Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 review: The future finally looks bright

Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris in Top Gear

Top Gear is revving its engines as it looks to accelerate full-speed ahead into a new era after its stalled start in 2016. But if the first series without Clarkson, May and Hammond was a *cough* car crash – Chris Evans’ iteration was a disappointment with critics and audiences alike – and last year’s series was an attempt at rebuilding, then the new run looks ready to put the pedal to the metal and maybe even guide it back to its glory days.

It’s down to Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid to find their own identity while winning back long-time fans of Top Gear – and on the evidence of the first episode of series 25, they look very close to striking a winning formula that stays true to the show without becoming a cheap imitation of its past.

LeBlanc appeared comfortable at the helm in the first episode of the new season, although if truth be told, with his presenting team of Chris Harris and Rory Reid, it feels like the three petrolheads are on an equal footing, enjoying their time together.

The banter between the trio is fantastic – and it was an inspired choice to kick the series off with an episode almost entirely dedicated to a road trip across Nevada in tribute to the V8 engine.

Their cheeky humour shines through, especially with a number of impromptu tasks, including a Wild West “duel in the dirt”. After which, the loser is faced with a nail-biting challenge – the watch-between-your-fingers ‘Chain Car Figure of 8’ which really has to be seen to be believed.

It’s not all long open roads and inventive tasks, though – at one point, the trio face a race against Officer Block as they run a crate of moonshine to the state line. And we’ve also got the return of the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car segment, which is a very welcome move.

BBC's Top Gear season 25 - The Stig

This week, it’s comedian Rob Brydon in the hot seat – and it’s worth watching for his commentary on his run alone. Charming, hilarious and knowledgeable, he’s a great guest to kick off the series, even if Matt and Rory can’t resist tearing into some of his choices in cars.

He set himself a goal of beating Tinie Tempah’s time of 1:50.04 – you’ll have to check the episode this weekend to see if he was able to – but the excuses came in early as the track was absolutely drenched.

Battling the elements, Rob struggled with the gears but got enough control to put in a very good effort. Commentating on his run, he teased from the studio: “The classic Roman profile gripping the wheel with assuredness and a strange sensuality.”

Naturally, it’s not perfect – some lines and segments come across as a little awkward and too scripted, with the three stars still finding their feet and getting used to each other. Reid admitted last year that chemistry doesn’t come overnight, and while that’s definitely true, they’ve still taken great strides and now come across as much more likeable.

There was a slight disappointment that the trio couldn’t complete a challenge at Bonneville – the US’ fastest race track – because freak rain left it waterlogged, but they seem just as gutted as us. Harris admitted: “I suppose I’ve now got one of the worst Bonneville stories out of anyone I know.”

All in all, the biggest take away from the first episode is just how easy it is to watch without comparing it to what has come before, and enjoy it for what it is. Sure, The Grand Tour has Top Gear’s successful and beloved trio at the helm, but LeBlanc, Harris and Reid are in the driving seat of a new era and the road ahead looks clear. Hit the gas, boys.

[“Source-digitalspy”]

Amazon Prime Video Finally Comes to Apple TV

Amazon Prime Video Finally Comes to Apple TV

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amazon Prime Video is now available on tvOS
  • The feature was first spotted on the iOS App Store
  • The app’s arrival is in the midst of a spat between Amazon and Google

Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV is a finally a thing. In a world of walled gardens, it’s the customers who suffer from a lack of choices. And today, they’re set to get more options for their video consumption desires. To recall, back at WWDC 2017, Apple had announced that Amazon Prime Video will be coming to Apple TV as well as the TV app. The deal was also presumed to mean that Amazonwould resume stocking the Apple TV set-top box on its online marketplace. The former has come to pass on Wednesday, but the latter has yet to happen.

