Over the past year, YouTube has infrequently made headlines for something positive. Between
illegally collecting children's information and continually stricter guidelines on content, combined with advertising issues and a creator exodus, the company seems to be in a downward spiral. It was inevitable that Google would step in at some point and look for ways to deal with viewership and revenue losses caused by these issues.
This week, the company took the lid off of two new paid tiers for YouTube: YouTube Music and YouTube Premium. Paired with Google Play Music All Access, the company has 3 subscription services that revolve around music streaming, plus YouTube Red, another paid plan for YouTube. These new plans will go into effect on May 22, 2018. So, what does this all mean, what do the services include TODAY and what might be right for you?
Google Play Music All Access
This streaming music service was introduced in 2013 as a competitor to Spotify, Xbox Music and the other emerging unlimited streaming services of the time. Previously, when you subscribed to All Access, you also got a subscription to YouTube Red for free.
Starting at launch, for $10 per month, you will receive the ability to stream unlimited music through Google Play Music AND will receive a subscription to YouTube Music. This will give access to the YouTube Music mobile app, as well as streaming music and music videos.
YouTube Music is Google's new primary music streaming service. This service will allow subscribers to streaming ad-free music just about anywhere. It also includes ad-free music video streaming, both through the YouTube Music mobile app. You can also download the content for offline playback, similar to what you would expect from service like Spotify.
Starting at launch, for $10 per month, you will receive all of the features of YouTube Music, but there is no indication that you will get reciprocal access to Google Play Music All Access. In this case, it is better to subscribe the other way - for the same price you get both services, as opposed to just the one.
YouTube Red has been YouTube's ad-free subscription service since 2015. For $10 per month, users got ad-free streaming of YouTube content, while content creators received small revenue based on their views (which compensates for lost ad revenue for the creators). At launch, YouTube Red will be no more, but current Red subscribers will be converted to YouTube Premium at their current price (for an undisclosed amount of time).
The new name for YouTube Red comes with all of the previous features of YouTube Red, including ad-free playback and original content reserved exclusively for Premium subscribers. The biggest difference is that Premium will cost $12 per month, as opposed to the $10 for Red. In addition to all of the features of Red, Premium will also include YouTube Music, including ad-free music and access to the mobile app.
If you are a big YouTube fan, Premium is definitely a god deal, as it includes the benefits of Red and Music in one subscription. However, if music is your only focus, the features and availability of music on YouTube Music is not as impressive as Spotify, but runs the same price, so Spotify would be the better choice, for sure.
A little over a year ago, the FCC voted not to implement guidelines intended to re-establish a guarantee for an open internet in the United States. There were problems with the original intent, of course, with the most important being a lack of legal jurisdiction for the FCC to have drafted the guidelines in the first place. The FCC belongs to the Executive branch, which cannot create new law - it can only enforce existing laws.
Creating laws is reserved for the Legislative branch, who allowed previous Net Neutrality rules to lapse almost a decade previous. In the past 13 months, the topic of Net Neutrality has not faded, as opponents had hoped. In fact, support for implementing the rules through the proper channels has grown, with drafts being written and passed around both houses of Congress.
This week, the first of these drafts was put up for a vote in the Senate. The Senate resolution took the easy route to a vote, simply creating a legal framework for the guidelines originally drafted within the FCC. The tact worked, as the Senate passed the resolution 52-47. Now the resolution will have to go through the House of Representatives, and finally be signed by President Trump.
There is a lot of money being spent in opposition lobbying, especially within the House. There is even a question as to whether the House will have the ability to call for a vote at all, so the resolution is far from being codified. There is a push within the House to force a vote, however, and House Democrats are hopeful they will be able to get it done. There is also question as to whether President Trump will sign or veto the resolution. If he vetoes, it is unlikely that Congress will get a 2/3 vote to override.
It will likely not be long before the votes are cast, as the guidelines officially expire within the FCC on June 11th. We'll continue to keep you posted on the reality of what is happening, as it happens.
It is no secret that Microsoft has been taking some wide swings lately with their product offerings. They've been looking to appeal to a wider range of customers, with products like Outlook for iPhone and Microsoft Pix, both of which are rated higher than Apple's included email client and camera app, respectively. They've even been enhancing their Cortana offerings, including the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker, with
an Alexa partnership.
This week, Microsoft showed off 2 new products in the gaming space, which are also swings hoping to strike gold again. First is a newly designed
Xbox Adaptive Controller, designed specifically for accessible gaming. This large controller is similar in size to a fighting stick, but with a number of major differences. The most important is the removal of the traditional analog sticks, being replaced by large rocker plates. These plates are designed to be interacted with even if the player cannot open their hands, without sacrificing control capabilities. The directional pad and interface buttons are also greatly enlarged.
While all of that is fantastic, it doesn't yet touch on the adaptive aspect of the controller. That comes form the 19 1/8" jacks across the back of the controller. These jacks are not trying to make up for the lack of the headphone jack on the iPhone, but instead ports for the existing accessible gaming community. Many controller inputs, such as large joysticks/analog sticks, foot pedals and even air tubes, already exist to assist gamers with limited mobility. Microsoft wants to bring all of those accessories to the Xbox platform with the ease of an interface designed specifically for it.
Now, what if you're looking for a bigger, more public gaming experience? Microsoft's got you covered there, as well. The company has worked with their studio 343 Industries to produce
, a new game in the Halo franchise designed specifically for the arcade. In fact, they have designed an incredible, specialized arcade cabinet for the game. Halo: Fireteam Raven
The cabinet features 4-player capability, and a 130-inch 4K screen. Unlike a traditional Halo title, there is no splitscreen capabilities, with the game playing equally across the single screen for all players. Following a more traditional Halo theme, players will play as the ODST and will fight alongside Master Chief to defend Halo. The game plays somewhere between a traditional Halo game and a traditional arcade shooter, so it should appeal to both the arcade fan and the Halo fan.
The arcade cabinet will release this summer in Dave and Busters across the US and Canada, with general availability coming at a later date.