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Report: Microsoft's TikTok deal might be bigger than just the US business 7 Aug 2020, 3:48 pm
Social media is once again in turmoil as a new Chinese-owned contender TikTok has gained foothold in the US. President Trump and the administration aren't happy about the national security aspect of TikTok, and in fact are going to enact a ban unless control changes.
The administration has given TikTok just over a month to figure out how to restructure the ownership of TikTok's US business or else they will institute a ban on the app.
Microsoft has been in talks with TikTok owner ByteDance for possibly buying the US business, but that might not be the only thing on the table.
According to Financial Times, the deal might be far bigger and Microsoft might be looking to acquire the entirety of TikTok's international operations, excluding China.
If Microsoft could acquire a successful social media it would elevate its business beyond what Apple or Google has managed.
However, sources have told Business Insider that Microsoft is not going to extend the deal. Microsoft has already admitted that it has started negotiations about the operations in US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
It's an unusual situation with Microsoft and ByteDance negotiating while Trump is cheerleading. However, we should have the facts before September 15 deadline for the ban.
Sony announces successor to popular ANC headphones: Here's the new WH-1000XM4 7 Aug 2020, 3:31 pm
Sony has today announced new closed back headphones to its award-winning and popular WH-1000X series. The new WH-1000XM4 are the fourth generation, as the name suggests, in Sony's flagship headphone series.
While much of Mark 4 looks like its predecessor – and for a good reason, after all why try to fix something that isn't broken – there are some improvements.
Sony has improved upon what already was the market-leading active noise cancellation. While the chip itself is the same, Sony has worked on especially the high and mid pitches sound removal algorithms.
The noise cancellation uses two microphones on each ear cup to produce the best ANC experience yet. This process also uses a new Bluetooth Audio SoC feature to analyze data over 700 times a second.
As with WH-1000XM3, the new model features ANC optimizer that analyzes the users head size as well as the effect of hair, glasses and so on to provide the most accurate noise cancellation. This also includes air pressure optimization when flying.
One of the more important improvements is another microphone assisted function: voice calls. Sony's new Precise Voice Pickup makes it much easier for the other end to hear spoken word even recorded in loud environments.
In addition to Quick Attention mode, which allows the user to pause playback and enter ambient mode by covering the right ear cup, Sony has introduced a more automatic procedure. With Speak-to-Chat the user can simply start talking and the headphones will automatically pause and let the ambient sound in using the microphones. The playback resumes 30 seconds after discussion ends.
Bluetooth 5.0 is a major update from the previous version. Now the headphones can be paired with two different devices simultaneously and you can easily switch between the two.
Other features include a new Edge AI audio upscaling, wearing detection for auto pause/play, and Adaptive Sound Control.
You'll also find 1.57 inch drivers and a 38 hour battery life (30 hours with ANC), and USB-C that you get with the previous generation.
Sony WH-1000XM4 will be available from mid August in black and silver with a MSRP of $350.
Tinder's new Tinder Platinum explained: messages without a match, priority likes 7 Aug 2020, 9:07 am
Tinder, the world's most popular dating app, has introduced a new subscription tier, dubbed as Tinder Platinum. The new subscription level adds on top of the existing tiers (Tinder Gold and Tinder Plus), introducing two important new features to the app.
First and foremost is the feature called Messages without a match, which basically allows one to send a short message (max 140 characters) to the recipient even when there's no match between the two.
In order to send such message, sender must be subscribed to the Tinder Platinum. Message is then attached to a super like that user sends to the recipient. The recipient sees the superlike, along with the message and then decides whether to like the sender or not.
If the recipient doesn't like the sender back, sender wont be able to send further messages. If recipient likes the sender back, a new Tinder match is formed and the two can then continue chatting as normal Tinder matches.
Even with platinum level, subscribers only have a limited number of superlikes available. In this case, five a day. So, platinum tier subscribers wont be able to spam freely - but with deep enough pockets, they can, of course, send the opening message as many times as they want, as platinum subscribers can purchase more superlikes if they run out of those.
The other notable difference between Tinder Platinum and Tinder Gold is the priority like. All likes sent by platinum tier members are pushed as priorities. This basically means that when user browses through the potential candidates, the ones who have sent a like (or superlike) and are platinum members, get shown first in the user's feed.
Tinder Platinum is a beta feature that hasn't rolled out to all users yet. It is highly likely to be tested in select geographical regions first before rolling out globally.
