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The rumors, questions and confusion surrounding Apple TV, Apple’s TV streaming service


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Consumers who aren’t heavily dialed into Apple and the company’s current and future forays into television are likely to find themselves confused by recent news. For that matter, even some who are pretty in touch with Apple and the state of streaming television may need to take a moment to sort things out.

The terminology doesn’t help. So that’s a good place to start in separating the Apple snarl.

First things first: what is Apple TV? (If you don’t know you’re certainly not alone, so no need to be embarrassed.) Apple TV is a hardware device — a compact little box — made by Apple. The box plugs into any HDTV, and from there operates as a media streaming device.

That means it lets users watch video streaming services—like Netflix and Hulu Plus—on a TV, as well as watch stuff from networks like HBO and Showtime that are compatible with Apple TV. Users can also play content from iTunes, or send videos, music and photos from an Apple computer to their TV with Apple TV. Apple TV reviews have been favorable, though for users who aren’t already invested in the Apple culture it’s typically not the best choice of media streaming device. (Compare media streaming devices)

Apple TV has been around for a few years. The current, third-generation model launched in March of 2012—which is eons ago in tech time.

Now, at long last, there is talk of an updated version being released this year. That’s the hope—but for now it’s only a rumor. Eager ears waited to hear confirmation at Apple’s Spring Forward conference this month but were disappointed. According to the APPL stock experts at SeekingAlpha, “After studying Apple’s product history and digital video trends, there are few reasons for new Apple TV hardware anytime soon.” So, when? For now, the question lingers.

Apple has also confused consumers a bit recently by announcing a new television venture. It’s not Apple TV—it’s TV from Apple.

Apple is reportedly in talks to start offering an Internet TV service. Subscribers would get access to a package of channels, which would be streamed onto TVs or devices via the Internet instead of cables or satellite, at a significantly lower cost than traditional cable. The move is meant to appeal to the growing movement of consumers interested in cutting the cable cord and exploring cheaper, more flexible options.

While details on Apple’s Internet TV service are still scant, this is more than just a hyped-up rumor. TV networks are already aligning with Apple to be included amongst the channel offerings.

Apple will reveal their complete plans in the near future, presumably after they’ve signed deals with as many networks as possible. The streaming service is expected to be available this fall.

Watch a demo of Apple TV

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Twitter adds live video streaming—takes over-sharing to a whole new level


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Step aside ‘selfies’—Twitter has just launched Periscope, it’s new app that lets users live-stream video of themselves doing… well, pretty much whatever a person wants. The potential for Periscope is vast. The question is whether anyone wants, or is ready for, all its possible uses.

Periscope is Twitter’s challenge to the live streaming app Meerkat. Meerkat also lets users transmit their own live video broadcasts. Meerkat, which only launched this month, became a sensation in a matter of days, almost immediately breaking the top 25 of the world’s most popular social apps, says mobile analytics firm App Annie.

Its popularity certainly got Twitter’s attention. With Periscope in development, the company quickly moved to handicap Meerkat by cutting off access to the Twitter social graph. That means a user’s Twitter followers will no longer appear automatically in Meerkat.

Now, Periscope has finally made its debut, offering an equivalent experience—except, of course, better because of the Twitter integration. If Periscope takes off as quickly as Meerkat, and all signs say it will, millions of people around the world will soon be broadcasting live, personal videos into the Twitter stream.

Periscope is certain to be a huge hit for watching live steams from celebrities and athletes, news events, and the like. But it doesn’t take much thought to imagine the inappropriate scenarios that could come from such technology. Of course using Periscope for pornography, or to broadcast copyrighted material (Periscope the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight anyone?), or to film illegal activities is against the rules.

But how exactly can such things be monitored? Videos will stream live. Anyone who sees them can’t erase the memory, and by the time Twitter was notified of abuse the stream would likely be gone. There are certainly no conceivable safeties to stop someone from live streaming footage of someone else without their permission or even knowledge.

This makes misuse of Periscope potentially much worse than is currently possible, like posting pictures of one’s privates or videos of copyrighted NFL games.

