For many Americans, the art of enjoyment and entertainment is best found online. Whereas in the past we were limited to what was on TV, the on-demand era is now well and truly upon us. This is one of the most important parts of modern internet usage, offering us total freedom over what we watch, view and read – and when. However, with so many different streaming services to pick from, you might be unsure of where to even start.
If you feel like this is the case, then we have some solutions for you to consider. Take, for example, the below streaming services. These are seen as some of the best on the internet and should really ramp up your entertainment options.
We’re sure just about everyone in the country has at least heard of Netflix. The popular streaming system is the go-to starting point for many people looking to find top quality entertainment. It’s got hundreds of shows and many Netflix exclusives. From finding awesome cartoons for the kids to a horror flick to watch on Halloween, this is a streaming service that you can love using.
However, you should be aware that Netflix loves to eat up your bandwidth. Like any good streaming service, you should be using high-speed internet to help make sure you can enjoy a good quality watching session. Also, keep an eye on problems with your bandwidth – if you start to notice needless buffering, you might be getting throttled by your internet provider. If that happens, you might want to consider enjoying Netflix on a new form of internet provider for the best results.
While most of us will use Amazon for shopping, some of us use it for streaming – especially movies. It’s quite a lot like Netflix, with some of the most popular and well-watched shoes on the internet appearing on it. Amazon Prime is growing all the time and shows no signs of slowing down. New content is added all the time, bringing in even more opportunity to enjoy the wider experience. You might soon find that Amazon Prime has a larger catalog to pick from than Netflix.
Given who backs up this amazing streaming service, it’s size and scale should be of surprise to nobody. It’s growing all the time at an incredible rate and shows no signs of slowing down. With so much to view and so much to enjoy, Amazon Prime Instant Video is probably one of the most upwardly mobile streaming services that you can access right now.
For a large chunk of Americans, sport dominates much of their social lives. Being able to cheer on your beloved teams at the sport of your choice is always a hugely enjoyable pursuit. However, for many of us, choosing the right way to watch them can be tough. One of the best streaming sites for sports fans at the moment is to use ESPN+, where you can get a huge amount of content to pick from.
There is a growing amount of live and replayable matches that you can watch from just about any kind of sport that you love. Most of us have a team in one of the big US sports, and you should be able to catch them on ESPN without a huge deal of issue. This is a site with a huge amount of content, and it looks set to become even bigger as American sports fans continue to be open-minded about new sports to watch.
FUBO TV is getting a lot of positivity from sports fans who love their sports from other continents. If you are a soccer fan, for example, you’ll love to have FUBO TV – it’s much more diverse than the ESPN+ offering. They cover major leagues in soccer like Serie A, Ligue 1 and La Liga. They also cover a lot of other sports, like the MotoGP and also various other college sports. This is why, for sports fans, FUBO TV is the best alternative to using ESPN+.
Though both are very much well-respected options, many fans are turning to FUBO TV as it has a touch more variety. With the easy control of the packaged add-ons, too, you can pick and choose what you went, when you want it, making it super-simple to get affordable, on-demand sports TV.
Though very much the outsider in many ways, Sling TV is hugely popular with a lot of users. It’s an ambitious project that has grown very quickly in terms of its size and scale in the last few years. With very cheap live TV packages, they allow you to get a lot of variety in what you watch. The fact that it comes with so much opportunity to change contracts, and it has no long-term commitment, makes this a common choice for those who don’t wish to be weighed down with contracts and other such headaches.
Streaming services such as Sling TV are growing all the time. Like most other streaming services like this, too, it does offer a decent trial experience that you can give a shot. With the affordable nature of its live TV offerings, though, those who still like to watch TV on a schedule will love Sling TV for sure.
Getting the most out of each streaming service
Of course, you should always look to make sure that your streaming service is backed up with high-speed internet. Through companies like Easy Internet Now, you can dodge the bandwidth throttling, buffering-causing internet issues that so many Americans face. This is the perfect way for you to get online and to enjoy modern entertainment without feeling trapped or constrained.
With the fact they reduce the need for things like credit checks and contracts, too, EIN is a fine place to start for those who like to stream. High-speed internet is very important for everything from watching your favorite shows to streaming your most beloved games. Quality counts, so don’t accept second best!
