Spotify Launching Carpool Karaoke-Like Series Called 'Traffic Jams', Focusing on Original Music

Last year Apple Music announced that it would be launching a new version of James Corden's Carpool Karaoke as a standalone, original series for subscribers of Apple's streaming music service. Today, Spotify has countered Apple's move with its own car-based music series called Traffic Jams, which has a twist focused on original music creation in an attempt to differentiate itself from Carpool Karaoke (via Variety).

On Traffic Jams Spotify will team up "well-known hip-hop producers and rappers," but instead of singing along to popular songs, the participants on the show will have to produce an entirely new track in the backseat of a moving car. Record producer Southside and rapper T-Pain are set to be the first to appear on the show, which will launch on mobile and desktop Spotify applications on April 4. Once they have created their new track, they'll have to perform it in front of a live audience at the end of the show.

T-Pain and Southside in Traffic Jams
The streaming music service announced a new original video show Wednesday that takes some cues from James Corden’s hit series, but shoots for a different audience altogether: “Traffic Jams” teams up well-known hip-hop producers and rappers, and challenges them to produce a track in the backseat of a driving car.
Comedian DoBoy will be driving the car and providing commentary on the proceedings, similar to James Corden's position in the original Carpool Karaoke series from The Late Late Show With James Corden. Spotify will debut a new episode of Traffic Jams each week for eight weeks straight, representing the show's first season of content. CNET reported on the official episode list, including:
  • April 4 - T-Pain & Southside
  • April 11 - D.R.A.M. & MeLo-X
  • April 18 - Joey Bada$$ & Cardo
  • April 25 - Pell & !llmind
  • May 2 - Jidenna & Sonny Digital
  • May 9- Madeintyo & AarabMuzik
  • May 16 - Dae Dae & Marvel Alexander
  • May 23 - E-40 & Willie B
For Apple's Carpool Karaoke: The Series, the company has yet to announce an official launch date, so it appears that Spotify's just-announced series will get a leg up on Apple Music's foray into original video content. In terms of overall subscribers, Spotify's 50 million paid subscribers are still far ahead of Apple Music's 20 million.

Apple SIM Partner GigSky Now Offers Data Plans in Over 40 More Countries

Apple SIM partner GigSky today announced that its data plans are now available in over 180 countries around the world.


MacRumors obtained a list of the 40 or so new countries and territories that GigSky has expanded into as of this week:
  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Belize
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Chad
  • Colombia
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Macau
  • Madagascar
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Papua New Guinea
  • San Marino
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tonga
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Zimbabwe
  • Rwanda
A few of the countries listed above appear to have already been supported, but the majority of them are new.

Apple SIM enables iPad users to easily switch between different short-term data plans from select carrier partners without needing multiple SIM cards. Given that GigSky supports more than 180 countries around the world, Apple SIM is particularly convenient for staying connected while traveling.

GigSky data plans start at between one and five cents per MB depending on the country. To purchase an Apple SIM plan, open the Settings app and tap Cellular/Mobile Data > Set Up Cellular/Mobile Data. Data is activated immediately following payment. Plans work in the country in which they are purchased only.

GigSky's announcement also outlined some new deals:
30-day plans in Canada and Mexico now include 5GB for $50, previously 1GB for the same price. Plans in the United States and Puerto Rico include 5GB for $50, up from 3GB for the same price — and most $50 GigSky plans in Europe offer 3GB of data. Customers will receive a minimum of 1GB in all other destinations, with many plans offering 2GB or more.
Apple SIM is embedded in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and preinstalled in the cellular-enabled new 9.7-inch iPad, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK.

Apple SIM is also available for purchase separately at Apple Store locations in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Keep in mind that not all carriers support Apple SIM, and it is not available in China.

GigSky's competitors include AlwaysOnline Wireless and Truphone. Visit the Apple SIM website for other partners and countries supported.

iTunes U App Gains Image Annotation Tools, Video Message Sharing Support

Apple yesterday updated its iTunes U education app with some notable new annotation and media sharing features.

