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Quibi Will Close in Early December | MakeUseOf

It had billions of dollars pumped into it, but Quibi just couldn't survive. The short-form streaming service is due to close its doors in December 2020.

When Is Quibi Closing?

As previously reported, Quibi is shutting down. A streaming service designed around short-form content for smartphone consumption, Quibi quickly found its business unsustainable.

Even a large start-up investment, huge sponsors, and A-list creative talent weren't enough to make Quibi a success.

Any remaining capital in the business will be returned to investors like WarnerMedia, Disney, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Quibi has now updated its support section with a new page called Quibi End of Service Announcement.

On the page, it states that Quibi anticipates the service will end "on or about December 1, 2020". An email address is listed if you have any questions or need assistance.

As for what will happen to Quibi's exclusive content? That's unknown. The page reads:

At this time we do not know if the Quibi content will be available anywhere after our last day of service. We recommend following #Quibi on Twitter for any news regarding content.

According to Variety, CBS Studios intends to try and sell its Most Dangerous Game series elsewhere. Other studios will likely be doing the same in an attempt to recuperate costs.

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FuboTV Adds Simultaneous Channel Watching on Apple TV | MakeUseOf

FuboTV has updated its app on Apple TV so that you can now watch up to four live channels simultaneously.

What Is FuboTV's Multiview?

FuboTV is an American streaming service that mainly offers live sports, but also news, movies, and TV series.

It has now redesigned its Multiview feature so that Apple TV users can watch four live channels on a single screen.

FuboTV quietly introduced the feature last year, though it was only limited to two screens. It has now increased that limit and made the feature easier to discover and use.

It's simple to begin a Multiview session. When watching any live program, navigate to the options menu and choose Watch in Multiview. Alternatively, swipe up while watching and channel, then press and hold on another.

When in Multiview, press and hold on a channel to find the various options: deleting the channel, moving it, changing it, or watch it in full screen.

Audio will play from whichever channel you have selected. Just swipe to highlight a different channel and the audio will immediately change.

For now, Multiview on FuboTV is only available on Apple TV. However, on the FuboTV blog, the company wrote that it "will work to bring [Multiview] to our other apps and supported devices".

According to FuboTV, it's the only streaming service where you can watch four channels at once.

If you're a big fan of multitasking, you should explore your phone's options. For example, Android has a split screen mode so you can juggle two apps at once.

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You Can Now Use Microsoft Forms for Personal Use | MakeUseOf

Microsoft Forms is a great way to quickly create online surveys, but until today, it's only been available for business or education use. Now, Microsoft Forms is opening up for anyone to use for free, regardless of if it's for business purposes or not.

Microsoft Forms Enter the Public Domain

Microsoft made the announcement over on the Microsoft 365 blog. You can also start making forms yourself by heading to the Microsoft Forms website, or by using the Office 365 app.

Microsoft Forms is a powerful tool, as it uses AI to guess how you want to construct your form. Once you've named your form, the AI kicks in and tries to work out what you want from your form. As you add modules, the AI will recommend templates that may suit your needs.

Once your form is ready to go, you can share it with others to fill out. If you plan on emailing it, you can just send a link for people to click on. If you want to attach the form on something physical (like a poster), you can instead generate a QR code so people can scan it.

You can use Microsoft Forms for free, but there is a premium option that grants you special bonuses, such as an expanded recipients pool.

Why Is Microsoft Changing Its Stance on Microsoft Forms?

It may seem odd that Microsoft is suddenly changing its mind about Microsoft Forms, but there's a very good reason to make this move.

As people are moving to online work during the current pandemic, everything has to be done digitally. What could once be achieved through a print-out questionnaire must now be done wholly online.

Microsoft Forms is a powerful tool, and there wasn't anything wrong with it specifically. Its problem laid instead with its competition, of which there was plenty.

There are many different form and survey-creation tools out there on the web. One of the most powerful ones, however, is Google Forms. There are plenty of awesome reasons to use Google Forms, but the one that stands out most is that anyone with a Google account can make forms for free.

As such, there was very little reason for people to use Microsoft Forms when Google's offering did something similar for totally free. As such, Microsoft's move to bring its forms service to the public may be a move to challenge Google Forms at its own game.

Getting More Productive With Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is now available for anyone to use, meaning you can now create AI-powered questionnaires for free. We'll have to see if it can hold a candle to Google's own offerings.

Of course, given Microsoft Forms' past exclusivity, there's a good chance you didn't even know it existed until today. If you're in this camp, don't worry; it's easy to learn how to use Microsoft Forms and get started.

Image Credit: Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock.com

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The PS5 Will Have Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube at Launch

Sony has confirmed which media streaming services will be available on its upcoming PlayStation 5 console.

