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‘Apex Legends’ racks up 25 million players in its first week

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Naturally, the studio is using this as an opportunity to hype up its roadmap, including limited-edition Valentine’s Day goodies and the official start of its first season (and the paid Battle Pass) in March. You may have something to look forward to once the initial rush is over, especially if hints of solo and duo modes prove accurate.

The company didn’t outline just why it thought Apex was doing so well, but it has a number of advantages in its favor. It’s building on the Titanfall series’ generally well-received combat mechanics, complete with input from expert players. Its marketing no doubt helped, as the combination of a surprise launch and support from top streamers (such as Shroud and Dr DisRespect) made sure that everyone could see how well the game played. And of course, it’s a true free-to-play game where you only need to spend money if you want characters and items quickly. Respawn’s challenges now are to keep that momentum going and fend off the inevitable responses by its competitors.

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The superfans behind the Instant Pot hype

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The superfans behind the Instant Pot hype

As Fox raced around Naples, Florida, two other Instant Pots cooked away on her counter, perfecting brown rice and broccoli, respectively. A fourth “spare IP in the original box” squatted in the garage, in case of an emergency. “I should own stock in brown basmati, bone broth and sauce packets by Frontera,” she quipped.

Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, 42-year-old Andrea Evans had just branched out from cheesecakes to cannabis-infused coconut oil. Besides being an ingredient in muffins, she says she utilizes the oil for “massaging muscles, and as a sex lube,” proving that you really can use the Instant Pot for anything.

Both Fox and Evans are part of a Facebook group called “Best F*cking Instant Pot Recipes Ever,” which features a photoshopped picture of Beyoncé clutching the stainless steel kitchen contraption. It numbers almost 5,000 members, which, in the scheme of IP groups, is a drop in the pressure cooker.

The official Instant Pot group has 1.8 million members, and Facebook boasts hundreds run by the community, including my favorite, “”Dump and Push Start” Easy Instant Pot Recipes,” with 86,000 members. The device is listed as No. 4 in Amazon’s best-sellers in kitchen and dining, but other appliances don’t garner this level of online devotion.

In fact, the other items in Amazon’s top 10 list have an average of only 4,000 reviews each, and the IP has garnered more than 28,000. People love their Instant Pots so much they buy 3D-printed dragon steam vents for them, make birthday cakes in the shape of them, and even dress up as them for Halloween. Last November, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29-years-old had just been elected to the House of Representatives, made mac and cheese in her Instant Pot for a group of several hundred thousand viewers on Instagram Live.

In other words, Instant Pot users are fanatical, intensely devoted to their devices. Some have even called it a cult. Who are the acolytes using the IP, and why does it mean so much to them?

The Instant Pot is not that different from Grandma’s traditional pressure cooker. The big change? It uses electricity, not the stovetop, and it has self-regulating safety features. In other words, it’s not going to blow up your batch of Bolognese.

The Instant Pot — which can also be a slow cooker, steamer and yogurt maker among other functions — has been around for about a decade, though its popularity skyrocketed in the past two years. In 2008, former Nortel engineer Robert J. Wang realized how hard it was to cook healthy meals for his two young children and set about creating a gadget to solve this. He spent 18 months and more than $300,000 of his own personal savings working with a team of “telecom engineers” — according to Inc — to create the Instant Pot.

After the co-sign of influencers like Jill Nussinow and Michelle Tam followed by a 2016 Amazon Prime Day promotion, the Instant Pot got gushing coverage from both The New York Times and home cooks like like Brittany Williams. (Williams lost over a hundred pounds cooking with her IP, her Instant Loss Cookbook is a national best-seller and her Facebook community has 97.8k members).

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Apple could be looking for its next big revenue model – TechCrunch

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Apple could be looking for its next big revenue model – TechCrunch

Apple has always been an evolving company. While it never really invented any product categories, it always seemed to make those product categories work better and smarter. It also found a way to make us want them, even when they were more expensive. Today, the WSJ reports, Apple is trying to find its way to a future without the iPhone at the center of its revenue model.

This shift happens as Apple reported lower revenue for the first time in years against a backdrop of flagging iPhone demand. Part of the problem is a shifting Chinese market, but it’s also due to people simply taking longer to refresh their phones. As that happens, and the price of iPhones soared to more than $1,000, there has been a decline in sales.

With iPhone sales down 15 percent, this was not a typical Apple earnings report, but it was something the company had anticipated when it announced lower Q1 guidance at the beginning of the year. If The Wall Street Journal story is accurate, Apple is already trying to take steps to move the company into its next phase, possibly as a services business.

If that’s the case, it would mark a radical departure from the company’s history in which it has redesigned various types of hardware, bucking popular design trends along the way. Back in the 1970s and 1980s when it was called Apple Computer, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made computers with a GUI when most people were working from the DOS prompt.

