Photos purportedly showcase the Xbox Watch that never was


It probably goes without saying that Microsoft, along with the rest of the tech world, was working on a smartwatch. And while, by some accounts, the category is finally having its moment, the software giant’s efforts didn’t appear to make it to far beyond the prototype stage.

New photos posted by a Twitter user and spotted by Windows Central purport to show the company’s abandoned effort. Similar images popped up late last year, but these actually show the thing powered on, betraying the same fitness focus that dominated the company’s abandoned Band wearables line.

The device appears to be in line with the one the company was said to be testing internally a few years back. Designed by part of the Xbox hardware team, the hardware has a 1.5-inch display and support for heart rate monitoring.

It’s probably for the best the device never saw the light of day. Wearables have proven elusive for Microsoft. The Band line was severely lacking from a hardware perspective, and the company didn’t really do much to distinguish the offering beyond that, failing to make headway in an overcrowded wearable space.

The company ultimately halted sales on the Band 2 and killed work on its successor. Last year, meanwhile, Microsoft appeared to be transitioning its focus toward its Health software offering, with potential plans to work with third-party hardware developers. Though admittedly, not all that much appears to have happened on that front, either.

Stock Images

Sex, the final frontier: Cindy Gallop raises $2M from mysterious investor for social sex tech


“Everything’s a battle,” Cindy Gallop sighs, although ti’s clear she relishes those battles. What she means is that the entire Internet has long been divided into two separate, walled fiefdoms: one labelled “pornography,” the other marked with those three dread words “no adult content.” The territory between those two worlds, which she is trying to claim, remains a strange no-man’s-land.

We take this partitioning for granted, but it’s pretty weird if you think about it. Whether we like to talk about it or not, sex is a significant and meaningful part of adult lives; the territory defined by “adult content” is far larger than its peninsula “pornography.” Think sexual education, sexual communication, sex toys, etcetera. Think of “Grace” and Aziz Ansari, and the dawning widespread realization that we need a new sexual revolution, one of better sexual behavior, communication, and enthusiastic consent.

This is a very big ask. Sex is still at best an awkward subject for most people. Everyone pretends to be casually cool and sexually sophisticated, but at the same time, for many people sex is still dangerously intimate and revealing, sometimes even a minefield of shame, and always fraught with the rawest of emotions and desires, difficult to talk about and to negotiate.

Anything technology can do to make sexual communication easier ought to be welcomed. But to most Internet providers — payment processors, email providers, hosting companies — anything remotely sexual is automatically relegated to the category of porn, and promptly rejected.

Venture capitalists react in the same way. Gallop, a former advertising executive turned force of nature, has been running her social-sex site Make Love Not Porn on a shoestring for several years now, with no budget for marketing, and only one paid full-time employee, they’ve attracted nearly half a million members and pulled in close to $1 million of revenue. And yet, even though it’s widely accepted that there’s a glut of VC money out there, “fear of what other people would think” has caused VC after VC to reject her.

Late last year, matters came to a head. An anonymous seed investor, who works (obviously very successfully) in high finance, provided Gallop with a seed investment five years ago; he and she have kept the site running with smaller top-ups since then. Apparently he too has grown frustrated with VCs’ nos, because this anonymous investor — call him the Satoshi Nakamoto of sextech — has just funded her with two million dollars.

This is a big deal for Make Love Not Porn, obviously, but it’s significant for the field as a whole. There is a growing cohort of female-founded sex-tech companies out there. If someone as prominent as Cindy Gallop has had to fight so hard for funding, imagine how much harder it is for the rest of them.

Consider Leah Callon-Butler of intimate.io, who are hoping to end-run around the payment processing problem by building their own blockchain solution for sex tech. A perfectly reasonable business model, you’d think: but once again, anything sex-related triggers shame and embarrassment in others. “I’ve had people refuse to have their picture taken with me at conferences for fear it might get out,” Callon-Butler observed wryly at the World Crypto Economic Forum’s “Vice Panel” earlier this week

You might wonder why Gallop herself didn’t go the ICO route. “We are a mass-market play,” is her answer. “Our customers use credit cards, not cryptocurrencies.” And, indeed, MLNP has broad, ambitious mass-market plans. To become “the Khan Academy of sex,” with a freemium subscription model, e.g. by delivering curated age-appropriate content from sex educators to help parents talk to / educate their children about sex, with a 50-50 revenue split. “I want sex educators to make a shit-ton of money,” Gallop stresses.

Today, any from of sexual self-expression, and any nudity (even breastfeeding), are effectively banned on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc; Gallop wants MLNP to be the “Wattpad for sex,” home to all kinds of sexual expression, from art to essays to erotica, again on a subscription model. She wants to build a messaging app explicitly constructed for sexting, as opposed to Snapchat’s disingenuous pretense that its growth was not fuelled by that — an app with custom filters, emoji, etc., wherein messages are persistent by default but any participant can delete the conversation.