In an extension of iTunes U's markup support, which was previously limited to PDF documents, version 3.5 of the app now enables users to apply visual notes to image files using the same annotation toolset.


Elsewhere, video messages can now be shared between teachers and students, while the ability to open audio and video files in other apps has also been included.

The update comes on the heels of changes earlier this week to Apple's Classroom app, which lets teachers set up iPads for educational settings. That update gave educators the ability to create classes manually and send invitation codes to students for them to join, as well as extending classroom file sharing options with AirDrop support.

iTunes U is a free download for iPad and iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Google Search App Updated With 'Trending on Google' Widget, New 3D Touch Actions

Google announced a fresh update to its Search app yesterday, highlighting Gboard keyboard integration, a raft of 3D Touch enhancements, and a new Trending widget.

Launched last May, Gboard offers users the ability to search for emoji, includes a built-in animated GIF search, and supports glide typing and voice transcription. Users can also use the keyboard to share information and content sourced from online searches, including video and images. The option to enable Gboard can be found in the Google Search app's settings after the app has been updated.


While the Gboard integration was slipped in some weeks ago, the latest update brings a new "Trending on Google" widget that keeps users in the know about hot topics and breaking news by displaying live trending Google searches. Tapping on a trending search opens the Search app where users can find out more.

The Trending widget can be accessed using a 3D Touch hard press on the Search app icon, or by swiping right on the home screen and activating it via the Edit option at the bottom of the main widget screen.

Google has also added a number of other 3D Touch Quick Actions to the Search app icon, including Quick Search, Voice Search, Search for Images, and Search Incognito. In addition, additional in-app 3D Touch integrations mean users can hard press on web pages, map results, cards in the feed, or search results for previews and more information.

Google Search is a free download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Google

Epic Strategy Classic 'Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion' Released on iPad

Feral interactive has announced the release of Rome: Total War – Barbarian Invasion for iPad. The game is a standalone expansion pack of the cult classic PC strategy title, Rome: Total War, and builds upon the empire-building mechanics of the original as well as introducing a dramatic new historical context.

Barbarian Invasion takes place in 363AD during the height of the Roman Empire, when the Barbarian hordes began fighting back against Roman supremacy in an attempt to reclaim lost territory.


Players can choose to take on the role of a Barbarian commander determined to bring down the Empire, or take up arms as a Roman General and fight to extend the civilization into a new age.

Woven into the historical narrative are clashes with Christian, Pagan, and Zoroastrian religions, along with a new Horde mechanic that commands factions to raid and plunder opposing settlements to sustain their nomadic lifestyle.

Rome: Total War – Barbarian Invasion requires a first-generation iPad Air or newer, an iPad mini 2 or newer, or any iPad Pro running iOS 10.2 or later, and just under 4GB of free space to install. The game is available to download on the App Store for $4.99.

Tag: Feral

'WONDERBOOM' Speaker From Ultimate Ears Offers Big Sound in a Small Package

Ultimate Ears today announced the latest addition to its lineup of portable speakers, debuting the palm-sized $99 WONDERBOOM. The WONDERBOOM fits right in with its bigger siblings the UE Boom 2 and the MEGABOOM, offering 360 degree sound in a smaller, more affordable package.

Design wise, the WONDERBOOM looks a lot like the UE Boom 2, but it's half as tall and a bit thicker. It's 10.2cm tall with a diameter of 9.4cm, while the UE Boom 2 is 18cm tall with a diameter of 6.5cm.


The front of the WONDERBOOM features the iconic Ultimate Ears volume control buttons, denoted by a "+" and a "-", and at the top, there's a power button and a Bluetooth button for pairing the WONDERBOOM to an iPhone. A UE button, also at the top of the speaker, pauses and unpauses music that's playing. A double tap on the UE button will skip to the next song.

The WONDERBOOM connects to a device through a standard Bluetooth connection and it is designed to maintain its connection up to 100 feet away.