As one of the most commonly discussed topics of the day, the quality of American internet service remains a hot talking point. Many people across America suffer from low internet speeds and poor internet service overall. While companies like Easy Internet Now fight to stop this problem, and provide high speed internet in more than 20 states, some locations are still limited in their options. The Erie County executive, Mark Poloncarz, has called for a wholesale change to how high-speed internet is delivered across the county.
Far from the only American official fighting for better internet in rural areas, this $20m proposal could build a 360-mile fiber network. The aim is to try and help with speed caps during peak internet usage hours. Presently, the executive himself uses a satellite provider, and finds his own service to be capped at the busiest times. This is an interesting move, though, as many people now value the internet as part of their daily necessities.
Many of us use the internet for work, for education and for communication. It has, in many ways, replaced everything from the phone to the newspaper for many of us. Therefore, poor quality – and overly expensive – internet speeds in some parts of the USA can hobble the opportunities that those Americans have.
People like Poloncarz, then, want to try and change that, state-by-state. However, he faces opposition from Republican legislators, who want the money to come from private sources instead of the public purse. The argument against that, though, is the one above. If things like roads are seen as a vital public source of travel, then surely the internet – in 2019 – is now a vital part of day-to-day life?
A changing of the times
While this might eventually be voted down by the legislators, it’s an interesting move in a new direction. For years, the internet has been seen as a solution for private companies to solve. With the internet growing more and more important in our daily lives, though, people are beginning to slowly but surely change their minds on its importance.
Millions of Americans work online now, many of us working from home. Fast and reliable internet is needed to make sure we can provide the best of our services and skills. This is why high-speed internet should not be seen as just a boon, but a necessity. If the plan was to go through in Erie County, NY, this would provide many more Americans with high quality internet by 2021.
The country is in need of a mass change to its internet service standards. Through companies like EIN, many Americans are able to get hold of high-quality internet speeds in areas they might not otherwise find a suitable service. With officials and legislators pushing heavily to change this, though, we could see a big jump in the way that the web is treated as a resource.
For now, though, it’s interesting to see officials pushing for a more balanced spread of high speed internet options. In time, this could become essential to growth, development and improvement of the US in many different ways.
Instagram is adding another fun feature that can connect friends and start conversations. They already had a polling feature, but they are now adding a new type of polling that works differently and uses emoji.
Emoji Slider is the new feature coming to Instagram, says Mashable. There was already a polling sticker on Instagram. However, that sticker simply let users type a question and let people respond with “yes” or “no.” This new Emoji Slider polling sticker works differently and allows for different responses.
According to Mashable, the Emoji Slider is also a sticker added to Stories. However, it gives a range of response options. When you add the sticker, you can add your own question. But instead of a yes or no question, the questions will typically start with “how,” like “How much did you love Infinity War?” or “How much do you like the new gelato place downtown?” After this, you pick which emoji you want to use on the slider. There are a lot of emoji to choose from, not just a handful of basic ones. Others will then be able to move an emoji along a slider to give their response. After responding, like with the other polling sticker, they can see how the responses are currently totaling up.
This makes polling on Instagram much more intuitive and fun. Only being able to answer “yes” or “no” was very constraining and didn’t allow for any nuance or gray area. Plus it will be fun to be able to ask questions in a different way and make the visuals more enjoyable.
Mashable notes that the Emoji Slider is available with Instagram’s version 44 update. And unlike many updates that roll out slowly to either iOS or Android users, it’s currently available to most people. To see if you have the feature, update Instagram now. If you have it, simply create a new Story, tap the Stickers button, and add the Emoji Slider from there.
Chrome has been making changes to how ads are displayed in the browser for some time now. In the most recent update of Google’s browser, some autoplay videos will now be blocked, while others will be allowed automatically.
In a blog post, Google outlines how the new autoplay video update works. Now Chrome will learn your preferences when it comes to videos that autoplay with sound. Using your browsing history, Chrome will start enabling or disabling autoplay videos with sound. If you typically choose to play videos on certain websites, Chrome will allow autoplay videos to run with sound. If you typically don’t watch the videos on a site, Chrome will start disabling their autoplay videos with sound.
Even if you don’t have a browsing history, the blog post says, certain sites will have their autoplay videos enabled or disabled as you start building your history. Whichever sites have the most people clicking to play videos with sound will automatically be enabled for you until the browser learns that you don’t want videos played on those sites.