First, though, MLNP will be quintupling their full-time staff and rebuilding their existing shoestring social-sex site to scale, and as a platform for all of the above. They’ve already partnered with Susan Danziger‘s Ziggeo video platform. Down the road Gallop wants to raise her own $200 million for her own sex-tech fund — because, as she says, it has been amply proven that there is a ton of money to be made from approaching one of the most powerful forces in human lives in an ethical, transparent, empathic and open way.

And it’s all too apparent that we’re a long way from that today. Gallop cites Hollywood sex scenes as an example. According to Hollywood, sex is wordless; nobody ever talks, asks questions, laughs, etc., during sex; and, all too often, those are the kinds of sexual values that filter out into the mainstream. “Fuck that shit,” Gallop says hotly, and, later, “I don’t wait for things to change. I make them change.” That’s good. Somebody needs to.

Featured Image: Niek Verlaan/Pixabay UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

http://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=557323&u=1457769&m=51172&urllink=&afftrack=
Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Women’s March embraces collaborative social app Crunchet


Today’s nationwide Women’s March attendees will advocate for voter registration through every conceivable social network, so one of its planning organizations has allied with a new app that lets you combine posts from across apps.

Crunchet will help the Women’s March Alliance and Chicago march create collages of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Spotify, and uploaded content that can be shared anywhere as a single story. Users can also collaborate, being invited to or asking to become a contributor to someone else’s Crunchet post.

“The reason we created this was that we felt like it was lacking on social media” Crunchet co-founder Denise Holzer tells me. The company hoped to bridge the gap between passive social network voyeurism and posting only about yourself. “Crunchet lets you join a story” Holzer says.

“The women’s marches were successful because of social media tools” says Katherine Siemionko, one of the leaders of 2017 march in New York City and a Womens March Alliance co-founder. “Considering youth is our target market, tools like Crunchet may allow us to reach them faster that older tools like facebook that the youth are moving off of.”

Women’s March Alliance’s Katherine Siemionko

Now since soft-launching a year ago around the first Women’s March, Crunchet has raised over $1.5 million in seed funding and built a team of 14, plus has ambassadors at 50 colleges. While the app is still a bit buggy, there’s potential in both the ideas of social co-posting and aggregating content from across networks.

Crunchet’s iOS app (Android coming in Spring) lets you log in to all your other apps, then select from your content there, paste in links, or upload imagery. It all gets layed out in swipeable carousels so people don’t have to jump between every app to see all your posts on a certain topic. You can even add a soundtrack to your post through Spotify. Then you take your Crunchet links and share them wherever you want.

Crunchet has its own feed, which eskews the Facebook-style algorithmic sorting that can bury posts. You see all the posts of people you follow so you don’t miss updates about important moments like today.

One roadblock might be that those algorithms elsewhere might preference native content over links to seeing that stuff and more on Crunchet. Holzer hopes collaborative posts where multiple Crunchet users team up that you can’t get elsewhere will compel click-throughs, and encourage people to cooperate on making meaningful content.

Still, the algorithm issue could further complicate Crunchet’s growth ambitions. You could see social media fatigue and the crowded app space as an advantage, giving people a reason to use Crunchet so they don’t have to compose redundant posts on each app. But it might make people think they already have too many ways to share. “The biggest challenge is getting people to try it” Holzer admits, a hurdle few social apps ever overcome. The company is planning a series A funding round to pull in some more resources for its quest to scale.

Beyond today’s Women’s Marches, which you can join in cities around the US and even abroad, Crunchet plans to work with arts, music, fashion, esports, and other festivals as well as protests and rallies. Whether it’s convincing people to enlist in “power to the polls” movements or just helping them discover something beautiful, Crunchet could make sharing everywhere as easy as sharing anywhere.

 

TPG Growth and CAA’s investment firm Evolution Media buy into Africa’s music business


Private equity and media giants from the U.S.  yare starting to pay attention to Africa’s burgeoning music scene.

TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity investment arm of private equity giant TPG, and Evolution Media, the investment and advisory services firm created by Creative Artists Agency and TPG, have acquired a majority stake in the South African multimedia entertainment company, TRACE.

With 200 million viewers and listeners across 160 countries, TRACE has created a media empire in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company owns and operates 30 digital and mobile services, 21 pay TV channels and seven FM radio stations.

Through over 400 concerts, web simulcasts, and talent search competitions, the company’s programming reaches viewers on the continent and throughout the world.

As part of the transaction, Millennium Technology Group, which had previously owned the company, will be selling its stake — subject to regulatory approval.

Trace properties include its subscription streaming service, TRACE Play, which offers live TV, radio, and on-demand programming on desktop, mobile, and through OTT services like Roku and Amazon Fire. The company also operates a mobile virtual network in South Africa called TRACE Mobile and finally, TRACE has targeted television channels across Eastern and Western Africa.

