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TikTok can’t be ignored anymore, and more tech news you need to know today



Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, May 22.

1. TikTok deep dive

I had the realization yesterday that we all have to think about TikTok, now.

  • I might be a little late to this! Loads of people and companies have been exploring the app and surprised at just how much traction you can get with it. (I think even Android Authority was surprised when a simple video posted to TikTok racked up 9.9 million views seemingly out of nowhere.)
  • That’s despite the concerns around TikTok privacy and data usage: class-action lawsuits and National Security reviews haven’t impacted users jumping on in droves.
  • What could once be dismissed as for teenagers, or those not aware of the possible data issues, has become part of the wider social world.
  • Some are going further: “In less than four years, TikTok has become the most culturally significant product in the world,” writes Turner Novak, who posted a superb deep dive into TikTok and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok which recently hired a Disney exec (Quartz).

Novak’s deep dive, The Rise of TikTok and Understanding Its Parent Company, ByteDance on his Substack is basically required reading. I’ve pulled out just a few notes and highlights below, but the whole thing will set you straight.

  • TikTok has become the best way to create and consume short videos on mobile. It rode the wave of AirPods and audio memes to over 1 billion DAU’s (Daily Active Users), and is likely worth ~$200 billion. This would make it not only the world’s most valuable “startup” but one of the world’s most valuable companies, period.
  • The money involved is enormous: TikTok reportedly “spent $3M/day on user acquisition and PR throughout 2018 and 2019”, and while initial churn rates were enormous, that flattened into between 28-40% retention.
  • It’s eating into Instagram, which hasn’t shown growth in its reach in the past year and is seeing declining downloads. (Novak says Facebook investors will catch on eventually.)

  • But what’s next is just as interesting. TikTok is already heading into ecommerce integration in videos, and will open up its own self-serve ad manager.
  • Novak believes the next step for ByteDance is leveraging TikTok to launch new products, and that’s happening already.
  • Whereas some companies just build their own platform, ByteDance is hiring too fast, and we’re already seeing longer-form video products emerge in China, and more.
  • Just as TikTok memes drive the music charts, there’s an exploration of ByteDance’s own music streaming app Resso, launched in India, Indonesia, and Brazil already, which “marries the UI’s of TikTok and Spotify with the spirit of YouTube”.
  • Add in gaming (ByteDance owns multiple gaming companies), education, consumer finance, messaging, enterprise software, cloud hosting…
  • Conclusion? “In less than four years, TikTok became the most culturally significant product in the world. It rode the tailwinds of AirPods and memes to reach over 1 billion DAU’s and is now the best way to create and consume video content on mobile. Everyone should be watching to see what they do next,” writes Novak.
  • Do check out that deep dive and the wider considerations for pop culture, media, advertising, social, and growth. And consider that Novak might be the most positive analyst in the game on TikTok… how will Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and co., react?

2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet review: “almost nothing else competes on the value here” (Android Authority).

3. Vivo has explained the gimbal-tech we talked about earlier in the week, with loads of hardware insight, including the refined OIS-like setup, with up to three degrees movement on both the X- and Y-axis tilt, which is about three times more than OIS. That makes for a thick, big module or housing, a real technical challenge (Android Authority).

4. AT&T might finally ditch deceptive 5G E branding (Android Authority).

5. Memorial Day sales roundup: The best tech on sale this weekend (Android Authority).

6. Apple TV Plus is still looking for its big win: Interest in shows on Apple’s service has mostly trended down, while the real test will be when $0 annual trials turn into $4.99 monthly fees (The Verge).

7. Gizmodo sums up the increasingly weird Apple Glasses leaks, asking: “Are you shitting me?” The latest weirdness is that Apple will supposedly be making a special edition pair that will look like Steve Jobs’ glasses, which is leading to disagreements between Apple reporters, with words like “complete fiction” being used (Gizmodo).