This update comes after Google has already implemented many other ways to avoid certain ads and mute sites that autoplay ads with sound. In February, Chrome’s ad blocking system went live. Their ad blocking is meant to start automatically blocking certain ads that don’t meet their standards. And in January, Chrome introduced a way to permanently mute sites instead of just temporarily muting them while the tab was open.
All of these changes mean Chrome should soon become the browser to use if you specifically want to avoid annoying ads and autoplay videos (especially if you don’t want to deal with browser add-ons). In their blog post, Google notes that their new autoplay video blocking system will block “about half” of the autoplay videos that users want to avoid. Though not a full block of autoplay videos, it should cut down significantly on the annoyance of sound suddenly blasting from your device.
If you use Windows 10, you can now find iTunes in the Microsoft Store.
According to Ars Technica, iTunes is now available to Windows 10 users in the Microsoft Store. Ars Technica notes that bringing iTunes to the Microsoft Store was actually supposed to happen by the end of 2017, making its addition now a bit late. But it seems to be a welcome addition.
The program still works the same way as iTunes does if you download it straight from Apple, says Ars Technica, but they also note downloading from the Microsoft Store has some advantages. In particular, you won’t get prompts asking you to download other Apple products, plus it won’t install things that run in the background (which can seriously bog down a computer).
iTunes was previously available for Windows and MacOS. This means it was likely already accessible to many people who can find it in the Microsoft Store now. But there were also some people who now have access who didn’t before: those using Windows 10 S devices. Windows 10 S devices can only install programs from the Microsoft Store, so these users can now download iTunes. This is useful since iTunes is still a hugely popular service. It’s not just a music service, either; you can download music, movies, shows, podcasts, and more.
The Microsoft Store previously already offered other popular music programs. You could already find the streaming services Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, SiriusXM, TuneIn, and more. So if you’re simply interested in streaming and you have an account with any of these services, the addition of iTunes may not excite you much.
But if you specifically enjoy iTunes and like having a way to organize your media and access more than just music, this new platform may be good news for you. You can find iTunes in the Microsoft Store right now.
Alexa has gotten an interesting new addition, and in the near future the smart assistant may also be able to continue a discussion without using a wake word.
To correspond with what’s known as ‘Alien Day,’ Alexa has a new skill called Offworld Colony Simulator. According to Fortune, you can use the skill on all devices that have Alexa. The skill is a game that’s similar to roleplaying games and that uses voice prompts and responses to challenge you to get away from a Xenomorph. There have been other voice-based RPGs available on Alexa (like The Magic Door). This one, though, is for sci-fi and Alien lovers.
There’s also news that Alexa may soon gain some more useful abilities. TechCrunch reports that Alexa users will be able to talk with Alexa more naturally and have Alexa remember certain things they choose.
Currently, when you want to use Alexa, you have to use a wake word (like “Alexa” or “Echo”). But in the future, Alexa will not always need you to use the wake word when you’re asking follow-up questions. So if you ask a question and then need more information, you won’t have to wake Alexa up all over again and form a complete new question. This will make conversations with Alexa flow more smoothly and be a little easier to manage.
As TechCrunch notes, you’ll also be able to ask Alexa to remember things. You can ask her to remember peoples’ birthdays or other important pieces of information. Then you’ll be able to ask her about that information in the future and retrieve it easily.
All of this is meant to give Alexa a more expansive and useful memory. It will make her more personal to each user’s account and it will make conversations with her feel a step closer to a conversation with a human (though, of course, we’re not fully there yet).
Offworld Colony Simulator is available to play now, while Alexa’s new memory updates are coming soon (TechCrunch says there’s not yet a launch date).
Nest has announced their new ‘Power Project’ to correspond with Earth Day this year. Their Power Project will focus on energy efficiency and bringing energy efficient devices to families that might not be able to afford them without help.
According to the Nest website, the Power Project hopes to address energy usage. Energy inefficient homes can cost far more to maintain and contribute to environmental issues. And many people are struggling specifically with these high costs at home. Nest notes at the top of their Power Project page that 1 in 5 families are spending at least 20% of their income just on energy costs. This is a significant chunk of a family’s money. For families that are already struggling financially, it can just make things worse. And it also makes it difficult to spend the money on energy efficient devices.