“By partnering with TPG Growth, a global investor known for its ability to grow and scale businesses, we are well-positioned to build on our success and accelerate our transformation into the leading global afro-urban digital entertainment group,” said Olivier Laouchez, co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of TRACE.

Last year was, by most measures, one where the sub-Saharan African startup market found its stride. The world’s largest technology firms have their sights set squarely on the African market with Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg both stressing the importance of the continent to the long term plans of their companies.

TPG itself is beginning to commit more money to Africa. Through its growth fund the firm has backed five investments across Africa including, Gro Intelligence, a global agricultural data business; Frontier Car Group, which manages Cars45.com; and Ecoles Yassamine, a private school network in Morocco.

Slack comes to Linux as a snap


Slack’s ambition to become the default, go-to place for employees chat to each other and link into hundreds of other applications to get work done is getting one more step up today by becoming available on a new platform. From today, Slack will be available as a Snap, an application package that’s available across a range of open-source-based Linux environments.

This opens the app up to a wide, new group of people: there are “tens of millions” of desktop users across multiple Linux distributions, according to Jamie Bennett, VP of Engineering, Devices & IoT at Canonical. (As a point of comparison, Slack in September 2017 said it had over 6 million daily active users, with 2 million of them paying.)

In addition to Ubuntu (which is developed by Canonical), this will open Slack up to users of Linux-based services like ArchLinux, OpenSUSE, Solus, Debian, KDE Neon and others.

As you might know, Slack was originally conceived as a service for the developers of TinySpeck, the startup that eventually became Slack. While it’s been working for the past year to expand its user numbers with a push into the larger enterprise segment, the alignment with the developer community using Linux is a potentially strong and natural fit.

“As snaps are designed to work across desktop, IoT devices and the cloud, the potential for snaps that may have applications across all or some of these are potentially even greater, as well as making a developer’s life easier by simplifying the process and requiring only one version to be created,” Bennett said in an email interview.

Slack built the snap itself using Canonical’s Snapcraft tool, Bennett said, standard with what all developers use to create their snaps. Asked who approached whom, he said that the app was built by Slack itself in response to requests from the Linux community. “Even though Slack was only launched 4 years ago, they’ve grown very quickly and have seen demand across all platforms including that from Linux users,” he said.

“As a result, it is important for Slack to provide choice and cater to all users hence why building on Linux is important to them and they are regularly engaged with the wider Linux community.”

Snaps — and the Snappy package manager that run them — first launched in 2016 and there are now thousands of apps in the Snapcraft store, which speaks to how the Linux community continues to try to open the platform to be a little more mainstream. Spotify launched as a snap in December, and there is also the VLC video player, email clients like Hiri and Mailspring, Nextcloud for file sync and the Brave and Chromium browsers; and there are “more high profile snaps in the pipeline to come in the near future,” he added.

Among collaboration and developer-friendly tools, Rocket.chat is on the platform, as are HerokuDocker, Amazon Web Services CLI and others.

The service today is launching in beta, but the idea will be that in using the Snap format, it will be able to push updates automatically to its users.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin

The Best Smartwatches for Android – January 2018

The first Huawei Watch was a homerun by most standards. Despite the brand lacking a sense of clout in the United States, the watch took what worked from watches like the Moto 360 and improved on both the design and the featureset. With a fully round display (without the flat-tire design that plagued Motorola’s series of watches) and a gorgeous design that made plenty of Android Wear users upgrade to the device. When it came time to refresh the watch, Huawei followed Samsung’s lead, splitting their watch into two distinct categories. The first, the Huawei Watch 2 Sport, is perfect for anyone looking for a great fitness watch—we’ll discuss that more below—but it’s the Huawei Watch 2 Classic that takes after its older brother. With a great design, a gorgeous AMOLED circular display, and incredible battery life, the Watch 2 Classic is the way to go if you’re looking for a fashion-focused watch that can do it all.

Outside of cellular connectivity, which is offered in the Watch 2 Sport but not this model, the Classic has nearly everything you could ever want in a smartwatch for Android devices. With support for NFC and built-in GPS, it’s easy to use the Huawei Watch 2 in pretty much any scenario, including for tracking your runs and for paying for groceries with the Android Pay app through Android Wear 2.0. The device features Bluetooth support as well, which allows for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds to be connected to the device in order to properly allow for listening to music playback while on the go. With 4GB of storage and an included 10 week subscription to Google Play Music, you can easily store both local and streaming music to the device for playback without your phone’s connection, making it ideal for anyone looking to run or exercise with the app.

