It’s time to take a break from reading recaps of last night’s Westworld season two finale and get all caught up on a week full of tech news so profound it will make you question the nature of your own existence. Are you a robot? Are we robots? Read on, either way.
Download the latest version of the Last Week in Tech podcast! This week’s episode digs into our codependent relationships with our gadgets, our trust issues with big technology companies that promise us the world, and some cinematic history in light of Instagram’s new TV service. You can listen in the player above, subscribe on iTunes, add us on Stitcher, or follow along on SoundCloud.
Here are some of the other stories you may have missed.
The movie theater subscription space got a lot more interesting
This week, upstart subscription service MoviePass announced that it will start implementing “surge pricing” similar to ride-sharing services like Uber, which charge more during peak times. MoviePass subscribers will have to cough up an extra $2 to see a movie during the most crowded hours. Also this week, theater chain AMC announced its own subscription service, which costs $20 per month and allows for three movies per week, but includes bonuses like access to premium and IMAX theaters, as well as discounts on concessions.
Instagram TV is aiming at YouTube’s long-form video audience
Bye bye, black bars. ?— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) December 19, 2017
Now the YouTube player on iOS will automatically adapt to the shape of the video you’re viewing! pic.twitter.com/4jzJ6nPj4G
In addition to the regular stream and stories, Instagram now also offers videos up to an hour long (that’s for high-follower accounts; typical accounts are limited to 10 minutes) as part of what it called IGTV. Instagram, which now has over a billion active users, tapped some “influencers” to make its initial batch of IGTV content, which includes things like cooking shows and general lifestyle blogging. Interestingly, the platform is designed to show video that vertically fills your phone’s screen. Will it kill widescreen? Probably not, but here’s a nerdy deep dive into the history of video aspect ratios just in case.
Nvidia is trying to improve slow-motion video with AI
Slow-motion video is tricky to shoot. You need a ton of light and timing your shots can be extremely difficult. Nvidia, however, is trying to make super-slow video out of typical 30 fps shots. It uses AI to generate frames in between the captured images. The results are impressive and could make for some truly hypnotic—if not entirely authentic—footage.
You can now get in line for a Venmo debit card
Venmo has so far been a peer-to-peer payment system that lives in your phone, but now the company is introducing a physical debit card to live in your real-life wallet. You can use it to withdraw cash from your Venmo account using an ATM if you don’t mind a $2.50 fee.
Leica makes watches now
German purveyor of pricey cameras, Leica, has now stepped into the luxury timepiece arena. The Leica L1 will be a limited edition of 400 pieces and will cost less than 10,000 Euro later the year.
Get ready to pay sales tax on internet purchases if you aren’t already
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that local governments can charge sales tax on purchases made from businesses without a physical location in the state. The decision revokes a rule we can trace all the way back to mail order catalogs in 1992 that allowed online retailers to sell tax-free as long as there was no brick-and-mortar presence in the state of the buyer.
Learning Garage Band is easier now
If you’re looking for a summer project, Apple is hoping you’ll consider “become a music producer” as a worthwhile activity. GarageBand 10.3 adds tons of new loops, sounds, drum patterns, and effects to use when creating your sonic masterpiece. The Artist Lessons, which used to cost $4.99 each, are also now free, so you have a fighting chance of figuring out just how to use those sounds in your creations.
You can now measure things with Google Earth
Screwing around on Google Earth is one of the best time-sucks on the internet, and it just got a software feature for finding the distance between two points on the globe. It’s live already for Chrome and Android, but the iOS app is coming soon.