All of the Ultimate Ears products offer surprisingly great sound for both their size and price point, and the WONDERBOOM is no exception. In our testing, it wasn't far off from the sound of the UE Boom 2 and it was louder and carried more than the sound from a UE Roll. Sound was clear, even at high volume, and the bass was impressive for a small speaker.

Two WONDERBOOMs can be paired together (a long press on the UE button puts them into pairing mode) for larger spaces and louder sound, and there's also a feature that allows two Bluetooth devices to connect to WONDERBOOM so multiple people can control the music.

A loop on the back of the WONDERBOOM allows it to hang anywhere, and it's also waterproof (IPX7) and able to float, making it ideal for use at the pool, the beach, or in the bath. It can withstand immersion in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. It's also rugged, making it an ideal outdoor speaker -- it's drop proof from up to five feet.


WONDERBOOM charges using an included micro-USB cable, and it offers 10 hours of battery life per charge, long enough to last for a full day.


WONDERBOOM is priced at $99 and it is available in six colors: Stone (gray), Phantom (black), Fireball (red), SubZero (blue), Cashmere (pink), and Lilac (light purple). Ultimate Ears will begin selling the WONDERBOOM on its website in April of 2017.

Apple Pay Expands to Taiwan

Apple Pay is rolling out to Taiwanese customers starting today, reports The China Post. Seven banks in Taiwan are supporting Apple Pay at launch according to Apple's Taiwanese Apple Pay website, including Cathay United Bank, CTBC Bank, E. Sun Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, Taishin International Bank, and Union Bank of Taiwan.

Apple Pay is available to all Visa and MasterCard holders who bank with the above listed institutions. The payments service will work at all retailers where contactless payments are accepted, including Far Eastern Department Stores, Carrefour, PXMart, Sogo, and The Breeze Center. FamilyMart stores are also accepting Apple Pay, but only for users who bank with Taishin International.


Cards can be added to Apple Pay by tapping the "Add Credit or Debit Card" option in the Wallet app on a device running iOS 8.1 or later. Apple Pay works with the iPhone 6 or later or the iPhone 5 or later when using an iPhone paired with an Apple Watch. Apple Pay in apps and on the web is also available on iPads with Touch ID, including the iPad, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and both iPad Pro models.

Since its 2014 debut, Apple Pay has been slowly rolling out around the world. Rumors suggest Apple Pay will soon expand to several additional countries, including Italy, Belgium, Germany, and South Korea.

Along with Taiwan, Apple Pay is also available in the U.S., the UK, China, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and Ireland.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

MLB.com At Bat and NHL Apps Take Advantage of Custom Icon Option in iOS 10.3

iOS 10.3 includes a new feature that allows developers to change app icons after an app has been installed, bringing custom app icons to the iOS Home screen. Both the MLB.com At Bat and NHL iOS apps are now taking advantage of the new custom icon feature following updates released this afternoon.

In the MLB.com At Bat app, users can customize the Home screen icon of the app with MLB club-branded app icons representing their favorite team. Similarly, in the NHL app, app icons can also be customized with team logos instead of the standard NHL app icon.

To change the icons, iOS 10.3 is required. Subscribers can go to More --> Settings --> Home Screen icon and choose a team logo.

Screenshots via TechCrunch

As TechCrunch points out, while developers are now able to change app icons without pushing a full iOS update, there is no support for dynamic app icons that would allow for things like a weather app icon that updates continually with the temperature.

Customized Home screen icons, which Apple calls "User-Selectable App Icons" may be something that we'll see a lot more of now that iOS 10.3 is available to the public. Apple has strict rules for icon customization options, requiring visual consistency, a simple icon swap interface, and explicit user permission to change an app's icon.

MLB.com At Bat can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

NHL can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tags: MLB, NHL

Apple Seeds First Beta of tvOS 10.2.1 to Developers

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 10.2.1 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after releasing tvOS 10.2, an update that introduced improve scrolling and iPad support for the Apple TV Remote app.

The tvOS 10.2.1 beta is designed for the fourth-generation Apple TV. It can be downloaded by connecting the Apple TV to a computer with a USB-C cable and installing the beta software from a registered developer account using iTunes.


