YouTube TV could soon get some big upgrades for sports fans

Improvements are being made to YouTube TV ensuring sports fans can watch multiple games with little to no interruptions.

The annoying thing about watching sports online is there can sometimes be broadcast delays. This results in laggy streams and it's awful. Back in December 2023, YouTube introduced a way to temporarily reduce latency for up to 48 hours at a time. It ensures interference or fluctuating internet speeds don’t cause streams to freeze. But now, according to CordCuttersNews, the latency reduction option can be enabled permanently. 

Images on a 9To5Google report reveal text mentioning the 48-hour time limit is no longer present on Decreased Delay. What's more, it applies to all channels on the service. The publication states enabling the tool will only go into effect after closing and then reopening the app on Android TV. What’s interesting is that Decreased Delay is still labeled as an experimental feature so there could be some performance issues. It’s possible YouTube will patch Decreased Delay at a later time. Nothing's confirmed, right now.

Activating Decreased Delay is simple. On the YouTube TV app, select the three-dot menu then go to Broadcast Delay. The “Decrease” and “Default” options will be underneath that setting. The official YouTube TV Help page explains the former is best for minimizing playback interruptions while the latter is more for reducing “live spoilers.” 

Build your own stream

The second improvement is an update for Multiview. This feature was first released back in March 2023, giving users a way to stream up to four sports games at the same time. Back then, people were forced to pick from preset options. However, thanks to the new Build a Multiview tool, you can choose the four games you want to watch. 

Build a Multiview was initially discovered by a Reddit user who stumbled across the option one day on YouTube TV. They claim they were able to pick out a group from all of the games that were on at the time; not just from a specific sport. 

There is a catch: Build a Multiview is only seeing a limited release. Google told CordCuttersNews they’re currently testing the feature, so only a select few have access. But there are plans for a wider release. It’ll be available on “all devices that support multiview.” A full list of these devices can be found on the YouTube Help website. They include video game consoles, recent smart TVs, and streaming dongles like the third-generation Fire TV Stick.

Super Bowl 2024 kicks off on Sunday, February 11 and these updates could not have come at a better time. If you’re looking for a new TV to watch the big game, check out TechRadar’s list of the best smart TVs for 2024

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WhatsApp Channels may be the best way to follow your favorite sports team

WhatsApp Channels is preparing for a global tour as the feature will be released to users in over 150 countries over the coming weeks.

As a quick refresher, Channels is the platform’s “one-way broadcast tool” allowing specific entities to send various forms of content like photos or videos to followers. It’s primarily a way for people to receive live updates from local government institutions, sports teams, artists, and celebrities. Channels is kept separate in its own section so you won’t have to worry about your chat rooms suddenly getting flooded with extra messages. The company states in the announcement post it protects “the personal information of both admins and followers.” The Channels you’re subscribed to will not be visible to anyone else. 

Alongside the official launch, WhatsApp will also be adding four new Channels-centric features. All these are the result of user feedback the platform received during the testing phase.

First, there's Reactions to, well, react to posts using a single emoji. Everyone will be able to see the total amount of emojis a piece of content has to gauge whether it was well–received or not. Next is Forwarding, which lets subscribers share posts with friends. The forwarded message will “include a link back to the [source] so people can find out more.” Then there's the Enhanced Directory to help you find popular or newly formed Channels to follow. Do note that what you see in the Directory is “automatically filtered” for your country only.

WhatsApp Channels new features

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

There is more on the way as WhatsApp plans to expand the feature even further. Soon, Channel “admins will be able to make changes to their [posts]”. They have up to 30 days to make edits. After that, the platform will delete everything from their servers. Later down the line in the coming months, it will be possible for the average user to create their own personal Channel. A specific date was not given.

Rolling out

The upgrade is currently rolling out so keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. 

There is a waitlist for mobile devices that you can join on the WhatsApp Help Center page for Channels. The link doesn’t work on desktop however, possibly hinting that the expansion will be exclusive to smartphone users. We should mention WhatsApp has created its own Channel for users to follow and stay up-to-date on the future of the platform.

We reached out to WhatsApp asking when will Channels for desktop launch as well as when will people be able to create their own feed. This story will be updated at a later time.

In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best encrypted messaging apps for Android in 2023.


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Bing AI chatbot gets faster at responding – and better sports knowledge, too

Microsoft has provided its regular weekly update on improvements for Bing AI, and there are some impressive strides forward this week.

Neowin spotted that the chatbot now has reduced latency spikes when it comes to certain answers, meaning you won’t be hanging around as long for a reply in these cases.

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As Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s head of Advertising and Web Services, explained on Twitter, this is a result of Bing AI getting a “completely reworked backend for inner monologue”, meaning streamlining the chatbot’s ‘thinking’ process.

A second benefit this week is better handling of sports-related queries, so the range of topics covered in this field is now considerably broader, from the NHL to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Finally, there’s a boon for those using Bing AI in Skype, with the ability to generate images (Bing Image Creator) now present within Skype conversations.

Analysis: The importance of being snappy

A snappier Bing AI is vital. Whatever query you throw at the chatbot, you want the response to come with a minimum of hanging around. If you find yourself tapping your foot (or perhaps your finger on the keyboard) while waiting for Bing to get back to you, that’ll be off-putting (and might remind you of live chats, where waits can be frustrating if a help agent is dealing with multiple simultaneous queries).

That responsiveness is a key area for Bing to do well in (that and, of course, the accuracy and usefulness of the response delivered, which is always paramount). So Microsoft is quite right to be honing away on this front.