First spotted on the iOS App Store, the Amazon Prime Video app for iOS had received an update on Wednesday that brought it to version 5.0. The changelog clearly mentions that users will now be able to watch Amazon Prime Video on their Apple TV directly, if they download the separate tvOS app – meant for Apple TV 3rd Generation and later set-top boxes. Now, a few hours later, the Amazon Prime Video app for tvOS has gone live on the dedicated tvOS App Store, with users across the world reporting seeing the app. Neither Amazon or Apple have yet to make an official statement about the launch. v5.0 of the Amazon Prime Video app on iOS also brings Universal Search support for iOS search, and iPhone X support.

amazon prime video itunes amazon

Amazon Prime Video app on iOS App Store earlier in the day, with changelog clearly mentioning support

The arrival of Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV comes on the heels of a continued spat between Amazon and Google. Just this week, the latest blow was dealt by Google – the search giant announced it would block the YouTube app on Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV devices. As we mentioned, Amazon hasn’t listed the Apple TV (or Google’s Chromecast dongles) on its online marketplace since 2015. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon. However, Google clearly mentions this treatment as its reason for pulling YouTube support.

In a statement, Google said, “Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest’s latest products.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said. “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon reacted to Google’s statement with its own, “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Microsoft’s Email Insights finally adds some useful search smarts to Outlook

email insights search

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Credit: Microsoft

Email Insights, a new experimental app from the Microsoft Garage, is the answer to a problem Google’s Gmail solved more than a decade ago: how to search Outlook and find exactly what you want.

Google’s Gmail gained enormous traction in part because it allowed a quick, convenient way to search emails. Today, you can search Outlook, but it arranges the results in order with no real preference given to what might be most relevant.

Email Insights works with both your Microsoft Outlook desktop application as well as Gmail, and attempts to bring the three most relevant results to the top of your inbox via an “intent pane.” The tool also provides contextual autocomplete, spelling correction and a fuzzy name search that will pull up the name of a contact, even if you’re not entirely sure how to spell it.

email insights intent pane

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Microsoft

The “intent pane” within Email Insights brings up relevant search results to the top of your inbox.

Users can open tabs within Email Insights to perform multiple searches. The search box can also be used to fire off a quick, one-line email to a contact, or even set up a quick meeting—functions that are becoming more common in the notifications window within smartphones.

If you’d like, you can even “detach” the Email Insights toolbar from Outlook itself and drag it down to your taskbar, Microsoft said.

Why this matters: Let’s face it: Gmail is still easier to use than Outlook, at least where everyday email searches are concerned. If Email Insights proves as useful as it sounds, maybe Outlook will incorporate it into a future release. The problem, though, is that this app is being published via Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s online home for app experiments. If you like Email Insights, encourage others to download it, too. Otherwise, Microsoft could kill it, as it recently did with Cache, its erstwhile Google Keep killer.

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[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Finally, Mobile Live Video Streaming Comes to YouTube

Look out Facebook, Periscope, et al ... Google has entered the mobile live video arena with the release of the YouTube live streaming app.

Six years after YouTube featured live-streaming for desktops in 2011, the company finally decided to bring the app to mobile.

YouTubers around the world have been waiting for this feature since the company announced it in June of 2016. It is here, but with a caveat. You need more than 10,000 followers to use the feature. This is a smart move on the part of YouTube, because it can continue to test the platform with power users and work out all the kinks. By the time the rest of us get it, which will be soon according to the company blog, it should be perfect.

YouTube is late compared to Facebook Live and Twitter with Periscope, but the sheer number of users it has and the way it is monetized probably led the company to take its time and get it right.

YouTube Live Streaming App

The streaming feature is built directly into the YouTube mobile app, having the same features as regular YouTube videos. The platform protects you from unauthorized use, and the streams can be found through recommendations, playlist or search.

To start streaming, you have to first confirm your channel has been verified. Also your account must not have been restricted for live stream in the past 90 days. You then enable streaming from the Creator Studio tools, go to Live Streaming, write a title, take a picture for the thumbnail, and start streaming.

Look out Facebook, Periscope, et al ... Google has entered the mobile live video arena with the release of the YouTube live streaming app.

Streaming starts immediately, and YouTube will automatically start and stop the stream for you at the right time. Events gives you more control with preview, start and stop features.

When it finally becomes available for everyone else, small businesses can augment their YouTube channel by engaging live with their audiences. Chefs, artists, DIYers, IT experts and many small operators can give lessons, interact and provide added value services for their customers. The only downside is that have to wait for the full roundup.

Images: YouTube

[“source-smallbiztrends”]