Because of the tricky installation requirements, tvOS betas are limited to developers. tvOS 10.2.1 will not be available to the public until the final version of the software launches.

Apple does not typically provide detailed beta release notes, so we don't yet know what's included in tvOS 10.2.1. It's likely to focus primarily on bug fixes and under-the-hood performance improvements, so we may not know what's new until the software sees an official release.

Should any noticeable changes be discovered in tvOS 10.2.1, we'll update this post.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Apple Seeds First Beta of watchOS 3.2.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2.2 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after the launch of watchOS 3.2, a major update that introduced Theater Mode.

watchOS 3.2.2 can be downloaded through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software Update. To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.


watchOS betas require an iPhone running iOS 10 to install, and they're only available to developers because there's no way to downgrade the software on an Apple Watch.

It's not yet clear if watchOS 3.2.2 introduces any new features or bug fixes because Apple doesn't typically provide release notes for betas, but we'll update this post should anything new be discovered.

Given that this is a minor 3.x.x update, it's likely to focus primarily on bug fixes.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

T-Mobile Gifting Customers Free Year of MLB.TV Premium Ahead of 2017 Season

T-Mobile today announced that it will offer its customers a free annual subscription to MLB.TV Premium, a $119.99 value, on Tuesday, April 4.


T-Mobile customers will be able to claim the gift through its T-Mobile Tuesdays app until Wednesday, April 5 at 1:59 a.m. Pacific Time. Then, customers need to sign up for MLB.TV Premium by Tuesday, April 11 at 1:59 a.m. Pacific Time.

MLB.TV Premium allows baseball fans to stream every out-of-market game live or on demand on the web with supported devices, including the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, and Google Chromecast.

MLB.TV Premium also includes a free subscription to At Bat Premium, which unlocks high-quality streaming of select live MLB.TV broadcasts and highlight clips in the MLB.com At Bat app for iPhone and iPad.

Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season is Sunday, April 2. Spring Training wraps up this week.

T-Mobile customers must have a qualifying monthly rate plan, including "most consumer and business, postpaid, and prepaid plans." Government accounts and plans without high speed data are not eligible.

2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that T-Mobile has offered its customers a free year of MLB.TV Premium.

Tag: T-Mobile

'AmazonFresh Pickup' Beta Test Lets You Pick Up Groceries Without Leaving Your Car

Amazon has launched another grocery initiative, this time for Amazon employees in Seattle. The service is called AmazonFresh Pickup and it allows customers to order groceries from the Amazon mobile app on iOS and Android, or on the web, select a pickup time, and show up at the AmazonFresh Pickup location to get their items bagged into their vehicle by an Amazon worker.

Although it's limited to Amazon employees right now, when it opens to a wider audience AmazonFresh Pickup will be available to Prime members (who are near a location) as a free addition to their membership (via TechCrunch).


The service has no minimum order requirement, so customers can create grocery lists for dozens of items or for a single bottle of mouthwash, for example -- whatever is ordered will be waiting for them when they drive up. Customers can order fresh produce, meats, bread, dairy and a range of household items off of AmazonFresh Pickup, which currently has two locations in Seattle's SODO and Ballard neighborhoods.

Amazon previously tested out "Amazon Go" pop up stores, which let customers walk in, purchase groceries, and walk out of the store without needing to go through any lengthy check out process. That service worked by having customers scan their smartphone when entering, and the Amazon Go app tracked every item taken from the store's shelves and tallied it all up in a virtual cart, which charged a customer's connected payment card.


Recently, it was reported that Amazon is delaying a wider launch of Amazon Go locations to "work out kinks" related to the cashierless technology that charges customers automatically. Amazon is constantly testing out and slowly launching neat new ideas that could see a wider debut for its customers in the future -- like Amazon Prime Air, which has evolved from futuristic reveal to small-scale, working delivery drone in just over three years. With today's announcement, it appears that AmazonFresh Pickup is the next in line.

Tag: Amazon