Tinder's pricing is dynamic, meaning that each person pays different price. Basically this means that older users pay more than younger and men pay more than women.
Samsung unveiled their next-generation foldable smartphone – here's Galaxy Z Fold2 6 Aug 2020, 7:52 pm
Samsung's this year's Unpacked virtual event ended with a bang as the company unveiled their next-generation foldable smartphone. After the introduction of Galaxy Note20, Galaxy Tab S7, Galaxy Buds Live, and Galaxy Watch3, the company had a "one more thing" in their back pocket.
They officially unveiled the new Galaxy Z Fold2, the successor to last year's immensely controversial Galaxy Fold. The company's initial failure to produce a foldable smartphone was obvious last year after reviewers found out that dirt could fairly easily enter the hinge mechanism and even under the display and break the whole thing.
After a callback and few more iterations of development, the Galaxy Fold was finally launched, although not many probably actually bought one.
Now, year after that fiasco, Samsung has already introduced another foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip. However, the new Fold is what everyone has really been waiting for.
Samsung used most of the time on stage not really talking about the specs, which are top notch of course, but instead about the construction, the durability and the issues raised by the problems of the predecessor.
The most important innovation came to Samsung engineers from vacuum cleaners. They implemented what they call the sweeper, a nylon brush, not unlike in vacuum cleaners, in the hinge mechanism. Instead of sucking things in like in vacuum cleaners, these tiny bristles keep the dirt out.
The new foldable display is a multilayered ultra thin glass construction – yes, this glass bends and folds. It's also a little bit bigger at 7.6 inches, has a resolution of 2208 x 1768, and supports 120 hz refresh rate.
Some other things people were complaining about the first time around that were fixed includes the thickness, secondary display, and camera setup. Galaxy Z Fold2 is only 6 mm thick when open, nearly 25% thinner than the predecessor.
The secondary display has been made way larger (6.2 inch vs 4.6 inch) and offers better resolution. The inner camera notch has been removed and instead you'll have only a small hole-punch selfie camera.
Other specs include top tier Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 12 gigs of LPDDR5 RAM, and 256 GB of UFS 3.1 storage. Battery is slightly bigger at 4500 mAh, and the phone supports 5G networks.
Cameras include a regular 12 MP accompanied with a ultrawide and zoom cameras with same megapixel count. In addition to the selfie camera on the inside there's a tertiary camera on the secondary display. Display cameras are 10 MP each.
Unfortunately Samsung didn't yet reveal information about the release date or pricing, so we'll just have to wait patiently.
Samsung takes a page out of Apple's playbook with Galaxy Watch3 6 Aug 2020, 6:16 pm
Samsung announced yesterday two new Galaxy Note20 smartphones as well as two Galaxy S7 tablets. In addition, the company introduced some upgraded peripherals, like Galaxy Buds Live earbuds and Galaxy Watch3, which we're going to take a look at here.
The new smartwatch offers an upgraded design that inches it closer to traditional watch in many respects. It is smaller, thinner, and lighter while still managing to improve upon the specs ever to slightly.
According to the company, Galaxy Watch3 is 14 percent thinner, 8 percent smaller, 15 percent lighter than its predecessor Galaxy Watch. Nevertheless, they've managed to include slightly larger, 1.4 inch display (instead of 1.3").
A lot of the upgrades come from a Apple playbook, though. The Galaxy Watch3 can now do ECG and blood pressure measurements and supports fall detection, just like newer Apple Watches. However, Samsung has managed to one-up Apple with the inclusion of blood oxygen measuring.
While the health features are perhaps the most important upgrades over the predecessor, there are also improvements to other aspects too. There's now 40 different exercises to choose from, and improved sleep tracking, and a new stress measurement has been added.
Galaxy Watch3 will come in two different versions: 41 mm and 45 mm. They'll be available on August 21 and prices start at $399.99 and $429.99 respectively. LTE versions are $50 more expensive on both models.
Samsung's new Galaxy Buds Live have ANC and new design 6 Aug 2020, 3:57 pm
Yesterday's virtual Unpacked event produced us a pair of both Galaxy Note20 smartphones as well as Galaxy Tab S7 tablets. Neither of these come with a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which brings us to the this announcement.
Samsung updated also their Galaxy Buds lineup. The new Galaxy Buds Live is a rather large upgrade to the predecessor with a new design and important new features.
The bean-shaped design is said to come from looking for comfort and fit. That remains to be seen but they are definitely unique.
