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launching Spotify

Spotify is launching an exclusive League of Legends esports podcast – The Verge

Spotify keeps adding to its exclusive podcast arsenal, and today, it’s getting into the esports space. The company announced a multiyear partnership with Riot Games that’ll make Spotify the hub for all League of Legends audio content, including exclusive podcast series.

At least one show will launch this year, called Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds, a nine-episode series that’ll lead up to the 10th League of Legends championship this fall. Listeners will hear about the players and top anthem through game highlights, interviews, and game sound effects.

Two music playlists, including the existing, “This is League of Legends,” will be updated regularly, too. Spotify’s also planning to dedicate a day to the Worlds Anthem, a song Riot releases every year to kick off its annual championship competition, to give listeners a behind-the-scenes look at how the music was made.

The partnership might seem somewhat unlikely, but it makes sense given how popular League of Legends’ music appears to be. The game’s YouTube channel has a playlist dedicated to music videos from the game, and more than 21 million people have watched. The game is also an official user on Spotify with its top track counting more than 154 million listens. Spotify clearly sees an opportunity here to beef up its marketing and lure gamers onto the platform. Once they’re there, it can start marketing other audio content, possibly other game-related podcasts, and eventually encourage them to make Spotify their go-to music and audio player.

An esports podcast is also an intriguing idea, especially given that it’s a Spotify-exclusive. League of Legends is one of the most popular esports, if not the most popular. More than 100 million people watched the world championship last year. Getting even a small percentage of these viewers to tune into a podcast would generate enough listeners for Spotify to easily monetize the show.

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Amazon launching

Amazon is launching a new Alexa app — here’s what’s changing – CNBC

The new Alexa app on iPhone.

Amazon

Amazon on Monday said it’s starting to roll out a totally redesigned Alexa app for Apple‘s iPhone, tablets and phones running Google’s Android platform, and its own Fire tablets.

While Alexa is most commonly associated with Amazon’s own living room devices, like the Echo and Fire TV, the digital assistant is also available on other platforms, offering many of the same functionality as Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant.

But the current Alexa app is often hard to use, offering random irrelevant prompts from the home screen and forcing users to dig through menus to find different settings.

That should be fixed in the update, which Amazon says will put your most-used features front and center. In the new app, you might see your reminders, a Spotify playlist you’ve been listening to, your shopping list, an upcoming alarm and an Audible book you’ve started, for example. That means your Alexa home screen will look different from someone else’s. 

Amazon is also moving the Alexa button from the bottom of the app to the top, where it says it’s easier to find. Reminders, routines, skills, settings and other options are being moved from the menu, where they were harder to find, to a new “More” button at the bottom of the screen.

The changes might drive Amazon loyalists to stick with the app across devices.

Amazon said it expects it will be available to all existing users by late August.

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driver launching

Ford launching new driver system to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise – CNBC

Ford says its Active Drive Assist system will allow for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada.

Ford

Ford Motor’s answer to advanced driver-assist systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise is launching as the automaker introduces important new or redesigned vehicles such as the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover.

The company’s new “Active Drive Assist” will be part of the automaker’s “Co-Pilot360” safety and convenience technologies. The hardware for the hands-free driving system will be available to order first on the Mach-E later this year, followed by other “select” vehicles for the 2021 model year, Ford announced Thursday.

Customers will have to wait until next year though for the technology to be available on the Mach-E. The crossover, according to the company, will be “among the first” vehicles to receive the system during the third quarter of 2021 via a remote, or over-the-air, update or at a dealership.

A spokesman for Ford declined to comment on what other vehicles the technology will be offered on as well as their timing. The automaker’s F-150 is likely a good candidate. Ford is unveiling a redesigned version of the pickup next week with a new electrical architecture, or brains, of the vehicle, which is a key enabler for such technologies.

Ford’s Active Drive Assist begins rolling out on select 2021 model year Ford vehicles and will be available across the Mustang Mach-E lineup.

Ford

Ford’s Active Drive Assist will control a vehicle’s speed, braking and steering through a system of cameras, radar and other sensors on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada. The system’s design and function are more like GM’s Super Cruise than Tesla’s Autopilot.

Both GM and Ford systems will only operate on pre-mapped roads. They also use an infrared driver-facing camera on the steering column to monitor a driver’s attentiveness to allow hands-free driving. Tesla’s system offers greater functionality and availability but does not utilize a camera and drivers must check in by touching the vehicle’s steering wheel.

What will separate Active Driver Assist from GM’s Super Cruise, according to Ford officials, will be the way the system handles and interacts with drivers. The main physical difference is Ford’s system will communicate with drivers through a digital driver information screen rather than primarily through a light bar on the vehicle’s steering wheel.

“A huge amount of work was done in this respect,” Darren Palmer, global director of battery electric vehicles at Ford, said during a media briefing. “We noticed from reviewing systems on sale that it can be a little bit confusing to customers.”

Palmer said the system is “very smooth” and clearly communicates how the vehicle is operating, which is “important for building confidence.”

Active Drive Assist will be available across the Mustang Mach-E lineup. Ford said the availability of the system on other nameplates will vary by vehicle.  

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