Of course, this is a fashion-focused watch, so while it’s great that it can do all of the fitness things one would look for in a smartwatch, it’s also perfectly designed to fit into any number of outfits or styles you might find. This is a big watch, measuring in at 45mm compared to the smaller 38mm and 42mm sizes of the Apple Watch, which means you’re looking at a large device taking up much of your wrist. This, unfortunately, may make it difficult for those with smaller wrists to wear comfortably, though you can take some pride in the fact that larger watches are indeed in vogue right now. Compared to larger watches like the 2015 Moto 360, the watch still manages to come out larger, thanks to the chronometer bezel around the device that, unfortunately, is the only portion of the design we don’t much care for. Still, the titanium-colored metal and leather bands (available in brown and, in our opinion, a much better-looking black) wrapped around the device feel great, and the rubber underside of the leather band helps make it viable for exercise and fashion equally. It’s a great, versatile watch that can be used for basically any activity.

In terms of software, Android Wear 2.0 is a bit of a mixed bag. After being delayed for months, the update rolled out earlier in 2017, and while the platform still has its fair share of fans, we’d argue there’s a lot wrong with the operating system that Google has left unfixed between devices. The addition of features like Android Pay or Google Assistant are nice, but the whole ecosystem feels like a mess, and browsing for apps on the watch display still feels a bit rough. There are improvements here though, with everything from new watchfaces to improved gestures making the watch a little easier to browse, but these aspects come at the price of complicated notifications that occasionally don’t work well (for example, bundling is completely removed here, which is disappointing considering that’s one of the main draws when it comes to Android’s own standard operating system. Overall, Android Wear 2.0 is a better version than the original operating system, but it’s still seems unfocused overall. It’s certainly usable for sending texts, checking the weather, or tracking your activity, but you should adjust your expectations accordingly.

Overall, the Huawei Watch 2 Classic is the best Android Wear device on the market today, and the best smartwatch that can sync with your Android device. The flexibility offered by the device, from its classy leather-and-metal appearance to the rubber underside of its band that allows for the watch to be used without ruining the leather with your sweat, makes it the ideal crossover device. At $369, the Watch 2 Classic doesn’t come cheap. For anyone looking to experiment with smartwatches without dropping nearly $400, you’ll want to look elsewhere on this list. That said, the device occasionally goes on sale for up to $150 off, and the original Huawei Watch can be found for around $200 on eBay. The Sport version of the Huawei Watch 2 didn’t quite earn the critical acclaim we originally saw with the first Watch, but the Watch 2 Classic more than makes up for it, and manages to score our top recommendation.

Pros

  • Solid design
  • Android Wear 2.0
  • Leather/rubber combination

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Minor software bugs
  • May not fit small wrists

How To Fix Sound Problems with Chromecast

How to Turn Off Chromecast

Google’s Chromecast is one of our favorite ways to watch movies, TV shows, and other content straight from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Instead of having to fuss around with a remote and an interface on your television, Chromecast allows you to beam content directly from your device through the web from nearly any Android (and some iOS) application, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Google Play Movies. Since everything you play is straight from your phone, you don’t have to worry about dealing with menu systems and other services that are difficult to navigate. And with the current generation Chromecast devices only costing $35, it’s one of the cheapest ways to get into streaming videos and music on your devices.

If you recently picked up a Chromecast but are having difficulties hearing any sort of sound from your television while watching or listening to your favorite shows and movies, it can be a frustrating experience. Sure, the Guardians are saving the galaxy all over again on your display, but what’s the point if you can’t hear the killer soundtrack as they crack jokes and defeat evil. Don’t stress too much, though—fixing sound problems through your Chromecast isn’t as difficult as you might think it is. All we have to do is pinpoint the problem causing an error in sound playback, and we’ll be back to your movie night in no time.

Checking Your Television’s Settings

Let’s start with some basic sound solutions to kick things off. Technology is often buggy and imperfect, and this includes when you’re using a device as simple as a Chromecast. Ensure the sound issue isn’t coming from your television by checking your volume level and testing a different device for sound output (such as a game console or a cable box). Also make sure to check the settings of your television to make sure your speakers are enabled, and that your audio output is set to “fixed.” Most modern televisions have a built-in option to disable the television speakers in order to use a home theater or surround sound system. You can also try turning off and unplugging your television for a few minutes, as well as factory resetting your television inside the settings menu of your monitor. Finally, if you’re using a stereo system to power the audio side of your home theater, ensure that your audio system isn’t malfunctioning.

Once you’ve checked your television, try switching your Chromecast to a different HDMI port on your television. Your Chromecast is also powered by a microUSB cable, and so to ensure your Chromecast device is receiving enough power, make sure it’s plugged into a fully-functioning USB port. Some televisions have a “service” USB port built into them; this won’t work on your Chromecast. If you’re unsure whether the USB port on your television is supplying your Chromecast with enough power, you can switch to using an AC adapter. The 4K-supported Chromecast Ultra, meanwhile, uses a dedicated AC adapter, which means you might want to try a different outlet.

