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Apple had its big week. Now it’s Amazon’s turn

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This week, it was Apple’s turn. Thursday, the spotlight turns to Amazon.

We saw new editions of the Apple Watch and iPad at Apple’s Tuesday event, a new fitness subscription service and family plan to buy watches for the kids, without having to tie them to their own iPhone. It also opened up the floodgates to iOS14, Apple’s mobile operating system upgrade.

Thursday, think the Alexa personal assistant and new ways the personal assistant can be put into .

At last year’s event, Amazon introduced fancy, higher-resolution speakers, a low-end Echo Dot speaker with a clock and buds that brought Alexa into the ear.

The fun of the Amazon events, which this year, virtual, are the wild and headline grabbing new concepts. In 2018, it was the talking microwave that responded to Alexa, while in 2019, Amazon countered with glasses that allowed you talk to Alexa as you strolled down the street.

While the microwave did get released, (and sells for $59.99,) the $179 Echo Frames were introduced as an early invite-only product that a year later hasn’t changed. It’s still only available via an invite.

What new concept could Amazon come up with this year?

Bret Kinsella, the editor of the Voicebot.ai website, which tracks voice computing, thinks Amazon’s Fire TV Edition line of talking TVs is ripe for a video meeting upgrade.

“That’s likely to be a fruitful area to explore,” he says.

Think about it: A pandemic has sent people home to do their work and take their meetings out of the office, to study in school and communicate with friends—all virtually—mostly on crappy, low-resolution, built-in laptop webcams.

What if they could do it from the living room and talk and learn on Zoom, Google Meet, Webex or other video programs?

The Echo Show, Amazon’s product to marry Alexa with video, has small screens, compared to the TV, and while you can check YouTube recipes and see your digital pictures displayed, it’s missed out on video meetings. That will change when one Echo Show model welcomes Zoom to the fold later in the year, but Kinsella says that’s not enough.

“The Echo Show is a small screen, and isn’t in a place where the family can all gather round,” he says. “The TV makes more sense.”

(Facebook offers this exact product, Portal TV, a $150 product that connects to the TV via HDMI and comes with a separate remote control. But families have to be willing to hand over even more personal information and tracking information to the social network.)

Amazon is one of a handful of companies that have really benefited from the pandemic, as fewer people were willing to walk into physical stores and instead have been buying products online. In its recent earnings report, Amazon said revenues rose 40% to $89 billion, from $63.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Beyond possible new TVs, Amazon is expected to introduce a slew of updated Echo speakers and new smarthome products, including updates from Ring’s video doorbell division. (Sorry, folks. Unlike Apple and Samsung, Amazon isn’t live streaming the event for the public but will live blog it on the company website with text and pictures instead.)

Will that whet your appetite for buying new tech gear this year? If not, you have two more major consumer tech events to look forward to. On Sept. 30, Google is staging a virtual event (open to the public) to show off a new edition of the Chromecast streaming player and an updated Pixel 5 smartphone.

And then in October, the company that makes the best-selling consumer tech device, the iPhone, will stage a second (open to the public) event, devoted to showing off what’s expected to be four new editions of the Apple iPhone. This year, the iPhone is expected to be able to connect to the new ultra-fast 5G wireless networks.

Get out your wallets, everyone.

In other tech news this week

TikTok/WeChat. The Trump administration banned the downloads of Chinese-based apps TikTok and WeChat as of midnight, Sunday, due to security concerns.

Sony PlayStation5 units announced but quickly became really hard to get.The PS5 launches Nov. 12 in the U.S., starting at $399.99 for a digital edition and $499.99 for a standard model featuring an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive. A new edition of the Microsoft Xbox will be out Nov. 10.

At Apple’s event, it introduced two new editions of the Apple Watch and left the 2017 Series 3 edition in the lineup. How do they stack up? We compare.

Traffic app Waze introduced a slew of new tools, including the ability to let you know which lane to drive in, for speedier results.

After three months of trying to get onto the Roku streaming platform, it was announced Friday that the Comcast owned streamer would finally join the world’s most viewed streamer in the “coming weeks.” Peacock showcases mostly shows and movies from the NBC Universal library.

This week’s Talking Tech podcasts

Waze: get involved! Noam Bardin, the CEO of traffic app Waze says that if we use the app more often, it will help ease individual traffic routes.

Unpacking the Apple 9/25 event: KTLA’s Rich DeMuro (@richontech) joins me to weigh in on the new Apple Watch, iPad and those subscription offers.

Parents are furious that Oculus play will require a Facebook ID. U.S. TODAY consumer tech editor Michelle Maltais joins me to weigh in.

Cousin Brucie is back on WABC radio, on phones, tablets and computers. The legendary New York DJ calls into Talking Tech to tell listeners all about it.

Previewing Amazon: Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella joins me to dream about what we’ll see from Amazon’s Thursdaay Alexa event.


Zoom finally conferences in Alexa, Google and Facebook on Echo Show, Portal and Nest Hub Max


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Tech chief executives to defend key law in front of U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday- Technology News, Firstpost

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 Tech chief executives to defend key law in front of U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday

By David Shepardson and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief executives of Twitter Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc will tell U.S. lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday that a federal law protecting internet companies is crucial to free expression on the internet, according to written testimonies from the companies seen by Reuters.

Section 230, a provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, shields technology companies from liability for user-generated content and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts. It has come under heavy criticism from President Donald Trump and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have been concerned about Big Tech’s content-moderation decisions.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will tell the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that eroding the foundation of Section 230 “could collapse how we communicate on the Internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg warned that tech companies were likely to censor more to avoid legal risks if Section 230 is repealed.

