changes or add-ons to accompany this price hike. The monthly cost for Turbo is increasing throughout the globe, so click this link to find your country’s modified pricing.

Current Turbo subscribers were informed about the pricing changes via emails sent out Thursday, but there’s some good news for long-time users. Some countries boast a new lower monthly price, though you’ll have to cancel and resubscribe. Also, current users get a three-month grace period until being forced to opt-into the new price. New subscribers get no such grace period.

This substantial increase comes just after the Amazon-owned Twitch got a new CEO and laid off around 400 employees as part of mandated cost-cutting measures throughout its parent company. Though no new features were announced alongside the price hike, Twitch did announce that updates are “on the way for Turbo to make it even better and more relevant.” Look for more information “in the coming months.”

The primary hook of Turbo is an ad-free experience across the entire Twitch platform, but it also offers some smaller perks, like more emojis, custom chat username colors and increased broadcast storage. The updated pricing model starts today. 

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MoviePass relaunches nationwide with a new pricing model

MoviePass has been gearing up for a wide relaunch since 2022 when it started beta testing a new subscription format in several cities, and now it’s here. Introducing MoviePass 2.0, or 3.0 depending on who you ask. The phoenix has risen from the ashes to once again offer you access to a bunch of theatrical films for a monthly subscription cost, and just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The nationwide re-launch includes over 4,000 movie theater locations throughout the country, such as those operated by AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark and a slew of smaller regional chains. So what’s the catch? The subscription model now costs more, likely because the company figured out the hard way that charging $10 per month for unlimited in-person movies makes it tough to turn a profit.

This latest iteration of MoviePass offers several subscription plans to suit how often you like sitting in a darkened movie theater. Plans still start at $10 per month, but this is only good for up to three movies each month, instead of one each day like the MoviePass of old. Subscription tiers go all the way up to $40 per month, which allows for up to 30 theatrical screenings. In other words, it’s four times as expensive as the OG plan. Still, $40 for 30 movies is a great deal, considering a single ticket costs $10 to $14 in most places.

Just like before, you can make arrangements to see a film right on the MoviePass app, as long as the theater has partnered directly with the company. You should be able to reserve a space and even select your seats, just like you were buying an actual movie ticket. It also looks like MoviePass reservations are exclusive to 2D screenings, so toss those 3D glasses in the trash.

The movie-reservation subscription app has had a long and storied history, capturing the hearts of theater-goers upon its launch in 2011. This love affair couldn’t last, however, as it ceased operations in 2019 and filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Since that time, original co-founder Stacy Spikes acquired the company’s assets, brought on new investors and went ahead with this re-launch. Cheaper movies are never a bad thing, so here’s hoping the app has some staying power this time.

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Acer’s 16-inch Predator Triton and Swift Edge laptops are aimed at gamers and creators

Acer just announced two new laptops at this year’s Computex expo in Taiwan. For gamers, there’s the new Predator Triton 16 line and for creatives (and everyone else), there’s the Swift Edge 16.

The new Predator Triton 16 is a serious gaming computer that Acer says can easily handle “intense AAA” titles, though it also features a relatively modest design that could fit into office environments. Did somebody say dual-use? This laptop boasts a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, up to a 13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to 2TBs of storage.

This is a gaming laptop, so visuals get special attention here, with a 16-inch WQXGA 2560 x 1600 display that features a 240Hz refresh rate, 500 nits peak brightness and full support for NVIDIA G-Sync. It’s still plenty thin, at 0.78-inches, and ships with next-generation cooling fans for those times when you just have to max out a game’s settings. The Triton 16 launches in September, with a starting price of $1,800.

The thin and light Swift Edge 16 is made for those who game a bit on the side but primarily use a laptop for creative work or just for browsing the web. You get the latest AMD Ryzen 7040 series processor, AMD Radeon 780M graphics, a 16-inch 3.2K OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and integration with the newest wireless standard on the block, the mythical Wi-Fi 7. The Windows 11 PC ships with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up to 2TB of SSD storage and enhanced fans for cooling. It launches in July at a starting price of $1,300.

Acer didn’t stop with just laptops. The company also announced a forthcoming tri-band router called the Acer Connect VERO W6m. This is billed as the company’s first “eco-friendly router” and is designed for data protection, as it adheres to strict European cyber security standards.

This has been a big year of announcements for the company. In just the past few months, we’ve seen a new Chromebook Spin with a 2K webcam, the Swift X 16 flagship notebook and much more.

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Get three months of the Paramount+/Showtime bundle for $18

The big streaming story this week is the confusing launch of Warner Bros.' Max service, but the artist formerly known as HBO is not the only game in town. Paramount+ has been steadily gaining subscribers, thanks in part to a unique bundle that also includes cable stalwart Showtime. This combination platter typically costs $12 per month, but a new promo halves that price for new subscribers.