Troubleshooting Your Chromecast

After you’ve ensured your device is being supplied with enough power to function correctly, you can also try to restart your device to ensure that it’s functioning properly. To do this, open (or install) the Google Home application on your device, tap the Devices button in the top-right corner of your display to view your currently-available Chromecast devices on your network. Select your device, tap the triple-dotted menu button in the top-right corner, and select Settings. Tap the “More” button to view additional settings, and tap on “Reboot.” This will begin the reboot process for your Chromecast, which should fix any issues with both visuals and sound. Alternatively, you can simply unplug the device from its power source, forcing a reset.

 

If sound is still an issue from your device, make sure that the volume on your phone is turned up for Chromecast. Though you can control the volume of your Chromecast streams with your standard volume control on your remote, Google also allows you to change the volume of the Chromecast device by using the volume buttons on your phone. Just make sure that you have some kind of content playing from your phone or tablet on your Chromecast, and use the volume rocker on your device to increase the volume as you normally would.

Alternatively, try to stop the stream from your phone or device to the Chromecast and restart the stream. If the sound problem is spawning from the application, restarting the stream will force Chromecast to reload the URL from which it’s accessing the video or audio feed. You can also try force closing the application on your device to see if the problem is coming from the app itself, instead of the Chromecast device. Finally, if you’re streaming from Chrome on your Chromebook or other computer, you can use the built in Chromecast extension to ensure audio is optimized for sound. Tap on the extension in Chrome, select your Chromecast device, and select “Cast this tab (optimize for audio).”

Finally, you may want to attempt to factory reset your device. We have a full article on all the methods for this here, including how to factory reset the device without it being connected to your home network, but the main method for resetting the device uses the Google Home app we already discussed. To reset your device using the app on your phone, tap on the Device icon inside the app and select the Chromecast device in your app. After selecting your device’s settings menu, you’ll want to click on the triple-dotted icon inside the settings to select the factory reset option. Google Home will prompt you to ensure that you want to reset your device; once you confirm your selection, you’ll be able to completely reset your device with preferences to test the audio again.

If you’re still experiencing problems with your Chromecast after you’ve tested these solutions, and you’ve ensured it isn’t another piece of A/V equipment in your setup, the next-best step is to contact Google for a warranty replacement.

Fixing Chromecast Audio Devices

We should also mention some Chromecast Audio-specific tips for fixing your audio streams. The Chromecast Audio is less popular than its older, video-friendly brother, but it’s no less an interesting device and can be great for those who have excellent sound systems and are looking for something that functions better than Bluetooth ever could. Having audio issues on a device made specifically for audio can be a real pain, even more so than the traditional Chromecast device, but you aren’t out of luck if your Chromecast Audio device is giving you a headache. In addition to most of the tips above, here’s a few Chromecast Audio-specific tips you may want to consider with your device.

First, we need to dive back into the settings menu of your device in Google Home. Open up your Chromecast Audio settings as described in our previous section and find the Sounds section. Unlike a traditional Chromecast device, the Chromecast Audio provides you with a new, never-before-seen setting here: full dynamic range. If you’re unsure about whether or not you want to enable this setting, you should leave it off. Full dynamic range is designed for premium audio hardware, like HiFi audio systems and AV receivers. If you’re trying to pump sound through a $30 pair of computer speakers from Amazon, this setting can actually cause distortion and improper volume increases on your device, and therefore, you should leave it off. If you’re having difficulty listening to your music, ensure this setting is disabled.

If you’re still having issues with sound on your Chromecast Audio, you’ll also want to ensure there’s no problem with the 3.5mm cable used by the device. Unlike on typical Chromecasts, the Chromecast Audio uses a modular, analog 3.5mm jack and cable that can be damaged, but also can be replaced. Ensure the cable is pushed into both your receiver or speaker and the Chromecast Audio unit, and also try testing the unit with a different aux cable. If you can’t get any sound out of the device, you may need to consider replacing the unit, as the 3.5mm jack may be dead or damaged.

***

Like most technology, Google’s Chromecast has its faults, including occasional hiccups and glitches when attempting to stream media. Since your Chromecast device is simply loading a URL onto your television to playback your favorite Netflix shows, it’s no surprise that problems can occur from time to time, and there’s nothing quite as infuriating as the sound on your entertainment cutting out. Typically, this issue can be fixed simply by turning your television off and on, or by switching the USB port powering your Chromecast, but of course, these problems can often have all sorts of causes and fixes, so keep trying our solutions above until you’ve solved the problem. You can do a lot with your Chromecast once you get it working properly, so let us know which fixes worked for you in the comments below.

http://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=412892&u=1457769&m=29473&urllink=&afftrack=

A dark mode for YouTube’s mobile app is spotted in the wild


Last spring, YouTube rolled out a massive update to its desktop site that included a redesign, faster underlying framework, and the addition of a dark mode. Now, that dark theme may be making its way to the YouTube mobile app, as well.

The change was recently spotted by MacRumors (by way of Reddit), and is already appearing for some users of the most recent version (13.0.1) of the YouTube mobile app.

It’s not clear at this point which YouTube users have already received the dark mode option, though a number of commenters on the original Reddit posting chimed in to say that they’ve just received the new setting, too, along with the original poster.