8. This should instantly become the industry standard: Netflix is preparing to cancel dormant subscriptions, if accounts haven’t been used in more than a year: “At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using.” (

9. Get Civilization VI, a $60 game, free from Epic, right now (CNET).

10. If you melt a magnet, what happens to the magnetism? Does the liquid metal retain the magnetism or does it go away? (r/askscience).

11. Pac-Man!!!!

It’s Pac-Man’s 40th birthday! As part of the celebrations, Bandai Namco and Amazon just announced Pac-Man Live Studio, a just-announced game with multiplayer support for endless runs, Mario Maker-style custom maps and uploads, and somehow, all on Twitch.

  • It’s sadly announced without a firm release date, just now, but it is coming in June.
  • Until then, you can play Pac-Man with a recent Google Doodle (, just search Pac-Man!

Bonus: Pac-Man, the Japanese game that took over the world, turns 40 (Kotaku).

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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Rebel Foods brews a new food kits plan, Technology News, ETtech




Rebel Foods brews a new food kits plan
Rebel Foods, India’s largest cloud kitchen chain, which operates Faasos, Oven Story, Firangi Bake, and Behrouz, is planning to use its kitchen infrastructure to expand beyond its own cooked meal brands, a top executive told ET.

This will be done by diversifying into ready-to-cook kits, meats, packaged snacks, as well as scaling other restaurants by investing in 12 brands this year, Jaydeep Burman, CEO of Rebel Foods, said in an exclusive interaction with ET.

The food company speculated to be valued at about $1billion, said growth in India is increasing by 10% every week, but it is still slow compared to international markets and may take five months at least to reach numbers seen before the Covid-19 outbreak.

“(In India) I think there’ll be a natural tendency towards more at-home cooking and consumption…We are creating an umbrella under a program called Eat.Sure and giving this platform for other food entrepreneurs to come on board and build brands around ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat, ready-to-use, and so on,” Burman told ET.

The idea is to extend cases beyond restaurants and create products for customers for use in homes. “ We will be onboarding brands which adhere to the overall principle of great ingredients, no adulteration, no preservatives, no added color, …follows hygiene protocol and so on,” he said.

Globally, demand for food delivery apps have spiked since dine-in is no longer an option.

However, in India, people have started cooking at home fearing they would be infected if they go out, Burman said. Since this trend is likely to last, expansion to adjacent complementary categories was the need of the hour, he added.

The move will give Rebel Foods an opportunity to leverage its existing kitchen infrastructure across 35 cities to add new use cases for consumers at a time when food delivery volumes at dominant players Swiggy and Zomato are down by at least 70% and only marginally increasing over weeks.

It also comes at a time when both platforms have significantly downsized their cloud kitchen infrastructure citing poor utilization of properties. “In times of crisis, people gravitate towards their core competence…which for many of these guys (Swiggy and Zomato) has been logistics, marketplace models, delivery,” Burman said. “We run a much tighter, more efficient ship.”

According to him, even when Rebel Foods’ revenues were down by 50%, the company did not face challenges to its survival.

In April, Rebel raised an additional $50 million from existing investor, US-based hedge fund Coatue Management. This came in months after the Mumbai based firm closed a $125 million round from Coatue along with the participation from the investment arms of ride-hailing major GoJek and Goldman Sachs.

International expansion:

The company will, however, continue to launch in new geographies including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Thailand by partnering with restaurants that already have a strong connection with consumers but struggle with online ordering, he said.

“We are actually seeing significant partnership opportunities across the world. And these are all sorts of incoming queries to us, like — ‘can you help us, can you help us pivot to a cloud kitchen model where we can have our own brands as well as your brand, using your technology and you know how to scale fast?’.”

“Nothing is concrete yet, but the opportunity has opened up, which was not there before Covid-19,” Burman said.

In UAE, Rebel said its sales are up 25% citing that culturally a lot of UAE expats don’t cook at home. Even in Indonesia, the firm only saw a 15% drop in sales while India was down more than 50%. Just last week, Rebel partnered with Travis Kalanik owned-Cloud Kitchens to launch operations in London. “Any new market we go to, we try to collaborate like for example in London we’re actually operating out of FoodStart Kitchen…In India we don’t see it happening as much because we are still at that footprint,” he said.