In other words, you get a full Paramount+ Premium subscription with Showtime for just $6 per month, though this discount vanishes into thin air after three months. The company is hoping you’ll keep the bundle after that, as the combined might of the two streaming services offers a whole lot of content.

Paramount+ is home to all things Star Trek, including the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds that premieres on June 15th. It also airs next-day CBS content, live news, plenty of sports, and original dramas that aren’t set in space, like Sylvester Stallone’s Tulsa King and that weird Fatal Attraction reboot. The service also hosts a bunch of hit movies not based on comic books, like Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Top Gun: Maverick.

Showtime may not have the content stable of main rival HBO, but it does have plenty of standout shows like Yellowjackets, Twin Peaks: The Return, Billions and Dexter, in addition to recent theatrical hits like The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere at Once. The deal is live right now and lasts until June 4th.

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Windows 11 finally gets native RAR support

The Microsoft Build developer’s conference has been heavily focused on all things AI, per usual, but the company’s making announcements in other spaces, including a particularly useful update for Windows 11 users. The operating system is finally getting native RAR support, ending the tyranny of third-party apps like WinRAR.

This is an open-source solution powered by the multi-format libarchive project. Microsoft says this not only offers a native option to handle RAR files, but additional formats like tar, 7-zip, gz and many others, as reported by The Verge. It also touts “improved functionality” regarding compression when compared to third-party apps.

The company hasn’t announced an official launch date for the feature, but Windows 11 is getting a robust update tomorrow with support for Bluetooth LE and more, so maybe it’ll get tacked onto that. We’ll let you know. It’s always nice to have options when it comes to compressing and unzipping files. Here’s hoping this new tool is easy to use and, most importantly, fast.

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Comcast launches $20 live TV streaming service with 60 channels

Comcast is launching a live TV streaming service to rival Sling, FuboTV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and all the rest. It’s called Now TV and it has something competitors lack, an extremely attractive price tag. Now TV includes 60 live channels and a Peacock subscription all for $20 each month.

There’s a slight catch. Now TV will only be available to Comcast Xfinity Internet customers and will operate as an add-on to any pre-existing service plan. A bare-bones Comcast cable plan costs $50 to $60 each month and doesn’t include Internet, so this is still a decent bargain.

The platform gives access to 40 premium cable channels, including standouts like AMC, Discovery, A&E, IFC, The History Channel, TLC, Lifetime and many more. It also comes with 20 hours of DVR storage and allows for three simultaneous streams. You also get 20 free ad-supported television (FAST) channels, like NBC News NOW, Sky News and a slew of genre-based channels. The service has some glaring omissions, however, as it doesn’t feature local broadcast TV or sports channels.

Of course, Now TV also includes a premium, though ad-supported, subscription to Peacock, so you can watch the deliriously bonkers Mrs. Davis, the hangout comedy Grand Crew and nearly 1,000 SNL episodes.

When the service launches in a few weeks, it’ll be accessible through the Xfinity Stream app and supported gadgets like Xfinity flex, Amazon Fire TV, iOS devices and Android devices. As for why Comcast would undercut competitors here on price, the cable arm of the company has been hit particularly hard by cord cutters, losing over 600,000 subscribers in just the first quarter of 2023.

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Moog celebrates 70th anniversary with musical web app

It’s hard to believe, but iconic synth manufacturer Moog is turning 70. Synthesizers didn’t become mainstays in popular music until the 1970s, but Bob Moog started manufacturing and selling theremins in 1953, with actual synths following in 1963. To celebrate the anniversary, the company launched a web app filled with interactive experiences for music historians and casual fans alike.

The app places a distinct focus on the company’s iconic Model D synthesizer, which was first released in 1970 and recently reissued for $5,000. To that end, there’s a jukebox with nearly 50 of the most influential songs that feature the synthesizer, including disco, reggae, hip-hop, pop and more. The theater page goes a step further by showing a full range of videos of the 50-year-old synth in action, with both live stage performances and in-studio sessions. The archives section is for true historians, with interactive information chronicling the entire history of the Model D and the people who designed it.

History is nice and all, but synthesizers are made to be played. The app’s practice room let you do just that, choosing from famous leads, bass sounds and percussion sounds via a faithful digital recreation of the Model D. You can fool around with sounds, sure, but the app even lets you save and share original recordings using riffs from famous songs as a starting point. These creations can only be around a minute long. For the ultimate digital Model D experience, there’s a $30 app for iOS devices, though it sometimes goes on sale.