Aside from the perverts out there, how interested will Twitter users really be in watching live video of someone’s dog, or any other aspects of the minutia of daily life? The live streaming app Justin.tv learned this the hard way. It broadcast a 24/7 life feed Justin Kan’s daily life. And it was a flop.

Kan said in a recent interview, “We weren’t able to retain an audience because, really, we just weren’t that interesting.” Which is precisely the point. Most of us aren’t. And the things people will have to do to make themselves interesting are frightening to even think about—let alone watch.

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VIDEOS: Evidence mounts of Germanwings co-pilot’s mental illness


Authorities investigating the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who deliberately crashed the plane killing all 150 on board, have discovered mounting evidence of his unstable mental condition.

After searching Lubitz’s home in Montabaur, Germany, where he lived with his parents, authorities have found a torn-up sick note indicting that Lubitz should not even have been at work on the day he crashed the plane, committing mass murder and suicide.

The investigation has also uncovered the fact that Lubitz suffered from depression. His condition was apparently severe enough that he needed to take leave from his flight training six years ago.

Documents were also found showing that Lubitz was receiving medical treatment for his mental illness. Authorities believe he hid his condition from his employer, and his colleagues.

Only yesterday, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said in a press conference that Lubitz was “100% fit to fly.”

Psychological evaluations of pilots are not universally regulated. Lufthansa’s policy did not include regularly conducting psychological assessments of its pilots, unlike policies governing medical and training assessments. Instead, Lufthansa told NBC Nightly News, the company relies on self-reporting, as well as colleagues to raise any concerns over a pilot’s mental state.

The policies regarding mental evaluations of pilots may well change in the aftermath of the Germanwings catastrophe. Airlines around the world have already changed the rules governing the number of personnel that must be present in a cockpit. Two people must now remain on the flight deck.

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VIDEOS: Top teams advance in NCAA Sweet 16 action, day one


Day one of play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament “Sweet 16″ saw the top-seeded teams advancing to the next round.

In the Midwest region, 1-seed Kentucky obliterated 5-seed West Virginia with a 78 – 39 win to advance to the Elite 8. It was clear from the start WVU just didn’t have the strength, speed, or play-making to give Kentucky any trouble.

Three-seed Notre Dame took down 7-seed Wichita State, 81 – 70. The loss ended Wichita’s incredible run, leaving fans across the Blue Nation teary-eyed, but already hopeful for next year’s tournament.

In the West, 1-seed Wisconsin scored a win against 4-seed University of North Carolina, with a final score of 79 – 72. UNC fans believe until the end their team would come through in what could have turned out to be an impressive upset. Two-seed Arizona bested 6-seed Xavier 68 – 60 to earn their spot in the next round.

See more sports news:

Today, Sweet 16 play will continue with teams in the East and South regions squaring off. Eight-seed NC State will face 4-seed Louisville in the East in their attempt to continue their run. Three-seed Oklahoma will take on 7-seed Michigan State to try to earn a spot in the next round.

In the South, 1-seed Duke plays 5-seed Utah, and 11-seed UCLA will attempt to make history against 2-seed Gonzaga.

While most people who filled out a bracket have seen their hopes for glory dashed, interest in the tournament is far from busted. On the contrary, the number of viewers will only increase as the competition builds toward championship.

Indeed, Elite 8 action isn’t far off. Kentucky will meet Notre Dame in the next round on March 28 in the Midwest. Wisconsin will battle Arizona in the West. Teams who win today will meet on March 29.

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VIDEO: Germanwings Co-pilot was “100% fit to fly” says Lufthansa CEO


The CEO of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, called the Germanwings co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane “100% fit to fly” in a press conference today.

Spohr expressed disbelief at the act committed by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. Emerging details from the plane’s black box recorder revealed Lubitz deliberately put the plane into a steep descent, refused to open the locked cockpit door to allow the pilot reentry, and was breathing normally until the final moment of impact.

