We love the streaming system, but everything else about this TV isn’t great.
Reviewed.com – Jackson Ruckar, Jeremy Stamas, Mike Roorda
Google and Amazon acted like kids this week in a schoolyard spat.
“He started it first,” you imagined one might say.
On the surface, this latest bout of corporate warfare seems petty and spiteful. But speaking up for the consumer on this one, we should all be cheering on Google.
Amazon had it coming for throwing its weight around. Kudos to Google for shoving back.
To recap: Amazon refused to stock the Nest thermostat and Google Chromecast in the world’s biggest and most popular online store. So Google retaliated by yanking company-owned YouTube off the Echo Show smart speaker (no biggie) and the FireTV stick (a biggie.)
FireTV is an affordable vehicle for people to get their online entertainment on TVs, and is one of the most advertised and heavily promoted holiday gifts.
In fact, as we’ve been preparing our Talking Tech Shopping Guide editions for the holiday, we were prepared to called the FireTV the best all-around streaming option for consumers, because of its price (sells for $39.99, but has been discounted as low as $25) and the fact that it’s easy to use and set up.
FireTV has Netflix, Hulu, all the usual channels—but now no YouTube, as of January 1. So for us, no YouTube means no FireTV. There are just too many great late-night and funny cat clips to give up on. (Roku Streaming Stick, at $33.99 is our backup option.)
So why do we think Amazon had it coming?
If you’re going to advertise yourself as having “the earth’s biggest selection” of products, then you need to take a Switzerland approach to what you stock.
Amazon doesn’t sell Apple TV, which is a competitor to FireTV, or the Google Home, a low-priced alternative to its Echo line of smart speakers.
But you know what does? Best Buy. Target and Walmart. And so many other retailers.
Sure, paying $99 yearly for Prime expedited shipping and entertainment and getting products seemingly within minutes is intoxicating, but have you looked at Main Street lately and all those empty stores?
Maybe it’s time to take a few minutes during this busy holiday season and spread your dollars to other concerns that don’t selectively block out products that compete with their own.
We tried shopping for a Google Home Mini speaker and Apple TV this week at BestBuy.com (which also stocks Amazon products, FYI), and were offered free shipping without having to pay $99 for yearly Prime, or the option of picking it up in store on the same day. Walmart had the same offer.
It’s not that hard to shop elsewhere. Maybe the shopping experience won’t be as great as with Amazon, which is as good as it gets. But do you want to live in a world where Amazon controls all of your dollars? Or would you like to see some competitors stay strong?
And the same goes for Google. Unhappy with a business practice of tracking your every move? Watch videos on Vimeo or Facebook. Use the Bing search engine. Switch from an Android phone to an iPhone.
Spread the wealth.
In other tech news this week:
Apple may swallow up Shazam. The music discovery app, which uses the smartphone microphone to reveal the identity of songs, has long been one of Apple’s popular apps. According to TechCrunch, Apple is set to acquire Shazam in a $400 million deal.
YouTube to hire more reviewers to oversee its kids’ problem. The video network, which has come under fire for posting videos aimed at children with violent and sexual themes, said it will dramatically increase the number of people overseeing content in 2018. YouTube is looking to both beef up its machine learning and human oversight to catch videos that shouldn’t be on the network.
YouTube is a popular platform for users of all ages. Videos on the site range from family-friendly to significantly racy. There are some steps you can take, though, to keep your kids away from questionable content.
Facebook introduces Messenger for kids. Speaking of kids, Facebook offered a way for kids, who are shut out of Facebook until age 13, to communicate, with a kids app that gets set up by their parents. Once parents download the Facebook app to their child’s iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone, they will authenticate it with their Facebook account, reports Brett Molina. Then parents can add the child’s name and approved contacts.
Apple’s apps of the year. The Snapchat app had a rotten year on Wall Street, but consumers apparently still love it, as Snapchat and sister app Bitmoji were named the most downloaded apps of the year by Apple. The rest of the top 10: YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Google Maps, Netflix, Spotify and Uber. Calm, a meditation app out since 2012, was named Apple’s iPhone app of the year.
Your week in audio
The Browser Wars Return: How about a faster version of Firefox with less tracking than you’d find on Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari? Jascha Kaykas Wolff from Mozilla talks the new Firefox Quantum browser.
Learn Spanish in new a podcast from Duolingo. The app maker, which makes the popular language learning tool, expands to podcasts. Martina Castro, the host of the show, joins Talking Tech from Chile.
Apple Pay Cash is no Venmo Killer. Apple’s long-awaited entry to pay friends via text messages debuted this week, but there are many steps involved before you can use it. We explain.
Facebook Messenger for kids. Facebook offers a way for kids to communicate with friends, pending parental approval.
Why Netflix is in for a tough 2018. Analyst Peter Csathy guest hosts and lays out 2018’s competitive landscape for the streaming giant.
Tim Bajarin’s 2018 predictions. The longtime analyst guest hosts and makes his projections for tech in the new year.
Thanks for visiting with us again for the weekend tech news roundup. Be sure to check out the daily #TalkingTech podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to podcasts. (Watch the video above for a primer on how to listen in apps, smart speakers, TV and the car.)
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