That said, you can still be subject to waiting times that aren’t the fault of the backend (inner workings of Bing as it processes queries), but are purely due to traffic spikes. When lots of people are using the chatbot, things get more sluggish purely in terms of coping with that volume.

Incidentally, Parakhin elaborated on this in the above Twitter thread, noting that the major peaks of usage occur when folks arrive in work (at three main times – when the US East coast arrives, then when Europe comes to work, then the Far East). That corresponds to 7am, 5pm and 1am PDT, if you’re curious.

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Nikon D6: everything new in the flagship DSLR sports camera

DSLRs had taken a back seat to mirrorless cameras in the past few years, with many speculating they will not be resurrected by camera makers. However, Canon has put those speculations to rest, having announced the EOS 1D X Mark III in January, after releasing an enthusiast-level EOS 90D in August last year. And that's not even going to be the last if rumors are to be believed. 

Nikon, too, has just released the D780, and quickly followed it up with its professional sport shooter. And the timing couldn't have been better. 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the Nikon single-digit D series, which launched in 1999 with the Nikon D1. And now, we have what the company calls the "the most advanced digital SLR to date".

With the 2020 Olympic Games coming up this year, we're going to see the professional, sports-focused DSLR flagships from Canon and Nikon face off again, just like the old days. In the red corner, there's the newly released Canon 1DX Mark III. And, in the opposite corner is the Nikon D6, which has only just been announced.

The Canon shooter is pretty much a hybrid of DSLR and mirrorless tech, with some of the best features we've seen from the latest mirror-free models, like advanced autofocus, alongside traditional DSLR traits like the optical viewfinder and lengthy battery life. The Nikon competition also offers similar features, in a very different package.

Nikon D6: release date and price

Like its predecessor, the Nikon D5, and its new Canon counterpart, the D6 is not going to be cheap. It will begin shipping in April 2020 and carry a hefty price tag of $ 6,500 / £6,299, with Australian pricing yet to come. That puts it pretty much in same territory as its main rival, the just-released Canon 1D X Mark III, which is also vying for the camera bags of professional sports photographers.

Nikon D6: design 

Nikon was kind enough to supply a small picture of the D6 in its development announcement back in September. It was presumably a mock-up, rather than a final rendering but, even then, we knew it would resemble the D5 physically.

The chassis remains that quintessential chunky design to incorporate a big battery and accommodate the dual shooting layout for both vertical and horizontal capture.

The magnesium alloy body is completely weather-sealed, making it "as tough as the professionals who use it". 

It should come as no surprise to see Nikon keep to a very similar form factor as the D5's for the D6 – after all, expecting pros to get used to a drastically new way of working is a big task. The square shape of the D5 allows it to incorporate a battery grip for extended battery life, and we expect the D6 to blow its mirrorless rivals out of the water for longevity by doing the same thing. 

Also announced as being in development at the same time as the D6 was a new 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR telephoto lens, which looks set to be a bit of a beast – the Nikon D6 will have to be large enough to balance well with such lenses, which are popular with sports and wildlife shooters.

Nikon D6: sensor and processor

The beating heart of the Nikon D6 is the 20.8MP full-frame sensor, which is lower in resolution than the D5's although marginally higher than the 1D X Mark III's 20.1MP pixel count. Despite the lower resolution, the new sensor has been designed to deliver high quality images that can be captured at a maximum speed of 14fps when shooting with E-type lenses (those with an electromagnetically controlled diaphragm). Switch to shooting via the rear LCD display – or the silent shooting mode – and you'll get a top of 10.5fps at full resolution with autofocus tracking. 

There are also the options of shooting 30fps which will restrict image sizes to 8MP, or heading higher to 60fps to get 2MP files. This burst of speed has been made possible by a brand new Expeed 6 engine.

Nikon D6: autofocus

Nikon has revamped the autofocus system from the ground up, delivering what the company promises is a much faster, more precise AF system. Instead of the older 153-point array, the D6 now features a 105-point all cross-type system with every single point now selectable individually. Each uses what Nikon calls a "triple-sensor arrangement", although details on how this works is as yet unclear.

While the centre point can focus down to -4.5EV, the others are all good for down to -4EV. With an ISO range matching its older sibling, the D6 seems set to be the new low-light king.

Nikon D6: video features

The Nikon D5 was the first Nikon DSLR to be capable of recording high-definition 4K/UHD movies in-camera, and the D6 carries on in that tradition. However, the camera was built for stills and, like the D5, offers 4K/30p video, albeit with focus peaking and an MP4 recording option.

Nikon D6: card slots and connectivity

Dual memory card slots are pretty much a given. The Nikon D5 can be bought with either 2x XQD slots, or 2x CF slots, but Compact Flash is pretty old hat now, so Nikon has made both slots in the D6 compatible with XQD and CFExpress. This backward compatibility is perfect for those who already have a stack of XQD cards in their possession, considering how expensive CFExpress cards are.

A USB-C port is available for quick wired transfer of files, while Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also available. However, that's never really quick enough for the pros who need to deliver images with the shortest turnaround time possible. For them, there's a 1000BASE_T Ethernet port for wired transfer which, according to Nikon, is now 15% faster than the one on the D5.

On paper, the Nikon D6 doesn't sound as quick as the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III, however we're yet to test both cameras extensively and see how they do against each other in the real world. We look forward to pitting them against each other in the arena and we'll share our thoughts with your as soon as we've done so.

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