What Can I Stream on the PS5?

As announced on the PlayStation blog, an assortment of streaming services will be available on the PS5 when it launches in November 2020.

Those available on day one are Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, Twitch, and YouTube.

The blog post also mentions Amazon Prime Video, MyCanal, Hulu, and Peacock, though it's unclear if these will be available on launch.

There will be a dedicated section in the PS5 for media entertainment. It will be accessible next to Games on the home screen.

Within the Media space, you don't need to download apps through the PS Store like you do on the PS4. Instead, everything will be available to use immediately.

The console also features a Control Center which you can use to quickly switch channels and control your music.

Sony also confirmed that the PS5 media remote, available as a separate purchase and not included with the console, would feature dedicated buttons for Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube.

You can use the media remote to control the entertainment on-screen and press the dedicated streaming buttons to immediately launch the respective apps.

Find Out More About the PS5

It's not long until the PS5 launches. If you're a PlayStation fan, this console is shaping up to be great, with a competitive price point and some fun-looking games.

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Salto Is a New Streaming Service From French TV Networks

A new streaming service has launched. It's called Salto and is a joint venture from three established French television networks.

What Is Salto?

Salto is a streaming service launched by state broadcaster France Télévisions and commercial channels M6 and TF1.

The service has been in the making for some years. It was held up by France's broadcasting regulator and by negotiations with license holders.

Salto will play host to local language content like Demain Nous Appartient and Ma vie de Courgette, along with shows and movies from abroad such as the UK-created Quiz or the American TV drama The Handmaid's Tale.

Alongside video-on-demand content, Salto also lets viewers watch live TV from a selection of 19 channels.

Salto is also trying to draw people in by offering some shows a few days earlier than they broadcast on traditional TV, including a new adaption of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

While France Télévisions, M6, and TF1 each have its own catch-up apps already, these are supported by ads. Salto is different because it merges everything together, along with content from elsewhere, and doesn't have any ads.

In total, at launch, there are over 10,000 hours of series, films, and documentaries to watch. ScreenDaily reports that number is set to rise to 15,000 in 2021, along with the introduction of original content exclusive to Salto.

How Much Does Salto Cost?

You can give Salto a chance by signing up for a free 30-day trial. You can cancel that trial at any time with one click, otherwise it will roll into a paid subscription.

Those subscriptions come in three tiers, depending on how many screens you wish to watch Salto on simultaneously. One user costs €6.99 a month, two users is €9.99 a month, and four users is €12.99 a month.

You can watch Salto in a web browser or via its smartphone, tablet, and smart TV apps.

Whether the draw of having content from multiple providers in one place, along with no adverts, is enough to bring in subscribers remains to be seen. The company would not divulge what its subscriber goals for the first year are.

Salto Is Similar to BritBox

Salto isn't the first localized streaming service to launch in France. CanalPlay opened in 2011, though it eventually closed and was superseded by myCanal.

BritBox is a similar concept, which aims to get the great wealth of British TV into the eyes of the global public.

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Twitch Is Deleting Content Following DMCA Strikes | MakeUseOf

Many Twitch streamers have found their archived streams deleted due to DMCA takedown requests. Usually, DMCA strikes can be counter-claimed, but Twitch isn't giving that option this time.

Why Is Twitch Deleting Archived Streams?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed as law in 1998 in attempt to combat piracy. Part of the act allows parties to send DMCA strikes to those it believes are infringing copyright.

It's a controversial act, not least because it has been used by companies in the past to strong-arm others to takedown content or discussions that they might not legally be obliged to do.

However, the DMCA does allow services like Twitch to host user-created content that might potentially infringe on copyright, but only providing that swift action is taken to remove it once a claim has been filed.

Normally, users have the right to respond to copyright strikes. That's because these claims can often be overzealous, claiming content that actually doesn't infringe on any copyright.

Services like YouTube are notorious for endless takedowns and that now seems to be happening on Twitch too. It's very common for Twitch streamers to play music in the background when they're live.

While Twitch does mute sections of archived streams if it automatically detects copyrighted music, the service is now going one step further and outright deleting the entire archive.

Rod Breslau, an eSports consultant, was one of the first to tweet about an email he had received from Twitch.

In the email, Twitch claims Breslau's channel "was subject to one or more ... DMCA takedown notifications, and that the content identified has been deleted". The message goes on to acknowledge that while no chance has been given to file a counter-claim, this is only a warning and not a full copyright strike.

It's an email many other streamers have received, and it was not just sent to those who are part of the Twitch partner program.

How Has Twitch Responded?