A major part of Nest’s new Project is their announcement that they’ll be working with other organizations (including energy companies and non-profits) to place their thermostats in homes. They pledge to place one million thermostats in the homes of people who need them the most. They say they’ll do so by selling their devices to agencies at a special low cost so that the agencies can then give them to people in need for either a very low cost or no cost at all.
The website for the Power Project illustrates another part of Nest’s campaign: education. They hope to teach people about the importance of energy efficiency. They also hope to promote useful tips for creating an energy efficient home. After describing how important it is to become energy efficient, they give tips for weatherizing homes. Their tips describe all the areas that should be checked, and they also note how to fix problems in easy, straightforward, and often inexpensive ways.
People can also get involved with the Project. On Nest’s website, there’s an area to “Give Help.” You can enter your zip code and be directed to the organizations in your area that currently help people maintain energy efficient homes. And if you need help yourself, you can click “Get Help,” enter your zip code, and see which organizations in the area might be able to help.
Nest’s Power Project website is live now. To see more about the Project, visit Nest’s website.
Netflix is now giving their app users a chance to preview shows before watching.
The Netflix app now has what they’re calling mobile previews, Fortune reports. These mobile previews will seem like a familiar feature if you use an app that has Stories (like Snapchat). The previews appear at the top of the app and can be clicked through one after another. You can even go straight to the content from a preview if you see something you like.
According to Fortune, most of the previews are around 30 seconds long. You also don’t have to turn your screen to watch them because they’re vertical videos instead of horizontal.
If you watch on your gaming console or laptop, you’ve likely already seen their auto-playing trailers. These trailers promote content, sometimes showing previews of shows you may not have seen, other times showing a preview of the content you currently have selected. They have also been quite an annoyance for many people. There have been consistent complaints about how the auto-playing videos can’t be disabled, meaning if you stay on one screen for too long while browsing for what to watch, you have to either click away, open content and pause it, mute your TV, or find some other creative way to stop the videos from playing.
Fortunately, the previews now added to the Netflix app are something quite different. They don’t auto-play, which is surely a relief to Netflix app users who don’t want to have previews blasting through their headphones as soon as the app opens. And they appear to be a genuinely useful way to find out about more content you might actually like, particularly since you can tap a preview that’s playing to skip it and move on to something more relevant.
Mobile previews are already available on iOS devices, says Fortune, and Android users can expect the feature to arrive “soon.”
Amazon has now given Echo users a new way to make Alexa even more personalized. Skill Blueprints, added this past week, allow Alexa users to program their own customized skills for personal use.
Amazon announced the new ability for Alexa on their Alexa blog last week. Skill Blueprints is a feature that makes it easy to further personalize an Alexa device by creating your own trigger phrases and setting Alexa’s response, building your own trivia game, making personalized stories, and more.
On the Alexa Blueprints website, the feature is explained and the many different Skill templates are described. After logging in to the Amazon account that’s connected to your Alexa device, you can choose from a template and customize your personal skill. These skills are only available on your Alexa devices and aren’t publicly published. You can also have as many Skill Blueprints as you want.
Alexa is known for having some silly quips and fun easter eggs when she’s asked the right phrase. Now you can make your own fun responses with the Q & A Blueprint. You can set up a phrase like “Who’s the best basketball player?” and program Alexa to respond however you’d like. You can also have fun with other Blueprints like the one that “roasts” your guests with custom insults. There’s Family Jokes, which lets you put in your own jokes, as well as Compliments, Trivia, Inspirations (with your favorite quotes), and much more.
Plus you can use these Blueprints to make your smart home easier to navigate. You can use the Pet Sitter Blueprint to enter all the information someone might need to care for your pet (like where to find the food, how often to feed your pet, who to call in an emergency, etc.). And Houseguest has you enter information about staying in your home (and the nearby area) so that if someone is house sitting or visiting, they don’t have to keep texting you with questions about where to find extra paper towels or how to turn on the dishwasher.
There are many other Blueprints available, as well. In fact, there are currently 21 different Blueprints to choose from. Whenever you’ve created a Blueprint, you can go back to it and edit it whenever you want. Amazon’s blog says that your newly-created skills show up on your Alexa devices “instantly,” though it’s important to note that it takes a moment or two for the skills to actually be created. (The Blueprints website asks you to wait as the skill is actually finalized and ready to use—this seems to typically take less than a minute.)
Alexa Skill Blueprints are now available for use in the US. For more information, take a look at the Alexa Blueprints website.