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Xbox chief hints at TV streaming sticks for xCloud

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Microsoft’s head of gaming and Xbox, Phil Spencer, has hinted that the company is planning TV streaming sticks for its xCloud cloud gaming service. In an interview with Stratechery, Spencer discusses the potential for additional tiers of Xbox Game Pass, which could include a free bundled TV stick to play xCloud games.

“I think you’re going to see lower priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud,” says Spencer. “You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your television and buying the controller.”

Spencer also teases the potential for an “Xbox Game Pass Platinum” with guaranteed access to new Xbox hardware. Microsoft has been bundling Xbox subscriptions and hardware together in something called Xbox All Access, which includes access to Xbox Game Pass and the latest Xbox Series X and Series X consoles. It’s a bundle that Spencer is obviously keen to experiment with in the future.

Microsoft’s xCloud service.
Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

The idea of an Xbox game streaming TV stick isn’t a new one for Microsoft. The software giant was preparing lightweight Xbox streaming devices back in 2016, but it canceled the hardware. Microsoft has been investigating steaming sticks and hardware ever since the company originally demonstrated Halo 4 streaming from the cloud to Windows and Windows Phones all the way back in 2013.

Spencer’s first public mention of Xbox streaming TV sticks implies the hardware could be ready soon, though. Microsoft has so far only bundled xCloud game streaming with its highest Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier ($14.99 per month). There’s certainly room for additional tiers, and easier access to the service beyond just Android devices.

Microsoft partnered with Samsung earlier this year for xCloud, and it’s only a matter of time before we see the company’s game streaming service appear on Samsung TVs. 2021 could be an interesting year for xCloud, especially as Microsoft is planning to upgrade its server blades to the more capable Xbox Series X hardware. We should also start to see xCloud appear on Facebook Gaming next year.

Microsoft is also working on a web-based iOS solution for xCloud that will debut in early 2021. Spencer confirms our recent report on this iOS workaround in the Stratechery interview, but warns that not being in the App Store is still a challenge for xCloud. “We have a good solution on iOS that I think it’ll be coming kind of early next year, I feel good about the solution that we have,” says Spencer.

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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