Pandora is shutting down in Australia & New Zealand

Pandora is pulling the plug on Australia and New Zealand, the only international territories where it operates, in an effort to focus solely on the United States.

Nominated generic Pandora fall-person had this to say:

“While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States”

Interestingly Pandora’s only non-US based service was in Australia and New Zealand, so effectively the move shuts down their “global” service.

It’s reported that Pandora in Australia had 5 million registered users back in March of this year however I doubt many of them were paying and even less have transitioned to their new streaming music service.

Good luck to the retrenched 50+ employees across the ANZ teams.

Source: Pandora Is Winding Down Operations in Australia and New Zealand | Billboard

Apple buys eye tracking hardware company SenoMotoric

Apple has quietly bought SensoMotoric Instruments, a German maker of eye-tracking glasses.

Founded in 1991, SMI does work in mobile eye tracking as well as for augmented and virtual reality, according to its website.

Adds some weight to the rumours swelling around Apple creating future hardware to capitalise on their new augmented reality framework now embedded within iOS.

Can Apple create something that doesn’t end up akin to Google’s “glass-holes” debacle? Or will we see the tech incorporated into existing product lines such as the iPhone?

Source: Apple confirms it has bought a small German computer vision company – Axios

Nintendo announces new SNES Classic Edition will arrive September 29th

Nintendo has announced that the Super Nintendo Classic Edition / Mini will be released in America and Europe on September 29th [for US$80]. The system is US$20 more, but it does come with a second controller, shouldn’t have to worry about finding those at least.

If I was ever to buy one of these nostalgic-cash-grabs that Nintendo churns out in “limited” quantities to drum up hype, this would be the one I’d get. That said, as you can probably tell by my opening sentence that’s extremely unlikely. Although I have just bought a Switch so I’m basically a Nintendo fanboy now right?

No word on definitive Australian pricing as yet, nor if it will even be available here on the same day. The new Nintendo SNES mini will be available in Australia the day after, September 30th, for $119.95.

Pre-order yours now from EB Games.

The full list of included titles:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO
  • Kirby™ Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2 (Never before released)
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Yoshi’s Island

Source: Nintendo announces the SNES Classic Edition out this September with Star Fox 2 – Retro News from Vooks

Google will stop reading your email for advertising purposes

Google will stop its long-standing practice of scanning the contents of individual Gmail users for advertising purposes, the company announced in a blog post today.

Google’s Cloud Division Head, Diane Greene:

“G Suite’s Gmail [Google’s paid email service] is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service”

I think there’s a lot of people that have no idea that Google does this in the first place. Regardless it’s good to see they’re dropping the long criticised practice for everyone later this year.

As for targeted advertising, that will definitely continue, don’t worry about that! Instead of it happening by reading your email they’ll use your search history, google ads tracking, youtube views and everything else they can possibly get their hands on to make sure you see that one item you looked at on The Iconic 4053450345 times a day.

Source: Google will stop scanning your Gmail messages to sell targeted ads – The Verge

Victorian speed cameras infected by WannaCry virus have fines cancelled

Victoria Police has taken the extraordinary step of cancelling all fines issued by speed and red-light cameras hit by the “WannaCry’ computer virus.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther made the announcement on Friday afternoon, saying about 55 cameras were affected by the the WannaCry ransomware virus between June 6 and June 22.

The cameras, most of them in inner-city Melbourne, issued 590 speed and red-light fines during that time.

In a massive back-pedal after yesterday announcing fines were still valid when admitting to the camera’s infections, Victoria Police today say they’re not.

Not being a lawyer my guess is – had they continued with the fines they would’ve likely faced 590 challenges to them. Each contesting the camera’s validity as they were effectively hacked. Just wasn’t worth the fight.

Source: Victoria Police cancel hundreds of speeding fines after WannaCry virus attack

YouTube announces new VR180 video format

…we’ve been working with Google’s Daydream team on a brand new video format, called VR180, that we believe will make VR content even easier to create.

VR180 video focuses on what’s in front of you, are high resolution, and look great on desktop and on mobile. They transition seamlessly to a VR experience when viewed with Cardboard, Daydream, and PSVR, which allow you to view the images stereoscopically in 3-D, where near things look near, and far things appear far. VR180 also supports livestreaming videos so creators and fans can be together in real time.

180 makes so much more sense from a viewing perspective than 360 in my opinion. No one wants to watch a produced show where they can see the people and lights around them making it.

Imagine future TV/screens that incorporate eye tracking and move the display to focus on what’s off to the side.

YouTube are working with hardware providers to develop new cameras at the moment, but I think this could be a winner.

Source: Official YouTube Blog: The world as you see it with VR180

Hitman arrives on macOS; first episode is available now for free

Feral Interactive has shipped ‘Hitman’ on macOS, complete with all installments of the episodic assassination-based game playable on Mac for the first time. The launch is accompanied by the release of a demo from developer IO Interactive, providing access to one episode from the series for free.

It’s not too often you get to write up that a triple-A title is getting a Mac release, so please excuse me while I indulge myself with this one.

Hitman is the story of Agent 47, a genetically engineered clone, engaged to execute a series of assassinations of various targets across the world. The game allows you to choose how you eliminate your designated target in a variety of ways.

The game requires a 2GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2GB AMD M290 GPU or better, and 70GB of free space.

The complete first season (six episodes) are available on Steam now for only US$24, reduced from $60.

Source: ‘Hitman’ arrives on Apple’s macOS, first episode free to download