According to Lufthansa, Lubitz, 28, was cleared to fly, and there were no known reasons to consider him unfit.

Lubitz received his pilots training at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. After that, he immediately joined Germanwings in September 2013.

Lubitz was included in a “prestigious” aviation database at the time of his graduation for “meeting or exceeding high educational, licensing and medical standards.”

He only had 630 hours of total flight experience.

Lubitz, a German citizen, was living in Montabaur, Germany with his parents. He is also said to have lodgings in Dusseldorf.

Authorities do not know of any connection between Lubitz and terrorist groups. The crash is currently being treated as a suicide and mass murder.

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Who Was Andreas Lubitz? What We Know So Far


Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has said Lubitz was “100% fit to fly” (see video below), a statement that may not sit well with grieving families. As police search the home of Germanwings Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who purposefully crashed the plane and took the lives of everyone on board, the world waits for answers. Who was Lubitz, and why did he commit this unthinkable act?

Lubitz was a 28-year-old German citizen. He lived with his parents in Montabaur, Germany, which lies between Frankfurt and Bonn. Presently, police are stationed outside the house amid heightened press coverage. Lubitz is also reported to have a residence in Dusseldorf, where he was based out of for his job with Germanwings. Lubitz joined Germanwings immediately after completing his training  in September of 2013. He trained at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. He was included in an elite aviation database at the time of his training graduation for “meeting or exceeding high educational, licensing and medical standards.”

In his short career, he had only accumulated 630 hours of flying time. (The pilot of the flight had over 6,000 hours and 10 years of experience.)

Lubitz is not known to authorities as a terrorist, nor is there any evidence of terrorism.

He had apparently visited the U.S., as the first photograph obtained of Lubitz shows him in San Francisco in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On the black box recorder, Lubitz can be heard to be breathing normally all the way up to the moment the plane crashed into the mountains. He never replied to the pilot who was yelling and beating on the cockpit door, nor did he respond to air traffic controllers.

Lubitz never spoke a single word as he took the plane down, killing himself and all 149 others on board.  

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Live Coverage and Latest Videos: Crash Being Called Suicide and Mass Murder


The Germanwings Airbus Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane with 150 on board, French Prosecutor Brice Robin announced early today. During his live press conference, the Prosecutor said the Co-pilot appeared to want to “destroy” the plane. 

UPDATE, 1:35 p.m. EST: French authorities are treating the crash as a suicide and mass murder, Euronews is reporting. Police are searching the home of Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.

Earlier today, the Prosecutor revealed the findings from the examination of the black box recorder. The investigation has revealed chilling details from the short time the doomed Germanwings plane was in the air.

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, was apparently left alone in the cockpit after the pilot asked him to take the controls once the plane reached its 38,000 feet cruising altitude. The pilot left the cockpit, leaving the co-pilot alone at the controls.

The Co-pilot then deliberately set the plane’s controls to make a descent. The Co-pilot “voluntarily” refused to open the door to the pilot. In the final moments the pilot can be heard frantically pounding on the cockpit door, and passengers can be heard screaming.

The Co-pilot was completely silent during the plane’s descent. He was conscious until the moment of impact.

The Prosecutor has not ruled out suicide. French authorities have said there is no evidence to indicate terrorism played a role.

Investigators are continuing to look for the flight data recorder.

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YouTube Live to reinvent itself as online gaming hub, hopefully be less lame


Esports

Esports, like this ‘League of Legends’ Championship competition, now draws millions of fans. YouTube Live hopes to capture some of the action by relaunching as a live online gaming hub.

YouTube Live is reportedly in line for a major makeover. The live streaming section of YouTube will soon relaunch with a focus on live gaming and esports.

YouTube Live started out with a bang and lots of big promises of exciting live streaming content to come. That never panned out, however. Currently, the majority of the live streams on the site are obscure foreign language broadcasts, random Google Hangouts (many of which are just plain weird), and a few fringe sports events.

Instead of trying to revamp its live streaming news, entertainment, educational and other content, YouTube Live will move toward what it hopes is a more profitable sector — live online gaming. That will include casual gaming, and major video game competitions, or esports.