Samsung-owned AKG has been working on the audio design of the earbuds and this has resulted in a larger 12 mm drivers that should provide a better audio experience.
The quality of the microphones has been improved significantly too. The company demonstrated the removal of background noise and clear audio against a competitor, and one could definitely hear a difference. However, it was still clearly an earbud microphone, not a professional one or even close.
The most important of the upgrades, however, is the addition of active noise cancellation (ANC). Galaxy Buds Live are the first of Samsung's earbuds to have this features.
It allows the user to remove background noise and in ambient mode hear through the mics what is happening in the surroundings, if they so please.
According to Samsung, the battery should last for six hours with ANC on and another 2 hours if ANC is off. The case gives further 21 hours of listening time, and can be charged both with a cable and wirelessly. The company says a five minute charge can give up to an hour more listening time.
Just like the other new Galaxy products, Galaxy Buds Live will be available on August 21 with pre-orders starting today. They start at $169.99.
Samsung's new high-end tablet is Galaxy Tab S7 with 120 hz display 6 Aug 2020, 3:41 pm
Samsung's Unpacked gave us most importantly the new Galaxy Note20 smartphones but the company had a lot of somewhat secondary devices to show.
One of these was the new Galaxy Tab S7 and its better-equipped sibling Tab S7+. The new S7 is only a slight upgrade – with one major improvement – to last year's S6.
Regular S7 features a 11 inch LCD display with QHD resolution while the S7+ upgrades it to a 12.4 inch OLED panel and slightly upgrading the resolution along with the size increase.
Both of the new displays have 120 hz refresh rate which is probably the most important upgrade over the last year's model.
Design-wise it's very similar to last year's model with the dual camera setup in the back and somewhat tapered edges. Fingerprint sensor can be found on the regular model on the power button while S7+ has an in-screen fingerprint sensor.
Both models come with the market-leading Snapdragon 865+, 6 or 8 GB of RAM, and up to 256 GB of storage extendable with a memory card. The 8000 mAh and 10090 mAh batteries can be charged with a 45 watt fast charging via USB-C.
In addition to the improvements in refresh rate, the new S Pen is among the more important upgrades. This year Samsung has managed to improve upon the latency of the S Pen tremendously.
With AI and hardware upgrades the S Pen latency is now down to 9 ms and much closer to a real life pen than before.
Tab S7 and S7+ will be available on August 21 with pre-orders up today, just like the new Note20. Tab S7 starts at $649 and Tab S7+ at $849.
Samsung unveils bigger and better Galaxy Note20 5 Aug 2020, 4:54 pm
Samsung's today's first ever virtual Unpacked event has ended and the company has a lot of new Galaxy products to unveil. The most important of them all was of course the new lineup of Galaxy Note smartphones.
The Galaxy Note20 comes in two different variants: regular Galaxy Note20 and Galaxy Note20 Ultra. They both offer massive AMOLED displays measuring in at 6.7 inches with Note20 and 6.9 inches with Note20 Ultra. However, only the latter supports 120 hz refresh rate – the regular model comes with a rather pedestrian 60 hz display.
As you might imagine, the larger size of the Note20 Ultra also means a slightly larger 4500 mAh battery while Note20 has a 4300 mAh one. Both, however, support 25 watt quick charging as well as Qi wireless charging.
Connections-wise the devices are largely similar with both supporting 5G networks as well as speedy WiFi 6. Both also have either Snapdragon 865+ or Samsung's Exynos 990 chips. Ultra does have more RAM with 12 GB compared to Note20's 8 GB.
In terms of camera, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is similar to the S20 Ultra with a 108 MP shooter accompanied by 12 MP ultrawide and a periscope zoom camera. The cheaper Galaxy Note20 on the other hand has a 12 MP main camera in addition to a tele zoom camera and a ultrawide.
Both of the devices are dust and waterproof with IP68 certification and come with a new and improved S Pen. The 2020 S Pen supports much improved latency, which Samsung has shrunk with AI and better hardware to 9 ms.
Some of the software updates include a new Samsung Notes app that has new sync and handwriting recognition features. The Korean company has also worked closely with Microsoft to provide more Windows and Xbox related experiences on Note20.
These include the likes of PowerPoint support on Samsung Notes, Link to Windows allowing mobile apps on Windows 10, and xCloud with cloud games on the phone. The latest app comes to Note20 with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on September 15.
Galaxy Note20 will come in three colors (Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray ja Mystic Green) and Note20 Ultra in two (Mystic Bronze ja Mystic Black).