If available, you’d find the option to turn on dark mode – called “Dark Theme” – in the YouTube app’s Settings screen, just above the Restricted Mode setting.

One Redditor claimed they were able to force the Dark Theme to appear by force-closing the app, then relaunching it. However, it could have been a coincidence that the setting appeared after they took that step – it didn’t work in our tests, we should note.

Another said they didn’t receive the option in Settings, but were rather prompted to try the dark mode via a pop up message that appeared.

Dark Theme screenshot, via Reddit user OustedHoChiMinh

While a relatively minor tweak, a dark mode has been among the top requests from YouTube users for a variety of reasons, beyond it just looking cool. When staring at a screen for long periods of time, dark mode can be easier on the eyes, for starters, and it allows users to better focus on the content itself, not the various controls and other navigational elements. Some tests have also shown dark modes to save on battery life. That’s useful, given that over half of YouTube’s views come from mobile, and users are spending more than an hour per day watching videos on mobile devices.

At the time YouTube originally launched the Dark Theme on desktop, the company wouldn’t confirm if it would port the theme to other devices, including mobile. Instead, YouTube said that it would track usage of the Dark Theme to see if the feature was widely adopted before determining if it made sense to roll out further.

Even if the Dark Theme on mobile is just a test at this time, it does at least indicate that YouTube saw enough traction on desktop to warrant trialing the option on mobile.

If YouTube were to launch a dark mode on mobile, it wouldn’t be the only app do so. Twitter also has a dark mode available, as do other apps like podcast player Overcast, Reddit client Apollo, and Twitter client Twitterific.

YouTube hasn’t yet responded to requests for comment on the appearance of Dark Theme, but we’ll update if we hear back.

Featured Image: nevodka/iStock Editorial

How To Factory Reset Your Google Chromecast

There are few gadget categories hotter than the streaming set top box. It seems there’s an endless amount of options available for anyone looking to stream their favorite television shows, movies, music, and more to their television and home theater setup. Roku, Google, Amazon, and Apple TV have all contributed to the market with more than a dozen options for streaming between the companies, flooding living rooms everywhere with options to watch Netflix or Hulu in the comfort of their own homes. Everyone has their own favorite ecosystem and interface, but for our money, you simply can’t beat Google’s Chromecast platform, thanks to its affordable price for both 1080p and 4K content ($35 and $69, respectively), and the simplicity of streaming content straight from your phone, tablet, or computer. The Chromecast has seen several iterations since it first launched in 2013, from new 2nd generation models to devices that focus solely on audio. One thing’s for sure: it’s hard to go wrong with Chromecast, whether you’re looking to listen to your favorite album, stream a film on Netflix, or catch up on your favorite television shows.

Of course, Chromecast’s simple interface also means it can occasionally be difficult to troubleshoot if you’re having difficulties with a certain feature. If your Chromecast refuses to connect to the internet, or you’re unable to stream content to your device using your mobile device, it can be a real pain to try to solve an issue without any sort of settings menu or troubleshooting guide. Though there are plenty of traditional ways to solve these problems, from restarting the device to checking your network compatibility, sometimes your device needs to be properly reset to its factory settings in order to flush out any problems or bugs you’re running into at any give time. Despite the lack of visual interface with your Chromecast device, it’s easy to factory reset any of the Chromecast lineup quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at each possibility.

Using the Google Home App

The Google Home app (previously known as Google Cast) is a brilliant, must-have utility for any Chromecast or Google Home owner. It allows you to adjust the settings on your device properly change what’s streaming at any given time, pause or resume playback at will, discover tools and new ways to control your device, and even browse new content that might be of interest to you. It all works surprisingly well, but the Google Home app also serves a second purpose. Since your Chromecast’s visual interface is basically limited to a wallpaper backdrop with nothing else to show, the Google Home app on both iOS and Android (pictured) is a must-have for changing how your device works. It’s also the easiest and fastest way to reset your device right from the mobile app. Let’s take a look.

You’ve probably used the Google Home app at some point to setup your Chromecast, even if you don’t use it on a regular basis. The basic design of the app is pretty easy to browse through, with a minimal, material design-styled interface and a focus on using cards to show information. To head into your Chromecast settings, however, you’ll need to tap on the menu icon in the top-left corner. There are some minor differences in design between the iOS and Android versions of the app, but for the most part, you’ll be able to follow these exact instructions on the platform of your choice.

Inside the sliding menu to the left of the app, tap on Devices. You’ll be able to see a list of every device on your network connected with the Google Home app. Find your Chromecast based on the name you gave the device during setup, and tap on the triple-dotted icon in the top right corner of the card. From this display, tap on the Settings option.