In the early 2000s, Apple came out with an MP3 player called the iPod and opened a music store called iTunes. By 2006, the year before it would introduce the iPhone, Apple had sold more than 42 million units and 850 million songs. It was a combination of hardware and services that helped transform a flagging company into a powerhouse.

In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone, it knew that it would begin to eat into iPod sales, and it eventually did, but it didn’t matter because it was the next logical step forward. When it introduced the App Store in 2008, the iPhone became more than a standalone piece of hardware. It was a new kind of hardware-service model and it would generate incredible wealth for the company.

The iPad came along in 2009 and the Apple Watch five years later, in 2014. While each has done reasonably well, nothing has touched the success of the iPhone. Keep in mind that analysts estimated that Apple sold 71 million iPhones last quarter, and this was in a quarter in which sales declined. It’s hard to sell 71 million units of anything in a three-month period and have it be a down quarter.

What comes next is probably some combination of entertainment/content and making use of advancing technologies like AR/VR, driverless cars and artificial intelligence. It’s unclear which direction Apple will take in these areas, but we do know that recent hires and acquisitions point in these directions.

There has long been speculation that Apple could make a splashy acquisition in the content area. When Eddie Cue, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services was interviewed by CNN’s Dylan Buyers at South by Southwest last year, Buyers specifically asked Cue about buying a property like Netflix or Disney. He implied that it was about taking the Apple TV and combining that with a big-name content production company.

Cue indicated that the two companies were great partners for Apple TV, but he wasn’t ready to commit to anything along those lines. “Generally, in the history of Apple, we haven’t made huge acquisitions.” He went on to explain, from Apple’s perspective, it wants to figure out where the future is and to build something to get it there, rather than buying something that is working for the current state of affairs.

It’s worth noting that Apple TV has not matched the huge success of its other devices, but service revenue has been growing steadily. In the most recent earnings report, Apple reported services revenue of $10.9 billion, up 19 percent year over year. That’s still a small percentage of the overall $84.3 billion the company reported for the quarter, but it is growing.

Regardless, nobody can know if Apple can approach the success with any product that it has had with the iPhone. But it knows that in spite of its vast riches, it’s dangerous for any company to rest on its past success. So it looks ahead and hires new blood and looks for a future with less dependence on the iPhone because it knows, as the Grateful Dead once sang, “You can’t go back and you can’t stand still. If the thunder won’t get you, then the lightning will.” Apple is hoping to avoid that fate, and perhaps it is some new combination of hardware, content and services that could lead the way.

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VPN protocol WireGuard now has an official macOS app – TechCrunch

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VPN protocol WireGuard now has an official macOS app – TechCrunch

WireGuard could be the most promising VPN protocol in years. It lets you establish a connection with a VPN server that is supposed to be faster, more secure and more flexible at the same time. The developers launched a brand new app in the Mac App Store today.

WireGuard isn’t a VPN service, it’s a VPN protocol, just like OpenVPN or IPsec. The best thing about it is that it can maintain a VPN connection even if you change your Wi-Fi network, plug an Ethernet cable or your laptop goes to sleep.

But if you want to use WireGuard for your VPN connection you need to have a VPN server that supports it, and a device that supports connecting to it. You can already download the WireGuard app on Android and iOS, but today’s release is all about macOS.

The team behind WireGuard has been working on a macOS implementation for a while. But it wasn’t as straightforward as an app. You could install wireguard-tools using Homebrew and then establish a connection using a command line in the Terminal.

It’s much easier now as you just have to download an app in the Mac App Store and add your server profile. The app is a dropdown menu in the menubar. You can manage your tunnel and activate on-demand connections for some scenarios. For instance, you could choose to activate your VPN exclusively if you’re connected to the internet using Wi-Fi, and not Ethernet.

I tried the app and it’s as snappy and reliable as expected. The app leverages Apple’s standard Network Extension API to add VPN tunnels to the network panel in the settings.

If you want to try out WireGuard yourself, I recommend building your own VPN server using Algo VPN. Don’t trust any VPN company that sells you a subscription or lets you access free VPN servers. A VPN company can see all your internet traffic on their own servers, which is a big security risk

Assume that those companies analyze your browsing habits, sell them to advertisers, inject their own ads on non-secure pages or steal your identity. The worst of them can hand to authorities a ton of data about your online life.

They lie in privacy policies and often don’t even have an About page with the names of people working for those companies. They spend a ton of money buying reviews and endorsements. You should avoid VPN companies at all costs.

If you absolutely need a VPN server because you can’t trust the Wi-Fi network or you’re traveling to a country with censored websites, make sure you trust the server.

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