Tech round-up for October 3: Microsoft refreshes Surface devices, Amazon Music Unlimited comes to Canada, Apple acquires Shazam, NHL 19 simulation predicts Maple Leafs to win Stanley Cup

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This week, Amazon launches Music Unlimited in Canada, Apple adds Shazam to its company, and EA Sports predicts an end to the curse of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But first, the new Surface devices from Microsoft.

Microsoft announces updates to Surface devices, new headphones

In an exclusive event in New York this week, Microsoft revealed new Surface computing devices.

The Surface Pro 6 (starting at $1,179) is a laptop/tablet that now comes with an 8th generation Intel Core processor and some 14 hours of battery life.

The Surface Laptop 2 (starting at $1,299) is a proper laptop with a touchscreen.

The second generation Surface Studio 2 (priced at $4,599 for a 1 TB hard drive and $6,349 for 2 TB of storage) provides more solid-state storage and increased graphics memory. This is a desktop computer designed for the creative class.

The Surface computing devices are all available to pre-order now, but there’s no date for the Canadian availability for the new Surface Headphones, likely because they have Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, built in and in Canada we’ve got that dual language requirement hurdle. The headphones have adjustable noise cancelling functionality, are wireless, and look like they’ll cost about US$350.

Another announcement from Microsoft at the event was about a program called Surface All Access which is essentially a two-year payment program that gets you a Surface device and accessories and an Office 365 subscription. It is not, however, being offered in Canada at the moment.

Amazon Music Unlimited service now available in Canada

Amazon’s premium music streaming subscription service has launched in Canada.

Amazon Music Unlimited is an upgrade from Prime Music, offering more music choices and better Alexa integration.

The new service, competing with Spotify and Apple Music, among others, will cost $8 a month or $79 a year for Prime members and $10 a month for everyone else. A Family Plan for up to six household members is $15 a month or $149 a year.

A Single Device Plan gives you Amazon Music Unlimited on a single Echo device for $4 a month.

For the next while, Amazon is offering a free 90-day trial.

Apple acquires Shazam to bolster its music offering

Apple, meanwhile, has purchased Shazam, the smartphone app that tells you what that song you’re hearing is called and who sings it.

The app was first launched in 2002 and was built to be used with the most basic mobile phones. You used SMS messaging to send the audio sample and receive the song title and artist.

It’s become central to discovering new music in this age of constant connectivity.

Apple will be making the app free and free of advertising, and presumably will be looking at ways the functionality can be worked into other iPhone systems.

Nobody’s said anything, but it’s a good bet that the Android version of the app will be shut down.

EA Sports NHL 19 simulation predicts Maple Leafs as Stanley Cup winners

The NHL regular season kicks off tonight, but the annual simulation of the entire season is already over. And NHL 19 predicts that the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup.

EA Sports does this every year with its various sports simulations, and this year the prediction is that the Leafs will play the San Jose Sharks in the Final. The Vegas Golden Knights, the simulation suggests, will win the Presidents Trophy, which goes to the team which wins the most regular season games.

The predictions for Stanley Cup winners haven’t been great. Last year the simulation picked the Winnipeg Jets, but it was the Washington Capitals which won. The year before the sim had the Nashville Predators beating the Montreal Canadiens, but it was the Pittsburgh Penguins that actually won.

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