“Without Section 230, platforms could potentially be held liable for everything people say,” he said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Nandita Bose; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.



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Hats off to the UK for smartphone unlocking laws, and more tech news today

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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, 27 October 2020

1. UK bans locked phones, hooray!

The UK has announced a ban on the sale of network-locked phones, finally ending one of the vices that carriers try and use to keep you loyal to them.

  • The BBC reported that while it typically costs about £10 to get a locked smartphone unlocked, studies showed that’s not the full story, with half of all those who try to do so experience difficulties:
  • “These [difficulities] can include facing a long wait to receive the code needed to trigger the process, as well as then finding that the code does not work.”
  • “We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked. So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort — and help them unlock better deals,” Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha was quoted as saying on the regulator’s website.

Finally: 

  • This is a welcome change, with most reactions saying finally, this is long overdue, and so on.
  • While some carriers in the UK were already keeping phones unlocked, the likes of giants including Vodafone and BT were not, and will now need to comply by December, 2021. Which isn’t soon enough really, but at least it will come into place.
  • The whole practice was a great scheme for carriers but really made little sense in any other business model in the world, where consumers pay for devices they can only use while paying a certain company. Telecommunications is unique, and carriers will always wield power when they can get away with it.

Elsewhere?

  • In Europe, this is generally the case already, and in Singapore, for example, locked phones are banned.
  • In Australia phones are generally unlocked too, except in some cases with prepaid phones where phones are often affordable but made cheaper through locks.
  • In South Africa, major carrier Vodacom started adding locks as recently as a year ago, reversing previous unlocked phones.
  • And of course, there’s the US, where locked phones are much more common. Some devices may only be compatible with specific networks too. For example, some phones like the OnePlus 7T require a specific Verizon variant as the standard unlocked model doesn’t work on Verizon. Which is strange!
  • Verizon, for example, keeps a lock for 60 days after purchase before then unlocking. And it’s completely legal to unlock a phone, which leads to guides like ‘How to unlock a Verizon phone’ being popular, for Verizon’s pre-paid devices.
  • Otherwise, unlocking a phone locked to AT&T on a contract may require that you’ve paid out a 24-month plan already and jumping through various hoops.
  • It may be that moves like this commendable one from the UK regulator heaps pressure on other countries, too.

2. The OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 were announced yesterday with the leaks right on the money. They’re more affordable or budget phones with headphone jacks, and with microSD card slots for the first time for OnePlus phones. We don’t know pricing yet but it’s going to be in a battle with the likes of the Google Pixel 4a and iPhone SE for the N10 (Android Authority). And wait, wasn’t every OnePlus phone supposed to have a high refresh rate screen? (Android Authority).


3. Samsung Galaxy S30 Ultra specs leak: An S20 Ultra with a new coat? Oh, and don’t expect a charger or earphones in the Galaxy S30’s box (Android Authority).


4. Fairphone 3 Plus review: Sustainability comes with compromises (The Verge).


5. Facebook is the latest to jump into mobile cloud gaming. I had a look, the games on offer are …extremely Facebook. Plus, digs at Apple’s iOS policies (Android Authority).


6. Microsoft adds mouse and trackpad support to Office apps on iPad (Engadget).


7. iPhone 12 drop test confirms the new screen helps durability, to an extent (Engadget).


8. Roku Ultra 2020 review: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which makes it a tough sell over the Roku Streaming Stick Plus which is half the cost (CNET).


9. AMD agrees to buy Xilinx for $35 billion in stock, which may open up 5G and automotive electronics as Xilinx invented the FGPA (NY Times)


10. “Sometimes I think of how cakes are a miracle.” (Twitter)


11. Moon holds more water in more places than ever thought — but don’t overdo it. “To be clear, this is not puddles of water,” stressed lead researcher Casey Honniball (AP).


The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!



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Apple to charge more for apps in India and five other countries

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By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

October 27, 2020 11:43:30 am


apple app store price hike, app store price hike india, app store prices revision, apple app store controversy, apple app store tax, app store tax on developersApple App Store prices set to be increased in six countries (File Photo)

Apple announced on Monday that it will charge more apps in India, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa in the next few days. This change will apply to in-app purchases as well and the developer will receive updated price tier charts informing them about the change in prices of their apps. Specifically for India, there will be an increase of two per cent in addition to the goods and services tax of 18 per cent which is already in place. On the other hand, in Indonesia foreign developers will have to bear the burden of an additional 10 per cent tax.

“When taxes or foreign exchange rates change, we sometimes need to update prices on the App Store,” the Cupertino-giant said in the announcement posted on its developer website.

There is no confirmation whether the increase in prices will be applicable or not for other services like Apple Music, Apple TV+ and iCloud. On the other hand, this increase will apply on auto-renewable subscriptions as well. Also, it is yet to be clarified as to when the App Store users will be able to see these changes.

The statement further mentioned, “You can download the updated price tier charts now. Once these changes go into effect, the Pricing and Availability section of My Apps will be updated, and your proceeds will be adjusted accordingly and calculated based on the tax-exclusive price. You can change the price of your apps and in-app purchases (including auto-renewable subscriptions) at any time in App Store Connect. If you offer subscriptions, you can choose to preserve prices for existing subscribers.”

ALSO READ | Fortnite controversies timeline: All the news about the world’s most popular video game

In the near future, the prices of Albania and Iceland as per the other markets with value-added tax selling in US dollars. However, this is not the first instance where Apple has made changes in App store prices for specific countries. The prices were revised in Japan last year. Also, the last time India prices were revised was in the first quarter of 2017.

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