Even as businesses diversify, health, and hygiene will continue to remain the top priority across the food delivery space. “People are more cautious about safety, hygiene, ingredients, the overall quality, than ever. So maybe pre COVID, pricing, discounts, variety used to play a big role. I’m sure some of that will continue. But safety, security would probably be the most important thing,” he said.

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Belgian rail tests sensors to keep workers apart during COVID-19- Technology News, Firstpost




 Belgian rail tests sensors to keep workers apart during COVID-19

By Clement Rossignol and Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium’s railways are testing smart cameras with sensors to ensure its workers wear masks and maintain their distance to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

From next week, so-called intelligent cameras will be installed in five strategic points in the offices of Belgian rail infrastructure operator Infrabel, where technicians would normally come together, such as the cafeteria.

A warning will sound if people are too numerous, do not have a face mask or get too close.

“We must ensure that our staff complies with the various social distancing guidelines. This is why we are setting up a number of devices based on artificial intelligence,” Benoit Gilson, Infrabel’s strategy director, told Reuters on Monday.

Using AI software available online, Infrabel said it had developed a way to interpret camera images for the purpose of COVID-19 protection. The company will employ an algorithm to calculate if workers are too close or wearing a face mask.

In a demonstration on Monday, staff seen on camera were shown on a giant screen as stick figures whose distance apart could be measured in metres. On another screen, a camera detected if a worker entering a room was wearing a mask.

“The whole issue of distance (between individuals) is (managed by) a mathematical model that we developed,” said Daniel Degueldre, head of Infrabel’s information technology team.

The company, which has 11,000 employees, said it had already been working on ways to use sensors to protect technicians working on the Belgian railways by placing cameras on helmets that would alert staff in an accident.

That know-how was reappraised to fight coronavirus.

Responsible for Belgium’s 3,602 km (2,238 miles) of rail lines, Infrabel manages one of the world’s most dense rail networks.

(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

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airport: COVID-19: Bengaluru airport introduces ‘contactless journey’ – Latest News




Bengaluru, May 24 () The Bengaluru airport management is introducing a unique feature of parking-to-boarding contactless journey for the passengers as the domestic flight resumes from Monday. In order to contain coronavirus transmission among passengers and staff, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) introduced the new feature of contactless journey right from pre-entry check to security check and boarding.

“Contactless would be the buzzword at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru when operations resume from May 25,” the BIAL said in a statement on Sunday.

With greater emphasis on minimum touch and minimum exposure between passengers and airport personnel, BIAL aims to minimise all physical contact at the airport.

The technology will continue to enable a seamless airport journey, with greater emphasis on health and safety, the statement said.

“We have introduced innovative contactless procedures to minimise exposure at the airport,” Hari Marar, managing director and chief executive officer of BIAL, said. “These enhancements demonstrate our continued commitment to keep our passengers safe in this environment.”

According to the BIAL, the features include pre-entry process, where the passengers have to wear masks and carry e-boarding or printed passes.

The travellers will undergo thermal scan and will have to show that the Aarogya Setu app on the passengers mobile phone has the ‘you-are-safe’ message.

“CISF personnel will verify the boarding pass and Government-issued Photo ID using an electronic device or through a magnified glass screen,” it said.

The doormats will be soaked with bleach at the terminal entrance to disinfect the shoes, the BIAL said.

There will be contactless self-service kiosk where the passengers will collect the baggage tag before proceeding to the airline counter to drop-off luggage.

A transparent partition has been installed at the airport, to ensure the safety of both airline staff and passenger at the airline bag drop counters.

Under the new contactless process, body scanning will be done using door frame metal detectors.

Stamping of the boarding pass has been suspended, as directed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the BIAL said.

Before boarding, the airline staff will once again do thermal screening and then permit boarding.

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