Twitch issued the following statement:

We are incredibly proud of the essential service Twitch has become for so many artists and songwriters, especially during this challenging time. It is crucial that we protect the rights of songwriters, artists and other music industry partners. We continue to develop tools and resources to further educate our creators and empower them with more control over their content while partnering with industry-recognized vendors in the copyright space to help us achieve these goals.

When Kotaku spoke to a Twitch spokesperson further, they confirmed that the company has received thousands of notifications from copyright holders.

It's likely that Twitch doesn't have the resource to handle all the complaints and that a blanket deletion was the quickest result to avoiding further fallout.

If you have been impacted by this, it doesn't mean you can't play any music on your stream. In fact, Twitch recently launched a new featured called "Soundtrack by Twitch" that aims to get round this exact problem.

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You Can Now Listen to Podcasts on Spotify Using Google Assistant

Google Assistant has enjoyed Spotify integration for some time, but it was always limited to choosing specific songs or playlists of music. Now, podcasts are being added to the mix. Which means you can play podcasts on Spotify using nothing but simple voice commands.

How the Spotify Podcasts Integration Will Work

The new integration will work with smart speakers and displays like Nest Audio, Nest Hub, and Google Home Mini. You can listen to Spotify podcasts using the same voice commands as you would songs or playlists.

While this is good news for smart home devices owners, it'll come in handy for all Android users. The same voice commands will work with the Assistant menu on any smartphone or tablet with the Spotify app installed.

The feature, announced today on For the Record, is available to all Google Assistant users. As well as starting new episodes via voice command, you'll be able to pick up where you left off when moving between devices.

All you need to get started is a Google Assistant device and a linked Spotify account.

A Welcome Addition for Spotify Users

The addition of Spotify podcasts to Google Assistant devices comes at a good time. With the recently announced Nest Audio smart speaker now shipping worldwide, it's likely more people than ever will be using Google Assistant in their homes.

Until now, Google only fully integrated Google Podcasts into its voice assistant. This forced users to either use its platform exclusively or keep multiple subscription lists across different services.

Already one of the largest podcast providers, Spotify now hosts exclusive podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience and the Michelle Obama Podcast. The new integration will solidify Spotify as the podcast provider of choice for people using Google Assistant devices.

This isn't the first time that Spotify and Google have worked together for mutual benefit. Last year, Spotify premium users were able to get a free Google Home Mini regardless of when they began their premium account.

Giving Google the Edge Over Apple's HomePod

The news of Spotify podcasts integration is good news for those in the Google ecosystem, but it's likely to leave Apple HomePod users feeling left behind. The lack of proper Spotify integration has been contentious for those loyal to Apple for a long time.

While there are workarounds for adding Spotify support to HomePod, there's still no official integration in sight. HomePod supports Apple Music, but it's some missing key features. However, according to reports, the HomePod will soon play Apple Music as alarms, which is something.

Setting media alarms has been a Google Assistant feature for some time, and now users can wake up to their favorite podcast too.

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Quibi Is Closing Six Months After Launch | MakeUseOf

It only launched in April 2020, but streaming service Quibi is already closing its doors after suffering in a crowded and changed marketplace.

Despite a $2 billion investment, the company decided it was best to close rather than attempt a recovery.

What Was Quibi?

Quibi made quite the splash when it launched. The service was designed around short-form content, split into chapters lasting around ten minutes, that was designed to be watched on smartphones.

That smartphone hook was essential. Quibi was made for people on-the-go, and the content would fit screens whether they were in held in portrait or landscape.

The company made ample use of its nearly $2 billion start-up investment to fund original content from creators like Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg, along with shows fronted by recognizable stars like Chrissy Teigen and Will Arnett.

Quibi even pulled big name advertisers like Pepsi and Walmart, raising around $150 million in advertising revenue at launch.

Quibi Is Shutting Down

According to Deadline, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors on the afternoon of October 21 to let them know that the service is being shut down.

The company employed around 200 people, each of whom will lose their jobs and be paid severance.

Wall Street Journal reports that a restructuring firm had been brought in to decide what should happen to Quibi---one of the recommended suggestions was shutting down.

Subscriber figures were far below what the service needed to sustain itself. Katzenberg and chief executive Meg Whitman have decided to close Quibi and return the remaining capital to investors, rather than trying to survive and risk further loss.

Apparently, Katzenberg had talked to the likes of Apple, Facebook, and WarnerMedia about buying Quibi, but none took the bite. The fact that Quibi doesn't own much of its content was a key reason that no sale took place.

Why Couldn't Quibi Survive?

While it's hard to conclusively say why Quibi failed to last longer than six months, there's no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic didn't help.

Quibi launched as a mobile-only product, having only recently secured TV distribution deals with Apple and Google. In a time when so many people were shut indoors, with easy access to other streaming services on their computers and TVs, Quibi failed to find traction.