There’s a whole list of options you can use to adjust your device, but thankfully, we won’t need to scroll through them at all. At the top of the list, you’ll see another menu button in the top-right corner of your display. Tapping on this icon will display four hidden options for your Chromecast or Chromecast Audio: Help and Feedback, Reboot, Factory Reset, and Open Source Licenses. If you were trying to fix a problem with your Chromecast, it’s worth attempting to restart your device before you completely wipe it. However, if you have already tried to restart your device, or you’re looking to sell your Chromecast and need to restore it to its factory default settings, tap on the Factory Reset option. You’ll receive a prompt on your device asking if you’re sure you wish to reset your Chromecast. To continue with the process, select Yes. Your Chromecast device will begin to reset itself to factory default settings, and you can either set up the device as new or power it down to sell it without including your personal data.

Using Your Computer and Chrome

Though Google offers its Google Home application on both iOS, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it anywhere on your PC or Mac. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change your streaming settings from your computer. If you mostly use Chromecast as a way to control your television from your laptop or Chromebook, and you don’t have a phone or tablet to install the Google Home application on, you can still use the desktop version of Chrome on your PC and your local Chromecast network to factory reset your device. Here’s how to do it.

Google’s forums seem to point users to the Google Home application for all support issues with Chromecast, but there’s a hidden menu inside of Chrome that makes it easy to take advantage of your Chromecast device. You won’t have the same breadth of options as you do through the Google Home app on your phone, but you can use this hidden network to factory reset your Chromecast. You’ll need to be using Chrome as your browser for this to work; using Firefox or Edge will fail to open the hidden Chrome menu. If you’ve ever had to adjust your router settings and have typed in a local IP address to configure your device, you’ll be familiar with the instructions listed below.

Start by copying and pasting (or typing) the following URL into a new tab in Chrome:

chrome://cast/#devices

This URL tells your device to go into the Chrome menu of your browser (instead of the internet, which is typically designated by “http://”), and to enter the Cast menu. The tab display will show “Google Cast,” and you’ll be able to view your Cast devices on your network, along with anything currently playing at the moment. In the corner of the Chromecast option, you’ll see a small Settings icon. Click or tap on it to load the settings for your device.

Here, you’ll be able to see a fairly-rudimentary menu for your Chromecast device. This menu allows us to change most of the settings you can access directly on the Google Home app, but straight from your PC. You can view the name of your device, the wireless network your device is running on, your time zone and language settings, MAC and IP addresses, firmware versions, and finally, several options that allow you to command the Chromecast device over your network. In the lower-left hand corner of your display, you’ll see options to Reboot, Factory Reset, Show Open Source Licenses, and Show Other Licenses. Click or tap on the Factory Reset option, then accept the prompt to confirm your selection (if one appears). Your device will begin to factory reset, signing you out of your Google account synced with the device and forgetting your preferences and saved networks.

When the factory reset process is over, you can continue through your settings to set up as a new device on your network, or you can unplug the device from its power source to sell or disable. Don’t unplug the device from its power source until the factory reset is complete.

Factory Resetting Your Device Without a Network

Both of the above solutions are great if your device is able to connect to your network in order to receive the command to reset itself. But unfortunately, if the problem with your device spawned from an inability to connect to the internet, you’ll need to find a different way to factory reset your device without using the network. Thankfully, as with most electronic devices that lack visual interfaces, there is a hardware method to reset your device without having to be on the internet at all.

Head behind your television or your stereo speakers—wherever you keep your device plugged in. You’ll need to make sure the Chromecast is receiving power; unfortunately, there’s simply no way to reset the device unless it’s powered and turned on. Unplug the device from your television or your stereo speakers (if necessary) and hold the device in your hand, but ensure that the light is still on and that your device is still receiving power. Look for a small button on the device. All four models of the Chromecast, from the first-gen Chromecast to the second-gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra, and even on the Chromecast Audio. Once you find the button, press and hold it on your Chromecast model.

Google Chromecast

On first-gen Chromecast devices (identifiably by the stick model with “Chrome” written in text on the device), you’ll need to hold the power button down for a full 25 seconds. The white LED on your device will switch from its typical solid display to a blinking white light. If you left the device plugged into your television, you’ll see your display go blank. The reboot sequence will begin, and you’ll have a fresh, fully-restored Chromecast to setup and play with.

On second-gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra devices, the method is similar but not exact. You’ll need to hold the power button down on these devices as well, but instead of holding the button for a full 25 seconds, you’ll simply have to wait for the LED to turn orange and start blinking. Keep holding the power button until the light turns white again. Once that happens, you can let go of the button, and your Chromecast will begin the reboot sequence. This same method applies to the Chromecast Audio, which features a similar design to the basic second-gen Chromecast.

***

To some, the lack of an actual interface on your Chromecast device may seem like a missing feature, or a drawback to using the device day to day. But thanks to the utility of your smartphone or tablet and your PC, it’s easy to control all your settings and preferences right from the device in your hand, negating the need for a physical remote. Most of the time, this acts as an awesome feature, as your phone automatically connects to your Chromecast device without the need for any kind of additional effort on the user’s part. Of course, it becomes a problem when your device begins to fail to properly playback content from your phone, or when your Chromecast can no longer connect to the internet.