Both will be available on August 21 with pre-orders live tomorrow. Prices start at $999 for the Note20 and $1299 for the Note20 Ultra.
It's also worth noting that pre-ordering the devices will give you free credit (Note20 $100, Note20 Ultra $150) towards other Samsung purchases.
Samsung also announced new Galaxy Buds Live with active noise cancellation, updated Galaxy Watch3 smartwatch, new lineup of tablets in Galaxy Tab S7, and even gave a sneak peak to upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 2 folding phone.
Galaxy Note20 Ultra:
Thousands of American companies have broken EU law for the past two weeks 3 Aug 2020, 8:45 am
One of the most important privacy court rulings in recent history was delivered two weeks ago when EU Court stroke down the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement. Privacy Shield agreement between EU and the United States allowed American companies to store and process EU user data within the United States.
But EU Court ruled that because United States allowed its intelligence agencies to access such data, the agreement between EU and US had to be terminated immediately. Since then, basically all American companies that maintained the user databases in U.S. soil and had EU users, were breaking EU legislation.
Problem is massive: Companies wishing to maintain unified user database must basically move it out of the United States - or United States as a country to change its national laws that permit its intelligence agencies to do surveillance on its own soil. Obviously the latter option is highly unlikely to happen.
Technically splitting user database into two separate sets, with separate rules, processes and data location would be a massive technical challenge to the Internet gients like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
EU privacy legislation is much stricter than that of United States' similar laws are. EU citizens have, for example, "right to be forgotten", which means that upon a personal request, company has to remove all identifiable data of the user from its records, logs and so on. EU's privacy legislation, dubbed as GDPR, applies to all EU citizens and it doesn't matter if the company handling the data is not EU company - in order to collect EU citizens' data, all companies must obey the legislation.
The EU-US Privacy Shield agreement covered more than 5'000 companies, which included startups, but also the largest Internet companies of the world.
Currently all those companies are basically in legal limbo - they have to figure out a way to avoid U.S. intelligence agencies snooping EU users' data, but also to find a way to keep their services running similarly to all their global users. Companies can, to certain extend, still transfer data between U.S. and European Union, under so-called Standard Contractual Clauses, but all such data is within EU's GDPR's reach, too.
Typically a massive court rulings like this comes with a grace period, but in this particular case, the ruling Privacy Shield agreement was terminated immediately.
Sony announces Bravia TVs with 'Ready for PS5' 30 Jul 2020, 2:28 pm
The next generation of console gaming is soon upon us, and Sony is preparing its peripherals to support the PS5. The company has announced a new Ready for PlayStation 5 badge.
The tagline will be used among Bravia TVs that support the high-definition gameplay provided by the upcoming PS5. They've developed the branding in cooperation with Bravia teams and Sony Interactive Entertainment, and it should ensure that gamers find their favorite PS5 TV easier.
The first Ready for PlayStation 5 branded TVs are going to be ZH8 (pictured below) and XH90/92 models that are current occupants of the Bravia family. The latter supports 4K gaming at up to 120 fps and the ZH8 supports an epic resolution of 8K, where ever it is available.
All Ready for PS5 televisions support gaming mode which drops the latency down to a more gamer-friendly level.
In addition, the TVs support waking up simultaneously with the PS5 by using PS5's DualSense controller and PS5 can be controlled with the TV remote – albeit in a fairly basic manner as you would expect.
No physical CES 2021 due to COVID-19 29 Jul 2020, 3:34 pm
This year has been riddled with cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but most of us are hoping that it wouldn't be as big of a deal next year.
Some of the first indications that COVID-19 would be a serious issue outside China and in the west came from cancelled tech conferences. This included world's largest mobile conference MWC that was scheduled for late February.
The largest consumer electronics show in the US, CES, managed to run without much of a hiccup in early January when the spread was still somewhat contained. However, they won't be as lucky in 2021.
CTA, the organizer of Consumer Electronics Show or CES, has announced that they will be canceling next year's conference's physical manifestation. This means that CES 2021 will be an online-only event.
They've taken a page out of Apple's playbook, who very successfully held a virtual WWDC first time ever this summer.
Virtual CES 2021 will be held in the first week of the year. It remains to be seen how the reimagined conference will accommodate both exhibitors and the audience.
Spotify is testing feature within Group Sessions 29 Jul 2020, 2:59 pm
World's largest music streaming service has made immense investments recently in non-music audio. Most importantly the company acquired the exclusive rights to Joe Rogan Experience, and just yesterday it launched Michelle Obama's own podcast.