The revamp comes after Google made a strong push to acquire Twitch—but lost out to Amazon, which bought the company for $1 billion. Twitch lets viewers watch live streams of other users playing video games. With around 55 million users, it is by far the dominant player in the esports segment.

If anyone has the resources to give Twitch some competition, though, surely it’s Google. Google is reportedly taking the new venture very seriously, and investing some serious cash. According to The Daily Dot, Google has already hired 50 engineers with expertise in live streaming.

Google certainly has its sights set on broadcasting the biggest events in esports, like the League of Legends Championship which draws tens of millions of fans from around the world.

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LIVE VIDEO COVERAGE: Airbus Crash Black Box Found, Families Gather at Airport


A Germanwings passenger Airbus has crashed in the French Alps. The plane had 150 on board, but there are no survivors. 

UPDATE, 1:15 EST: One of the plane’s black box recorders has been located by searchers. It will be examined immediately. Meanwhile, tearful friends and family members of the passengers on board have gathered at the Barcelona airport from where the plane departed.

Live breaking coverage of the Airbus crash investigation and search mission:

UPDATE, 12:05 EST: The Germanwings CEO has announced the Airbus passenger list included two infants. Watch the press conference in the ‘Today’s Top News’ player below.

The Airbus A320 plane was traveling from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf, Germany.

The plane left Barcelona at 10:01 a.m. local time (5:01 a.m. ET) and a distress call was issued by a controller only 44 minutes later, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told CNN affiliate BFMTV.

The plane went down in the foothills of the Alps in southeastern France at approximately 10:30 a.m. The crash site is near the Digne-les-Bains in the Alpes de Haute Provence region.

The terrain in the area is mountainous and will make rescue and recovery efforts a challenge. The area is sparsely populated and currently covered in snowfall.

French President Francois Hollande addressed the media, saying no survivors were likely.

“The conditions of the accident are not yet clear but lead us to believe there will be no survivors,” Hollande said.

Germanwings, owned by the Lufthansa Group, is a budget airline. Lufthansa said on Twitter, “We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew 1/2.”

Investigations into the cause of the crash will look at a number of different factors. First will be how quickly the plane lost altitude. An online flight tracker recording the plane altitude shows the Airbus dropped 14,000 feet in only six minutes.

Investigators will try to resolve whether the plane stalled, or if the pilot was attempting an emergency landing.

 

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: NCAA March Madness Round of 32


The men’s NCAA basketball tournament maintained its intensity over the weekend as play in the Round of 32 whittled the field down to the Sweet Sixteen.

Even fans broken up over busted brackets couldn’t help but appreciate the exciting play, incredible upsets, and fierce competitiveness as this year’s March Madness trend of favoring the underdog held in the Round of 32.

In the East region, 1-seed Villanova was upset by 8-seed NC State, busting numerous brackets in the process, and 7-seed Michigan State took out 2-seed UVA. In the Midwest, with 2-seed Kansas knocked out by 7-seed Wichita.

In the West and South regions, outcomes were a bit more mainstream though 5-seed Utah won by 11 points over 4-seed Georgetown in what was, in fact, a close game until the very end. Despite slightly fewer upsets, the South region still has an 11-seed, UCLA, in the Sweet Sixteen. Six-seed Xavier is the lowest ranking in the West.

The Sweet Sixteen round will kick off this Thursday, March 26, with four matchups. 1-seed Kentucky will meet 5-seed West Virginia, and 3-seed Notre Dame plays 7-seed Wichita in the Midwest. In the West, 1-seed Wisconsin takes on 4-seed UNC and 6-seed Xavier will try to keep up with 2-seed Arizona.

On Friday, March 27, 8-seed NC State will be tested by 4-seed Louisville, and 3-seed Oklahoma faces 7-seed Michigan State in the East. In the South, it’ll be 1-seed Duke against 5-seed Utah and 11-seed UCLA versus 2-seed Gonzaga.

Then it’s on to the Elite Eight.