Thankfully, with three major ways to factory reset your device—including the ability to reset the device using a physical button as opposed to controlling it over the network—you’re never out of luck when it comes to fixing potential problems with the device. For most recurring issues that spawn from your Chromecast device, a quick reset should solve any issues with streaming and casting content. If you’re still having problems with your device after a full reset, you may want to contact Google for additional support or a replacement device.

Everyone hates us, and it’s not because of our sex parties


It was, briefly, the zeitgeist’s perfect Silicon Valley story: a sex-and-drugs party hosted hosted by since-ousted top-tier VC Steve Jurvetson, at an official Draper Fisher Jurvetson event,attended by multiple billionaires including Elon Musk. So said Paul Biggar, founder of CircleCI, in a widely read Medium post, expanding on Vanity Fair’s excerpt of Emily Chang’s new book.

(To be clear, it was Axios who subsequently named Jurvetson and DFJ.)

Is that actually what happened? Did a major Valley VC firm host a decadent sex-and-MDMA party as part of one of its official events smack in the midst of last year’s widespread sexual-harassment revelations? Uhhhhhh. Well. As it turns out, not so much. Biggar notes that he didn’t actually see anything outrageous or salacious happening by the time he left, and, it seems others have vouched that, afterwards … such things continued to not happen:

In fairness to Chang, she was writing about secret Valley sex parties in general, mentioned in passing that “while some parties may be devoted primarily to drugs and sexual activity, others may boast just pockets of it,” and cited this particular event — and a woman there being given drugs by one man, and then hit on by another in an inappropriate and exploitative way — as an example.

So what happened at that party? It sounds like the answer is “at least two instances of shitty behavior which are basically, infuriatingly, pretty typical examples of how the tech industry treats women.” But it also sounds like it was basically a fairly tame, if themed and Burning-Man-ish, event which some culturally conservative people saw and immediately misinterpreted as a sex party.

Which is exactly why I call it the perfect Silicon Valley story: everyone is looking for lightning-rod reasons to hate the Valley right now. The sex-party narrative is like a Rorschach excuse. Right-wingers can condemn it as an example of tech’s corrupt, decadent liberalism. Leftists can excoriate it as an instance of tech’s bone-deep sexism and exploitative hegemony of privileged white men.

This is just one especially vivid example. Slings and arrows from across the political spectrum are being aimed at tech. Liberals point out that it has treated women abominably for decades, while Asians face a “bamboo ceiling” and other nonwhite people are all but excluded; they blame Facebook for the election, Twitter for allowing Donald Trump and neo-nazis to run rampant, Amazon and Google for avoiding taxes, etc.

Conservatives, meanwhile, accuse tech of a lack of “viewpoint diversity” — which bespeaks a bizarre miscomprehension that their belief systems are rejected purely because they’re different, when in fact they are rejected because climate-change denialism, and denying the systemic oppression of people who weren’t born white men, are as demonstrably & morally incorrect as e.g. flat-eartherism and eugenics, and treated accordingly. Slightly more plausibly, they accuse Facebook of censoring conservative news, while targeting Twitter for shadow-banning right-wingers.

But wait, there’s more! As the rent crisis wracks America, its victims, desperate for affordable housing in desirable places, hate the tech industry for gentrifying the cities — San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, NYC, Boston, etc — where people most want to live.

Meanwhile, as the media hemorrhages money, it becomes ever more reliant on Facebook and Google — even as that duopoly devours most of the advertising dollars that used to go to the media. And as both media and finance go tech, East Coasters (and Londoners) see that their center-of-the-universe influence, which they once thought unassailable, has moved to California and beyond. Is it really that surprising, when you follow the money, that the American media’s love affair with the tech industry is coming to a bitter and increasingly furious end?

The reason why is obvious. We have the money, now. Seven of the ten largest publicly traded companies in the world are tech companies, and three of them are headquartered within cycling distance of one another in Silicon Valley, surrounded by a nimbus of dozens of unicorns. With that wealth comes huge (at least perceived) power — not just financial, but the power to shape the future, to influence the masses, to shape mass political movements.

Do you see a lot of popular narratives whose heroes are privileged, unelected engineers and investors whose previously sizable wealth has grown into immense riches and enormous power? Uh, no. In fact you may have noticed that, in virtually every popular story, such people are the bad guys. There’s a reason for that: historically, power corrupts.

People everywhere are already eager for lightning-rod trumped-up reasons to hate the Valley and the tech industry as a whole. And it’s not like we haven’t given them at least a few real ones. So it might be time to start thinking less about money and power, and more about values, and how we might actually make sacrifices in service of those values — because history indicates that blatant, widespread hypocrisy is one of several effective ways to transform a lightning rod into an angry mob wielding pitchforks and torches.