However, the Swedish powerhouse is still innovating in terms of music, too.
Spotify is testing a new feature that will extend the capabilities of Group Sessions. Group Session, a feature that was introduced in May, is essentially a party DJ that allows all the people in the area to add song to a playlist queue.
The new addition will allow online communities to use it too. Spotify Premium members can join the group and listen to the same songs at the same time no matter where they are.
You can have up to 5 people in a group and each member has the controls to pause, skip and add new songs to the queue.
To use the feature open Spotify and head to Group Session feature, located on the bottom right corner menu. You can share the link to your session by copying it to your social media or sending it to your friends.
Keep in mind, that the entire Group Session feature is still in beta so you might experience some issues even if you have been chosen as a participant in the trial. Hopefully, even if you can't find the feature quite yet Spotify will soon add it to us all.
Read also: Spotify has a new couples plan called Premium Duo
Qualcomm Quick Charge 5 supports 100W charging, 0-50 percent in 5 minutes 28 Jul 2020, 2:19 am
Qualcomm's new Quick Charge 5 standard dramatically increases charging speeds for smartphones.
First debuted in 2013, Quick Charge is a proprietary charging standard developed by Qualcomm to deliver speedier charging of devices. Through its first few refreshes, it bumped the voltage beyond the 5V limit imposed by the USB standard safely. Later it gained compatibility with USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) along with other improvements.
Each refresh reduces charging times due to higher power output, but Quick Charge 5 is a significant improvement. With a compatible device and charger, it can charge a 4,500 mAh battery to 50 percent in about 5 minutes. The same battery can be charged from dead to full in about 15 minutes.
Underlying the improvements is 2S battery support and 20 Volts of power delivery, for a max power output of 100W+. At the same time, it is 10C cooler in operation than Quick Charge 4, while being 70 percent more efficient and about four times faster.
Quick Charge is the leading charging platform for mobile devices. There are more than 1,000 certified accessories on the market, of which 250 are smartphones. Its competitors in the space include MediaTek Pump Express and OPPO VOOC, which is licensed to OnePlus as Dash Charge.
For safety, Quick Charge 5 incorporates 8 levels of voltage protection, 3 levels of current protection, 3 levels of thermal protection, and 3 levels of timer protection – all while incorporating USB-input overvoltage protection at 25V and extreme power controls beyond 30V. It is backward compatible with the previous Quick Charge revisions.
More info: Qualcomm
Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet' to debut internationally before U.S. release 28 Jul 2020, 1:03 am
Christopher Nolan's hotly anticipated spy thriller will debut in theaters internationally a week before it debuts in the United States.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had delayed the release of Nolan's new thriller several times already, with Warner revoking any release date just a week ago. Today it was given theatrical release dates for scores of countries, most of which will have the film available to theatergoers a week before its available in the United States.
It will first be available on August 26 in 24 countries, among them the United Kingdom, Turkey, France, Italy etc. The next day it will be in theaters in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, and 15 others. On Friday, August 28, Tenet comes to East Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Vietnam.
The following Monday, September 3, it will be released in parts of the United States, but it depends on local COVID-19 policies. There is no date yet for the film's Chinese debut as the government has imposed a two-hour limit for films shown in theaters since they reopened.
Information on the plot of Tenet has been kept quiet, so a staggered rollout presents the risks of major spoilers leaking online, not to mention the threat of piracy. Still, Tenet looks set to be the first blockbuster to hit cinemas since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down movie theaters all around the world.
Facebook takes EU commission to court over data requests 28 Jul 2020, 12:49 am
Facebook is taking the European Commission to court over broad data requests that could violate its employees' privacy or expose sensitive information.
The top competition regulator in the European Union has two ongoing probes into Facebook. One deals with Facebook's collection and use of massive amounts of data, while the other is aimed at Facebook's online marketplace. As part of the investigation, Facebook says it has provided 315,000 documents to the EU commission.
However, Facebook is now taking the commission to court arguing that its data requests are resulting in irrelevant documents being passed onto the EU. On these documents could include, "highly sensitive personal information such as employees' medical information, personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees."
The EU Commission is seeking documents that include 2,500 specific phrases, some of which are "big question", "shut down" and "not good for us." According to the social media firm, these phrases may result in documents being handed over that include information related to its security.
According to Facebook, it offered investigators the chance to view such documents in a secure viewing room to prevent copying, but they refused. The EU Commission said it will defend its case in court.