There were also rumblings in the media at launch whether there would be any consumer interest in paying for a short-form streaming service, when the likes of YouTube and TikTok offered similar (albeit less curated and produced) for free.

Finally, perhaps another reason that Quibi couldn't survive was that the streaming market is becoming increasingly crowded, with established players like Netflix and Amazon competing against newer options like Disney+ and Peacock.

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Netflix to Give Two Free Days of Access in Some Countries

Netflix is due to introduce a new promotion called StreamFest, which will give unlimited and free access to the Netflix library for 48 hours.

StreamFest will first be trialed in India, before potentially rolling out to other countries.

What Is StreamFest?

The idea of StreamFest is that everyone within a country would have unlimited access to Netflix for two days. Interestingly, you won't need to hand over payment details.

This news comes not longer after Netflix quietly ended its 30-day free trial. While the company may have called curtains on that promotion, it's clear that it isn't being complacent.

During an earnings interview following Netflix's third quarter 2020 financial results, chief operating officer Greg Peters announced the StreamFest concept:

We think that giving everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have. Really creating an event, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up.

This promotion will first be tested in India from December 4. It may then expand to other countries, depending on how successful the trial is in India.

StreamFest was first reported as a concept by Protocol. According to the site, analysis of the Netflix Android app found references to StreamFest.

In the code, there are lines that mention StreamFest will be accessible via all devices Netflix supports and that users won't need to enter credit card details.

The site also reported that one text string reads that "Netflix StreamFest is at capacity". This suggests that there could be a user limit, though nothing has been confirmed by Netflix.

What Is the Future for Netflix?

During the earnings report, Netflix announced that its third quarter subscriber growth of 2.2 million members worldwide was less than expected.

However, it attributed that to the immense 25.86 million members it picked up during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That's more than it gained during the entirety of 2019.

Netflix recently increased the cost of its standard two-screen plan in Canada from $14 to $15.

When asked whether Netflix would be increasing the cost of its subscriptions elsewhere, Greg Peters declined to comment. He said that the company only increases prices when it believes it is delivering more value to its members.

He also noted that the company is "back to near-steady state in physical production", as the pandemic also impacted the production schedule of Netflix's original content.

Should You Subscribe to Netflix?

Are you still unsure whether you should subscribe to Netflix? The StreamFest promotion will be perfect for you to sample the content and see if it's worthwhile.

Of course, with benefits like multiple screen viewing and a lack of ads, there are lots of reasons to check out Netflix.

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US Justice Department Files Antitrust Suit Against Google

We've heard about a possible antitrust lawsuit against Google for some time. Now, it looks like that lawsuit is finally going to happen, as The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that the US Justice Department and 11 US states are filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google.

US Department of Justice Antitrust Lawsuit

The US Department of Justice spoke on a call this morning regarding the lawsuit, and it sounds quite confident in its stance that Google is violating antitrust laws with its search practices. On the call, Ryan Shores, the Justice Department’s senior advisor for tech industries, said the following:

"Google’s conduct is illegal under traditional antitrust principles and must be stopped... Google owns or controls search distribution channels accounting for about 80 percent of general search queries in the United States. We’re asking the court to break Google’s grip on search distribution so that competition and innovation can take hold."

If you want to read the entire lawsuit (it's 57 pages), you can check out this Scribd link (H/T The Verge). There's a lot to absorb, and we're certainly not lawyers, but it does seem that the Justice Department has a detailed case against Google.

Apparently, the Justice Department met with Google to discuss steps that could be taken to resolve the alleged anti-competitive behaviors, but it didn't disclose the details. Based on the suit's filing, it looks like the two sides didn't agree.

Google released a statement on The Keyword to speak on the lawsuit, and as you might expect, the firm disagrees that its practices violate antitrust laws.

The company's thoughts on the matter are summed up quite well with this quote:

"Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives."

The suit's general crux is that Google has a web of exclusive agreements with various companies, such as Apple. Google spends billions to maintain its place as the default search engine on various platforms, iOS included.

This is a continually developing situation, and it will definitely be interesting to see what the result is. The suit is focused on Google's search practices and not other aspects of its business, so its ad business shouldn't change, at least for now.

It's still early in the process, and more details are sure to come out as the suit moves forward.

Other Major Lawsuits

This is far from the first major lawsuit in the tech world, and it definitely won't be the last. With that said, it could be one of the largest antitrust lawsuits brought forth against a technology company, and it's certainly bigger than previous suits brought against Google for similar matters.

Only time will tell whether this has a profound effect on Google's business practices. Will the firm be forced to change some of its practices regarding search? We'll have to wait and see.