Finally, the app includes a couple of quirky little add-ons. You can print out a PDF for making your own Minimoog decoration, so long as you have enough tape. The Instagram filter, codenamed Face Synth, quite literally turns your face into a musical instrument. Use facial expressions and body movement to trigger the Model D’s control parameters. The web app’s available today, so have at it.

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Twitter bug seems to be randomly restoring deleted tweets

Multiple Twitter users are reporting that deleted tweets are reappearing on the site at an alarming rate, with one security expert noting that the social media app restored a whopping 34,000 messages, as reported by ZDNET. The bug also seems to be impacting deleted retweets.

The issue appears to be widespread, but all of the data’s anecdotal. It seems to mostly impact those who batch-deleted tweets via a third-party service like Redact or TweetDelete, though not always. In any event, check your feed for the reappearance of that tasteless Harambe tweet you wrote and then deleted back in 2016.

This is a trivial issue for many, but does speak to how the company handles and protects your private data. A former Twitter Site Reliability Engineer suggested on Mastodon that it “sounds a lot like they moved a bunch of servers between data centers and didn’t properly adjust the topology before reinserting them into the network.” There’s no way to find out anything official because Elon Musk disbanded the press team, replacing the press line with a bot that returns only poop emojis. In any event, we’ll update this story if the company issues a statement of any kind that addresses the issue.

This has been a bizarre few months for the social media platform. The city of San Francisco launched a probe into potential building code violations and the site’s been plagued with technical issues. All of this has led to a stark decline in usage numbers, with competitors waiting in the wings to scoop up those fleeing the service.

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You can now use Amazon’s palm-reading tech to buy alcohol

Amazon’s palm payment technology is moving from the world of convenience food to a booze-soaked baseball field. The company just announced that the Amazon One identification system is being implemented at Denver’s Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball franchise, allowing customers to buy beer and hard alcohol with their palms.

This lets you stroll right into the field’s SandLot Brewery or Coors Light Silver Bullet Bar and order up some of the good stuff without having to waste precious moments digging through your pockets to find that dang ID. Over the course of an entire game, this could save 20 to 30 seconds, depending on how thirsty you are.

Of course, you have to be enrolled in the company’s biometric Amazon One service. The web giant’s setting up kiosks at the field for quick signups, but you need your ID, your Amazon sign-in information and you have to take a selfie. Once enrolled, however, just hover your palm over the reader and the bartender will know you are above 21 and ready to gulp. The system isn’t just for age verification, as it also lets you pay with your palm.

It’s not the easiest task in the world to grab a beer at a major sporting event, so this could be a useful bit of tech, if you’re willing to give Amazon even more access to your private life. The company hasn’t been the most reliable collector of biometrics, facing lawsuits in multiple states for violating biometric privacy laws. If you still want to give this a try and are nowhere near Colorado, Amazon One palm-scanning technology is also available at many Amazon-owned Whole Foods locations.

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Meta’s rumored Twitter competitor could launch as early as next month

Folks are spending less time on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the social media site last year, but there’s still plenty of demand for similar platforms like Mastodon and Bluesky. To that point, Meta has long been rumored to be building its own platform to rival Twitter. After months of speculation, there’s finally some details to go along with the rumors, according to digital media marketing expert Lia Haberman.

Haberman says the app is nearing completion and could launch as early as the end of June. She says that Meta has been meeting with select content creators to discuss the platform. One of these creators furnished Haberman with all kinds of info about the forthcoming app, calling it “Instagram for your thoughts.”

Instagram is the right word here, as it looks like the entire platform is built out of the popular photo-sharing social network. The decentralized app is said to work with current Instagram parameters, like usernames and passwords. So if you already have an Instagram account you should be able to sign right up and automatically sync up with your current followers. Your handle, bio and verification should all carry over from IG. Haberman says that even blocked Instagram accounts and hidden words transfer to the new platform.

This is also set to be a decentralized app that’ll integrate with other platforms like Mastodon, meaning you should be able to interact with users across multiple services without having to constantly switch between apps. The report indicates that text updates will be limited to 500 characters, which is less than an Instagram caption, but still plenty long enough to make a sarcastic comment or whatever. 

You’ll likely be able to attach links, photos and videos up to five minutes long, which of course is much shorter than Twitter's recently launched two hour video-sharing feature. Just like Twitter and similar platforms, Meta’s service will have its own versions of likes, replies and reposts. Haberman got her hands on a leaked marketing slide that shows the app in action and, well, it looks a whole lot like Twitter, Bluesky and the rest, with a dash of Instagram's design scheme. 

Back in March when these rumors first surfaced, Meta said it was indeed “exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates.” So this is coming, it’s just a matter of what it’ll look like and if it’ll be “the one” to dethrone Twitter. There's no name for the service yet, though within Meta it has a few codenames like Barcelona and P92. 

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